By: Danilo Acquisto

There are a myriad of reasons why you have chosen to read this article. Perhaps you have tried everything and are trying your hardest to find a strong enough conviction to stop watching porn personally, perhaps you’re wondering if it will bring out anything new (or to see if there are any loop holes to poke at), or maybe you’re here out of general interest. Whatever the reason, welcome! I don’t claim to know it all and but I will be sharing what I think are some pretty convincing points on the pure physiological effects of porn and on a deeper level, what effect it has on you spiritually. I hope in some way it empowers you or your friends/family you share it with. 

Porn is so addictive. I’m not talking about minor addiction, I am talking here about chemical addiction as hard to break as a drug addiction. Trust me, as a guy, I know! And there are reasons for that. It is one of the hardest habits to break because it is so private and provides such a high. 

Maybe you’ve never considered the correlation of drug use to porn use but there is a striking link. Your brain has reward pathways (that do what they suggest – reward you for doing things). Whenever your body likes what you do, it rewards you with Dopamine (the feel good chemical). When you take something like cocaine, it artificially tells your brain that you’re doing something it likes and sends a surge (an overload) of dopamine (and other chemicals like adrenaline and oxytocin) through the brain. Over time your brain rewires itself to this, numbs the Dopamine receptors (because there is too much to handle) and it causes you to come down from the high. But above that your brain learns to want more dopamine to get its levels back up again. So it makes you crave the feeling which then drives you to take the drug again. That’s the addiction – the viscous cycle. This is exactly what happens with porn. You become less sensitive to the stimulation and crave it more and more. With your receptors being weakened, you also start to experience anxiety and depression more because you don’t get as much of a kick from the things you love doing (because now your body knows the porn will get a higher and stronger rush than boring old sport or seeing friends). Dopamine makes you feel great, but its effects are not just temporary. While you’re enjoying that good feeling, it’s also building new pathways into your brain connecting together the different parts of the experience you had so you can remember to do that again. The cycle is so common:

substance-addition

Now that we know that porn physically changes your brain and is addictive, I want you to think about one other physiological effect. Most of mainstream porn never focuses on the gentle caressing and flirting associated with sexuality, it is primarily focussed on penetration and ejaculation. So with regular watching of porn, most men (and women) associate arousal with ejaculation – once aroused, the man wants to release that sexual tension. Hence when men enter into relationships, the arousals take over and sexual activity becomes more about getting to the deed and less about loving the other person.

 

 

So porn changes you… and not for the better.

 

Now what does the Church say?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

– Matthew 5: 27-29

 In my own life I have heard it said “it’s perfectly natural to watch porn and masturbate – all boys do it”. For years I believed it to be true – if you didn’t masturbate you would eventually explode. Only in my 20s have I begun to look at it less by what the “normal” standards are and more by the perfect love that Christ showed us. 

 Under offenses against chastity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 

“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

CCC 2354

 This piece may seem offensive and rejecting. Please don’t feel this way. But do understand the gravity of what porn does to the human psyche and soul. Christ wants to offer us MUCH more than that.

 There are numerous articles online and below I will suggest a good app to use if you’re trying to stop watching porn (and seeing the affects it has had on your life to date). But I want to share a little anecdote I heard in a talk by Jefferson Bethke. He suggests that the best way to avoid watching porn is not to reject it and beat your breast, but rather to say ‘yes’ to a much greater cause. He used the example of toilet water. When you’re in the dessert and you’ve been walking for weeks on end with no food, if you come across a toilet bowl, you will surely do whatever it takes to drink the water out of sheer necessity and survival. But if you’re at home and you wake up thirsty, you don’t walk past the toilet and go ‘oh wait that looks delicious and oh so tempting.’ Nor do you walk past and close your eyes saying ‘Lord prevent me from drinking from the toilet and remove the temptation.’ NO! You go straight for your kitchen and gladly drink from the correct source. Say yes to the beauty that is a pure marriage filled with graces and mutual giving without any shame.

So How Do I Undo what I Have Already Done?

Be ready to present yourself blameless and clean before Christ. Be ready to think about your bride the next time you want a quick fix. It will take a looong time to break the habit with a new one, but the graces involved are astounding. Let Christ bless that.

If you want to commit to quitting, download an app (developed by Lifeteen international) called Victory. Or you can visit xxxchurch as it has a few great articles and a chance to take control back. But if a course or guide isn’t what you are looking for, Relevant Magazine has a GREAT article to read that at the end suggests a few easy ways you can try to break the habit: This is Your Brain On Porn 

 

For extra info, check out these videos:

Why I Stopped Watching Porn

What Porn Does To The Brain (for teens)

God bless as you journey! Please share your thoughts or concerns or prayer requests with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you. You can also comment below.


About the Author

Danilo Acquisto11430097_1640475269500809_6428364713345833448_n

I am a 24-year-old  busy-body to put it simply. I work on national TV as a television presenter and have 2 radio shows and I love exploring various forms of ministry. Food is definitely my weak point. I live in beautiful Cape Town and have a BA in Law and Sociology. I have a passion for people and digital media (a bit of a contrast, I know). I am ADD and I LOVE it. Look there goes a bunny. Oh and being Catholic was the best gift my parents could have given me. I don’t know how I would have made it through the world (never mind the world of media) without a strong Church Community.