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Archive for the 'Lust/Porn/Masturbation' Category
Struggling with porn? Join the club.
According to a 2008 study entitled “The Social Costs of Pornography,” 69% of males aged 18 to 26 look at hardcore pornography more than once a month. The report, released by The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., was endorsed by more than 50 scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds: conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, atheists and Christians.
More chilling, however, is the reality that the problem is not just limited to adults. In 2009, the fourth-most searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under was “porn,” according to data by OnlineFamily.Norton.com. For all kids – those up to age 18 – sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.
I think it’s obvious that, as men – especially young, Christian men – we need to step up to the plate; we need to ‘engage!’
It takes little research to understand that pornography posses a serious threat to the well being of our future marriages and families, and thereby society. If you have to this point rationalized succumbing to the temptation posed by pornography, it’s time to stop! Porn is, as the above-mentioned report states, “one of the great social diseases” – its harmfulness increasingly well researched and documented globally (www.pornharms.com).
Clearly, the accessibility and private nature of this temptation/sin is castrating Christian men today. I’m sure you’ve realized this, and have probably struggled with it yourself. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says the problem is very real among believers. He calls Internet porn “perhaps the greatest challenge Christians face today.” Land continues, “I am convinced that millions of men and boys are being destroyed by pornography, and statistics show that women and girls are joining their numbers. Their abilities to be godly marriage partners are being warped by it, and it is one of the major causes of divorce. Pornography is an evil that thrives in silence and proliferates in the dark. And the sad truth is that believers are not in any way, shape or form impervious to its lure” (emphasis mine) (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=32644).
So, how do we engage this modern societal blight? It’s a big problem, but we start at an individual level. We engage pornography by taking responsibility as individuals, and by acting as ‘armor bearers’ for one another. We equip and encourage one another to choose to live as the men God created us to be. Though you may have struggled for a long time, know that victory over porn is possible.
Some of our thoughts on eradicating porn from your life follow:
1) Accountability – This is a non-negotiable, but your action here will need to be tailored to your struggle.
If porn is a relatively minor irritation in your life we recommend starting with free Internet accountability software such as X3Watch, available at http://www.xxxchurch.com. The software is easy to install and simply requires you to enter the email address of an ‘accountability partner’ who will receive regular reports including a list of any questionable sites you visited during that reporting period. Here are some suggestions:
- Lightweight – Find a friend who to be your accountability partner.
- Middleweight – Find a pastor, elder, or mentor who will challenge you.
- Heavyweight – Put your mom’s email address in!
The first time I did this, I put my mom’s email address in… Needless to say, she never got any bad reports! However, part of the problem with this set up is that, after generating a few bad reports, you can end up calloused and stop caring about falling short and disappointing your accountability partner. (You can also delete your accountability partner’s email address or uninstall the software).
If this ends up to be the case, zip up your pants and fork out some cash for a solid content filtering software package. SafeEyes is one such example, again available at http://www.xxxchurch.com. It’s roughly $50 a year. I know that’s one less Xbox game, or a couple of seats in the nosebleed section, but it’s worth it!
After the filtering software has been installed, have your accountability partner set the filter settings and the secret password. This way, should you have a problem (e.g., the filter set so high, you can no longer access your Gmail account), your accountability partner can come back over, log in, and change the settings. In addition, you cannot find yourself sleepless and horny in the middle of the night, boot up your computer, and conveniently turn off the filter.
If these suggestions still aren’t cutting it, cancel your Internet service.
I know, I know. How could you possibly do without it?
But, I have endured much of grad school without having access to the Internet at home. And, though I have to go down the street to Starbuck’s or trek to campus pretty frequently just to check my email, I am not tempted to look at porn late at night (and I don’t end up wasting hours on Facebook and Youtube instead of studying). Obviously, I am advocating that you seriously consider this course of action, despite its inconvenience! I once advised a guy at law school that lived on campus and couldn’t rid himself of Internet access to lock his laptop in his locker at the school after he was done with it for the day. Cut off your hand; pluck out your eye (Mark 9:43-48).
Seriously men, freedom from porn is worth it!
Continued in Part 2.
2) Purpose – Here’s another consideration that always gets overlooked: What has God given you’re a burden for?
At this point, this concept is admittedly anecdotal; however, as you know, eNgage is all about stories anyway. So, here’s my thought: If you are actively pursuing something that you are passionate about accomplishing, you are more likely to also be actively seeking God. And, if you are actively seeking God, you are probably employing self-control in other areas of your life, as well (including restraining your lust).
Alternatively, if you’re not passionately pursuing some kind of worthwhile goal, I think you’re more susceptible to all kinds of temptation. If you’re in a place of complacency (i.e., your priorities revolve around making sure you catch every <insert team name here> game this season, or beat <insert game> before the next one comes out) you’re more likely to struggle with self-control in other areas, including lust/porn.
Why do I say this?
One, because I’ve experienced it; and, two, because I think the Bible indicates this to be the case. Proverbs 29:18a says that without vision, men cast off restraint. The implication here is that without vision men lack purpose; and, without purpose, men have no reason to restrain themselves. In other words, it’s easier to rationalize a lack of restraint because there is no pursuit of purpose for the detrimental consequences of a lack of restraint to negatively impact.
Whatever the reason, our experience here at eNgage demonstrates that a strong sense of purpose is helpful in combating lust. For some men that purpose involves a relationship (girlfriend, fiancé, wife, children), for others it’s an academic or professional pursuit. In any case, the pursuit of that purpose always involves seeking God as a central necessity, and results in greater resistance to temptation and sin.
For more on vision, passion, and purpose, please refer to the related section on the right-hand margin of this page.
3) Community – Here’s our final consideration: Are you in community with other guys who want to eradicate this filth from their lives?
If not, get into that kind of community. You will not beat porn without it!
Remember, God has hardwired you to enjoy the naked female figure, so this desire is obviously not a bad thing. But this reality also makes it very difficult to combat the temptation to view pornography alone because porn caters directly to that God-given desire and it’s so easily accessible. Therefore, you need other men around you who are passionate about wanting to honor God; other men who, like Job, have made a covenant with their eyes (Job 31:1).
You need other men around you to act as your armor bearers! As Henry Rogers, chaplain for the Dallas-based Interstate Batteries and author of The Silent War: Ministering to Those Trapped in the Deception of Pornography, states, “To be victorious, men need to be in fellowship with godly men. It is important to have relationships where you can speak freely and not be concerned about being judged.”
So, get into that kind of community.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done – I understand because the need for that kind of community was a foundational motivation for creating eNgage during law school.
But that’s also what this website is all about, as you undoubtedly realize. Explore the section on ‘armor bearing’ and think about what authentic masculine relationships should look like. Check out the interactive map to see if there are any men’s groups in your area. Use some of the lessons we have learned and talked about here on the site and start your own community. Refer to the forums to ask questions and get insight from other guys.
It takes some time and commitment to establish the kind of community of men who can deal with lust, masturbation, and pornography authentically because trust has to develop organically.
But, it’s worth it.