Disclaimer, this post is lengthy, faith-based, and real.
Addiction is everywhere. It glazes our cellphones, coats our video game controllers, tips our needles and caps our bottles. It’s the timeless human phenomenon of progressive fixation on something until it takes you over. If there’s still a you to be taken by the end, consider yourself fortunate. Addiction is the antithesis of good stewardship with our time, our focus, our resources, our worship. It parallels idolatry with uncanny resemblance. Addiction takes many forms, and although I have many spiritual areas requiring both attention and some form of progress, it pains me to admit that pornography is and has been a stronghold for me.
But first, a poem that arose out my ongoing struggle with the literal lust of the flesh. Scroll to the end of this post if you’re in desperate need of a practical list to start drawing lines in the sand with pornography or addiction in your own life. You are not alone.
Round and round and round I go
On a cycle of despair.
Suffocating to and fro,
Yet I’ve not come up for air.
I could use some medicine;
I’ve been given all I need.
Yet, I have no discipline,
My desires I will feed.
Always plotting in my ear,
“C’mon, try it just once more.”
If only it was God I feared,
But my own wants I will shore.
My soul asks, “What now am I?”
My flesh screams at me, “Indulge!”
Which path will I travel by?
The first will my sin divulge.
Inside there’s a brutal war,
One I cannot live without.
For were I to lay my sword,
I’d be crippled by my doubt.
I’m a swine before the pearls.
I’m the dog that ran away.
And as my “freedom” unfurls,
It is clear I should have stayed.
My armor I rarely use,
When I do, it’s incomplete.
Yet somehow, I’m still confused
When I’m plagued by such deceit.
Pain is weakness leaving me,
Yet I grow the more infirm.
May this secret tragedy
Prove my life God’s gracious term.
Now it’s not always or even often wise to admit your deepest shames to the online world, it takes a certain mentality and orientation. This is not a cry for pity, this is a recognition that sin loses or lessens its hold of fear over your mind when it’s confessed and the light of the Lord is shone upon it. Matthew 10:26 says, “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” In the same way, John 8:31-32 says,” To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I’ve never really been a closed book, but blogging about this struggle is certainly a formidable step. Sexuality is so deeply central to our identities as human beings, therefore sexual sin will spiritually wreck you to your core. The enemy tends to use the shame and embarrassment of sexual sin to keep believers silent about their struggles and therefore continue fighting losing battles on their own. But in the truth there is freedom indeed, even as I write this.
Let’s turn our attention to the definition of shun. Dictionary.com defines ‘to shun’ as, “to keep away from (a place, person, object, etc.), from motives of dislike, caution, etc.; take pains to avoid.” Merriam Webster takes it a step further, “to avoid deliberately and especially habitually.” The Church is rather gifted at avoiding tough conversations, and the prevalence of pornography addiction and sexual abuse within the Church is staggering. ‘Avoiding deliberately and habitually’ could apply not only to the Church avoiding confrontation of sexual sin, but also to the addicts themselves failing to address the sin in their own lives. It’s so easy to push off fighting sinful urges to the next hour, the next day, the next new year. In addition, there’s an immense amount of either condescension or passivity involved when such sins are disclosed to the wrong parties, thus the term ‘shun’ applies all the more and discretion is advised regarding to whom you confess. Nevertheless, if you’re in the depths of sexual sin, it is IMPERATIVE that the fight against sexual immorality and for purity begin at this very instant.
The Bible makes it clear that sexual sin especially separates us from God, and if that doesn’t scare us, it should.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
Though the enemy would have us all wallow in despair at how hard it is to keep resisting the flesh, how unfair it is that Christians are supposed to live holy lives and miss out on a lot of what the world has to “offer,” anyone who has tried to fill that void inside them with porn, drugs, finances, TV shows, etc. will tell you that it’s NEVER satisfying. The reality is, not once have I been emotionally or spiritually fulfilled or sustained by pornography. On the contrary, countless people have been negatively affected by the pornography industry and what it represents. Sexual addiction can be correlated so easily to any number of things, including erectile dysfunction, familial issues, divorce, sex trafficking, trauma to porn actresses and actors, jail-time, pedophilia, etc. etc.
In spite of all that, God is incredibly more vast than anything we face in life, and that includes our most central struggles.
1 Corinthians 10:13-14
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”
God. Is. Faithful. Remember that always. Once you call out to the Lord and take some very simple steps in His direction, He will ‘lift you up in due time.’ (1 Peter 5:6) It may seem like dragging a massive anchor around when you try to open the Bible or turn the channel or stop the routine to converse with God. But God will reward you for your faithfulness, in the next life if not in this one.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Lastly, here are 16 tips that have either aided me in my own battles or are still being gradually applied to my struggles: (Btw I’m not getting outside incentives for what I reference, it’s just simply what’s true for me)
1. Memorize Scripture. I just started using the Remember Me app.
2. Find a Bible app or two, preferably one with optional Bible plans. I use the YouVersion Bible app.
3. Pray. A lot! Communication is key in any relationship, and that’s all the more true concerning a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
4. Find a trustworthy accountability partner. If you fight alone, you are more than likely going to fail sooner or later. Try to find someone who has currently overcome the addiction and can mentor you.
5. Focus on other things, fill your mind with uplifting thoughts. If you focus on trying not to think about sinning, you’re adversely still thinking about it and going to fail.
6. Change your mindset to wanting to honor the Lord, not just trying to quit to avoid consequences or because you’re expected to or because you want to be a better person. Ask the Lord to change your heart.
7. Software that blocks dangerous content and sends accountability reports is really helpful and can give you some space from the numerous temptations online. However – to reiterate #6 – if your reason for avoiding sexual sin does not stem from a desire to honor the Lord, instead just involves avoiding bad content as long as you can by adhering to protective nets in place, you will find avenues to temptation that are offline or out of your normal routine and will fail. The eventual goal is not to avoid everything, but to be able to refrain from lusting when obstacles present themselves.
8. Find a good app to help with prayer, accountability, and tracking progress. I use Victory.
9. Confess to God, to those you trust deeply, and eventually to those you’ve directly hurt or negatively impacted by this addiction; avoid burdening those whom you have used unknowingly and were not impacted by your actions.
10. Find a worthwhile book or sermon series on purity to dive into. I’ve been reading “Finally Free: Fighting For Purity With the Power of Grace” by Heath Lambert, I highly HIGHLY recommend it, I’m on my second listen.
11. Regulate everything you intake. Know your triggers. Triggers are everywhere, so avoid certain social media apps or browsing online at certain times of the day or night. Also be wary of the kinds of shows you watch and music you listen to. These are not fixes in themselves, but every bit of diligence helps, and every bit of negligence hurts.
12. Avoid being alone without a constructive activity. Go to the gym. Walk the dog. Start reading a book, or writing one. Try out for a play. Make your significant other dinner. Go for a drive. Take a nap. Pray. Etc.
13. Be persistent. You’ve likely fallen several times already if you relate at all to this. There is more redemption than you could ever use up or exhaust, God looks at your heart and His forgiveness is limitless to those who ask. It wouldn’t be a struggle without setbacks, and reaching the finish line is all the more rewarding when the challenges are pressing and numerous.
14. Turn away from bad thoughts as soon as they present themselves. I try to “blink them away” immediately, usually citing Scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:5b “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
15. Consider making a covenant with your eyes. Focus on the Family had a really interesting podcast on that subject a couple years ago that brought the idea to light.
16. Find a couple solid faith-based songs or artists to cling to. Here’s more than a few of mine:
Matthew West (Day One, Hello My Name Is, Only Grace, The Motions, Strong Enough)
Tenth Avenue North (Love Is Here, By Your Side, Satisfy, Empty My Hands, Healing Begins, Strong Enough to Save, You are More, All the Pretty Things)
Start Over by Flame and NF
Draw the Line and Dear X, You Don’t Own Me by Disciple
Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters
Home by Tedashii and Crowder
Steady by For King and Country
Sweet Victory by Trip Lee
Background, Boasting, and Give In by Lecrae
Outta My Mind by Anthem Lights
Slow Down by Chasen
Weightless by Hawk Nelson
Change In The Making by Addison Road
We March On by Hillary Scott
Walk By Faith, I Still Believe, My Desire by Jeremy Camp
Wait And See and I’m Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath
Letting Go by Francesca Battistelli
Brave by Nicole Nordeman
Beautiful Things by Gungor
Ocean Floor and Speak To Me by Audio Adrenaline
Lifesong and Voice Of Truth by Casting Crowns
Consume Me and In The Light by DC Talk
You’re Not Shaken by Phil Stacey
Undo Me, Come To Me, Breathe On Me, and A Little More by Jennifer Knapp
Home With A View and The Stream by John Elefante
Dead Man and God Will Lift Up Your Head by Jars of Clay.
Hope this gives aid to those in need, and perhaps enlightens you on how to better pray for me. Praying for you all, Lord Bless!