Porn, Intimacy, and the Male Brain

Author William Struthers teaches the subject of neurology with a Ph.D at Wheaton. This means his book has a very unique, neurological perspective, as most books on pornography are written either by counselors and/or pastors. This book tends to take a much more scientific approach in some chapters, lending to a better understanding for just how porn latches on to the brain. This is both tragic to see and wonderful to learn — it’s much easier to avoid touching a stove when you comprehend exactly how the burns would destroy your hand.

This is not a typical recovery book. The author will not simply give you practical ways to stop watching porn. He instead addresses how watching pornography reveals the deeper need for intimacy in males. When that need combines with both our sinful nature and a corrupted image of true masculinity in our culture, the result is seeking out unhealthy, unsatisfying forms of “false intimacy” that ultimately destroy the lives of men — porn. I hope you can see from this review that Struthers’ work is more than a self-help book. It is much deeper and much more needed than that.

So this book is less about pornography than it is about intimacy. God “wired” humans to be in His image and to receive their deepest needs for intimacy from Him, from a spouse, and other healthy friendships. Not from their computer screens or prostitutes.

I see a lot of criticism for this book because it’s ‘not practical enough’. I truly feel those reviewers have either missed the point of the book or didn’t read it in its entirety. Anyone knows that to erase a tree you have to uproot it completely, and sins and struggles in the lives of humans are no different. He does give some practical advice for stopping a pornography addiction in the last chapter, and I think the brief yet big ideas he addresses suffice. As the author implied, when a man sets it in his heart to repent and let go of an addiction, a mere book is not going to be the sole savior anyway.

Some of the best parts of the book are in the second half dealing with true masculinity. Chapter six outlines what really makes a man Biblically versus what society says, and it’s so great I wish some feminists I know would read it.

One caveat of the book is that at times it feels a bit inaccessible. Because there are some science-heavy parts, some chapters feel either drawn out or like Struthers goes on small tangents that seem a bit irrelevant to the chapter as a whole. Fortunately, this is only a couple cases and does not detract from the book’s message overall. Also, I feel the subtitle (“How pornography hijacks the male brain”) is a bit misleading, for the book is not solely a scientific exploration.

Nevertheless, every man needs to make the effort and read this book. It will convict and rip your heart apart to see why men feel the need to look at a girl’s body instead of her face on first sight or, even more sadly, during conversation. It will sadden you to read how men have lost the ability to appreciate female beauty without making it erotic. It will break you to learn about the neurological buildup that traps so many men into pornography addiction when God intended that buildup for the safe confines of marriage. Of course, brokenness is required if one wishes to repent and give their lives to God.

Most men have an intimacy problem today, which is really why they watch porn. I just hope they get around to seeing that and stumbling upon this direly-needed book.

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain

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Dirty Girl with a Dirty Heart

Motives determine just about everything we do individually.

They are internal. We control them. They directly affect how we act, and they immediately show what’s in our hearts. Jesus talks about this a lot in Matthew 6, and whenever he conversed with people, he went straight to the heart. When your motives change your actions do, too.

Unfortunately for us, Scripture makes it clear that our motives are pretty messed up. We’ve been wrecked for a while now (since we were conceived).

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

All humans are stuck in this wicked conundrum we started. Especially Christians. The church. Christ’s bride. We’re really a dirty girl with a dirty heart. But reading these verses has been a wonderful reminder of how much I need Jesus every day, and how much love he has for me despite my sin. It’s the love of Christ that both makes me desire to align my motives with his will and allows me to change them at all.

When analyzing motives, all that’s needed is to ask, “why” you do what you do. Heart check.

This week has been my Spring Break. I have been with my girlfriend and parents up in North Carolina, and as I’ve been spending time with them and contemplating about God’s plans for me in the far future and in these next few months, He has put it on my heart to have a ‘life check’ with a lot of my decisions.

Why do I do what I do? What am I hoping to get or achieve? What are my dreams? Do they end with me or others? Do they point back to God?

A lot of my answers have been encouraging to think on, while others have been convicting.

Because Satan is always trying to get God’s kids (that’s the Christians, of course), we need to often look at our hearts and search for our true motives. Being a Christian means we surrender our motives to Jesus every day and be guided by the Holy Spirit in love in order to love God and others we encounter all the time.

I think the busyness of life usually gets in the way of us checking our hearts, which is probably why Paul told the Corinthian church to always examine their hearts and make sure they’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). In fact, our sex culture can really relate to some of the struggles they faced in their day.

The best part about the whole story is that no matter how far off we may run away with our motives, our Heavenly Father always welcomes us back with his open arms (2 Timothy 2:13).

So I ask you the same questions – if you think you don’t need a heart check, then you really need one.

Why do you do what you do? What are you hoping to get or achieve? What are your dreams? Do they end with you or others? Do they point back to God?

Hating Change

One of the most common traits among human beings, in my opinion, has to be our hate of change.

You wake up, plan your day, and when the guy at McDonald’s gives you the wrong order (or you simply see how much their fake food is anymore) you become frustrated, if not angry.

Are you very familiar with money? Perhaps you have a lot; perhaps you had a lot. Either way, it doesn’t take long to realize it can be drained very quickly. Much more quickly than it is usually gained. James 5:1-6, anyone?

Some people seem to embrace change, though. Examples include: people who like to move often, crazy college kids who can’t commit to someone longer than a week, etc. But is that a love of change, or a love of variety? Personally, I feel that change requires either some sort of sacrifice or some twist in our original plans. Ahh, now not so many ’embracers’, eh?

What’s paradoxical about humanity here lies in our quests for success. Especially my generation (the Millennials). Everybody wants to go as high as possible in life, but we want to do so without changing much, with as little effort as possible. Is this a good thing or not? Maybe this is why the vast majority of people around the world leave a very small impact on the world.

When I think of change, one thing I can say is if anyone accepted it well it was Jesus. He went from having all of his God-powers to emptying himself into nothingness, into the humble form of man (Philippians 2:6-8,  2 Corinthians 5:21). Now that’s what I call change. And to think —  through all of the towns he travelled to, all of the love he had for us that drove him through some painful circumstances (let’s see…um…his death?), Jesus embraced change. And 2,000 years later, he is still the most influential figure on the planet.

We should embrace change, too, because our Savior did. I’m not using Jesus as a crutch to gain success, but I do see some serious importance in the change we all know and [tend to] hate.  Our plans will often not go our way, and sacrifices will have to be made. However, if we are filled with love and care for others the way Jesus did, embracing change won’t be so difficult.

Final thoughts: I’ve never seen/heard of a businessman, leader, church planter, etc., who were very successful in their own fields and didn’t embrace change. The truth is that the best leaders embrace change, adapt, and take risks. Smart, focused risks, of course.

When we tackle seasons of change with boldness and new ideas, we stretch. And when we stretch ourselves, we always grow. What a super simple concept! Yes, but simplicity is often overlooked.

Do you resist change? Have you gone through any crazy changes in your life recently?

Speaking of all this change, I hope you’ve had the chance to check out the iPad 2. I may be biased and in love, but I’m just sayin’.

Hiccups are like Addictions.

A Short Poem on Hiccups:

Last week I had hiccups for two straight days;

No solution would make them go away.

Not like a sore throat, no honey nor tea,

Not one thing I tried made the hiccups flee.

 

Holding breath, drinking water, they didn’t work.

I surmised hiccups are like bullies and jerks.

 

With little help in sight I began to pray,

“Jesus, my Lord, don’t let these hiccups stay.

“Amen — hiccup!” What? Just after my plea?

I know Jesus was now laughing at me!

 

After what seemed like years, the hiccups left my bodily den.

Calm sleeping, smooth breathing, all were back in my grasp once again.

 

The Four Points of HA (Hiccups and Addictions):

  • Tell God and other people about the problem.
  • Find the source.
  • Pull the trigger, on the trigger.
  • Run to Jesus with everything you’ve got.

 

Have you had the hiccups recently? What was that like? Has there been any amazing stories where God has pulled you through a long-time struggle??