Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers
The Neurobiological and Psychological Effects of Pornography
Repeated exposure to any stimulus results in neurological circuit making. That is how we learn. But what does pornography teach and how does it change those who regularly consume it? (p. 13)
Wired for Intimacy is an exploration of the physical, neurobiological, and psychological effects of pornography on men in particular, written from a Christian perspective. Living in a culture that is as hyper-sexualized as ours, with such unrestricted access to sexual content, presents constant challenges to purity. I find it extremely helpful to read books on this subject to keep my spiritual weapons sharp. This book was really helpful, from a different angle.
The first half of the book is a heavily detailed discussion about neuro-bio-chemistry, and includes a large chapter that is pretty much “Brain Biology 101.” It then widens out into broader areas of discussion as well: masculine identity, what it means to be an embodied soul, and the nature of true intimacy.
I found this book very helpful in stimulating fresh thought in these areas. I don’t know much about psychology and neurobiology, and I found these aspects fascinating. While the whole book was useful, a couple of paragraphs stood out as extremely helpful:
Pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context – intimacy between two human beings – and makes it a product to be bought and sold. By debasing the human body and valuing it in the same way we would something from the local convenience store, pornography promotes a human being’s sexuality as a product for consumption. (19)
As I come across suggestive women or images in my day to day life, I have often had this ringing in my mind: “Her sexuality is not a product to be consumed, for even a second. Not even if she is presenting it that way.”
The other was this:
Men share with women the same basic needs of humanity. The need for intimacy requires that we understand who we are and share that with those we long to be known by. As we become more intimate, the other speaks into us things about ourselves that we could not possibly know from the inside. We allow the one we are intimate with to discover us in ways we could not do on our own, and we do so with them. It is a process that develops and deepens over time. We know ourselves more fully because we are known more fully. The intimacy that we have with God and with others enables us to move along the journey toward either sanctification or depravity. Pornography corrupts the ability to be intimate. (43)
I had never thought about intimacy this way. I cannot know things about myself without opening up to others and allowing them to speak to me about what they see. This is a really helpful lens through which to view marriage, friendship, parenting, and other relationships, respectively.
I found this book to be a very helpful brick in the foundation of sexual purity. Of course this does not exhaust the spiritual and Biblical matters involved, but understanding the way our brains and minds work is an important step in realizing the harm, and understanding the solutions to this problem. God has created a full-orbed reality, with bodies and brains, as well as minds and souls. We are not just “brains on sticks.” I recommend this as a good exploration of another side of God’s multi-layered world.