Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Addiction or Habit?

DISGRACED pastor Michael Guglielmucci has finally told of fabricating a terminal cancer battle to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography.

Such a story as this is unbelievable. Two things. First, that anyone can pull such a scam on such a large group of people. Even more surprisingly, that the man pulling the scam was an ordained minister, and that he pulled the scam on his church, and on the public. Second, just sadly disappointing that the scam was pulled supposedly to cover up such a shameful thing as "addiction" to pornography.

With all of the hoopla currently surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Denver (something I affectionately refer to as Obamafest), it would be understandable if you had missed this story. This, the biggest church scandal since the revelation of so many pedophile priests in the Catholic church.

Pastor Michael Guglielmucci of Edge Church International, over the past two years, has claimed to be battling cancer. With an outpouring of love and support from friends, family, loved ones, and his church, he has been in the fight of his life. He even wrote quite an inspirational worship song that he claims was inspired by his disease and his God.

Read more below the video.

Direct video link.

It has only recently come out that Michael Guglielmucci's cancer has been a ruse all along. The story was broken by Australia's AdelaideNow, and Michael Guglielmucci has told AdelaideNow that he faked the cancer to cover up his real disease, "addiction" to pornography. He claims that his "addiction" has been so controlling as to make him physically ill, to include (among other symptoms) vomiting and loss of hair.

I won't rehash the whole story here. You can learn more by following the links above. I am merely writing to voice my own opinions on the situation, and on pornography "addiction."

First, I think it is shameful that someone respected and looked up to by his church could create such deception. It is not my place to judge Michael Guglielmucci, but as the father of a little girl, it's difficult not to do so. I say that because I find myself increasingly concerned that some day my own daughter could be victimized by someone who preys on young innocents because they are "addicted" to some form of sexual deviance or another. Whether they be pedophiles, porn addicts, or otherwise, the world seems to be more and more crowded with this type of undesirable.

As a Christian, I want to be able to obey the Lord, avoid judging, and encourage forgiveness. Those things are difficult to do when someone victimizes so many people for something that I feel he should have been able to control.

Yes, I mean to say that I believe Michael Guglielmucci could have controlled his so-called "addiction" to pornography. I'm no psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other type of expert on the topic. I have no special training or certifications on the subject. I am, simply, a man. As a man with access to the Internet, where pornography is easier to find than it is to avoid, it is no one's responsibility but my own to avoid such inappropriate content.

I'm no superhero, and no better than the next guy. I simply love my God, my wife, and my children. I would never want to do anything to hurt any of them. I know that if I was engaged in viewing pornography on the Internet (or anywhere else, for that matter), and my wife discovered it, she would be devastated. She would feel victimized and violated by the man who professes to love her with all that he is. While my daughter is not yet of an age to understand what pornography is, any impact that such behavior might have on my marriage would affect her. And the last thing I want to teach my son is that it's okay to exploit women in such a way as pornography does. I want my son to learn respect, not exploitation.

Worse, actually, than all of what I mention in the paragraph above, I have seen how my wife has been affected by her own father's lack of self-control. Not that I can say he's ever looked at pornography (meaning nudity), but he's one of those men who hangs girlie calendars from car magazines in his garage, stops flipping through television channels whenever he spots something that looks like it might be an attractive woman (seemingly without regard to her age), and can't go out in public without whiplashing himself at every woman that walks by. In fact, one Christmas he gave me a copy of a "gentleman's" magazine as a joke. I don't know what ever came of that magazine (or was it a calendar?), because I left it in his living room without even a second look, and made my disappointment quite clear. I know, that sounds terribly judgmental, but it is more a statement of fact than judgment. And all of these habits of his have had an impact on how my wife views herself and the opinion she has of men in general.

My very beautiful, wonderful wife, I might add, who is also a great mother and a devoted Christian woman.

I do not believe that the habit of viewing pornography can be appropriately labeled as "addiction." Even though my own Pastor has taught several times on the topic and has described people he has worked with who have been addicted to pornography, I am inclined to disagree with him. I do not believe that pornography is an addictive thing. Allow me to explain.

Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and even food all have chemicals in them that we can find ourselves addicted to if we partake of them in excess. These can all be harmful addictions. Physical addictions (in the case of tobacco, even psychological addictions -- I know, I was there myself ten years ago). Pornography, on the other hand, is different. I will admit the fact that viewing pornography might possibly cause the body to release chemicals into the brain that can cause a very similar reaction to that of alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. I will admit that those chemicals might even be addictive. However, I do not believe that it is pornography that Michael Guglielmucci was addicted to (again, trying not to be judgmental is difficult). I believe he may very well have been addicted to the chemicals that his body produced when he viewed pornography, but (and again, not being medically trained beyond basic CPR twenty years ago) I do not believe that those chemicals are created only by viewing pornography.

For example, adrenaline is created in our body by numerous forms of stimulus. Possibly, it is a chemical very similar to adrenaline that is created by the body and released into the blood stream when a person views pornography. Just like riding a roller coaster, the thrill-seeker keeps going back for more of this natural stimulant (adrenaline, or whatever it actually is). He might very well be addicted to the stimulant, but I personally don't believe he's addicted to pornography. Can't that stimulant be obtained or produced through other means? Say, roller coaster riding, or mountain climbing, or going to a stock car race. Maybe, maybe not. I think more likely than not.

If a person finds himself (or, for that matter, herself) stimulated by viewing pornography, and really wishes to stop, why can't he or she seek other avenues of coming about thrills in a more acceptable manner? Why? Maybe because it's just too easy to sit alone on the Internet and search for free pornography. Easy, that is, until someone finds out. And someone always does.

I don't consider it acceptable for we as a society to label every undesirable habit that comes along as addiction just because we don't have the conviction or determination to break these bad habits. I once was both physically and psychologically addicted to smoking. Physically addicted to nicotine, and psychologically addicted to the need to smoke a cigarette. The very act of lighting up, holding the cigarette between my fingers, and blowing the smoke out of my lungs was sometimes heavenly. Seriously. If you're a smoker, you probably understand.

For eight years in the Army I tried many methods to kick the cigarette habit, failing miserably every time. I started smoking when cigarettes were 85 cents a pack. I quit when they neared the three dollar mark. I quit because I knew it was an expensive habit that was killing me. I quit because there were people that I felt might consider the habit dirty, and I would be ashamed of my habit if they found out. When I discovered that I had reasons inside me to quit, and knowing that so many methods had failed me in the past, I devised a method to quit. I'll be happy to share that with anyone who who asks.

I devised a plan that would slowly taper off the amount of nicotine in my system while I struggled with kicking the psychological need to light up. As the nicotine level in my body declined, so did my body's need for the drug. My own determination to put an end to the nasty habit was all it took to kick the psychological addiction. I realized that I had never wanted freedom from smoking so much until then. My smoking plan required that I smoke just one cigarette on the last day of the plan, and I had to force myself to light up. I haven't had even the faintest desire -- physically or psychologically -- to return to the nasty habit since then.

In my mind, "addiction" to pornography is very much like addiction to nicotine. Granted, the physical addiction is to a different chemical, and the delivery method is different. But those are the two major differences between the two habits. I firmly believe that someone who identifies the harmful nature of the habit and has a true desire to overcome it can do so. Whether we're talking about smoking or pornography, the "addiction" is merely the habit of choice. We can train our bodies to not need the chemical if we understand in our minds that we don't need to light up -- or click, in the case of pornography.

I am interested in hearing your input. Have you suffered from "addiction" to pornography? Have you kicked the habit, or are you struggling now to do so? Tell me your story. You can leave the name field blank, or enter an alias if you wish. If you review past articles, you'll see that I always post comments submitted through this form as Anonymous. Your secret is safe with me, and I promise to pray for you and try not to judge you. In fact, if you just need to vent and prefer your comments not be shared, just let me know, and I'll withhold them from publication.

Of, if you just think I'm full of it and don't know what I'm talking about, tell me that, too. Just click the link below.

Your comments?


No comments:

Average Joe's Review Store