Over the course of the next couple weeks I’m going to summarize Challies’ newest book “Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn.” Here is a brief summary and some additional thoughts on the first two chapters.
In the first chapter Challies spends some time prefacing the purpose and audience of his book. His purpose finds its genesis in the simple fact that the overwhelming majority of men (dare I say all) have been influenced by pornography. In fact, even Challies himself acknowledges that despite growing up before the internet phenomenon he wasn’t and still isn’t immune from the influence of pornography. The audience, to which he’s writing is young, married men. Some may scoff at his exclusion of single men, but his rationale is simple and true and mentioned in three good reasons; “most of you will get married, marriage is the central human institution, and sexuality and marriage are inseparable” (Challies, pp. 15).
Challies’ explanation of detox is helpful and eye-opening as it relates to the contamination of pornography. He writes, “detoxification actually takes place in your body every day as various organs transform or get rid of things that aren’t good for you. When someone has been chemically poisoned or exposed to too much radiation, the body needs some help, and detoxification becomes more intentional, more of a medical procedure. A third kind of detox is the popular meaning. This kind of detox takes place when someone is trying to be freed of addiction to drugs or alcohol. In each case, the basic idea is the same. Something has gotten inside you that doesn’t belong there and needs to be removed. If it stays or builds up, you will only get sicker. You might even die” (Challies, pp. 16). You don’t need to be brilliant to see the spiritual connection and ramifications of his words as they relate to the evilness of pornography.
Challies outlines three ways young, married men need to view pornography. First, they need to see it as mocking God’s plan for sex. Sex is meant to be an act that fosters unity between husband and wife, whereas pornography advocates anything but “body-to-body, soul-to-soul contact” (Challies, pp. 18). Secondly, pornography is violent. Pornography “is inherently violent, inherently unloving. It is not about mutual love and caring and commitment, but about conquests and vanquishing” (Challies, pp. 19). Lastly, pornography is progressive. This perhaps is the most-scary characteristic of pornography of all and sin in general; sin always wants more and never fully satisfies the individual. Sin, as Challies writes, “will always demand more of you. And meanwhile, as you have been more or less certain that you’ve been controlling your sin, it has actually been controlling you. Subtly, unrelentingly, it has reshaped your mind and your heart in very real ways” (Challies, pp. 21).
Pornography vs. Marriage
Challies begins this chapter by rightly assuming that the young men he encounters have already had exposure to pornography. His rationale is that pornography is just too accessible for a man not to indulge in some capacity at some point in his life; this truth has the potential to bring great harm and tragedy to a marriage. For instance, pornography “has unique power to damage a marriage because it is ultimately about self, not union. Indulging in pornography is a form of psychological isolation, a withdrawal into a tiny world of self-gratification” (Challies, pp. 26).
With regards to pornography and marriage, Challies states that many young men falsely believe that their struggles with pornography or masturbation will be immediately solved once they get married. However, he wisely states that “sin is almost certainly lying dormant, crouching at the door, awaiting an opportune moment. It may take weeks or months or even years. But sooner or later it will rear its ugly head once again. It may have happen when your wife travels for a few days or when you find yourself alone in a hotel room in a strange city” (Challies, pp. 28). Why is this? Simply put – the outward struggle is a manifestation of the inner struggle. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:18-20, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defiles a person.” Thus, Challies insightfully shares that there must be a spiritual replacement; “as in all matters of spiritual growth, you need to replace lies with truth, and an unholy practice with a holy one” (Challies, pp. 29).
So what’s the solution you’re asking (me too)? The solution to “getting free and staying free are different things but they involve the same process: repentance, putting off the old, and putting on the new. You need to practice all three, on a regular basis, for the rest of your life” (Challies, pp. 30).