The following is an excerpt from Your Brain on Porn: 5 Proven Ways Porn Warps Your Mind and 3 Biblical Ways to Renew It.
Go back to read the Introduction.
Finding #1: Watching Porn Decreases Sexual Satisfaction
God is not the enemy of pleasure. He is the Creator of it. The Bible proclaims it. Even the demons know it. But it is human beings who are most likely to forget it.
The demon Screwtape, in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, reminds his young demonic apprentice of this truth. “[God’s] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures forevermore.’…He has filled the world full of pleasures.”
Sex is one of these God-created pleasures. To highlight the goodness of sexual pleasure, God inspired King Solomon to write a little book of romantic melodies called “The Song of Songs”—a title that means, “the best love song of all.” This book expresses—at times in erotic detail—the pleasure and joy of marital sexuality.
But like all good things, sin aims to twist this pleasure.
In their experiment, Zillmann and Bryant found a direct correlation between the amount of pornography one viewed and one’s overall sexual satisfaction in real relationships. Participants from the Massive Exposure Group reported less satisfaction with their intimate partners: they were less likely to be pleased with their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.
Zillmann and Bryant concluded that porn consumers eventually compare their spouse with images of porn models. Another study appearing in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2002 found similar results. When men and women were exposed to pictures of female centerfold models from Playboy and Penthouse, this significantly lowered their judgments about the attractiveness of “average” people.
When people become more and more entrenched in pornography, this ends up only deluding and deadening their libido. Dr. Mary Anne Layden concludes, “Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.” Pornography, she says, “is toxic miseducation about sex and relationships,” training men and women to expect online “designer sex” in the real world.
This comparison isn’t merely about body type or sexual performance. Someone exposed again and again to pornography also can end up comparing the whole fantasy experience to their sex lives. Instead of being drawn to one woman or one man, they end up being turned on by the variety and novelty porn offers them.
Neurobiologist Peter Milner explains that our brains are wired to be attracted to that which is unfamiliar and novel. This inward drive is what helps us to learn new things and adapt to our environment. But, he explains, it is possible “to become addicted to novelty and uncertainty.” Over time the brain that feeds on erotic media is trained to equate sexual excitement with the novelty and variety of pornography. Eventually the familiar face, body, and sexual performance of a spouse doesn’t arouse the way it used to.
For all of Solomon’s romantic wisdom and marital passion, even he was ensnared by a lust for “variety.” In 1 Kings 11 we learn Solomon eventually accumulated 700 wives and 300 concubines because “he loved many foreign women” (v.1). Solomon was a man who was richer than Bill Gates, more spiritually influential than Billy Graham, smarter than Einstein, and yet he has a harem bigger than Hugh Hefner’s.
Pornography essentially trains men and women to be consumers, not lovers; to treat sex as a commodity; to think about sex as something on-tap and made-to-order. Dr. Judith Reisman rightly concludes, pornography “castrates” men visually, training them to retreat into the realm of fantasy if they want to be aroused.
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