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TV Can Rot Your Brain

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TV can rot your brain

From Eternity Newspaper

 

CULTURE | Mark Hadley

 

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Brain damage just isn’t what it used to be. Science is revealing that our ultimate organ is in fact far more capable of repair than we ever imagined. However, just as startling is the news that it’s far more easily injured than we’ve previously suspected, and unplugging our brains in front of a range of screens really can rot your morals.

First, the good news…

When my wife and I first heard our doctor tell us our son had “something wrong with his brain” our hearts fell. We thought of the brain as something like a horribly complicated Swiss watch: mess around with the innards and you’ll never get it ticking again. But in the years that followed we learned that a Lego masterpiece was a far better analogy. The brain can be taught to rearrange and substitute pieces for missing ones, laying down new neural pathways to achieve startling results. A damaged young mind could recover in ways that left scientists scratching their heads, and the key often lay in what the brain was trained to concentrate on.

Probably the most famous case in recent times is that of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, who describes herself as “…a woman born with severe learning disabilities that caused teachers to label [me] slow, stubborn or worse.” But her book The Woman Who Changed Her Brain outlines how she used cognitive exercises to change the structure of her mind. Literally, diligent concentration = sustained transformation. I know, it sounds a bit like snake oil but the process is far more than a new shine on “positive thinking”. Targeted, sustained exercises have achieved what scientists now sagely refer to as neuroplasticity: the nervous system’s ability to respond to stimuli by reorganising its structure, functions and connections.(1) And it isn’t a process that’s restricted to the developing mind. Researcher Dr Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself, lists remarkable cases in which adult stroke and injury victims manage truly remarkable recoveries through the same approach. Yes, our brain is much more malleable than we ever imagined, right up into adulthood.

Interesting, I know, but this is a popular culture column, right? Well, now the bad news…What we train our brains to concentrate on matters more than we previously thought.

According to the journal Nature Neuroscience: “The brain is constantly being shaped, wittingly and unwittingly, by environmental forces … The circuitry that has been implicated in social and emotional behaviour appears to be importantly shaped by experience.” (2)

Put crudely, our experiences can amount to brain surgery. For example, William Struthers in his book, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks The Male Brain, picks up on the changes sustained exposure to sexual imagery can make to the way the brain operates. It’s early days yet, but it seems that by diligently concentrating on negative content we don’t just form bad habits—we run the risk of rewiring the way our brains perceive pleasure, so that righteousness becomes a physically harder choice.

I believe I’ve seen this sort of sustained transformation: a leaning towards violent TV leading to a perpetually angry character; a taste for horror films leaving the viewer craving more inventive suffering. And yes, I’m aware of the irony that these observations come from a professional reviewer. These days I pray that God will protect me every time the lights go down.

This month fans of Brad Pitt will consider buying a ticket to Killing Them Softly, a film about a criminal enforcer who talks about common decency even as he arranges brutal bashings. Meanwhile, TV viewers will anticipate the third season of The Walking Dead, an internationally successful series about a world overrun by zombies. And shoppers will be tempted to pick up Underbelly: Badness, the DVD series about ruthless gangland boss Anthony “Rooster” Perish. The first contains images you’ll want to forget; the second presents the hacking up of human bodies as entertainment; the third turns a thug into a captivating villain. All could contribute to the reshaping of a healthy brain.

This could be alarming news were it not for the Bible beating us to the punch once again. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi finishes with the apostle’s encouragement to diligently train their minds with the right material:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.” (Phil 4:8-9)

Putting these things into practice even before we feel like doing them is crucial for neurologists and Christians alike. Decades before anyone thought of neuroplasticity, C.S. Lewis realised that the brain had to be trained by habit before we could expect the results we desire: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets… If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”(3)

The sustained transformation the Apostle Paul was looking for at Philippi was a personality characterised by the “peace of God” rather than the lust, anger or disinterest that conform to popular culture. If we’re truly going to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we’ll do well to weed out the content that threatens to rot our brains.

References

1) Cramer, S, et.al., “Harnessing neuroplasticity for clinical applications”, Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 2011: 134; 1591–1609, 2) Davidson Richard J & Bruce S McEwen, “Social influences on neuroplasticity…”, Nature Neuroscience 15/5 [May 2012], 3) Lewis  C.S., 1997, Mere Christianity, Harper Collins, London, 108.

 

Safe Internet For Your Kids

Want Safe Internet For Your Kids?

As a dad I am personally responsible for the protection of my kids. The Internet whilst full of many useful and positive things can also prove to be a great danger to our kids.

We have posted some disturbing statistics and information regarding pornography and dangers of the internet  on Men Of Courage in the past, such as

Just One Click

The Truth About The Sex Trade And Pornography

7  Dangers Of The Internet For Kids

4 Reasons Men Like Porn

And Just to highlight a few:

  • More than 1 in 8 web searches are for erotic content.
  • 79% of youth’s unwanted exposures to Internet porn take place in the home.
  • Before the age of 18, 83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.

 

So How Can You Provide Safe Internet For Your Kids?

In the past parental controls like keeping the computer in a public place in the home and software solutions may have been adequate. However now with Tablets, WiFi enabled phones, Ipods, Xbox and many other portable devices you care to name.  Software alone is no longer able to ensure inappropriate content is not shown on our kids devices (short of taking them away).

That is until recently, a WiFi modem now exists which enables you to control the content that will be visible on any WiFi device, this effectively allows you to give age appropriate internet acess to all the members of your family. if you would like to know more about this modem visit www.safelysurfing.com

I have one at home and it has given me piece of mind that my kids are safe online, in my mind it was a small price to pay to protect my kids online.

 

7 Dangers Of The Internet For Kids

7 Dangers of the Internet for Kids

7 Dangers of the Internet for Kids

The World Wide Web is the greatest invention since the printing press. Nothing else has so radically shaped culture, media, commerce, entertainment, and communication. But with these benefits come great dangers all parents should know about.

1. Pornography – Warping the minds of youth

Repeatedly viewing pornography, especially from a young age, can radically shape one’s sexual attitudes and beliefs. Frequent exposures to sexually explicit material is closely linked to more permissive attitudes about sex, such as having multiple sexual partners, “one night stands,” cynicism about the need for affection between sexual partners, casual sexual relations with friends, and even mimicking behaviors seen in pornography.

2. Sexting – The unsafe ‘safe sex’

Sexting is sending or receiving nude or partially nude photos or videos through the Internet or cell phones. When teens engage in this risky behavior, many things can go wrong. These images are easy to forward on to others. At times, these images can be considered “child pornography,” and some teens have already been given felony charges.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 teens who receive a sext share it with someone else.
  • 20% of teens have sent or posted a nude or semi-nude image of themselves.
  • Of those who have sent sexts, 76% of girls and 57% of guys sent it to get someone else to like them.

3. Cyberbullying – The mean way kids treat each other online

Bullying happens on both the playground and in the digital world. Hurtful words are exchanged. Rumors start easily and spread quickly. Profiles and e-mails are hacked. And these types of activities are common today:

4. Predators – Those seeking to ensnare our children

The Internet is a perfect forum to meet new people, but some with malicious intent can use it to “befriend” your child. Internet predators are expert manipulators, able to foster a relationship of dependence with a teenager. Most prey on a teen’s desire to be liked, their desire for romance, or their sexual curiosity. Often a predator “grooms” a child through flattery, sympathy, and by investing time in their online relationship. These can then turn into offline relationships or, in extreme cases, opportunities for kidnapping or abduction.

  • 76% of predators are 26 or older.
  • 47% of offenders are 20 years old than their victims.
  • 83% of victims who met their offender face-to-face willingly went somewhere with them.

5. Gaming – More risks of exposure to sexual media and interactions

While online and console games can be very fun, educational, and interactive, there are also hidden dangers. Much of the content of some games include sexual content, violence, and crude language. Plus, Internet-connected games enable kids to interact with strangers, some of which can be bad influences or mean your kids harm.

  • 82% of children say they are current gamers.[MoC comment: with the proliferation of iPods, iPads and gaming-ready smartphones, this is not a surprising stat. The question is what kinds of games, with what maturity rating, for how long, and with whom are they playing (if they’re multiplayer games). If you’ve got internet for kids’ usage at home, it’s worth considering these points.]
  • One-third of teen gamers (ages 15-17) report playing games with people they first met online.[MoC comment: this one’s a little bit of an odd statistic, since all online games involve meeting people online. Depending on the game, playing with or against an unknown person is not a concern in and of itself. If that online game leads to ingame chat (text chat or ingame voice chat), then yes it could potentially go down an unsafe path. I wouldn’t consider it a major danger of the internet for kids, but again depending on the game, parents may wish to restrict ingame chat / voice options to reduce / eliminate an onslaught of bad language or sexual comments. Parental discretion advised here.]
  • 13% of underage teenagers were able to buy Mature-rated games between November 2010 and January 2011.

6. Social Networks – Redefining privacy

Social networks like Facebook are very popular online activities. But parents should be aware of the image their teens are projecting as well as the influences they are absorbing online.

7. YouTube – ‘Broadcast yourself’ culture means anything goes

YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing website. But because anyone can upload anything to YouTube, often videos can break the Community Guidelines for YouTube, and even those that do not can still be full of sexual innuendo, provocative content, and foul language.

  • 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (about 8 years of content uploaded every day).
  • Over 3 billion videos are viewed every day on YouTube.
  • Users upload the equivalent of 240,000 full length films every week.

 

More Information About Internet For Kids

The above is Part Two in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series in partnership with Covenant Eyes. Read Part One. Part Two was originally posted at Covenant Eyes here.

Now, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the negatives of the internet. What’s important is that as parents, we keep open communication so that we can keep things safe on the internet for kids so they can enjoy all the benefits it offer without getting snared by the risks.

4 Reasons Men Like Porn

 

4 Reasons Men Like Porn

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Four in a four-part BCC Grace & Truthblog mini-series in partnership with Covenant Eyes. Read Part OnePart Two, and Part Three. Part Four was originally posted at Covenant Eyes here.

A Conversation Guide for Accountability Partners

One of the tasks of a good friend or accountability partner to someone who is entrenched in pornography is to help them understand their own heart.Why do they run to porn again and again? Solomon reminds us that “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water” (we often can’t see our own motivations) “but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5, parenthesis added). A wise friend helps to draw out of others the deeper motivations they are unable or unwilling to see in themselves.

As an accountability partner, it is important to understand the allure of pornography: What deeper motivations keep men coming back to it again and again? What are good accountability questions we can ask to get to the root of the problem?

1. Porn is easy, but relationships are hard.

Relationships, especially our closest relationships, involve work. Every day we are required to care what’s going on in others’ lives. We must put up with sour moods, offensive behavior, and selfishness—both in ourselves and in others.

In contrast, porn offers men a feeling of risk-free intimacy. Pornography offers men a fantasy world where they are required to know nobody, require no romance, and no self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. And for many men the payoff is great: not only can they avoid the messiness of real relationships, they can also feel the delight of a million virtual women catering to their every whim.

Good Accountability Question: Has there been a relationship in your life recently that has been unusually difficult?

2. Porn is comfortable, but life is stressful.

In life things go wrong. Expectations are frustrated. People let us down. Tragedies happen. We get sick. We get tired. We get into sharp disagreements. Life is stressful.

Porn, by contrast, offers a very comfortable world where nothing goes wrong. Porn offers a ready-made setting where we know we will get exactly what we want.

Of course, we know it’s fake. It’s like professional wrestling or “reality” TV. As Chris Hedges says in his book Empire of Illusion, the success of these forms of entertainment lies not in fooling us that these stories are real. “Rather, it succeeds because we ask to be fooled. We happily pay for the chance to suspend reality.”

Good Accountability Question: Have there been any stresses in your life recently which have brought on a feeling of pressure or strain?

3. Porn is exciting, but life is boring.

The word “boredom” first started being used by French authors when they wrote about that feeling of discontentment when life gets tedious. While the feeling of boredom has probably always been around, it is only in the last 300 years we have seen it become a social epidemic. Blaise Pascal said boredom is the plight of a modern man when “he lacks distraction and has no absorbing passion or pastime.”

Boredom is one of the fruit of a leisure culture. As wealth and free time increase, so does our hunger for distraction. As we come to expect constant stimulation and excitement, the day-to-day can seem dull by comparison. With Google at our fingertips, information is everywhere, but we easily become detached, anonymous spectators, rarely taking risks of vulnerable involvement or passionate commitment—rarely acting on what we know. Culturally we are guilty of what Dorothy Sayers calls the sin of tolerance, “the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

Porn offers a world of sexual excitement to our bored minds. Porn is a highly sexualized form of the image-based culture in which we live, a world where billions of pictures are painting a thousand words at break-neck speeds. Porn offers a fantasy of pure sexual stimulation.

Good Accountability Question: Have you found yourself bored or itching for excitement? Do you feel like your life is mundane?

4. Porn makes men feel powerful, but real life makes them feel powerless.

It is easy to feel small in the world. We intuitively know the world does not revolve around us, but this doesn’t stop us from wishing it did. We want others to pay attention to us, to treat us as important, to put us first. This desire can be so strong at times we can actually begin to feel entitled to it: we want a little corner of the world where we are kings.

Porn offers men a deluge of power. In a man’s porn-fed fantasy, the girls never say no. In pornography there are no social barriers between a man and the woman of his dreams. Pornography sells the idea that beautiful women are trophies–collectibles that show the watching world what a real man really is. Pornography also sexualizes male dominance, allowing men to fantasize about a world where women enjoy being treated as objects.

Good Accountability Question: Have you been in any situations recently that made you feel belittled, unimportant, or disrespected?

The Biblical Goal of Accountability Questions

The reason accountability partners should ask these pointed questions is not to “psychologize” sins away. Rather, the goal of good accountability questions is to use them as a springboard to focus our thoughts on benefits of the gospel of Christ more than the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Each question opens a door to living out Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

  • When we ask the question, “Has there been a relationship in your life recently that has been unusually difficult?” the goal is to help others see how they are looking to a particular relationship to make them feel pleasure or fulfillment (thus, a relationship that is always letting them down). We can then point them to the fullness of joy and satisfaction that comes from Christ (John 15:1-1116:16-24Romans 15:13).
  • When we ask the question, “Have there been any stresses in your life recently which have brought on a feeling of pressure or strain?” the goal is to help them see that they are using porn as an escape from life. We can then point them to the psalmists who saw God as their refuge (Psalms 46; 59:16-17; 61:1-3; 62:5-8; 91; 142). Instead of escapingfrom reality, we can escape into divine reality.
  • When we ask the questions, “Have you found yourself bored or itching for excitement? Do you feel like your life is mundane?” to goal is to help others see if they have been settling for a life of amusement over a life ofamazement. We can then point them to the excitement of knowing God and obeying him (Matthew 13:442 Corinthians 8:1-2Philippians 1:3-4;Colossians 1:9-141 Peter 1:3-93 John 1:3-4).
  • When we ask the question, “Have you been in any situations recently that made you feel belittled, unimportant, or disrespected?” to goal is to help them see they crave power, importance, and esteem from men more than they crave the favor of God. Jesus asked, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). We can point them to the eternal glory the Father gives to Christ, and that as Christians we share Christ’s glory because He lives in us (John 17:20-24Romans 2:6-10Colossians 1:24-29).

The truth about the sex trade and pornography

Unearthing Sexual Exploitation

When Unearthed was formed, we had our hearts set on producing a documentary that would expose the mechanics of the global sex trade. For a solid year, we traveled, filmed, raided brothels, rescued victims, and had our hearts crushed by the magnitude of sexual brokenness that surrounded us. You can watch some of that work here.

When it came time to edit the film, we decided that the last thing the world needed was another depressing documentary that explained how badly sex trafficking sucked. So, we pulled the plug on it, we prayed, we waited, and we listened.

The Root of Trafficking

We all have responsibility to the victims of this injustice, and we’re thrilled that 85% of the money that comes into our doors goes right back out to some of the best organizations in the world that rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the women & children that live in this hell.

But who’s going after the victimizers? Really…who’s made it their ambition to kill this thing at the root? If we rescued every victim today, we’d wake up to a demand for 100+ million new slaves tomorrow. If a victim’s care is the only weapon in this battle, it’ll continue to do a cyclically miserable job of winning.

If we rescued every victim today, we’d wake up to a demand for 100+ million new slaves tomorrow.

We’ve got to go after the heart of the issue, and that is the hearts of men. Men perpetuate the demand in sex slavery. Men in our cities, backyards, and churches can fuel the global sex trade with their “private” sexual decisions, which often create massive global impact.

Take porn for example: a 97 billion dollar per year industry that’s got almost 80% of men and 35% of women ensnared. Americans spend so much on porn each year that it breaks down to $50 per person, and we account for only 14% of the global porn share. While specific connections can be hard to trace, we know that porn profits directly fund the acquisition of new women and children being forced into sex slavery.

The Hearts of Men

Jacob’s story in the video above isn’t an isolated incident. Jesus is continually transforming abusers into protectors; addicts into free men and traffickers into rescuers. Over the next year, we’re creating a film called The Hearts of Men. It’s a raw, unfiltered examination of how sin distorts sex, who’s affected, and how the Gospel changes all of it. We know that to win this war, we need to engage men and right now they aren’t just asleep on the battlefield, they’re fornicating on it. A generation of God’s sons need to be reminded who they are in Christ: chosen, washed, sanctified, and justified.

Men, we’re coming after you, in love, because we know that when the gospel changes you, everything changes.

 

Find out more about Unearthed here

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