How Internet Pornography Destroys People & Families (And What We Can Do About it)

Solomon said “there’s nothing new under the sun” but he hadn’t counted on Internet pornography.

Of course the sin isn’t new but we are the first to witness the “internet pornography experiment” and are only just beginning to see its devastating effects. I’m writing this because I believe nothing is more destructive to people and families, and for that reason, we need to all be fighting it for the sake of our sons and daughters and marriages, from the inside and the outside.

Most people know that pornography rewires the brain in the same way a chemical drug does. Higher levels of stimuli are needed to increase dopamine (the drug released as a result from experiencing some type of pleasure) and just like any addiction, the addicted person must seek more and stronger to be satisfied.

One secular news source (NPR) says of pornography:

“Imagine a drug so powerful it can destroy a family simply by distorting a man’s perception of his wife. Picture an addiction so lethal it has the potential to render an entire generation incapable of forming lasting marriages and so widespread that it produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined. Consider a narcotic so insidious that it evades serious scientific study and legislative action for decades, thriving instead under the ever-expanding banner of the First Amendment…

The Witherspoon report makes it clear that countless women — and increasingly many men — have experienced the devastating effects of their spouse’s pornography use. Countless more will experience it in the future. It is our obligation as a nation to pursue the truth for their sake, no matter how inconvenient for some the verdict may be.”

I am not certain we really understand the seriousness and prevalence of this consuming atrocity pervading our lives.

What makes internet porn a unique addiction?

  1. The ease of which the habit can be hidden makes pornography addiction especially rampant.
  2. Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption.
  3. With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres. Often this can push users into criminal activity.
  4. Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn’t eventually activate the brain’s natural aversion system.
  5. The age users start watching porn. A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring.

9 Things You Should Know about Pornography and the Brain

Pornography addiction happens easily and it happens fast. The biggest problem with it is not just that it’s wrong; but that its effects are so far-reaching into families. Dysfunctional sex within marriage and then extra-marital affairs are a common, tragic result but the addiction can go so far even to drive men to criminal activity. I’ve personally known too many situations and you probably do too.

So what can we do?

Understanding the impact, the ease of which pornography can be found, and its long term consequences has to be first. Only until we grasp its harm will be intentional enough to fight it.

*Have the right kind of conversations.

We just live in a different era and we have to come to terms with that. Pretending that our kids aren’t going to encounter sin and even sin of this nature is naive and a terrible parenting fail. As much as I hate to intrude upon the innocence of my children, I want them to hear truth about pornography before it is presented in the form of an impostor. But our conversations don’t need to simply be, “Porn is bad, stay away from it.” We need to teach them about how to treat people made in God’s image, about respect and honor for the opposite sex, and about the gift of intimacy that God has given to married couples and what happens when that sacred gift is perverted. I am beginning to talk with my children about the concrete devastation of pornography on families and pointing to real life examples so they can see for themselves. I want my boys, particularly, to understand that choices they make now can have a profound impact on their lives down the road.

The other part of the conversation needs to emphasize the value and honor God places on people, especially women, and how pornography degrades them and grieves the heart of our Creator. I want that aspect to be so ingrained into their minds that they find pornography despicable if and when they encounter it.

*To filter or not

To filter devices is a topic of differing opinions. Some feel that is crucial to filter content so our children are not exposed prematurely to pornographic content. Some feel that is an unfruitful approach as the reality is they will have access to it eventually and they need to learn how to control their own urges and deal with it rightly. I am a fan of filtering simply because pornography can pop up in front of a young child who isn’t looking for it and cause curiosities to plant themselves early. We haven’t had much success with Covenant Eyes, a popular filtering company, but I do some simple things like set the search filters on our computers to “safe search” and adjust setting on phones to certain restrictions. We do not allow any of our children to take their devices to their rooms and we keep our computers out in public. They also know we my ask, at any time, to look at their activity.  These are ONLY precautions. Nothing will actually prevent a child from accessing pornography if he wants to. So the conversation and equipping them to deal with everything through a lens of biblical truth is crucial.

Furthermore, let your children know you have access to their devices (passwords, etc.) and be sure they are willing to keep that open for you. Every expert on this topic tells parents to keep tabs on their children’s online activity for safety reasons if nothing else. The later your children have access to devices the better, in my opinions, for a number of reasons. (Yes, we struggle with this like every other parent.)

*Pray

We need to be vigilant, more than ever, in prayer for the souls of our children. Pray for them but also pray with them. Let them know you are for them and you are trusting in God’s grace in their lives.

*Be approachable.

The most important thing a child can do if he finds himself addicted to pornography is tell someone. However, that is not typical or likely. Make yourself as approachable as possible. Instead of berating him, let him know you are there to help. Most men who find themselves addicted to pornography become depressed and self-loathing. They don’t need to be beaten up anymore, they need help. Be the help. Encourage your children from a young age to talk to you if they begin struggling with pornography. Remind them you will always be a safe place. The power of a secret addiction is dealt a heavy blow once it is revealed and brought to light.

 If you are a wife whose husband is dealing with the addiction of pornography, get help for you and for him. It is not an innocent activity; love him enough to confront him and drag him to help if you need to.

Sin is not new but perhaps the way we fight it has to morph with the form it takes. May you be strong in the Lord, fighting the good fight even when you are battle-weary. You are not alone.

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6 Responses to “How Internet Pornography Destroys People & Families (And What We Can Do About it)”

  1. Melissa says:

    Conversations! Yes! Those conversations that are the most needful are so often the most uncomfortable, but our children are worth it.

  2. Marie says:

    I always remind my boys that the women in these movies are somebody’s sister/wife/mother/daughter and that if it’s not an activity suitable for their own sister or mother, then they have no business participating in the degradation of someone else’s.

  3. Claudia Evans says:

    Bravo Kelly, for addressing this topic! No family is immune. Your approach is filled with grace and truth. We have experimented with several filtering/monitoring companies and have come to the same conclusion as you have. There is no substitute for time and relationship, but even then, we need to be vigilant because we have found many of our sons’ friends have absolutely no restrictions or limit. Excellent post!!

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