28 Feb REWIRE: How Pornography Is Eating Masculinity Alive
Jonathan* sits across from me with eyes downcast and body tense. He just can’t bring himself to lean back in his chair. His hands wring while elbows rest on his knees, and his face alternates between rage, shame, contempt and deep sadness. He’s been caught. He’s been found out. And now he bravely seeks help for his addiction to pornography. It’s eating him from the inside out.
And the crazy thing is, he’s among the majority of men who use pornography on a regular basis.
I can think of nothing more lethal to masculinity than porn. It’s an epidemic of massive proportions that must be addressed if we have any hope of helping men heal their wounds, know their God and restore their world. I believe it is the enemy’s greatest weapon to emasculate godly manhood, and effectively wipe out generations of men…and has done so for decades.
Jonathan was first exposed to pornography at the age of 8 at a friend’s house. Tucked away in a basement dresser drawer, his friend had discovered a stash of magazines that tantalized, titillated and enticed the boys to spend hours upon hours pouring over the images. Not knowing what they had found, they returned often. Occasionally, a new magazine found its way into the stash – new fodder for the corruption of young minds.
Within a year, their exploration went online, and they discovered an unending supply of porn. But here, beyond the nude pictures and provocative poses, they found videos of sex so explicit they could hardly believe their eyes. As 9 year old boys, they were exposed to the most raw and base aspects of exploitative and objectifying sex possible. They were caught in the throes of pornography and the thrills of sex and secrecy. Eventually, what was seen on screen needed to be enacted in real life. The boys began exploring one another.
Check out this video from FightTheNewDrug.org
You see, pornography wires the brain to be pornographic. As the video states, it actually changes the brain. When exposed at an early age, the forming mind has no hope but to be shaped by the images + chemicals + habits + secrecy + excitement = addiction. What ends up happening is that pornography becomes a go-to drug of choice whenever life feels unmanageable. It promises to relieve pressure, bring comfort, offer entertainment, etc. all while requiring nothing in return. Pornography is the world’s #1 emotional self-medication. Feel bad? Porn. Feel sad? Porn. Feel overwhelmed, anxious, sleepless, confused, hyper, belittled, ashamed, scared, even excited? Porn. While porn is all about sex, pornography use and addiction are not. Porn is about masking the soul.
I wish I could say Jonathan’s story is abnormal. And while the severity of his use and addiction may outpace many, he is certainly not alone. In fact, moments after I finished with Jonathan, I met with Scott, then Sam, then Patrick, then Noah. Men, we must address this issue – first for ourselves and then for our families.
Pornography is swallowing masculinity alive and we have to do something about it.
Restoration Project is committed to helping men find freedom. There are many excellent organizations already focused on the eradication of pornography (see list and links below) and we do not need to duplicate. We will, however, press into this issue on a regular basis, having honest and open conversations about the erosion of manhood through porn. We will be conduits of hope and restoration, pointing men towards Jesus’ healing and freedom.
As part of a local effort to raise awareness about the harmful effects of pornography, Restoration Project is partnering with several area churches in an initiative called “REWIRE: A Conversation About Pornography.” See details on our Facebook page. I will be hosting an evening conversation, joined by a panel of experts to discuss how to protect ourselves and our children from the invasion of over-sexualized media.
You see, it is possible to REWIRE the brain. It is possible to un-pornify. It’s certainly not easy, and it requires a LOT of heart-work, life-work and story-work. Porn constitutes the enemy’s primary weapon against masculinity (and femininity as well, but that’s a different blog). It steals, kills and destroys the hearts of men. Rewiring the brain is possible because Jesus comes to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free. Be free.
Helpful Resources for Restoration
- Fight the New Drug – amazing resources and media regarding the truth about pornography
- Surfing for God by Michael Cusick – one of our favorite porn-recovery books
- Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers – excellent understanding about the brain’s wiring and redemption
- The Porn Phenomenon by the Barna Group and Set Free, in association with Josh McDowell Ministries
- Covenant Eyes and XXXChurch and Mobicip– all three excellent anti-porn filters for online safety, as well as TONS of helpful resources
- Restoration Counseling Center – Chris Bruno practices as a Licensed Professional Counselor, along with a team of highly-trained therapists who specialize in healthy sexuality and porn recovery