One of the most frustrating things I found in my search for freedom from porn addiction was the slowness of my progress. Why, if God is so good and so powerful, did he not heal me at once?
I was recently thinking about one of the strangest Gospel stories: the story of the blind man’s healing outside Bethsaida. Several of Jesus’ own disciples were natives of Bethsaida, and Jesus had performed many miracles there. In this familiar setting the blind man is brought to Jesus by certain people begging Jesus to touch him. Jesus led him by the hand outside of the small village, spat on his eyes, laid hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” The man replied, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Apparently his vision was still cloudy, foggy. Jesus laid hands on him again and this time his vision was completely restored (Mark 8:22-26).
Why progressive healing?
It’s the only text I know of that shows Jesus healing in this manner. I’ve read and heard a whole host of potential reasons why Jesus would do this. Some say Jesus was showing the blind man, and hence us, that He is sovereign over healing: he chooses how it is done. Some believe that Jesus was building this man’s faith: he was brought to Jesus by others but had little or no faith himself. Some believe that Jesus is illustrating to his disciples how he will heal their spiritual blindness and confusion: slowly and progressively. Some see this merely as a two-stage healing: one natural, the other supernatural. The spit on his eyes merely separated his eyelids that were gummed shut; the second act of laying on hands was to perform the miracle of new sight.
We simply aren’t told the reason why.
I’m learning more and more that sexual addiction, such as pornography addiction, has a very real biological element. Repeated visits to pornographic websites condition our bodies to receive endorphins and enkephalins (chemicals in the brain). These chemicals are highly addictive. We literally carry within us our own source of addictive chemicals.
I recently read an interesting transcript from the “Hearing on the Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Families and Communities.” One of the contributors, Mary Anne Layden, Co-Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, calls pornography an “equal opportunity toxin” and highlights both the biological and psychological effects of repeated pornography use.
I love what she says here:
“There are no studies and no data that indicate a benefit from pornography use. If there were a benefit, then pornography users, pornography performers, their spouses and their children would show the most benefit. Just the opposite is true. The society is awash in pornography and so in fact the data are in. If pornography made us healthy, we would be healthy by now.”
I remember the very real physical side of my addiction. It was like a drug shooting through my system. I remember times lying in bed, thinking of going to visit internet pornography, literally shaking and convulsing as I thought about it.
Kirk Franklin’s Testimony
Over two years ago Kirk Franklin appeared on Oprah to speak candidly about his pornography addiction. He first viewed pornography at the age of 8 and struggled with addiction for nearly 22 years. He talks about how “it was literally like a drug calling me.” On the show the founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, Rob Weiss, said the drug for pornography addicts is “their own neurochemistry . . . I talk to guys who say that hours and hours and hours go by, and they’re not even aware of the time change because they’re so filled with adrenalin and dopamine and serotonin.”
Will Jesus Heal Me of My Addiction
All this being said, being delivered from pornography addiction is not unlike seeking the Lord for other types of physical healing. Jesus the Great Physician needs to come and heal not only our spirits and our minds, but also our bodies as well.
But will he heal us progressively or at once? I’ve met men who fall into different categories, but most of the time the healing comes gradually.
Like the blind man, I want be healed right there and then. Jesus, instead, takes me by the hand and takes me somewhere else, somewhere unexpected. Like the blind man, I expect Jesus’ first touch to make me whole. Jesus, instead, wipes away the grime and grit first allowing me to see the root of my pain and my sinful choices. Like the blind man, I needed to be brought to Jesus by loving friends, people who didn’t want me to stay the way I was. Jesus, again, shows Himself both amazingly good and incredibly sovereign in my journey towards being whole and living holy. Like the blind man, I begin to see . . . and Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, does not leave me among the walking trees: He finishes what He starts.