What is the Antidote to Porn?

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Hugh Hefner, the founder and publisher of Playboy Magazine died earlier this year. His legacy is big and far reaching; With his Playboy mansion and his magazine, he captivated the imagination of many and painted the objectification of women and illicit sex as legitimate, elite, glamorous and heaven-like, full of bliss and happiness. He had a vision to make porn mainstream.

Today, the pornography industry that he promoted is rampant. According to Covenant Eyes, “68% of young adult men and 18% of young adult women use porn at least once every week” and according to the Huffington Post, “Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined”.

Pornography has tricked us with promises of ecstasy and satisfaction and left us empty, alone and feeling bankrupt.
The impact of Hefner’s vision is not without significant consequences. Webroot, a cyber security site claims that “40% of ‘sex addicts’ lose their spouses, 58% suffer considerable financial losses, and about 33% lose their jobs”. From poor sexual performance in real sex to divorce to PTSD (in partners of sex addicts as a result of the trauma caused by the addiction), pornography has tricked us with promises of ecstasy and satisfaction and left us empty, alone and feeling bankrupt.

We need more than a call to obedience, accountability partners and internet filters.
In order to fight pornography within the church and our families we need more than a call to obedience, accountability partners and internet filters (or a blog post). Each of these elements are important, necessary and should be implemented. But we, as humans, need much more than that. The reason is that we as people don’t change by making new commitments and by being policed by others. (How many of us have tried again and again to quit an addiction and failed? How many of us have dismissed the fear of confessing to our accountability partners in the face of the sexual temptation?)

We change as we re-imagine what the good life is and as we step into relationships in which good life happens. Transformation requires a redeemed imagination and real relationships.

Here’s what I mean by that:

One of best ways to fight Hefner’s fake vision of fulfillment is to create and share stories that portray the life God envisioned for us as more beautiful, appealing and satisfying than porn. Stories where faithfulness is a virtue and women are cherished and beloved. With these stories, Hefner’s world is shown for what it is: sick, empty and broken.

If you find yourself struggling with pornography, you need to cultivate and experience the goodness of real relationships with real people.
The best way to create and spread better stories and images is by living them. God created us to live the good life – to have soulful, deep and meaningful connections with God, our spouses and others.

If you find yourself struggling with pornography, yes, you need to confess your struggle to a safe believer, set internet filters on your computer, and have an accountability group – but above all, you need to cultivate and experience the goodness of real relationships with real people.

3 STEPS TO LIVE BEYOND PORN

Here are three ways in which you cultivate and experience real relationships with real people.

  1. Conversation. Strive to have consistent face to face conversations with trusted friends (don’t let texting or social media be a substitute for face to face conversation). Share your life – your thoughts, emotions, fears – with them. Make sure you bring the good, the bad and the ugly to the table. Don’t be superficial. Be honest and deep. Have reciprocal conversation where you each share, listen and encourage each other. (Tip: all healthy adults schedule important meetings on a routine basis).
  2. Presence. Strive to be present to your immediate community (your family, friends and church). Pour yourself out to your community by worshiping together, serving each other, playing together and mourning together. Build memories together. Shared experiences build trust and bond a community. Your goal is to learn to give sacrificially and also receive thankfully from your community.
  3. Commitment. Real relationships with real people take time and are difficult. So, if you want to have them, you need to fully commit to your people. There will be plenty of times when you will not want to talk or be with others. In those times, make a big effort and show up anyway. Prioritize face to face conversations and be with your people. Commit to showing up.

We will be less vulnerable to porn when we embrace the life God designed for us to live. Porn lies to us and says it will give us what only real relationships can. Porn promises to make us feel wanted and take away our loneliness. We want it to do this for us – but it never does. In the end, it only makes us feel less wanted and more alone.

Porn loses its alluring power as we experience deeper relationships with real people.
Only real relationships can make us feel wanted and affirmed. Only real people that know us can look us in the eye and listen to us, affirm us, love us, fight with us, cry with us and laugh with us. This is God at work in real people reaching out to love us. Porn loses its alluring power as we experience deeper relationships with real people.

We will change as we re-imagine what the good life is and as we step into relationships in which good life happens. Hefner didn’t have the good life. But we can.

Leandro Lozada is from Puebla, Mexico and serves as Program Director for Love Thy Neighborhood. He is a graduate of Southern Seminary with an emphasis in spiritual formation.

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