Lay the axe to the root of addiction
Editor’s caution: This commentary includes some frank discussion of sexual topics.
By J. Lee Grady
At a men’s event I sponsored a few months ago, some of my friends took the stage and got gut-level honest about their temptations. Shay, a young father from Ohio, admitted he was exposed to hard-core porn when he was 5. He began copying what he saw in X-rated videos at age 6.
Another guy told the audience that he began watching porn when he was a preteen, and this led him to sex with dozens of high school girls. Until recently this man still battled the shame of his porn habit even though he was a lay leader in his church.
Jason, a pastor in Pennsylvania, preached about how to reclaim purity in our sex-saturated culture. He too had been exposed to porn at a young age. His lust could not be satisfied by masturbation or kinkier videos, so his addiction drove him to seek multiple girls for instant gratification. That’s where porn leads.
Thankfully all these guys eventually found Christ and discovered the grace to escape the porn trap. They are married today, and they’ve been freed from the shame of past failures. But I meet many Christian men who are not so fortunate. A huge percentage of men in church have given up trying to resist temptation.
1) Spill your guts. The first step toward repentance is honesty, and it must be brutal. To repent means to turn 180 degrees, so this decision cannot be half-hearted. It’s not enough to whisper a quiet prayer under your breath. To break free from a life-controlling habit as powerful as porn, you must talk to someone else. And you should do it sooner, not later.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (NASB). I have prayed with many guys about their porn addictions, and they have testified that the power of their sin broke the moment they admitted it. Sit down with someone (preferably a more mature Christian you know and trust) and put all your cards on the table. If you humble yourself, God will give you grace to change.
2) Get ruthless. Sin is deceitful. It loves to make up excuses such as, “No one knows about your habit, so it’s not hurting anyone,” “I deserve this little treat,” or “I can play with fire and not get burned.” Don’t believe the lies. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup, and many men today forfeit their relationship with God by compromising with porn.
You can’t break free from sexual sin by slowly backing away from it or taming it like a pet. The Bible tells us to flee from immorality (2 Timothy 2:22). You must lay the axe to the root of your problem. Cut off all access to porn. Slam the door in its face. And if you can’t stop looking at it on your phone or computer, get rid of your phone and computer.
3) Keep no secrets. Guys addicted to porn struggle with constant shame. They can’t enjoy prayer or worship because they feel condemned. They can’t share their faith because they feel like hypocrites.
It’s not enough to confess your sin to a brother once. You must stay in relationship with people who love you enough to confront you. Find one or two accountability partners and make a covenant with them to live transparently. When you are tempted, send up a flare and ask for help.
4) Refocus your life on others. When a young man gets hooked on porn, he can’t grow up emotionally. This is why some adult men in their 50s and 60s act like 13-year-olds when it comes to sex. They are stuck in perpetual puberty.
You’ll never break free simply by gritting your teeth. You must redirect your energies toward serving others. Throw yourself into selfless ministry and starve your illegal urges.
5) Stay filled with the Spirit. None of these previous steps are possible without the Holy Spirit, who is our promised Helper (John 14:16). Self-help is not the answer; you have already proven yourself to be helpless. Ask the Spirit to fill your life with His refining fire. He will go to the root of your unholy desires, burn up your lust and give you supernatural ability to resist temptation.
Resources dealing with sexual sin
10 Lies Men Believe by J. Lee Grady – This book goes far beyond the pornography issue as Grady addresses 10 lies – e.g. “God made men superior to women” and “Sex is primarily for the man’s enjoyment, not the woman’s.” Today’s secular culture seduces men into a self-centered worldview that blinds them to godly principles. Grady’s insights challenge men to move toward true godly manhood. (Charisma House, 2011)
Pornography: Slaying the Dragon by David Powlison – In this 20-page booklet, Powlison uses the format of an interview between a counselor and a client who was overwhelmed by pornography and sexual fantasy. Their conversation leads to the client finding hope through biblical principles. (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation)
Ashamed No More: A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction by T.C. Ryan – Ryan’s transparency and honesty are rare in a day when countless Christian leaders are more inclined to hide their struggles with pornography or other sexual sins. Ryan uses his own experience as a case study of a man of God who fell into sexual addiction but who has found victory. (InterVarsity Press, 2012)
Sexual Detox: A Guide for the Single Guy by Tim Challies – This 29-page guide can be downloaded free at www.challies.com. Challies is a Toronto, Ontario, pastor who challenges young men with this crash course in biblical manhood and sexual purity.
Pure Life Ministries – PLM offers residential treatment, phone counseling and biblical teaching for men with sexual addictions. It is one of the nation’s oldest treatment programs and also offers help to wives of addicts. Learn more at www.purelifeministries.org or 859-824-4444.
Restoration Path offers counseling and help for sex addicts.
J. Lee Grady is an ordained minister and author of the groundbreaking book 10 Lies the Church Tells Women. He is founder of The Mordecai Project, a ministry that confronts the global oppression of women, empowers women to discover their God-given spiritual gifts, and challenges Christian leaders to recognize, value, protect and train the women in their lives.
The Mordecai Project confronts all forms of abuse including domestic violence, female infanticide, denial of education to girls, forced prostitution and sex trafficking. Grady has led conferences in more than 20 nations on six continents, and the ministry builds homes and schools for girls victimized by abuse.
Learn more at www.themordecaiproject.org or 407-333-0600.
This article was reprinted from: Charisma magazine, 600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746
Used by permission