The War in Heaven was fought over one major issue. Agency.
That war is still raging and each of us is caught in the middle of it whether we would like to be or not and whether we know it or not. Since entering into recovery, my eyes have been opened in so many ways. But I guess that is what happens when your mind is lifted out of the fog and your heart and soul are thawed.
So many of us have had our agency compromised. Many of us have been painfully aware of this for sometime. I knew I was an addict and even called myself one in my teens. I didn’t enter recovery until I was 30. So it takes more than simple recognition. I didn’t realize, however, the myriads of ways my agency had been compromised other than pornography.
I have touched on this lightly in other posts, but chemically, their isn’t much difference between eating fatty, sugary foods and watching porn. Chemically, there isn’t much difference between watching porn and playing video games. Chemically there isn’t much difference between watching porn and binging and purging in bulimic or anorexic behavior. Chemically, there isn’t much difference between gambling and watching porn. Nor is there much difference chemically between doing drugs and watching porn. Morally, socially, emotionally etc, it may be very different, but chemically, these are very similar.
Each one of these substance or behavioral addictions share the addiction chemical dopamine. Each one of these produce an unhealthy over-dose of this “feel good” drug. This overdose may be induced by what you take into your body systemically, ie drugs and food, or by behaviors like binging and purging, rewards from gambling or video games, or the arousal and orgasm brought on by pornography and acting out sexually. All are unnatural, superficial and fantasy. And all usually lead to shame cycles, regret, resolve to abstain or improve, followed by uncontrolled relapses, binges and years of regret and missed opportunities in love, careers, family and life.
What is interesting is how blind I was to much of that. While I was aware of my addiction to pornography, it wasn’t until I entered into recovery that I saw the interesting parallels of cardboard butterflies all around me. In my post on cardboard butterflies, I talked about the experiment done by the etymologist that made brighter colored and bigger shaped female butterflies out of cardboard and watched as the males ditched their efforts to mate with a real female in favor of the false apparition placed before them. There are obvious parallels there for porn but what about food? Is that not exactly the same phenomena we see on every shelf…in every store…everywhere??? Place a veggie tray next to a plate of donuts and see which gets emptied first. Just as porn is engineered fantasy to keep you coming back for more, much of the food we eat is processed with chemical additives to make it taste better, make it look better, make it smell better. It has been engineered to light up the reward centers in your brain so that you come crawling back and buy another bag of this, box of that.
I have a good friend who’s sister is a neuroscientist that works for Frito-Lay. Her job is literally to formulate the compounds in the flavoring for the chips to do just that. Billions of dollars of research, marketing, government lobbying, packaging, design, etc go into developing and maintaining a product to make sure that YOU buy it over and over again. And why would you buy something that you know is slowly poisoning you and destroying your ability to be healthy and to make healthy decisions in the future? I mean, we all know stuffing our faces with pizza, chips and soda are gonna kill us, rot our teeth and give us heart disease and diabetes, but we continue, week after week, to buy the same crap and haul it home. So again, why? Simply, we are addicted.
The definition of Behavioral Addiction: is a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug-related behavior – sometimes called a natural reward – despite any negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social or financial well-being.
We are addicted to food in this country in a horrible way. And not just food to survive, I am talking fatty, sugary, cholesterol loaded garbage. 1/3 of the country has or will have diabetes and that number continues to climb. Heart disease and cancer run rampant. Obesity is becoming the new normal. Why? Because what chance does anyone have when they are introduced to addictive refined dietary chemical substances when they are infants, it is socially acceptable and often even part of their family, religious or communal heritage to continue to eat those things? It is so pervasive that nobody even bats an eye when after church Granny needs her diet Coke so she doesn’t get a headache or so she doesn’t get more crotchety than she already is. Or after Sunday dinner everyone gathers for a birthday and stuffs their face with cake and ice cream, all while their dopamine receptors are being overdosed by the unnatural abundance of sugar adding to their insulin resistance and pushing them that much closer to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. It is so pervasive that nobody even blinks when you indulge in that addiction in plain site or with all of your loved ones that are also addicted.
To be frank, it is not far removed from the idea that a porn addict could indulge in porn in plain site, masturbate or act out, all while hanging out with family or friends that are doing the same thing AND that being completely socially normal or encouraged. Then imagine if you suggested trying to stop doing that or started talking about a “diet” of sorts to abstain from such activities only to be laughed at by your own family or friends saying how they “could never do that”, or how that is “ridiculous to even try”. Obviously socially and spiritually that is not the same thing. And I am not equating the gravity of sexual sin to drinking a coke or eating birthday cake, but chemically, it is basically the same process.
When one realizes the widespread hold the devil has on our agency, it becomes interesting to witness the judgement and condemnation that comes from people that are addicted to their own form of dopamine overdose and blindly judge or attack those that are addicted to or are trying to overcome a different form of dopamine overdose and addiction.
I have heard it many times coming from the pews or comments in Sunday School about a friend or relative that is getting a divorce, “because her husband was addicted to porn” and their is usually an audible gasp of disgust that follows, or nods of affirmation from those listening, as if to voice their approval of the divorce because “obviously he must be a pervert of some kind” therefore divorce is the obvious conclusion. Even though a great deal of those voicing their condemnation are addicted to the exact same chemical, would qualify as morbidly obese and will be cracking a diet Coke open as soon as they get home from church/repenting. Sadly, when it comes to sexual addictions the motif among churchgoers is often, “He who is without THAT sin, let him first cast a stone at her”.
And as such, 50% of the congregation suffers silently in their addiction, too scared or too ashamed to come out of the shadows because they too have seen the shameful “flogging” and divorces that often follow. 80% of current missionaries serving have struggled with pornography before their missions. And as any addict knows, without proper help, that means that 100% of that 80% is destined for painful relapses post mission and lots of pain, heartache, future divorces, broken hearts and broken families in the years to come. If only they could, as publicly and shame-free as one would announce on Facebook that they are going to start eating only organic, non-processed foods to help with their newly diagnosed cancer or diabetes, announce to their families and to their congregations that they are seeking help and support to overcome satan’s single most devastating tool of destruction in the history of man’s existence.
Those that stand with such confessions and pleas for help should not be condemned! They should not be judged!! At least not by us! They should be applauded, for standing up, stepping forward out of the fog of addiction and actively enlisting in The War. We need brave soldiers now! The War is the same since the beginning. We chose agency. Satan is determined to show God that we would have preferred his agency-less plan. At the moment, from my vantage point, we are collectively losing but with God and the Redeemer of the World, we are ultimately destined to win. Enlist now. A true soldier fights in teams, not on his or her own. Come fight with me. I would be honored to have you in my combat unit.