Archive - February, 2010

Wired For Intimacy – How Pornography Hijacks The Male Brain

Dr. William M. Struthers, an associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, has written what sounds like a fascinating book: Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. Dr. Struthers teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience, men and addictions and the biological bases of behavior. This book will surely be an excellent textbook for such courses. It provides helpful argumentation for what many struggling men and counselor/pastors already suspected: Pornography has a drug-like influence on men. The publisher’s description:

Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture as been pornified, and it shapes our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the value of women and the nature of relationships. Countless Christian men struggle with the addictive power of porn. But common spiritual approaches of more prayer and accountability groups are often of limited help.
In this book neuroscientist and researcher William Struthers explains how pornography affects the male brain and what we can do about it. Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. By better understanding the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives and interpersonal relationships. Struthers exposes false assumptions and casts a vision for a redeemed masculinity, showing how our sexual longings can actually propel us toward sanctification and holiness in our bodies.
With insights for both married and single men alike, this book offers hope for freedom from pornography.

Reviewing this book, Dr. Albert Mohler explains:

Why men rather than women? As Struthers explains, the male and female brains are wired differently. “A man’s brain is a sexual mosaic influenced by hormone levels in the womb and in puberty and molded by his psychological experience.” Over time, exposure to pornography takes a man or boy deeper along “a one-way neurological superhighway where a man’s mental life is over-sexualized and narrowed. This superhighway has countless on-ramps but very few off-ramps.
Pornography is “visually magnetic” to the male brain. Struthers presents a fascinating review of the neurobiology involved, with pleasure hormones becoming linked to and released by the experience of a male viewing pornographic images. These experiences with pornography and pleasure hormones create new patterns in the brain’s wiring, and repeated experiences formalize the rewiring.

He also gives this content-rich quote from Struthers:

Viewing pornography is not an emotionally or physiologically neutral experience. It is fundamentally different from looking at black and white photos of the Lincoln Memorial or taking in a color map of the provinces of Canada. Men are reflexively drawn to the content of pornographic material. As such, pornography has wide-reaching effects to energize a man toward intimacy. It is not a neutral stimulus. It draws us in. Porn is vicarious and voyeuristic at its core, but it is also something more. Porn is a whispered promise. It promises more sex, better sex, endless sex, sex on demand, more intense orgasms, experiences of transcendence.

Thankfully, as Dr. Mohler points out, Struthers doesn’t let porn-viewing men off the hook: The addict retains full responsibility for his addiction, neurological explanations notwithstanding.
IVP has made available the Introduction and Chapter 1.

Sally Jenkins on Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad

An insightful article by Washington Post sportswriter Sally Jenkins on the upcoming Tim Tebow Superbowl ad. Jenkins is pro-choice, which makes her withering critique of the National Organization of Women (NOW) that much more newsworthy. She begins with the observation, “Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time.” She goes on to write:

I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.
Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one.

She later makes the explicit connection between Tebow’s example of abstinence before marriage and the problem of unwanted pregnancies:

Here’s what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.
You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren’t embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too — and they should step up to that.

Read the whole thing. Or see my previous post where I offered a similar critique of the antagonistic response to Tebow’s commercial from some pro-choice circles.
HT: Josh Harris

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