CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Pornography Addiction Part 2
A Christian Philosophy of Love
By Christopher Schwinger
Pornography Addiction: The Series
How does a porn addiction get started?
A Christian Philosophy of Love
Spiritual Health Principles
What porn has in common with alcohol and drug use is that it's a way to temporarily escape pressures of life. People who pray regularly and study the Bible don't have as many struggles with these things, everyone assumed — until statistics came out showing the high percentages of self-described Christians who admit to porn use. Many people apparently think their struggles with it will go down when they create their own families because they'll have satisfying love. Unfortunately, if porn is a problem when entering a relationship, it stays a problem, because it reveals misplaced priorities. When a relationship is based on the expectation of what the other person can bring to me, it is destined for failure in the long run. When it's based on the duties we have to each other, it can work better but still be tense and legalistic. "Legalistic" means love is dependent on accomplishing something first. Most non-Christian relationships which work well are based on a combination of self-interest and doing your duty to please the other person. But a Christ-centered relationship is amazing because it blurs the distinction between self-interest and the other person. You still have your own desires, but you sometimes have to give up things for the other person out of love — not just because you fear the loss of the other's love, but because you feel genuinely committed. It's the strangest thing, and not something which you can create just by trying harder. The goal is to not have a conflict between self-interest and the other's interest, because as Jesus said in the Gospel of John, the Father's and His interests were the same. But He had to subject His will to the Father's because He understood the Father's plan for Him to redeem the world. He and the Father had the same goal, and He understood that the Father's will was more important in this matter, and He made a choice, knowing it would be hard temporarily but better long-term. His self-interest shifted from short-term pleasure to long-term results, so that it would align with the Father's self-interest, which was OUR interest (our salvation). So God's self-interest and the interests of others became the same thing in God's eyes, as did the Father's and Son's self-interests. John 17 has a lot about this.
Self-interest and duty to the other person — and to God, of course — were perfectly balanced by Jesus. But giving up self-interest to help others is sometimes dangerous, too, if we overexert and burn ourselves out, which reveals we are insecure about our own self-worth. Duty is good, but it should come out of love, not be how we earn love. We shouldn't fear God's rejection if we give ourselves a break sometimes.
In your own praying, ask God to help you see what priorities and expectations you bring to relationships and how they compare to Christ's perspective. Also evaluate and pray about whether there were abusive situations you experienced in the past which changed your understanding of yourself and what you needed to do to get others' love. Pray as specifically as possible about the negative feelings you felt from different experiences. We naturally base our view of God on our human authorities until His Spirit overrides that as we take steps each day, choices of attitude and action, to live like Christ. Then we can see that our view of our identity was wrong.
Definitely do NOT let yourself start thinking about the number of times you've messed up with your thoughts, and don't view an intrusive thought that you don't like as an enemy unless you feel a strong desire associated with it. If it's a temporary emotional sensation, that's not quite to the stage of "temptation." You can have a thought or sensation go through you, like a feeling of passion when a sexy image shows up, but remind yourself that it's part of God's programming for your body. This was a valuable insight from a DVD documentary called The Heart of the Matter, which is excellent in talking about the mindset for dealing with these struggles. Like a fire, the sexual urge needs boundaries, or it will burn down your relationships, and then you will be emptier than ever. If you feel stimulated, that's biological, but if the desire goes further — such as a pornographic fantasy in your head like imagining the skin beneath the clothes — then there is a real problem.
Also, don't view God's commandments as a list of things to aspire to, but rather as descriptors of what a well-balanced life looks like. If you mess up in some way, and the consequences are minimal, be thankful that you didn't bring great pain. But don't just move on immediately; remember to confess the sin, with the expectation that God will keep working in you to help you improve. I'm not as driven by anxiety as in the past, partly because I have been really impacted by a rereading of the psalms, which show me that God gives these writers hope as they pray their struggles to Him. I've had a consistent prayer life even when struggling with anxiety over the years, but I learned not to view my anxiety as a sin per se, but a symptom of a struggle. Jesus even felt anxiety in Gethsemane, and His body starting breaking down by sweating drops of blood. He couldn't help that; it was biological. Struggles are real, and we shouldn't bash ourselves for having them.
Image Credit: punttim; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Sin-Evil
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Published on 3-20-17