Christians are often too afraid or embarrassed to talk about sex, let alone pornography. But as therapist Susie Flashman Jarvis explains, pornography is an issue the Church cannot afford to ignore, both for adults and young people.
As a therapist I counsel couples and teenagers who often come to see me on a variety of issues, but when we look at things such as relationship breakdown, I often find intimacy issues come to the surface. All too often, constant viewing of online pornography can be at its root.
I have challenged men who watch online porn that ‘you are having sex with other women, but just on a screen’, and that’s like having an affair. They find that hard, but it does bring home what the effect on the partner can be.
One of the problems for the other partner affected it that it is very hard to compete with a screen. No intimacy is required on screen. Viewing pornography can diminish a person’s ability to be intimate and can make the other party feel inadequate. Women in particular can struggle with issues around body image and this does not help them.
Pornography is very addictive, releasing the same chemicals as cocaine. Dopamine is the reward-driven chemical and is produced in higher amounts when pornography is viewed than during sex with a partner. This results in the need for higher stimulation to enable satisfaction. It inevitably adversely affects the sex life of many couples as men can’t recreate the same level of stimulation they have become accustomed to through pornography.