Your Brain on Porn

Parenting the Internet Generation Ebook Cover

Watching just 5 hours of porn has been proven to significantly change people's sexual beliefs and attitudes. Find out 5 distinct ways that porn warps your brain, as well as 5 biblical ways to renew your mind and find freedom.

29 thoughts on “6 Reasons Men and Women Are Drawn to Porn

  1. This post piques my curiosity and prompts a couple of questions:

    Are there any reasons why someone would watch pornography other than the six reasons you list?

    Are the problems you describe the result of the user or the product? In other words, is the person the problem, or is the pornography the problem?

    • I’m sure there are other motivations (or even combinations of motivations) that drive people to porn, but these tend to be the major ones counselors notice. Thinking of each motivation broadly, they encompass a lot of potential motivations and Dr. Chester’s book goes into more detail.

      The problems described are a result of both the user (who has the sinful motivations) and the product (which communicates the lying messages). James 1 says a person is tempted when enticed by his own desires. The problem originates in our hearts. But using the outlet of pornography, of course, only happens because pornography itself exists.

    • First off, I’m sorry for the misspellings. I just want to say that pornography is the problem here, and, in truth, the root of the problem is sin. This sin is caused by satan and we get tempted into sexual sin such as pornography and masterbation (self-gradifcation) and there is freedom, if you follow Christ. At http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com God works through the lessons and frees you from the clutches of this sin.

    • It is both. The person misplacing their faith in times of weakness or distress gets trapped in a seemingly never ending cycle. I should know. I quite literally just escaped the cycle by reading this article and the one that precedes it. It told me nothing about God that I didn’t at least superficially know, but it explained the snare and how it works. As an Army brat, snares and traps are a good explanatory tool for sin. You can’t disarm a snare or trap until you understand how it works. You can’t escape a sin until you can understand it and disarm it. A bear has its foot caught in a trap, is its fear it yanks and pulls and try’s to run but doesn’t get far. If the ear understood how the trap worked, wouldn’t he escape it as soon as possible? My way though narrow is now clear and I can carry on. Fare well, and keep on keeping on.

    • Great stuff. But a typo under #2: you meant to say, “fake security OF digital sex”, but missed the word “of”.

  2. Hmmm, so if these six reasons are “the major ones counselors notice”, you’re implying that other reasons for viewing porn do not create problems (i.e. do not cause people to seek counseling)?

    Is there any circumstance where viewing pornography is okay?

    • No, I’m saying that these reasons encompass the majority of what Christian counselors unearth as the key motivators for seeking out porn. Of course, there might be others. Do you have any idea what they might be? I’m trying to get to the heart of your question or understand why you are asking it.

      I would say that in every instance, viewing pornography is morally problematic. Of course, some have pornography thrust upon them, in which case the motivations of the viewer are totally different: they would be victims, not seekers of pornography. In those cases the people responsible for exposing others to porn are culpable and responsible.

    • Okay, I’ll show my hand now: I’m a 27 year old male who has used online pornography regularly as a masturbation aid since middle school. In that time, I cannot recall a single negative consequence from this habit (or at least not since turning 18). My wife of 1 year (and romantic partner of 9 years) has no problem with it either. In fact, I find viewing erotic imagery online to actually enhance and stimulate my own personal relationship – viewing other women makes me want my wife even more!

      In the last 15 years, the only two of the six reasons listed above that I can relate to at all are the occasional #3 (“to relieve our stresses”) and the rare #4 (“In times when we are bored”). But the primary reason I look at pornography is to me the most obvious of reasons: to indulge in sexual curiosities and fantasies. That’s it! Quite simply, I cannot see why I or anybody else should see such use as problematic.

      Or am I just naive and deluding myself?

    • Keep in mind the perspective I’m trying to bring to the table. I believe God has created people as sexual beings, but when we covet the body of another (who is not our spouse), we misuse our sexuality. As such, many people experience terrible consequences of their lust. Some find themselves in addiction. Others experience the consequences of too many emotional ties to multiple lovers. Others see their attitude and demeanor towards women change. These are some of the negative consequences of sexual sin, and they vary from person to person.

      However, the point of the article is not to point out the negative consequences of porn, but the sinful attitudes and dispositions that lead a person to use it in the first place. A person who wishes to stop using pornography, but finds themselves incapable of stopping, often needs to explore the motivations that drive them.

      For instance, an alcoholic who just focuses on quitting alcohol will often find experience one of two results: they will either fail miserably or they will become “dry drunks” (i.e. they aren’t drinking anymore, but their whole world still revolves around the alcohol they aren’t drinking, so they become bitter and angry). The same is often true for a person who wants to stop looking at porn. If they don’t explore the reasons why they are going to porn in the first place, they will probably either fail or become “dry drunks.”

      More to the point of your question: You first have to ask yourself why you believe what you do about porn? What leads you to believe watching porn or other kinds of sexual activity are right or wrong? What is the basis for your understanding of morality? If you believe that the God revealed in the Bible is the basis for morality, then activities of lust like watching pornography are immoral. If you get your system of morality from some other source, you might not have any problem with porn whatsoever. The million-dollar question: What makes you believe your system of morality is correct?

    • My question to you Aaron would be, when havving sex with your wife, are you truly with her, or in your mind are you viewing those women from whatever porn you have watched or women you have seen on the street, work or even church? And if your wife knew you were visualizing another woman while having sex with her, how would she feel? I am not here to judge or upset you. I am the wife of an addict and my husband and I would view porn together… mostly because I wanted to please him, to keep him “happy,” but I myself was blinded by that lie.

  3. Hi Im blessed by your articles. thanks a lot. I would really appreciate if you can add some articles on how young people are affected by media it will be helpful.

  4. I was just perusing this site and stumbled upon this conversation from a year ago. In response to Amy’s questions (and no, I don’t feel judged or upset by your asking – in fact, it just prompted a great discussion with my wife!):

    “When having sex with your wife, are you truly with her, or in your mind are you viewing those women from whatever porn you have watched or women you have seen on the street, work or even church?”

    I will freely admit to noticing women ‘on the street, work, or even church’, and even to fantasizing about them. To a certain extent, I do not believe I have control over that. And If I ever tried to stop noticing women, I don’t believe I would be successful in doing so. In fact, if I honestly tried to stop noticing women, I think it would have the opposite effect – lust would dominate my life if I tried to eliminate it. Lust cannot be contained – it’s fundamental to being human – but it can be controlled. And pornography provides an outlet for me that is both hugely enjoyable and healthy. So, to get to your actual question, when I’m with my wife, I’m not thinking about anything or anybody but her. Ever. I have no reason to – she’s the love of my life and I’m tremendously attracted to her (indeed, way more than anybody else, including those I see on the internet, street, work, or even church).

    “And if your wife knew you were visualizing another woman while having sex with her, how would she feel?”

    If I DID fantasize about other women while with my wife (which I have yet to do in our 10 years of romantic partnership), it would be (in her own words – I just asked her) “disappointing because I would feel inadequate.” If our roles were reversed, I would probably feel the same way. Fortunately, we have never encountered either of those situations, and I don’t believe we ever will.

    “I am the wife of an addict and my husband and I would view porn together… mostly because I wanted to please him, to keep him “happy,” but I myself was blinded by that lie.”

    I do wish we could watch porn together, but we have tried on several occasions and it actually ends up being more amusing for us than erotic because of the ‘fake-ness’ of it. I myself prefer amateur porn because it feels more real than the contrived scenes that are so common, but even amateur stuff just doesn’t turn her on the way it does me. That’s why I use it alone. And neither of us have any problem with it. I understand that others DO have problems with it, and so it makes perfect sense why for those people it’s better to avoid pornography all together. But my wife and I have been happily married for two years, and together for a decade, and I see no reason why I should stop. My ultimate conclusion is that pornography is not inherently problematic.

    Amy: What are your thoughts?

    • Aaron, if you are both unaffected by your pornography use, as a couple you are the exception, not the rule. I still caution you to track your health outcomes; you say you never fantasize about other women when with your wife, but has your desire for your wife in general decreased while your desire for porn has increased? How about your, ahem, performance while with your wife? Many completely irreligious men have reported erectile dysfunction as a result of porn use. Read The Porn Circuit for more details on the neurochemical impact of porn.

      (By the way, based on your references to church, I’m not sure where you fall in terms of religion. If you profess to be Christian, I’d encourage you to reread passages on lust, such as Proverbs 6-7 and Matthew 5:27-28. Regarding your comment about never eliminating lust, I encourage you to read Romans 8 and meditate on God’s ability through the Holy Spirit to kill sin.)

  5. These responses to Lisa’s questions:

    “Has your desire for your wife in general decreased while your desire for porn has increased?
    I would say my desire for my wife has increased slightly over our ten years together, and my desire for pornography has decreased slightly over the same period. I suspect that is the product of (1) commitment (we had no plans to get married or even to stay together as long as we have when we first began dating – that changed about five years ago), and (2) I’m older. We were freshmen in college when we started dating, and now we’re approaching 30. I have indeed noticed a small but significant decrease in libido in the last decade.

    “How about your, ahem, performance while with your wife? Many completely irreligious men have reported erectile dysfunction as a result of porn use.”
    I have never suffered from erectile dysfunction either on my own or with my wife. I hope I’m not plagued by that problem for another few decades!

    “Based on your references to church, I’m not sure where you fall in terms of religion.”
    I consider myself atheist (which is not to say anti-theist). I do attend church every Sunday, but it is for professional rather than religious reasons. I believe in my product, and many have said it helps them connect with and embrace their own religious convictions. I am very happy to oblige and help people find their own strength through faith, even if I my own conclusions ultimately differ from theirs. It’s a win/win situation.

    “Regarding your comment about never eliminating lust, I encourage you to read Romans 8 and meditate on God’s ability through the Holy Spirit to kill sin.”
    I would have to disagree with Romans 8. Verse 7 in particular: “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” As I wrote above, I am not anti-theist; I do not consider myself “hostile to God”. If I were, I would not help the members of my congregation connect to God the way I do. If I were, I should actually work AGAINST furthering others’ religious connections and convictions.

    Lisa, you wrote in your article “Elliot Rodger and the Lies We Believe About Sex” (http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/07/15/rape-culture-lies-believe-sex/) that Lie #1 is “Sex is an irresistible biological urge.” I have to disagree with you. It is not a lie, but fact. I can no more stop my libido than I can stop any other biological function, including breathing, blood circulation, blinking my eye lids, digestions, et cetera. Of course, many men use that as an excuse, as you very rightly point out in your article. But just because some people abuse that fact by making it an excuse to rationalize harmful or demeaning behavior does not mean that it is not true.

    • Aaron, first, in reply to your comment regarding the Elliot Rodger post, I probably could have been clearer. Obviously the sex drive is something built into us as humans. However, our reactions to sexual stimulants can be controlled or retrained. You’ll probably always want to do a double-take at that bikini-clad woman on the beach, but you can train yourself to dwell on that woman, or you can train yourself to “bounce your eyes” and think about something else (like your wife, for example). Just because the urges are there doesn’t mean you have to dwell on them, or that you have to be enslaved to them. I hope that clarifies my meaning.

      “I have indeed noticed a small but significant decrease in libido in the last decade.” It might be worth tracking that, as well as occasions of intimacy with your wife and occasions of viewing porn. It may also be worth intentionally abstaining from porn for a period of time (30-90 days) and tracking your sex drive as a result of your abstinence. It may be that you are unaffected by porn, but in that case, you are the exception, not the rule. (To re-emphasize, I’m talking physical ramifications; members of, say, the NoFap subreddit may have no moral qualms about porn, but they choose to detox because of the physical issues.)

      If you personally do not believe in the existence of a god/gods (Judeo-Christian or otherwise), then it’s not worth debating scripture, other than to say that although you don’t consider yourself anti-god, if the Bible is accurate, then God considers you hostile to Him. If you feel like digging into that more, then the rest of Romans will explain it.

  6. This article came at a good time for me, as I had a tough day of depression and spousal indifference. I really had a lot of dark thoughts, but chose to read the 40-day devotional instead. I’m glad that I did, because this helps me to “flee from” and “flee to”. God is the fulfillment of all our needs, regardless of whether we feel like it or not. I just need to realize how to regularly devote myself to prayer, fasting, meditating on the word, and worship. It’s so difficult to discipline oneself into these practices, especially when you lack the desire and motivation. I’m sure all of the drill sergeant types and bitter wives are readying their chorus about how a ruined relationship should be motivation enough, but that is not why we dedicate ourselves to God, I know that much.

  7. I am realizing that the bitterness toward God and the rejection and failure of my relationship were the excuses that I used to visit porn material. I suppose every porn addict has the physical reward of porn, otherwise the chemical pop that we get wouldn’t continue to draw us back to it. Also, our relationships with God and our spouses are obviously not important enough to us to find a way to defeat it, if we continue for years. I am glad that God has worked in my life through a sick and tired wife to cut me off and make me face myself. Free from porn for 122 days and counting, working my heart and mind out of all of the lustful thoughts and masturbation that still plague me a bit. Ready to finally live my life without being enslaved to any of this crap, praise the Maker of Heaven and Earth!!!!!

  8. Amen my fap addiction has me left. By God’s grace and power I was able to quit my addiction , after I have tried for soo long with my power but I wasn’t able to but God was able to deliver me, without me taking any part in it. It just like it dropped off of me
    I don’t have to count the days that I’m free of my addiction because I believe I’m free at last .Satan robbed my life and God Restored and gave me new Strength
    To Glory be to God in highest

  9. Again comparing this cycle of sin to a trap or snare used by an enemy, you can’t escape it until you can disarm it. The methodology of its operation are given here, and so are the tools needed to disarm it. Let us be his hands and feet and spread the word of how to disarm and destroy this trap. Maybe we can eliminate it entirely from our society. Go forth and spread the Good News

  10. my husband has been viewing porn secretly for the entire 20 yr marriage. it has driven him from me, hasn’t desired or had any intimacy with me in 15 months. had also turned him away from even wanting to be around our daughters. maybe because they are teens? his choice is teen lesbians. when he is home, he states off in space or sleeps. when going on road trips, he sits in silence as though lost in deep deep thought. all communication had gone in this past year.
    it has affected me incredibly. I can’t think straight anymore. I feel so old (43) fat (at 110 lbs, 5’1), stupid, ashamed, disgusting and have been battling suicide this past year. my mind has become mush. an not allowed to work out have friends. Have begged him to pay with me, take us back to church. he won’t even respond when I mention Christ. he used to have a beautiful relationship with the Lord.
    some women….. pornography literally kills. I pray for strength daily. God in heaven, help.

    • Tammy,

      If your husband is looking at child pornography, please call your local law enforcement immediately. No matter how much we love someone, we cannot allow the abuse of children to pass without consequence. It is your responsibility as an adult to protect children. Please call your local police department immediately.

      I would also urge you to find a counselor for YOU, someone who can help you process your emotions and build healthy boundaries for yourself.

      Again, please move immediately to protect these children.

      Thank you,
      Kay

  11. Thank you for your post on child molestation issues and for being strong throughout all the things that you have been through. Xo

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