1 Feb 2003

How to stop porn addiction?

Submitted by theshovel
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Hi Jim, Just read the QnA regarding porn. I have been addicted to the internet stuff myself and know of its seducing power. I was frustrated with your response in not seeing a practical answer to this guy. It’s one thing sharing the the truth of our new identity in Christ but that still leaves the question of, “Yeah, but how do I stop doing this stuff?” Not meaning to come down on you Jim. I still wrestle with this stuff from time to time and I’d love some more practical thoughts on how to deal with it. Love, D

Hello D,

I know you’re not meaning to come down on me, for I see you only expressing your frustration with a seeming lack of a real answer. What if your frustration in what I’ve written has more to do with your expectation of an elusive practical answer? After all, how many ineffective practical answers can we handle? And I don’t say this to make fun of your struggle as I am faced with the same pathetic statistical rate of failure.

There are no doubt numerous advantageous things you can do and probably HAVE done to steer yourself clear from the onslaught of porn on the Internet — and from that coming directly to you via email — but we both already know that such measures just can’t stop the cycle of mental porn. Even if we rid ourselves of the “evil” Internet and the stored porn on our unhooked computer we know the world is filled with other sources of it. And even if we can remove ourselves from all such printed porn we are still faced with those who flaunt their bodies in front of us. And then even if we successfully avoid the sensually-appareled crowd we still seem to have no problem with our imagination. Of course, we could always sequester ourselves away from most contact with people altogether, but those who have done so have only discovered that the problem is not with other people after all. But you already know all this.

What if who we truly are in Christ IS the only real practicality? And what if we keep getting thrown off because we have been stepping away from the living reality of Christ within our very beings? What if the real addiction has been to view ourselves as the unwitting victims of the really serious problems from which we need more serious and more practical answers? Maybe we will discover that our real addiction is the delusion that the principles of the world somehow hold the real answers. Ironically, the elemental structure of the law is built upon these same principles — so is it any wonder that the more we seek such practical answers that we seem to fall deeper and deeper into the thing we try to avoid?

It is in the search for the practical that we have absolutely destroyed and twisted the meanings of so many Biblical writings so that they now force themselves upon us as how-to principles. Principles, I might add, that have proven to be ineffective in dealing with the really hard-core problems that face most believers. Let’s face it, if New Testament Biblical Principles were really effective then why are we still searching for that elusive secret to victory?

Like I say, I understand your frustration with my apparent lack of practicality as it is probably the most common criticism I’ve received from many for quite a few years now. :) What is really odd about my frustrating approach is that my seeming lack of practicality has been heavily influenced by what are considered some of the most practical Biblical passages; like Romans 6 (should we sin because we’re under grace?), Romans 12 (presenting our bodies to God, and not conforming to this world), and the concept known as putting off and putting on as found in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3.

As a matter of fact I have expressed the reality of those passages so many times I am surprised that more haven’t made the connection! The fact that I express these things in an unrecognizable way is a necessity because the recognizable only seems to force the perverted conclusions so often associated with them.

In the case of discussions on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I am sometimes hit with that weary old objection that I have to move past what is called positional truth contained in the first half of the letter (chapters 1-3) and into the practicality of the second half. Now, that may come across as a needed and sound contextual consideration, but the fact is that I have done very little study of the first half of Ephesians for quite some time, but instead have come to many of my whacked out conclusions from an intense examination of chapters 4 and 5! Yeah, who woulda thunk it? Of course, the first half is essential in the understanding of the whole, but the fantastic reality of the opening grace is, in fact, embedded into what Paul continued on with. Fear has taught us to overlook this grace in the so-called practical portion so that it often seems contrived to even suggest it.

Let me give you some of my thoughts on the LIVING practicality of the Ephesians 4 passage. Now, I’m quoting from the KJV because it uses the more familiar terminology, and I’m also including the often non-considered statements that lead up to this so-called practical Christianity. [Had Paul written his letter in our time I’m guessing he may have considered including pornography in his dissertation. As it is, it can easily be inferred from what he wrote.]

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. BUT YE HAVE NOT SO LEARNED CHRIST; IF SO BE THAT YE HAVE HEARD HIM, AND HAVE BEEN TAUGHT BY HIM, AS THE TRUTH IS IN JESUS: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:17-32

Had Paul wanted to give these people the imagined principles commonly preached to us then he sure wasted a lot of words to come to that conclusion. I mean, why didn’t he just cut to the chase and tell them to stop doing one thing and start doing another instead of having so thoroughly integrated Christ into everything he wrote with his therefores and wherefores? These words insist that the previous thing leads to the other! How is it that we separate them with such efficiency?

Just look at the amazing contrast Paul presented regarding the rationale behind the Gentile’s walk. Even though he did target specific outward expressions of the vain mind he more importantly described what makes it tick. In other words, Paul identified the psychology of the mind we all learned to operate by in this world. The formulaic how-to approach MUST ignore this rationale as it jumps to the practical because of the fact that it is built upon the same empty rationale, that is, the vanity of their mind that Paul used in contrast to the new, miraculous mind of Christ, by which we have been taught in him.

Look carefully at Paul’s description of “the former conversation of the old man” in that first long statement. It is filled with the sense of EMPTINESS, a vacancy of true life itself. “vanity of the mind”, “understanding darkened”, “alienated from the life of God”, “ignorance that is in them”, “blindness of their heart”. No matter what our roots, THIS is the perversion by which we learned of life in this world. The wisdom of this world is built upon futility because it lacks the only source of real life, which is God himself. It begins with the bondage of emptiness from which it cannot break free in its continual seeking for something to fulfill it.

I’m not suggesting that it believes itself to be empty, only that it IS empty. In fact, it perceives itself according to DEGREES, somewhere between emptiness and fulfillment, often falsely describing itself as having hit rock bottom or else as having reached the top (I mean, how many rock bottoms can one hit and still keep going farther down, and vice versa?). Everything this empty existence views is estimated by its usefulness or non-usefulness in producing a measure of the longed-for fulfillment. And it will suck the perceived life out of whatever it can, and then will discard that which it later perceives as empty, not realizing that the very thing it thought to be life was not.

My suggestion regarding this psychology is not that it is some kind of prerequisite understanding needed to follow Paul’s logic, but that it is the embedded rationale of the life we keep INSISTING upon in our search for the practical. In other words, WE are the ones hanging onto the blasted psychology we learned in this world (even without professional help), and we need to recognize it for what it is the next time it suggests a course of action to us. We need merely to REMEMBER what it was we needed to be saved FROM in contrast to how FULLY we have been saved so that we no longer estimate ourselves in degrees between emptiness and fulfillment. For as long as we keep viewing ourselves as only partly fulfilled we will keep looking to suck some more life out of our next victim in hopes of achieving a measure of victory.

Do you hear what this means in view of a bondage such as porn? We who have been delivered from what we once were are not now captivated by porn because of what IT is but because of what that damned psychology keeps insisting that WE are in relation to it. For not only is porn built upon the perversion of something pure, but when we view ourselves as in bondage to that perversion it also stands upon the same twisted lie. We have also been made pure in Christ. And here’s the real kicker: our desperate struggle to free ourselves from what we’ve already been set free from in Christ only reinforces the false belief that we are not really free, which causes us to act and react as those who are still in bondage.

And yes, walking in view of this insanity does leave a trail of hurt and destruction, but even this obvious inevitability of the flesh’s inability to produce nothing but more of the same is lost in the quagmire of fleshly logic. Okay, I realize that was incredibly wordy, but try to catch the simplicity of reproduction, for a thing can only reproduce after its own kind. Just because the empty mind reveals itself in millions of different ways does not change the fact that every expression is devoid of real life. You see, even though the empty mind has no ability to comprehend its own emptiness and blindness (other than to incessantly comment and compare itself based on the more striking examples) we have not been left in this emptiness.

BUT YE HAVE NOT SO LEARNED CHRIST; IF SO BE THAT YE HAVE HEARD HIM, AND HAVE BEEN TAUGHT BY HIM, AS THE TRUTH IS IN JESUS

Everything we are, and everything we do, and everything we face in this life has been altered by this reality. And it is a reality, not merely a belief. It may in fact be properly described as a teaching or even as a doctrine, but it is not our holding to a teaching that makes it real … it is the LIFE that has made it real. It either IS real or it is NOT real. It is not a matter of degrees; it is a matter of LIFE. We have either heard him, and have been taught by him or we have not. And it makes no difference if we’ve been intimidated so that we mostly doubt whether we’ve actually heard him, for each and every time the good news of Christ’s real freedom snaps us out of a temporary insanity we have it reaffirmed that we have in fact heard him. Don’t make the mistake of comparing this miraculous hearing to the hearing measured by physical ears, for it is of another kind. It is a hearing by which we understand that which our physical senses cannot understand because it is a wisdom that is found outside the realm of all human experience; it is the miraculous wisdom of the one who died and rose to new life.

Check out Shoveletter on the Ephesians passage regarding the putting off and putting on.

Love, Jim :)

New Testament: 

Comments

Hi Jim, As I was browsing and came upon this reader’s problem with porn, I couldn’t help but respond. I was never one for porn mags and vids but my mind was working overtime!! As a matter of fact, my perceived view of masturbation led me into a roller coaster ride of “one day saved, one day not”. In and out of fellowship with God(as it was often put to me). In and out and in and out….. I’d get so frustrated with my “sin” that I would altogether give up serving God in despair and defeat and saying to myself,”maybe tomorrow I’ll make it right”. The good news is this. I finally realized that i couldn’t stop. It was utter despair, but HE had me where He wanted me. It was through that very struggle that I learned of the new life that had always existed, I just didn’t know it!!! The guilt, condemnation and discouragement was the very place that I learned GRACE and acceptance. It was here that the lie was exposed that it was not God’s voice condemning me and shaming me but the accusers. Now this may sound wild, so buckle up, but the truth is I actually indulged the hang up to renew my mind of the reality that nothing had changed in the new life God gave me or the way HE saw me, as one raised from the dead. Now some of you are saying that I used the grace of god to indulge the flesh, that the cross was used as a license to sin(another cliche). But the Holy spirit taught me this; Christ took away sin and secondly, a license is a “permission to do that which is otherwise unlawful”. Where is the LAW? It was nailed to His cross. So it’s not an issue of license at all. It was in the pornography storm that I “learned Christ”. I stopped begging God for deliverance and waited for the “hope of righteousness” that i knew would have to come. Instead of “trying harder” I put my feet up and waited and trusted without anxiety knowing full well in what HE had already achieved for me. When I really started to believe in my right standing with God regardless of my nasty habits and entrusted Him with the problem, it was then I noticed a steady decline in interest in those things!! The divine nature had me caught up in what interested IT and not what interested me!! It was in this very thing called porn that was the instrument in renewing my mind and into REAL FAITH. Bob

thanks i needed to see that

That was awesome.

I have read this several times in the past. I read it again today as though I read it for the first time. I have not scratched the surface in seeing the true reality and freedom we have in Christ. May our hearts be enlightened. Jim, thank you for your time and thorough explanations.

It's funny, I can remember breezing through this many years ago when Bob was actively posting here and wondering why there were absolutely no posts in response. As I read it I quickly realized that it seemed waaaayyy to dangerous for anyone to be associated with it. smiley At the same time, I totally got it when I read it. 

The fact is we 'stumble' according to Life. We never go backwards even when it appears that we have.

 

Thanks to whomever brought this one back to the forefront.

 

Love,

Adam

 

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Random Shovelquote: Realize the freedom (view all shovelquotes)

How can you realize the freedom you have in Christ? I say that you will discover it, more times than not, in the midst of the bondage that still seems to hold you down. You see, the power of the gospel is not found merely in the words of its testimony of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it is found in the reality that has been brought about because of who he is and what he has done. That reality is that Christ is in you. He is there, and his life witnesses from within you … despite all the doubts that you think actually come from within you. source