There was an interesting moment the other night when a brother shared some of his struggle regarding pornography with me and a small group of men. When the storyteller got the point of talking about his later childhood years, as well as his teen years, he used the word “inadequate.”

He said that he always struggled with feeling inadequate in general; the expectations of his parents and others usually left him feeling as though he just didn’t measure up.

When he said “inadequate,” the other men in the room hung their heads and nodded in agreement. The power of that word: inadequate. It describes so much of what we experience as men in this world. And it is a sense of inadequacy which often drives so much of our addictive behavior.

Pornography is certainly a counterfeit, but it presents itself as a great remedy.

And the feelings of  adequacy  and power which pornography advertises, unique from other possible addictions, is tremendously addictive. To feel potent enough to get the attention, and more, from a beautiful woman _ even if she is on a page or a screen _ is unlike any other rush. All the more if it is a live encounter. The way in which inadequacy evaporates in the heat of being desired is astounding.

And yet, in the world of pornography, all of that is a lie.

The illusion of potency and adequacy is ironic given the fact that the behavior of being enraptured by pornography is actually an emasculating experience. As John Eldredge says, “Pornography is the big lie because you get to feel like a man without actually having to be one.”

But the ache of our feeling of inadequacy runs deep into our hearts and souls. We are haunted by the question: “Do i measure up?” Or, in Eldredge’s words: “Do i have what it takes?”

We will never get the answer to either question in pornography. We are driven back to it over and over again because the question remains unanswered. And yet, we will run back to it because  the experience of sexual ecstasy is intensely powerful.

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