Monday, April 30, 2018

Emotional Disconnection and an Addiction to Porn

Paul Young, the author of The Shack, has been a friend of mine for years.

I have learned a great deal about pastoral ministry and connecting with people through Paul and his ministry. Paul believes that every experience, every heart-ache, every blessing, every moment have collectively led him to the moment in time when he is connecting emotionally to the person standing in front of him.

Paul never looks over his shoulder to the next person in line. Paul seems unhurried or rushed as he visits with the person in front of him. He's not thinking about a future appointment or what's left to do for the day. Paul Young takes time to interact with people and connect with them on a level deeper than the superficial.

Paul and I have had many theological discussions on the atonement. Though we don't always agree, I've learned to listen carefully to Paul Young. I always learn a great deal about the human condition through his wisdom.

I've told the story before of Paul relating to me that a couple of young theologians approached him to debate the subject of Christ's atonement. They both argued with Paul about the extent of the atonement. Paul, a hopeful universalist, believes God will eventually save every sinner through the Person and work of HIs Son. The two theologians in front of Paul believed God has chosen to save those He elected to salvation, and it is those for whom Christ died and whom God will ultimately save.

During the debate, Paul asked the two men a question:
"Suppose you have two sons, both of whom are your flesh and blood. One boy is saved because God chose Him, Christ died for Him and the Spirit regenerated Him. The other boy, however, is chosen by God to be a "vessel of wrath" upon whom God's judgement will fall as a demonstration of God's holiness and justice. My question for you is this: Does it bother you that you have one son who will be in heaven and one son who will be in hell?"
One of the men quickly responded: 
"It does not. God's purposes are good, and if my boy is a vessel chosen for the demonstration of God's wrath against sin, it will be fine with me."
Paul Young's next question was startling:
 "How long have you struggled with pornography?"
The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, Paul told me, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships. 

A man disconnected from feeling sorrow about his children's eternal welfare is a man disconnected from emotion in human relationships.

I am often asked how to help a loved one who is addicted to porn.


1. Create safety. Create an environment where expressing emotion is encouraged, not discouraged. Passions are healthy, not sinful. "In your anger, sin not," the Bible says.  Feelings are neutral. What you do when you feel is the issue. Refrain from taking the expression of another person's emotions personally. You are not the cause of another person's anger, bitterness, rage - or for that matter - you're also not the ultimate source of their happiness, joy, or fulfillment. Whatever another person feels is neutral morally. Sure, negative emotions can and should be removed. But the only person who can remove them is the one feeling them. Learn to accept the one you love however they may feel, and let God use your unconditional love for others to bring transformative change in the one you love.

2. Connect emotionally. That means you feel with the one you love.  Empathy is defined as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another."  Feel with empathy. Express your love verbally. Embrace your loved one physically. Listen intently. Play a game where you both learn words that help describe feelings.  Learn how to express your emotions without blaming the one you love for your bad feelings or crediting the one you love for your good feelings. Learn to simply feel and to let others feel. 

3. Care individually. Always set a goal to convey the importance of the individual with whom you are conversing at that moment. Be present. Every experience, every heart-ache, every blessing, every moment of my life has led me to this moment in time when I am relating to the person in front of me, the person God has brought to me. 


Rex Ray said...


Paul and the two theologians sound about like they’re arguing if the world is flat or square. They’re both wrong in their thinking because of John 3:16.

It’s interesting that Paul believes pornography leads a person to “an emotional disconnect from human relationships.”

If that’s so, and I believe it is, it might lead to abuse.

Google states:

One of seven girls are abused before 18.
38% child victims don’t report their abuse.
90% know their abuser.
Victims under six years old are usually abused by a family member.
Risk increase with step parents.

I believe abuse increases the risk of suicide.

Nonnie said...

Wow. I never thought of that, but Wow! Yes, any man or woman who would not be heart broken that their child was a "vessel of wrath" (although I don't believe that theology), that man or woman has to be broken inside. That article is eye opening.

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