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5 Proven Ways Pornography Warps Your Mind

Last Updated: March 14, 2014

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

The following is an excerpt from Your Brain on Porn: 5 Proven Ways Porn Warps Your Mind and 3 Biblical Ways to Renew It.

5 Ways Porn Warps Your Mind

Go back to Part 1.

Finding #2: Watching Porn Disconnects Us from Real Relationships

“Casual sex” is not new to our generation. Even 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul planted churches in places like Corinth—a city with a reputation that would make a Las Vegas brothel owner blush. In Corinth, sex was a religion—literally. The temple to Aphrodite was home to thousands of priestesses—glorified prostitutes—who serviced the worshippers. The loose sexual mores of Corinth were even lower than those of the rest of the Roman Empire, and the verb “corinthianize” was coined to describe this lifestyle of decadent sin.

Paul’s word for this way of life was porneia: a persistent lifestyle of sexual immorality. To the church in Corinth, surrounded by these depraved influences, Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality….Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:2). Paul commends a lifestyle of very regular sexual intimacy between husbands and wives because the temptation to sin was, at times, very strong (7:3-5). For Paul, sexual passion found its proper expression in marriage, not in the sensual Corinthian culture.

Today, watching pornography is one expression of casual sex, the opportunity to experience sexual pleasure without the bother of marital commitment. We see this even among the younger generations who have taken up the habit of “sexting,” sending racy photos or videos of themselves to others—essentially becoming someone else’s pornography. As one 17-year-old girl put it: “There’s a positive side to sexting. You can’t get pregnant from it, and you can’t transmit STD’s. It’s a kind of safe sex.”

Pornography is not only an expression of casual sex but feeds a desire for it. After their experiment, Zillmann and Bryant concluded the more porn someone saw, the more likely they were to prefer sex without emotional involvement. After watching less than five hours of pornography over a six-week period, the Massive Exposure group was more likely to devalue marriage, the idea of having children, and the importance of faithfulness in a relationship. They also showed a greater acceptance of premarital sex.

Dr. Gary Brooks, author of The Centerfold Syndrome, explains how pornography alters the way men think about romantic relationships. The glossy magazine pictures or pixels on the screen have no sexual or relational expectations of their own. This essentially trains men to desire the cheap thrill of fantasy over a committed relationship. Pornography trains men to be digital voyeurs, to prefer looking at women more than seeking out genuine intimacy.

We might say the real problem with pornography isn’t that it shows us too much sex, but that it doesn’t show us enough—it cannot possibly give us an experience of real intimacy. Porn treats sex one-dimensionally, packages it in pixels, and rips it from its relational context. It only titillates us with images of sex but cannot offer the experience of closeness with another person.

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Read Part 3: “Finding #3: Watching Porn Lowers Our View of Women

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