By: Shane James O’Neill
Have you ever felt a compulsive need to watch porn or hook up with someone? Of course, you have. Ever wonder what that is and how the heck to combat it? So, this is cool.
In the book of James (a letter in the Bible), we are told to confess our sins to one another, and in those moments of confessed weakness, we need to pray for each other. Why? So that we can be healed. The very act of communicating temptation or failure begins the process of redemption. Now, put a pin in this point and we’ll be back to it in a moment.
Your Brain on Porn
Dopamine, along with oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are the chemicals that help us to experience happiness. Dopamine is the feel-good hormone. When we do anything sexually stimulating, our brain dumps dopamine, which functions as a cocktail to give us hyper-focus and manic-happiness. From then on out, whenever we get a tug toward sexual interaction, dopamine begins to get released in small doses, whispering in our mind the way to happiness. Over time this becomes more and more set as your brain wires itself around this singular desire and goal.
Now all of that sounds rather rough: if you’ve been a long-time lust-abuser (like I have) then you’re probably thinking that you are way far gone without any hope of re-forming your brain. But here is a literal brain-hack.
The Power of Confession
This is where science gets super cool: there is a way to counter-act this neurological addiction using oxytocin (not to be confused with oxycontin!). When we feel our will, decisions, integrity, morals, and promises start down that well-laid path of lust there is a something we can do to roadblock the entire process. Confess. Yeah. Confess. The part of your brain that operates emotions also operates relationships.
When we expose ourselves in moments of weakness and vulnerability to another person then oxytocin is released in our brains. The oxytocin works to nullify the compulsive power of that sexual draw. Where the dopamine used happiness to take away your control, oxytocin uses happiness to give you back control. The more you expose yourself to someone who cares for you and whom you trust then the more oxytocin is released and control is placed back into your hands. This gives you the opportunity to choose to do something else and thus reshape your brain.
Made for Intimacy
Flashback to James.
God has wired us for intimacy. Sex is sacred and we’re designed to find sexual pleasure in one location, in one person. If we make that location something like pornography or promiscuity, then the gift of intimacy is replaced with isolated enslavement. But the power of intimacy can also bring light into that dark space. When we confess and expose ourselves in a context of mercy, forgiveness, and hope then healing brings dawn into that dark night of entrapment.
Ain’t it sweet when modern science catches up with ancient wisdom?
For this reason and so many others, two of Proven Men’s core values are (1) Open and Honest and (2) Networking with Other Godly People. Those two values stand for the O and N in the PROVEN acronym.
Whereas porn is an isolating activity, the gospel gives us a family so that we can practice the way of openness and honesty. It makes little sense that confessing our weakness gives us power, but as the Apostle Paul told us so long ago the way to resurrected freedom is through the foolish weakness of the cross — exposing your weakness allows you to inherit His strength.
So when you feel the grind of lust begin to hijack your head, take control back by becoming a fuller human being and invite others to journey alongside you. Reach out to people today, share this article with them and ask them to be this gospel resource in your life. Confession before the community of the cross is the way to new creation.
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Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.