Recovery Resources: Every Man’s Battle

It is sometimes difficult to find practical guides for anything in Christian circles. With pornography this can be especially true. Often what you find is a solid theology of how wrong pornography is but not much to help you actually stop looking at it. Enter Every Man’s Battle. This book helped me during a difficult time in my ongoing recovery.

Both of the authors, Fred Stoeker and Steven Arterburn, struggled with pornography. They offer a real and compelling description of their own journeys. There is no punches pulled about the severity of the problem with pornography yet they do speak with a gracious understanding.

One point that the book emphasizes well is that simply failing to look at porn is not a recovery. If I don’t look at porn again but leave my family in shambles, that is not a win. Steven and Fred do a good job of explaining that we must love our wives well.

A good book especially for a guy who is new in recovery. It comes with my recommendation and, if you order in the next five minutes, you can expect to pay nearly the same price as you would in ten minutes.

-Chip

P.S. I don’t make any money from this book. This is just from my heart.

Reblog – John Piper on Pornography and the Heart

The following is a blog post from Desiring God that John Piper published on 10/9/13. The article is entitled Pornography: The New Narcotic. I would also recommend the article he refers to by Morgan Bennett entitled The New Narcotic. -Chip

Pornography: The New Narcotic

The new narcotic. Morgan Bennett just published an article by this title. The thesis:

Neurological research has revealed that the effect of internet pornography on the human brain is just as potent — if not more so — than addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin.

To make matters worse, there are 1.9 million cocaine users, and 2 million heroin users, in the United States compared to 40 million regular users of online pornography.

Here’s why the addictive power of pornography can be worse:

Cocaine is considered a stimulant that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter that most addictive substances release, as it causes a “high” and a subsequent craving for a repetition of the high, rather than a subsequent feeling of satisfaction by way of endorphins.

Heroin, on the other hand, is an opiate, which has a relaxing effect. Both drugs trigger chemical tolerance, which requires higher quantities of the drug to be used each time to achieve the same intensity of effect.

Pornography, by both arousing (the “high” effect via dopamine) and causing an orgasm (the “release” effect via opiates), is a type of polydrug that triggers both types of addictive brain chemicals in one punch, enhancing its addictive propensity.

But, Bennett says, “internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.”

Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed. Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography.

Not only do these addictive pathways cause us to filter all sexual stimulation through the pornographic filter; they awaken craving for “more novel pornographic content like more taboo sexual acts, child pornography, or sadomasochistic pornography.”

And it gets worse:

Another aspect of pornography addiction that surpasses the addictive and harmful characteristics of chemical substance abuse is its permanence. While substances can be metabolized out of the body, pornographic images cannot be metabolized out of the brain because pornographic images are stored in the brain’s memory.

“In sum,” Bennett writes, “brain research confirms the critical fact that pornography is a drug delivery system that has a distinct and powerful effect upon the human brain and nervous system.”

None of this takes God by surprise. He designed the interplay between the brain and the soul. Discoveries of physical dimensions to spiritual reality do not nullify spiritual reality.

When Jesus said, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), he saw with crystal clarity — the way a designer sees his invention — that the physical eye had profound effects on the spiritual “heart.”

And when the Old Testament wise man said in Proverbs 23:7, literally, “As he thinks in his soul, so is he,” he saw with similar clarity that soul acts create being. Thinking in the soul corresponds to “is.” And this “is” includes the body.

In other words, it goes both ways. Physical reality affects the heart. And the heart affects physical reality (the brain). Therefore, this horrific news from brain research about the enslaving power of pornography is not the last word. God has the last word. The Holy Spirit has the greatest power. We are not mere victims of our eyes and our brains. I know this both from Scripture and from experience. And I will write more about it next Tuesday.


Recovery Resources: The Porn Path

Mark Driscoll, who is a pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is the best teacher on issues of manhood and sexuality out there. He is direct and thoughtful which is refreshing in an era of Christians being too nice to bring up issues that matter.

I have high expectations when Pastor Mark speaks so when i recently watched this video from his Real Marriage series, I was surprised to have my high hopes exceeded. This video is VERY GOOD. It is cuts from a sermon he preached and an interview he had with a lady who left the porn industry. This combination of teaching and the real story of a woman abused by the industry is sobering.

This video is just over an hour long. Watch the first ten minutes and then see if you can hold back from seeing the rest. This is very, very good and if you are struggling with porn, you would be a fool not to watch this. There is grace here for you.

-Chip

Recovery Resources: Covenant Eyes

Covenant Eyes

In the battle against my own sinful nature there are very few practical tools. The power of internet pornography is that it is accessible in privacy. So, to strip the internet of this power, you must remove the privacy.

Covenant Eyes is a unique program that takes all of the websites visited on a computer and sends them to men and women I choose as Accountability Partners. the sites can be organized by a ratings system that lists sites by their risk of being pornographic.

Covenant Eyes is designed with the pornography abuser in mind so it is difficult to bypass it. It is easy to get it off your computer, but it will e-mail all of your accountability partners to say you uninstalled it.

In my opinion, Covenant Eyes is an essential part of recovery for anyone who is struggling with pornography. You can try to stop using without help like Covenant Eyes, but you are probably kidding yourself. I have known many men in recovery and I know of only one who was successful without Covenant Eyes.

-Chip

P.S. I am not being paid by Covenant Eyes (in fact, I pay them). I just feel it is that good of a program.