Breaking the Bondage of Pornography.

Is pornography dangerous? What are the side effects? And how can you kick the habit?
We sat down with counsellor and minister David Stojcic to discuss the hard facts about addiction and pornography. David is the Founder of 4D Living, a not-for-profit lifestyle health clinic.

Q: What percentage of people that you counsel disclose to you that they have a problem with pornography?

A: That’s a good question. I am just trying to think how many people come to me and identify pornography as the main issue when it comes to their marriage or their relationship? Not too many. Over the last two years of my counselling with individuals and couples, only one couple identified pornography as the big issue that they were facing. They were separated and on the brink of divorce when they first came to see me. I am delighted to say that their relationship since then has significantly improved and they are now planning their wedding renewal.

I need to say, however, that many of the people that come to see me for a variety of issues admit to me that they are also struggling with pornography. Some of them don’t see it as a serious issue as they believe that most people do have similar struggles. This kind of opinion is common with some men.

Q: Is pornography a serious problem and, if so, why?
A: Yes, it is! For a number of reasons. I’ll start with the effects of pornography on our mental and physical health and then we will touch on the effects of pornography on the social and spiritual side of our being.

Last year (2017) The Telegraph, the UK newspaper published an article, “The scary effects of pornography: how the 21st century’s acute addiction is rewiring our brains”.

The article stated that “In 2014, a Cambridge University study found that pornography triggers brain activity in sex addicts in the same way drugs trigger drug addicts.” The article goes on to say that:

“Compulsive behaviours, including watching porn to excess, over-eating and gambling, are increasingly common. This study takes us a step further to finding out why we carry on repeating behaviours that we know are potentially damaging to us,” said Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Welcome Trust, which funded the research. [1]

Q: The pornography industry is huge, and it seems to increasingly target the younger generation.

A: Yes it is. It is believed the online pornography sector is worth around $15 billion, and it reaches more people, and younger people, every year. In 2016 the analytics report of just one website, Pornhub, revealed that its videos were watched 92 billion times last year, by 64 million daily visitors. It works out at 12.5 videos for every person on the planet, and if you tried watching all of them consecutively – don’t – you’d be busy for 524,641 years. [2] 

Recent statistics show that 53% of 11-16 year-olds have seen explicit material online at some stage.

Q: What other negative effects does viewing pornography have on people?

A: Enjoying actual sex less is perhaps the best-known consequence of porn over-consumption and a well-understood problem in the 21st century. In the 1980s, anti-porn protesters always argued it would turn men into monstrous pests. If anything, it seems to have done the opposite; it is not uncommon to hear of young men so accustomed to viewing porn of whatever variety, whenever they want it, that the labour of having actual sex is seen as unnecessary.

Q:
It sounds like pornography negatively affects sexual performance. This is opposite of what some people would expect.

A: Yes. A 2015 study by researchers at the University of California found a rare positive correlation between porn watching and libido, but the consensus is on the opposite side. Last year, for instance, NHS experts (UK) noted an increase in erectile dysfunction in otherwise healthy young men and concluded that excessive porn use was the most likely factor at play.

Psychosexual therapist Angela Gregory in her BBC interview said that “these young men do not have organic disease”, so one of the first assessment questions I always ask now is about pornography and masturbatory habit because that can be the cause of their issues about maintaining an erection with a partner.”[3]

Q: Is it predominantly a male issue or do females get involved in viewing pornography?

A: One would think that porn is predominantly a male gender issue “because the porn industry is driven by men, funded by men, managed by men, directed by men and targeted at men…” according to advertising executive Cindy Gallup. [4] However, according to Nigel Barber, PhD who published the article “Women Flock to Pornography” in Psychology Today in 2013, survey data indicates that 30% of Internet pornography users are women. He says, “This is a problem for evolutionary psychologists who claim that women choose relationship-based romance literature over visual erotica.”[5]

Sex is the highest form of intimacy between a man and a woman and in order for it to be a blessing to us it should be exercised in the context of trust and commitment. 

His argument is that women are not less sexual than men. He goes on to add that “…it is no great shock to discover that contrary to gender stereotypes, many women are interested in pornography. That interest emerges in a world where sexuality is less threatening than in the past. Even so, it is probably no accident that young women are drawn to cyberporn that can be enjoyed in privacy.[6]

 Q: Before we discuss the spiritual effects of pornography, let me ask you if Christian men and women struggle with pornography or is this habit/addiction reserved for people who do not have faith and values that Christians profess? I suspect we all know the answer.

A: Unfortunately, Christians, and in general people of faith, are not exempt from pornography addiction. One can do a quick YouTube search and find many videos that aim to help Christians or people of different faiths (i.e. Muslims) to overcome pornography. Some ministries have been established, often by former pornography addicts, with the aim of helping other believers to quit pornography.

Q: Why, from the Christian perspective, is pornography such a serious issue?

A: This is an excellent question. Human sexuality is a gift of God. God gave it to us to enjoy within the confines of marriage. Sex is the highest form of intimacy between a man and a woman and in order for it to be a blessing to us it should be exercised in the context of trust and commitment. Marriage is that context.

When people get married, we [ministers] ask them to enter into a covenant of faithfulness that is meant to last until death. We asked if they will love and cherish each other and keep themselves for each other and exclude all others from that unique relationship no matter what life may bring to them (for better or for worse, in health and sickness…). God is invited as a witness and guarantor of this covenant relationship.

Being involved in pornography is like bringing another person into your marriage. It’s a betrayal of the marriage covenant, and thus an act of adultery.

Q: So, what can people do to overcome the addiction to pornography?

A: There are a number of programs that can help people to break the addiction to pornography, but I cannot think of any program that is more successful when it comes to addictions as the AA 12 Step Program. When it comes to pornography this program substitutes the word alcohol with the word lust.


One can find a number of Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) websites or similar that aim to help people with their addiction to pornography. In the very middle of this program is the admission that one is powerless over their addiction and that one will rely on God to help them with their addiction. If people do not have access to an SA group in their area, they can see a Christian counsellor, or even if they have a support group such as SA in their area it would still be very helpful to see a Christian counsellor. 

Q: David, is recovery from pornography a quick process, or can it take a while to recover?

A: It depends from case to case. God can choose to cure people instantly as a result of prayer. I have seen that. But in most cases, God uses the process, and it can take a longer time.

Q: So what’s the process of recovery?

A: The recovery process could be summed up in four stages that can last up to 3 years. And the assumption is that one is committed to recovery.

There are 4 Stages:

1. Survival Stage - 3 months to 12 months (quitting all behaviour that could lead to relapse. This includes having strict control over all your internet devices. Also, deleting any accounts that you used to watch pornography. Anything on social media that could trigger a relapse. Control the environment - use your computer and devices in an open space with little privacy. Decide on a start date. Porn and masturbation free time for at least 3 months. Deal with the following two issues: a) denial that you may have the problem and b) resistance to taking care of the problem. You will need to learn what you can replace the addiction with as well as deal with ego problems.

2. Stability Stage - from 6 - 18 months. By this stage, you will have a deep understanding of your addiction, and you should have developed a daily routine which helps your recovery. Your routine has become your habit by now. You have moved past denial and resistance. You feel a sense of accomplishment. You now have been off masturbation and pornography for a minimum of 6 months.

3. Maintenance Stage - 1.5 years to 3 years. Your relationship is stable and improving. At this stage, you’re able to move visiting your accountability partner or counsellor to a few times a year only. You must have a maintenance plan. No slip-ups or relapses or acting out behaviour for 3 years.

4. Mastery Stage - You have been in recovery for 2-3 years and have worked on deeper issues; fears, childhood events, relationship events, spiritual dilemmas and beliefs, or other possible triggers. Your concept of self-has improved and every aspect of your life improves.

Q: Thank you for sharing your insights with our readers about this issue that plagues an ever increasing number of people.”

A: You are welcome.

David Stojcic
Director, 4D Living Lifestyle Health Clinic



[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/scary-effects-pornography-21st-centurys-accute-addiction-rewiring/
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-beast/201306/women-flock-pornography
[6] Ibid

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