Pornography is like a drug.

Similar to other substances of abuse, it alters our brain function, and in that sense, it is a drug. In her 2003 report prepared for the Department of Justice, researcher Judith A. Reisman wrote, "[Pornography] is an endogenously processed poly drug providing intense, althought misleading, sensory rewards." 

While we may not ingest or inject pornography into our systems to get a high (like we would with, say, cocaine or heroin), pornography use give us highs similar to other drugs. Pornography, Reisman writes, kick-starts "endogenous LSD, adrenaline/norepinephrine, morphine like neurochemicals for a hormonal flood, a 'rush' allegedly analogous to the rush attained using various street drugs."

This may not come as much of a surprise to many men who use pornography. If there were no rush, no thrill in either seeking it or viewing it, then there would be no purpose in pursuing it. It would lose its meaning and become pointless.

Do people who are recovering from addictions to substances like heroin and methamphetamine use the word sobriety as part of their healing process? Yes, they do. Should we use that word in our discussion of compulsive pornography use? Yes, we should. 

If you are struggling with compulsive use of pornography, if you find either that you cannot control your behavior with pornography use or that without using pornography you are depressed or agitated (the classic definition of dependence), now is a good time to accept the word sobriety in your discussion of abstaining from using pornography. With the adoption of that word, you are also adopting the other connotations that comes along with it: pornography is a destructive drug, and you want to quit using it.

All the dissecting, analyzing, discussing, and reading you may do in trying to overcome your addiction to pornography are pointless unless you are committed to seeking your sobriety.

Sounds easy, right? Just decide you want to stop using porn, figure out your life's purpose, and start heading toward it. Of course, it is much more difficult than it sounds. But let us take a second to flip this around. Instead of thinking that we need to commit to sobriety by a sheer act of force, like a 150-pound offensive lineman hitting a 350-pound linebacker head-on in the chest, there is a way to think of this commitment in leveraged terms, more like the lineman hitting that linebacker low, in his legs, where the size disadvantage disappears and the linebacker is brought down to the ground.

Most men want to be leaders. They want to be the great deciders, the ones who overcome, the champions. An unfortunate offshoot of this very noble instinct is that we do not like being told what to do. We make the decisions, not someone else. And if we have made a mistake, like letting ourselves become addicted to something unhealthy, it can be hard to admit that we have screwed up. After all, leaders do not make mistakes, right?

But what kind of leader never listens to opposing views? What kind of leader does not seek help or admit fault? Michael Jordan would have been just another basketball player if he had not understood the need to build up and rely on his teammates to win championships. Winston Churchill's England could have been over-run by the Germans in 1941 if Churchill hadn't recognized how weak his country was financially and how they needed America and President Roosevelt's help. Roosevelt put it best when he wrote, "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

The point to these examples is twofold:

  1. A commitment to sobriety is a lot more difficult — we would argue impossible — without first admitting that you are not only powerless over your addiction but also powerless within the universe.
  2. If you really want to be a leader, a decider, a champion, you have the opportunity, right now, to make decisions for yourself instead of letting someone else make them for you.

If you really want to enjoy all the wonderful benefits that come with your faith (including the power of Christ to overcome painful struggles), you need to choose to accept the fact that Christ died on the cross to set you free in order to receive His grace and the power that His truth can bring to you. He died as the once-and-for-all atonement so that the pressure you may feel from having made a bad decision or the pressure you may feel to always make the right decision can be lifted so that you can experience peace, happiness, and joy. Accept this gift. Revel in it. As Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full."

Part of having life to the full is the opportunity to make decisions for yourself. God loves you, and, yes, He loves being loved in return, but He wants real love, a love that comes willingly, from your heart, uncoerced. When we do not choose Him, or do not choose to make decisions that honor Him, we're choosing death, theft, and destruction.

Good leadership starts with a decision to do the right thing. The true champions want to pursue real truth. Truth that will renew their minds and begin their transformation to be the man God has made them to be. It all begins with the courage and the willingness to decide for yourself that your faith and trust is in the grace and truth of Jesus, the giver of the full life. The one whose truth can replace the lies. Whose grace offers the real joy and meaning that your soul desires.

As men who wish to be the great leaders, the great deciders, the champions, admitting fault, trading in the lies of porn for God's truth is not only admirable, it's life changing.

A Man and His TrapsFor addition insight on overcoming addictions, get a copy of 33 The Series Volume 3: A Man and His Traps.

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