What Porn Stole From My Masculinity

Josh Cearbaugh

Marriage, Pornography

It is no secret that a porn addiction is destructive and unhealthy. There has been study after study to scientifically prove it to be true, celebrities like Russell Brand have come out and talked about it, and organizations like Fight The New Drug have openly communicated the reality of it. I’m not going to build a case against porn because it’s already been done. This post is intended to help men open their understanding to the lasting effects porn has on their masculinity and how it slowly erodes away at their soul. How do I know this to be true? Unfortunately, it comes from personal experience.

My story isn’t unique. Unfortunately, it’s far more common than most people are willing to admit.  I was born in the early eighties, and my first introduction to porn was when I was a young teenager. I found a “dirty magazine” next to a dumpster. It’s scary to think of how easily kids can access porn today compared to when I was growing up. That magazine led to a struggle which lasted into my late twenties. The problem with porn is the damage lasts much longer than the struggle. There’s a lasting effect of its deceitful attraction even though you get free from the addiction. So what did porn steal from me over that 15-year period? The short answer is a lot, but let’s dig into the long answer.

 

1. Clarity about my calling in life

One of the many problems with porn is the timing of its introduction into our lives. Most kids can find porn anywhere from 9 – 12 years old, and often even younger. When this happened for me, it clouded my ability to identify my God-given calling. I was drawn into the fatal attraction it presented, and it slowly pulled me away from God’s original plans. That said, God is the Master of working all things together for our good. I don’t think for a second my struggles with porn would have lead to me missing my calling, but it did make finding my calling longer and more painful than it needed to be.

 

2. My sense of self-worth

I would say this is something I still struggle with at times. Maybe we all do to a degree, but it was always hard for me to see the value in myself when I was doing something that made me question my worth. I would say things like “If they only knew the reality of my life they’d never…..” or “I can’t even stop looking at porn, so there’s no way I have much to offer.” I would constantly doubt my self-worth primarily because I felt powerless to my addiction. It caused me to question the validity of my voice into someone’s life, building something for fun, making a decision small or large, and the list goes on.

 

3. The shame…Oh, the shame

It’s impossible to look at porn and not feel shame, especially when you understand that shame is the thing which separates us from God. Porn is nothing more than one of the mechanisms used to introduce shame into our lives. I would often look at porn, masturbate, immediately feel shame, swear I’d never do it again, and repeat. It would lead to me hating this part of myself, which then caused even more shame. Shame heaped upon shame is a great recipe for creating hopelessness and isolation. I felt all alone and powerless to my cycle. I didn’t want anyone to know what was really going on, especially when I was in the midst of doing ministry. Instead of being present and connected to the moment, I was internally feeling sorry for myself and feeling like a fraud.

 

4. My connection to God

This ties into shame, but needs its own point. To be clear, there was a time I wasn’t pursuing God and struggled with porn. During those years I wanted nothing to do with God…. but I had praying parents and a lot of guardian angels that helped keep me alive and eventually helped turn me back to Him. The problem was when I re-committed my life to Christ, the porn addiction didn’t just go away. I know it does for some, but it didn’t for me. I still struggled for years. Each time I would “mess up” and feel shame, it felt impossible to spend time with God. It was as if I wasn’t worthy because of my actions. Not only this, but I felt no connection when I tried to worship. It was like I was singing empty songs that were meant for passionate people who were pure, which wasn’t me. I would often feel a conviction to repent, but the longer I struggled as a Christian, the more it felt like I was repenting knowing I would screw up in the next few days. Since I felt like this, I didn’t want to repent, which in turn made me feel distant.

 

5. Insecurity about my body

If you read my post on sex, or any one of my other posts, then you will know I tend to be somewhat direct. Well, I’m staying true to this by sharing this point. Here’s another deception porn creates: the guys in the videos… um… well… they are often not average by any means. I didn’t know this and always felt embarrassed about the size of my penis. Little did I know that the average size was nothing like what I was seeing in porn.

All I knew as a teenager, and into my twenties, was I didn’t have what they had and it led to me feeling I was less of a man and physically insecure. It wasn’t until my wife would say things like “it’s the perfect size for me” that I began to be okay with how God made me. My wife’s influence along with learning about the reality of men in porn were two factors of many that made me okay with that part of my body.

The same can be said about the physical attributes of a woman in porn (or even modeling in most cases). When women use the women in porn as their standard, it only leads to feeling ashamed of their body instead of loving it.

 

6. Feeling like a failure in bed

This ties into my point above, but it goes a layer deeper than just the size of my penis. I’m referring to my ability to please her. I had put a lot of pressure on myself directly due to the fact I had looked at so much porn. By the time we got married, I felt like I had to be a rockstar every time we had sex. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.

There were times in our first few years of marriage when sex was awkward, or I did something that didn’t feel good to her. Instead of seeing it for what it was, which was two people  learning about each other’s bodies, I felt like I was a complete failure. It caused me to shut down and disconnect. Even though I wasn’t looking at porn the moment we were having sex, the shame caused distance from my wife in the very area that God designed to create the deepest level of intimacy. Each time this happened, my masculinity would take a hit. It led to me feeling  I couldn’t adequately please the woman I loved. Sex made me feel like a failure.

 

7. Distorted sexual expectations with my wife

In the same way I had the expectation I needed to be a rockstar in bed, I also had the expectation that sex was going to be this amazingly orgasmic experience (pun intended). I would want her to recreate scenes  I had watched without her knowing. Unsurprisingly, she either felt violated or didn’t want to do what I wanted. She would say no, which left me feeling disappointed and caused distance instead of intimacy. This didn’t happen every time, but it stood out when it did. The problem was she wanted to love me and connect, but not in the way I wanted to. Also, she didn’t know I was struggling with a porn addiction at the time.

Not only did I want something she should never give, but I was the only one who knew why I wanted it in the first place. You can only imagine the amount of shame I felt. In short, porn robbed a lot of connection that was intended during our first few years of marriage. It wasn’t until I confessed my struggle that it began to change. It took time, but I now have appropriate expectations. Ones that are based on our intimacy and history, not ones that are built on something a perverted movie set has to offer.

 

8. Connection with all women

I would see women more as objects than who they actually were. I had been conditioned to look at their physical beauty first and use it as a measuring stick for who they were as a person. My relationships were often shallow and superficial, much like porn is. Porn is like a drug. The cravings only increase over time and you need more of it in order to “get high.”  When I saw a girl that was showing her cleavage, wearing a tight skirt, yoga pants, etc. I would visually take from her. I didn’t care that I was essentially cheating on my wife. Much like a drug addict, I needed a fix, and I was getting it.


Looking at porn when no one was watching caused me to find safety in isolation and shut people out from seeing the real me.


I was afraid to let any woman get to know me because I felt sure they would learn about my addiction and end our friendship. This also tied into my personal fear of rejection, but we’re only addressing the damage of porn for now.

There is Hope. God loves to turn our stories of pain into stories of strength and reconciliation. For me, it has been a hard-fought battle, but I have learned a lot in the process. I have met lifelong friends when I was willing to face the pain I was feverishly trying to numb. I embraced a journey of healing and learned how to become self-aware, not only regarding porn but in several areas of my life. I have become a life consultant and help people navigate through the very things I’ve struggled with. I have found one of my passions, which is to talk about the things I wish I knew years ago and equip people to be proactive in life. I have an amazing sexual relationship with my wife. I have spiritual daughters and healthy relationships with several women who know me, the real me.

I don’t exclusively blame porn for my insecurities, fears, or struggles I have in life. That said, it has been a large contributing factor of my journey in masculinity and made it significantly harder than if I had never found it in the first place.

 

JOSH CEARBAUGH IS A LIFE CONSULTANT WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. THROUGH A COMBINATION OF CONSULTING TECHNIQUES, HE HELPS INDIVIDUALS TO IDENTIFY, AND THEN DISMANTLE, THE CRIPPLING CYCLES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF US FIND OURSELVES STUCK. HE HAS A PASSION FOR CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THEIR HEART AND HELPING THEM CREATE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. MOST RECENTLY, JOSH’S CONSULTING PRACTICE HAS BEEN LOCATED IN REDDING, CA
HE MET DANIELLE, HIS WIFE OF EIGHT YEARS, IN MOZAMBIQUE WHILE ATTENDING IRIS HARVEST SCHOOL. THEY CURRENTLY HAVE TWO BOYS AND ONE BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL. 
WEBSITE: JOSHCEARBAUGH.COM 
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/JOSHCEARBAUGH
ECOURSE: JUMPSTARTYOURLIFE.COM 

20 Responses to “What Porn Stole From My Masculinity”

  1. Dianne Raco

    Thank you for writing this article. As a wife, and mother of teenage boys it’s clear, concise and truthful and is a great tool to have in the fight against pornography and the deception of the world that we are never good enough

  2. Man, this is like you tapped my brain as far as how I feel and the negative effects. I’m not married and I don’t want to still be struggling with this when I do. So my question is, what now? What do I do to get out of it?

    • Josh Cearbaugh

      Rohan,

      I committed to pursuing healing no matter the cost. That decision lead to me seeing a Life Consultant for 9 months, joining a men’s group, and opening up areas of my heart that I had hidden for years. It wasn’t easy. At times I didn’t even think the process was worth it, but I’m glad I didn’t give in.

      I actually created an eCourse that I wish I would have had years ago. It would have helped my journey be less painful and brought better understanding to what makes me tick. If you’d like to learn more just head over to jumpstartyourlife dot com.

      Take care –

  3. Winston

    Thanks a lot Josh. I can relate. So can a number of people around me. I am currently struggling with pornography and it’s tearing my life into shreds. No one is really able to connect because no one knows. I have began to see dome progress in my life, but if it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle. I’ll need your help on breaking free. Thanks for the timely word. It hit all the right spots!

    • Josh Cearbaugh

      Hey Winston,

      It’s a hard battle to fight alone. I get it. You have a few options to pursue.

      1. I do meet with people one-on-one. If you’re interested just shoot an email to admin@joshcearbaugh.com We can discuss what it may look like to work together.

      2. I just launched an eCourse called Jumpstart Your Life. It’s a 9 week course that covers 12 core elements I walk clients through. If you want to learn more just head over to http://jumpstartyourlife.com

      I’m glad this post helped. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

  4. Craig Heller

    Josh, thanks for your openness and honesty. You touched on many of the key areas where pornagraphy affects our life. I too have struggled with pornagraphy even after becoming a believer. I have two teenage sons. I am concerned for them because it is easy to access pornagraphy through their devices. We use the Covenant eyes software which is helpful. I have talked to them about pornagraphy, but as their dad I’m not sure they are being honest about what they are viewing. Is their any key steps you take to stay porn free?

    • Josh Cearbaugh

      Hey Craig,

      I have two boys myself. They’re both under eight, but they’re already asking questions. I can only imagine what I’ll have to navigate with them as teenagers.

      Couple things come to mind.

      1. Since you’ve struggled you know better than most the shame that comes with it. If they’re looking at porn then it’s likely they feel that same shame. The worst thing you can do is try to pry the truth out of them. It’ll only deepen their shame and drive a wedge between you.

      2. If you haven’t already, I would start having brutally honest conversations about your own struggle. Tell them about what led you to porn, the challenges you faced, maybe the relationship with your own dad? You know your story better than I do. Your boys already see you as their hero (even if they don’t admit it now). Be that hero and risk being vulnerable with them. It’ll teach them more about you and more about true masculinity.

      3. Do your best to create a safe environment. One where emotions, sex, porn, finances, etc are openly talked about. If you’re married, be willing to argue in front of them AND show them how to resolve conflict. The more you integrate honesty into your home the more they’ll feel safe to open up.

      Those are just a few things that come to mind right now. I hope this is helpful.

  5. Matthew Cohick

    That
    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Dissecting these more sensitive issues into bite-size nuggets really takes courage and helps speed up digestion. Have you written any related books?

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