The Sweet Spot: Christians and Porn Addiction

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One upon a time, in an apartment on London's west side lived Mike (straight) and Hal (gay). Each had a very extensive pornography collection which they shared, despite their different tastes, with the kind of obsessive glee normally reserved for vinyl. To go into Mike's room, a thing I did more than once (wink wink), was to be instantly assaulted by piles of computer hardware and stacks upon stacks of sex videos. Hal's porn, no less prolific, lived inside a wooden cabinet and was largely hidden by his multi-sized (and multi-colored) dildo collection. Same love, different expression. But despite their commitment to the art of the skin flick, neither of them qualify as being a porn addict. They are out and proud and currently, both are happily married.

Regular consumption of porn does not make one an addict. In fact, it is hotly debated as to whether or not pornography addiction actually exists. "There's no doubt that some people's porn consumption gets them in trouble -- in the form of maxed-out credit cards, lost sleep, neglected responsibilities, or neglected loved ones," says sex therapist Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, on WebMD. But she thinks that the term, "compulsive" is more appropriate.

It is also not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and, unlike chemical dependency or alcoholism, is not seen as a disease. Despite this, it's an affliction that seems to be growing. Numerous blog posts exist to advise those lost in a fog of the xxx and researchers everywhere are hot on the tail of society's newest plague. Even Hollywood is throwing its opinion into the ring. "Don Juan's Addiction," a darkly comic telling of one man's obsession with image-oriented whacking off was released last month to rave reviews.

Before that there was Steve McQueen's disturbing tale of a sexual sociopath and Duncan Christie's mockumentary, Confessions of a Porn Addict. Much of all this flurry, however, erroneously focuses on porn addiction as a male problem. The objectification of the female a primary cause. But it turns out that this is an affliction that also affects women. According to an Internet Pornography Statistics study in 2008, 30 percent of Internet pornography consumers are women. Of those, 17 percent say that they struggle with an addiction to pornography. The percentage jumps higher among Christian women.

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25 percent claims Dirty Girls Come Clean, a book and ministry dedicated to helping women heal their addiction to porn. The author, Crystal Renaud says she began being addicted at 10 years old when she found a copy of one of her brother's magazines. An increasing obsession with phone and cyber sex led to social isolation, shame, and a dangerous encounter with a stranger in a hotel room. Her story raises interesting questions about what leads people to obsessively consume porn.

Rachel B. Duke wrote for the Washington Times that, " Christian women aren't safe from the influence and addictive qualities of pornography, either. She also quotes Joshua Harris, author of the book, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), who has become less and less surprised by the phenomenon. "Seven years ago, when I was writing that book, I was so surprised at how many women struggle with lust as much as men do." (Ahem, Mr. Harris, I would like to point out that for hundreds of years, it was women and not men, who were considered the lustier. "All witchcraft stems from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable," so sayeth the Malleus Maleficarum.)

But is lust the problem? Have some of us always had too much of it and now, with the proliferation and availability of pornography, do we just go too far? The films mentioned above say no. Instead the culprits are rampant materialism, intimacy dysfunction, and increasing alienation due to technology.

In an interview for ABC news, Crystal Renaud said, "Women are also visually stimulated and are attracted to pornography in many of the same ways as men are. But what makes women and women's use of pornography all the more destructive and potentially dangerous is our innate desire for emotional connection." I would argue that we are all, regardless of gender, hardwired to desire emotional connection. It is precisely the abuse of this or the struggle for it that has the potential to drive us toward self-destruction, be it watching too much porn, drinking ourselves into a stupor, or simply being too terrified to say how lonely we are.

What is compelling about the story of Mike and Hal is not that they owned a lot of porn. It is that they shared it.

The Sweet Spot is a blog column by Ginger Murray who is also the editor of Whore! magazine. Check back next week for more.

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2 comments
Stan James
Stan James

Now, the cat is out of the bag. Thanks!

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