Culture

At the heart of porn addiction is pain

by Joanne Kwok // April 3, 2019, 12:48 am

heart-of-porn

“The effects of porn on the soul can be deep, and the use of porn itself can be a sign of emotional wounds,” said Josh McDowell, reading out a quote from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Speaking at Set Free 2019, a gathering of Christian leaders across Singapore to discuss matters of sexuality and pornography, the renowned apologist had taken a softer turn from the statistics he earlier shared to address the root issues of porn addiction.

Singapore, we have a porn problem

“Porn is not the problem – it’s the medication for the problem,” he continued. “Medication for a deeper root trauma, hurt or wound in your life. Everybody has one; just that most people don’t recognise it in them.”

The journey of healing from addiction has to involve dealing with the real problem, not just the symptoms, pointed out McDowell.

“Too often behavioural modification is used instead – just stop watching it, read the Bible and pray. Love Jesus and you’ll be okay,” he said. “Well, maybe for 30 days. Then there’ll be a trigger, and that porn will come back faster than you thought you could leave it. And you’ll go deeper and darker into it, and you’ll lose hope.”

“So many Christians say: ‘I tried the Jesus way and it didn’t work. But the truth is you didn’t try it the Jesus way, not even close.”

Porn and the things I’d rather love

But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops might have hit the nail on the head when it came to the Jesus way.

“This next phrase in their quote set me free: ‘No wound is so deep as to be out of the reach of Christ’s redeeming grace,'” said McDowell.

“This means that there is nothing too great in my life for God’s power to change, nor anything too small or insignificant for His love to be concerned about.”

“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 30:17)

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save.” (Isaiah 59:1)

Yes, walking out of porn addiction will take years, and there is no easy, shortcut solution that will not hurt – like removing a tattoo. But believing that God can do it sets you free.

THE POWER OF THE FATHER’S LOVE

This message was reinforced by Senior Pastor of Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church, Daniel Foo, who unpacked relevant Scripture for the participants of Set Free.

“Receiving the love of our Father God is key to releasing the abundant grace needed to overcome sexual sins in His power,” he said, referencing Ephesians 3:16-20.

“The love of the Father gives you strength. But there are obstacles to receiving the Father’s love, such as a wrong image of Father-God as an authoritarian, or bad experiences with earthly fathers, such as trauma, emotional or verbal abuse, and iron-fisted disciplining.”

“I am not nobody’s child”: My journey out of fatherlessness into biblical manhood

Foo then compared two men in the Bible, King David and Joseph of Egypt. “Why did David commit adultery with Bathsheba, while Joseph refused to respond to the advances of Potiphar’s wife?”

“There could have been a void in David’s heart from being forgotten by his father at a young age,” he surmised. In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel had requested for all of Jesse’s sons to pass before him in order to select a king, as God had directed, but Jesse had not included his youngest son David who was out tending to the sheep.

That could have been the first sign of a wound of not being valid as a son in his earthly father’s eyes. But Joseph was the opposite – Genesis 37 records that his father Jacob loved him more than all his children.

“I submit to you,” Foo said. “That Joseph was so well loved by his father there was no void in his heart that could respond in immorality towards his master’s wife.”

THE WAY OUT OF PORN

It is only by receiving the Father’s love that we will find healing for our wounds. Yet this has to be accompanied by community and counselling, said the speakers at Set Free.

“There is no solution to porn,” pointed out McDowell. “There is no answer. Only solutions and answers.”

A recovery group is so important – almost no one makes it without one.

“Studies have shown that heavier porn use results in frontal disconnection or the wearing out of the brain’s braking system,” said neurosurgeon Dr Donald Hilton. “Support groups are powerful medicine to ‘change the brakes’.”

He added: “They can become a substitute braking system while the person’s own system heals for the next 3-5 years. It’s an ongoing change we cannot take for granted. A recovery group is so important.

“Almost no one makes it without one.”

Pwned by porn: This is how it messes with your mind

At the conference, Austin Fruits, McDowell’s personal assistant, also shared his story of overcoming a decade of porn addiction.

Raised in a Christian family, Fruits thought that going to a Christian university would do the trick after years of trying to break free with prayer and Bible-reading. This is what he learnt instead: 

  1. Do whatever it takes to cut the supply.
  2. Repentance is a process of change and renewal of one’s mind.
  3. True accountability is committing to a life of openness and vulnerability.
  4. Get counselling to deal with the root issues and wounds driving the addiction.

“When I was lonely, rejected, worthless… Porn was always there for instant satisfaction, instant intimacy and instant acceptance,” said Fruits, adding that having a counsellor to walk alongside you is crucial to recovery. “We’re unable to look at the emotions we’re really feeling and what’s driving the behaviour.”

Ultimately, finding hope and healing from addiction goes back to our identity and who we see ourselves as.

“It’s not just how you see yourself but how God sees you,” Fruits concluded. “And intimacy with the Lord and your community is completely worth it.”

About the author

Joanne Kwok

Joanne is a bundle of creative energy commonly heard before she is seen. She believes in the triune power of good conversation, brilliant writing and bold ideas. She also likes milo.