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Is pornography harmful for you? What are the harms of pornography?- Part 2

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October 25, 2017

Is pornography harmful for you? What are the harms of pornography?- Part 2

Today, we continue to answer the courageous question received about the subject of pornography. We saw in the previous video called “why is pornography a sin” the theological reasons that make pornography evil and something that separates people from God.

In this video, we will examine if there is real harm in watching pornographic material or not.

Unfortunately, many youths have heard from their teachers and even from random TV shows that pornography and masturbation is something healthy. But that is not what science says. I will present to you in this video some simplified scientific data, and we will see how science goes hand in hand with Christian theology.

Before starting, we need to be familiar with the term “dopamine.” Dopamine, in a nutshell, is a chemical in the brain that produces reward-motivated pleasure.

Like drugs, when there is a rise in pornography viewing, the brain increases the production of dopamine which causes excitement and the person is overexcited, during this time. As this behavior progresses and becomes an addiction, the brain realizes that it needs to produce an excessive amount of dopamine, because of all the watching, and the brain starts it to react to this extra demand by slowing things down and reserving the dopamine for when the person is watching porn.

What does this entail? Since this dopamine is reserved for the time that the person watches porn, the “normal” (meaning life without porn) becomes quite tedious. In other words, the addict doesn’t find happiness in his or her normal life anymore; because there is no dopamine production. Anything other than porn becomes uninteresting. This leads the addict to the need to go back to the sin to regulate his emotional life because pornography has become his “new normal.”

Let’s see what an article in the Guardian newspaper says:

“The Cambridge University neuropsychiatrist Dr Valerie Voon has recently shown that men who describe themselves as addicted to porn (and who lost relationships because of it) develop changes in the same brain area – the reward center – that changes in drug addicts.”   She is discussing here the effects of the change of dopamine production on the brain and comparing it to drug addiction as the brain damage is very similar in both cases.

Another research says: “perceived addiction to Internet pornography predicted psychological distress above and beyond pornography use itself and other relevant variables.” These two studies and many others converge to the same conclusion; that pornography is indeed harmful.

The problem is that this psychological distress caused in the addict leads to other life detrimental effects.  Since life has become dull, the addict seeks their dose of dopamine so they are lead to isolate themselves from the world (to be able to watch). Or in other cases, to lead a double-life: part of their life is normal as they interact with people, and the other part is a secret life at night-time or when no one is watching. This is, of course, not how God intended us to live as He created us as relational beings that are meant to live a purposeful life.

In extreme cases, this addiction leads to depression. This is very understandable since the addict loses his sense of pleasure-reward in achieving the “normal” day-to-day task.

As the addict is willing to sacrifice what he/she cherishes most, in order to, preserve and continue their unhealthy behavior, the family-life takes a hit. There is also discontent or dissatisfaction in the sexual relationship with the spouse (if there is a spouse). We find that this God-given-gift that should be used for experiencing intimacy with the spouse, in holy matrimony, has been, ironically, transformed into the reason the addict rejects the spouse, since he or she is not as “perfect” as what is being seen in the pornographic material. It is not a surprise then that we see in another study that additional consequence to porn addiction is multiple sexual partners.

It is a truly a dangerous sin that can destroy a precious life. The result of this next study is very special. They examined religious people and the relation between watching pornographic material and the frequency of their prayers and service attendance. They observed that their behavior at 2 different times which we will call T1 and T2. They discovered that the people that watched pornography at time T1 and continued till time T2, reported more religious doubt, and lower prayer frequency at T2 compared to those who never viewed porn.

This makes sense and shows the effect sin has on the person.

However, it doesn’t stop there! At the higher level of pornography viewing (so the people that watched a lot), they found a sudden change in behavior. The service attendance and prayer that once decline started to increase again.  The high porn viewers found a need to go back to their religious affiliation. This study can be explained from a spiritual perspective where in the beginning of the study, as the person started feeling the rush of dopamine and the associated pleasure of sin, he turned toward the sin more frequently and naturally slowly phased out from his practiced religion (which is what happened between T1 and T2). However, as the corruption increased inside the person, and he became a slave to this sin and life started becoming more and more miserable, the study shows a tendency for these people to go back to their original religious beliefs. This demonstrates that this sin doesn’t fulfill the person; it is quite the opposite, it destroys him.

Although this study refers to people from different religions, and each one of them most probably went back to what he originally practiced, the true freedom is found in Christ alone. The harms of pornography are great and we have to be extremely careful with this rapid-growing addiction.

For the viewers that might have already fallen in this sin, again, I want to remind you that there is hope. Many have repented and have overcome. Even some that today we consider saints in the Church. Although they fell, through their repentance, their lives were metamorphosed.

I will conclude this video with a beautiful quote from St. Ephraim the Syrian really worth listening to: “The princes of evil have blinded me with their passions and by their cunningness they have robbed me of the beauty of my youth. What can I do, now that I have lost my purity? I will cry out to Christ, that He might return my beauty to me- and then will the evil ones be ashamed. My Savior cries out to me, to His disciple: do not despair of the salvation; I will restore you and forgive you your sins. I have found you and I will not leave you; for I have redeemed you with my very own Blood. Cry out, O sinner, with all your might, and spare not your throat; for your Lord is merciful and loves those who repent. As soon as you return, your Father will come out beforehand to meet you. He will slaughter the fatted calf, clothe you in a fine robe, and rejoice in you.”

Truly we ought to never forget that there is always hope with God. Never give up.

 

References used in this video:

1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26372200

2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25587721

3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27049348

4)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600144/

5)https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/26/brain-scans-porn-addicts-sexual-tastes

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