The website “Your Brain on Porn” or YBOP it is sometimes referred to has attempted to convince people that Porn use actually changes and warps the brain in a negative way. This is of course just one of many sites that attempt to use brain science to convince people that porn use hurts the brain.
As I have said many times on this site, anything can be abused including food, alcohol and even things like video games and gambling. So just as someone can have an addiction to food they can also become addicted to porn. But just because something has the potential for abuse or addiction does not make that thing wrong in and of itself. It is the abuse of these things that is wrong.
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” – I Corinthians 6:12 (KJV)
So even though it is lawful for us to play video games, watch TV, eat food and drink alcohol if we come under the power of these things (become addicted to them where they control our lives) then the abuse of it becomes sin.
Sexual Imagination is NOT Lust
Biblically speaking there is nothing wrong with a man having sexual imaginations or looking at sexual imaginations on film (porn). This is not lust. Lust is not sexual arousal or sexual imagination – Lust is covetousness.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7 (KJV)
Some would point to Matthew 5:28 to say that looking at porn is lust and therefore sin.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 (KJV)
Rather than spend a lengthy amount of time here on that passage when others have handled it well I will refer you to a recent post by BiblicalGenderRoles.com author Larry Solomon entitled “The Church Women and Barbeques” where he dives deep into Matthew 5:28 and its actual meaning.
The point here is looking at a woman and being aroused by her or having a sexual imagination of her is not sin or lust or wrong in anyway. It is when we begin to have covetous thoughts of how we can actually possess a woman outside of marriage that our thoughts turn to sin.
Two other Christian authors have written some great posts about why it is not sin for Christians to enjoy erotica and porn. So again rather than me just repeating what they have said – I will let them say it in their own words.
I actually agree more with the position of restoringchristiansexuality.com on this subject of porn than genesis2twentyfive.com but they both make some similar points. The big difference between the two sites is that restoringchristansexuality.com believes we can redeem the word “porn” and use to refer to imagery that does not violate God’s laws regarding sexuality.
Psychology Today takes on “Your Brain on Porn”
I don’t agree with Psychology Today in everything they write as they are not a Christian website. But that does not mean there is no truth in anything they write. They do have some well researched and well written articles.
In an article entitled “Your Brain on Porn – It’s NOT Addictive”, David J Ley Ph.D. writes:
“There has been a tremendous amount of hyperbole about porn use, with many authors and doomsayers claiming that viewing porn triggers dangerous neurochemical changes in the brain. But, groundbreaking new research says that it just ain’t so, and that people who are problem users of porn are actually people with high libidos, NOT people whose brains have been warped sex and porn.
Popular antiporn advocates such as YourBrainonPorn and the group called Fight The New Drug , argue that porn use is a public health issue, not a free speech issue. These advocates often assert that if people and society only knew the damage that porn use was causing to our brains, that we would regulate it, in ourselves, and in the access that is allowed…
Fascinating, rigorous new research has now been done, which actually examined the brains of alleged sex addicts, and guess what? The results are a bit different than the rhetoric. In fact, the results don’t support that sex addiction is real, or reflects any unique brain-related issues at all.”
New research, according to this article, demonstrates that the different and higher reactions to porn and other sexual stimuli are not due to changes that porn causes to the brain – but simply differences in libido between different people.
In other words – if you have a higher libido you are going to have a larger reaction in your brain than someone with a lower libido – porn use does not make you have a higher libido.
This is the same argument people have tried to use regarding violent video games. Violent video games do make kids violent, the kids that are violent already had violent tendencies BEFORE they ever played those games.
In fact it could be argued that violent video games actually give people with more aggressive tendencies a virtual outlet so they don’t feel as compelled to act these things out in real life. In the same way I would argue that porn use rather than increasing actual sexual immorality (use of prostitutes or engaging in other sexually immoral acts) decreases these things because it gives men a virtual outlet for their natural sexual desires.
You can read the full post from Psychology today here:
Here are some more resources on this issue.