It’s no secret that we live in a pornified culture. Erotic images seem to be everywhere. From billboards and magazines to television and the internet, it’s difficult to avoid. Pornography has been around for thousands of years; however, the advent of the Internet has made it more accessible than ever. Prior to the Internet, if a man wanted to view pornography, he had to go out and search for it. This usually meant traveling to some seedy part of town and entering an “adult bookstore”, hoping that no one would see him entering or exiting the establishment.
However, with the Internet, that has all changed. Pornography is just a “click” away. This easy access to pornography has enabled it to enter areas of life that were once cut off from it. Obscenity laws once protected children from pornography by banning them from viewing or purchasing it. Now, anyone who has access to a computer can view pornography. There are no societal safeguards on the internet. No one is safe.
Pornography is not just limited to the internet. We see it in all areas of society. It’s on television, in magazines, catalogs, newspaper ads, popular music, video games, and fashions. Why is this so? The answer is simple: Sex Sells! Because our society is so saturated with erotic images, we have become desensitized to it. We often just don’t see it. However, pornography does have numerous harmful effects on society. For children, it introduces them to a world for which they are not yet ready. They are forced to deal with issues they cannot understand. It robs them of their innocence.
For teens and young adults, it leads to a warped sense of love, relationships and sexuality, where it is okay to use another person for one’s own sexual pleasure. It fosters a culture of narcissism. Pornography has serious implications for marriages too. It damages the sacred trust between husband and wife. This deep trust wound is often difficult to heal and many marriages end in divorce due to pornography. Husbands who use pornography lose the respect of their wives and children. They cannot be good role models.
For decades, it was suspected that pornography could be addictive, similar to drugs and alcohol. New research has provided evidence to prove this assumption. Because of the easy access to pornography offered by the Internet, thousands of men are becoming addicted. They are spending hours on surfing the web for porn, at home, at school and at work. It’s costing these men thousands of dollars, their marriages, their careers, and for some, their lives. Most importantly, it costs them their relationship with God and possibly their eternal salvation.
Unfortunately, society does not see how dangerous pornography is. Protected by the first amendment, pornographers produce millions of dollars of pornography every year under the guise of “adult entertainment,” and the Internet makes it readily available for viewing. Because of this, men are fooled into thinking that it’s just harmless fun. They fail to see how they can be lulled into a dependence upon it. They cannot understand why their wives feel so hurt and betrayed when their pornography use is discovered.
It’s only when their pornography use ends up in an extreme consequence, such a divorce, loss of a job, or contracting a sexually transmitted disease that a man may realize that he has a problem with pornography and possibly an addiction. Although he may be ready to get help, the damage he caused may be irreparable.
Men are called to be the leaders, providers and protectors of their families, communities, parishes and society. They cannot do this if they are enslaved to anything, including pornography. Pornography robs men of their true masculinity. They need to realize how what they believe to be “simple entertainment” can harm them and those they love. When a man becomes addicted to pornography, it becomes his god. He starts neglecting his wife, children, career, friends, and even God. His only goal is to feed the addiction to pornography.
Fortunately, there is hope. We can protect our families from the harmful effects of pornography. Those who have a pornography problem/addiction can find help and recover. However, it starts by educating ourselves on the truth about pornography and its effects. Those who have a pornography problem or addiction need to have the courage and humility to get help. There are many therapists and supports group that are ready to help.
The key is to understand that one cannot resolve a pornography problem or addiction alone. It requires help from other men who understand the problem. Men’s groups and 12-step groups provide the support and accountability needed to achieve sexual sobriety. Counseling helps uncover the root causes of pornography use. By addressing and resolving the root causes, long-term sobriety is much easier to achieve. Most of all, a strong relationship with God is needed. Successful recovery requires God’s grace. Ask any successfully recovering porn addict and he will tell you he couldn’t have done it without God.
Although it doesn’t appear that the amount of pornography in our culture will let up soon, we can win the battle against it. By educating ourselves and taking appropriate actions, we can protect ourselves and our families against pornography and help those who are addicted find the help they need.
Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA. He holds an M.A. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA and a Ph.D. in General Psychology from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Kleponis has fourteen years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and organizations.
He specializes in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, men’s issues, pornography addiction recovery, and resolving excessive anger.