People at work have started calling me the “porn queen.” I’m considering adding the title to my resume just as a conversation piece. How did I earn this title, one might ask? When the topic of pornography comes up (and it often does in my line of work), I have no choice but to shift into educator mode and drop some knowledge. My coworkers good-naturedly bob their heads when I launch into one of my animated educational speeches, complete with flailing arms and recent statistics. While “porn queen” might be a funny (albeit misleading) nickname, the truth is that pornography addiction is no laughing matter.
Porn hates God’s design for sex. It creates destruction and tells lies. It infects the minds of its victims, regardless of age, gender, status, or place of residence. To give you an idea, here are some things I’ve heard just this month:
“Sometimes I’m unable to watch it because my phone is too slow, and that makes me very angry.”
“I’m ashamed and confused about my sexual choices.”
“Since I know he’s watching porn, I never feel like I’m attractive enough to keep him interested in me.”
“I’m heterosexual, but when I see an attractive photo of a member of the same sex, I feel triggered to watch pornography.”
“I live in fear that he is looking at other girls for sexual pleasure.”
“I’m ashamed by what arouses me, like being physically hurt.”
You might be surprised to learn that all of these quotes came from teenage girls. Pornography is often thought of as “a guy problem” when in fact, one out of three porn viewers is female. It’s also frequently touted as “adult entertainment” when the truth is the average age of first exposure to pornography is 10-11 years old. Whether or not your child is searching for pornography, it is most definitely searching for them.
I want to clarify that being curious about sex is a natural part of growing up. It’s a natural part of being human! God created sex—it was His idea! It is a gift meant to be celebrated in the security and commitment of marriage. But pornography preys upon sexual curiosity and tells lies about God’s beautiful design.
When people are engaged in anything addictive (like drugs or pornography), a 4-step brain cycle begins. First, because it is addictive, there is an over-consumption of the substance or activity. Next, the brain is hit with a surge of dopamine. Next comes a release of Delta Fos B, and finally, sensitization of a neural pathway, causing cravings and triggers.
If, like me, your mind doesn’t easily attach to science-y terms, here’s what to keep in mind:
Dopamine tells the brain, “This activity is valuable, let’s do it again!”
Delta Fos B tells the brain “I’ve been here before, and this is what I can expect.”
Let’s use substance abuse as an example. If someone is using cocaine, the dopamine surge tells the person’s brain the activity of snorting cocaine into their nose is valuable, fun, and rewarding. Delta Fos B tells the person’s brain when they see white powder, it means they are going to get high. Even if this person stops using cocaine, they will likely be “triggered” by anything resembling white powder in the future, thanks to Delta Fos B.
But pornography addiction is slightly different from drug addiction. Our brains do not have a built-in circuit for drug use—but our brains are naturally wired for sex. God created us to be fruitful and multiply, so he gave us a built-in circuit for reproduction. Porn hijacks this naturally existing brain circuit and force-feeds it lies.
Because of Delta Fos B, the brain learns the porn on the screen is what to expect from a real-life sexual encounter. And here’s the kicker: the adolescent brain is more flexible than a mature brain (which reaches full development at age 25-26), and also contains a higher concentration of Delta Fos B. That means deeper, longer lasting pathways are conditioning the mind.
So, what lies does porn teach adolescent brains about sex?
- Sex should be accessible at any time. If a woman wants a relationship, she must give him whatever kind of sex he wants.
Unlike a real-life sexual relationship, pornography is never unavailable. Unlike women in real life, women in pornography will never say, “Stop, that hurts.” They will never say, “I feel disrespected.”
- A woman is to be dominated and used. Verbal cruelty and physical abuse are normal and permissible in relationships.
88% of all pornography contains some form of female degradation. This normalizes abuse and teaches the brain to find it arousing.
- The only goal of sex is for the man’s physical pleasure. A girl’s self-worth is tied to her appearance and sexual performance.
Porn does not care about emotional, intellectual, or spiritual connection.
- When a guy is no longer fulfilled, he should find someone/something new that excites him. A man can never be fully committed to a woman mentally or physically.
Among other things, dopamine is triggered when the brain experiences novelty, shock, and guilt. This causes the compulsion to seek new and different types of pornography with each use. When one type of sex act becomes boring, you can search for something else. Sex is viewed from the perspective, “What’s in it for me?”
When this brain conditioning is carried from adolescence into a real-life relationship, it wreaks havoc on the hearts, minds, and bodies of all involved. As a matter of fact, one in three guys between the ages of 18 and 25 suffers from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED. This causes feelings of shame, inadequacy, and sexual frustration. In many cases, it leads to infidelity and/or divorce.
As if that weren’t enough of a reason to avoid pornography, it is reported that about half of all sex trafficked victims are forced to create porn. There is no guarantee that what is being viewed on the screen has been made voluntarily, even if it appears that way. Because there is money to be made in the porn industry, it creates a demand for people having sex on camera. Sex trafficking is one of the major content suppliers of the porn industry.
So, now what? Once a porn user knows this information, is there any hope of recovery? Absolutely. There are support groups, accountability apps, and resources like the ones listed below. Once you know better, you can take the responsibility to do better–for yourself, your relationships, and the entire world.