By: Dan Wobschall
Quite literally every decision, conflict, battle and resolution to life's situations, begin and end in the mind.
Therefore, if you and I are to walk in purity with Christ and honor our wives, children and above all else, God, don't you think we should be on a vigilant watch over what we introduce our minds and thought life to? (might be a run-on sentence, but oh well)
Here's just a couple of verses of New Testament scripture on the subject.
Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
I could stop here and let us ruminate on these verses. In fact, do that. Read them over a couple of times. Digest them a bit before moving on.
The brain performs an incredible number of tasks including the following:
All of these tasks are coordinated, controlled and regulated by an organ that is about the size of a small head of cauliflower. And it does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and never shuts off to rest!
Understanding a small bit of the science behind the mind gives us a pretty good insight on the power of the mind. It also tells us that we need to care for this body organ quite well. So, 'take captive every thought' to protect yourself from letting creeping crud enter your mind.
Be mindful (pun intended) of what you watch, read, listen to, and think about. Everything you take in via your senses affects how you view the world around you. The avenues from which we receive information are nearly endless. From newspapers to the highest of tech methods to intake news, entertainment, music and you name it.
Old but true
As the old saying goes, accurately so, garbage in - garbage out. Out of our mouths come that which dwells in the heart and mind. What dwells in the heart in mind is what the mind receives and we feed it.
What kind of mind food are you feeding on today?
The Mind on Porn
The neural pathways of the brain are much like roads that take us to and from places, with the option of a few to choose from to make the journey. And the shortest path or most familiar roads are often what we choose. We're familiar with that road. We know it well.
So it goes, as we create pathways of thought and behavior in the mind.
Neuroscience Speaks: How Using Porn Destroys Your Willpower
Neuroscience now knows that willpower is a function of the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Scientific studies have also confirmed that using porn over and over actually reshapes these areas of the brain, literally eroding our willpower and our moral compass.
Neuroscientists call it hypofrontality. Hypofrontality is a state in which there is decreased blood flow to the prefrontal lobes of the brain. Hypofrontality is observed in schizophrenia patients, and is also observed in all manner of addictions.
What is Hypofrontality? In his book, The Porn Circuit, Sam Black explains what hypofrontality is for the porn viewer.
“Compulsiveness is a good descriptor of hypofrontality. Many porn users feel focused on getting to porn and masturbating even when a big part of them is saying, ‘Don’t do this.’ Even when negative consequences seem imminent, impulse control is too weak to battle the cravings.”
The porn-addicted brain has trouble thinking logically. When impulses and desires come from the midbrain, instead of being moderated, the brain feels these desires as compelling needs. The prefrontal region is supposed to be able to weigh consequences and situations and judiciously shut down cravings, but hypofrontality means the addict’s ability to do this is impaired.
To the addict, when the craving for porn surfaces, their whole body gears up for action. As unhindered hormones are released and neurotransmitters fire, the craving consumes them. The heart begins to race, blood pressure rises, and the addict is consumed by a single thought: “Just one more time.”
Speaking from experience
Changing my thought processes was the single hardest part of recovery from my porn addictiveness. My ability to think logically about sexual needs, desires and behaviors went out the window when the impulses were running with a head of steam.
The addictive pornography behavior cost me valuable, unretrievable time lost away from my wife and children.
What I found myself capable of thinking, watching, saying and doing on the internet is today scary and honestly sickening. Yet I did them over and over and over again, seeking relief from the very pain the behavior was bringing me.
How to break the cycle
Just how do we abandon the old pathway of thinking and build new ones? That's a huge question with multiple correct answers. See the three verses at the beginning of this post, and start there. Here are a few others:
We are and will become a product of our own self imposed mental environment. That is truth and fact. Choose wisely.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Sources for this article:
Alcoholism first became widely known as a disorder just as the popularity of television hit the scene in the 1940’s. Interestingly, porn addiction is coming into focus just as the other most significant communication medium in history is taking shape—the Internet.
Are the addictions really that different? In the scientific sense of raw chemical reactions, no they’re not. Be it alcohol, drugs, cutting, or porn, the brain is reacting much the same way. The difference is in the perception.
For example, see what happens when you tell a group of people at your church that you are a recovering alcoholic. You will be embraced, prayed over, patted on the back and assured that you are loved.
One the other hand, try telling that same group of people that you are a recovering porn addict. An awkward silence instantly engulfs the room. You may as well have just admitted that you are single-handedly responsible for the entire sex trafficking industry. Everyone goes home thinking about how much of a pervert you must be (while in denial of their own issues). You can forget ever working in the nursery at church again.
No wonder we read stories about pastors who fake having cancer to hide their addiction to porn. They know that if their secret gets out they will be ruined forever. And that’s a pastor. Think about the person sitting in the pew when it’s announced the porn pastor was just extricated from the church. You think that guy is ever going to come forward and get help? No way!
And the cycle of silence continues.
So, what will porn addiction look like in 30 years? My hope is that through the work of Freedom Begins Here and the work of others, we will begin to talk openly about the problem. Whatever our vice (and don’t lie, we all have them), I pray the Church will begin to welcome us with open arms into a place of safety and recovery.