In the last post we discussed that a man’s porn addiction can steam from wounds in their past. In this section we will be looking at the family.
Worthiness is what manhood is all about, and that’s why we say that men become men in the company of men. On the human level, only another man can declare us worthy, and when a father shows that kind of respect, that’s worth a hundred times more. A father doesn’t have to be a national wrestling champion to do this. He simply has to be a man. Fathers have size. they’ve got power. They’ve got wallets with real money in them. They’ve got beards like sandpaper. But most of all, they captured our hearts long ago, and because of that they have the words we’re dying to hear:”You fit, boy. You belong here with the men. You’re worthy-a man to be reckoned with.
But when we don’t hear those words or sense that acceptance, that’s when the father wounds crash in. The pain goes straight to the bone. Wounds like this- that form holes in our hearts- can launch us toward sexual sin. Think about it. Because of our brains’ hardwiring, we’re already handicapped regarding relationships in the first place, partly because our brains’ hemispheres don’t talk to each other very well. Then, since our verbal skills are rooted in the left hemisphere and our emotions are rooted in the right hemisphere, we can’t easily access our emotions verbally. That explains why it’s hard to articulate what we’re feeling. We just know we don’t fit in anywhere, and we aren’t connection with anyone intimately.
Here’s where our hardwiring sets us up to fall. My dad wounded me deeply and left me lonely and aching. Do you remember the primary way guys give and receive intimacy? That’s right, thought the acts just prior to and during intercourse. What can give guys that feeling of intimacy, that feeling of love and acceptance? Right again- the always smiling, always available and unclothed girls of cyberspace who never reject you and who always offer you everything they’ve got while asking for nothing in return.
Without that connection with our fathers and that acceptance as men, we are practically guaranteed to fall into sexual sin during our teen years. Orgasmic relief is the medication for our pain. And once this becomes our crutch in our crippled interpersonal lives, we’ll drag that crutch right into marriage. Wives often think their husbands used porn before marriage merely to release a little sexual pressure from time to time, so they expect the habit to vanish once the honeymoon begins. But I’m not talking about sexual pressure; I am describing emotional wounds that run deep. If your husband still doubts his masculinity, then his porn habit won’t disappear overnight no matter what you do for him sexually.
If you ask wives to explain porn’s potent draw, they’ll cite the sex appeal of limitless free and frisky women to the male eyes and mind. But there are more complex factors at work here. Porn provides instant soothing to emotional stress, and the easy access to Internet porn makes it difficult to wean men away from their emotional dependence on it.
The trouble with this tack is that masturbation is an implosion of sexual pleasure that focuses a guy further and further into himself. Since the genuine need for interpersonal intimacy cannot be met by self-seeking sexual activity, the hunger for genuine intimacy is never fulfilled. But a “better than nothing” attitude sends him right back to the computer for that gentle stroking, which drives him further within himself, which leaves him feeling emptier still… and so it goes. Masturbation can’t slake that loneliness, and the insecurity and isolation simply tighten their grip around a young man’s heart.
Have you ever noticed that you feel more lonely and isolated after watching television alone? That’s because there was no human contact. Masturbation is similar. There was no real sexual encounter. Sure, the act feels sexual and the resulting climax feels like intimacy, but it actually leaves a guy feeling more alone and more ashamed than when he woke up that morning.
God built my hardwiring on the basis that my sexuality is not really mine at all. My sexuality was not created for me or for my pleasure but for Brenda and for her pleasure. God never spoke of sexuality in the context of one in the Bible. He always spoke of it in the context of two.
In addition, my sexuality is a primary communication line for transmitting and receiving intimacy. When that line goes down, my emotional life shrivels, and the effects upon my marriage are disastrous.
Tragically, porn’s first major blow does exactly this, decoupling sex entirely from the communication of intimacy. Over time, sexual intensity replaces intimacy as the man’s primary focus. This is where significant damage to our hardwiring begins.
It all starts innocently enough, with the eyes feasting naturally on the sexual images, just as they were created to do. The orgasmic chemical responses hit the pleasure centers like a dream, again, just as they were created to do. Then the addictive component develops, which will keep him coming back for more porn. Once that happens, he’s hooked, and looking at pron becomes part of his life.
It is here where porn initiates a cataclysmic feedback loop in our hardwiring. Pornography’s effect on the brain is Pavlovian, and an orgasm is a huge reinforcer.
Now, if my hardwiring is normal, as God created it, my focus is not on me but on Brenda and her pleasure, and all my orgasms happen with her. Because of that, I associate my orgasms with my wife: her kiss, her scent, her body. Because of that reinforcement, that is what will turn me on over time and will keep me fascinated with the wife of my youth.
If I open my boundaries to endless transgression in the harems of cyberspace, however, my sexual proclivities and tastes go in other directions. That is not good for me…or for Brenda.
I will NEVER forget the bottom line about our sexual sin as men. Our sin crushes women, and we need to take responsibility for that and stop it. Sure, I just spendt eight chapters on our sexuality, explaining how, in significant ways, the deck is stacked against us guys, but don’t think for a moment that I’m trying to absolve or excuse our sin. God grace men with a high call as husbands and gathers, and our Lord is counting on us to stand with Him. We have such power to impart and heal, and we have a strong position to impact lives for a generation.
The book goes on to discuss the need to understand that you are not alone and the need for forgiveness. It is only through having a soft heart toward your husband that you will be able to forgive and ultimately trust. That is the hardest part about addiction, is that is goes on in secret, so it is something that your husband may be dealing with that you have no idea about. When his secret finally comes out there is a lot of trust that needs to be rebuilt. You cannot trust someone if they are not honest… and so the journey continues into learning to let your heart be open and held by the one who hurt it the most. While at the same time, he needs to work at rebuilding trust in the relationship. The next few posts will be focused on some more practical steps in restoring your heart. I wish you all the luck as you work on releasing your heart first to God and then to your husband.
Again, all of the quotes from this blog are taken from Fred & Brenda Stoeker’s book; Every Heart Restored: A Wife’s Guide to Healing in the Wake of a Husband’s Sexual Sin.