Guest Post by ‘Someone with Experience’
The following was sent to me by an Orthodox Jew who deals professionally with people who have porn addictions and related problems. He is also very knowledgeable in matters of Halacha and Hashkafa. He has however chosen to remain anonymous. So without giving away his identity, I will only say that he is someone whose opinion I truly value. What follows are his words unedited in their entirety.
Here are a few facts (or opinions) from someone with experience:
1) Sexual addictions exist (despite the DSM), and can have withdrawal symptoms.
2) Every addiction has a satiation point. One can drink/drug until passing out, or OD/poisoning. One can gamble until all money is gone. Even sexual behavior has its satiation point. In contrast, porn lacks an end point. It is visual stimulation, and it is only through imagery that one gets any excitement from it. Since it is close to endless, it has potential to become extremely ingrained.
3) The porn addict is not so because his wife fails to satisfy him. She is not responsible. Rather, everyone has desires, and needs to learn how to channel them toward kedusha and marriage rather than to leave them unbridled.
4) Porn addiction existed before internet. The internet just rendered this accessible to every computer and most cell phones.
5) Today’s streets lack tznius, even in the frummest neighborhoods. Women circulate, and the eyes of men wander all the time. One gadol stated clearly that a man who has just seen something on the street is not evil or guilty, but the second glance is the issur. Even a tzniusdige style can be provocative to a gazer.
6) The points about education prior to marriage were valid, but omitted one basic aspect. Our Chasanim and Kallahs generally have a teacher for halachos. Sadly, many of these are far from competent. Since they are often the first authority figures that engage in discussing these subjects, they are first to be consulted by newlyweds. Here is where their incompetence shines. And if these incompetents are then the "experts" consulted for Shalom Bayis problems, or even porn viewing, some people are in a lot of trouble.
7) The most important message needed for the prevention and rehabilitation for porn addiction is that human sexuality exists within a spiritual and emotional context. It is a human (animalistic) drive that becomes holy when contained and properly channeled. It becomes unholy and frankly animal when left to just satisfying lust.
8) In healthy marriage, there are no secrets. No hidden accounts, friendships, activities. Keeping such secrets fosters the "bungalow colony" syndromes that were discussed in recent articles.
9) As a community, we have been unnecessarily lax in permitting inter-gender relationships, so that the couples A and B will get together, with considerable discussion between Mr. A and Mrs. B. and vice versa. These relationships are halachically problematic, and even where one might challenge the stringency about the din, they are not smart. Similar inter-gender cavorting can occur in work situations, and these also need to be recognized as potential danger zones. Casual discussion of personal subjects was once taboo, but that is no longer the case. The dangers are very real. Deviancy has been defined downward, and much of prior taboo is accepted today. That is not for our ultimate good. Our chachomim used prophetic foresight in telling us, "Al tarbeh sichoh im ho'isho."
10) Anything a husband does that involves sexuality outside of the marital relationship will be experienced by the wife as betrayal, even if no other person was involved (such as voyeurism or porn). If such behavior is kept secret, it can create barriers where none should be. If not, the wife will likely feel terribly hurt and violated.
11) Marriage cures singlehood, nothing else. It will not change a man's libido nor his choices for how to satisfy it. That is determined by his adherence to moral values. It will not change his tendency to be impulsive, tense, depressed, or anything else. As one of the marriage books states, "Marriage is not a hospital."
12) Check out the website "guardureyes". It links to support systems, treatment professionals, literature and other print and online resources, filters, and monitors.
13) Filters control what material is permitted to enter your computer. Filters are not foolproof, and some people know how to "beat the system" and circumvent the filter. Monitoring software tracks the internet activity, and reports this to a designated outside party. There is a well known Rov in Brooklyn who requires every member of his kehila who has internet access to install such software and designate him as the receiver of the report. Some of these tools are available for cell phones as well.
14) Lastly, the world seems to have imposed universal internet activity on us, whether we like it or not. There is so much of business transaction that must involve internet access, and it is only getting stronger. We cannot download food, but it is soon that even grocery shopping will be more online than in stores. It is important to discuss the problems associated with porn. It is more important to develop better methods to build in protection in our computer use, and to build ourselves up as a "Mamleches Kohanim Vegoy Kodosh" so we are better able to resist the many temptations that comprise our environment.