Friday, October 12, 2012

Taboo Topic Revisited - Pornography

   It is not easy to surrender to God on a daily basis. The flesh wrestles with the thought of abandoning your old, sinful tendencies. You know what the right course of action is, to leave behind the "old self," and to pray in an open and honest manner. There is a part of me, right now, in this moment, that wants to compromise on my principles, to give up on the fight against lust. If I abandon my present course of action I am sowing the seeds of my destruction. If I decide to kick the can down the road a few more times I will one day wake up and  realize that I have squandered nearly a quarter of my life. I expect to wake up each morning to find that the temptation has gone, the desire to look at pornography has vanished, but nonetheless the yearning is there. It is an incredibly difficult addiction to overcome. I am fighting, resisting, but the urge to look, to view is at times nearly overwhelming. These are accessible images, free, and available in large quantities. I have sources (websites that act as dealers if you will). I am not proud to admit that I am a recovering porn addict, but my pride has often derailed my efforts in becoming a "clean" person. Over the course of the last several weeks I have come to realize, more than ever before, that I am often too proud to ask God for help in this situation. I have convinced myself at various times that I can do this on my own. It would be a greater victory for me if I could declare that I broke out of me cell, that I loosed the chains from my hands and feet, and I chose to walk out of that prison. I am self-centered, somehow convinced that I alone can undo all of the mistakes, all of the poor choices I have made in the past. How foolish it is, for me to think in such a way. I am limited in what I can accomplish on my own. I possess only so much strength, only a certain amount of will to do what is right. Even though I believe myself to be a new creation in Christ I still make mistakes, I still sin. I no longer describe myself as a sinner, but a redeemed child of the Most High God, who, by the grace of God has been, saved from the consequences of Sin through Jesus Christ.
   There are battles that rage inside of me between my flesh (my old nature) and the Spirit (the Holy Spirit). Since I have denied myself, turned my face away from pornographic material, I have been tried and tested. Sometimes I endure multiple trials a day, small attacks that are meant to wear me down and convince me just a quick glance really won't hurt me. I know though that if I were to give in once I would find myself looking for hours at a time, and I know this from past experience. In the past, when I have decided to turn off the computer screen (meaning, actively deciding not to look at sexually explicit material) I can go for several days without encountering great difficulty; temptations seem far away. Everything appears to be going well, and because of that I become overly confident. I sometimes wonder why I had thought breaking an addiction would be so difficult. (Do you hear the cocky attitude?) My overconfidence in my abilities (emphasis on "my") becomes a vulnerability. I see myself in a distorted way, and I am ignorant of my position in in the entire cosmic order. I do not recognize God, nor ask for His help. I am self-sufficient, and I am focused on getting my revenge against Satan, the one that I recognize as my real opponent. Anger can only motivate you so far; my anger against Satan is overshadowed by the appearance of lustful thoughts. Temptation takes my eyes off of the mark. The enemy uses not only lust, but fear to drive me towards looking at pornography. The fantasies or thoughts are appealing in themselves, but the idea, seemingly out of nowhere, comes right at you, "You'll never be able to escape this. Every day you will have to make the decision whether to look or not. Every day you will be confronted and attacked. How can you possibly resist?" When hearing this hard-hitting piece of information I suddenly feel alone. My sense of being that strong, immovable warrior unravels. I am left to my own devices, and I stumble. There is nothing to sustain me. I have not taken the time to speak with God, to converse with Him, to read the Word, to prepare myself for my encounters with the enemy and the dark forces at work in this world. My efforts to resist fall apart because I have no supernatural reinforcements, nothing solid or sound to give me strength, or keep me motivated. The gravity of the situation hits me with full force and I recoil, I come undone.
   This time is different though, it feels different. I am walking through this with a very good friend of mine. We have been accountability partners for years now, but with his support, combined with my more humble approach to confronting this addiction, my reading of the Word, and some very open and honest prayer sessions, I feel that this time something is different, progress is being made. I have gone nearly three weeks without viewing any explicit material, and I am very pleased with this and hope to continue on in such a manner. Over the weekend I turned twenty-five years old, and that was in some ways a wake up call. It struck me, the realization that this addiction has existed in one form or another in my life for roughly twelve years. If you read my first post on this topic then you know that I was exposed to pornography at an early age, around 12 or 13 years of age. It wasn't until I was in college that it became a deeper issue, due to Youtube and free-online video websites. It has been a difficult journey, and my perceptions concerning love and women have been warped to some degree. I don't want to admit that, but I cannot imagine that being exposed to sexually explicit material over the course of a decade has had no influence on me. With that being said, I do believe that God can transform my mind, my attitudes, my will. I do not want to carry my addiction over into my thirties. Instead, I want to develop a relationship with one girl, to fall in love, to be married, and to begin a family of my own. It is that kind of love, that kind of intimacy that can be found within my heart. I do not want to settle for less, I do not want to consider an image on the screen to be my so-called "girl." At different times I believed that this ridiculous scenario would actually play out in my future. I was convinced at different times that I would never know what it was to "love," to be "in love," or what it felt to "fall in love." (Love in this instance refers to loving or being loved as a spouse.)
   I am denying myself material, and what I have experienced over the last couple of weeks has been what you could call a withdrawal. I have felt "hunger pains." I have been tempted on multiple occasions to go back to my old habits, to sit down at a computer, type in a word or two, and travel across a landscape littered with pornographic images, broken, and misguided souls. It is a lonely world. You feel alone, and you convince yourself that it is a secret best kept hidden because few people will understand, and even fewer people would be willing to extend grace to you. You isolate yourself from others, and you hold onto the lies that Satan feeds you on a regular basis. You establish barriers with the intent of keeping people out. You believe that if you confide in someone that he or she will not be able to contain the secret, that others will come to find out, and that you will never be treated in the same manner. You are ashamed, burdened by guilt, and you see no way out. It is a difficult position to be in, knowing that you are losing yourself and others because of the addiction, while at the same time guilty of what has been done and fearful of what others may think. From my experience the only way to begin to fight back against the addiction, against the urge to look at pornography, is to make yourself vulnerable, to humble yourself before God, and to converse with strong Brothers or Sisters in the Lord. There are other people out there that wrestle and struggle with this addiction; you are not alone. You need to be real about the issue, identify it for what it is, and speak to someone about it. I am not prescribing a one size fits all type remedy. You need to determine through prayerful consideration with God, with trusted friends and family members what the right course of action is, and remain committed to that course. When I think I can go no farther I'm left with only three words to say, "God help me." He knows me, He knows you, and He will provide assistance.
   Perhaps I could write more on this topic, but I think I will close. I may revisit this subject again. Comments and questions are welcomed.   

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