Set Free Summit: Day 2 Recap

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Well, it’s been another incredible day at the Set Free Summit! Here’s a recap of today’s sessions:

Session 4: Brain Science and Porn

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Donald L. Hilton, Dr. William Struthers, and Dr. Ted Roberts, three of the world’s leading experts on brain science and pornography, shared how porn affects a person’s nervous system. Here are three of their main points:

  • Pornography can change your brain. Viewing it releases dopamine and causes a similar reaction to your brain as drug use.
  • Chemicals in the brain, such as oxytocin, can cause one to bond with fantasy and reject reality.
  • We should try to love those struggling with pornography as much as God loves them. We should replace self-esteem with God-esteem.

Question: How long do you have to be away from pornography in order for your brain to recover from it?

Answer: An educated guess would be one or two years — similar to someone who ended drug use. It depends on where you are at in your development, your age, and other factors. It also depends on what the reason for porn use was and whether the person has other addictions.

Session 5: The Effects of Porn Use

Dr. Mary Anne Layden defined the term “Pornified,” and depicted the seamless interconnected continuum from prostitution to sex trafficking. Internet pornography makes a perfect learning environment for the pornification of culture, and here are a few reasons why:

  • It starts with permission-giving beliefs: “What I’m doing is normal, and everybody is doing it.”
  • It miseducates about sex: it says it’s not about intimacy, caring, child-creation, etc. Instead, Internet pornography is about designer sex — the “perfect” and always-available bodies.

Porn-trained men are more likely to believe rape myths. They stop thinking it’s a bad crime and become sexually calloused. Porn-trained men become less sexually satisfied with their own partner and more open to infidelity. They sometimes use sexual violence to arouse themselves, and are more likely to sexually harass women.

Meanwhile, women exposed to porn are also trained that rape isn’t such a bad crime, and are more likely to accept rape myths. They reduce support for the women’s liberation movement. They’re more critical about their bodies and more likely to be victims of rape.

Pornified kids are more likely to get STDs, get pregnant, use alcohol or other substances, engage in sexual harassment, and engage in sexual violence against other kids.

Porn performers and other victims of the sexual exploitation industry are verbally abused, physically groped, and stalked.

  • Porn is not victimless. Many of those in the industry abuse drugs and prostitute themselves.
  • Porn use makes its users less sensitive to crimes like rape, violence, and abuse.
  • Laws against obscenity are rarely enforced. Statistics show an increase in certain countries where prostitution has been legalized.

Question: What causes the callousness to sex when people porn use?

Answer: It’s a focus on pleasing yourself and on body parts, not a focus on a relationship with someone else. Porn is sex education for many people, and they’re not learning the beauty of the way God designed it.

Session 6: Policy Victories

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Patrick Trueman and Dawn Hawkins, from The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), have a strong desire to see culture changed. NCOSE produced a “Dirty Dozen” list of companies and organizations that profit from sexual exploitation. The list names and shames these groups that normalize sex for sale and exploiting those involved in it.

Through the list, several of these companies have changed their practices and no longer promote sexual exploitation the way they once did. For example, Starwood Hotels no longer offer pornography in its hotel rooms. Google now prohibits pornographic ads on its website.

These and several other groups have responded positively to the pressure put on them by people who protest them because of their decision to promote sexual exploitation. But there’s a long way to go to stop companies from profiting from porn. Visit the “Dirty Dozen” list or the National Center on Exploitation for more information.

Session 7: Porn – A Social Contagion That Fuses Fear, Shame, and Lust

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Dr. Judith Reisman explained how Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, and others have negatively impacted culture by redefining sexuality. Pornography became the name of the game, and people have been exposed to porn at earlier ages ever since.

Kinsey said people are sexual from birth. Most of his claims are based on this idea.

  • Much of sex education is based on Kinsey, who was a pedophile.
  • This approach has led to increased teen pregnancy, STIs and STDs, sexual addition, psychological trauma, gender confusion, and permanent physiological damage.
  • Laws have been changed because of this influence. Sexual exhibition is often allowed, so is adultery, and obscenity.

Things that would be illegal to show children outside of school are allowed in a classroom. An obscenity exception permits exposing children to pornography while in an educational setting, and children who see these things are traumatized.

“Men lose their power by looking at pornography,” said Reisman. “Everyone is at risk when men lose their power. If they have to look at a picture to be aroused, they have lost their power.”

She said shame and guilt lower with exposure to pornography. It’s like hearing there’s a fire in the building and believing it less as time goes on.

Reisman said it is important to label pornography and other sexual sins correctly. She said, “It’s not elevated arousal. It’s elevated shame and guilt.”

“It is important to remember that we are spiritual beings at birth, not sexual.”

Session 8: Theology of the Body

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Fr. Sean Kilcawley discussed how we can’t understand what’s wrong with porn until we understand what it means to be human and what it means to love. We learn what it means to be human by looking at the love of the Trinity. The Father loves sacrificially, giving himself in love to the Son. The Son receives the love of the Father and in turn entrusts Himself to the Father wholly and completely. And the Holy Spirit is the personification of the bond of love that they share.

The human family mirrors this love in the love of Mother, Father, and Child. Our identity as human beings is rooted in our sonship in relationship to God the Father. We first learn to trust in the context of a family.

However, the devil wants to attack love at all levels, and he does this by sowing distrust. Our relationship to God was severed and distorted by distrust, the belief that God didn’t really want what was truly good for us. Jesus entered into our broken humanity and redeemed it, proving God’s unwavering love for us.

Like the woman caught in adultery, Christ doesn’t join the throngs of people ready to condemn us. He sees us as a child of His and wants us to be free from this sin.

Helping people with pornography often starts by reminding them that their identity is not found in their addiction, but in being a child of God. God loves them unconditionally. When this realization sinks in, healing can begin to take place.

Fr. Sean emphasized that helping people with porn and proclaiming that they are beloved children of God is simply evangelization in a world that has been pornified.

Session 9: Counseling Towards Recovery

Three experienced counselors — Dr. Steve Arterburn, Jayson Graves and Dr. Ted Roberts — shared practical tips and insights into effectively counseling those who are in pain because of porn use.

Dr. Arterburn discussed how someone’s relationship with porn supersedes their relationships with others. Real people often irritate them because they are used to getting everything they want with pornography. Anger, rage, and shame are common traits among both marriage partners when one of them has been involved with pornography. There’s often bitterness and resentment.

Counselors have to be open, honest, willing to listen, and experienced. He’s found humor creates agreement among groups, and using it helps restore relationships.

Graves introduced the need to get rid of “toxic shame” in your life. Satan will try to persuade you that you don’t have value, but that is not true — you are an amazing creation of God. Toxic shame can lead to people feeling suicidal, worthless, and not worth being loved.

One way to help is to stop dwelling on previous sins and areas of imperfection in our life. God separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. There is no reason why we should continually think about it.

Addicts lie. Dr. Ted Roberts shared how they’re afraid of being found out. It’s imperative to get to the truth of the matter in order to address the true issue.

“Rules with no relationship is a prime environment to produce an addict,” said Roberts.

  • Counseling is serious business. Those giving it and receiving it should not take it lightly.
  • The more you understand yourself, the more you can help others.
  • Counseling is a two to five year process with a miracle every day.

Question: What are good practices for those who are tempted to view pornography?

Answer: Staying connected with others helps with boredom and complacency, which can lead to temptation. Accountability is the solution.

Session 10: Hearts of Men

To cap the night off, attendees saw the film Hearts of Men. It’s the largest screening of the movie prior to its release. Through experts, it tells the story of how Christ transforms a life of sexual brokenness to one of victory through Him.

COVENANT-EYESOriginal blog post can be found at Covenant Eyes, a Josh McDowell Ministry partner. Learn more at SetFreeSummit.org.

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