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

The Jesus Virus

Have you ever seen the show, “I Was Bitten,” on Animal Planet? It is all about venomous snake bites, and I watched a few episodes a few weeks back when I was home with my parents.

My favorite part was on the first episode I watched where one of the snake bite victims, a snake connoisseur, explained how snake venom works like a virus. I wonder if he still loves snakes as much as before?

As many of you probably know already, snake venoms often paralyze their victims immediately after biting them (poor mice…). Snake venom also usually contains digestive enzymes and other related catalysts so it can literally digest its victim from the inside out. The venom consumes and literally takes over the tissue where it’s first administered, spreading to the rest of the body like a virus. It’s kind-of like the enzymes on our tongue that start breaking down things we put into our mouths. That is why snakes are able to swallow their prey whole: by the time it hits their stomachs, the majority of the tissue has been completely broken down on the inside.

The snake victim who explained all this was bitten on his hand, and as a result his thumb swelled up like the Hulk (only black and purple — ew!). A lot of the tissue simply died, and after the swelling decreased his doctors removed the dead tissue to find that the upper half of his thumb was gone. It had been literally digested by the venom.

It’s just crazy! Snake venom. Consuming like a virus.

A few days after that, I had a long talk with one of my high school buddies about God and humanity. He was very broken-hearted at the fact that the human race is like a virus, and all we do is consume. And I agree with him. We may build buildings, start companies, and design new products, but at the end of the day it’s all for consumption. We’re just using resources to fit our own needs, all the while ignoring the poverty and injustice in many other parts of the world. You see, viruses are usually too busy consuming and replicating to notice anything else. No wonder we are so ignorant!

It all really comes down to sin being a virus. It starts in one place, our heart, much like a venomous snake bite. It then spreads to all aspects of our lives, until it can be seen quite visibly in our actions and motives. A quick look at human history will tell you everyone is infected.

So what’s our vaccine? Or rather, as many expectant and entitled Americans might say, “Where is MY vaccine!?”

We don’t get a typical vaccine. We get something unlike a normal vaccine. Something completely unexpected. Something that no human being could come up with by chance, and it’s one reason why I know Christianity is the truth.

We get Jesus. And when I look at a man like Jesus, I see a virus. A simple reading of any of the Gospels will reveal that he aims at the hearts of mankind. He changes, infects the heart of man. As we grow closer to him every day, his divine and glorious infection within us takes over until our actions and motives closely reflect his. The difference between the Jesus Virus and our sin virus is that instead of filling us with pride, lust, anger, greed, fear, etc., he fills us with love, grace, compassion, courage, and the list goes on.

The reason I call Jesus a “virus” rather than a “vaccine” is because vaccines improve your immunity system for a specific illness. When a new strand comes along, you’ll need another vaccine. However, Jesus completely takes over your entire life. He doesn’t just improve your ‘immune system,’ if you will, but rather he gives you a whole new one. In his death on the cross he has completely trumped our viral sinfulness that we brought solely upon ourselves, and in his resurrection we can be sure that we will be infected with his grace and love forever, guided by the Holy Spirit. And while our previously-reigning infection of sin kept us from God, the Jesus Virus restores us to a perfect relationship with God.

Even though Jesus has solved the sin problem, even a Christian’s Mad Cow disease of sin is always trying to take over again. Satan is always at work (1 Peter 5:8). But thanks be to our wonderful Virus, we don’t have to choose sin or be infected by it any day, anymore (Romans 6). We have the privilege of giving our lives to Jesus, and getting to know him personally more and more all the time, until we are with him in the next life.

So what does a life look like that is completely taken over by the Jesus Virus? It is actually quite contagious, and it permeates to and through other people very quickly. Perhaps this is very close to what Jesus meant when he said:

“‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.'” (Matthew 13:33 NLV)

The other reality of the matter is that Jesus told us we cannot serve two masters (Romans 6:16, Luke 16:13). So many things like materialism, acceptance, lust, pornography, gluttony, alcohol, drugs, worry, and too many others are vying for control in each and every human being’s life. It all boils down to Jesus vs. sin (and a healthy dose of Romans 1:18-32 points out just how serious the sin virus becomes). Choose wisely, because both sides of the coin want your entire life. Many people may think or say what they choose, but the way they live reflects the symptoms of their true virus.

Are you infected with the Jesus Virus?