Out of the hundreds of photographs I took in the spring of 2014, the first good picture I think I took was this one of a spring thunderstorm. As the rain turned to hail and bounced off the asphalt, it took on a greenish hue partly from the sky and partly from the new green grass and foliage reflected on the wet street. The picture turned out clearly, but the best image needed to be cropped and adjusted to enhance the greens and blacks, and the lighting.
Interestingly, the camera settings I used didn’t allow for the look and feel of movement I had experienced as I watched the hail pelt the ground. So later that evening, searching the web for tips on “f-stops” and “shutter speeds”, I came across an interesting website. I went from one article to the next, then to some artistic black and white photographs, to some not so artistic pictures, and then to … pornography.
That’s how quickly things spiraled, how quickly an innocent intention snowballed, and I was tricked into viewing something obviously very different. What’s really ironic is photography for me was an attempt to create the feeling of clarity and renewal, cleanness and hope — not the opposite.
But is this really a problem? Some say it’s only a problem when it becomes an addiction. Others feel it goes much deeper. Todd Weiler, a state senator from Utah recently initiated a bill that would declare pornography a “public health crisis”. “It impacts divorces, it’s impacting our youth, it’s undermining the family,” he reasons. While it doesn’t seem so strange coming from a religious state like Utah, the bill is still controversial even among Weiler’s peers. Yet, there are many who believe it is a health crisis; who believe exposure — both short and long term — to pornography makes people violent, affects the brain, creates indelible marks.
Terry Crews, a former NFL football player turned actor who struggled with an addiction to pornography, agrees. Now free of the addiction, he actively supports a popular anti-pornography website Fight The New Drug and has recently, courageously begun to tell his story about the effect internet pornography had on his life and how he found freedom. “If day turns to night and you’re still watching, you probably have a problem,” says Crews.
It was only after his wife threatened to leave him, that he made the change. He knew he had to do this for himself, but the threat of a divorce woke him up. Crews has now dedicated himself to bringing the problem into the light.
He explains, “By not telling people, it (pornography addiction) becomes more powerful.” And by bringing it into the open “it loses its power.” For Crews it was about battling his mindset and “changing his thinking” in order to turn things around for good. He now wants people who struggle with this addiction to feel that same sense of freedom.
But bringing this addiction out into the open and finding freedom is easier said than done. How do you get to that place? One way is to intellectualize what’s really going on. For example going back to the hail storm picture above, remember the emotion you felt. Now when you think about the edits and adjustments I made to that particular photo to make the greens and blacks stand out, doesn’t it have the effect of changing the emotional impact? It’s kind of like when you’re watching a television show with a friend and they start picking apart the bad science, or you see a microphone inadvertently appear over a stage actor’s head.
It’s no different with resisting the urge to view pornography. By taking a step back one can reason through what’s really going on: a savvy marketer, someone profiting on sexual images, the overwhelming assumption that sex sells. So before you’re tempted to go down the path, knowing the
backstory helps to undermine the temptation. It’s simply editing images — minute or overt adjustments of body and lighting, costume and makeup that portray the theater of sex.
But what if that’s not enough, especially in the midst of addiction when fantasy takes over and one starts going down the dark path that can fuel the addiction. The great thing is wherever you are in the cycle of temptation, you do have the ability, in this moment, to change and turn in a different direction. So how about if you were to take a stand and try some photoshopping of your thought? Not changing colors and lighting of course, but actually changing how you view yourself and mankind.
A woman, who taught the value of seeing mankind as holy, spiritual and in the image of the Divine, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote that one should follow Jesus’ example. He was able to see “the perfect man” where most people just see a broken or sinful person. She reasoned that it was this way of really seeing someone that healed the sick and the sinning.
By seeing divinely perfect qualities — purity instead of impurity, love instead of lust — one is choosing to see the best in the world as the common denominator instead of a base and limited world view. Interestingly, replacing a base and lustful view with a spiritual, perfect picture isn’t something you have to do through human will. It is something almost like a gift received by simply reaching up and out to the Divine source.
This was true for a friend of mine, who called for some support for a problem he was having. He admitted he had become addicted to internet pornography. And what he really wanted was a prayerful approach to solve this problem.
The turning point came with a Divine inspiration to view himself as pure in his very nature instead of as lustful and guilty; to see himself made in the Biblical view of God’s image. This became especially important for him anytime he felt drawn to internet pornography. By focusing on the moment and seeing this innate purity (true for everyone incidentally), gifted by the Divine Source, God, he began to see a change. After a few days of praying together with these ideas, he called to say that he felt a sense of freedom, which has remained.
This sense of freedom, a release from the burden of pornography, can be true for everyone. All it takes is devotion to changing the way one sees themselves and sees mankind. Spiritual photoshopping with help from the Divine is a great way to break pornography’s hold and find your pure dominion over it.
Originally published in the Medium, @Medium