I’ll tell you what shame has done for you, follower of Christ: it has hindered you from living the kind of life God wants for you. That’s what shame has done for you. Likely, shame has been instrumental for some of the stinkin’ thinkin’ you’ve been holding to for years — thinking that affected your feelings and emotions — thinking that led to wrong behavior. If you’re riddled with shameful thoughts, you may try to make yourself feel better in unhealthy ways (compulsory behavior, such as excessive drinking, over-eating, anonymous or promiscuous sex, gambling, shopping, use of drugs or medications). Shame ain’t never done nobody any good — ever. That’s just good theology, right there.
But let’s distinguish shame from guilt. If you do or say or think something wrong, then your conscience may inform you that it is wrong, and you may feel bad for the wrong done. That is guilt, not shame. Guilt is admitting to doing something wrong (you did wrong). Shame makes you think that you are something wrong (as though there is something wrong with you as a human being). The latter is dangerous because feelings of self-loathing and self-worthlessness contribute to further distorted thinking, which leads to further emotional damage, which may, in turn, lead to further bad behavior. Shame forms a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break the longer one is engaged within its grip.
Also, there is nothing necessarily wrong with feeling ashamed for doing or saying or thinking something heinous. This is mere acknowledgment of the wrongdoing. When you’re guilty of wrongdoing, and you acknowledge your guilt, you may feel a measure of shame — embarrassment, disgrace, humiliation — for it. But do not confuse doing something wrong with being something wrong. In Christ you have overcome. It may not seem like it yet, it may not feel like it yet, but it’s true (Rom. 8:37). The Bible admits that you have, by faith in Christ, overcome the world (1 John 5:4)!
You need to keep a close eye on your emotions: befriend them, says Henri Nouwen, and don’t become their victim. If you let them master you, you will miss out on the kind of life God desires for you in Christ. There shall be no other master over you but Christ (cf. Luke 16:13; 1 Cor. 6:12). Also, notes Nouwen, don’t “whip yourself for your lack of spiritual progress. If you do, you will easily be pulled even further away from your center … It is obviously good not to act on your sudden emotions. But you don’t have to repress them, either. You can acknowledge them and let them pass by. In a certain sense, you have to befriend them so that you do not become their victim."1Perhaps your negative emotions are triggered by negative thoughts that will try to master you by bringing undue shame. “You’re not good enough." “No one really likes you anyway." “The Lord doesn’t have time for you." “You never do anything right." Don’t befriend these kinds of thoughts! Here’s how you confront these kinds of negative thoughts and not allow them to control you emotionally. When you have a negative thought, such as “You’re not good enough," ask, “Good enough for who?" In Christ, the playing field for being “good enough" has been destroyed by Jesus’ perfection. When you have a negative thought, such as “No one really likes you anyway," ask, “Really? Not even one person in the whole universe?"
This particular negative thought is known as two types of cognitive distortions: 1) over-generalizing; and 2) omniscience (all-knowing). God loves you, so there’s at least one person in the known universe who loves you. So you cannot over-generalize and suggest that absolutely no one loves you. Plus, you cannot actually know that no one really loves you, since you cannot know the true thoughts and feelings of others. There are people who may really, really like or love you that you’re not too familiar with (people in the community, church, clubs or organizations, on-line, etc.). All our negative thoughts need to be confronted because all too often they do not necessarily represent the truth. Take the last negative thought offered: “You never do anything right." Really? Never, ever, do anything whatsoever right? If that were true, you couldn’t really exist in this world. The truth is that you probably do most things right, and maybe only a few things wrong; which is the complete opposite of what the negative thought was promoting.
Christ took your shame, believer (cf. Heb. 12:2), and He has no plans of giving it back to you. So, stop trying to take it back. Stop equating doing something wrong with being something wrong. Stop listening to those voices — preachers in particular — who attempt to manipulate you into subjection by keeping you under the heavy thumb of shame. Christ has set you free from all that tries to bind you (Gal. 5:1). “In everything, keep trusting that God is with you, that God has given you companions on the journey. Keep returning to the road to freedom."2 And stick close to those whom God has given you on this road to freedom who continually build you up (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:11).
1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 42.
2 Ibid., 39. This post was written by William Birch. For the original post with comments, go to: http://willandgraced.tumblr.com/post/55592721019/
“You’re fat! You don’t know how to sing! What kind of Christian are you?! Nobody likes you! You're too old!” I heard this accusing voice in my head while I was getting ready for church that morning… Interspersed between these negative statements, I heard the song, “We serve a mighty God” by Jon Gibson playing in my head as well. As I was hearing these warring voices in my head, I felt my emotions going awry. I starting praying, asking God to give me relief. I haven’t felt like this for quite a while. I started to think, “why am I feeling this way? “ Some reasons came to my mind: I hadn’t slept much the night before, approximately five hours of fitful sleep, I had been so busy that I hadn’t had much time to spend with Karyn, I had not been practicing my music for praise team that Sunday even though I knew the songs, I had been so busy that I hadn’t been praying as much as I usually do and I had narrowed my awareness of God’s activity in my life, etc... I just kept running my mind thru a litany of negative thoughts and realized that I was getting down on myself. Again.
When I got to church, I didn’t feel especially welcomed but then, again, I wasn’t feeling very welcoming. I didn’t think that praise team practice went very well, my timing was off, my voice was cracking and I felt the negative voice return, “What kind of person are you? You don’t need to be praising God, look how terrible you are doing!” I tried to joke with the other praise team members to get my mind off this torrent of negative thoughts and concentrate on praising God, praying that I would find some relief from this mental torture.
Being a Christian for over 40 years and a professional counselor for over 30 years, you would think that I wouldn’t deal with these kinds of issues, that my life is perfect, that I never deal with self-doubt, that I am in perfect control of my mental faculties at all times. Not true.
However, this isn’t the first time that I have experienced such negativity. I’ve noticed this occurs when there are two things going on simultaneously: 1) I am exhausted and 2) I am going to experience some spiritual growth. So, I have learned when this happens, I need to wait and expect something to happen. I pray, asking God to give me some emotional relief and asking God to give me spiritual acuity. In fact, I’ve noticed that many times when I am depressed, down, or negative, God can sharpen my ability to see Him at work. It doesn’t always happen but God does come thru more often than not. Okay, He ALWAYS comes thru, I just am not always ready to receive what He wants to teach me.
Interestingly, in our pastor’s sermon that day, I heard this, “We can assume that God is gonna come thru.” He was preaching about Daniel and Daniel’s desire to please God rather than follow the law of the land. Daniel, it is believed, was approximately 80 years old when he was thrown into the Lion’s Den for defying King Darius’ edict. Our pastor said, “Daniel had been faithful to God and God has been faithful to Daniel, in taking care of Daniel because he would rather please God than man.” Maybe Daniel was thinking, “I’m an old man, I’ve served God, maybe this is the end. Is God gonna come thru this time?” But the pastor reminded us, “Hope in God is NEVER false. We can assume that God is always going to come thru.”
Upon hearing this sermon, I felt a lift, a weight just leave me. The negative voices in my head stopped. I went up to the front to sing with the praise team, “Whom Shall I Fear?” which has the terrific line, “The God of Angel Armies is always by my side.”
As I was leaving, walking back to the car with Karyn, I heard my pastor’s question in my head, a question he asked just before ending the sermon, “How certain are you that God is gonna come thru?
My answer came quickly, “VERY.”BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
My therapist told me that shame -- while a proper emotion when I've committed a shameful act -- carries the potential to confuse me into thinking that there is something wrong with me as a human being. For many people, guilt means "I've done
something wrong." But shame means "I am
something wrong." If shame is not properly assessed, it can potentially hold me captive, and hinder my progress both spiritually and socially.
In a different therapy session I learned about cognitive distortions. Alcoholics Anonymous grants the same concept a different name: stinkin' thinkin'. Cognitive distortions are thoughts that have been corrupted, distorted, or skewed in such a way as to produce error of reality.
An example of a cognitive distortion would be thinking that someone did not like me because when the person saw me in a public context he or she did not interact with me. The reality of the situation, however, could have had various potentials, none of which had anything to do with how the person felt
about me as a human being.
The danger with cognitive distortions is that they can manifest in a manner in which affects my feelings or emotions. In the above situation, I may have felt rejected because the person did not acknowledge me. This, in turn, could have led me to a desperate need for affection, whereby I looked for intimate and immediate gratification, either sexual or non-sexual, whether with another person or even through pornography. If acted upon, shame is but one result.
Such could have been avoided, though, by considering other options as to why the individual did not acknowledge me. For example, perhaps the person did not see me. Perhaps the person did not recognize me from a distance. Perhaps the person was distracted, being in a hurry, or preoccupied with thoughts of his or her own. But by allowing distorted, presumptuous thoughts to consume my mind, I allowed them to affect my emotions, which then led to wrong behavior, producing feelings of shame.
Shame can act as a cognitive distortion when it is perceived as though something is wrong with me as a human being. Even in my context, when I sinned against my roommate last year, there was nothing wrong me as a human being. What was wrong within me were cognitive distortions. My corrupt thoughts regarding my roommate affected my feelings toward him, which, in turn, led me to behave in such a way that was sinful and disrespectful of him as both a human being and as a brother in Christ.
The public humiliation of my exposed sin only compounded my shame. I remember, however, a Southern Baptist pastor coming to me in private and encouraging me to find a way past the shame. He shared with me a time in his own life when he had to force himself to move past his own shame for a sin he had committed. He told me that I would be no use for the kingdom until I found a way past the shame.
From therapy I learned that the shame I felt was due to genuine contrition and repentance. I was able, upon months of reflection, to honestly and objectively view my actions as shameful without thinking of myself -- my very existence -- as shameful. I realized that my actions were triggered by my feelings, which were triggered by my cognitive distortions. Had I been thinking properly, or not entertaining distorted thoughts, I, and so many others, could avoided that nightmare I created.
From Scripture I learned that Jesus took the shameful behavior I committed against my roommate upon Himself, though He despised and scorned that shame, and then sat down next to His Father in glory (Heb. 12:2
). My sinful, shameful behavior has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and I will never be held accountable for it by God. He accounts me as righteous (Rom. 3:21
), justified (Rom. 5:1
), sanctified (Acts 26:18
), and glorified (Rom. 8:30
) in Christ, though I have sinned.
By God's grace and mercy to me in Christ, I am forbidden to accept shame as my identity. I am allowed to feel ashamed of my sinful behavior; but in Christ, having received His forgiveness, I am not permitted to view my existence as one of utter, hopeless shame. Only the gospel of grace grants such overwhelming accomplishment over failure, grief, and shame. I hope that you, in and through union with Christ by the grace of God, will internalize these truths for yourself. This honest post was written by William W Birch. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.classicalarminian.com/2013/02/saturday-devotion-shame-and-identity.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God has given us instructions in His Word that prayer is something that every Christian needs to be doing. Prayer is, simply put, the way we come to know God personally.
Earnest, honest prayer that is filled with praise, confession, thankfulness, and requests is what God desires. Prayer also needs to be filled with times of solitude, to be free from distractions, so one can hear from God.
1) Is there ever a time we should not pray? We had a couple of American friends visit us while we were living in Germany and we were out to eat, enjoying the local flammkuchen
at a little eatery. My friend ordered water because he didn't want to spend the money on soda and as the waitress opened the bottle and was about to pour, she told him that the bottle was going to be 6 Euro. My friend, who didn't understand European customs, didn't remember that we had told him that water is not free in European restaurants.
He became upset and the waitress withdrew his order of water. Instead she offered soda which was only 2 Euro. He agreed to that. However, you could tell that the waitress was visibly upset. We apologized to her as best we could. When she brought the flammkuchen
to the table, we were about to pray aloud when I said, "I don't think we should pray. I'm afraid that it would give this waitress a bad impression of Christians." Now don't get me wrong I think it IS appropriate to pray in public but God reminds us that prayer can become sin.
In this instance we all agreed that praying publicly wasn't God-honoring in this situation.
2) Is there ever a time we should not pray? I had a friend one time who had a severe debt and asked God to pay the debt for him. He told everyone the exact amount and prayed fervently (personally, I don't think it's wise to publicly state an exact amount of money). Within a week, God miraculously provided that money and more. The person again broadcast the exact amount that God provided. The reactions were predictable. "Wow!" "Prayer works." "God is so good." "Praise the Lord!" and so forth...
I wonder what his friends who have been praying that God would work a miracle in their lives thought when God did not seemingly answer their prayers. Maybe they were encouraged. Maybe it lifted their faith. Maybe it caused them to pray more.
Maybe it discouraged them. Maybe they were like, "Why does he always get the breaks? Why did God answer his prayers and not mine?" Maybe they told themselves, "I guess I have to pray harder."
I wonder what the reaction would have been if God had not provided the amount or the amount with extra to spare. "Is God still good?" "Does prayer still work?"
3) Finally, I believe that God can heal people.
God may choose to heal miraculously or he may heal slowly or he may heal at the hands of doctors. Healing is a biblical concept.
My friend had fallen on an icy patch and went to see his physician who told him it would be 6-8 weeks before he would be pain free. He was having severe pain and muscle spasms. He believed he was going to lose his job because he could hardly move. As he told me, just two days later, you can tell his pain was real. He was almost in tears as he was describing what he was going thru. When he was talking, I heard clearly in my mind, "You need to pray for him." So when he finished I grabbed a couple more guys and we prayed for him on the spot.
I walked away thinking, "OK I did what God told me to do. I was obedient. But nothing's gonna happen."
The next morning, I felt prompted to pray for him again and I did during my devotions. Later that day, I texted him. Here's the convo:
Me: How did it go today?
Him: Pain free and awesome, thanks for asking :-)
Me: You're kidding! No pain? The MD said 6-8 weeks.
Him: No pain, no spasms, no discomfort, no kidding!
Me: Wow! So work was good?
Him: It was great!
I was floored. I told Karyn about his healing and I said, "this is scary. God answered our prayers for his healing." Karyn said, "why is that scary?" I said, "because I obeyed and God healed. What else does that mean God wants to do?"
Later that week, I talked to my friend in person. He said when he woke up the next day (the day after we prayed together) he got ready for work and had forgotten all about his pain until I texted him. He said that it was then that he realized that God had healed him.
When I heard of his healing, I had mixed emotions:
- I had doubt. "Did God really do that?"
- I had some fear. "What else will happen if I pray? Will God do it again?" but also- I became more encouraged to pray right away with people in need. - I had my faith lifted.
There may be people who heard of my friend's healing who may have also asked themselves, "Why won't God heal me? I have asked God numerous times and nothing has changed." Maybe his healing caused them to feel discouraged.
Yet...Who knows the mind of God? Who can understand the ways He works? Who can bring an accusation before God?
These are all definitively unanswerable in my mind.
Still, I will pray.
I continue to attempt to understand, trust and believe.
I try to rejoice with those who have their prayers answered.
I mourn with those who don't seemingly have their prayers answered.
Yet, even in my imperfection and weakness, I point to God. What we see can't be all there is...BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Temptation can come when you least expect it. We have talked earlier about how to resist temptation
and how to anticipate temptation.
We have also talked about a young man intentionally using something holy
to sin as well as tempt others to sin.
It is clear that temptation occurs and it is also clear that temptation itself is not sin. If you remember, Jesus was tempted
and He was sinless.
Temptation can come out of nowhere and it is important to keep one's head so that temptation does not take you down. We would like to think temptation cannot occur during a Holy event. However, those times are not devoid of opportunities to be tempted.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
The service was over, and I was sitting in a pew talking to someone in another pew, preparing to leave. Karyn had gone to get the boys because I was busy talking as usual. The next thing I knew, an attractive blond woman came over and sat next to me and started talking to me. That was OK but then, she put her hand on my leg.
My radar went up because I kinda liked it. There were very few people around. However, a thought came into my head. "Get outta there, now!"
And that's what I did.
So, what do I do now? This woman attends this church. How can I prevent this temptation from occurring again? The answer is honesty.
Later that day, I had an honest conversation with Karyn. I told her what happened and how I felt. She had a great suggestion for helping me with this temptation. She said, "If I see this woman talking to you after church, I will send one of the boys to come and get you." And that's what happened. The woman approached me the next week and one of my boys came running over to me and said, "hey, Mom needs you!" I excused myself and took off with my son.
Do you know what happened after that? The woman didn't approach me anymore. Temptation is not always avoided this easily, but this time one simple suggestion worked marvelously. There are important principles to remember here. - Don't toy with temptation.
- Don't think that you can handle temptation by yourself.
- Be honest about your temptation to someone you can trust who can help you not fall prey to sin. - Ask God to give you His wisdom so that you can recognize when temptation comes along.BE HOLY.
BE A MAN.
"How do I know when it's God talking to me or the devil?" This is a question that I get quite a bit in my correspondence and conversations with people.
I have met different people who discern God's will or God's voice in curious ways:
- One person told me that the plant on his microwave will blow in a certain direction that tells him the next thing he thinks/hears is God talking to him.
- Another person told me that when he spends time in prayer, he has the window open. If the curtains blow out, the answer from God is yes. If the curtains suck into the window, the answer from God is no.
- Yet, another person told me that when he prays, he stands as still and as upright as he can and while he's praying about a decision, if he leans to the right, the answer is no. If he leans to the right, the answer is yes.
- I have also had people (who were not psychotic) tell me that God tells them answers thru the people talking on the television.
- Another individual told me that he looks for signs. For example, he was contemplating whether to take a job in Wyoming and he saw someone wearing a Wyoming shirt shortly after praying. He wondered if that was God leading.
Jesus had a little something to say about this. He says that wicked and adulterous people are always looking for a sign.
It seems to me that much of what Christians call discerning God's voice amounts to not much more than folk religion. Folk religion is unreflective religious beliefs based largely upon feeings, cliches, devotional literature and "evangelegends."
Folk religion is not God honoring. In my discussions with those five people above, I can assure you that they came up with some pretty goofy ideas about what God was saying. God is clear, He says if anyone lacks wisdom, we just need to ask Him.
As Christians, we now have the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. We no longer need to consult the urim and thummim.
Nor do we need to cast lots
to make decisions.
However, if you read my post yesterday, I wrote about how the devil tries to remind of our sins and failures. How, do we know when its the devil is giving us a hard time or God's Holy Spirit convicting us of something that needs to change?
The answer is simple. The devil hates you. God loves you. Once you get that concept firmly in your mind, discerning which voice is which becomes less problematic.
Now, I'm not saying that we have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I'm not wanting this to be caricatured.
My experience is often it is not the devil speaking to me but it is my own sinfulness getting in the way. My own sin nature speaks to me.
Nevertheless, if you hear a thought that says, "you know, you really are a pathetic excuse for a Christian. You are such a hypocrite, you are so selfish."
Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? I can tell you that thought either came from your own sinfulness or the devil (or maybe even both). Do you see what that thought does? It cuts you down at the very core of your being it attacks you as a child of God. It's like being blasted with a shotgun.
Now, let's say you hear a thought that says, "you know, you just spoke about how you didn't like that style of worship. Did you consider that worship can take many forms? You need to apologize for what you just said."
Does that sound like a hateful thought or a loving thought? Do you see what that thought does? It is clear and concise. It doesn't attack you as a child of God. It's like a single bullet shot right into your pride.
So, are you seeing the difference? When you have a thought and it feels like you have been blasted with a shotgun, that the thought was so diffuse, you can bet that it's not from God...
God's Holy Spirit is a sniper. He shoots clean and hits his target.
There is no collateral damage.
When the devil speaks, its to entice you away from God. To destroy how you view yourself before God.
When God speaks to you, it's to attract you to Him.
Paul's words ring true when discerning the voice of God, "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I was tasked with assessing a man regarding his sexual addiction.
Unfortunately, his tale was all too familiar.
As he sat across from me telling me that he is now considered a sexual offender and must register with the local police every time he moves, he started to unfold his story. He told me that he had found his Dad's stash of Playboy and Hustler magazines when he was just eight years old. That is a bad sign... The earlier a man is exposed to porn the greater are his chances that he will become addicted and the greater are his chances of getting into legal trouble.
The more he looked at porn, the more he wanted to look at porn. (Interesting cycle, don't you think?) The more he looked at porn, the more he fantasized about doing what he was watching on the porn movies.
The more he watched porn, the less developed his social skills became. This happens because porn causes a man to be selfish and just think about his own pleasure. Friendships are unnecessary. Girls are unnecessary because the girls in porn movies and magazines are always accessible and there for a man's pleasure.
It's a terrible cycle that entraps a man. He wants to approach girls but fears rejection. He wants to do the things he fantasizes about but he fears she will say no. Finally, his isolation led him to frustration and he decided he would act upon some of his fantasies.
A really weird thing about men addicted to porn is that they think that women are turned on by seeing male genitalia. The porn that men watch gives a terribly distorted perspective of sexuality. In actuality, women are more attracted to an intimate relationship than the male physique.
This man started to act upon his fantasies from the porn that he had been viewing over the years.
One of his fantasies was that he would "accidentally" leave his zipper down and a woman would notice and become aroused. He would walk around in grocery stores with his zipper down, fantasizing about his inevitable sexual encounter. He was disappointed that no women noticed.
So, he developed another plan. He decided that he would sit in his car close to the exits of stores with his pants open and hope that women would see and become aroused. That didn't work either.
So, his next step would be to call women over to his car, "to ask a question" and hope that with his pants open, they would notice, be sexually aroused and want to be with him. He continued to be very disappointed.
He thought, because of his distorted perspective of women and sexuality, that what women were wanting to see was that he was sexually aroused, that he was erect, ready for sex. So, he would sit in his car and fantasize about a woman jumping into his car and they would drive to a secluded place for a sexual encounter.
One morning, while he was sitting in his car masturbating and fantasizing, he rolled his window down and asked a woman to come over because he had a "question" he wanted to ask her. She approached his car, looked at him and where his hand was and instantly became repulsed. She noted his license plate and called the police when she got home.
She made a report to the police and he was arrested and prosecuted. His prosecution was made public, his family was embarrassed and he lost his job.
As he finished his story, I asked, "have you gotten rid of your porn?" I knew his answer would be "no." I was right. The court wanted recommendations at the end of my assessment. My recommendations were necessary: no cable tv, no vcr/dvd player, no internet, no smart phone, no porn. If he was caught in possession of any of these items, he would go to prison. Also, he needed intensive counseling. If this failed, then he would need residential treatment.
However, when the judge found out that he had not given up his porn, he acted swiftly. This man immediately went to prison.
Wouldn't it be nice if all of my stories ended in a positive note?
This is a depressing, disgusting story.Porn wins."Behold, you have sinned against the LORD and be sure that your sin will find you out."
BE A MAN.
“My car ran out of gas and it stranded me on the highway for a while.” “The store at the mall declined my credit card because it was maxed out.” “I didn’t get my coffee today”.
Have you ever heard phrases like these? Have you ever been the one to say them?
In our culture, I hear phrases like these every day. Sometimes, I hear them on TV, sometimes in the midst of counseling sessions, and more often online. The attitude behind these statements reflects a reason for the deterioration of the world around us.
It is a victim mentality that convinces us that everything that is bad in this world is a personal attack.
As a result of this idea, we fail to take responsibility for our own actions. If your car ran out of gas, it may be because you didn’t fill it (sometimes it is a money issue). If you are on a shopping spree for things you don’t need, and your credit card declines…then maybe one of the culprits could be your spending habits.
Also, yes, you are still responsible for your behavior if you did not get your coffee…go to bed earlier if possible! Granted, there are times when we can’t help or prevent what happens to us, but true character is displayed when we respond to these adversities in a noble manner.
Now before I start getting hate mail accusing me of being judgmental, it is important to note that I have fallen victim of a victim mentality many times in my life. I was convinced that the bad I was experiencing was happening to me and I never questioned whether I was contributing.
If we never take responsibility for what we have caused, what we have done, or who we have hurt, then our spiritual growth will be stunted. We will never see the need for redemption and will continue to believe that the world is out to make our lives miserable. This is no way to live.
Take steps to grow.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2012/12/05/oops-did-i-just-say-that/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Last week was anti-porn week here at Ironstrikes. I hope that you were able to read about the five topics:1. Porn and sexual satisfaction2. Porn and fake relationships3. Porn and women4. Porn and cruelty5. Porn is insidious
Readers have asked about the Zillman-Bryant study from which these five posts were taken. In the early 1980s, Dr. Doll Zillmann of Indiana University and Dr. Jennings Bryant of the University of Alabama wondered whether continued exposure to video pornography had any impact on people's sexual beliefs and their attitudes towards women. For their experiment, 80 male and 80 female college-age participants were divided into three subgroups, and each group was shown 4 hours and 48 minutes of media.
1. The first group, the “Massive Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-violent pornographic films over a six-week period.
2. The second group, the “Intermediate Exposure Group,” was exposed to 18 pornographic films and 18 regular films over a six-week period.
3. The third (control) group, the “No Exposure Group,” was shown 36 non-pornographic movies over a six--week periodYou may be saying, "that is an old study, what relevance does it have to today?"
At a 2011 conference, Dr. Mary Anne Layden commented about Zillmann and Bryant’s 25-year-old research. “When this study was done, what was called the ‘Massive Exposure Group" -- seeing five hours of porn over a six-week period -- "I now call that the Friday Afternoon Group."
Her statement is far from an exaggeration. A recent survey of 29,000 people at North American universities, shows 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to five hours per week
online for sexual purposes, and another 11% of men spend anywhere from five to twenty hours per week. What used to be “massive” exposure is now common practice.
Furthermore, the Internet has not only increased the public’s exposure to porn, but has also changed the way it is consumed. Dr. Jill Manning believes Zillmann and Bryant’s findings have greater
applicability in the modern age because Internet porn tends to be more interactive and consumer-driven. Viewers can select exactly who and what they want to see, custom-tailored to their greatest specifications.This week, I will be giving four solid tips in helping to curb your vulnerability to porn.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God is not the enemy of pleasure. He is the Creator of it. The Bible proclaims it. Even the demons know it. But is it human beings who are most likely to forget it.
The demon Screwtape, in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters
, reminds his young demonic apprentice of this truth. “[God’s] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures forevermore.’...He has filled the world full of pleasures.”
Sex is one of these God-created pleasures. To highlight the goodness of sexual pleasure, God inspired King Solomon to write a little book of romantic melodies called “The Song of Songs”—a title that means “the best love song of all.” This book expresses—at times in erotic detail—the pleasure and joy of marital sexuality.
But like all good things, sin aims to twist this pleasure.
In their experiment, Zillmann and Bryant
found a direct correlation between the amount of pornography one viewed and one’s overall sexual satisfaction in real relationships. Participants from the Massive Exposure Group reported less
satisfaction with their intimate partners: they were less likely to be pleased with their partner’s physical appearance, affection, and sexual performance.
Zillmann and Bryant concluded that porn consumers eventually compare their spouse with images of porn models. Another study appearing in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy
in 2002 found similar results. When men and women were exposed to pictures of female centerfold models from Playboy
, this significantly lowered their judgments about the attractiveness of “average” people.
When people become more and more entrenched in pornography, this ends up only deluding and deadening their libido. Dr. Mary Anne Layden concludes, “Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.” Pornography, she says, “is toxic miseducation about sex and relationships,” training men and women to expect online “designer sex” in the real world.
This comparison isn’t merely about body type or sexual performance. Someone exposed again and again to pornography can also end up comparing the whole fantasy experience
to their sex lives. Instead of being drawn to one woman or one man, they end up being turned on by the variety
porn offers them.
Neurobiologist Peter Milner explains that our brains are wired to be attracted to that which is unfamiliar and novel. This inward drive is what helps us to learn new things and adapt to our environment. But, he explains, it is possible “to become addicted to novelty and uncertainty.” Over time the brain that feeds on erotic media is trained to equate sexual excitement with the novelty and variety of pornography. Eventually the familiar face, body, and sexual performance of a spouse doesn’t arouse the way it used to.
For all of Solomon’s romantic wisdom and marital passion, even he was ensnared by a lust for “variety.” In 1 Kings 11 we learn Solomon eventually accumulated 700 wives and 300 concubines because “he loved many foreign women” (v.1). Solomon was a man who was richer than Bill Gates, more spiritually influential than Billy Graham, smarter than Einstein, and yet he had a harem bigger than Hugh Hefner’s.
Pornography essentially trains men and women to be consumers
, not lovers; to treat sex as a commodity
; to think about sex as something on-tap and made-to-order. As Dr. Judith Reisman rightly concludes, pornography “castrates” men visually, training them to retreat into the realm of fantasy if they want to be aroused.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.