What is the mental, physical, and spiritual impact of Pornography on the brain? And what is God’s radical recovery plan for you?
Many people consider the impact of viewing pornography to be insignificant, or at the very least we minimize the impact that is has on our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. There is research to suggest that its impact goes far deeper than we ever imagined. First, a quick overview of the brain’s anatomy.
Anatomy of the brain
Pornography stimulates an area of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system is involved in behavioral and emotional responses. It’s essential for several behaviors including our fight or flight responses. The other primary function of the limbic system is the creation of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure, and how we think and plan. Pornography overstimulates the production of dopamine. Over time the brain builds up a tolerance to the increased amounts of dopamine and demands more of it. The dopamine acts as a reward for the brain. This “reward” is pushed to the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. This area is literally responsible for your mood, impulse control, and morality. Pornography inhibits or destroys the function of this area. Studies suggest that the damage to this area can literally shrink the brain and take the brain back to a juvenile state.
In addition to key areas of the brain shrinking back to a juvenile state there are additional long-term effects that can occur. Habitual use can cause increased depression, anxiety, and loss of impulse control. Even three hours of porn use per week can cause a noticeable reduction in grey matter in the brain.
The primary implication of viewing pornography is severe Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Fifty percent (50%) of men aged 16 to 40 experience Erectile Dysfunction. There are other physical effects including social isolation, potential to engage in risky or harmful sexual practices, and overall dissatisfaction with sex. There are also much darker implications including sexual aggression and violence. To support these concerns, here is a quote from Neuroscience News article 2020, “Analytics reveal that conventional sex is decreasingly interesting to users and is being replaced by themes like incest and violence.”
Dopamine levels can be pushed to the point where “normal pornography” can no longer satisfy. The result causes the individual to push their desires to much darker places, sometimes crossing moral, ethical, and legal lines.
Make no mistake, there are spiritual implications as well. Pornography can affect our relationship with God. Our sin opens the door to darkness that we are allowing into our lives. Over time, it can separate us from connecting with God in everyday life. We become enslaved to selfish thinking and behaviors. It can affect our prayer life, limiting spiritual growth and our desire to promote the kingdom further.
What’s the answer?
God alone is the answer. God alone has the power to radically transform our hearts and minds. God’s grace is relevant, timely and is the only hope for complete restoration.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2
This is His will for us. We belong to Him. We were bought with a hefty price.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What can you do to further your recovery?
- Pray for God to intercede in your life.
- Cast your worries on Him because He cares for you (refer to 1 Peter 5:7).
- Seek out Christian counselors who are equipped to walk alongside you.
- Find other men that you can share this journey with.
- Establish goals of abstaining from unwanted sexual behaviors for 60 to 90 days.
- Rest in the fact that God can complete a restoration in you during this time (refer to Phil 1:6).
- Be reminded of the fact that His grace always wins over the shame we feel from our addictions.
- Allow God to do a mighty work in you. If He knows every hair on your head, He certainly understands the complexity of the neurons that are firing within it (refer to Luke 12:7).
Today is the day you can take steps to allow the Great Physician to rewire your brain. God wants you to be the best version of yourself. A version that is free from the slavery of pornography. A version that seeks freedom in Christ. Will you allow God to radically transform your heart and mind today?