Who are those porn addict guys?

This article appeared in the Bruin Standard.

Who are those porn addict guys?

By Mark Stefanos | June 2, 2008 | The Bruin Standard

Two minutes! Two minutes is all I ask!” A questionable choice of phrasing coming from a lanky guy sitting behind a sign emblazoned with the word “porn.” I notice the sneer on the face of a passerby as he trudges down Bruin Walk, ignoring the appeal. “Stop!” I mentally urge him, “I want to hear about your porn addiction!”

Whether you are an avid porn connoisseur (bandwidth-hogging asshole) or you blush at the Viagra promotions in your email, you can appreciate Grant Jenks’ and Jared Warner’s fearlessness. For the past several months, the two fourth-year students and admitted recovering porn addicts have engaged students on the matter and candidly shared their own battles with the vice. It has become their ministry.

If you haven’t had a chance to speak with them yet, read our following conversation, or visit them midday Wednesday on Bruin Walk.

TBS: How would I know if I was addicted to porn?

Grant: Well, personally, it took me two years of trying to stop to state plainly that I had an addiction. I never thought I was addicted when I looked heavily at porn. For others to decide, I’d say try to go a month without looking at porn and consider how you feel during that month. For me, my feelings were full of lust and a desperate need for release. I decided that wasn’t healthy for me.

TBS: How long were you addicted to porn?

Grant: From the age of 12 to 21 I looked at porn. I don’t know when I could say I became addicted during that time. There were definitely unhealthy ways that it manifested itself in my life in my late teen years. Even in a serious romantic relationship, I still looked at porn.

Jared: 6-7 Years.

TBS: What’s wrong with porn?

Grant: I only know my experience the best. For me, porn provided a way to escape and an intimacy that I desired with women. While growing up, porn and masturbation were forms of escapism for me. If I did poorly on a test or a had a bad night out or my parents fought, I could always look at porn and masturbate to feel better. I also used porn as a substitute for intimacy with women. This doesn’t mean I lacked romantic relationships with women. That’s not the case. Instead, I easily believed that men and women couldn’t be “just friends” because of physical attraction. I objectified women and stared at them in real life just as I had done with porn. I ultimately used porn to make myself complacent and delude myself into believing I had healthy relationships. Spiritually, both of these acts nullified my intimacy with God.

Jared: Sex is a gift from God, the deepest level of intimacy two humans can experience between one another. Sex unites two people together so closely, that it says in the Bible the two people become one person. When practiced as God intended, sex is a beautiful thing. Pornography cheapens the beauty of sex, turning it into a commodity so that many have lost the understanding of just how sacred sex is. Now, people feel they can unite themselves to anyone for a quick fix, including a woman on a computer screen, but the process of uniting yourself to just anyone is very dangerous, as the seperation process can be very painful. We see this all the time as people seek counseling to heal from pain caused by broken sexual relationships. Sex is like a pineapple, amazing when consumed appropriately, but dangerous if just wrecklessly jumped into. Waiting for marriage to have sex is like taking the time to cut the pineapple open, and getting the full pleasure of the fruit. Pornography and premarital sex is like biting the spiny outside of the fruit for perhaps only a shadow of the true taste of the fruit.

TBS: What do you think the ease and accessibility of internet porn has done to our society?

Grant: The ease of accessibility meant several things for me. First, I had access at a very young age. Far before I would have gone and bought a magazine or rented a movie, I was online downloading porn. Second, I was able to hide a lot of what I looked at. After my Dad caught me one time, I started encrypting all the porn I kept on the computer. Third, and finally, I was able to expose myself to very vulgar porn for free. A lot of the porn found online could only be found in a “sex shop” which I don’t think I’ll ever have the “guts” to go into.

Jared: Pornography is destroying the family. Also, the sex industry here in the states fuels sex slavery in the third world, including child sex tourism, where a rich westerner can fly to the developing world (usually in Southeast Asia) and purchase a child to have sex with for the day.

TBS: Is there any healthy amounts of porn someone can view?

Grant: I don’t know about others but for me, no. Porn and masturbation poison my mind and my heart. I become filled with fantasies about the women I see and overrun with sexual desire. My purpose in becoming intimate with women becomes the same purpose I had when looking at porn: to get off. My experience has taught that I cannot look at it in small amounts. Inevitably, my desire for it will grow and the amount of time that I pour into it will grow as well. Only by not looking at all can I resist an addiction to porn. I imagine the same may be true of others as well.

TBS:Are there certain types of porn that are better than others (i.e. softcore/erotica vs. BDSM/fetish/snuff/sodomy)?

Grant: I’ve looked at porn from both the categories you’ve described, and I don’t think one is any better than the other. People try to convince me that softcore/erotica is less damaging than BDSM/fetish, but I’d say that’s simply not true. A number of guys I’ve talked to also like to say something like, “Well I only look at the softcore or ‘good stuff,’ but I have a friend who looks at everything and he’s probably got problems.” That statement is silly in my opinion. Personally, I don’t think porn is bad for what is shown but rather for my reaction to it. Porn teaches me to have unrealistic expectations of women, and that’ll happen with all forms of porn.

TBS: Can women have porn addictions, or is this strictly for the guys?

Jared: I know a few women who found sexual escape by looking at pornography, although in my experience the problem is more widespread among men.

Grant: Women can definitely have porn addictions. Often, the porn that interests them is considerably different from the porn that interests men. In talking with women, some have expressed an addiction to erotica or kinds of softcore porn. Still others have realized that if porn simply means to delude men into unrealistic expectations of women then, in the same way, chick flicks delude women into unrealistic expectations of men. I’m not arguing against “feel good” movies, but I do think we need to stop feeding ourselves lies.

TBS: What can I do if I think I am indeed addicted to porn?

Grant: In my experience, I had to try to stop “cold turkey” first. After that failed, I tried to ween myself off it. After that failed, I tried to set up software that blocked internet porn. After that failed, I tried to get rid of my internet connection entirely. You may have to try these things first. If any of these work then praise God, I think that’s great. If you find, like I did, that those don’t work, then consider the spiritual aspect of it. I would encourage you to join a Bible study or try praying. If you don’t feel comfortable about God then be a part of an InterVarsity God Investigation Group. These can be great places for people to ask questions in a nonconfrontational and noncombative way. I have found that only through faith in Jesus Christ have I been made free.

TBS: Why are you on Bruin Walk/how did you get involved with this?

Grant: About two years ago I came to Jared and told him I wanted to stop looking at pornography. I knew he struggled with it too, and I thought we could be accountable to each other. We started meeting weekly to discuss our struggle and provide advice and encouragement. At the end of this last Winter quarter, we realized that God had blessed us in an amazing way. We wanted to use our story of freedom to reach out to others addicted to pornography. We decided to make a sign saying, “Addicted to porn? So were we” so that we could frankly and openly engage people in the matter. At first it was really hard to be laughed at by so many fellow students. In time, we’ve been able to give up our pride and talk with others. What we tell people on Bruin Walk is our testimony. We were both once addicted to pornography and through faith in Jesus Christ have been able to stop. My personal view of Jesus is that of the Good Doctor. I know that whatever damage we’ve experienced he can heal us.

TBS: What clubs or organizations are you involved with?

Grant: Most importantly we’re both members of InterVarsity, a Christian fellowship on campus. Jared and I met each other in that group our freshmen year and have been committed to the group through our senior year.

TBS: How long have you been here?

Grant: Jared and I have been out on Bruin Walk with our sign every Wednesday from about ten to two since ninth week of winter quarter. We’ve both been on this campus for four years and are now graduating seniors.

TBS: What kind of responses have you gotten from people?

Jared: Laughs, uncomfortable looks, serious conversations, mocking conversations, heated conversation, sensitive conversations. My favorite time behind the sign is when someone is willing to be a bit vulnerable with us about some burden they are carrying that Jesus can free them from. This burden is not always pornography, but when people share something hard to share, I can see a bit more freedom from that burden creep into their life, and it all happens right in the middle of plain sight, on Bruin Walk, with hundreds of people walking by.

Grant: I think we could fill a short book with the wide variety of responses. The majority of people laugh or snicker. Some yell something that pokes fun at us. Others make eye contact and then quickly look away. Several people have thought the sign was a joke. We’re often asked, “So what is this about?” Other people walk up and begin to wonder if porn is a bad thing. A few guys have asked for prayer on Bruin Walk as we’re both able to share our stories and struggles. Many people share with us their philosophy and engage in a philosophical discussion. I spoke with a few men who had worked in the porn industry, who shared that it was not a fun experience. Some men have come up and simply admitted they have an addiction to porn and are seeking help. One women sought prayer and help from us for her husband who has been addicted to porn for over ten years. She told us that it’s ruining their marriage and family, and he simply can’t stop. A couple women have even shared sexual abuse that they experienced growing up. We’re out on Bruin Walk to listen and share our story. We don’t want anyone to think we’ve condemned or judged them for anything they’ve done or experienced. Please, come out and talk to us.

TBS: And you’re not embarrassed?

Grant: When we began fighting our addiction to porn, we felt a lot of shame about it. Over the years we’ve realized that this shame restricted our freedom. Over time we practiced telling more people and being more open about it. We came to embrace the fact that we were addicted to porn. This allowed other people to share with us their own stories and join us in our struggle. Now, I’m not embarrassed at all. It hurt my pride to be out on Bruin Walk with a sign that announced it to the world but even in that I’m no longer embarrassed.

TBS: What has this done to your sex life? Do you have girlfriends? What do they think?

Jared: I am a virgin, and plan to be that way until I marry, if I marry. I have never had a girlfriend, but I know that I desire to be open about how I have/am messed up sexually with any woman I enter into a relationship with.

Grant: To go into my whole relationship background is too much here. But presently, I have a girlfriend. We’ve been dating for almost five months and things are great. We don’t have sex, but we are physical. With regards to everything, she’s really proud of me. The first couple of times we were out with the sign, she sat right next to me to encourage me. We talk openly about porn and my addiction, and she has a great perspective that I continue to learn from. It’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in.

talks/who_are_those_porn_addict_guys.txt · Last modified: 2009/09/29 22:36 by grant