Sunday, 9 March 2014

I want to set up a Merseyside based church help group for men struggling with porn addiction and all related issues.

There are no groups in the UK, certainly church groups, to my knowledge that deal directly with porn, sex and other related addictions and compulsions for heterosexual Christian men, whether single or married, in the UK or Ireland.  I am ambitious for setting up a group in my local Merseyside area first, but not particularly ambitious to be some sort of leader because I am struggling with this issue myself and caught right slap bang in the middle of it sadly enough.  I keep falling and struggling with this issue, and I know I am being disobedient to God but at least I am praying for forgiveness and asking Him into everything.  I feel moved to involve myself in this issue because it has overwhelmed me before and it is overwhelming me now.  And if this is affecting me, I know there are many other Christian heterosexual men going through the same painful and hard struggle I am going through.



I don't say to God 'It'll never happen again, I promise' because I have said that and I have done it all over again.  I now say 'I truly don't want it to happen again and I am truly sorry and repentant at what has just happened and please be merciful to me and forgive me Lord.'  It is all I can do at the moment.  As you can imagine, I am desperate, distraught, feel at rock bottom and the lowest I have ever felt, and I know that I am disobeying God, making myself miserable and feel I am self destructing... and yet at the moment I just can't stop.  So, that alone tells me I have a serious problem, and so I need serious help from as many quarters as I can get.  But of course, I have prayed about this too.  I feel called in some way to do something to help myself as I don't want it to get worse, and in the process try to bring some help to other men struggling with this issue too.



Now, you might say, 'why not a group for Christian men struggling with same sex attractions?' Well, primarily because I am not gay or have any of those tendencies or feelings, so would rather concentrate on what I do understand and what I am struggling with.  I don't have a problem with heroin, so would it be wise to try and counsel others on a subject I know little about?  You get my drift.  If you do have issues with that particular struggle there are groups out there aimed at you.  Or, start your own church group.  Of course, that doesn't mean that if I can help in any way in helping you set up a group for other addictions I won't.  I will be happy to do what I can, or at least point you towards who can help.  We are brothers after all. 



There is now no place for hiding.  To get victory over this, I need to tell my church group or at least someone who will listen, but I also need serious accountability from someone who has struggled with this issue and overcome it with the precious blood of Jesus and who has gained victory through this battle by leaning on Jesus and asking Him into every area of this struggle.  We also need to understand that as we need Jesus, we need each other, which is why I have called this particular Merseyside fledgling group, and hopefully UK and Ireland wide, 'Brothers For Purity' and the blog I have just set up of the same name, which I am just beginning to work on, which you can find here at: http://brothersforpurity.blogspot.co.uk/ Just as an aside, I believe we also owe it to our Christian sisters to help them understand the enormous struggle some even decent Christian men have with this issue and we need to be totally open and honest here, without of course being in any way graphic, specific or explicit.  That is not a Christ like approach.  We merely need to let women know that even when we know what we are doing is wrong, and revolts us to the core, we still struggle with it all the same.  I now believe to get through some of this, we must and have to be open and honest about our struggle.  So I suggest that a Christian woman or women set up a Sisters For Purity group and blog/website too, for women perplexed by this issue, and also may I add for women struggling with these issues themselves.



I am asking for people, heterosexual Christians primarily, who wish to get involved in setting up a men's group in a Merseyside church dealing with porn and sex and all related addictions and compulsions.  I am not trying to set up a secular group here, it is purely and simply a Christian based and Biblical based group, but all men of whatever faith or none will be welcome too, with the knowledge that only Jesus can bring us all through this self destructive 'lifestyle', if you can call it that.



There is of course a need for general anonymity here, everything will be confidential and kept in group, for obvious reasons.  I will leave my email address at the end of this post so you can contact me in complete anonymity without leaving a comment at all.  I have put myself in the breach, so to speak, because someone needs to and I feel that a small part of my redemption and repentance will come about through being completely honest and open about my struggle.  I also feel that part of my Christian life is going to be rather curiously bound up with this issue, but of course I am asking God into this too.



OK, so I suggest these things for the group.  We are all strugglers together and can encourage each other in this struggle.  We also need men who have overcome this issue, with God's Strength, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and the covering of His Grace, to counsel us as a group and with private one to one sessions when we need that too.  We need especially for general accountability in this area because without that we will be isolated and feel no one cares just because no one knows.  It is first and foremost a Christ centred recovery and help group, there are secular groups if you want them, and it will be based on the understanding that only Jesus can save us from this self destructive addiction and set us on a new course, bring freedom in its wake and give us a totally new life where we live through Him, and not the faulty or disordered desires of our corrupt nature or the fallen world system all around us.



I just want to add this.  If I am called to lead this group in someway, in many senses God has called the least capable, the least able, the most socially awkward person imaginable, with no money, a bit of an education and someone who could not be called religious in any way, and I am not a minister or pastor or priest and don't belong to any denomination, I am just trying to live as a Christian.  But, I am learning to be a fighter, and I believe we have to be proactive in this struggle, although we see before us Goliath and the whole army of the Philistines, we can win this fight if we ask God into the struggle, of that I am certain. 



Tim


Anyone wishing to get involved in any way or can offer any kind of help or advice, email me here at:
joshuaserves@gmx.co.uk




I am now going to be more involved with this new blog: http://brothersforpurity.blogspot.co.uk/ so please have a look and if you wish to get involved or offer any help or advice, well you can see my email address above; just drop me a line! Cheers!







Saturday, 22 February 2014

My Struggle Against Pornography (Part 2)

Here’s how some people may be thinking about their occasional use of pornography, even the ‘soft’ variety: ‘Could it get worse?  Nah, it couldn’t happen to me!  I only buy a girly mag now and again, see a few naughty movies, look at a bit of online porn sometimes, and yeah ok I sleep around when I get lucky, but don’t all fellas?!!  This is often the type of thinking many people adopt, and perhaps many Christian men, when they want to excuse their actions of all kinds and especially when it comes to their sex life; a kind of ‘well I don’t pursue it, not really, but if it comes my way and I’ve not looked for it, then what’s the real harm?! In other words, my fellow blokes, guys, fellas, pals, mates, amigos, comrades, barroom buddies and all, we often say and even think we are honest in our intentions to be celibate, to be pure as Christians, to be honest to God and all that, but in many fellas there is just a twinge of dishonesty, a twinge of rebellion, a hint of hoping that something or someone might just come along and make the decision for us, so that we are exonerated from all blame, and then we can indulge can’t we?!  This is how I operated when I went drinking with my mates, not really looking for action, but kind of, sort of, secretly hoping that someone might come along who I really liked that might like me enough and… well you know the rest?!  Are we all for Jesus, really living for Him and being completely and radically obedient to His will at all times, as much as is humanly possible, or are we being obedient when it suits us or makes us feel good or makes us feel or look religious and important, and just when we want to?  If most people are honest, they will see themselves somewhere in that statement.  Most of us, if not all, are prodigal sons and daughters, we waste our calling, our money, waste precious time and God’s time and are not fit for purpose, and then we come back, tails between our legs, begging to be forgiven and filled with every excuse and reason for living in sin and licentiousness.  Then, if we have any character at all left, we just beg for forgiveness and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Lord.  And I bet that many people who get caught up in one addiction or ongoing sin or another often ask, ‘why can’t I be like the son who just did as he was told?’ when we are the ones who didn’t do what we were told but gallivanted off to ‘do our own thing’!  It’s an old, old story that will be well known to many of us.

 

What a wretch am I: unpitied, storm tossed creature without hope and without peace!  Indulging in porn makes me a sad, pathetic person and disgusting… and afterwards it brings only emptiness and no peace whatsoever, just a numbness inside, and also fear as well.  I expect many people, whether mildly addicted or severely addicted to viewing pornography, could see themselves in the above statement.  I have been mildly and sporadically addicted to porn, mostly of the non-explicit variety, for many years.  Before the Internet, it was home shopping catalogues.  Sound familiar?!  Perhaps it does.  I came to romance, girls and sex late in my life and was in some ways quite innocent and backwards about all that stuff, even though I did have an interest in girls, as some boys indeed do.  But like many teenage boys, the idea of going out with a girl, the idea of actually asking a girl out was so far off my radar that it probably didn’t even occur to me.  Why worry about that when I could fantasise about girls when I went to bed, if you know what I mean?!  Of course you do.  But, let’s be deadly and earnestly serious about this.  I have been a Christian since I was about thirteen; I started praying to Jesus because I was troubled and this was because things were happening in my life that were affecting me that I had no control over nor could have had really.  Nothing utterly dreadful or utterly serious, mid level stuff, but enough that I was troubled, so I began to pray and reach out for help, to Jesus.  I don’t come from a Christian family or a Christian background of any kind, so when I prayed, when I approached Jesus, there was no ritual, no denomination I was part of, no preconceived notions of who He was, I just prayed because I was reading a Gideon Bible I’d been handed at school, and at that time I had no one else to turn to at all, so for some reason I just prayed, and slowly but surely I began to feel comforted, above everything else and felt God’s real presence in my life.  When God proves He exists to you like this, even in ways that can’t really be understood or explained, it is then that you perceive God on a completely personal, individual and intimate level.  I think that until someone truly understands that God exists, believes that He created the universe and everything in it, that He has a purpose for those He calls, churchgoing, Bible study, affiliation to a denomination, charitable works or any other religious activity won’t have the same meaning without having a personal relationship with Jesus and without putting God first, doing ‘religious’ things of all kinds may have some value, and being busy in church activities may have some value, but if God isn’t at the centre of it all, it may be, at best, somewhat beside the point.  However, and not to sound rather slightly contradictory, if we put god first it is certain of course that we will need fellowship with other Christians in a church or church group on at least a weekly basis, we must get a Bible and make time to read it on a regular basis and we need always, but always, to make time for regular prayer and genuinely ask God into every area of our lives and to ask Him into the issues, struggles and problems we might have.  No amount of any kind of religious activity will help us overcome the world or any serious problem or serious addiction we have, unless we truly believe that God will help us, and of course if we believe He will help us then we must truly believe He exists.  If you do not believe in God, how can you really have any faith that He can save you?  God is not an abstract idea or a religious concept to make us feel better or superior or to keep us controlled by religious hierarchies of some kind, He is a real being who can and will transform your life completely for the better. 

 

As for myself concerning denomination, if asked I say I am not Catholic or Protestant, nor Methodist or Seventh Day Adventist or indeed any such thing, not arrogantly or to stand out, but simply because I just do not come from any Christian tradition or any Christian background as I said, and so for me it just isn’t that important to attach myself to a particular brand of Christianity, I will simply say I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus, who tries to serve Him on a daily basis.                

 

The constant desire to be entertained in some way, and the constant desire not to be bored, having the newest food, film, game, the latest technology, in fact the constant desire for something new can be part of the malaise of addiction, or which can lead to a kind of spiritual dissatisfaction.  It is a malady that in the past probably only affected wealthy people and the aristocracy and royalty when they had power and influence, and time and money to indulge their hearts desire and any and every whim they wished to fulfil.  The mantra today might be choice, and the opportunity to indulge for even those who are not particularly wealthy.  So many people must have the latest, the newest, enjoy the most exciting thing, experiences, holiday destination, the most up-to-date mobile (cell) phone or TV or BluRay player or whatever is flavour of the month.  When someone does get everything and anything their heart desires, they can become bored with everything eventually, and when people don’t get all they want, they can become frustrated.  It is then perhaps that people can drift into other things which may not be helpful at all, and even downright destructive in many ways.  In fact, or so I have come to believe, the constant demand to keep being thrilled and excited everyday is not realistic; some days and experiences have to be gloriously mundane, everyday, boring even.  An addiction may in some cases be a cry for help and a desire for spiritual solace and peace, or more likely a lack of spiritual solace and peace.  But whichever way you look at it, trying to find happiness or meaning through any serious addiction or dangerous obsession is one of the worst things spiritually you can do.  Rather than finding peace, freedom and happiness, you will only dig yourself deeper and deeper into a hole that the longer you dig the harder it will be to get out of.  But Jesus brings hope of escape, and brings true freedom.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

 

When you hit rock bottom with porn addiction, when you realise you can’t go any lower however that comes about; through fear of what God might do, through disgust, through the realisation that you are a pathetic individual, through any other number of things that might be at the back of a person’s mind, when you hit rock bottom and feel like s**t, the worst you may have ever felt and your world has fallen apart, it’s then most people feel numb with it all and wish for everything just to go away, or to disappear somewhere else: ‘And I say, 'Who will give me wings like a dove, to fly away and find rest?  How far I would escape, and make a nest in the desert!  (Psalm 55:6-7 NJB)  Eventually when you decide you have had enough and you are going to struggle against it, it is then that you see how the desire overwhelms you and actually torments you, and the power of sin is truly felt and understood when we actually decide to fight against those sinful desires.  But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.  So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side.  In my inmost self I dearly love God's law, but I see that acting on my body there is a different law which battles against the law in my mind.  So I am brought to be a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?  God - thanks be to him - through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So it is that I myself with my mind obey the law of God, but in my disordered nature I obey the law of sin.  (Romans 7:20-25 NJB)

                                                                                                                                                   

When you are going through hell, keep going they say.  Your emotions may literally be all over the place; you may be up one minute or for a time, and then be in complete despair the next.  You may feel strong and above it all, and then suddenly feverish with desire.  You may feel cast adrift and blown wherever the wind or the mood takes you, and then you may genuinely get some self control and tough it out.  In all of it, I suggest most urgently, you pray to God and tell Him everything, and simply ask for His help wholeheartedly.  There is no place for pride or niceties here, this is a deadly earnest battle we have to wage.  We may have to fight for every inch of territory, so we must be prepared for this.  The British SAS have a motto: ‘Who Dares Wins.’  We have to dare to challenge our deepest brokenness, our most sacred sins and our overwhelming lusts to win a pure heart and pure mind and live like Jesus, far beyond the ‘normality’ of the world and all its disordered desires.  Only be strong and stand very firm and be careful to keep the whole Law which my servant Moses laid down for you.  Do not swerve from this either to right or to left, and then you will succeed wherever you go.  Have the book of this Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may carefully keep everything that is written in it.  Then your undertakings will prosper, then you will have success.  Have I not told you: Be strong and stand firm?  Be fearless and undaunted, for go where you may, Yahweh your God is with you.'  (Joshua 1:7-9 NJB)  And Joshua merely said ‘…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

 

Here are some reasons why viewing even the ‘mildest’ lads mag porn is wrong and plain sinful:

  1. First off, before all else it is wrong because you are being disobedient to God.  All sin starts with the premise that you are firstly disobeying God.
  2. You may be looking at women (or men!) on the street, where you work, shop or in coffee bars or pubs, or at college or university, and wondering if they have the same perfect bodies and what they would be like undressed.  In short, you are becoming a pervert.
  3. You may be comparing the ‘perfect’ babes (men or women) you see in mags and so on, with your girlfriend or wife or fiancé, or just female friends and comparing them unfavourably to the one dimensional beauties you ogle.  But you are comparing fantasy to reality.
  4. There may well be a desire to see more explicit stuff, and a desire to spend more time viewing the porn as well.  What may have started out as ‘a bit of fun’ in leisure, may well become a serious obsession, an addiction that becomes like the darkest foulest prison cell.
  5. Whatever you are doing, or viewing, especially if it is explicit or questionable, would you want your wife, your friends, your neighbours, your work colleagues and anyone else to know?  I’m guessing you wouldn’t.

 

It can and will probably be an almighty struggle, a struggle which you have to ask the Almighty into, because if you don’t you will keep failing.  And it is possible that within yourself and to God you are deadly serious about giving up viewing porn or indulging your sex addiction or lusts in any and every way, but that you fall in a moment of weakness, in spite of all the best will in the world; it happens to the best of us.  But DO NOT use a slip up or momentary fall as an excuse to indulge or binge.  Get on your knees and ask God explicitly for forgiveness and help, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again straightaway.

 

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.  (Philippians 4:8-9 NRSV)  As well as asking God into the problem or addiction, it might be good to find something that you like to do or have always wanted to do, and developing wholesome interests that take your mind off the problem and out of yourself.  This could cover any number of things and need not cost lots of money or have to take up lots of time or be anything complicated or too involving either.  Most people have hobbies of all kinds and no doubt for all kinds of reasons.  I couldn’t possibly list everything that anyone could do, but I would suggest that whatever you might wish to do, it is something that you actually enjoy, something that you can afford and that doesn’t actually stress you out.  It could also just be making time for yourself and actually resting in God’s peace.  Having too much time on your hands can definitely be a problem, but also can being too busy be a problem as well, because time on your hands can be a bad thing but being too busy can create stress which people might want to find a release from.  Life I have come to believe is all about balance, and if we get out of balance too much we may fall off the narrow path.  At times, it may feel like we are balancing on a tightrope like Houdini where we have to concentrate on God far in front of us, and ever mindful of the dangers and pitfalls that lie below if we aren’t careful to keep our footing and think about each step we make.  If we look down, we are not keeping our eyes on God, and if we keep our eyes on God, we may fear that we won’t see what pitfalls we want to avoid.  But it is better to focus on God ever in front of us rather than on where and how we might fall.  This is the difference between focussing on God, and focussing on our faults.  It is the difference between living by grace, and living by the law.  It is, in fact, walking by faith in God and trusting in Him completely.  This separates the true believer from someone who just pays lip service to Christianity, or claims to be a Christian for any other reason other than they wish to serve Jesus and follow Him wherever He takes them.  And obviously if you have faith in God, you must believe in Him.

 

Anyway, I tend to have a number of interests that I enjoy doing when I have the time and inclination, I like to read, play the guitar, listen to a LOT of all different kinds of music from Gregorian chants to Cool Jazz to Jimi Hendrix and everything in between, I watch TV selectively and enjoy history programs and food and cookery shows and I am also a reasonably good self taught cook and like to dabble in different cuisines, and I enjoy taking photographs on my travels now and again.  I like to get out to places when I have the time, inclination and the money as well and love to go on long solitary walks on holiday too.  Some might call that boring, but I find it invigorating and I certainly need that time and space completely on my own where no one knows me and I am anonymous at least for a time anyway.  Not that I am anti-social, in fact far from it, but at times I need space away from everything I know and where there is only me, God and open spaces; or quaint towns at least!  I am a creative person, whether any of my ideas are actually any good or not, and perhaps some of my frustration in life is that I have not had any real outlet for getting my ideas to a wider audience although that seems to be changing slightly now.  I ask God into this too.  So, I could add all kinds of things anyone could do that may make their life that bit pleasanter like learning a musical instrument, taking a college course where there are usually so many courses to choose from in all kinds of subjects and, like many people, if you develop a love of reading that is possibly the best way to educate yourself on a million and one subjects.  The point is to use some of your spare time in wholesome pursuits; that also means making time for God, saying effective prayers by being honest to God, and reading the Bible too.          

 

One of the curious things about being a Christian is often the skewed perception non-Christians have about you and Christianity in general as well.  There is also it seems many people who don’t own a Bible and have never read one either, but who can proceed to give chapter and verse from a version of the Bible I’ve never read and then make all kinds of statements along the lines of “But doesn’t God say that?” and “But I heard the Bible says this?” from a book they’ve never read and have no intention of reading!  But somehow, these ideas about Christians, Christianity, the Bible and of course God are accepted without question or distorted or exaggerated in some way, almost always in some way negatively, like the stereotype of the Bible bashing wild eyed fundie or the judgmental accusing holier-than-thou type who is so perfect they can look down on all who are not perfect and condemn them.  There are many others too, perhaps the English one is someone rather genteel, rather unctuous in tone, rather respectable and Middle class, suburb dwelling, affluent and already a rather nice person with no troubles or issues with one foot already seemingly in Heaven!  It’s a stereotype that gets mixed up with how people from other countries think all English people are anyway, and with how Christians and especially vicars are or certainly were portrayed in TV programs, comedies and sitcoms on British TV.  It’s usually a dull, uninspiring, slightly dippy and almost always an otherworldly, well spoken and posh portrayal.  But, is it true?  Is any stereotype really true?  We can easily fit other people into stereotypes, but does anyone see themselves as a stereotype?  Well, do you?  The issue I am really getting at is the notion that Christians, every one of us, are somehow all the same, all similar attitudes, all speak the same, all boring or at least bland, with no problems, religious stereotypes filled with platitudes and seeing the world through rose tinted specs.  Sound familiar?!  I guess it might.  But, the reality is that Christians, perhaps I might say those who accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ and wish to be His best mate (best friend, main man, numero uno amigo, bestest buddy etc) and develop an intimate relationship with Him, are no more stereotypes than anyone else is a stereotype either.  Also, and far more importantly, there seems to be the idea that Christians have perfect lives, are constantly nice, constantly without problems, and go around with a permanent fixed perhaps rather superior smile; such a person doesn’t have problems do they, and to even admit to a sexual addiction or porn problem would be beyond the pale!!!  But, and here’s where reality smashes all the preconceptions and stereotypes, many of the people who admit struggling with sex and porn issues are Christians, and that includes many Christian women.  I think this is because Christians are meant to be honest about their struggles, need and must acknowledge their struggles to at least one completely trustworthy Christian, cannot live in any kind of sin and must struggle against it pro-actively any and every way they can.  This means that we let our brothers and sisters in Jesus in on our struggles so that they understand we have a weakness, can truly empathise, pray for us and offer genuine heartfelt help with no ulterior motives other than we care about each other and as Christians we also understand that it’s very likely that everyone of us has some kind of struggle, however mild or extreme, even if that struggle may be different; or not as the case may be.  It is also a requirement for practising Christians, those who truly are of the faith, to remain celibate until they are married which even many Christians find difficult in theory and practise.  What God is saying is that we cannot and must not have sex with anyone outside of a heterosexual marriage (and I mean your own spouse, not someone else’s!!!) we are in, and that your marriage partner is the only person you can have sex with your whole life.  In this present age we live in, where everything is disposable, or here today and gone tomorrow, or where inevitably a newer model come along, like the latest TV or PC or i-pod or game console or car, and so on and so on, we are so used in every area of our lives to seeing something new come along, to see progression, a new cuisine, the latest music, to be excited by something new and to have the next big thing and latest thrill, that we can get bored easily and be constantly seeking new things, without really appreciating what gifts both spiritual and material God has always given us, and that includes the people, family and friends in our lives that at times we might take completely for granted.  Where people are concerned, we cannot upgrade them or swap them for the latest model.

 

I never came to church (eventually) because I was some holy or ultra religious kind of person, nor did I come because I liked the idea of singing hymns or listening to a sermon and certainly not to be around perfect judgmental holier-than-thou types who would either be shocked at being near such a fallen sinner like me with a mixed bag of struggles, emotional damage and a sense of rage and hurt and injustice, or would feel the need to patronise and feel superior because of course churchgoers don’t have any problems do they?!  Again, the reality is that I looked for a church where I could get help with my struggle because I knew that without seeking Christian help in a church that reaches out to people who are struggling in some way, my problem would remain a problem without a solution and will keep coming back.  I joined a church with a Twelve Step Recovery program, not because I wanted to do Christian things or sing hymns or be part of any denomination, but because I needed help from people who wouldn’t judge me simply because everyone else has a problem too; well, if you can’t beat ‘em you might as well join ‘em!  So I joined a church not to be part of a socially exclusive club for the better sort, or because I am some perfect person wanting to join a mutual appreciation society or anything like that, which often is what many people in the UK seem to feel many churches are, I joined because I was crying out for help and wanted to do something instead of hoping it would all somehow go away.  God may indeed be calling addicted and deeply broken people of all kinds to Him, those who may be marginalised, suffering, feel hopelessly lost and blown this way and that by their emotions and just the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which none of us are immune to.

 

You may have reasons why you are addicted to sex or pornography or have issues that you feel you need to come to terms with.  God will bring you to an understanding and acceptance that you may have underlying issues of why you have a sex or porn addiction.  Perhaps there are underlying issues or unresolved issues of some kind, behind all sex and porn addictions.  In the end though, there can be no excuse for using any issue as a reason or green light to indulge and get deeper and deeper into sin, because no matter how innocuous what you are doing may seem or how trivial, it is not a trivial matter to God at all.  God does not want you to view any porn or act on a fantasy or sex addiction, He doesn’t even want you to ogle lustfully at another person.  Continue to practise any sin habitually and there will eventually be a price to pay.  You will have to fully lean on God to struggle against this problem, and I am seeing that this problem which has crushed my spirit almost completely and brought me to maybe the lowest I have ever felt, may actually be a stepping stone to a genuinely more intimate relationship with God, provided of course that we are serious about giving up and earnestly fighting against this addiction in every way we can.  If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.  (Matthew 5:29-30 NIV)  Of course, we need to pro-actively fight against this, but when we do and God knows we are serious, He will do the fighting for us.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

 

I can say one of my problems in life has been mood swings, and often my inability to keep on an even keel emotionally.  If I felt good I would get carried away with that and feel positive and hopeful, but if I felt down I would be depressed and negative, and allow myself to be dictated to by how I felt.  Now of course, if you feel good you should be positive and hopeful, and if you feel down you probably don’t want to go around pretending everything is just chipper.  I slowly began to understand that we can’t really control our emotions, nor should we ignore them either, but we can control our reaction to them.  At the same time we should pray that God heals us from depression and the worst of mood swings.  There are going to be times in our lives where we will feel depressed or under the weather and times where we will be carefree and happy.  Rather than anticipating a time of sadness or waiting for a time of peace and happiness, we should simply put it all in the Hands of God and ask Him to help us face with good grace whatever happens to us in life.  We should be emotionally balanced in life, not giving in to mood swings, neither too down or too deliriously high, but just right.  We may indeed be on stormy seas but we have a shipmate aboard who can even calm the stormiest waters of our lives.  A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"  He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace!  Be still!"  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  He said to them, "Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?"  (Mark 4:37-40 NRSV)

 

One of the books I read on this topic suggested that when you are struggling against it you need a plan of action.  I wrote a plan of action but also later thought of everything I could that might help me in this struggle.  Here’s the full list but they are suggestions rather than a full plan of action.  I suggest you make your own plan of action to tackle this problem, probably at most ten of the suggestions, but whatever gets you through the day, hey?!

  1. Ask God into everything, and tell Him all your fears and concerns.  Ask for forgiveness.  Ask God into the struggle EVERYDAY, throughout the day, especially if feeling overwhelmed by strong feelings of lust or images or fantasies, or the desire to view porn.  I may say that now you must begin to put God first in everything as par the course.
  2. No late night Internet surfing.  No Internet surfing when tired or especially when bored.  EVER.
  3. Sort out your PC in any and every way.  This means adding filter software if you have to, and placing the PC if at all practicable in a place where other people can see what you are doing online.  If the Internet is a serious problem, maybe disconnect while you are using it for something else, or get a cheap laptop without Internet access to use for other things.
  4. No ‘googling’ even seemingly innocuous things like ‘pretty women’ or ‘pretty girls’, ‘Italian women’ or anything like that.  It can be a slippery slope.
  5. Just because you see something by accident or think of something, doesn’t mean you have to act on it.  But pray about it always in any event.  Take it all to God.
  6. Learn to literally avert or ‘bounce’ your eyes from anything or anyone that may hit your switch, so to speak!  This means being aware of who and what you are looking at.  Let your wife or girlfriend do her own underwear shopping!  Seriously, learn to discreetly and purposefully keep your eyes off anything at all questionable and anything at all that may arouse you.
  7. Ask God to bring you to wholehearted repentance, and if you are filled with shame then let it be to keep away from what is shameful.
  8. Think about what you watch on TV, the Internet, read in books and whatever else you do.  You have to be brutally, radically and totally honest about this. 
  9. Take this issue extremely seriously; God does.  There is no acceptable porn.  Anything that gratifies or stokes desire is wrong.  Unless you see it as the serious problem it is, or just hope it goes away, you will keep failing and it will remain an ongoing problem.
  10. It would be wise to seek out an accountability partner, someone you can totally trust that you can confide in and even seek guidance from.  Being accountable means that you have to be honest about the struggle but not graphic, explicit or specific.  That you have a problem is the most important issue.
  11. Fight the issue on all fronts, as much as is humanly possible and with complete honesty and to be done with it completely.  You must fight with every weapon available.
  12. Ask God to make you disciplined and radically obedient to His will, and wholehearted in your desire to flee completely, resist completely and even at times bear the feelings you might get from time to time.  You may get overwhelming feelings and desires to indulge your addiction.  Be prepared for this!
  13. Ask God to specifically develop for you a strong prayer life, regular Bible study and reflecting on the scriptures and a genuine Christian to confide in.  You will need fellowship, and for Christians who don’t go to church, you must think about this next step seriously.
  14. Do not just flee the problem, run to God and take all to Him as well.
  15. You may have to fight for every square inch of territory, but God will go ahead of you and do the fighting if you ask Him.
  16. Be aware: as God forgives and is merciful, He also punishes!!!  If you habitually give in to sin, without a concerted effort to stop and struggle against it, God may abandon you to it.  And there may be ramifications, in many ways, for what sin you are indulging in.  There will be a price to pay if you habitually practice sin and give in without a serious fight.  Do you want to be known as a pervert or lecherous sleazebag, at worst end up breaking up a marriage or ending up in trouble with the police and perhaps being imprisoned?  Do you want to face the terrible wrath of the Lord?  It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (Hebrews  10:31 NIV)
  17. You must be pro-active in this fight, and when it ceases to be a serious problem for you, you must continue to be pro-active in living completely as a Christian, asking God into every area of your life, and then developing and maintaining a completely intimate relationship with Jesus.
  18. Get rid of everything that may make you fall, as much as is practicably possible, and you have to be radically, brutally and ruthlessly honest about this.  Also, if you have a wife or long term girlfriend or fiancé, you have to let her know you have a problem here and suggest what should be done.  Emphasise the seriousness, but again, no need to be graphic or specific at all.  If you’re a woman, the same thing applies.
  19. Be aware of triggers.  A recurring fantasy, a particular picture or something which makes you move towards what is sinful is a problem.  Whatever your weakness is, pray about it and confess to Jesus privately.
  20. Find wholesome hobbies, pastimes and diversions to fill your free time, however much or little you have.
  21. First and last, ask God into everything, every situation, every problem, every failure and ask Him for His help.  Without His help, you will fail.

These are some things you might like to think about.  Re-read it a few times and let them sink in.  Some may not apply to you, whereas a number will apply to everyone.  Culpability is also an issue here.

 

Here’s a prayer you might like to pray:

Lord, heal me of all these sinful and aberrant desires of all kinds and the desire to view pornography,

And make me clean and whole and pure,

And at the same time make me disciplined, completely obedient to your will

And give me strong self control in this area,

Amen.

 

It’s been said that most men live lives of quiet desperation and many of us struggle to make sense of our lives, on top of the fact we have to make our headway in the world like everyone else.  We don’t have to live like that, we don’t have to struggle forever with addictions and we don’t have to be living in the detritus and mess of our past either.  We can be free, truly free, and though we may have issues of rejection and even anger towards the opposite sex for the way we have been treated, Jesus can free us from that anger, that hurt and that pain, and as He forgives us for our sin and disobedience, He will also help us to forgive others who have hurt us and help us live a life without feelings of anger or vengeance and teaching us to deal more constructively and more positively with the letdowns and hurts and people-problems that will inevitably come our way now and again.  We don’t have to see every negative thing that happens as a crisis, nor when someone hurts us, even purposefully and maliciously, as a reason to fall into despair and anger or even an excuse to indulge in self hatred or hating other people, or falling back into any type of negative ‘security blanket’ which means that you are dealing it with it in completely the wrong way, instead of letting God into it.  I am talking from personal experience here as I still have a problem with women and rejection and a number of failed romances that either fizzled out or never even started.  I still hurt from some of these experiences and I have to ask God into them or I might go off the rails in some way.  I have a long road to travel, but each day I am a little closer to real freedom and a little further away from an unhappy, chaotic, purposeless and drifting existence that was going from one often unhappy situation to another.  That, at least, has changed.  I do have a purpose in life now.

 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."  (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV)

 

I am in the process of trying to set up a group and website for men (and a sister group for women), eventually groups throughout the whole of the British Isles along the same lines of those in the US that deal specifically with heterosexual Christian men struggling with sexual addictions, pornography addictions, celibacy and all related issues.  If anyone is interested, wishes to help, has any advice or guidance or wants to get involved in some way, please get in touch and leave your email address please.

Friday, 17 January 2014

My Struggle Against Pornography


There is no humour here, no jokes, none of my usual light-hearted banter, and no clever wordplay either.  I am deadly serious, because this is a deadly serious business.  I have a struggle with online pornography.  It’s not a decades long problem, nor is it something that I have indulged in every day for years and years either, it is something that has been a problem, in one form and another, for many years on and off.  For years, or many months in a year, I manage to avoid thinking about woman in that way, and don’t go near porn because I literally have no desire to look.  I may say this also, that I am always aware that looking at any kind of porn, however innocuous or ‘lads mag’ or Benny Hill sketch saucy it may appear, is not in any way acceptable to God no matter how prevalent it may be, when soft porn pix pop up in lads mags*, many daily British newspapers, adverts in all kinds of magazines, in music videos, risqué lingerie adverts on your email account and on TV shows and on all kinds of films now.  For the man especially, who truly wants to avoid the softest of soft porn that can be seen almost anywhere, it’s as if we are alone and cast adrift on a raft, surrounded by potential temptation all around with no island of safety or security in sight.  The first problem with anything that could be considered erotic, i.e. anything that sexually arouses a person, is that it is all abhorrent to God however innocuous or ‘a bit of a laugh’ it may seem.  Secondly, it is being disobedient to God.  Thirdly, it is making a human being, someone who God specifically created just like you and me into an object to be leered at, or fantasise over; and usually whatever else follows.  Fourthly, like any addiction, there will be a desire to see more and more, and more often, and then to get bored with the usual stuff and want to see more explicit material, perhaps more questionable material, and whatever the case it could become a spiral of degradation where more and more extreme porn is needed just to titillate and arouse, whilst becoming more and more numb to the growing extreme nature of what is being viewed, which months before might have been too shocking to contemplate.  It is the classic case of diminishing returns: the more you give into porn, the less you get back.  For me, it brings no good, no happiness and no peace, only emptiness and shame.  Fifthly, and obviously far more dangerously, some people may want to act out in some way what they might see in the sad deranged porn fantasy world they are inhabiting.  Then we are talking about serious ramifications, family disgrace, spells in prison.  And beyond the human ramifications that may come someone’s way, there will be punishment from God too.  I think numbers of even serious porn addicts will not take it to such extremes, but there seems to be a sinister growing trend in that direction.  Whichever way it goes though, a porn addict is still a sad, pathetic, imbalanced individual and living in a shadow world of sordid fantasy of the worst kind, which may take complete precedence over any balanced, truly Godly and just normal reality.  Even if it doesn’t involve people in a real sense, only virtually, what a sad life that is.  Who wants to be like that?  I really truly do not.  And you are far from God too, the only one who can really help you.  I want to add one more thing to this list, an addendum if you like.  Someone may just be looking for the archetypal ‘t*ts ‘n’ b*ms’ stuff, adolescent lads stuff, the naughty nurse in lingerie or the Benny Hill sketch ladies, but as they trawl more and more sites in the desperation to be turned on and overload the sensory pleasure organ, or whatever the scientific term is, there is a real danger that you might stumble across something you were not particularly looking for, which might shock you… but at the same time may give you a visceral thrill… where might that lead to?

(*lads mags are the type of magazines aimed at young men and red blooded males and almost always have pictures of scantily clad mid-twenties females in them, amongst other things.  They are rarely bought for their intellectual content or quality of argument and debate.)


I am writing about this and obviously concerned because I don’t want to end up a chronic porn addict, I really don’t.  I am not too proud to admit it could happen to me, and nor should anyone else drawn in any way to linger on anything which sexually arouses them.  If you think you can’t fall, that’s just when you might.

 

Even if you don’t act out any kind of fantasy, do you want to end up a sad, pathetic man, a half shadow, sitting in front of a PC screen hours every day?

 

I have a struggle against this, but I am at least battling against it, with church, accountability and filter software and of course asking God into every area of it through prayer and regular Bible study, and the knowledge importantly that it is all completely repugnant to God, and that He absolutely does not want us to indulge in at any level.  Combat it firstly by taking it all to God, the whole mess of your life and the fact you may have hit rock bottom with this or any other serious issue or addiction.  Then close down everything and anything which is a problem or may become in any way a problem.  If you do talk about it to a Christian friend, or your wife or girlfriend or church elder or vicar or priest, or whoever you can totally trust, you don’t need to be specific or graphic in any way, you just need to say you have a problem and leave it at that.  A Godly person will respond sympathetically and will want to help you genuinely get over the problem without offering platitudes.  They will also tell you to get back to God, to pray and ask for forgiveness and tell you to study the Bible and verses that pertain to this problem.  Keep away from sexual immorality. All other sins that people may commit are done outside the body; but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Do you not realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you received from God?  You are not your own property, then; you have been bought at a price. So use your body for the glory of God.  (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NJB)

 

One thing I would like to add is that God has put in me a sense of distaste and disgust for it all, even when I have been viewing it, and genuinely I thank Him for pulling me back from the edge.  But please understand, though there are men who have been far more seriously addicted to pornography than me and for far longer, there is no smugness or complacency in me about this whatsoever, because I know this is a slippery slope and God has placed it in my heart to have a real fear about disobeying, a deep sense of disgust at viewing what may seem innocuous and a broader sense of how pathetic and lonely to sit in front of a PC screen and get any kind of real satisfaction from looking at pornography of even the mildest variety.  Is this what God created me for, or anyone else for that matter, to live in a shadow world, like the undead, a half-life that at best will only end in futility and more emptiness, and at worst who knows where?

 

For men in the UK, there is no real provision for this on a particularly Christian level although there are of course very good Twelve Step Recovery programs in some churches which I recommend, and there are secular sex addictions organisations in the UK too.  As you will notice, I have added a lot of links to this post as I think many of them will be relevant and I have looked at a number of them myself.  Anything which keeps a person on the straight and narrow will have some value. 

 

Here’s a prayer about this problem that might help or you can chop and change as you feel fit:

Lord I am in the midst of an enormous struggle:

Help me to do the things you want me to do,

And help me not to do the things you don’t want me to do,

Help me to flee this immorality completely, to resist this immorality completely

And as much as is humanly possible to bear it when I am overwhelmed,

But knowing that I cannot do this in my own strength, I ask you to bring your strength,

The indwelling of your Holy Spirit in me and the covering of your grace which is so much bigger than my compulsion to view porn.

Have mercy and compassion on me, and take pity on me as I struggle against this problem oh Lord, amen.

 

In the recent past, I have had a desire to indulge and at the same time a heart after God’s own heart; flawed like King David, but whose heart was in the right place.  A spiritual madness and a crazed desire seems to overwhelm me.  I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate.  While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me.  And really, I know of nothing good living in me - in my natural self, that is - for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want - that is what I do.  But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.  (Romans 7:15-20 NJB)  Lust and the desire to view porn can also obviously involve fantasy, fantasies of domination, control and power: to take advantage of someone sexually is much like the desire to dominate, control and have power in the world in the spheres of things like business, politics, law and in the hierarchies of many things too, perhaps even in some organised religion.  I may add that these desires, not particularly sexual in themselves, can fuel illicit desire and perhaps more importantly are part of the world’s fallen and corrupted nature.    

 


I just wanted to add this thing too; many kinds of pornography are seen specifically as something men look at and get addicted to.  Men are seen as disgusting for wanting to view women’s bodies but few mention the reality that online porn is now also a serious and growing problem for women too.  According to recent statistics I have seen, 8% of American men are seriously addicted to viewing porn and 3% of American women.  That is hardly a serious discrepancy, when many people might think that it might be twenty men to every one women viewing porn.  This is really one woman for every two men, which is probably very surprising to many people.  I would say that this is a serious problem for many men and many women now, the only thing different is that men are far more likely to admit they have a problem than many women are!  Most men are far more likely to be drawn to provocative and sexy pictures than a woman is, or that’s how society tends to see these things, but after spending some time researching this, it seems that many women are now also chronically addicted to viewing even hard core pornography online.  As for the statistics, I think that in most developed countries including the UK, those would be pretty similar to the American stats.  I would like to add this too: it seems that in some circles, maybe you might call them feminist but maybe you wouldn’t at all, there seems to be an attitude that it empowers women to show off their bodies in a raunchy or provocative and sexy way… yet if men are enticed to look at these women, the men are filthy perverts!  There is a double standard here that hardly ever gets mentioned, and may be actually beside the point, but somehow it’s ok for women to make money through showing themselves off, but we men shouldn’t look at the same time!  The entertainment industry like music and TV and movies often nurtures titillation and soft porn to win high ratings figures and get people buying or watching, and the ad industry can be the same, making sexually provocative ads to draw people in and sell products.  This seems to be acceptable and not acceptable at the same time!  Acceptable because it makes lots of money for someone or some business, and unacceptable in the eyes of ‘respectable’ society even though this is only paying lip service really.  Perhaps the viewing of pornography is really symptomatic of a deeply corrupt and deeply fallen world, when people abandon God and make something else an idol or obsession instead.

 

It happened towards evening when David had got up from resting and was strolling on the palace roof, that from the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.  David made enquiries about this woman and was told, 'Why, that is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite.' David then sent messengers to fetch her. She came to him, and he lay with her, just after she had purified herself from her period. She then went home again.  The woman conceived and sent word to David, 'I am pregnant.' (2 Samuel 11:2-5 NJB)  David had the power to carry out his complete desires, but most men do not.  And if it can happen to a man after God’s own heart, it can happy to anyone.  David’s adultery and womanising eventually caused all kinds of problems for him as it will for anyone.  Getting involved in that way seems merely to complicate matters and it never brought David any real lasting happiness. 

 

I had made an agreement with my eyes not to linger on any virgin.  (Job 31:1 NJB)  Keeping your eyes off the ladies, virgins or not, is the first practical step and a brick in the wall of defence you must build to keep you far and away from this problem.  If you allow yourself to ogle, and look someone up and down, you are half way to fantasising about them and other women (or men).  Averting the eyes is one of the strategies recommended in a number of books.  Don’t make it obvious, but be discreet.  You know how fellas can be discreet when they are eyeing someone up?!  Then be equally discreet about not getting an eyeful as well!

 

Wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin.  For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in mind.  Against you, you alone, I have sinned, I have done what you see to be wrong, that you may show your saving justice when you pass sentence, and your victory may appear when you give judgement  (Psalm 51:2-4 NJB)  We can overcome this sin, this desire to view porn and all that goes with it, and we can become pure again, made anew, but we must acknowledge our guilt, confess our shame to God and ask Him to change our hearts.  It can be done.

 

Some links to look at.

http://www.12step.com/12stepprograms.html Twelve Step programs of all kinds.

http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/overcoming-sexual-addiction/ A Catholic flavoured testimony, but well worth looking at.




http://www.wholeperson-counseling.org/sexual/pornaddict.html A straight forward, hard hitting summary, backed up with scripture, with a warning!

http://www.wholeperson-counseling.org/sexual/masturbation.html A thoughtful article, backed scripturally, about the ‘M’ word.



 

Some links you MUST read if you are struggling seriously with this and other related issues. PLEASE AT LEAST READ THE FIRST ONE IF YOU CLICK ON NO OTHER LINK.

http://www.pureintimacy.org/d/dangers-and-disappointments-of-pornography/ It is vital YOU read this if you have a problem you want to overcome, and you understand the dangers of getting in too deep.

http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-f017.html Struggles with overcoming lust.

http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/courses/way-of-purity/ A free 60 day course for overcoming sexual addictions. Some of the testimonies on the home page are worth reading too.



 

Other links.


http://www.purelifeministries.org/home This is a good one, with some free resources particularly useful, the articles especially.

http://www.purecommunity.org/ Interesting blog about lust and related issues.




http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-sexual-addiction-self-help-books/lm/R10UYZC19G20JT/ref=cm_lmt_dtpa_f_1_rdssss0 British Amazon link to a number of self-help books on porn, sex addiction and related subjects which you can buy.  I think most of them are on the US Amazon site too.

http://www.saa-recovery.org.uk/ I think this may be a secular organisation, but it looks good.

http://www.slaauk.org/ This may be a secular organisation too, but it looks good.

 

some links for singles.


 

A link to K9 filter software.
http://www1.k9webprotection.com/