Why Does Porn Cause Depression and Anxiety? ~ blog

 In Daily Encouragement

In the book Addicted to Lust, I have been learning a lot about what happens in the life of a conservative Christian who tries to maintain their faith and yet continues to fall into sexual sin.

This has caused me to reflect on my own journey of being a pastor for 26 years with a growing addiction to porn and sex and my battle against depression and anxiety.  In his book, Samuel L. Perry writes about this issue and its effect on people who specifically call themselves Bible-believing conservative Protestants.

We read in the Bible, hear in sermons, and discussions with others of like faith that sexual actions outside of marriage are wrong.  Premarital sex is sinful. Extramarital sex is sinful.  Lusting after another person is sinful.  God does not want us lusting after other people and engaging in sexual activities with others unless it is with our spouse within the commitment of marriage.

We read in Ephesians 5:3

 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

However, knowing that sexual sin is against God’s will for us yet living with a growing addiction to porn and sex causes a powerful internal conflict within us.  Add to this a poor understanding of God’s complete forgiveness purchased by Jesus on the Cross and the thought that one can lose their salvation if we do not live in sexual purity … you have the recipe for some serious mental and emotional anguish.

If we do not do something to change what is happening to us by our own addictive choices several things are going to or have already happened

First – we become miserable. This internal conflict within us will affect us both mentally and emotionally.  We do not understand why God seems to ignore our pleas for help and allows this sin to continue in our lives. We know it is sin.  We know it is against His Will.  We plead with Him in all honesty and are very sincere … but nothing seems to happen.

We might do better for a while.  We can put some days or even weeks together without another fall.  However, eventually, we go back to this sin and fall all over again. This can cause us to incorrectly conclude that God must not love us or worse yet, has rejected us.

The longer we exist in this cycle of sin and repent, sin and repent … the worse we feel about ourselves and we can become clinically depressed and filled with anxiety.  We can begin to think that God no longer loves us, and our sins have not been forgiven.

Having gone to seminary and being a student of the Bible for years I did not believe those things.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  That I was sealed with the Holy Spirit and eternally a member of God’s family.  So, I did not struggle with believing those lies.

Instead, this powerful internal conflict and the fact that I was a pastor caused me to fall into a deep depression and filled me with constant and nagging anxiety.  So, to feel better I would act out in order to feel some relief, but after the relief came more shame, fear, and guilt.  The depression was still there, and I was still in the cycle of sexual addiction.

Second – we leave the fellowship of the church and walk away from God.  We might conclude that this is our only option.  I cannot hold a strong core belief that God wants me to live in sexual purity and yet have this addictive behavior and continue in this conflict every day.  We have tried and failed so many times we conclude that God is done with us and so we are going to done with Him. Or we sit in church in silence and believe we are not fit to do any kind of ministry.

Third – we live a miserable existence of not dealing with the addiction and yet staying in the community that denounces it.  We can become more and more depressed and deal with this using anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.

One of the things Samuel Perry discovered is that those who do not consider the Bible as the Word of God, who attend more liberal churches that do not condemn sexual sin or do not consider themselves to be Christians are far less likely to be depressed over their sexual sin.  They do not have this internal conflict and seem fine with acting out sexually.

Here is what I hope you will take away from this lesson.  Perhaps this explains why you may have feelings of depression and anxiety.  You love the Lord and know He loves you and yet do not understand why God has not stepped in and set you free form sexual sin.

 

Tomorrow I will go into this disconnect and also go into what God wants us to do to help ourselves.  I believe the reason our prayers seem to go unanswered is because God has told us what we need to do to live in sexual purity and has placed His Spirit inside of us.  If we follow His instructions regarding living the Christian life, we will begin to see Him changing us.

 

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