Man creates a world according to his own image and it is pleasurable, captivating, seductive, but addictive. This behavior has disastrous consequences for the individual, family and society at large. The prevalence of pornography addiction and “cyber-love” are truly alarming and underestimated because of their “private” character. Corrupted worldview, perverted lust, social isolation, addictive cyber-sex are just different faces of the same problem, which can lead to disrupted families, social handicaps and personal dissatisfaction. This article is meant to bring a fresh perspective on pornography addiction and to offer an Orthodox Perspective on recovery options.
- 1 PREVELANCE
- 2 PORNOGRAPHY - A FAMILY ISSUE
- 3 ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVE ON RECOVERY
- 3.1 Hitting the Rock Buttom
- 3.2 Shame and betryal
- 3.3 The Call to Genuine Repentance
- 3.4 Recovery Through Couple Counseling
- 3.5 The Journey to Recovery
- 3.6 Prayer Life and Confession
- 4 CONCLUSIONS
Some relevant Numbers
According to the Internet Filter Review website, “Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises.” The same source cites that out of the total search requests made in one day, 25 percent of them are pornographic in nature . According to Robert Weiss, 60 percent of all the visits on the Internet involve a sexual purpose. Mike Genung is an ex-sex addict, who now maintains a website aimed against pornography and who presents detailed and yet disturbing pornography statistics. With 12 billion a year in United States and 57 billion worldwide, the porn industry is one of the leading industries and by far the most profitable industry considering the balance between initial investment and revenue. In 2000, 60 percent of all websites were sexual in nature and these numbers grew proportionally with the Internet expansion.
Currently, according to Family Safe Media, the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old! Most of the 90 percent of 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online was while doing homework, which leads to another painful statistic: the largest consumer of Internet pornography id the 12-17 age groups.
How did we end up here?
In his Harvard address, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn offers a critical and analytical perspective on today’s Western civilization and he traces its evolution (or rather regress) to the Renaissance period, which represents the birth of rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy . By removing any sense of responsibility toward God, the development of society became more and more materialistic and anthropocentric. “Freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility .”(Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. “A World Split Apart” P.4) Without this, the conscience of society is numbed by the spiritual mediocrity and unable to respond to human decadence. In this kind of society, we will find people like Anthony D’Amato, famous legal theorist, who praises pornography for its educational role in society and claims that access to pornography caused a significant decrease in the number of rapes in the United States (D’Amato, Anthony. “Porn Up, Rape Down”) (if only for a second, you are tempted to believe it, I recommend you to read: “Dangerous Relationships: Pornography, misogyny and rape” by Russell, D.E.H 1998, in which he proves that violent pornography often promotes and eroticizes rape as a sexual act that is enjoyed and/or desired by females ).
In this kind of society, 38 percent of all adults and 70 percent of non-religious adults think that pornography is “morally acceptable .”  The consequences are inevitable. Replying to the question: “How many porn addicts are in the Church,” Chuck Swindoll said: “The most recent studies available suggest that one out of every two people-that's 50 percent of the people sitting in our pews, are looking at and/or could be addicted to Internet pornography… Truth be told, that statistic could be even higher… .” Now, this is alarming!
Pornography and other related derailed online activities were the result of "unlimited freedom," people enjoyed online. It was a social movemenent toward moral decay. In this case,the solution lays in the proble: throught education and popular campaigns, people are aware of the dangers and develop an authnetic ethic social response.
PORNOGRAPHY - A FAMILY ISSUE
When dealing with couples, we see both unity and diversity. The very nature of a couple consists of a person, who freely has chosen to share his/her life with another human being. This decision leads to a commitment and eventually it is blessed and sanctified by the Church in the Sacrament of Marriage. Both participants of the couple bring in marriage a significant load of knowledge, believes and life experiences; and sometimes addictions. Pornography addiction is one of the most subtle and yet dangerous, because of its private character. Genung presents cases of marriages, in which the husband managed to hide his pornography addiction for ten or even more years and only accidental events led to the painful realization of the problem. It secretly poisons a marriage and the effects can be devastating (in a later chapter of this paper I will address in detail its vicious effects on marriage)
The root of the problem lies in the individual primarily and only secondly in the life of marriage. One of the most dangerous myths is that single persons, who struggle with porn addiction, think to themselves: “I might have a problem, but it will go away once I am in a sexually active relationship/once I get married.” Therefore, I think it would be beneficial to the theme of the paper to spend some time on the issue of pornography at large.
How does Pornography Addiction affect the Couple?
Before answering this question, let us see what a healthy relation looks like. A healthy romantic relation should have the following characteristics: investment in the well-being of the loved one, respect, admiration, sexual desire, intimacy, commitment, exclusivity and understanding.(Bergner, R.M. & Bridges, A.J. (2002.)) Pornography addicts’ behavior have the exact opposite of all these characteristics: the beloved becomes secondary, as the addiction becomes primary; by objectifying women, the level of respect and admiration is diminished; as any other addiction, the addict develop a resistance to the material and is looking for more aggressive and “hardcore” elements, which affects the intimacy and sexual desires in the couple. By showing interest in other persons of the opposite sex, commitment and exclusivity are broken as part of the marital act.
The negative effects presented above are mostly present in cases, in which the pornography addiction remains a secret. If it is shared with the spouse, it creates a very high level of distress, anger, rejection and can leave deep marks in the relationship. This is a quote from a letter from Mrs. Genung to her husband, an ex-pornography addict:
- “It really flared my insecurities up. I measured myself up to other women 'in your eyes'. I was always trying to see what you'd find more attractive in others - where my flaws were. In the beginning of our marriage it was the worst. My insecurities plus your addiction equaled disaster.I watched porn movies a few times out of curiosity to see where I was lacking in bed. In a way it was self-torture. 'I wasn't good enough', 'I didn't measure up'. What was it that you were looking at or drawn to that I couldn't fill? I was constantly looking at women (probably more than you) to see if you'd notice her smaller waist, her bigger chest, her whatever… Your sex addiction ruined the little bit of self-esteem I had back then, and there wasn't much of it to begin with. It put me on guard for everything - I was afraid that if I wasn't "perfect" (whatever that is) you'd leave or stray… Today I still struggle with insecurity; I'm paranoid about any pictures that might be in something we might get in the mail, or even a magazine I might want to read. It’s not that I think you're going to go back to where you were, but that you'll see in that picture what you don't have in me.”