Dear America, to say that pornography doesn't confuse the human soul and breed immense, guilt, shame and spiritual and relational trauma is misleading at best. It not only does these things on a micro level, it disturbs the collective conscience, leading a society to integrate views of sexuality that distort its meaning, purpose and pleasure. The more it infiltrates, the more it becomes an accepted phenomenon, gradually working away at damaging hearts and minds. This results in us living a confused society that is reeling from the traumatic effects of pornography, yet glamorizing it and selling it to the masses.
The more I work with couples and families, the more it becomes evident how tenderness creates a foundation for healing, change and open conversation. When we approach those we love in a caring manner, we can help diffuse points of conflict and establish a needed sense of safety which fortifies the emotional bonds between us.
The last few months have been rife with news headlines reporting on numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by notable male figures in the realm of Hollywood and the political sphere. What does all of this mean? My mind is immediately drawn to the sense these allegations put on display what our American culture has been reticent to acknowledge:"We've treated human sexuality too lightly and are reaping the effects."
Fight the New Drug recently posted a video of 5 celebrities sharing their experiences with porn. What these celebrities had to say was right on, and I hope they will continue to publicly address this issue.
Pornography is a bane to any society and it wreaks havoc in the lives of those who turn to it for pleasure and connection, or who seek to escape from the pains of daily life. Once caught in its grasp, getting free can feel like an impossible task, especially when you find yourself battling with it alone, hiding in secrecy and hoping no one will every find out that pornography has become a part of your life.
I know what this sense of impossibility and isolation feels like. I felt it for many years, during my own struggle with pornography.
When married couples argue, it's often a failed attempt at reaching for one another. A primary reason lies in the use of criticism. Husbands and wives may unknowingly assume that pointing out where and how their spouse has failed will somehow lead to a resolution of the core issues they're trying to address, or even bring them closer together somehow. Unfortunately, this approach tends to have the opposite effect.
John Hammer isn't someone you ever forget. He radiates sincerity, joy, and a refreshing humility. I met John a couple of years ago after he accepted an invitation to speak at men's gathering I was helping facilitate at the time, which on that particular day centered on his newly published book, EXXXIT. We later connected again as part of a podcast I was putting together on The Intersection of Masculinity, Fatherhood and Pornography. It was during this meeting I had the opportunity to hear in greater depth on how he overcome his struggle with pornography.
Contrary to the popular notion, time doesn't heal all wounds. Rose Kennedy put it this way: "It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." Her statement precisely illustrates what I see married couples experience when the trust between them is lost.
Pride is one of the greatest hinderances to us recognizing the value of other people. It creates an inner myopia constricting our vision to what we need, desire and believe is important while leading us to believe we have the right to exploit, harm and ignore others to achieve those aims. Moreover, it serves as the basis for justifying our actions, however destructive they may be, as being moral, legal, healthy and right.
Envision waking up one morning, checking the news shortly thereafter, and learning the United States passed legislation officially banning all forms of pornography. I imagine that across the nation people of all backgrounds, motivations and opinions would have varied emotions at such a pivotal moment in American history. Some individuals may be shocked, angry, and bewildered while others may be glad and with an immense sense of relief.
If I could list one element that makes or breaks marital communication, it's our tone. I say this based on countless sessions with couples who have tried to work through important marital issues, only to see their efforts fail due to their use of a harsh or disrespectful tone. Additional communications are destined for failure, unless there is a deliberate shift in how they engage one another.