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John Piper Draws Attention to Effect Internet Porn Has on Human Brain

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  • John Piper is seen worshipping in this May 16, 2008, file photo.
    (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
    John Piper is seen worshipping in this May 16, 2008, file photo.
By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
October 14, 2013|10:21 am

On the Desiring God blog, preacher and author John Piper has drawn attention to new neurological research that reveals the addictive nature of Internet pornography, which has an effect on the human brain as powerful as, if not more than, addictive chemical substances such as cocaine or heroin.

Referring to an article, "The New Narcotic," published recently by Princeton, N.J.-based The Witherspoon Institute, Piper compares the prevalence of drug addiction to that of pornography.

There are 1.9 million cocaine users and 2 million heroin users in the United States, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Central Intelligence Agency, respectively. Now compare this to 40 million regular users of online pornography, Piper writes on his Desiring God ministry blog.

"With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus [Internet pornography] has become nearly resistance-free," author Morgan Bennett of the Witherspoon article quotes Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physicist and former fellow in psychiatry at Yale, as stating before Congress.

"It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one's own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes," Satinover added. "It's now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution."

Bennett says Internet pornography does more than just spike the level of "dopamine" in the brain for a pleasure sensation. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter that most addictive substances release, causing a "high" and a subsequent craving for a repetition of the high, rather than a subsequent feeling of satisfaction by way of endorphins.

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Pornography changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation, Bennett adds. These addictive pathways then awaken craving for "more novel pornographic content like more taboo sexual acts, child pornography, or sadomasochistic pornography." What's more, substances can be metabolized out of the body, but pornographic images cannot be metabolized out of the brain because pornographic images are stored in the brain's memory.

However, this doesn't "surprise" God, says Piper, who retired earlier this year after 33 years as lead pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn. "He designed the interplay between the brain and the soul. Discoveries of physical dimensions to spiritual reality do not nullify spiritual reality."

This is why Jesus said, "I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Quoting Proverbs 23:7, which reads, "As he thinks in his soul, so is he," Piper adds that thinking in the soul corresponds to "is," which includes the body.

But there's hope, Piper stresses. This new brain research – though horrific – is not the last word. God has the last word. "The Holy Spirit has the greatest power. We are not mere victims of our eyes and our brains. I know this both from Scripture and from experience," he concludes.

 

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