What Emotional Disconnect And Porn Have In Common



Warning: This is heavy reading, but I believe this is worth the read.  (You can judge for yourself though.)

Pornography is one of the most prevalent addictions within the Christian community.  It is so prevalent that it is almost guaranteed that you or someone close to you struggles with this addiction.

Why is porn considered so harmful when it is something that is done in private and may not lead to harming a literal person or so it seems…?

Before responding to that question, I want to first look at some root causes to the porn. addiction.

I grew up in a culture, surrounded by a community of Christians that taught a strict code of moral guidelines.  Purity was strongly stressed within that culture.  I am not trying to imply that purity is a bad thing so stay with me…  What shocked me later was to find how many people within that strict culture seemed to clandestinely participate in practices that even a morally decadent culture would often find repulsive: incest, sexual abuse of minors, and even going so far as to “sell” daughters to pimps.  (Note: I didn’t know anyone closely who did the latter.)  I was not aware of most of this until in my later years when the victims finally broke their silence.

What I am seeing is that obsession in any form can often lead to obsessions of the complete opposite form than intended.  An obsession or skewed view of “purity” can lend itself to an obsession over sexuality…  It is not my intention to delve more closely into this specific discussion at this time though.

What I do want to look at is what I have observed among many I know that struggle with the porn addiction.  I have observed that many of these men are emotionally disconnected.  Right now, some of you are arguing, “{…} is very emotional.  He displays harsh outbreaks of anger.”

Anger is not the same as emotional connection.  It is an emotional response but does not indicate healthy emotions or emotional connection/awareness.  In fact, anger is often what we resort to when we don’t understand or are unable to produce other healthier emotions.  Note: anger is appropriate in some cases.  It does indicate a problem so anger should not be ignored.

Anger though is often one of the last emotions expressed by a wounded soul.  In the end, anger can also eventually end with depression.

Anger is one of the leading emotions that porn addicts often display.

What do anger and porn have in common?

They both are indicators of emotional disconnect, and emotional disconnect indicates a far deeper root issue.

Every man I know (emphasis on know) who struggles or has struggled with porn has also struggled with emotional disconnect because… And this is where it gets deep…

...Because of emotional neglect or abuse that they suffered within the home.  It could be that the parents were harsh in their discipline and didn’t know how to offer the emotional nurture that their child needed.  It could be there was even physical abuse within the home.  It could be that there was divorce.  It could be that the parents were enduring their own pain to such an extent that they were unable to emotionally meet the needs of their child(ren).  Whatever the case, these men/women often came from homes that did not meet their emotional needs fully and did not give them a healthy sense of value and worth, unconditional love, and perhaps displayed a more abusive type of “spirituality” (not true “spirituality” or God-relationship).

Note: I am not trying to blame parents for the causes of their children’s sins because we are all accountable, and we all have the opportunity to choose how we respond to life’s situations.  What I am trying to say is there is a very strong correlation between the two, and lasting freedom can be found when we are able to deal with root causes.

As a result of this emotional abuse or neglect this individual experienced, they often close themselves off to the empathetic side of their emotions and to the side that desires emotional intimacy.  Why?  Because to open themselves to that type of intimacy is to make themselves vulnerable and to provide opportunity for more emotional wounds — more rejection and the ability to feel pain again.

As a result, the individual will only reveal the part of themselves that they can control and from which they can disconnect.

For the marriage relationship, this becomes even trickier.  A man can enjoy the pleasures of physical intimacy without the emotional or even relational connection.  For a woman, this is not the norm as much; though our culture is trying to brain-wash us to believe that physical intimacy is no more connecting than holding someone’s hand.  I might add that physical intimacy was actually designed to help both partners to connect on an even deeper plane emotionally as a result of the physical connection.

This is where porn comes in.  Porn requires no emotional connection or even physical connection though it often does lead down the slippery path to actual affairs.

Wives often get confused over this and personally take porn as a rejection of themselves.  The truth is a husband does not look at porn or even have an affair because of you — your lack of some measure of appeal.  He looks at porn because of a lack within himself, and you are not the cause of his lack.

Note: I am not saying that there are selfish, bitter wives who don’t create greater hurts in their husbands. BUT, God never intended a wife to meet every need of her husband — in other words to be god to him.

Even greater confusion is when a spouse commits an affair.  I want to say this as clearly as possible so as to not be misunderstood: an affair is a frequent substitute for the real marriage when there is emotional disconnect.  Why?  Because an affair requires no lasting commitment or emotional investment.  It’s a fling normally.  It can lead to a divorce and remarriage, but when there is emotional disconnect or emotional immaturity, you often see two responses: a quick fling or affair — one of many or a new marriage where there is obsession (this is often seen on the wife’s end) with one spouse or both trying to get their sense of worth from that other person.

In fact, as a result of the hurts and wounds, the spouse of the one having the affair often puts up with emotional and perhaps even physical abuse because they too are struggling with an unhealthy sense of worth.  The wounded spouse is often trying to find their sense of security and value within the abusive spouse. This makes this situation particularly harmful.

I also want to clarify that pornography and affairs definitely are sins against the spouse.  They are allowing someone else or the false image of someone else to enter into the sanctity of the intimacy of the marriage relationship.  As such, just as any other sin, this needs to be repented of and confessed.

The sad thing about this is the shallowness of porn and affairs creates even greater emotional disconnect.  There is no lasting fulfillment or well-being within, and the individual is left, ever seeking and never finding permanency and lasting satisfaction.

What is the answer?  How do we help a person who is so wounded to finally begin to thaw?

First of all, realize that by “protecting” yourself, you are actually keeping yourself from finding help, healing, and true intimacy/connection.

Disconnecting yourself from your emotions is not “protecting” you.  It is simply putting up more barbed wire and more locks on the gates of your heart so that the only emotions you are left with are depression, anger, bitterness, and lust (the very false form of love).

Secondly, you need to be willing to revisit the pain from your past and the wounds.  This is where you need to be brave in order to find why and when you disconnected emotionally.  It is not easy to revisit those painful moments from the past.  It might be a parent, sibling, respected elder, relative, friend, etc… that really wounded you.  It might be a series of them.

Thirdly, and this is the most important, our view of God is often affected by our relationships with our parents or authorities.  If your relationship with your parents was off, it’s a good chance your view of God is and therefore your relationship with God is.

I would encourage you to check out my past blogs on forgiveness.  There is a powerful quote on bitterness/unforgiveness that says, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill someone else.” 

Forgiveness does not mean we allow abuse to continue nor does it mean we ignore the pain or minimize the offense.  It means you acknowledge all of the pain.  Get it out in the open before God.  Scream it out.  Cry it out.  Whatever you have to do, but bring it before God.

Then, the hardest part of all comes, you have to choose to forgive.  If you can’t choose, ask God to help you.

I remember a situation that happened in my past.  I was struggling with unforgiveness so I asked God to help me to forgive the person.  I then saw a picture of Jesus and I sitting on park benches in a garden.  He held out His hand and showed me the nail print in His hand and said, “I did this for you.”  He then held out His other hand and showed me the palm with the nail print and said, “I did this for [….].”  That was my answer.  Jesus wasn’t saying all offenses are the same.  What He was saying is that the result of sin is the same: the Innocent One had to die.  He died for my sins!  He died for your sins!  He died for those who crucified Him and said and did vile things against Him and to Him.  If the Perfect One can die for the sins of the world, how can I refuse to forgive the sins done against me?

It is when you finally choose forgiveness that a dam will break.  That will be the start of your journey of healing.  As God brings up more memories from your past, you may have a lot of garbage to work through.  You may have layers and layers of hurts and lies to work through, but God wants to walk this journey with you.  He wants to gently bring nourishment to your soul.  He wants to heal your wounds and bring you into freedom!

God wants you to be able experience the beauty of intimacy in relational commitment and the beauty within imperfection.  Marriage isn’t perfect.  Friendships aren’t perfect.  Spouses aren’t perfect.  You aren’t perfect.  BUT, as you begin to understand forgiveness and grace, you will begin to understand that your worth and strength doesn’t come in pretending perfection or trying to live your own version of “perfection.”  Your value comes from God Himself!  You are beautiful, loved, and chosen by God Himself!  You will find that once you get ahold of that truth, living the “perfect” life will be easier than you think!  A holy life isn’t found in you or I; it’s found in God Himself and intimately knowing Him!

May I end with this, in order to fully become the man or woman of God you were designed to be, you first need to “run” to Abba Daddy as His son or daughter.  Your heart first needs to come home.  So, come home, dear hearts!  You will be amazed to find that He isn’t that Big Daddy in the sky waiting to punish you when you do wrong.  He is the Abba Daddy, watching and waiting to gather you up in His arms and to welcome you home.  So, come home, dear hearts.  Come home.

(Note: This is not all-conclusive on the topic of pornography addiction, healing, and recovery for all individuals impacted by the affects of pornography.  See a qualified counselor for further assistance.)