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Counseling and Spiritual Formation for Porn Addiction

Counseling and Spiritual Formation for Porn Addiction

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Published by bruddalarry
This is the culmination of a semester of intense reading and many interviews on the subject of pornography addiction. It's a widespread issue in the evangelical church, and there's hardly a guy who hasn't either struggled with it or who doesn't know someone who has. I learned a lot of stuff, information I consider pure gold, so I hope someone else can benefit from this as well.
This is the culmination of a semester of intense reading and many interviews on the subject of pornography addiction. It's a widespread issue in the evangelical church, and there's hardly a guy who hasn't either struggled with it or who doesn't know someone who has. I learned a lot of stuff, information I consider pure gold, so I hope someone else can benefit from this as well.

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Published by: bruddalarry on May 07, 2011
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GORDON-CONWELL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARYPASTORAL COUNSELING FOR PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION:HOW THE ROMANS 7 MAN CAN BECOME THE ROMANS 8 MAN.SUBMITTED TO DR. STEVEN MACCHIAIN FULFILLMENT OFPC760HS - PASTORAL COUNSELING: RECOVERY & COUNSELING METHODS FOR PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTIONBYLARRY HACKMANBOX 182-BMAY 6 2011
 
It feeds on fear and excretes shame. It can literally alter the human brain with the same power of heroin or cocaine. Our culture at once vilifies those afflicted by it and exalts the very things thatmake it prevalent. It especially preys on those who are weakened by abuse and wounds, butanyone can be susceptible to its charms. And while it is intensely physical in its nature, itdramatically affects the heart, mind and will. This description of pornography addiction certainlyseems to have a tone of mythic proportions, but for those trapped in its snare, feeling powerless,the drama is not too understated. The very nature of addiction is the inability for the addict tocontrol his own behavior, even despite the consequences.
1
The porn addict feels like a puppet ona string and may find himself crying out with Apostle Paul, “I do not do what I want, but I do thevery thing I hate…. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
2
 But despite the power of porn addiction, there is hope. Pornography is so powerful because ittakes advantage of some of the deepest insecurities that human beings face. When individualscan face their fears and explore who they are and who God is, they can begin life in truefreedom.But before we can talk about restoration we mustexplore a little more of the nature of the problem. One of the common misconceptions about pornography addiction is that it is simply amoral issue. Many Christians have naively counseled porn addicts to simply “try harder,” or toread their Bible and pray more, as if porn addiction is something that happens by not trying hardenough in the first place. The intimation is that pornography is simply a sinful pleasure, and will power must be exercised to find more lofty, holy pleasures to replace it. But that is like trying totreat skin cancer with Oil of Olay. Yes, there is will involved. Yes, prayer and Scripture reading
1
William Struthers,
Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsityPress, 2009), 79.
2
Romans 7:15, 24, ESV.
 
are important. But the problem is not a simple one and a simplistic approach will not address the pervasive nature of porn addiction. Instead, the pastoral counselor must recognize that pornography addiction is something that pervades the spheres of the spiritual realm, the psychological, and even (perhaps especially) the physical, all of which intermingle.Based on these three spheres, what follows is my best efforts at presenting a simplified(though not simplistic) framework approach to counseling those who are addicted to porn,specifically as it relates to men.
3
My conclusions are not only gleaned from some excellentreading materials but alsorom interviews with recovering sex addicts
4
, family therapycounselors, an experienced pastoral counselor, and leading an accountability group for recovering porn addicts. But lest it seem like the matter is settled, “conclusions” may not be the best word. Instead, I hope the reader finds this paper as an initial primer in counseling andwalking alongside others in recovery. There is much still to learn.
The Problem
Our culture is a “pornified” culture.
5
Never before has a society had so much anonymous,accessible, and affordable
6
access to pornographic materials, primarily through the wonders of instant internet access. Moreover, mass-market entertainment is more saturated with sex thanever before, and lest one think that is merely hyperbole it is easy to quantify with statistical
3
There are a growing number of women who are addicted to porn, though still significantly lower in number thanmen. A lot of what is discussed in this paper is true for these women also, but there is enough distinction betweenhow women and men become addicted that this paper will focus on men, for the sake of simplicity.
4
The distinction between a sex addict and a porn addict is that the porn addict is only dealing with the “building blocks” of sex addiction (porn, masturbation, and fantasy) while the sex addict has moved on to include other kindsof sexual behavior. A porn addict is a sex addict, but a sex addict is not merely a porn addict.
5
Mary Eberstadt and Mary Anne Layden,
The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and  Recommendations
(Princeton: Witherspoon Institute, 2010), 13.
6
Mark Laaser,
 Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction,
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 32.

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