Pornography isn't the problem. It's the solution.
I know what you're thinking. "Pornography is the solution? Yeah, ok. That's kinda like saying fasting is the solution to world hunger".
Well, you might have a point; but hear me out and let's see if I can bring this train to the station.
Stripping away all the layers, at the very heart of each and every person who's ever taken a breath while on this earth lies one single need. We hunger for it. We thirst after it. We'll sacrifice anything to find it; and we'll do unspeakable things to get it. It's the object of our greatest desire, and the highest attainment of the human experience. Everything is meaningless without it – relationships, family, friends, wealth, power, love, and even God.
No, it's not finding a Snorlax in Pokémon™ Go. The great mystery of all mysteries – the very epicenter of humanity's tumultuous existence is none other than plain and simple happiness.
Now, if this were a research paper I'd start citing noted philosophers, psychologists, and spiritualists as empirical references. I'd tell you about Maslow's famed hierarchy of needs; nirvana in Buddhism, or Aristotle's theory of happiness as the end goal to all thought and action. But (thankfully) this is not a scholarly peer reviewed article. So perhaps a more personal approach to proving my point is best.
All cards on the table, for 15 years my pornography addiction was the solution.
"The solution to what", you ask?
For me, it was the solution for lack I felt. It wasn't the end itself, and I knew that, but it was my most trusted means – albeit a self-destructive one – to fill the void within; the void of contentment, peace, meaning, love, value, and wholeness. In short, pornography was the go-to guide on my epic holy-grail search for happiness.
Hindsight being what it is, and having experienced the real deal now, I look back on my former self with mixed emotion. On the one hand I feel an incredible sense of shame for the obvious folly of my poor judgement. On the other, I have a curious awe at the power I gave pornography in my life. I think, "How could I have ever fallen prey so many times to such a clear counterfeit?" Bear with me a moment while I try to answer that question in a way that might unveil this strange and terrible abusive behavior pattern.
As any infant can tell you, plastic apples taste wonderful. After all, they're red, the right shape, texture, and size, and the shininess is a dead giveaway to excellence in flavor. Having no real frame of reference, the waxy, odorless apple seems real enough. So, why not lunge right in and devour it? It's got to fill an empty tummy at some point – right?
I was that infant; year after year; bite after disgusting bite. For all my brain knew, it was real. The pleasure centers fired up and blasts of chemicals charged through my cerebral circuitry like an NO2 boost in a "Fast and Furious" street car. Happiness right? Nirvana? Self-actualization? Not even a little. Convincing as it was, it took biting into an actual Honeycrisp fresh from the orchard before I could see the fake for its deceptive forgery.
It didn't happen all at once. I had developed a deep connection to the taste of my plastic apples and it would take many times of reverting back before I could finally make the final break.
You see, a pornography addiction, like any addiction really, creates so false a reality that it appears letting go of it is equal to forever saying goodbye to a best friend. My addiction was a long-held, close companion whose company took on many of the characteristics of a real relationship. It was there for me when no one else was. It was willing to give advice during times of frustration and confusion. It gave me excitement when all seemed lost in my world. It provided me comfort through uncomfortable developmental stages. It always desired a greater portion of my attention; and it never grew weary of my ups and downs – especially my downs.
Pornography gave me permission to always put myself first and to "never-mind" the small problems of others. It was something to look forward to after a long day. It was an outlet for every problem I faced; and it was fun, thrilling, engaging, adventurous, and like the twists and turns of a world-class roller-coaster it kept me guessing as I found new and different aspects to the depth of its personality.
Wasn't I happy in its company? Doesn't every friend come with at least a little baggage? I mean, nothing is perfect in this imperfect world, so why would I expect my addiction to pornography – my friend to be any different? Did it cause some heartache? Of course. Did it leave me wanting? Yes. But didn't it give me the rush of a real relationship, especially during those times when no one else could? Didn't it excite like a theme park thrill ride? Absolutely! So why – why would I want to dismiss my sidekick, my compatriot, my closest ally?
Emptiness. Pure emptiness – that's why. For all of its wild and craziness; spontaneity and loyalty, at the end of the day it ravaged me, hollowed me out, and left me with an insatiable desire for it, and it alone. For every moment of sweet anticipation, the aftermath of guilt trumped it ten-fold. For every adrenaline spike, the depressive downturn sunk far deeper; and for every consolation and comfort it so eagerly extended, the pit in my stomach widened all the more. The supreme highs, and the sore lows eventually left me with an empty middle; and while my friend did imply love for me, those whose love I actually shared mattered less and less. Pornography caused me more pain than it gave me pleasure, and it took many bites into the Honeycrisp before I'd finally grasp the horrible aftertaste of all those pathetic plastic apples. It was a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, and I was the adoring, seduced, bewildered captive.
So, why do I tell you this? Because in spite of that voice inside your head telling you otherwise, I want you to know, if there was hope for me, there is hope for you and the ones you love. While pornography seems like the solution to many of life's problems, when held up against actual, authentic, real happiness, it'll quickly take its place as nothing more than a sad substitute.
I am one of many who has survived captivity and now thrives. If pornography plays any part of your life, believe me when I say you are being cheated of the exquisite deliciousness that'll come only after you've put down that plastic apple and reach for a freshly harvested Honeycrisp.
Where do you find an actual apple? There are many places to look – your spouse, a friend, or family; a support group or God. Most importantly though, and perhaps hardest of all, plant a seed of hope in your heart right this very second and believe that something far surpassing is ready and waiting to be invited into your life. It'll surely take time and patience; work and sacrifice. But when that seed grows into an apple tree, and those apples bear more seeds and more apples still – there'll be no end to the orchards of true happiness you and your loved ones will be able to harvest.
Emptiness no more!
Check out Glenn Paul's eBook on Amazon.com
A Prodigal Path: My Journey of Hope and Happiness
by Glenn Paul (Author), Kathy Paul (Foreword), Christina Paul (Foreword)
The content of this book was never meant to be discovered. In fact, I never, ever wanted to write this book at all. The experiences I record make up some of the most sacred source material of my sometimes sordid history, and I was really counting on the Lord's forgetfulness (Heb. 8:12) as a welcomed companion to His forgiveness. Nevertheless, what would discipleship be without a willingness to dive as Christ dove, endure the crosses of the world, and despise the shame of it? (2 Ne. 9:18). As such, here I am - naked, vulnerable, and absolutely terrified!...