Sex is all around us. We encounter it in on TV, billboards, grocery store checkout stands, and movies. It’s nearly impossible to go through a typical day without coming across some provocative image or sexual temptation. And with the explosion of the Internet into homes all over the world, sexual matter is easier to obtain than ever before.
Many people, particularly men, constantly fight the urge to view pornography. This battle happens every day behind millions of closed doors with people young and old, single and married, and even Christian leaders and ministers. Because of the World Wide Web, you no longer have to sneak into a XXX video store or discreetly purchase Playboy from the little magazine shop to have access to porn—all you have to do is go online. All manner of perverse images and illicit encounters are available within just a matter of clicks.
Countless men and women have experienced the harmful effects of pornography in their lives and relationships. Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer who was executed in 1989, attributed his grotesque behavior to a life-long porn addiction. While most cases are not that extreme, the average person struggling with porn finds that he constantly looks for newer—and often more explicit—material. Studies have shown that repeated viewings tend to have negative effects on a person’s attitude toward relationships, often leading to increased dissatisfaction and a lack of trust with one’s sexual partner. There is no such thing as harmless porn.
How do you fight the monster of temptation? Many people try sheer willpower, only to find that small victories are followed by larger failings. Others put all their trust in God to help them through their situation. But while this is a good start, the desires of the self will often overcome the desire for goodness. If you struggle with viewing porn and want to be free from it, here are some practical ways to do so:
[CUT OFF THE SOURCE]
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29).
Self-mutilation may not be the best solution for you. But the point Jesus was making is that it’s better to get rid of something dear to you than to risk far more serious consequences. There are probably ways you can cut off access to porn in your life. These may involve some hard decisions, but ones that could free you from chains of bondage that seem impossible to shake off.
For many people, the Web is a major stumbling block, since it provides anything you want at any time without anybody else having to know. Online temptations may be so severe that you decide to cancel Internet access altogether. Or, you may wish to stay online but bar access to sites with pornographic content. If that is the case, a filter is your best bet. There are a variety of Internet filters with differing degrees of blocking capabilities, prices, and functionality. One of the easiest and most-effective is the American Family Filter, a “high-speed Internet protection service” that maintains a server-side list of sites and content which will never even reach your computer before being blocked. They offer a 10-day free trial period so you can judge if it’s the right service for you.
If your struggles have more to do with pornographic videos or magazines, then stay away from stores which offer them. Choose a different video store to rent from than the one with the “adult” section, even if it means having to drive farther to pick up a movie for the evening. If you drive by a store every day after work that tempts you with the smut on its shelves, then find a different route home. Also, don’t browse magazine racks that have porn, even if your intent is not to look at it. If you have a magazine in mind to buy, get it and get out … don’t allow time for temptation to spring up in your mind as you hang out beneath the latest Penthouse.
[KNOW YOUR WEAK TIMES]
If you stay up late at night and aimlessly surf TV channels or browse the Web, you could be setting yourself up for failure. A dark house with nobody else awake and access to steamy content is a perfect environment for your mind to start wandering in dangerous directions. If you can’t sleep, try reading a good book instead.
People also tend to slip when they are tired, fatigued, depressed, or otherwise not feeling well. If you are any of these, don’t open up to even more trouble by placing yourself in risky situations. Get some rest, call a friend, or do something that will rejuvenate your body and spirit.
[HAVE A CONSISTENT DAILY QUIET TIME]
Do you have a regular time designated for personal communion with God every day? If not, make one. Open up the Bible, pray, sing, memorize Scripture—do whatever makes you feel in touch with your Heavenly Father and do it routinely. Don’t view it as a chore to perform, but see it as a recharging of your spiritual batteries. There may be some days you don’t feel like it; those are the days when you especially need it. And don’t focus on meeting a time quota, but try to gain one fresh insight or inspiration from God every time, whether it takes five minutes or an hour.
Many Christians find that the days they miss their time alone with God are the days they are more prone to mistakes. Putting on the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13) may evoke a worn-out Sunday school lesson to you, but it is a practice we must daily make to be equipped for the war against our sinful nature.
Dealing with sexual temptation can be a lonely and difficult process. Having someone else who will listen and challenge you in your spiritual walk is an essential way to provoke a change of lifestyle. Find a reliable person to join with you in an accountability relationship. This may be a friend, mentor or family member, but your spouse or a member of the opposite sex is not a good idea. Whoever it is, make a plan of meeting regularly (at least weekly) to discuss how you are doing. If you decide to be accountable about other matters as well, be sure to address the subject of pornography every time you meet.
You may also want to seek professional help. If so, check with your church or others in the area to investigate opportunities for Christian counseling. There may even be a support group you can join. Alternately, there are some counseling resources online that could help.
[REMEMBER CHRIST’S SACRIFICE]
Above all else, keep in mind the price that Jesus paid to free you from sin. The next time you sense the fires of sexual temptation flaming up in your mind, find the nearest Bible and read the story of Christ’s crucifixion in Luke 23. It is the ultimate illustration of God’s love for us. Then ask yourself this question: If Jesus could make such an awesome sacrifice for me, how difficult is it for me to make a small sacrifice in return?
Pure Intimacy – Resources for helping you or someone you love in the struggle with online pornography.
Setting Captives Free – An online accountability program devoted to helping you break the bonds of porn and sexual immorality.
Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time – A terrific book written primarily for men, but with sections addressing women as well.
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