When I was a child, the neighbor boy flashed some flashy magazines at me.
We were underneath the trees that bordered my yard. The shade cast dark shadows on us, which concealed our activity. He didn’t tell me these magazines were forbidden, but I sensed it in the hushed secrecy of the shadows.
Time stood still, pregnant with exhilaration and danger. We could be caught. But it didn’t matter, this I had to see. At that point, I was too young for my parents to have considered giving the sex talk. So the first sex talk I received was from these bare bodies on these glossy pages. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I had a long speech that day.
I wish he had shown me a gun from his dad’s drawer. I wish he had stumbled upon his dad’s handgun and shown me that. With that gun I would have known what to do. From that gun I would have run. It was obviously dangerous, not something a child should handle. But at that age, what was pornography? How could it be dangerous?
I think that’s a question many of us are asking. We might not be children hiding in shadows, losing innocence as we crouch. We already know what pornography is. But still we wonder how it’s affecting us. Since I can’t go back in time and urge that boy to run, I can offer something to you.
With hope that you run the other way, here are ten effects of pornography on your personal life:
1. Pornography plants images in your brain through the release of dopamine.
Dopamine is released in your brain during sexual activity. Not only does dopamine form a sexual memory, but it creates a desire for what you just experienced. This is why you can’t forget images you saw years ago, but you can’t remember your kid’s social security number.
2. Pornography creates a soul tie between you and the person you are watching.
The soul is made up of the mind, will, and emotions. Images of the person are branded on your mind and have feelings toward that person. Plus you have a physical reaction to him or her. A tie has been created. This is also why images are hard to forget. Think of the soul tie as glue. Whether you like it or not, it’s sticky.
(1 Corinthians 6.16-18)
3. Pornography primes you for risky behaviors.
Like smoking can be a gateway to illegal drugs, pornography can be a gateway to risky behaviors. Instead of sexuality being a sacred and private matter, watching pornography lowers your inhibitions. Your standards decline and soon you are doing things you would have once avoided. Sexual predators sometimes use pornography to loosen up their targets.
(1 Peter 5.8)
4. Pornography keeps sex on your mind all the time.
Whether you’re at work, at school, with friends or family, it’s challenging to shake sex from your thoughts. Not only are the images vividly flashing through your mind like a red light district, but you imagine new situations with the people around you. Pornography never stays on the screen or page, it leaps onto your daily life.
5. Pornography leads to unhealthy shame and self-hate.
Shame is the feeling that something is fundamentally wrong with you. Sometimes shame is healthy if it alerts you to beliefs or behaviors that are misaligned with your identity. But if you don’t listen to healthy shame, it can create self-hatred and low self-esteem. The private nature of pornography perpetuates these negative emotions. If you can’t bring your activity into the light, it’s probably casting darkness onto your identity.
(1 John 1.6-7)
6. Pornography sets up a fantasy world that is impossible to attain.
With the natural challenges that marriage brings, why add impossible expectations to it? Pornography creates a fantasy world that sets up your spouse and sex life for failure. The anonymous bodies become your standard, so when your spouse’s body doesn’t measure up, you get disappointed and distance is sown. But when God brings together a marriage, both bodies fit together perfectly.
(Songs of Songs 6.3)
7. Pornography invites another person into your marriage bed.
God created sex to be between a man and a woman who are married to each other. But pornography violates this sacred activity by bringing another person into the marriage bed. Even though a physical encounter might not occur, pornography creates a sexual encounter. Marriage was not made for three (unless the third person is Jesus).
8. Pornography encourages shallow relationships.
Each person is made up of a spirit, soul, and body. However, pornography reduces the person to a body. It disregards the spirit and soul of the individual. People become one dimensional objects whose value is only physical.
(1 Thessalonians 5.23)
9. Pornography turns people into your personal pleasure centers.
When you use pornography, you begin to see people as objects to serve your personal pleasures. You become the center of the universe, the sun around whom the planets orbit. Satisfying your desires and whims take center stage. Selfishness leads you.
10. Pornography blocks intimacy with Jesus.
It’s impossible to remain close with Jesus and disobey him at the same time. It’s one thing to slip and fall—Jesus is there. But repeated rebellion creates a wedge between you and Jesus; intimacy is difficult. One of the areas Jesus is particular about is sex. The Bible says that when we unite our bodies with someone, we are one with him or her. But in Jesus, we are one with him, and our body is not our own. Therefore, how we handle our sexuality influences our walk with Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 6.16,17,19,20)
You can’t afford to kid around with pornography. It’ll take your life one image and thought at a time, until you have nothing but shadows.