Porn: A Quick Fix But No Solution
I’m thrilled to introduce the Authentic Intimacy community to our new Director of Discipleship, Joy Skarka. Joy brings not only education and experience, but also her own story of transformation from sexual bondage to freedom in Christ. —Juli
(Presione aquí para leer en español).
Since COVID-19 the pornography industry has seen a massive increase in website traffic. On March 24th, one major site announced that their premium content would be free to all visitors resulting in a massive increase of 18.5%. The site explained that watching free porn will encourage people to stay home and flatten the curve.
It’s no surprise that many will turn to porn in our current circumstance. I know because this used to be my story. In moments of pain, I turned to porn to escape my reality. Engaging with pornography appeared to be a quick fix for my negative emotions and feelings, but it was never fully satisfying. These negative emotions and feelings could include fear, anxiety, isolation, stress, and boredom, all of which are currently at an all-time high for many of us.
In our fear and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we search for things to comfort us and make us feel safe. We watch the news and scroll through our Twitter feeds. We buy all the toilet paper and Clorox wipes off the shelves. We binge Netflix hoping that a little distraction and a quick feeling of pleasure will calm our nerves.
The small decision we make to turn to porn for comfort has lasting impact on our brains. Porn rewires our brain by reconstructing our neurological pathways and bonding us to the images. Often we start by looking at simple images, joining a chat room, reading a romance novel, or turning to internet porn. Then dopamine, a pleasurable chemical, is released into the brain. Over time, we develop a tolerance and become desensitized to the images. When the levels of dopamine are no longer high enough to feel pleasure, a person will want something stronger. Just like a drug addiction, a person can develop a chemical addiction to pornography.
In the moment when we look to porn, we fail to think about the lasting negative impacts. This is the power of addiction, but the good news is that we worship a God who has the power to overcome our addictions and bring healing to our brains.
While in quarantine, we may also feel lonely. Living alone or even with a roommate during a crisis like this one may accentuate the isolation of singleness. You may feel unloved or unwanted when you are stuck inside the walls of your home. And marriage can feel lonely too. When two people are forced to spend time together, conflict can make you wish you lived alone. In our pain, we seek quick solutions to fix our heart problems. (Check out the Marriage Survival Guide: Surviving A Quarantine With Your Spouse.)
Our souls cry out for intimacy and connection. During this time when people are stuck at home, separated from loved ones, and living in fear, it makes sense that we would seek out something to address our longings. We were created for intimacy. We were created to be loved and to want love, yet we turn to things that will never satisfy us.
The world often separates intimacy from sex. You can have sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex. Porn is sex without intimacy. While it promises connection, porn will ultimately create further isolation from people, from God, and from the beautiful picture of how sex was designed. Sex is relational. Sex is spiritual. Porn is isolating and will never fill our longings. With one click of a button, we can feel “connected” for a few minutes, but this feeling quickly fades.
If porn won’t meet your needs, what will?
Temptation is an illegitimate way to address our legitimate longings. Your anxiety and loneliness are real. Turning to porn is an easy solution to our fears, loneliness, and boredom, but is it lasting?
The only thing that will fill our heart longings and desires is intimacy with God. God wants to use our present circumstances to allow us to run back to him and experience his intimacy.
My prayer for myself and for all of us is that we will use our pain for good during this season. I pray that even in the times we feel lonely or struggle with anxiety, we will run to God for his comfort and not to pornography.
If you sometimes struggle with porn or even if you recently had a major relapse, here are some practical next steps and tools:
1) Turn to God to fill your longings.
Intimacy with God can be deepened through prayer, Bible reading, and worship. Use your extra time at home to spend time in God’s presence. (Check out a devotional by Juli Slattery about intimacy with God.)
2) Turn to God for healing.
Today, during my time with God, I read the story of Jesus healing the woman who bled continuously. For twelve years, she suffered, and even spent all her money to try and get better, but she only grew worse. After reaching out and touching Jesus’ cloak her bleeding immediately stopped.
If you have struggled with porn for years, there is hope. Reach out to Jesus, and he can bring you lasting healing.
3) Find community online.
Join our date night series or our membership community. We need to connect to real people through video conferencing and talking on the phone. FaceTime a friend and pray together. We need God, but we also need human connection. The internet can be a powerful tool to connect us or a dangerous tool that can isolate us from God and others.
You can also join online groups that provide community and support specific to pornography. I am currently leading a Pure Desire group. Join a group today.
4) Check out other Authentic Intimacy resources.
Java with Juli Podcast: #300: Christians Struggle with Sexual Addiction Too.
Webinar: Pornography: Help for Spouses & Parents
Blog: Breaking Free From Addiction and When Your Kids Look at Porn
5) Learn how to sit in your discomfort.
Instead of turning to porn, Netflix, or food, journal your feelings. Give yourself permission to cry, to admit feeling overwhelmed, lonely or anxious. You do not need to deny these feelings, but instead turn to God with them. Cry out to God; he can handle our fears, worries, and insecurities. He is all-powerful and all-knowing and the best comforter. As we practice this act of surrender and sitting in our discomfort, we will exercise this muscle. This action may feel difficult now, but over time this will get easier.
Whatever COVID-19 reveals about our hearts, God can heal. He is our healer. We are praying for you in this season!
Joy Skarka is passionate about creating spaces to free women from shame. Joy earned her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida, a Master of Arts degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Ministries degree from DTS studying how women find freedom from sexual shame.
While in college she began writing, speaking, and leading online small groups with the goal of helping women experience freedom from sexual shame. In 2020, Joy transitioned from her ministry to serve as the Director of Discipleship for Authentic Intimacy. Joy married her husband Zack in 2017, and they live in Florida.
You may also find the following resources helpful:
Java Pack: Learning to Trust
Date Nights In: A series of four online events for married couples about how to talk, fight, and pray about sex.
COVID-19 Marriage Survival Guide
Don't Waste The Pain (blog)
Java with Juli #306: When You Can't Wait Another Day
Java with Juli #40: Bonus! What Do You Fear?