Free from addiction
Let's get this out the way first: this is for girls and guys.
The youth group I was taken to as a twelve year old split us into guys and girls. The girls were told about body image, the guys about lust. The issue was this: within a few months, if not already, both guys and girls were drowning in a web of sex and self esteem issues.
We can't blame this on past leadership. But it's about time we started engaging with this properly.
We love what The Bridge are doing. Let me add my voice to the shout.
Porn in my story
Having been introduced to masturbation at a Christian camp aged 11 by the son of a well known television presenter, my porn story began a year later when I stumbled across a file on a music-sharing programme (remember those?) one Saturday morning.
Already messing around sexually with friends, porn became an additional thing for the days when I wasn't.
The hit was good. It was all in my control. It was good to escape.
A few things about my life: I had a complex upbringing. From my beginning, almost every choice I made was an attempt to escape my sense of insecurity. I did this by seeking control over anything and everything I could.
I chose porn once every few days at first. But as many of you will know, it grows. Sometimes I was hitting three, four, five times a day.
I didn't see anything wrong with it. My drive in life was to feel good and have a good time, and this was a part of it.
All the research and stats are available on how it affects your mind. I'm not going to quote them. Check out Porn Again Christian for a good read. But I will say that my experience follows suit. Women were reinforced as party to my needs and I related to them as such. My lifestyle worked like this.
To be honest, everything was pretty good. I was fixing my life pretty well.
Porn was part of my medicine.
When I was 15, things changed. An intense year of an abusive relationship, Satanism and suicide came to a logical climax by becoming a disciple of Jesus.
I'm not sure I chose to. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and things went from there. After a year or so, I started reading the Bible more and it became clear that my behaviour had to change.
My gods of escape and control were no longer needed. My medicine of porn, sex and drink was no longer required. But I'd become dependent.
Changing my choice of prescription took a long time.
In trying to come off porn, here's the cycle most of us will go through. It's complex, sensitive and each of you will have your own stories with unique things to be addressed, but read your owne experiences into this story below:
Knowing you should stop
So, how do you go about it?
Try harder. Fall. Try harder again. Try new methods; read more books; throw all your belongings away. But you'll just buy them back. The more you focus your efforts on victory, the more you'll know defeat, and the harder you'll take it when you fail.
When you fail, aware of your inability to hit the mark you consume the shame that the devil throws at you. He's known as The Accuser. Your head will hang in shame, you'll distance yourself from God and from others. You know what you've done and you cannot bear to face up to that in the light of God and others.
So you isolate yourself from the fulness of relationship with God and his people. You are unworthy, and feel as close to non-Christian as you have ever felt. You asssume this is because of your sin. WRONG. It's because of your lack of grace.
Isn't this exactly what Satan aims to do through sin? To isolate you from God and his family, the reality of his salvation for you. Yes, even you with your porny-ness.
But porn is no longer a thing in my life
- Grace instead of shame:
Since when has our effort ever fixed things between us and God? I know it's counter-intuitive, that we could produce a result without doing anything, but actually that's how grace works. Read Galatians. God has forgiven you. But your sin? Yeah, costly. Damn costly. But, he's covered it. Religion cannot produce results but grace can. How?
The more you marvel at God's grace and engage in love with him, the less room there becomes in your heart for your own will against his. The greater room he occupies. More of him, less of you. So you begin to choose him more than you choose you. The Spirit has more run of the house of your life. This is how sanctification occurs by grace.
- Relationship instead of isolation:
And when you do screw up, don't you dare do the devil's work for him. He comes to separate you from God and others, so why the hell do you isolate yourself from God when you mess up? Why the hell do you think Christ died for you? Don't treat his love so cheaply as to discard it when you want to grovel a bit and make yourself feel worthier after a bit of grovelling. Don't be so dumb. Embrace the grace! He's forgiven you so now forgive yourself. The minute you screw up, go back to Father, apologise, crawl into his arms and revel in his love. Feels unnatural, counter-intuitive? Yeah, it will at first. But that's the whole point: you want to cultivate a new culture of life in your life. Life comes through relationship. So embrace the grace-relationship with God and then with others. This will lift the shame and fear that would fill your heart next time you hear someone utter the word “porn.” It becomes easier to talk to someone about it. Get someone to talk to and pray with. Get them to pursue your open heart as much as God pursues it. The mirroring of God’s grace in their actions will transform you.
You'll see the effect of this and it'll give you hope. You will have previously heard the words "Will I ever be free of this?" but now you will realise that you can be.
The cycles reinforce themselves. So the more you go round the cycle of Grace-Relationship-Hope, the stronger it'll become as a lifestyle.
Put simply (you could have just skipped to this) porn is nowhere near the final word.
I hope that helps.