Thanks to many modern scientists, most people today know about dopamine and dopamine cycles. Science is exploring the myriad functions of dopamine in the brain, but the one thing we can be sure of is that our brain loves dopamine. When you are recovering, this is good to be aware of. Many recovering addicts, in their brain's voracious appetite for dopamine, fall into the trap of edging. The best way to explain edging is using a numerical system. Imagine that watching pornography is a level 5 dopamine hit and let's say most activities in the day, your brain operates at a level 2. Your brain rarely goes from 2 to 5. Instead, it edges. It will seek something that is a level 3. Maybe it's a social media feed or a few videos online. Nothing that is actually inappropriate, but simply a bit more stimulating than the mundane tasks of work/life. After a while that level 3 starts to get old, so then your brain looks for a level 4. Eventually, you end up at a level 5 – engaging in...
I’ve always been deeply impacted by Romans 8:1 - “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
You’ve probably heard this verse before, I know I had several times. But when I was deeply struggling with porn, this verse hit me like a ton of bricks for one simple reason…
I was violating it in every sense!
When you struggle with porn, it is hard to not condemn yourself. You feel guilty on the regular. Ashamed of your poor decisions. And fearful that you will get caught and lose your job, friends, community. When that is what your life looks like… how could you not condemn yourself?
But this scripture says otherwise. It says that the only requirement to avoid condemnation is to be in Christ Jesus. And though I have many imperfections and despite my 15-year struggle with pornography, I was always and will always continue to be in Christ Jesus.
So if that’s the case, what the heck am I doing condemning myself? And...
“Why is change so hard?”
These were the exact words I muttered under my breath recently as I pioneered a few new projects in the DeepClean community.
So there I was, sitting at my desk, asking a deep philosophical question in pure frustration. And then I remember - change is the only way I can grow.
Some days, I love change and openly embrace the challenges that come with it. Other days, it’s a slog and I’m just trying to keep myself afloat.
I am fascinated by Jerry Seinfeld, who is one of the most successful comedians of our time. He is unique in many ways, and obviously his massive success in an inspiration.
In a podcast with Tim Ferris at the beginning of this year, he talked about growing as a comedian means honing your craft every single day. In fact, for 4+ decades Jerry has written jokes for an hour every morning. No wonder he’s so funny!
He said something that struck me: You must learn to master your brain. Your mind and...
There's good news here. If you asked me this question 5-10 years ago, I would have said "not much"!! It has taken the academic world a while to acknowledge just how damaging pornography can be to someone's well-being as well as their relationships. Research into gaming addiction is better funded than research into porn addiction!! However, there is emerging research on the topic and it is proving what we have known all along: Porn is bad for you. Who knew!!
The academic world catching up is a good thing because it means more research will be done which should lead to the development of better tools, models and mechanisms for recovery. But already, there is research indicating that in a clinical environment, porn addiction can be healed. That is awesome news because if it can be experienced in a controlled clinical environment, then there is hope it is possible for just about anyone.
Here's what you need to take away from this: Recovery is possible. Before the academic world started...
This picture above here is one of the happiest days of my life, but not for the reasons you might think. While most celebrate their wedding days together after months of planning and dreaming of their big day (and the life together that will follow), our engagement looked very different.
Just two weeks after I popped the question, my darling fiancee fell ill. She was in bed 18 hrs a day with no energy and no explanation. We were planning to be engaged for 6 months, but we had to postpone our wedding twice because of Shaloma’s complex health situation. After the second postponement, I wondered if we were going to stay together. It was rough.
Eventually, we started to get some explanations for Shaloma’s condition. Turns out she had complex PTSD, which is caused by regular or consistent exposure to traumatic conditions. This was explained by growing up with an older brother in the house that had schizophrenia. The home was not always a safe and reliable place and it caught...
To answer this question, we have to see porn for what it really is: fake intimacy. Porn is this disillusioned experience of sexual connection with another person. Some justify pornography in a marriage because it "gets the juices flowing." While that may be true, it is a violation of God's design for marriage, which is meant to be a secure relationship between one man and one woman. The minute you introduce third parties – whether physical or virtual – you are violating the sanctity of your marriage convenant because you are experiencing intimacy with someone else outside of your spouse.
There are plenty of healthier, godlier ways to spice up the intimacy in your marriage. Using porn to do so is like drinking Coke every day because it "helps you feel energized" and then wondering why you've gained weight a few months later. Just because it helps you achieve a momentary desired outcome does not mean it will serve you the best in your long-term goals.
This is a common pattern observed in addictions. The binge-purge cycle is binging on the substance or behavior (in this case viewing pornography) and purging after. In a faith-context, this might look like asking for forgiveness, repenting, spending time with God, etc. The purging part is where you remove yourself of anything that had to do with the binge.
This is useful to know because sometimes we observe our "purge" responses as signs that we are progressing and making changes, when in reality it could be that it is actually part of the cycle. If you really want to recover from a slip, ask yourself two questions:
1) What need did it meet?
2) What would I do differently next time?
This is a much better way to combat the 'purge' component. If you want to eliminate the cycle altogether, you'll have to resolve the underlying roots that are causing you to binge in the first place. This is where your answer to question 1 can become super helpful. In our group coaching calls, if someone...
YES! It really does. Traditionally, you'll hear that sex before marriage matters because it's God's design and if you wait, your wedding night will be ultra special and significant. That is rarely the case. The first time you are physically intimate with someone, there is a learning curve. That's just fact. So why does sex before marriage matter then? Shouldn't you be able to test drive the car before you take it off the lot?
Romantic relationship stands on two legs: Intimacy & Commitment. The level of intimacy you experience in a relationship should be determined by the level of commitment you have to that person. Sex is an extremely layered and deep experience of intimacy. The kind of experience that should be reserved for deeply committed relationships. The greatest form of commitment you can make to another person is a covenant (marriage), therefore it demands the greatest form of intimacy (sex). This is why the Bible is clear that sex should take place in the confines of...
The short answer is no. Masturbation in of itself is not sinful, as the Bible does not outright forbid it as far as I know. Does that make it ok? Definitely not. There are 3 main reasons that masturbation is considered sexually irresponsible behavior.
1) It is almost always associated with fantasy, which is sinful. I know few who can masturbate without fantasy. You may be able to do that once or twice, but not with any consistency. What if you're married and you only think about your wife? That takes us to...
2) Masturbation is solo intimacy. That is not ok. Sexual intimacy was meant to be experienced between a man and a wife in the context of marriage. Masturbation violates this God-given design for sexual relationship.
3) Biochemically, regular masturbation has negative effects on your brain chemistry. It can leave you lethargic, apathetic and hinder your ability to enjoy healthy sexual experiences. Not worth the cost if you ask me.
Masturbation may not be outrightly sinful, but...