Devotional

Porn: The Quiet Anesthesia

Because what I have found to be one of the absolute worst effects of porn is that it numbs me to reality. To the good and the bad. It files down the sharpened points of agony when suffering comes into my life, but it also curtails the heights of joy when there is reason to rejoice.

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I cannot count the number of worship services I’ve stood through unmoved. Others around me would be weeping, dancing, or shouting their passionate cries to the Lord while I stood in the midst of it wishing I felt something.

Anything.

The Catechism states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, but most of the time, if I’m honest, there has been little to no enjoyment of Him. In fact, in the midst of my addiction to pornography, there was often no enjoyment of anything at all.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, and how exactly I want to say this. Because what I have found to be one of the absolute worst effects of porn is that it numbs me to reality. To the good and the bad. It files down the sharpened points of agony when suffering comes into my life, but it also curtails the heights of joy when there is reason to rejoice.

I feel like men and women turn to porn because something is lacking in their lives. They want to escape the bad and painful bits, but end up escaping the good too.

Sometimes it would be so that I could not enjoy sunsets
or hikes in the mountains
or board games with friends
or sitting by the sea
or any of the small things that simply enrich our lives
because my mind was elsewhere.

It was as if the volume was turned down on reality.

It’s similar to the way C.S. Lewis described grief:

“At other times it feels like being mildly drunk or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting.”

I didn’t cry for seven years.

Not because I resisted it by any means. The tears just never came. My wells were empty. My emotions had evaporated.

I even wonder, in the throes of my addiction, if a family member or dear friend were to die, if I would have cried. Or if I’d be the one at the funeral, sitting stoically silent, my face dry as the western plains.

Addiction is that powerful.

Even a ‘non-chemical’ addiction such as pornography has the ability to rewire our brains to the extent that we don’t feel. (And of course, any learned person knows that there are plenty of neuro-chemicals involved in a pornography addiction.)

In David’s great psalm of repentance after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, Psalm 51, he continually calls for God to return and awaken emotion within him. He prays, “Let me hear joy and gladness…Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Part of repentance is returning to a delight in the Lord; it is also mourning the places we have grieved Him.

When I look at the person of Jesus, I see the polar opposite of numbness. I see someone who was entirely alive to His emotions, the full spectrum. I see a man who wept at the passing of his dear friend. In the Christian world, I often hear the verse thrown around as a bit of trivia: Do you know the shortest verse in the Bible? 

Jesus wept.

Do we ever take time to think about the implications of these two words?

God wept.

God…..cries.

If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to be alive to our emotions.

Seeking to escape the hard times and numb the pain is not what God wants in us. The enemy may lure us in with the promise of a pain-free life, but what ends up happening is reality becomes dimmed.

To be like God is to embrace the reality around us with the emotions He has wired into us, not to escape it. I picture Jesus on the mountain, crying out to the Father for guidance. I see Him in the temple courts, fiery with rage at injustice. And there He is in the garden, nervous and terrified of the suffering He is about to go through.

And as He hangs on the cross, shattered and dying, He is offered a drink to ease the pain. This cocktail was designed to reduce the agony of those suffering torture, so they could slip into death with some amount of comfort.

But He turned it down.

Jesus refused to partake in anything that would reduce His experience, the good and the bad, in life and in death.

Saint Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”

Jesus was fully alive. From the moment he emerged from Mary’s womb til’ the blood dripped from His toes onto the dirt beneath the cross, I see a man who embraced every ounce of His life, and continues to from His place on high.

To embrace pornography is to escape life.

So let us cling to Jesus. Let us cling to the One who gives to each of us life, and life to the fullest.

e

17 comments on “Porn: The Quiet Anesthesia

  1. Great post. We indeed are creatures of habit. Science has indeed proven “neuroplasticity” where the brain can adjust or “rewire” and change the “chemical balance” hence behavioral therapy is helpful in many mental disorders,sometimes not needing medicines at all. I’ve seen this in some of my patients. Also, I remember the words from my pastor: “whatever we feed will grow, whatever we starve will die”. I remember in your former posts that we can be “desensitized” with sin and that’s why we should guard our hearts and minds.

  2. You inspire me…to live outside of the shadows and into His marvelous light. I choose life. Thank you for the raw truth, your vulnerability and willingness to share your struggles.

  3. But how do you do this? You said you did not cry for seven years. What made you cry? How did you conquer the numbness? How do you “cling to Jesus?”

  4. This may be the best and most important blog you have posted! I can attest to it’s accuracy. Thank you for speaking out about this crippling plague that is destroying so many.

  5. I experience this same struggle, but in an entirely different way. I have anxiety, and one of the ways if functions is making me feel too much; It’s like someone turned the sound up too loud. But, when I started taking medication, I found that I couldn’t write as much or as well as I did when I used to escape my anxiety through my words. So I either stop the meds and live inside this constant bullhorn of fear, or continue with my two yellow pills and function on a safer, but less emotion-filled level.
    Lesser of two evils? Or, numb-er of two worlds? Both?
    Thank you for using your words to love people.

  6. From Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost devotional today: “The word of God hurts as no sin can ever hurt, because sin blunts feeling. The question of the Lord intensifies feeling, until to be hurt by Jesus is the most exquisite hurt conceivable.” In reference to John 21:17. Thanks for your vulnerability.

  7. Geoff Velpel

    YES, very useful post and much more. One of the enemies fav tools along with his other, PRIDE, to lead us down the path of destruction. I have learned and know to be true that the only way this and many other problems and personal issues are solved/defeated is through complete and total surrender to our mighty Father through Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone breathing. [ Rom 10 :9 and a number of other verses to support it.] ONE can’t defeat a lot of things /problems without Jesus TRULY ” inside”. Fear, anger, addictions all come to mind, there are more . ” I have more to learn now than I ever knew ” by John Suciu 1/24/16 ” Life is short, death is sure, sin the cause, Christ the cure.” Unknown . You go Renoe.

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  10. Jack Johnson IV

    …slow clap

  11. Wow, the deep truth of this rings in my soul, and not just for porn, but for every addiction. How much time have I spent being unaware of the way I was robbing myself of God’s greatest pleasures for me. How many days have I spent far from feeling His beauty and ecstasy because of my weakness for a moment’s pleasure. Thank you for articulating this experience so well, and know that even as I pray for my own freedom, I pray for yours. Gal 5:1

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