You know the old saying, “Boys will be boys.” We all use it to explain everything from messy faces to wrestling, and not being able to sit still. Recently, while watching a popular morning show, I heard a new use for this saying. The hosts starting talking about teenage boys viewing pornography. Their response to this discussion: “Boys will be boys.” This should not be accepted behavior among men, whether young or old. What can we do as wives and mothers to encourage purity for our loved ones?
Today, 1 in 5 mobile searches are for pornography, and 24% of smartphone owners admit to having pornographic material on their mobile phone. And, to view pornography, you no longer need to pay for it. Nine out of ten internet porn users only access free material. The porn industry has become available to everyone, even our children. 90% of boys and 60% of girls under the age of 18 have seen some type of pornography. Parents today have to be ever vigilant about what and who their children are exposed to every minute of their day.
One issue with pornography viewing is that it can lead to a full-blown chemical addiction. Like me, you may be wondering, “How does looking at a pornographic image lead to an addiction.” It doesn’t in all cases, but in some it is a very easy and slippery slope. Pornography affects the chemicals in the brain much like a drug or alcohol addiction does. There is research and data showing how a pornography addiction changes the brain chemistry of an individual.
The easiest way to look at it is to look at how our brains like to build habits. These habits make every day things easier and quicker, like tying your shoes, brushing your teeth, and driving a car. Imagine if you had to learn to tie your shoes each morning. It would take forever to get out the door. This is why your brain formed a habit. If your spouse or child, during difficult or stressful times, turns to pornography to release stress, the brain will begin to form a habit. The brain will grab onto this habit and, each time he or she feels stressed, the brain will use this habit. Each time this process is repeated, the habit grows stronger and stronger until it becomes an automatic habit. Now, imagine how difficult it will be to break that habit. The brain will hold onto that habit as strongly as it can. This is why many adults struggle to kick this habit, and often the habit started in their early teens. That is a long time that their brains have held onto this habit, and also why will power alone often is ineffective at helping someone overcome pornography use. Change, however, is possible! Recent research into the neuroplasticity of the brain has shown that with the right help and practice, we can re-wire our brains and form new habits.
Unfortunately, based on the fact that pornography is easily-accessible and readily-available, it may have already touched your life, affected a past relationship, and maybe even ended your marriage. If it has, I understand the feelings of devastation, hurt, anger, and confusion that this may have caused. It seems like the pain will never end, and the only way to get rid of it is a divorce. If it is not too late, there are people and places that offer hope, understanding and compassion. Your marriage can be what God intended it to be. It will not be easy. It will be a battle. You will want to reach out and find others who have fought and won the battle and transformed their marriages.
If you are searching for help, there are programs for those with an addiction and for their spouse. There is a program offered by Elizabeth Ministry International. You can find out more information about pornography addiction and healing at the website www.reclaimsexualhealth.com. This program understands that pornography can be a powerful addiction and it helps people break free. It uses the Brain Science of Change to help people change their brain and actually become un-addicted. There is also a section of the program for spouses. This section helps spouses understand the addiction and gives much-needed support. Both sections of the program are online and completely anonymous.
In my prayers, I hope for a societal wake-up call. I would like to not have to monitor everything my children look at. I would like to be able to turn on the television without having the remote in my hand in case something objectionable comes on. I would like to be certain that a search engine will not give my children unintended results. Unfortunately, I see our society accepting more and more pornographic images in all types of media. Fifty years ago, Mary Ann’s shorts were scandalous on Gilligan’s Island. Today, those same shorts are accepted as a fashion norm. I hope, that with programs like RECLAiM, more people will see what pornography is doing to our society. But, until my prayers are answered, please know that others have broken the cycle of addiction and healed their marriages by God’s grace and unending mercy.
For I know the well plans that I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all places to which I have banished you and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.” Jeremiah 29:11-14