The new ebook The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It is a secular argument by psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan that “an addiction to video games and online porn have created a generation of shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed, and risk-adverse young men who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school, and employment.”

At the DG blog, Russell Moore explores this from a Christian perspective.

But porn and video games both are built on novelty, on the quest for newer and different experiences. That’s why you rarely find a man addicted to a single pornographic image. He’s entrapped in an ever-expanding kaleidoscope.

There’s a key difference between porn and gaming.

Pornography can’t be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral.

A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition.

But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long.

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy.

Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger.

The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core.

He goes on to look at Satan’s strategy as upending God’s original intention:

Satan isn’t a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose.

God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality, in the self-giving union with his wife.

And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.

The drive to the ecstasy of just love and to the valor of just war are gospel matters.

The sexual union pictures the cosmic mystery of the union of Christ and his church.

The call to fight is grounded in a God who protects his people, a Shepherd Christ who grabs his sheep from the jaws of the wolves.

He also looks at the ways in which these addictions “foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression.”

The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation.

The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one’s life.

In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one’s reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.

You can read the whole thing here.

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14 thoughts on “Why Are So Many Guys Addicted to Internet Porn and Video Games?”

  1. Yuriy S says:

    I am glad that Moore notes the big difference between different types of gaming and all porn. Where the use of porn is a perversion of normal Christian sexuality, compulsive or addictive gaming is the perversion of simple entertainment and harmless competition which includes casual gaming.

    The original article in CNN was a perfect example of terrible journalism and implied the two were the exactly the same and even mentioned that the worlds most popular video game is likely one of the causes that a schizophrenic mass murderer went on a murder spree. In the comments young guys rightly noted that millions play that game and don’t go on murder rages and because of the ignorant journalist discounted the whole article and the whole idea. I think unless we begin to talk coherently and without ignorant sensationalism we cannot expect anyone to listen.

  2. Dave Moore says:

    Very interesting irony with Zimbardo writing this book.

    In the late 1980s, I sat in on one of his big, Intro. to Psych. classes at Stanford. He was engaging and well-liked by the students, however he put some slides up of explicit pornographic material and added some humorous remarks.

    I trust he has changed!

  3. Matthew says:

    As a 21 year old gamer, I would just like to point out that it isn’t about the dangerous rush for me. I play a lot of simulators as well (SimCity and Minecraft for example) and there’s the strategy that goes into it as well. People are quick to call games something that is corrupting our youth, but thanks to games I’ve learnt history, tactics, planning, being able to think and react quickly, aesthetic design, being able to maximise gain while minimising loss (Min/maxing character stats/damage, budgets, etc) and teamwork.

    There’s also a huge competitive scene out there that brings the community together just as much as football or other such sports do. If you’re going to blame this for things that are going on then why not blame a violent sport like football or martial arts? Those with violent tendencies have bigger problems being able to separate fact from fiction and shouldn’t drag the rest of us down with it.

    1. Chris Julien says:

      Matthew, hear me out. I too am 21, and have logged countless hours in video games. I’ve played WoW for over 2000 hours and was a top-playing Rogue; I mean I was pretty freakin good at PvP, which involves much, much strategy. I have also played Starcraft, the original and 2, which is, as I’m sure you know, an RTS military-based game which requires endless strategy and thought at the highest levels.

      It might not be the dangerous rush for us, as you noted, but the strategy. That’s definitely true for me. And it may seem like you’ve learned a lot of the attributes that you’ve mentioned. But still, I disagree with you. You actually haven’t learned history nearly as well as you would have if you had devoted time to scholarly, in depth articles that dealt not only with historical facts but also with underlying worldviews, religions, and differing philosophical interpretations of those historical events. Sure, you and I have learned a limited form of planning and tactics- but one that involves images, not real people. The lives of the characters in our games are expendable.

      And I actually do think a critique of national sports is way overdue. But I don’t think that pointing out an inconsistency with an “equal opponent” negates the arguments that have been made. We still have to deal with the charges that are being made, not only point out the “inconsistency” with our love of national sports.

      In short, I think our love for strategy can be redeemed. There are better, more significant, and wiser ways to foster these natural dispositions that we have been given by God.

      I wrote this quickly, and I’m sure it’s not very clear- but please know that in all of this, I am a 21 year old convinced that I have actually wasted years of my life playing video games, not for the glory of God, but for trivial and pointless “fun.” The question for me is not “Am I allowed to do this?” but “is it wise to do this? Is this how I should spend the time that God has given me?” And more and more I’ve realized that no, it is not wise to devote time to video games.

      God bless.

  4. Keep Asking says:

    The pull of pornography for me is *not* that it offers orgasm without intimacy. Rather it offers intimacy, acceptance, and a feeling of warmth and excitement. It fails to deliver on any of those things but that it what it offers and why it is so powerful. The promise, especially of soft-core porn (I’ve never really found hard-core porn appealing but realise that others do because they are struggling with different issues)is that there is a woman who wants you, who is there for you and will do anything for you. She accepts you as you are. She offers an acceptance that is rarely found in other relationships, even in the church. Of course it is a lie. She doesn’t care about me. She’s not even there anymore, but the lie is appealing which is why it can be so hard to fight against.

  5. Why Are.. says:

    Here we go again. Another article that merely “describes” the problem. Of course we all know that this is a horrendous issue that needs to be addressed head on. But all these so-called experts are doing are describing the problem and in effect beating a dead horse. When will someone put out a step by step, no-nonsense, practical approach that actually provides a way out? If there is even a way out? I would love to live without the internet, and hence no temptation. But virtually everything is online these days (school related, work related, church related,etc). God help us!

    1. TommyH says:

      Go to http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/courses/way-of-purity/

      This is a great gospel-centered 60 day course on sexual purity. Check it out.

    2. Keep Asking says:

      I second the recommendation for the SCF course. Some of the verses they use are sometimes out of context but it’s still really good with a massively helpful emphasis on application and mentors who give great feedback.

      1. Keep Asking says:

        In terms of ways to get out of pornography, I hope the following reflection will be of help to people:

        Last night I spent time reflecting more on what the Bible says about pornography and I had a new insight when I wrote the following in response to a question that my pastor had written for me some time ago.

        “Why does God hate pornography? How does God feel about the pornography itself and how does he feel about the condition of your heart that leads you to pornography?

        Why does God hate pornography?
        God hates pornography because: 1. It is the opposite of what he designed sex for. Primarily he designed sex to be a picture of the love and intimacy between Christ and the church in which he gives himself to us and we receive from him as we submit to him. The relationship between Christ and the Church is fruitful. Just as sex produces the fruit of children, so the union between Christ and the church produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control and it also produces more believers as the elect see the love we have for each other and are persuaded by the gospel. Pornography tells lies about Christ. When I look at pornography I tell lies about Christ because instead of lovingly giving myself to a woman, I use her for selfish pleasure and then discard her. 2. God hates pornography because it degrades and destroys the people involved. However, this is a lesser reason than it telling lies about Christ.

        How does God feel about the pornography itself?
        He hates it with a passion because it tells lies about Christ. It’s not the case that he’s OK with the pornography itself because he has seen naked women before. He hates it because it is the result of Satan’s campaign to slander Jesus his Son. That too is how I should feel about it. How can I flirt with it when this is how God feels about it!

        How does God feel about the condition of my heart that leads me to pornography?
        He hates it. Were it not for his electing love towards me he would hate me for it too, but he has chosen me and he is passionately committed to destroying this condition of my heart. Jesus came to destroy sin. He came to destroy the work of Satan and he will destroy this condition of my heart.”

        This is a new thought to me and incredibly helpful. I haven’t thought before that in looking at pornography I am telling lies about Christ. I love Jesus and I certainly do not want to tell lies about him but that is what I’m doing when I look at pornography. This is making me have a hatred towards it that I haven’t experienced before

  6. Neither a lover nor a fighter…So sad.

    I often wonder what it must have been like to have been David, on the run from the very king God had anointed, and learning to trust God even when powerful men sought his life.

    I find that it’s in the face of opposition that the psalms start to really come to life, and you really feel desperate for the sweetness of scripture. It’s not just porn and gaming which makes men unfit for service…it can be prosperity, peace and leisure: the very things which led David to sin with Bathsheba. They can make us wooly and unfocussed.

    We need to pray for the strength to be ready to live the kind of life that our great heroes of the faith led, I think.

  7. Martureo says:

    I suppose the danger arise when gaming (or any hobbies) consumes all your mind, time and passion, and it replaces God in our lives, that’s when we know, we have an issue of idolatry at hand.

  8. Many guys are addicted to watching sports as well. It’s not quite so solitary as gaming, but equally meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

    I don’t understand sports addiction at all, though I quite enjoy watching the odd game of soccer.

    I do know how addictive gaming can be…I enjoy them, and they can be very helpful for relaxation just like a novel, but I find I have to set boundaries, like not choosing games which are likely to draw me in for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Some games you can play for hours and hours, and you end up dreaming about them, and your whole sense of accomplishment gets tied to how you’re doing in the game. I think God gives us a certain amount of resolve for the day ahead, so we need to be careful what we spend it on.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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