, , , ,

shutterstock_man on computer dark room

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 6:9

Pornography is destroying marriages and families. In our marriage coaching ministry, we are witnessing an increase in marital difficulties caused by pornography.

In addition to the addictive behaviors and associated emotions experienced by the user, it is typical for the spouse of a pornography user to experience very legitimate and overwhelming negative emotions: betrayal, shame, poor body image and low self-esteem. Many say they are unable to compete with the images on the screen.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19

The American Sociological Association (ASA) has researched the effect of pornography on the health of marriage. Their study, “Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce,” found that married men who start watching porn are twice as likely to be divorced than those who do not. Married women who start watching porn are three times as likely to divorce.[1]

These statics run contrary to the notion that pornography is only a guy issue. Increasingly, women are using pornography. Recent studies show…

  • According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, about half (49%) of young adult women agree that viewing pornography is an acceptable way of expressing one’s sexuality.
  • According to a survey of more than 11,000 college-age women, more than half (52%) of young women today are exposed to sexually explicit material by the age of 14.
  • According to a study published in the CyberPsychology and Behavior, 62% of women have seen pornography by the age of 18.
  • About 1 in 5 women (18%), use the Internet for sexual purposes habitually – every week[2].

While beginning to watch pornography was associated with an increase in the probability of divorce for the sample of married men and women, the increase was greater for younger adults. In fact, the study found that the younger an adult was when he or she began watching pornography, the higher his or her probability of getting divorced.[3]

Signs and Symptoms of Pornography Addiction[4]

  • Using pornography in greater amounts or over longer periods of time than intended
  • Trying to stop using porn and not being able to
  • Having difficulty controlling porn use
  • Using pornography in situations that impose physical dangers
  • Continuing to use pornography despite negative effects on work or relationships

A pornography use disorder is any use of porn that causes negative consequences in a person’s life. Some of the earliest signs of porn addiction are continued use of pornography despite the unpleasant feelings or negative impacts it causes. For example, a person with a porn addiction might use porn at work, get caught, lose their job but continue using it afterward, even at a new workplace.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? 1 Corinthians 6:15

Pornography Addiction Statistics[5]

  • One-third of Internet downloads in the United States are related to porn.
  • About 25% of internet search queries, or 68 million searches a day are for porn.
  • Almost one-half of American families say that porn use is a problem in their homes.

If you or your spouse is suffering from pornography addiction, there is help for both the user and the spouse. Here are some resources that we highly recommend.

RECLAIM: God’s Plan for Sexual Health

RECLAIM in a private, anonymous, online Catholic resource for individuals struggling with pornography. Participants learn the brain science behind problematic sexual behaviors and how to use cognitive behavioral tools and techniques to overcome unwanted activities. RECLAIM also offers free programs for those who support people struggling with pornography: spouses, parents, pastors, and therapists.

Those in RECLAIM have a personal coach, accountability and tracking tools, access to a worldwide member and discussion forum. This care and accountability is essential to a lasting behavioral change. RECLAIM also has an imprimatur to assure that it is rooted in Catholic teaching. It incorporates the concepts of the Theology of the Body, encourages use of the sacraments, and provides various opportunities for spiritual growth.

STRIVE: A 21-Day Detox from Porn

Catholic apologist and anti-pornography crusader Matt Fradd spent more than a decade helping men understand where pornography use inevitably leads: to loss of joy and purpose, destroyed relationships and families, negative psychological and physiological effects, and killing the user’s ability to love. Matt recently created STRIVE as an effective 21-day challenge to help men get the tools in place necessary to get on the path toward freedom from devastating consequences of pornography addiction.

Matt describes the addictiveness of pornography on the function of the brain and the negative emotional effects on the user…

Over the past 40 years there have been studies conducted by different branches of science on porn’s sociological, psychological and neurological effects on viewers. It previously was thought that for something to be addictive it had to be a substance that you put into your body. But we know from the DSM-5 [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition] that one of the five categories of addiction is natural addiction, like pathological gambling. Such behaviors can produce the same effect in the brain as a substance like alcohol.

Pornography elicits powerful neurotransmitters, called dopamine, in the brain that can lead to us getting addicted. Our brain gets overstimulated, and its reward center becomes numbed. In this state of atrophy our brain craves dopamine, which drives us to more pornography. But as our brain keeps craving dopamine, it craves a harder drug, by which I mean porn, which features deviant sexual behavior and unnatural fetishes.

The viewer suffers in a variety of ways, such as from anxiety, depression, isolation and marital breakdown. It can also affect us physically, making it more difficult for us to engage in and enjoy sexual relations with another person.[6]

Satan likes to work in secret and in the darkness. If you are struggling with pornography, bring it into the light. Shine the light of Christ into the darkness. Make frequent use the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist to receive grace to fight this battle. Satan is using pornography to attack marriages and families. Do not fight this battle alone. Get an accountability and prayer partner to walk with you through this struggle. Christ can make all things new. Let Him into your heart and He will transform you. Do not fear, do not be afraid.

You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

[1] EurekAlert!, Beginning pornography use associated with increase in probability of divorce, internet: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/asa-bpu081616.php (accessed August 23, 2019).

[2] Covenant Eyes, How Many Women are Hooked on Porn? 10 Stats that May Shock You, internet: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/08/30/women-addicted-to-porn-stats/ (accessed August 23, 2019).

[3] EurekAlert!

[4] The Recovery Group, Pornography Addiction, internet: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/process-addiction/porn-addiction/#gref (accessed August 23, 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Our Sunday Visitor, STRIVE: A 21-day detox from pornography, internet: https://www.osvnews.com/2019/03/26/strive-a-21-day-detox-from-pornography/ (accessed August 23, 2019).