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.eternalchoice.com/lust.php A short lesson.
http://h3sean.com/step-overcome-lust-pornography-addiction/ An interesting lesson.
http://sheworships.com/2013/05/07/immodesty-and-lust-a-mans-perspective/ Interesting perspective from a man.
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.
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.living-waters-uk.org/ British website.
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/