I listened to a sermon last night at Crossroads Christian Church about sexual brokenness. They had a 25 yr old guest speaker Tony Anderson whose organization Unearthed (http://www.unearthedpictures.org/) is dedicated to addressing the denigration of women by sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking of young girls and boys. He creates videos chronicling sex trafficking and other examples of the sexual exploitation of women and children. You can find examples of this sex industry in every major city in the US. It inflicts horrendous violence and unspeakable evil on a most vulnerable population.
In his presentation he focused on pornography as a root cause of creating an appetite, primarily in men, for using women and children as sex “slaves”. One might wonder why Crossroads had this sermon; not to many, if any, of the men who were in the audience are likely solicitors of sex slaves. But they are likely viewers of pornography. In fact it is estimated that 80% of men have recently viewed pornography in some form. So the seed is being sown and it is becoming, if not already is, an epidemic.
What struck me as I listened is the question of what makes the viewing of pornography so prevalent today? Is it just the easy availability of porn on the internet or are there other forces at work? Watching pornography and using it for sexual stimulation to masturbate is probably something most men(and an increasing number of women) have done at one time or another. Using pornographic material for sexual stimulation is a solitary endeavor; you do not need someone else to experience an orgasm. The important thing to know about an orgasm is that it releases the hormone oxytocin that helps release neurotransmitters that produce the feeling of pleasure and well being associated with an orgasm. Individuals that habitually masturbate are seeking to experience this state again and again and viewing porn helps make that happen.
What makes it a way of life for some and not for others? It seems to me that the ones that find their way out of making it a habit have found a better, more satisfying alternative. That alternative is experiencing a committed, connected relationship to another human being and to God who loves them and they love in return. Every male who struggles with pornography that I have seen in my counseling practice has problems with their human and spiritual relationships. None of them have experienced a satisfying, connected, or attached and secure relationship, They feel to one degree or another disconnected and alone in this world.
It is intriguing that oxytocin is also called the “cuddle” or bonding hormone. Recent neurological studies have documented that oxytocin is released when we are with those who love us and care for us. We experience a similar feeling of pleasure and well being. It seems plausible then, that secure attachment works as a protective antidote against becoming dependent on pornography and masturbation. We are going to seek relief when we feel alone and disconnected and viewing pornography and masturbating is a quick and easy way to achieve it. What we need to do, and I think what we must do, is seek love.
I believe that what is at the root of this epidemic of sexual brokenness and exploitation, and for that matter any other form of violence, is the absence of love. We must be lovers of others and recipients of love. How safe and secure do you feel in your intimate relationships? How well loved do your children feel? Do they feel safe and secure with you? How about your spouse;do they feel loved, safe and secure? Do you know, not just think, that God loves you? Do you know that you are loved and are you willing to love others? This, and only this, will turn the tide of an epidemic that is threatening to destroy the fabric of our civil society.