—Throughout history, there have always been sins of the flesh and lustful men and women. Dr Kizito Lubano tells how the sheer access to sex and sexual material has exploded the number of people who suffer from this addiction

When Bernard first came open about his sex addiction, he drew attention to a condition many would rather live with, in the closet.

Bernard reveals that during his second marriage, he had multiple affairs; some casual, while others lasted months. In his bedside drawer, were hundreds of pornographic materials, which he kept away from his wife’s knowledge. He wasn’t surprised when he contracted HIV in his second marriage. Now he is going through counseling to heal himself from an addiction that has destroyed his life.

Bernard represents a group of people who doctors say surfer from addiction to sex, a condition akin to other known addictions like getting hooked to drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.

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The 1960`s sexual revolution paved the way for those who revile monogamy to drive the boundaries of shame out of society. Sexual behaviour is now totally acceptable no matter what form it comes in. The problem is, because there are no real boundaries for such behaviour, it has found some form of acceptance in society, and threatening to spill outside societal norm.

There are two generally recognised forms of pornography, one with the label “soft-core” and the other “hard-core.” In the United States, the Supreme Court has equated hard-core pornography with obscenity. Anything else may loosely be called “indecent” material, or soft-core porn.

Sexual material of all kinds is easily accessible through television, movies, music videos, and the Internet. Is this relentless intrusion of sexualised imagery harmless, as many would have us believe?

Effects on adults

Despite what its defenders say, pornography has profoundly negative effects on people’s views of sexual behaviour. Researchers at the National Foundation for Family Research and Education (NFFRE) conclude that “exposure to pornography puts viewers at increased risk for developing sexually deviant tendencies.”

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Perhaps this explains the increase in deviant behaviour in youths. According to the report, “the Rape Myth; belief that rapists are normal, is very widespread in habitual male users of pornography.”

“The repeated use of pornography can interfere with the ability to enjoy and participate in normal marital intimacy,” says Dr Victor Cline, a specialist in treating sex addiction, who has noticed a recurring progression in the use of pornography.

Damage to the youth

Statistics show that the primary consumers of pornography are boys between the ages of 12 and 17. In fact, for many, pornography is their primary source of sexual education. This has very disturbing ramifications.

“Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and Aids,” notes one report, “are completely non-existent in porn, giving a false belief that there are no adverse consequences to behaviours depicted in pornography.”

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Some researchers say that exposure to pornography can also affect the natural development of a child’s brain.

Dr Judith Reisman, president of the Institute for Media Education, concludes: “Health-based neurological observations about the instinctual brain-imprinted response to pornographic sights and sounds indicates that viewing pornography is a biologically significant event that overrides informed consent and that is harmful to children’s ‘plastic’ brains, because it compromises their grasp of reality and thus their mental and physical health, their well-being, and their pursuit of happiness.”

Effects on relationships

Pornography shapes attitudes and influences behaviour. Its messages are enticing primarily because they are fantasy and thus presented as more exciting than the real thing.

“Individuals using pornography set themselves up for unrealistic expectations leading to damaged relationships,” notes one report.

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Pornography can destroy trust and openness, an essential quality in any marriage. Because it is primarily viewed in secret, pornography use often leads to deception and lying. Mates feel betrayed. They do not understand why their marriage partner no longer finds them desirable.

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