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Quitting Porn Is a Big Picture Undertaking

 

 

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Carl Thomas
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Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

Recently I stumbled upon a sermon on YouTube by Craig Groeschel.

You may not have heard of him, but Craig pastors Life.Church whose weekly attendance was 85,000 people in 2018 and is probably most well known for its extremely popular YouVersion ministry, which publishes the Bible App.

The sermon was titled How to Quit Porn and part of his Deep Clean sermon series.

Let me state for the record:

  • I like Craig and his preaching (for the most part).
  • I appreciate his ministry.
  • I had high hopes for his message.

But it fell considerably flat.

Why?

Because it lacked a big picture understanding of porn and sexual addiction and fell into the same trap many fall into believing porn or unhealthy sex is the root problem.

These were the basic bullet points of his message:

  1. People struggle with porn because of a spiritual injury caused by sexual trauma (exposure, abuse, etc.).
  2. That “injury” creates shame and introduces people to a corrupted but enticing promise of sexual pleasure.
  3. Through repeated use and abuse people become dependent on dopamine and develop a tendency to lust and sexualize others.
  4. If you want to be free, you need to gain around 90 days of sobriety for your brain to heal and break the dopamine dependency.
  5. Two keys to that sobriety process are 1) confess to God and others, and 2) don’t fight lust, run from it.
  6. One way you can really help yourself is locking down your access, so you remove the possibility of temptation.

The truth is all these points have a degree of truth to them. But they fit into a bigger picture that when not contemplated creates a lot of confusion and frustration. It’s like so many other programs, books, and the like I have read and seen over the years.

We get some things right, but then make assumptions and draw connections that sound reasonable, but are not very accurate, skewing the whole conversation.

So with that said, let me respectfully edit these bullet points, so they are more accurate and helpful.

Point 1

People struggle with porn because of an emotional injury that compromised their ability to regulate their emotions in a healthy way which also affected them spiritually. Sometimes these emotional injuries exist because of past sexual trauma and/or early exposure.

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Point 2

Porn use and sexual abuse reinforces shame that was most likely already present in a person’s life. However, sexual acts and orgasms offer a tremendously powerful euphoric experience despite falling short of God’s perfect design for human sexuality, which gives people an easy way to detach when feeling overwhelmed or emotionally threatened.

Point 3

Because of repeated use and abuse people create a dopamine dependence that’s hard to stop relying on. Additionally, through repetition they become conditioned to associate certain sexual acts with certain visual, auditory, emotional, or environmental cues, also known as triggers. This can lead to an increased tendency to objectify others in a sexual manner.

Point 4

If you want to be free, you need to start with around 90 days of sustained sobriety for your brain to heal and break its dopamine dependence. At that point, you need to turn your efforts towards addressing your emotional wounds and befriending your compromised nervous system, so you can make better decisions when faced with the temptation to act out.

Point 5

Two keys to that sobriety process are 1) abstinence, and 2) confession and accountability, but those things alone will not get you far. It is also highly recommended you plug into a supportive community during the recovery process, so you can experience the love and acceptance your brain craves even more than porn.

Point 6

One way you can really help yourself is limiting your access, so you can simplify your daily decision-making. However, locking down your device is not a sustainable answer to handling sexual temptation and should not be used as a crutch or reliable method to keep you “clean.”

Point 7

Most importantly, this is a process and far more complicated than what someone can cover in a 40-minute sermon. Counseling will most likely be necessary to help you do the deep work needed to address your emotional wounds and identity issues.

Again, my goal here is not to criticize Craig or any pastor who has the guts and conviction to tackle sexual struggles. We need more of that, not less.

But realize that often when you hear someone talk about the topic of sex and porn, they are contributing to a much larger and broader conversation, and we need to appreciate and understand that fact so that we avoid making the wrong conclusions.

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