I have heard convicted serial rapists and pedophiles all share their story and a common theme is that their addiction started “innocently” with softcore porn and escalated. Anyone who has struggled with this addiction for some time can also relate to the fact that they either are engaged for longer periods of time, are attracted to more hardcore themes or both. This is a scary and unsettling reality for those who struggle and poses the question: why does porn addiction escalate?
Escalation happens with virtually any addiction, whether alcohol, drug use, pornography or anything that is used to fill a wound in the soul. The reality of the spiritual condition is that these “self-medicating” addictions can never truly meet the need of the soul for which they serve as a temporary balm. This is why our ministry so emphasizes the need for Christ to heal the heart wounds and needs that fuel the struggle. But when this does not happen and the user keeps trying to fill the void, it opens the door for perversion and a host of other negative emotions.
Understanding the Heart of Pornography Perversion
All porn is sadistic. That is a strong statement. Many people argue that can’t be the case with softcore porn – after all, they are merely appreciating the beauty of a woman… right? While viewers may feel like this is the case on the surface, what is really going on in the heart when we look at a woman to lust after her? First, let’s state the obvious: the viewer doesn’t love the person they are looking at. They may be infatuated with them, but they don’t care about the person’s soul, their feelings, their talents, what makes them special and precious. They really only care about one thing: using the person’s body for their own fantasy and gratification. When they are done, they can discard the person, forget about them and go on with life.
You may not have thought of it this way before, but that sounds a lot like rape doesn’t it? One would argue, “Rape isn’t consensual… these porn stars want you to look at them.” OK let’s break down that logic also. Consent is meaningless if the person doesn’t know better. A close friend of mine lost her virginity when she was thirteen to a thirty year old teacher. She idolized him, was infatuated with him and was thrilled about their “relationship” (which continued for about 6 months before he broke it off with her). It is easy to step back and look at that scenario and understand that even though it was a consensual relationship, the man was clearly using and taking advantage of this girl. We think that just because a person is an adult, that they know better. But only God knows the heart. These girls may want people to look at them, want the attention and desire to feel special. However, the real heart-cry is to be loved, treasured and to feel important. What they actually have to do is settle for becoming a sex object. The attention isn’t for who they really are but for the fantasy and allure they can create. Thus, they can never truly get what their heart requires (not unlike the person who is watching them).
As this cycle continues, the performer’s self-esteem and value is diminished because she must constantly sell herself in a different way to different men to gratify different fantasies. As her self-worth diminishes, she is more and more willing to do more and more debased acts which only further confirm the lack of value she feels in her soul. This feeds the escalation of the user who doesn’t truly love her or value her as a person but only wants her to be an object for his own gratification. But because she can never give him what he really needs, he needs to use more and more of her until both people are devoured by their demons.
When you understand the heart of escalation, it becomes clear how perversion so easily settles into the soul of the pornography user. It is no mystery how “innocent” pornography can grow into horrible rape addictions, pedophilia, fetishes and on-and-on. It also becomes sobering and clear that as the Bible says, by means of a harlot, a man is reduced to a crust of bread (Pr. 6:26). We must run to Jesus, the One who knows our hearts’ needs, the One who heals all wounds and who truly satisfies.
The MMM lays a foundational pathway to freedom that first heals the heart and establishes the man in Christ. This foundation of love, grace and acceptance becomes a launching pad that makes all other efforts work. There is real hope in Jesus Christ.