Excerpt from “Jesus Is Better Than Porn”

Note from Josh: Today I turn over the reins to Hugh Houston, who has written the inspirational and successful book, “Jesus is Better Than Porn.” He has graciously allowed me to excerpt a piece of his book that talks about what a mind that focussed on porn needs to be replaced with. I know Amazon is taking a bit of time getting real books to people these days, but there are also Kindle and Audiobook versions available. A link is at the end of the excerpt.

From Jesus is Better Than Porn by Hugh Houston

There were times when I reasoned that dealing with porn was worse than an addiction to alcohol or cocaine because everywhere I went, my thoughts went with me. I had a library of impure images filed away in my brain.  How could I ever get rid of them?  These obscene thoughts had invaded every corner of my mind.  They were with me when I laid my head on my pillow at night and when I woke up in the morning.  How could I avoid them?  I felt like my brain was a haunted house inhabited by a million ghosts.

Imagine an empty glass.  It’s not really empty, it’s full of air.  Now imagine trying to get all of the air out of the glass.  You might try using a vacuum cleaner, but that probably won’t work. The easiest way to get the air out of the drinking glass is to fill it with something else, like water.  The water goes in and the air goes right out.

That’s what I had to do with my brain.  How could I get rid of all of those obscene thoughts that hounded me day and night?  I had to focus my mind on good things.  As I learned to dwell on healthy thoughts, I began to win the battle against those lusty images that attempted to take control of my mind.

The apostle Paul gives this advice:

“Finally, 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.”  (Philippians 4:8)

Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar urged people to get rid of “stinking thinking”. Well, there is nothing worse than a carnal mind using other people for its own selfish ends.  The best way I know of to push all of those immoral images from my brain is to replace them with thoughts which are pure, true, noble, admirable, and excellent.  Our primary battleground in the war against this plague (or any other undesirable practice), lies in what we decide to think about, what we allow to occupy the space between our ears.

In 1427 Thomas A. Kempis wrote the following in The Imitation of Christ:

“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.  First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.”

This has certainly been true in my life. When I resist temptations right off the bat, I do just fine. But if I give in just a hair, leave the door ajar just a fraction of an inch, it soon becomes almost impossible not to yield.  My best strategy (really the only strategy that works) is to avoid every impure thought and to stay as far away from the slippery slope as possible.

Impure thoughts cannot be toyed with.  Only a fool tries to see how close he can get to the edge of the slippery slope before sliding down all the way to the bottom.  The best way to head off feelings of lust is to nip them in the bud.  Act quickly, vigorously, and decisively.  Be radical.  It is the only way to ever break free from the compulsive cycle of porn and lust.

If you’d like to learn more about Hugh Houston or order a copy of Jesus is Better than Porn, click here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DMF6ZQS

From the Department of Things I Never Thought I’d Say: Watch Me Coach the Naked Podcaster

I like doing podcasts. It scratches a few internal itches that I have. They provide me with someone’s attention for an hour, help continually remind me of my battle with pornography and alcohol addiction, allow me to spread an important educational message and are the easiest way to market my books.

One of the things I don’t do enough of is talk about my advising/counseling service. I love doing it and while I usually only have 1-3 clients at any given time, it does help justify the time I spend since I get a few dollars. But, for whatever reason, I don’t promote it as much as I want and I’ve been wanting to revamp that section of my website for over a year. I wish I had 5-6 clients at a time because I genuinely enjoy hearing people’s stories and helping them.

I made a conscious effort to pull back on the number of podcasts I was doing a couple months back, which has led me to turn down a few offers and not spend very much time looking for shows that would fit my message. I used to say yes to almost everybody, but I’ll actually check out somebody’s credentials first and see what their podcast is like before agreeing to it.

There have been a few times where it’s clear I’ve been invited to a show to be attacked. They are usually shows that market themselves as “pro-healthy sexuality” but in reality they are just about justifying hyper-sexual behavior. I’m not necessarily against that if you’ve got the right partner in the right situation, but I’m always cast as the frigid anti-porn guy who just doesn’t get it. I’ve learned to spot them a mile away and pass.

Back in late December or early January, I was asked to appear on a show called “The Naked Podcaster.” I almost tossed the email before reading it, but the first line that read: “I’m not even sure that I should be writing you about this…” It was clear that Jenn Taylor had a different kind of show and that while she was naked on her end of the screen, she never showed anything and it was as much a metaphor, and marketing gimmick to gain eyeballs as anything else. I still was a bit hesitant, but realized that this was a controlled environment that would not cross any lines and would ultimately show people that pornography addiction is not about a naked person. It’s about what the mind is seeking but looking for pornography. I also knew that seeing someone from the shoulders up has never been triggering for me. I’m just not a collarbone guy.

So I recorded the show in early January, it appeared a week later and I posted it as I post every other podcast. It was a good appearance and we had a nice rapport. Sometimes people who decide to have podcasts are not good conversationalists. Lord knows why they want to be part of a project that forces them to talk. These are the shows that are tough to get through. It wasn’t like that with Jenn and I thanked her for giving me access to her audience. If you’d like to see that appearance, it’s available HERE.

About a week after it ran, I got another email from Jenn saying that she was looking to do online coaching with former guests. She was upfront with her reasoning… it provided interesting content and she gets free coaching. It reminded me of how many times I’ve written the “man goes to a spa” story in my life for various publications just so I can get a free facial, massage and pedicure. I always had to play dumb and ask, “I’ve heard there’s some kind of wax treatment for your feet?” That’s when you soak your feet in a paraffin wax bath. It feels like you’re wearing slippers for a couple days after that. Anyway, I digress.

I also knew that doing this with Jenn, while different than what I do when I’m coaching or advising someone (or their partner) about porn addiction, would give the overall feel for what I do with people. I think what keeps a lot of people away is the fear of the unknown and this shows that I’m a guy just asking questions, prompting the person to speak, and I come with no judgment and throw out some possibilities to get the person on the other end to think about once we’re done. It’s easy to do, but not easy to start.

So, here are the two coaching sessions we did, via YouTube. It’ll take two hours of your time to get through them, but I think it’s interesting and I’m curious if others will reach the conclusion I did at the end.

Here is what Jenn wrote for the introduction on the YouTube video:

It might seem strange that a porn addict is coaching The Naked Podcaster, however, when I read Josh’s book, “He’s A Porn Addict… Now What?” I realized that I have triggers from my past. 3 of my 4 serious relationships had porn as part of the mix and I became curious about how that impacted me, how I was attracting people and if I could have handled it differently. I also felt a little confused about my reaction to pornography. In Session 1 we dive into my background and set the stage for session 2. I was nervous about this discussion but excited about the possibility of learning more about myself. Welcome to my porn journey and brace yourself for session 2.

In Session 2 you will learn more about me from a sexual standpoint than you ever wanted to know.

If you don’t have the time to watch, or just want the spoilers, here is what Jenn wrote following our session:

In the end, with some great coaching from Josh, he determines that I am an open, healthy sexual person, evolved, transcendent and willing to openly discuss sexuality and I’m not in your face about it. In my mind, I feel I should have a more open, healthier attitude by LIKING porn but I DON’T LIKE IT. I don’t want to admit that because in my mind it pokes holes in the balloon of being openly sexual. My definition of being openly sexual is defined on INCLUDING porn, so because I don’t really like it, I struggle with if I can be healthy sexually when I don’t really have that openness. In the moment I wasn’t sure if that was accurate or how accurate it is, but with hindsight, I believe it’s spot on. I DO like lower-key sexual encounters in an R rated movie, but once it’s blatant, I’m actually uncomfortable. What this has meant since we recorded, is embracing that having a healthy sexual relationship does not have to be all-inclusive and that’s OK. I also don’t want to have a 3-some, am not interested in women and have never wanted to attend a sex party and those things didn’t determine feeling that I’m sexually open. We all have to determine what’s in our comfort zone. I appreciate that Josh was willing to have me as a coaching client since I”m a bit removed from my engagement with porn and to explore difficult conversations with me to uncover what my triggers are.

While I’m going to be revamping things on my advising/coaching page, if anybody is interested in my services, please get in touch with me at jshea.writer@gmail.com

I Confirmed It: Porn Companies Doing Big Business, Recruitment During ‘Social Distancing’​

When Donald Trump went on TV that Wednesday night in early March as one of the last people to admit what many of us had come to recognize in the previous 72 hours – the Coronavirus was the real deal – one of my first thoughts went to how this was going to be the single greatest boon to the pornography industry since the invention of the Internet.

We’re still in it – probably not even at the halfway point – and it turns out, I was unfortunately correct.

As much as I detest PornHub, I’ve got to give them credit for the statistics they provide. Granted, they are not independently verified and sometimes they leave out crucial information (such as ignoring the fact “teen” is a popular search term in their annual report) but I think they are providing a unique window into what is happening.

In late February and into the first week of March, when the virus was really starting to get its grips on Europe and gaining attention in North America, PornHub’s average worldwide viewership was up only 1% to 2% compared to an average day. In the second week of March, when Americans decided toilet paper was the hottest commodity, average traffic rose to 4% to 7% higher than an average day.

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The worldwide numbers exploded on St. Patrick’s Day, rising to 11.6% and have steadily been on the rise, topping out at 18.5% above average daily traffic.

In a PR stunt a few weeks back, PornHub offered its “Premium Content” service to all residents of Italy, followed soon after by Spain and France. That cause a huge overnight spike in Italy, with average traffic up by 5.3% on March 11, but then skyrocketing to 57% above average on March 12. The number fell over the next week, but is still between 25% and 35% above average most days. When the offer was extended to France, their traffic jumped overnight from 5.7% to 38.2% and in Spain, the jump was 12.7% to 61.3%.

Perhaps most troubling is that as the pandemic became truly worldwide, Pornhub extended its free premium service to every person who can find an Internet connection on Earth. The short-term true effect of the extent of this stunt probably won’t be known until the company releases its next numbers. The long-term effect makes me cringe.

You can find data for nearly two dozen countries on their Insights Page. (No Porn Visible)

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While men from the United States are looking at PornHub about 10% more than the average day, women are watching 21% more. In Mexico, the 20% rise for men is dwarfed by the 34% rise of women watching and in hard-hit Italy, while viewership for men is up 24%, it’s up 36% for women. These kinds of statistics are the same in countries like the UK, France, Spain, Japan, Canada, and almost every other civilized country in the world.

I’m not shocked by this because it tends to support statistics that show women are one of the fastest growing segments of pornography addicts along with my theory that with the Internet allowing more anonymity, women are sampling porn in higher numbers than ever. If 100 women were looking at porn in Italy on a January day it became 136 in less than two months. That’s a substantial jump and while not all will stick with it after the crisis, some will, and some of them will become porn addicts.

While most people think PornHub is the biggest porn site in the world, it was actually ranked third as of late 2019 (yet still in the Top 10 of overall sites in the world.) The other two, which I won’t name here, have not tried to build a brand the way PornHub has, nor – to their credit – have offered any special deals to try and profit off of this worldwide self-imposed isolation.

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Speaking of isolation, I’ll be fascinated to see what website traffic looks like in the upcoming months for cam sites. These are the sites where a male, female or couples (the “models”) are on one end of the computer and customers willing to pay them for nudity and/or sex acts sit on the other end. They usually come with a chat interface and an option for taking the models into a private room where only one customer, paying a premium, gets to interact with the models one-on-one, a virtual “private dance” of sorts. Of course, giving these bonus sessions away during a flood of traffic is a great way to get people hooked long after the virus is gone. It’s just drug-dealing 101. Get them hooked for free now and they’ll pay for it later.

While I’m sure that these sites are seeing double-digits increases in traffic, I’m more interested in finding out how many women joined their ranks. Think about it: We have the highest unemployment claims in American history by more than 500% and many service industry employees are wondering where their next paycheck is coming from. While I’m sure it’s not a huge leap for a stripper to make the transition, I have a feeling there are likely a lot of women (and a smaller percentage of men and couples) who either have, or will, make the decision that getting naked and/or getting sexual on their webcam for what they hope are only strangers will help make ends meet. I worry these people have no idea about this online culture nor the long-lasting effects of what making this decision will cause.

Understanding this, PornHub has again flexed its PR muscle. Instead of offering its models around 50% to 60% of the money spent by customers in their chat rooms and on private videos, during the pandemic, PornHub has raised its commission to 85%. Brilliant recruiting? Giving back? Capitalizing on pain? I guess it depends on who you are in the equation.

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I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Periscope, a streaming video platform similar to that of Facebook Live where hundreds or thousands can watch a single stream at one time. Owned by Twitter, Periscope has been known for its decent moderators and strict rules concerning nudity and sexuality.

That seemed to disappear in the third week of March, according to many users. Now, alongside people hosting cooking shows, exercise sessions and simply looking for company on the ride to work, there are plenty of nude models, people having sex and other explicit, sometimes illegal, material.

Did Periscope sent all its moderators home because of the Coronavirus? I tried to find some kind of confirmation of this online, but came up empty. It seems to me that the easiest job to do from home would be a moderator of an online chat site, right? Why would anything be different?

Of course, suspending monitoring of the rules will bring a lot of new eyes, and a lot of new streamers, to their site. Under normal circumstances, a website that goes from PG- to X-rated overnight owned by a media powerhouse like Twitter would get a lot of attention…but not so much during the modern plague. The media and those in power who would use this kind of news for views and attention have bigger fish to fry, so Periscope can fly under the radar.

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I’m sure there are plenty of other instances of companies that either peddle pornography or have found a way to use pornography to their advantage during the Coronavirus crisis. If you happen to see any, please let me know as I’d like to keep track.

Yes, I believe it’s more important to stay safe and keep your family safe in this confusing, scary time, but I also believe it’s important to not develop new routines and habits that may not be easy to break after this crisis has gone away.

Ironically, I often preach against filtering software as a false sense of power a parent has over their child’s use of pornography. But, we’re living in a temporary world where they don’t have easy access to their friends’ laptops or smartphones. You can actually lock porn down as long as we remain locked down. Now, more than ever, that may be the smartest move.

Prepare for a Post-COVID Explosion of Porn Addicts and An Idea to Keep From Going Stir Crazy

Note: I posted this on LinkedIn this morning, but I think it makes sense here, too.

The saying goes that idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and I think that’s never been more literally true. There are a lot of men and women in this world whose COVID-19 idle hands are likely turning them to online pornography. Not all will end up as addicts, but some probably will who never would have otherwise.

In a world where PornHub is offering premium access to Italian residents in a quarantine PR stunt and other sites are bracing for record-shattering traffic, I fear that porn addiction statistics are going to skyrocket during this worldwide pandemic.

In a normal scenario, I think most of us preach the opposite of social isolation to those seeking recovery from pornography addiction. Now, we’re encouraging everybody to embrace the aloneness.

I only did 12-Step groups for most of that first year of recovery, but they were crucial, as were weekly face-to-face appointments with my therapist and another weekly support group I participated in. Had they all been cancelled, and I was left alone, I don’t think I would have had the strength to abstain that first year, or maybe two.

I think about all of those men and women who have tried to kick the addiction on their own to this point. Many of them are stuck white-knuckling it through their seemingly endless days and even longer nights.

I’m worried about those who will never see the addiction coming. I’m worried about women who think porn addiction only happens to guys or older people who think it’s a younger person’s problem. I worry about people who have told themselves they use porn “recreationally” and didn’t have a problem who now are utilizing it two, three or four times more than usual. I’m worried about younger guys and gals who have never looked at online porn regularly who now find themselves discovering just how deep and dark the world gets and I’m worried about those who are addicted and are escalating the extreme nature of the content they are looking at because nothing else in the closed-for-business world can tweak their pleasure centers.

And the answer is… we have no perfect answers. It doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your name, whether you fancy yourself a pornography addiction expert or not, whether you’ve been an addict or not, or which spiritual building/book/deity you prefer. We’ve never seen a global health crisis in the age of the Internet, nor in a world where porn is so pervasive.

A few days ago, I put out a message on LinkedIn letting people know if they wanted a non Covid-19 person their podcast, I could talk porn addiction, and I was expecting one or two reactions. I’m booked on four shows and did two over the weekend. We actually talked a lot about being stuck at home and the lure of pornography.

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I came up with one potential solution that everybody who feels like they’re on house arrest can utilize. It once helped me. Maybe it can help you in the coming days when it feels like the walls are closing in on you.

For those who don’t know, I once did six months in county jail. With few people to talk to and my safety never an issue, it only took a couple of weeks before I was going stir crazy. The key to keeping my shit together was routine, scheduling and knowing what was coming next.

I always knew the next 2-3 things I was going to do, whether they would take 15 minutes (doing a Sudoku puzzle) or 2 hours (watching another insipid superhero movie on FX or USA). I knew what I was going to do after that, and after that. It allowed me to create the illusion that I was always busy, had a full schedule and always had something else to do.

My activities were reading the newspaper, writing letters, cleaning the pod, reading books, doing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, talking on the phone, exercising, showering, writing books, napping, reading the newspaper, playing cards, talking to people and watching TV. I’m sure there were other things I did and don’t remember, but I always had a basic structure for my day, even if the specific tasks weren’t always the same. Sticking to a schedule and having a plan for my day allowed me to have some of the normalcy of my busy life in the outside world and I think maintaining that structure allowed me to reintegrate much easier than I expected.

If you’re an addict, partner of an addict or help addicts and need to talk, I’m here, by email, telephone or video call. If you’re looking for something to read, I’ve got a ton of blog entries on this website and my books are on Amazon. If you’re looking for resources, this site can help, or I can help you find what you need as well. And if you need a podcast guest, my headphones are always ready.

I have no magical answers. Nobody does. But when you think about, we don’t even in the best times either. We just pretend we don’t need each other as much, so maybe that’s a lesson we can take from this weird era in history we’re living through. We need each other so much more than we admit or recognize.

Sorry Parents, You Can’t Porn-Proof Your Kids in 2020

My parents raised me to think that one sip of beer would lead me, minutes later, to the destitute life of a wino, laying in the gutter, hiccupping while holding a bottle like an alcoholic cat out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I was also told smoking cigarettes was gross and would give me almost immediate lung cancer. Marijuana would kill me. Pornography would turn me into a Peeping Tom pervert before the day was done and gambling was something only done by degenerate mobsters. Needless to say, I tried them all.

Once I recognized that one of their dire warnings was little more than hyperbole, I recognized all of their dire warnings were BS. It took me a while to become an alcoholic and I was always “functional.” Cigarettes and marijuana were used for years, and I quit both on my own. I still will occasionally visit a casino, but don’t think I’ve ever lost more than $50 in an evening. Losing more isn’t fun. And even with pornography, I never found myself hiding in anyone’s bushes or drilling holes in the wall of the girl’s locker room.

The message I got from my parents was ultimately, “None of this stuff is as bad as we said it was.” I know it’s not the message they want to send.

I appreciate all of the parents out there who want to stem the flow of pornography into their children’s lives. Whether it’s putting parental controls on the cable box, filtering programs on their computers or content blockers on their cell phones, their heart is in the right place – just like my parents’ hearts were.

My mother would lose it if HBO was on and a breast or a bare buttock came across the screen when I was a kid. We immediately had to change the channel, even if it was only something like the movie version of Romeo and Juliet from 1968 which they played all the time when I was a kid and had about two seconds of nudity. I could watch a show with all the swearing or violence I wanted, but the moment there was more skin than you could see at the beach, that show was over for me.

I don’t remember if she had any justification for it. I think it was mostly along the lines of, “Change the channel because I said so, I don’t want you seeing that kind of stuff.” For an inquisitive little kid like me, “Why don’t you want me to see that stuff?” is the question that swims in my head, but was smart enough not to ask. Her overreaction was curious. Clearly she didn’t want me to see any of that stuff.

But, around 11, my cousin showed me my first hardcore pornography magazines. At 13, a friend I met in middle school would invite me over to his dad’s house on weekends where the Playboy Channel was part of the cable package. At 14, I found a video store that would rent me porn.

What did all of these things have in common? My mom wasn’t aware of any of it. She still hasn’t read my first book, so I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know about any of it.

She couldn’t porn-proof me and nothing has changed in 35 years. You can’t porn-proof your kids. You can remove every device in your home where the image of genitals could ever appear and all you’ve done is take care of one home in your neighborhood. Unless you’re living in a Little House on the Prairie world, it’s not even a drop in the bucket. A drop is better than nothing? Are you trying to convince me or you? I believe porn blockers are more for parents to give themselves peace of mind they are protecting their children more than anything else.

The average age a boy sees hardcore pornography these days is between 8 and 10. The average age a child gets a cell phone is 11. Let’s say that you buck the trend and your son doesn’t see porn between 8 and 10 and at 11, you gift him with one of those specialty phones like Gabb Wireless that keeps things like the Internet and photo texts off their device. Do you think every child your son interacts with has parents doing the same thing with their child?

My friend’s dad had no idea we were watching the Playmate of the Year Video Calendar for 1989 late at night on the TV in the basement. I’ve got to imagine they’re still making the same kind of content. And that doesn’t even begin to address the world of desktop, laptop and tablet computers. I have a feeling that before “Brush Your Teeth” to the end the night, the three words a teenage boy remembers most are “Clear Browser History.”

You can’t porn-proof your child and I’m not sure you should even try. What you need to do is talk to them about pornography. In a very age-appropriate manner, you need to tell them when they’re young that, like cigarettes or alcohol, pornography is something for adults and they aren’t to touch it. If they find any, or stumble upon it on their phone or computer, you won’t be mad at them and if a friend shows them, you just want to know about it. As they get older, you can get into more nuances of “that’s not depicting love or what sex is really like” and even a little older, especially for boys, you can talk about things like Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction.

I understand you love your kids and I understand you want to protect them, but shielding them instead of preparing them is not the best tactic, I am proof of that.