Boulder Recovery Blog

You quickly close your browser and immediately regret what you watched. Or perhaps you found something disturbing in your husband’s internet browsing history. Either way, you’re likely concerned about the same question: Is watching porn a sin?

Yes, viewing pornography is a sin, but focusing on what technically qualifies as sin misses the broader and more critical question of how watching porn impacts a man’s relationship with himself, his spouse, and God.

By understanding why men watch porn and how it can be addictive, we can help men restore authentic connections with God, their partners, and themselves.

Why Asking ‘Is Watching Porn a Sin?’ Doesn’t Help

If you clicked on this article looking for a long list of Bible verses denouncing the evils of pornography, you’re going to leave disappointed. Most Christians already know and agree that watching pornography is a sin. So why does the question come up?

There are two main reasons some questions if watching porn is a sin. First, a woman discovers her husband has been watching porn and looks for scripture and moral guidance to set them on the right path. Second, a man who’s struggling with porn addiction may ask the question as a way to cope with their overwhelming feelings of shame.

Shame is why this question about whether porn counts as sin doesn’t lead to a productive conversation. Quoting scripture to a man already struggling with shame may make them withdraw further.

Yes, watching porn is a sin, but being addicted to something is not. Telling an alcoholic that their drinking is sinful isn’t enough to make them stop drinking. Whether it’s substance or pornography, we must treat addiction as an illness with a root cause that requires professional help to uncover and heal. We can use scripture as a way to discern God’s heart around sin and for sinners (humans). Through careful study, we will find that God hates sin, and its destructive effects, and his heart is to bring healing and wholeness to the broken places in our world.

A white man sits in a dark room in a white shirt holding a remote control

Why Do Men Watch Porn?

People toss out platitudes like “boys will be boys” or “men can’t control their hormones” as explanations for frequent pornography use by men. Statistics seem to support these conclusions, with sex researchers estimating nearly all men have viewed porn at least once and multiple Christian groups conducting surveys showing almost two-thirds of Christian men use porn regularly.

But the truth about porn is a bit more complicated. Yes, men’s brains respond to visual and sexual stimuli. After all, arousal is a biological process designed by God to encourage the building of families and the enjoyment of sex within marriage. The problem is men’s brains aren’t wired to handle the overabundance of sexual stimuli just a click away on their phones or laptops. The ease of access and relative privacy make pornography an easy way for men to escape from the pressures of everyday life or, in many cases of porn addiction, cope with unresolved trauma.

For many men, regular porn viewing isn’t about sexual desire as much as trying to fill an emotional void. Porn releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurochemical part of the brain’s reward system that boosts mood and feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Men with unresolved trauma often turn to porn’s quick feel-good dopamine burst as a coping mechanism. This is absolutely not a justification for such behavior but rather an explanation.

How Does Porn Become Addictive?

Over time, frequent pornography use rewires men’s brains. Once you’ve activated the brain’s reward center and started releasing dopamine, the brain encourages you to repeat the behavior to release more dopamine. In the same way your body adjusts to a warm bath requiring you to keep increasing the water temperature, the brain adjusts dopamine regulation to your porn viewing. As you view more porn, you’ll find you have to start watching longer or more intense videos to get the same level of satisfaction.

Christian men can be even more susceptible to the toxic nature of this cycle. Most Christian men know pornography is a sin and feel extreme guilt and shame about their behavior. Not only do they feel like they’re letting themselves down, they often feel they’re failing their spouses, families, and God. The intense shame drives them deeper into a porn addiction as they look for a way to cope with their emotions.

How Will I Know If I’m Addicted to Porn?

If you think you or your partner is trapped in the cycle of porn addiction, look for these common signs:

  • You think about porn all the time, even during other activities
  • You want to stop watching porn but feel like you cannot
  • You spend increasingly more time watching porn and frequently lose track of time
  • You watch porn in inappropriate places like school or work
  • You hide your porn viewing habit from those closest to you
  • You neglect important professional, school, or family responsibilities to watch porn
  • Sex with a partner is no longer satisfying
  • You feel ashamed by porn viewing, but continue anyway
  • You continue to watch porn even though you know it bothers your spouse
  • You spend a large amount of money buying porn
  • You feel the need to watch more extreme porn to get the same feeling

How Boulder Recovery Can Help with Porn Addiction

At Boulder Recovery, we aren’t interested in asking, “Is watching porn a sin?” We recognize that, while pornography may be a sin, addiction is not.

If the temptation of porn was as simple as the temptation to gossip or commit other sins, Christians could learn to deal with the temptation through study and prayer.

Pornography is different because of how easily it alters men’s brain chemistry and leads to addiction.

Our team of professionals built a trauma-focused treatment plan specifically for Christian men. Our approach combines leading science on how God created the human brain to respond to trauma with the renewal of new life offered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring lasting change and freedom from pornography addiction.

Contact us today to learn more about our 14-Day Intensive program.

  • Category: Resources
  • By Lawrence Buddoo
  • May 5, 2021

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