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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

Why Does He Look at Pornography?

Why Does He Look At Pornography

One problem that biblical counselors will surely face in their counseling and everyday conversations, regardless of gender, is the addiction and enslavement to pornography. It is not uncommon to hear and meet counselees whose first introduction to pornography happened in their pre-adolescent years of 7-12.

With a problem so prevalent and pervasive in the church, numerous books and articles have been written on the topic. How can biblical counselors contribute to this conversation?

Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) member and Association of Certified Biblical Counselor’s Executive Director, Heath Lambert recently authored a book entitled, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace which has ably defined and elucidated a gospel-centered approach to fighting the sin of pornography. Additionally, a helpful list of resources has been gathered on the BCC website to equip biblical counselors on this topic as well.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Boredom

In some ways this might sound a bit benign, but many men I have met find themselves viewing pornography out of pure boredom. They have nothing to do on a given evening, they begin surfing the web, watching YouTube videos, and before they know it they are accessing pornography. What started out as boredom and a lack of vigilance soon gives way to viewing pornography.

Entitlement

One man I spoke with recently described his battle with pornography as a struggle of entitlement. After a long day of work, he felt this self-gratification was something he deserved. It was a reward for him, a way he could make himself feel better. Pornography became a vehicle for him to feel good and experience pleasure. After closer examination of his life, we were able to discover that this sense of entitlement actually tainted many areas of his life.

Escapism & Fantasy-ism

Many men are very dissatisfied with their work life, home life, sex life, situational circumstances, spousal relationships, etc. This brooding dissatisfaction and discontentment soon gives way to seeking out satisfaction and contentment in a virtual world. In this virtual, on-demand world the counselee can escape and create their own reality. Pornography in many ways becomes a haven from the “real world” they inhabit.

Fear of Rejection

Other men I counsel experience significant insecurities. Insecurities, which go something, like this, “I fear rejection from my wife when I pursue sexual intimacy, so I pursue pornography where I am always accepted.” Issues of self-image and performance soon preoccupy the mind and lead to paralyzing self-focus. The fearful man, afraid of rejection, can easily give into the lie that the people he views online always want him, they love him, they need him.

Easy

This particular motivation might seem obvious as well on the surface, but many men pursue pornography I believe, because it is easy and accessible. It is easier to type in a web address then it is to pursue intimacy with my wife. It is easier to view pornography for a few fleeting moments than to build a deep and abiding relationship with my wife. It is easier to selfishly fulfill my desires with no expectation of self-giving, self-sacrificing love for my spouse.

Revenge

Believe it or not, I have met and listened to those who have viewed pornography out of a heart of vengeance. The reasoning goes something like this, “Because my spouse viewed pornography and hurt me, I am going to do the same thing to show them what it feels like.” Needless to say, the reasoning is specious and the result is always guilt, shame and empty satisfaction.

These particular motivations are in no way meant to be exhaustive, but categories to use to explore with your counselee. Many are intertwined with each other, and some perhaps are more evident than others. The wise biblical counselor should seek to understand what is going on in the counselee’s heart with the illuminating help of the word. Proverbs 20:5 states, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”

Once a motivation has been more clearly discovered, I often find that the promises and warnings of God’s word can be even more effective in counseling. Rather than dealing with pornography in a reductionistic and truncated manner, robust biblical counsel can be offered like an eyedropper dispensing valuable and restorative medicine.

Join the Conversation

What other motivations have you encountered with both men and women in their struggle with pornography? What biblical promises, warnings or imperatives could uniquely deal with one of the above motivations?

This entry was posted in Adultery, Men/Husbands, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Pornography, Sexual Purity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 
  • Guest

    Prov 19:15 might answer boredom. I know I have fallen prey to boredom many times. And what’s more, at those times I forget verses like this and others.

    • Jonathan Holmes

      I agree.

      Proverbs 19:15- Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

      It also reminds me of Archbishop William Temple who says that a person’s religion is what he/she does with his solitude.

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  • Dr Mike

    I’ve been a Christian counselor for more that thirty years and, sadly, know that this issue is as prevalent for Christians as unbelievers. It is a tangled mess.

    What clients tell us tend to be rationalizations: they’re trying to make sense of it themselves and seize upon whatever explanation is benign enough for their egos. I seriously question their credibility as self-diagnosticians: they, being in the throes of the compulsion, lack perspective.

    At root, the problem is Sin; more specifically it is a form of the first sin (whether you attribute that to Satan or Adam). The realization is painful and disturbing for my Christian clients, the road to recovery generally never-ending and twisting, and the outcome – in this life – uncertain.

    I know of no biblical or Scriptural prescription that will “fix” the problem and provide a cure. The already-not yet nature of our salvation makes progress inevitable but evasive.

    • Jonathan Holmes

      Dr. Mike,

      I agree with your conclusion. People who are blinded by their sin are not the best self-diagnosticians which is hopefully one of the graces that a loving counselor can provide by the Holy Spirit’s power. Exposing the darkness with light…the light of the word and the person of Jesus Christ.

      You’re also correct that the realization is painful for many counselees. I also find that for many, thinking through motivation before pornography is very helpful and elucidating.

  • fctorino

    Recent studies have indicated/suggested that viewing pornography is akin to overt drug taking and alcohol consumption. When watches a porn film/clip, the brain is flooded with certain chemicals that increase the chemical known as dopamine. “Dopamine dysregulation is at the heart of porn addiction, cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Restoring normal dopamine function and sensitivity is a key to porn recovery.” The wages of chemical addiction must also be acknowledged, apart from boredom, revenge, ease, fear of rejection, and escapism.

    • James Paul

      I agree with fctorino. This list ignores biological/chemical reasons for the addictive nature of pornography. Particularly those with untreated mental illness may be self-medicating.

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  • jimmy

    And let’s not forget Paul’s advice for sexually charged singles: if you BURN with passion, get married! (1 Cor. 7) Sexual desire itself is from God and has its right fulfillment in marriage. So pray for a godly Christian spouse, and make a concerted effort to find him/her, whether its through your church or online or other appropriate means.

    • Ben Thorp

      I’d be interested to hear the author’s experience, but mine is that marriage is in no way a solution to pornography. Notice that “sexual desire” isn’t listed above.

      • jimmy

        Sexual desire isn’t listed. And that’s my point. Don’t you think it might have something to do with it? Marriage surely is not a full-proof solution to porn, nor would it be to sleeping around. But I think its pretty clear that Paul’s recommendation for believers living in a culture of rampant sexual immorality was to get married (verse 2). In fact Paul said having normal sexual relations will “keep you from giving into Satan’s temptations” (verse 7).

        • Ben Thorp

          Actually no, I don’t think that sexual desire is the primary motivator for porn usage. It’s probably a gateway to getting into pornography, but I think that the primary motivators are those listed above.

          I think Paul’s advice is good for those struggling with sexual desire for another person (although sometimes that falls over into lust, which is sinful) as a prevention to fornication (ie sexual activity outside of marriage), but I don’t think it’s good advice for those struggling with pornography.

          Let’s not forget that most people who struggle with pornography start between the ages of 7-12, at least 4 years before they can legally get married in most countries. And I’m not sure we should be advising them to get married as soon as they hit 16!

  • rdrift1879

    I’ve heard some very “deep” reasons why men pursue pornography. These reasons listed sound much more realistic.

    • Jonathan Holmes

      Right, this list wasn’t meant to be exhaustive in any way, but a good start to the counseling conversation.

  • http://www.podcastfasttrack.com/ Carey Green

    In the “fear” category I would add “fear that I’m not a real man.” Many men turn to porn because it gives them a feeling of conquest, power, etc. – even though every ounce of that is an illusion, which comes crashing in on them the moment the act is over.

    Beyond that I’d say idolatry is the main reason, plain and simple. As John Piper says, we are all guilty of preferring other things to God. Porn is a prime example of us worshiping and serving the creation rather than the Creator. We make the Romans 1 exchange every time we view porn.

    • Jonathan Holmes

      Very good point Carey. Often men have insecurities about their masculinity, and how their wife might potentially view them. In turn they run to pornography which gratifies and validates their sense of self.

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  • Philly

    I get very annoyed at simplistic religious solutions to complex issues. Men are always vilified . Yet the more men I talk to the more I see a different issue that is never discussed. Most married men I discuss this with tell me that the frequency of the sexual intimacy have dropped to hardly once or a month if that. Not because of them but because of there wife’s. Not all of us have power issues. Many are just sexually frustrated. Sexually explicit content is a substitute for lack of the real thing.
    My reasons for viewing pornography are more complex. As the years have gone by my wife’s sexual desires have dropped to nothing. Some of that I believe has to do with pain medication from a bad car accident many years ago. In the last 2 years she has indicated vaginal intercourse is painful. Lubes and creams help little. I no longer even attempt to initiate sex and my wife has never been an initiator any how. Over the last few years, I have began discussions about seeking medical help. I have even explained to her how sad it makes me to no longer be intimate. I have attempted every loving way to move her to reasonable action. My wife assures me that she loves me more than anything and that this is not about me or my sexual performance. I am an incredibly physical human being. I think physical intimacy is one of god’s greatest gifts. I look for videos that shows folks being intimate and loving. Lack of that intimacy depresses me greatly.
    So.
    My choices . 1 . Divorce my wife. 2. Cheat on my wife. 3. Continue to unsuccessfully address the issue. 4. Have unfulfilled sexual intimacy issue and be unhappy (So I can be religiously sanctified for my suffrage in fulfilling gods plan for us )
    I have prayed for years to the good lord for guidance on this issue.
    My love for my wife and my personal code of ethics on how to treat my best friend have managed to restrain me from solutions 1 and 2. To be honest though I consider them regularly.
    So taking matters into my own hands ( sorry couldn’t help the pun) Seems to be the only course of action left that I can live with.

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The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.