Uncategorized

Does Porn Do Irreversible Damage?

Day 302: My Emotions Run Deep
 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been following the story of the Cleveland kidnapping.  I’m a Buckeye (Buckeye= resident of Ohio), born and raised, and actually remember well the news reports after two of the girls went missing.  One of them, Gina, closely resembles my best friend.  Their story has daily made the headlines here in Ohio (where I am staying for the summer).

This morning, as I was reading news on the plea deal, I read this comment by their captor:

“my addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind.”

He also apparently tried to bring up that he also was a victim as a child.  My first impulse was to tell him to shut it.  I do not like it when people blame their actions on their pasts.  There are a lot of us with broken, abusive backgrounds, and we didn’t go out and kidnap people.  Furthermore acting like the demon of pornography possessed your body and through you kidnapped those women is utterly distasteful.  Man up.

It brought to my mind a question so many of you caught in pornography have asked me:

Does porn do irreversible damage?

And my answer is no, but my answer is yes.  That is a loaded and complicated question, and when professionals aren’t willing to put a stamp on pornography and sex addiction, it’s hard to make a broad statement about the damage that “non-existent” addiction can cause.

Then, there’s the definition of ‘damage’ and what exactly we’re implying by ‘irreversible.’  There is a lot of heaviness in that one question but I’m going to give it my best shot.

No

No, pornography does not make you a serial killer/rapist/kidnapper.  I think when women ask me if porn does irreversible damage, they are afraid that they are going to go the route of Charles Manson.  They fear that pornography is going to morph them into some wretched social outcast, a menace to society, a monster devoid of heart and conscience.

I can’t speak to what makes men like Charles Manson and Ariel Castro tick.  I can’t tell you how a porn addiction can be connected to murder, kidnapping, and rape except to, again, say that pornography showcases a complete disregard for the person in pursuit of their body.  Pornography uses people and encourages people to use people.

Again, not an expert, but if you are afraid of becoming a sociopath, I think you’re well on your way to not becoming a sociopath.  The people who become sociopaths are the people who don’t care.

No, pornography does not make you unmarriageable (I might have just invented that word).  Many young women feel that once they come out of pornography that’s it.  They’re just out of pornography.  They can’t see a future that isn’t tainted by their past. They feel like damaged goods, much like women who have been raped or women who have engaged in premarital sex and then had their partners leave them.

Yes

Yes, pornography is destructive.  It goes hard-grain against all we were created to be, either as men or as women.  It turns men into animals controlled by this hormonal impulse to ‘mate’ and it objectifies women.  It rips apart relationships, takes down careers, and destroys people.

Yes, it is addictive.  Some “experts” are actually starting to drift down the path of porn addiction being a mental disorder.  They, and I don’t care who ‘they’ is, would be wrong.  I’m not sure if it’s because we, as a society, don’t like being responsible for our actions and want to blame some out-of-our-control factor or what.  Do they call drug addiction a mental disorder?  (That’s an honest question, not rhetorical.  Do they actually label addictions mental disorders?)

Yes, pornography can damage you.  It can rewire your thinking.  It can change how you look at life.  It can change how you interact with people.  It can break down your sense of worth.  It can break down your system of morals.  It can damage you.

Is that damage “irreversible?”

Is the damage caused by pornography irreversible?  If you know me, you know the answer that is coming:

Yes.

(Mean trick, I know.  If you know me, you were expecting a “no.”)

The damage cause by pornography is irreversible, just like the damage caused by gossip is irreversible, or the damage caused by lying is irreversible, or the damage caused by an affair is irreversible.  All damage is irreversible.  You can never undo damage that has been done.  That’s just a fact.  

But, while it may not be irreversible, it is not irreparable.

That damage can be repaired.  What is broken cannot be made unbroken, but it can be restored.

This is why freedom is a process.  It isn’t a magic wand that makes it all go away, and it isn’t walking away like it never happened.  It is going through piece by broken piece, picking it up, polishing it off, and then figuring out how to put it back together again.

Will it ever be exactly the same?  No.  You can never unsee images, unwatch videos, or unhave sex with someone.  But you don’t have to sign yourself over to be the next news headline either.  Nor do you have to walk through life dragging your bag of broken pieces around with you.

There is always grace.

Even for all the men in the headlines, there is always grace.  But, the first step in receiving that grace is to acknowledge the brokenness, and that yes, there is damage. After all, you aren’t going to try and fix something you are convinced doesn’t need fixing.

Photo: ?KatB Photography? / Foter / CC BY-NC

4 comments

  1. Such an excellent post! Tho I’m a guy my story parallels yours in many ways, even the year of my gracious rescue from a merciful Father, 2004. Nice insights today, thanks!

  2. I just wanted to address your question “Do they actually label addictions as a mental disorder?” Yes, they do. The new DSM-5 (the book used by mental health professionals for diagnosing mental disorders) has the category Substance Use Disorders which includes drugs and alcohol. There is also the category Addictive Disorders, which is for behavioral addictions but at this time only includes gambling. But, there is a lot of research going into other behaviors that are considered addictive, sex being one of them. As a Christian mental health professional, I treat sexual addictions and consider them to be not only a sin struggle but a mental health struggle as well.

  3. Excellent post! VERY well said. I totally agree! The damage IS real and restoration IS a process. We describe my husband’s restoration process in our book “Now Choose Life! One Man’s Journey Out of the Grip of Pornography.” We will be forever grateful for God’s grace that allowed him to embark on that journey.

  4. Thank you