One gets the distinct impression as they read through William Struthers’ Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain that at its core it is a scientific affirmation of the old proverbs of Solomon portraying adultery and sexual sin as “the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:27). Struthers looks at the modern data in the scientific community and sees how intimacy in the male brain dies and is deeply corrupted due to the consumption of internet pornography.

Pornography is as old as history, that is a simple, uncontested fact. What is different in today’s society is its availability over the internet. Where as a man would have to go to a brothel or a seedy gas station to get his porn fix in days gone by, now he simply needs a computer and mouse to fulfill his desires, free of charge in many cases. This modern process of sexual sin adds a new element of further detaching human experience from the process. Who needs to feel guilty for buying the magazine when you only have your computer screen to look at now?

Struthers works through the science of the male brain and how it is designed by God to engage intimately with a woman. The process here is quite honestly mind blowing in how God has fearfully and wonderfully made us. He then works through how pornography takes impulses for sexual intimacy and rewires them, and then reinforces them by not only the proliferation and experience of pornography, but the ease of then getting more pornography. Ultimately, this castrates the male brain from being able to have normal interactions with women (since they’re viewed in light of an idealized, dehumanized woman on a screen), and even more so for marital intimacy.

The book works through the obvious subjects of defining pornography, guilt and shame, the image of God, masturbation, but most importantly, it engages these issues in light of the Gospel. Feeling trapped by their sin is the experience of men addicted to pornography, but those “who accept the gospel are then freed to be sanctified and perfected” (119) in Christ. Moreover, Struthers ends on this point:

The process of sanctification is an addiction to holiness, a compulsive fixation on Christ and an impulsive pattern of compassion, virtue and love. This is what we are wired for. This is what we are meant for. (189)

We recently discovered that we will be having a boy this fall. Our first child. I began to reflect on the life my boy will be born into, our family, our culture, and the strange aspects of our modern life. He will be born into a world absolutely obsessed with pornography, where the actors of this sinful institution are happily interviewed as members of the normal life on the daily news. And I began to grow in my gratefulness for this book. Struthers does not try to be practical (though certainly aspects of the book are), he aims to equip. The book helps me see the profound preciousness of walking in wisdom and holiness in cultivating God-saturated intimacy. Through examining the folly and sin of pornography’s effect on the male brain, Struthers upholds the value and dignity of human intimacy as designed by God. I want my boy to know this powerful gift from God. Struther’s book helps me understand the physical process of intimacy in the male brain, and how this connects with the spiritual realities (both sinful and holy) of the male experience and desire for intimacy. I pray that by God’s grace, I can raise my boy to honor and enjoy intentional design for intimacy and relationship, and sexual intimacy should God give him a wife.

I am grateful for how Struthers seeks to equip us in understanding these realities better. I highly recommend the book for pastors and counselors seeking to better understand the struggle of pornography addiction. It will help them better understand how to care for people in this snare. I recommend the book to all men in today’s society, to better understand how they were designed by God, and most likely, how to pray for grace in how they have been effected by pornography. And, I recommend the book to parents to better understand how the male brain is designed for intimacy, and how pornography hijacks this design, so that they can be more informed parents in raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord in the 21st century.

book review: wired for intimacy

by Jacob Young time to read: 4 min
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