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The Biology of Pornography Addiction


By David Outten

Scientists have been reluctant to refer to natural biological occurrences as addictions. They’ve been much quicker to declare that intakes such as alcohol, heroin or opium can cause addiction.  

Now, with greater understanding of brain functions, scientists are finding that pornography causes the body to create chemical and electrical impacts similar to those of a drug habit. These measurable biological events impact desires and behavior.

Just as eating a meal will cause the body’s hunger sensations to subside, so looking at pornography will cause sexual desire. Both involve chemical and neurological stimulus. Both can lead to biological training. Scientists have found that overeating increases the desire to continue overeating, and that reducing one’s body mass index (losing weight) actually lowers the desire to overeat.  Pornography can train the brain to desire more pornography and, in extreme cases, lead to destructive sexual behavior (rape, child abuse, etc.). This involves biological training at a molecular level. In full scientific speak, one study reports:

We see this neuroplasticity at the cellular level through dendritic arborization and other cellular changes that provide a neuroplastic ‘scaffolding’ of sorts for new synapses to form. Severe craving states associated with subsequent satiation have produced these micromorphologic changes, as demonstrated by such diverse depletion–repletion models as cocaine, amphetamine, salt, and sex.

This basically says that cells get biologically modified to send “craving” messages.

In case you haven’t noticed, scientific study is impacted by political correctness. In the debate over sexual orientation it is politically correct to discover something that shows people are born with different sexual desires. It is not so politically correct to reveal that exposure to media leads to all manner of sexual preferences and addictions. It is especially politically incorrect to reveal that sexual preferences can be altered and addictions cured.

Just as weight loss helps reduce food addiction, so reductions in pornography use can reduce pornography addictions. At the molecular level, cells can be retrained to reduce addictions.

The truth is that science is simply proving what God has made clear for thousands of years.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!   Matthew 6:23

Translated into 21st Century English, this says, “If you use your eyes to fill your mind with what you should not, your whole body (cells and all) will desire what’s bad for you.”

Conversely, Matthew 6:22 says “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

Again, translated, this means if you use your eyes to focus on all God wants for you, your whole body will desire the good, healthy things God wants for you.

In Romans chapter one, the Apostle Paul explains that when people refuse to focus their attention on God, and his good will for them, God turns them over to a mind full of horrible desires. Scientists are finding that this plays itself out in more than just worldviews and beliefs — it’s biological.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to rescue even those with unhealthy biological inclinations. The Creator of the Universe offers you the opportunity to be born again. The old life, and old biology, can be changed. The eyes, mind and even cells can be turned from desires for evil to desires for good. If you have a pornography addiction know this, “God wants to rescue you.” No matter how many of your cells are crying out for more pornography God can shut them up and clean them up. Ask for his help. Hunger for his help. Get help from the church.

The author of this article was once obsessed with pornography. He is a free man today. The desire is gone. In fact, he finds pornography repulsive because he knows from personal experience what it’s doing to others. A verse that helped him most is Proverbs 11:22. “A beautiful woman lacking in modesty and discretion is as a gold ring in a swine’s snout.” Yes, God made women’s bodies to be VERY attractive to husbands — and that’s truly wonderful. When, however, a woman makes her full beauty available to all (through pornography), she is being used by a big ugly demon (swine) called lust. Lust destroys. It enslaves. It drives horrible behavior. Chemistry has a role, but the real battle is spiritual. Pornography feeds the swine. The bigger the swine gets the less control you have.

Jesus can cast out the swine. Jesus offers freedom, but you can’t play games. You give your life to Jesus and tell him you don’t want the swine. Will you fail at times? Probably. The author did. So, get back up, look to Jesus, and with his help you go back to war against the swine. Freedom will come when the spiritual battle is won.