Is destroying porn addiction possible? For many men and women, this habit runs so deep, our personal vows to stop seem worthless to us anymore.
The Bible sees a vital link between sexual sin and social shame. The apostle Paul said those whose lives are marked by sexual immorality and impurity commit these acts “in secret” (Ephesians 5:3,12). Paul likens this way of life as hiding in “darkness” (v.8, 11). Sexual sin seeks out dark corners to hide so its deeds are not exposed to God or to others (John 3:20).
The problem is not the sense of shame itself. Shame is the natural reaction when creatures created in the image of God and sin collide: something in our conscience recognizes we are failing in the eyes of the our friends, family, the world, God—or even ourselves. Shame is meant to wake us up to the relational breaches caused by sin and push us toward restoration.
But that is not often what happens. Shame gets mixed with the false belief that we are too broken or too wicked for God to accept or change us—much less other people. So we hide.
John Lynch of TrueFaced talks about this in this video…Choosing Not to Hide
Destroying porn addiction starts when we choose to confront the shame we feel around it. We must choose to come out of hiding, confess our struggle with others, and build safeguards that prevent us from hiding ever again.
Porn thrives in the haven of anonymity; it is killed in the light of accountability.
Porn flourishes in the dark of secrecy; it is destroyed in the sunlight.Step #1: Safeguard Your Devices from Secrecy
Technology has not only become the easiest access point for pornography, it is also the easiest place to hide. Thanks to WiFi, 4G networks, laptops, and smartphones, you can view porn nearly anywhere at any time, and the risk of being seen has never been lower.
Install Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability on every device you access. All your Internet activity will be tracked and compiled into an Accountability Report which can then be accessed and sent to people you trust. By doing this, we remove the temptation to hide, be dishonest about, or minimize our sin because of the shame we feel around it.Sign up for Covenant Eyes Step #2: Safeguard Your Heart from Toxic Shame
As we said already, shame is a normal response to sin. In fact, in the Bible, “shamelessness” is a sign that something is seriously wrong—sinning is broad daylight is an indication of great hardheartedness. But shame becomes toxic when it is reinforced by the idea that we and our relationships are irreparable and irredeemable.
We can fight this belief by creating for ourselves a circles of friends where we fight this false belief together. These friends are not only ideal people to receive your Internet Accountability Reports, but people who will also hold you accountable to your tendency to hide in shame.
Here are some questions you can ask one another:
- In an effort to protect your image, have you been tempted to minimize, explain away, or hide the true face of your sin from me?
- Are you resting completely in what Christ has done for you—not obsessing about your failures or putting stock in your own performance?
- Are you resting in your identity as God’s beloved child, or do you feel more like a spiritual orphan that has to perform for God to love you?
- Are you regularly focusing on the gospel in a way that gives you great joy that overcomes life’s disappointments?
For a complete list of Christian accountability questions, download this free Christian accountability discussion guide and use it each time you meet with your Accountability Partner(s).DOWNLOAD THE ACCOUNTABILITY GUIDE
Photo credit: porsche-linn
The post Destroying Porn Addiction Starts with Destroying Shame appeared first on Covenant Eyes.
I need to be honest, I was reluctant to share my story publicly. Reluctant because women don’t struggle with porn, right?
The Internet was not accessible for me when I was a teenager. It hadn’t yet infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. I had no access to, nor any real knowledge of pornography, so it was not a part my formative years.
I developed a porn curiosity when Jordan and I were a few years into our marriage.
We’d stopped going to church, our relationship with God was practically non-existent, and the circle of friends we were keeping saw porn as no big deal—just something ‘everyone’ does.
I decided to introduce pornography into our marriage. Jordan and I were solid, our sex life active, it could only add to the passion, what was the harm?Not What I Expected
Porn was not what I had expected. I knew it would be graphic, but this was beyond graphic.
This sex wasn’t just sex. Porn sex was different. The bodies were “perfect,” the positions, acrobatic. No one had a single hair follicle visible anywhere on their perfect bodies. And visible their bodies were. Microscopically so. Nothing left to the imagination.
There was no kissing, no intimacy, no love, just animalistic, self-gratifying acts of sex.
And yet, I took the bait… I was hooked.My Life with Porn
Jordan would beg me to come to bed, asking if it could be: “just us tonight,” instead of us and whatever random couple had piqued my interest on screen.
But I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop.
I sat glued to a computer screen, searching, waiting for the perfect body, the perfect couple, the perfect image—an image I could never find. I found myself looking at women on the street, wondering what they were like in the bedroom.
It was disgusting. I was violating them with my mind—and no, I’m not sexually attracted to women. The images I been viewing had warped my thinking, been seared into my memory.Life After Porn
I no longer struggle with porn addiction or a desire to view it. I no longer have pornographic images haunting my mind. My God is the God of freedom, for those who truly desire it.
I still have to make the choice not to let my mind wander. I still have to choose not to click on Internet articles, links or videos that may contain questionable material. I still have to make a choice to disengage from sexually explicit conversations. I still have to make a choice to view each and every person I encounter; male or female, as God sees them. To honor and value them as fellow human beings, created in His image.Educate Kids About Porn
A friend of mine recently told me of a blog she’d come across written by a young man, imploring women to show self-respect by removing all hair from their pubic and genital region. He wrote that pubic hair is “disgusting,” and he was physically incapable of maintaining an erection, if a girl had any hair “down there.”
This, is the world our kids are living in. This is why we need open, and I specify, age-appropriate dialogue with our kids.
Our daughters do not need to grow up believing that there is something wrong with their body because it does what it was designed to do, believing that they are worthless, unattractive and disgusting unless they remove all their body hair. They do not need to grow up believing that they have to perform all manner of sexual acts in order to deserve and receive love. Our girls need to know that someone who would seek to bully, pester or coerce them into doing anything they are uncomfortable with, does not truly love them, and does not need to be indulged.
Our sons do not need to have their thinking warped by loveless, lust-filled images of sex-ploits. Images that are edited and produced to create and fulfill a need that can never be satisfied by just one viewing. They do not need to have unrealistic expectations of women, relationships, sex, and all sexual acts. Our sons need not suffer sexual dysfunction because the images that are on repeat in their mind, have formed a new and flawed perception of “normal.”
We need to tell our kids not to avoid porn just because it’s wrong, but why it is so wrong. We need to explain exactly how it devalues both sexes, and damages soul and spirit. If I, as an adult woman over the age of 25, whose brain had finished developing, could have had my thinking rewired by viewing pornography, how much more susceptible are our adolescent kids to damage from pornographic material?
We need to educate our children about exactly what it is that the porn industry is feeding into: sex slavery, human trafficking, child exploitation. I literally had no idea that this industry was fueling a hellish existence for so many young women, men too. I wonder, had I known back then what I know now, would porn have been any kind of turn on at all?
We shouldn’t educate our children in order to guilt them, but rather to equip them, to empower them to make choices that benefit not only themselves, but others also.
We need to teach our kids not that sex is dirty or wrong, but that it is quite the opposite. Sex was created to be a beautiful expression of love, fulfilled within the safety, sanctity, stability, mutual respect and equality of marriage.Our Kids Are Worth Far More
Marriage is really hard. It’s not all white picket fences and fields of flowers. Sometimes it’s just tumbleweeds and barbed wire, but to have the privileged of becoming one flesh with someone who totally gets you and is committed to you during the hard times is a gift that should not be undervalued by images of lust, undervalued by a world that trades in old for new, and is hell-bent on instant gratification.
We need to tell our kids that we understand and remember what it is like to have raging hormones, to tell them we understand what it is like to be sexually curious.
We need to show our kids that we support them. We need to suggest mentors or trusted adults that they can talk openly with and journey with.
We need to teach our kids that God not only created sex, but the whole biological system responsible for switching on sexual desire.
We need to teach them that our God is an approachable God, that He is more than happy to provide a way to deal with whatever struggles we face in life, including sexual struggle.
And above all that, we need to believe that of our God ourselves! We need to experience that of Him!
I am the mother of a teenage son. We can protect and shelter him all we like, but eventually he will discover the world, as he is supposed to. He will grow and mature, and set his own boundaries and parameters.
We will tell him where we’ve failed. We will tell him the outcomes of our failure and where we wish we’d taken different paths.
But most of all, we will emphasize God’s grace. Grace for failure. Grace for poor decisions. Grace for outright rebellion. Grace for a journey, and not just a quick fix. Grace for forgiveness. Grace for redemption. Grace for transformation.
Photo credit: 98640399@N08
Don’t just protect yourself online. Protect your kids as well.SIGN UP FOR A FAMILY ACCOUNT
Bek Curtis is a wife, mother of three , and blogger from Sydney, Australia. She’s passionate about Jesus and ministers in prayer and inner healing. Bek loves to speak and share her testimony of redemption and transformation. You can connect with her at perfectlyflawed.net, on Twitter @perfectlyblog, or on Facebook.
The post The Truth About Porn Our Teens Need to Hear (from a Mom Who Used to Like Porn a Lot) appeared first on Covenant Eyes.
A recent survey indicates that 52% of Christian men and 10% of Christian women view porn at least several times a month. Most of these individuals sit in their churches week after week, and no one knows their dirty little secret.
What can the church do to create an environment that actually encourages people to open up about their secret and most socially shameful sins?
James Reeves, senior pastor of Celebration Fellowship in Fort Worth, says churches often make two mistakes when they try to help sexually broken people: they do not make the church a safe place, or they do not create a safe process. “The church has to be a safe place for people to tell their secrets and has to have a safe process for people to experience emotional and spiritual healing,” says Reeves.#1: Safe Place – Create a Culture of Confession
Church leaders might desire to start a “sexual integrity” group for men or women, an addiction recovery group, or a variety of small groups where church members can open up about the struggles they face, but few will take advantage of these opportunities if the church does not feel like a safe place to talk.
The church becomes a safe place as leaders model gospel-exalting brokenness from the front. Pastor Matt Chandler comments about the importance of building what he calls “a culture of confession.” (Listen to the six-minute clip of Chandler’s sermon.) He says, first and foremost, pastors must preach about the cross of Christ. When the cross becomes central to our message, when the work of Christ becomes the only thing worth boasting about, then there’s no room for boasting in anything we do. Our paltry performance seems like lightyears away from righteousness of Christ.
Second, Chandler says, the flip side of that coin is being transparent about how hard life is in the valleys—sharing stories about our non-boast-worthy lives. At his church, The Village, they often show short testimony videos from the front of their church members, and they are not always the hero stories. Often the are simply raw stories of people who are still in process, still living in the unresolved tension of habitual sin or still feeling battered by a sinful world. This has a profound impact on the viewers, he says.
While we all love the God-delivered-me-from-all-my-troubles testimonies, for many Christians the miracle of deliverance is a slow, daily process. Yes, there are instances when God breaks down the walls and crushes our enemies, but more often than not, God brings us into the Promised Land “little by little” (Exodus 23:30).Don’t Just Confess Your Safe Sins
Sometimes in an effort to be transparent, we think any public confession will do. Unfortunately, some confessions can often have the opposite effect.
Jon Acuff describes what he calls confessing “safe sins,” like “I don’t read my Bible enough,” or “I don’t pray enough.” As real as these shortcomings might feel to us, if we’re honest with ourselves, these are not our deepest or most pressing sins. They are “safe enough for small group” sins.
Confessions like this can dissuade others from opening up. No one wants to follow the I-don’t-read-my-Bible-enough guy with “I spent the weekend binging on porn.”
Acuff’s advice to church leaders is timeless. He calls us to give the gift of “going second.”
When you go first, you give everyone in your church or your community or your small group or your blog, the gift of going second.
It’s so much harder to be first. No one knows what’s off limits yet and you’re setting the boundaries with your words. You’re throwing yourself on the honesty grenade and taking whatever fall out that comes with it. Going second is so much easier. And the ease only grows exponentially as people continue to share. But it has to be started somewhere. Someone has to go first and I think it has to be us.
We’re called to give the gift of second to the people in our lives.Okay to Not Be Okay
Psalm 89 offers a powerful example for us. Even though this psalm was written to be sung aloud by a congregation, it is a powerful lament that ends with the tension unresolved. After the psalmist celebrates God’s promises and acts of deliverance, he turns a corner in his mind and faces his current situation with nothing but disappointment. His enemies have breached the walls. His king is totally defeated in battle. Exile is immanent. The psalmist is reaching the end of his life, and there is no sign of hope. He cries out to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?” (v.46). But God is silent. There is no answer.
Of course, that is not the end of the Psalter—nor the end of the story. God did deliver them from exile. God did vanquish the enemy. God did resurrect David’s dynasty—in the person of Christ. But at the moment the psalmist put down his pen, there was no resolution. There were no sugar-coated maxims to lighten his spirit. Only questions.
Are our churches safe places where people can admit to being in the ugly stage of a long process—full of thankfulness for the gospel, yes, but still feeling the weight of our present sinful age? Are our churches places where it is okay not to be okay?#2: Safe Process – Create Means of Healing
Church leaders might preach grace and model transparency, but if we don’t provide a forum where people will be discipled, counseled, and restored, you will never see change. Worse yet, we create an environment where people get burned by their own confessions.
In some church circles, it has become fashionable to be transparent, to be “raw and real.” Church leaders with the best of intentions plan a special service or men’s breakfast where they are going to showcase their most eye-opening and broken-hearted testimonies. They open the can of worms for all the closet porn addicts in their midst—only to realize that they have nothing in place to deal with the worms.
Churches must put safe processes in place where sexual strugglers are given the hope of freedom.
There are three essential ingredients to any safe process: counsel, coaches, and community.Counsel: Intimate Apprehension of Immortal Truths
Someone who struggles deeply with pornography needs to understand why. They have tried to repent of the behavior but they have yet to unearth and repent of the sin under the sin. They need to understand the war they are fighting and the two primary fronts where the battle is fought: the body and the heart.
- The Body – For the Christian, one of the primary footholds where sin sinks down deep roots is our bodies. Paul writes that the law or power of sin dwells in our members (Romans 7:23). Sexual sin in particular, Paul says, is sinning against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). Today, we can actually see porn’s imprint on the human brain, the way habitual porn use rewires our brains and hijacks our mental circuits. For many Christians, an understanding of how pornography does this can help them understand the reasons why they feel so physiologically drawn to porn. It can also give them hope that God can bring life to their mortal flesh.
- The Heart – Sin ultimately flows from the heart, the core of our being (Mark 7:21-23). We are attracted to porn because it promises to us something we long for, something we have positioned as an ultimate good in our life. The Bible calls this heart-attitude idolatry, and it is the wellspring of every kind of sin. The one who is hooked on porn needs to ask him or herself the question, “Beyond the obvious physical enjoyment, what is the fantasy world of porn offering me that I find so appealing?” Is it a place of refuge to relieve my stresses? Is it the illusion of respect or intimacy? Is it the place where I play out my anger at God or the world? Repenting of porn means identifying the idols of the heart, turning from them, and turning to God who offers us better promises than what porn can offer.
Any safe process must be a forum where these truths can be learned—not just intellectually, but personally. There are dozens of wonderful resources available to the church today that communicate these truths:
- Your Brain on Porn: 5 Proven Ways Porn Warps Your Mind and 5 Biblical Ways to Renew It
- Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn-Free
- The Conquer DVD Series
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
- Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain
- Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
Jesus did not disciple his followers from a distance. He did not come to earth to sit in an office and write curricula for his disciples to read. Jesus was the curricula. He was their model, their mentor, their shepherd.
While we know this, we might think, “Well, good for Jesus, but I’m not the sinless Son of God.” The fact is, neither was Paul, but he could say, without reservation, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul, the one who also called himself the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), didn’t just call men and women to believe what he taught; he called them to imitate his thoughts, actions, and attitudes.
Those hooked on porn don’t just need truth: they need embodied truth. They don’t just need an information download; they need the wisdom that can only be imparted through walking with the wise (Proverbs 13:20).
This does not mean a church’s safe process should only recruit former porn addicts as mentors. Certainly, men and women with experience in this area of temptation are helpful. However, more than this, the leaders who mentor others should be wise leaders who know their Bible, know how the human heart works, and care deeply about the those trapped in sin.
- They should be men and women of prayer, experienced in helping to heal the hurts caused by sin and living in a broken world (James 5:13-16).
- They should be mature, self-controlled, and tender (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
- They should be men and women led by the Spirit who know how to restore and mend the shattered thoughts those caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-2).
- They should be “men of understanding” who know how sin works in the heart and can draw up the hidden motives that often drive our sinful dispositions and habits (Proverbs 20:5).
Raising up good coaches is a matter of careful selection and training, but there are resources today that can help:
- A Biblical Guide to Counseling the Sexual Addict
- Speaking the Truth in Love: Counsel in Community
- Sexual Sanity for Men
- Sexual Sanity for Women
- Building a Pure Life
Guilt and shame, though related, are different experiences. Guilt is our feeling of failure before a standard, but shame is our feeling of failure or reproach before the eyes of another—the eyes of friends, family members, the church, the world, God, or even oneself.
Shame is inherently relational. A sense of shame is meant to compel us toward reconciliation and restoration, but shame becomes toxic when it is combined with the belief that restoration is impossible—that our defilement is just too big, too taboo, or too terrible.
A church’s safe process needs to involve the formation of smaller communities where the express purpose is the dismantling of shame. These small groups can be as simple as cluster of two or three people, or it can be something larger and more formal. Either way, these should be groups that receive coaching and instruction on how to do accountability in a way that encourages confession of our deepest sins—despite the shame we feel.
Church members need to be trained in Biblical accountability—the art of confession, prayer, and encouragement that inspires us to rely more deeply on the grace of God to transform us. Consider downloading a free digital copy of the book Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and giving it out to the members of your church.DOWNLOAD “COMING CLEAN”
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The post 2 Big Mistakes Churches Make When Helping Porn Addicts appeared first on Covenant Eyes.
After nearly 170 submissions for our infographic contest, we were overwhelmed with both the quantity of submissions and the quality of many of them. Based on a popular vote, here are the 10 finalists.
It’s time for you to choose which one of these is the best infographic. The winner will be awarded $3000.
Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, September 22. The People’s Choice winner and the Staff Pick will be announced on Wednesday, September 24.
You can see the infographics below or click on the links to see larger images.
- Which of the these infographics is your favorite?*
- Entry #1
- Entry #2
- Entry #3
- Entry #4
- Entry #5
- Entry #6
- Entry #7
- Entry #8
- Entry #9
- Entry #10
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