Author Topic: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity  (Read 751 times)

haaretz

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Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« on: December 23, 2018, 04:08:13 AM »
Hi,
Apologies if this topic has been covered elsewhere. But I wondered if anyone has any experiences/thoughts about the ways in which some religious expressions/traditions encourage a view of sex/sexuality that inadvertently facilitates porn addiction.

I grew up in a pretty Evangelical Christian environment - where porn, masturbation, and sex before marriage were all seen as super sinful. If they were ever talked about, they were always framed in very negative, shame-inducing ways. I'm wondering whether - in a round-about kindof way - this prohibition, default 'purity culture', and a lack of openness and education, actually created an environment where secret porn use was almost inevitable.

I wonder whether anyone else has experienced this confluence of religion and porn addiction, and whether they have any thoughts or tips for a guy who's 25 days in, and really struggling!

Remington.22

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2018, 06:14:21 PM »
More than anything I tend to view such notions as little more than excuses. 'The church forbid it', 'the teachings of the church were so anti',...yadda...yadda, 'that all it did was make me want it more'. Bull. Cop outs and excuses. We did it because we wanted to. We didn't get addicted by choice but the choice to use was ours and ours alone. The only thing inevitable in life is its end. If you want an excellent resource that approaches this from a Christian perspective get "Every Man's Battle". Its an excellent book, presented from a biblical perspective. And get accountability. Live, face-to-face accountability partner(s) ..not just we the faceless/nameless on the web.. and be completely honest with them.

HumbleRich

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2018, 06:44:58 AM »
I definitely can see that, but I also feel that it is a huge scape goat.  People that practice polyamory or swinging, drugs, etc. wanted to do it originally and are just looking for excuses.  There are lots of people from strict backgrounds that don't turn into rebels.  And the longer  I live on this earth, the more I realize that the religions and philophosies of old.tend to be right, if not about the existence of God, about the good.that comes from.practicing an ethical life.  As an atheist, I don't  feel that  we are falling into a sinful world, I feel we are flirting with an unethical one.  I don't practice and promote monogamy because  i was brought up in  church, I do so because we are naturally selfish when  it comes to our love lives (if selfish is the right word).  We don't  like to.share.  and to ignore that, as is done in extremely liberal, polyamorous societies, to me largely ignores human nature, specifically the need (in both sexes/genders) to defend the sexual partner from others.  I read about and support the study of evolutionary psychology.  The  idea that there is a subconscious, shared  human nature that has evolved over time and is passed  down through our genes.  This idea seperates me from other liberals who espouse the blank slate or tabula rasa hypotheses.  To me the tabula.rasa not only denies science and an understanding of evolution and human development, but it is  a handy tool in the breakdown of the nuclear family.  (Before some one says anything, I do vote democrat and am a socialist, but that doesn't mean I don't  differ very sharply and openly with liberals.when  it comes to the  impartiality of science and its dissemination.) It is  not simply a matter of having a "different opinion", denial of the evolution of the human brain, including higher functions, is no less than an effort by extreme liberals to destroy families and make polyamory and sex circles  mainstream.  So yes, I guess that  this is my convoluted  way  of saying that  my background  of going to church did influence  me in someway, and perhaps even, at a certain time, led me to rebel.  But hindsight tells me that going to church helped me develop fine skills and ideas that lead to the development of a healthy marriage, and a strong, happy family.  And this is something I can stand behind, even as an atheist.

So that is my long answer to this question.  At the end of the day blaming your religious past is a cop out.  People who want to destroy themselves and the world around them will find ways to do that, regardless of the religiousness  of their past.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 06:51:00 AM by HumbleRich »

DoneAtLast

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2018, 01:04:27 PM »
Hmm.  I think that, for the most part, I concur that this is a "cop out", but I do think you're on to something.

For some people, they drift away from religion, and since religious groups (prior to nofap) would be the last man standing against porn, they assume that there are no non-religious reasons to be against porn.  To those people who are anti-religion I usually say this: at least concede that a stopped clock is right twice a day, and many religious groups have been spot on with this.

There has also been a deficiency in education in religious circles.  If a pastor/educator/parent can't articulate why porn is bad besides "God says no", then they just aren't doing their jobs well.  Sometimes a bad advocate is worse than a good opponent.  This can happen in quite an extreme way in certain pockets of Christianity, so when you say "Evangelical" you may have one of these extremities in mind.

In Catholic circles, this is always getting better.  Sexual teaching runs incredibly deep, relies on principles of natural law and not just scripture, and goes from deeply ontological to practical every day advice.  The blanket term "theology of the body" will bring up a lot on this, named for a series of talks in the 80s.  It can get pretty dense pretty quick, but there are also great audio/youtube talks, often aimed specifically at teenagers.  I'm 36 and grew up without any real guidance, and my peers who were in more religious homes just got a "don't do it", and full understanding was rare.  These days the education is far better.

In any case, all answers to this problem involve better education and understanding.  There needs to be better work done inside of churches, and there needs to be better work done outside of churches to avoid the stigma that nofap is just for weird religious kids.

Leon

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2018, 08:06:49 PM »
You're absolutely right. If we understand how the Bible teaches grace versus law, we would know that grace frees us in Christ, whereas law only worsens our condition, strengthens our sin.

In my own journals (my original, and one I just started), I discuss how being in an abusive (Evangelical) church for 9 years helped to create the atmosphere of extreme shame and guilt that only helped to ignite and fuel an over 20 year addiction...

It is my personal journey from a law/grace admixture, which most Evangelicalism preaches, to a more 'extreme grace' position that has helped me find the most freedom from this mess.

Again, you're right as to our culture and society, that Western Evangelicalism, and 'hyper-moralization' of everything has not made us more pure, but has actually created the immoral situation in which we now live.

Blessings.

Finwë

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2018, 11:27:18 PM »
I've read this forum, + nofap.com, ybop, ybr, reddit.com/r/nofap, etc. for years, and the people in these places are very disproportionately atheist. Alexander Rhodes is an atheist, so is Gary Wilson, so is Noah Church, etc. The only notable Christian is Gabe Deem, and from what he said he grew up in a pretty libertine area.

aquarius25

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 05:57:39 PM »
I would say that the culture in most christian/ evangelical churches is very hypocritical and shame based. They preach love and grace but I don't see a lot of it in their actions. I am a christian, as in I believe in Christ, but I believe that love and grace should be our first response and action to all things. After all it does say God is Love, so if you are not loving then you are not focusing on him. I personally believe no matter what your personal belief is, if you are trying to be more filled with love then you will be happier and have more peace in your life. I have visited in quite a few churches and even been a member a few times but at the end of the day the constant judgement without grace and love (even though they claim that they believe in those things) was too much for me. Our family now is part of a house community that meets in each others houses once a week. We take turns speaking on whatever is on our hearts, we pray, encourage, and share a meal together. To me this was more of a space where we can grow and feel supported, not judged.

Christian or non christian, I believe there has been a shift in culture away from character. I  believe that we should embody good character not in a manner that feels like rules but more when you live a life filled with respect, love, kindness, honesty and many other attributes then you feel happier. Porn is something that is built on secrecy, shame, lying, isolation, and in a lot of cases the viewer is getting pleasure out of watching someone be degraded. Viewing and living in that environment for an extended period of time will have an impact on a person for sure. If growing up in a puritan home is where your porn addiction began and maybe not being able to talk about it made it worse then ok, but what you choose to do about it is up to you. You can recognize the areas where you started viewing and learn from them. In the future when and if you have kids you can be sure to create a different environment for them. I don't see that as making excuses or a cop out as long as you are taking responsibility today. Part of addiction is taking ownership of your actions and behaviors. Just like the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water......." You can be introduces to something but it is ultimately on you weather you want to view porn or not and what you choose to do about it.

DoneAtLast

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 11:12:05 AM »
For a taste of what non-Calvinist (Protestant) and non-Jansenist (Catholic) teachings on porn look like, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPxlDPQYSag

Bear in mind that as a speaker he generally addresses teens, so for some it might be a bit weird/youth-groupy for you and you might have to power through it.

" I am a christian, as in I believe in Christ, but I believe that love and grace should be our first response and action to all things. "

This shouldn't be a controversial statement!  Straight outta Galatians... If we're frustrated that Christian circles are dropping the ball, then let us always keep this in mind in nofap.

md

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 12:56:33 PM »
More than anything I tend to view such notions as little more than excuses. 'The church forbid it', 'the teachings of the church were so anti',...yadda...yadda, 'that all it did was make me want it more'. Bull. Cop outs and excuses. We did it because we wanted to. We didn't get addicted by choice but the choice to use was ours and ours alone. The only thing inevitable in life is its end. If you want an excellent resource that approaches this from a Christian perspective get "Every Man's Battle". Its an excellent book, presented from a biblical perspective. And get accountability. Live, face-to-face accountability partner(s) ..not just we the faceless/nameless on the web.. and be completely honest with them.

Right.. I'm about 3/4 of the way through Every Man's Battle. It is a pretty good read. The only thing about it is it's geared more towards married people and being faithful with your wife. They do have advice for single men through out but not as much which is a bit of a bummer but yeah it has been a good read so far. There's really not much we can do besides ridding things in our life that cause us to fall to this crap to lighten the burden and starving our eyes.. It really comes down to our choices

thisisme

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 09:36:13 AM »
I would say that the culture in most christian/ evangelical churches is very hypocritical and shame based. They preach love and grace but I don't see a lot of it in their actions. I am a christian, as in I believe in Christ, but I believe that love and grace should be our first response and action to all things. After all it does say God is Love, so if you are not loving then you are not focusing on him. I personally believe no matter what your personal belief is, if you are trying to be more filled with love then you will be happier and have more peace in your life.

True. I spent most of my life in the evangelical charismatic church and so much of what was taught filled me with shame. I'm not just talking about porn but other things as issues as well. I was constantly filled with shame for being a bad evangelist, told I was a bad Christian for not reading a few chapters of the Bible a day or not praying for at least an hour a day. Growing up I was told not only sex was bad but kissing before marriage was a sin as well. So much shame and we haven't even gotten to the subject of porn.

On the subject of porn, it was bad. Accountability was made out be the magic cure to porn addiction. I found out it wasn't. I would walk away with meet-ups with my first accountability partner filled with shame for being a failure. I once told the Pastor of my old church about my porn problem and he was clueless in how to deal with it. He talked openly about it with me when other church members could hear what we're talking about and one time during a bible study on marriage he told me in front of everyone that I would stop looking at porn if I got married. Needlessly to say I stop being accountable to him. 

It's been three years since I left church and have just recently rediscovered faith again. Went through a period where I was agnostic but was able to find a way to have a faith again. I now choose to believe God is a God of love. Scripture says the love of God is indescribable, that it's hard for us to fully understand it and I think that's why there's so much shame in churches. The idea that God could be so loving is so unbelievable that many in the church choose to not believe in it. 

WoundedSparrow

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2019, 03:23:43 PM »
I am a Christian man who has been struggling with porn addiction for over 5 years. Hell, I just had a HARD relapse last night. I can tell you that the guilt hasn't been easy to bear. There's a reason that God has strict guidelines for sex and it's because sex isn't meant to be taken lightly. It's the ultimate physical expression of love and intimacy, designed to be enjoyed between two lifelong committed partners. Porn cheapens sex to a filthy display of lust and self-satisfaction, and it isn't one that is good for you no matter how you look at it. Body, mind, and soul become corrupted by it. However, it is important to not be hard on yourself. God is loving and forgiving and once you are redeemed through Him, the Bible states that all of your sins, past, present, and future are forgiven. This doesn't give us a license to sin, but rather give us comfort that God loves us when we inevitably stumble in this world. People who have done far worse things than be addicted to pornography have found the grace of God. If you allow guilt to consume you, it will only make you feel worse, which will only cause your brain to crave dopamine, which will only lead to a relapse. God forgives and He wants you to quit. When you fall, pick yourself back up and know that the Lord has forgiven you. Don't focus on the sin, focus on overcoming it.

DoneAtLast

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 11:35:48 PM »
I would say that the culture in most christian/ evangelical churches is very hypocritical and shame based. They preach love and grace but I don't see a lot of it in their actions. I am a christian, as in I believe in Christ, but I believe that love and grace should be our first response and action to all things. After all it does say God is Love, so if you are not loving then you are not focusing on him. I personally believe no matter what your personal belief is, if you are trying to be more filled with love then you will be happier and have more peace in your life.

True. I spent most of my life in the evangelical charismatic church and so much of what was taught filled me with shame. I'm not just talking about porn but other things as issues as well. I was constantly filled with shame for being a bad evangelist, told I was a bad Christian for not reading a few chapters of the Bible a day or not praying for at least an hour a day. Growing up I was told not only sex was bad but kissing before marriage was a sin as well. So much shame and we haven't even gotten to the subject of porn.

On the subject of porn, it was bad. Accountability was made out be the magic cure to porn addiction. I found out it wasn't. I would walk away with meet-ups with my first accountability partner filled with shame for being a failure. I once told the Pastor of my old church about my porn problem and he was clueless in how to deal with it. He talked openly about it with me when other church members could hear what we're talking about and one time during a bible study on marriage he told me in front of everyone that I would stop looking at porn if I got married. Needlessly to say I stop being accountable to him. 

It's been three years since I left church and have just recently rediscovered faith again. Went through a period where I was agnostic but was able to find a way to have a faith again. I now choose to believe God is a God of love. Scripture says the love of God is indescribable, that it's hard for us to fully understand it and I think that's why there's so much shame in churches. The idea that God could be so loving is so unbelievable that many in the church choose to not believe in it.

I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences.  But, I think you're on the right track: God demands Mercy, not sacrifice.  God is not just a God of love, but IS love (1 Jn 4:18).  The God I know would much rather be hanging with the folks struggling on this board than your pastor.  Guys like your pastor were the ones Jesus seemed annoyed with the most in the Gospels (Luke 11:37-54 is one bit I really like, though there are many... remember that the Greek root in "almsgiving" is "mercy").  In my own faith, the way you were treated would be examples of heresy plain and simple, though in my own faith I wouldn't be surprised to see it in some parishes.  Heck, for a priest to reveal the contents of a confession afterward, even to the person who confessed it, is grounds for instant ex-communication.  That puts doctor/patient confidentiality to shame.  The least this guy could've done is not bring it up in a group.

I'm reading all of these accounts, and feeling very feeble for the state of Christianity in the US and Canada these days.  There is a severity that is inherent to American Christianity that just isn't present in other traditions.  These tendencies not only fail to help those in need, but creates this weird reverse psychology where people fear no-fap because they THINK it originates with these wrong headed ideas.  You can't get any more self-defeating than that.

md

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2019, 09:09:02 PM »
Right on. Same here, Christian man. I've been struggling with this for almost nine years myself. Addicted as an early teen very easily as my parents were split up and I was home alone alot with unlimited internet access. It was the perfect storm. But your right in your post, thanks for the truth and encouragement.

thisisme

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2019, 06:27:31 AM »
I'm reading all of these accounts, and feeling very feeble for the state of Christianity in the US and Canada these days.  There is a severity that is inherent to American Christianity that just isn't present in other traditions.  These tendencies not only fail to help those in need, but creates this weird reverse psychology where people fear no-fap because they THINK it originates with these wrong headed ideas.  You can't get any more self-defeating than that.

I'm actually in the UK. I expect that Christianity in the UK is just as bad as the US and Canada. American evangelicalism has a great influence over the churches I've attended (especially the last one I was at).

HumbleRich

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2019, 06:38:57 AM »

I'm actually in the UK. I expect that Christianity in the UK is just as bad as the US and Canada. American evangelicalism has a great influence over the churches I've attended (especially the last one I was at).
[/quote]

I'm inclined to agree with Doneatlast, Thisisme.  Maybe we have had different experiences, but as a British/American who was baptized in the Anglican church and who continued to practice the Anglican and Episcopalian tradition in America, I think that British Christianity is much more liberal and practical than what is found in the US.  (I realize that I just said I practiced in the Episcopal church in the US, but I still consider it a very British version of Christianity).  I am an atheist and consider the idea of God utterly ridiculous (but I support the first amendment), but I have to say the British tradition, as I have known it is the most liberal.  Charles Darwin is buried at Westminster Abbey (an Anglican Church), evolution was long ago canonized as official church doctrine, and a gay bishop was elected (in America).  There are many women serving in the church in the US.  Basically, if I had to support a Christian church, it would be the Church of England. 

Rich

thisisme

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2019, 05:36:53 AM »
Maybe we have had different experiences, but as a British/American who was baptized in the Anglican church and who continued to practice the Anglican and Episcopalian tradition in America, I think that British Christianity is much more liberal and practical than what is found in the US.

We did have different experiences. The UK is more liberal but it doesn't matter if you're in a church community that is highly conservative like I was. I developed the belief that the Church of England was a dead church and should be avoided. Conservative Christianity is the minority here but as I said it doesn't matter if you're surrounded by it. Having said that I know some UK liberal Christians aren't all that happy with the COE.

jhvoltz

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2019, 01:21:31 AM »
More than anything I tend to view such notions as little more than excuses. 'The church forbid it', 'the teachings of the church were so anti',...yadda...yadda, 'that all it did was make me want it more'. Bull. Cop outs and excuses. We did it because we wanted to. We didn't get addicted by choice but the choice to use was ours and ours alone. The only thing inevitable in life is its end. If you want an excellent resource that approaches this from a Christian perspective get "Every Man's Battle". Its an excellent book, presented from a biblical perspective. And get accountability. Live, face-to-face accountability partner(s) ..not just we the faceless/nameless on the web.. and be completely honest with them.

Right.. I'm about 3/4 of the way through Every Man's Battle. It is a pretty good read. The only thing about it is it's geared more towards married people and being faithful with your wife. They do have advice for single men through out but not as much which is a bit of a bummer but yeah it has been a good read so far. There's really not much we can do besides ridding things in our life that cause us to fall to this crap to lighten the burden and starving our eyes.. It really comes down to our choices


This book was the first one I read on the porn struggles and it was not of any help...

You may checkout Dr. Doug Weiss books...I read all of them...!

AlexthenotsoGreat

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2019, 11:47:58 AM »
As a Christian myself who grew up in an evangelical environment, I think the first answer to your question is; no. But the reason might surprise you. I found that when I started hearing about sex in church for the first time it was already far too late. By that time I was 13 or 14 but I'd already been watching porn and masturbating since age 11 or so. So in a sense, yes, the churches I grew up in (several different ones) did contribute to more shame in that I didn't ever hear them talk about PORN. And that's the real problem, or was the real problem; not that churches are overly strict but that they seem to be completely out of touch with the reality facing many young men. When I was growing up my parents DIDN'T EVEN KNOW that I could find porn online, since it was so early in the history of the business. In short; yes, the evangelical church has done a horrible job in staying up to date with current developments in streaming, porn etc. Does that mean the church is to blame for your shame? Well obviously not, because if that were the case then we wouldn't have a ton of atheists in these boards. The shame is common to all of us but the way we handle it is very different. Once again, the church has just gotten to the ball way too late when it comes to porn. And btw, this doesn't just go for the church, it goes for all of academia and also popular culture. The brain science is just now beginning to go mainstream and we haven't even seen the big breakthrough in popular culture yet.

AlexthenotsoGreat

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Re: Porn Addiction and Evangelical Christianity
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2019, 12:03:44 PM »
I also wanted to add that there is a scientific reason why the shame and the cravings are harder for Christians or muslims (any conservative branch) specifically. According to Gary Wilson the pathways are reinforced to a much greater degree due to the fact that waiting for a number of days or weeks can give a bigger dopamine rush. In essence, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Whereas most atheists are just saturated in porn, never having been told to stay away from it, the response from a Christian viewer is generally very different. The atheists are generally sick of it because they've escalated into all sorts of disgusting genres they never expected to use, while the Christian usually stays pretty conservative (loosely speaking) than his counterparts. Speaking for myself, from the very start I always thought oral and anal are really gross. It took me over a decade to even start watching these (and mostly even then only because it seemed the most common practice). I still find it disgusting, and I could never even imagine watching some of the extreme genres I've heard about and actually being turned on. So if you think about it, we Christians are somewhat fortunate in that we never watched those sick things and don't have to live with knowing that.