CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Pornography Addiction Part 3
Spiritual Health Principles
By Christopher Schwinger
Pornography Addiction: The Series
How does a porn addiction get started?
A Christian Philosophy of Love
Spiritual Health Principles
If you have an episode of depression — which is sometimes an outcome of porn — it may pass on its own, but it may not. Like a disease, depression sometimes may run its course, but you need to build up your defenses proactively. If you just react to the struggle by confessing your sin, and pray that it won't happen again, you're not going to achieve spiritual victory any more than a pill can cure a condition. Another health principle is that if you can identify the cause, it's much easier to get the problem resolved. For my anxiety, when there were present-day problems, I didn't blame myself for my struggles. But when my anxiety came from my overall fear of people and whether God can be trusted to work in spite of their lack of kindness, I knew this was something which would not go away, and that the only cure was spiritual — and that it wouldn't be a cure exactly, but more of a stabilizer. I wasn't going to escape struggles, but I didn't want to be defined by them. I had to have spiritual ideas to latch onto, not just platitudes to repeat such as "God will give you a way of escape" (1 Corinthians 10:13). There were a lot of things that helped me with issues relating to God's sovereignty, but the one which really made me less anxiety-driven, building on that foundation, was the theme I found in the psalms: faith is something God GIVES THEM, not something they FORCE THEMSELVES to have. That's what grace is. You can never force yourself to stop having a sexual desire, and I expect you're aware of the tragic Duggar story, with ultra-strict rules being unable to prevent sexual deviance in son Josh. It was probably BECAUSE his individual self-worth was suppressed too much that he had the sexual problems. Paul explored this a lot in Romans about the law being a standard, but not something he could achieve on his own.
So I think it's not going to be an instant thing that you stop fantasizing about your female friends' bodies, but a perspective you'll have to discover through somewhat persistent reading of the Bible. Psalms and the Gospel of John were the most important places for this in my own type of struggle, and you may have a different experience than me when you read them. The points in time when I've had no peace in my heart about life, and God lets me keep praying without relief, have been disappointing — and we're not supposed to say that, but it's true that God seems unreliable a lot of times. But enough experiences of looking in hindsight have proven to me that when I choose to live a life of principle, God is in me, and I don't have to feel Him outside of me. I can know He's with me just because I wouldn't be able to endure with good character without Him. There's a hymn called "He Lives" which says "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart." That was another thing the psalms reinforced for me. I've seen non-Christians with strong principles amid hardship, but there is something much different about enduring hardship with a sense of purpose as a Christian, because of knowing why it matters, because of Christ fulfilling promises in the Old Testament and thus being dependable for the present and future. I think these foundations of faith are important for defeating addictions.
It's also important to not view success or failure on the basis of our struggles, but our actions. If you have not struggled as hard with porn as in the past, then you may be making progress, or your circumstances in life may just be going better and making you less stressed out. Furthermore, if you aren't actually viewing pornography anymore but still are imagining it when you see friends, that means you're not looking for temptation, but temptation is still there. The goal is for temptation to disappear, and I do believe that's possible, from personal experience with anxiety, but it won't happen on a timetable you can control entirely. You have to soak in as much as you can from Biblical truths, give God time to help it impact you, and then when a challenge comes in the future, you'll be surprised at how strong you are against temptation. Temptation will exist until you find an answer to your heart's need for love, and once you've gotten into porn, you're not just going to get over it from another person's love alone. Another person can care about you, and you can appreciate that, but still have porn struggles, and that's because you still have deep damage to your sense of identity. Others' love will always have limits and conditions, and they'll get angry with you and reject you when you don't please them. The God of the Bible has limits and conditions, too, but He doesn't reject people just on the basis of their performance, but on whether they turn their back on what He reveals to them. It's very different.
In general, people expect something when they do good, while God does good even to those who don't have a way to repay Him. The type of friendships you have will also impact your sexual struggles. If they're shallow friends, you're likely to fantasize more about their bodies because the relationships feel empty. Then again, it could be you who's to blame too.
I don't know about you, but I've had a really hard journey dealing with other people's rejection. Though I still struggle with viewing God as a personal Friend, I don't feel like life is a curse in the same way I used to. And it's not because my dreams have all come true, because many haven't yet — but God has helped me in many ways, on many occasions, as I've prayed through my struggles. Always take time to pray!
There are so many factors, and I've tried to name everything I can think of. I've studied this subject a lot and have listened carefully to the stories I've heard to help me develop insights. I hope these ideas will help you with spiritual victory.
Image Credit: Andrew Taylor; "Chivalry is alive and well"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Sin-Evil
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Published on 3-27-17