Sex is awesome. We are at war.
There are 86,400 seconds in a single day, and intimacy is under attack every single one of them.
The gift that is physical intimacy was provided to man and woman by God in His creative design for us, and it has been hijacked by His enemies and perverted into something it was never meant to be. Identity, quick high, substitute for relationship, and pathway to intimacy are just some of the many shapes sex has taken in our culture, and in our world today. The derailing of this train was not subtle, but has since become so ingrained in us as the norm, we may never see different in this lifetime.
The culprit that helped accelerate this, and is so violently,relentlessly, but quietly attacking our relationship with God and each other is this: porn.
An Enemy In Our Midst
I’m not here to convince you there is a problem with pornography; truthfully there is little time for that. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely given it some thought, or you are well aware of the sexual bombardment we face as a people in today’s society. It is everywhere, and we are being told by everyone and everything what physical intimacy ‘is’. We don’t have to look far in our Bibles to see what it isn’t. Nevertheless we are constantly exposed, tempted, and desensitized to sexual practices replacing relationship on a daily basis. And now we have capabilities for unlimited viewing of pornography in the tiny super-computers that fit in our pockets.
These are practices the enemy of God has deployed to keep us so focused on the immediate, or what is in front us, that we slip further and further away from Him in pursuit of sex as just a form of pleasure.
The War Is Won, But The Fight Continues
Fortunately, the war against sin has been won for us by our King. Every swing of the hammers that nailed Him to the Cross was a victory blow to sin and death He delivered on our behalf. This does not, however, mean we can be complacent in our defense against the temptation of sexual immorality; and the best defense, as the old saying goes, is a good offense.
In order to be effective in our strategies for overcoming this sin that destroys intimacy and relationship we have understand a couple of key points:
- Porn is a problem, even for Christians. If 35% of pastors currently serving in the pulpit struggle with pornography, how much more does the average man or unbeliever? We have to start talking about this in Church, because it is a war that is claiming casualties in Church.
- Going to the front line alone may have worked for King David, but we are not David, and this will not work for us. Getting plugged in to a group of men who accept they are at war with the sin of lust will be one of the best decisions of your life, as you will quickly see you are not alone in this fight. When you are losing the battle or the fight, having backup to come to your aid and shower you with grace and truth is the spiritual equivalent to reinforcements in the theater of war.
- Accept extreme, even if the world doesn’t. When I say ‘extreme’ I do not mean violence that harms you or others. I don’t mean violence at all, but I do mean diligence, and boldness. Lock your cellphones down, rid yourself of electronic devices you don’t need, install website blocking or accountability software on your necessary devices. These steps will not change the heart, however they will buy you some time that you should fill with knee-scarring prayer to the Father for strength and tenacity to see the next day through with a pure heart (Psalm 51). Jesus commanded us to be bold when it comes to fighting sin in Matthew 5:29, but we have a lot of options in our armory that we can humble ourselves to use before we get to the eye-gouging.
This is the first part in the series ‘At War: Porn’ and more entries will follow. Until next time, prayers to men and women everywhere who are waking up and fighting these battles…
When you become saved, you are saved by your faith alone, in the forgiveness and grace offered by Jesus Christ alone. These are the fundamental concepts of what is known in Christianity as the reformation, or the claim brought forth in the late 1500’s by a German monk named Martin Luther that countered the group think of the Roman Catholic Church, the thought that salvation could be purchased by financial contributions or works. Jesus Christ is who are you saved by, but what are you saved from?
You are saved from your sins against God, and the just penalty you would otherwise face without the intervening grace and mercy offered to you by Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. But what happens if you sin after you have been saved?
Can We be Sinless?
There’s a ton of debate on this question, that is: can humans be sinless? The short answer I subscribe to is: we won’t be sinless in this lifetime. Sin is so deeply rooted into the hearts of mankind that it seems it’d be impossible to escape it for now, and we certainly could not do so on our own strength.
It takes no time at all to think of the countless sins I’ve committed in my life, and the list isn’t what I would call ‘short’ since being rescued by Christ. The enemy of God, Satan, would love nothing more than to use these sins and the weight they carry to shame you and paralyze your growth in your relationship with Jesus. I know you hear the voice inside your head. It sounds a lot like your voice, telling you that you could never be sinless, you’re too lost, you’ve done too much wrong, and you should abandon any hope in God ever deeming you worthy. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with the worth of His Son, Jesus, who said your sins are “forgiven”. This is what makes you acceptable to God. That is ‘Grace’.
This is not a free pass to go on sinning. Jesus Christ said “Repent, and believe…”. There is a glaring requirement here besides just believing, and that is to repent. One who freely revels in their sins and gives no regard to their implications usually shows no fruit of a repentant believer in Christ Jesus. Contrarily, one who comes to hate their sins, mourns them when they occur, and strives daily to put the sin to death by praying for the Father’s help and spending time in the word will, in time, usually see the bondage of the accompanying guilt and shame broken, and the sin will hopefully be a distant memory. This process is called sanctification, or to be made holy.
The unfortunate part, for us, is because of the depth of the roots of sin we usually have to fight a war on many fronts. Lust for sex, porn, greed, excess, anger, dishonesty, infidelity, gluttony, envy, and our PRIDE are all faced daily in our culture. Sometimes the fight seems to already be lost before we even realize we are in the midst of battle.
We are told in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, to put on the ‘armor’ of God (Ephesians 6:11) to protect ourselves from the devil’s schemes. The devil will shower you with distraction, guilt, and shame when you’ve been called to follow Christ and still find yourself falling short of Christ Himself (Romans 3: 23). Remember the disciples, each of them with their flaws and faults, were still called by Jesus and sanctified over the course of their life as His followers.
The best way to armor up and protect yourself from the lies of the enemy are to read and pray daily. When you do this you will begin to intimately discover what kind of savior died for you, and His loving nature. One of the best illustrations we have in the Bible, while its origin is disputed, accurately depicts the loving and gracious nature of Jesus Christ when confronting a sinner, an adulteress more specifically. In John 8, after the hypocrites have dispersed and Jesus faces the adulteress, He doesn’t require her to be clean or without sin before He passes His judgment on her, nor does He ask her for some sort of work in return for salvation. He freely offers it to her.
He simply says, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”
Article written by: Jimmy Needham for the blog at Desiring God
I remember the first time I saw Jimmy’s testimony about overcoming pornograpy on YouTube, and it impacted me then. I just found this article by him, and wanted to share both here on my blog. Enjoy.
Here is the link to the video I mentioned above:
I used to look at pornography nearly every day for a decade. But for the past twelve years, by God’s grace, I have not visited a single porn site.
For many battling addiction, that sentence embodies what we’re striving for. That sentence, however, is not a success story.
As we all know by now, lust manifesting in addiction to pornography is rampant in our tech-savvy culture, and sadly it’s little different among Christians. I’m in weekly conversations with college guys at our church who are fighting hard against lust and porn addiction.
It’s interesting for me to hear how people talk about their struggle. Often when they share, they frame it in terms of “how long it’s been” since their last encounter with porn. The room rejoices with those who haven’t had an incident in a while, and we spout off advice to the ones who have. You can almost see the ranking system build before your eyes: The most recent sinner cowers on the bottom with the lowest score, while the one with the longest record of abstinence stands tall at the top.
But we may have it more wrong than we think. Why? Because our actions don’t always reveal our hearts.
If you were looking for the most moral people of Christ’s day, you would look no further than the Pharisees — fasting, tithing, praying, obeying. Yet when Jesus has a chance to speak to them he says this:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25–26)
For these religious leaders, holiness was only skin-deep. Their deeds were moral, but their hearts were evil. Jesus understood that what you could see in a person’s life often says very little about the condition of a person’s spirituallife. If God was merely after behavior modification, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees. Instead, they received some of Jesus’s harshest words of all.
One way to tell if you’re measuring success by an outer-cleanness versus an inner-cleanness is if you obsess over how many days it’s been since you last sinned. That mentality presupposes that your issue is one primarily of behavior, and not of the heart. But God always seeks a change deeper than our behavior.
This isn’t just a porn issue. We see this in other areas. For example, it’s not necessarily grounds for celebration if an obese person loses a hundred pounds. On a superficial level we can certainly say that proper diet and exercise is better for their health, and therefore a good thing. But is it worth celebrating if that weight loss was motivated by vanity? Or if it produced a heart of self-righteousness or self-worship? Perhaps they dealt the decisive blow to their gluttony, only to have narcissism sprout in its place. The new state of the person might be worse than the first!
The Puritan John Owen said it well when speaking on the fight against sin: “He that changes pride for worldliness, sensuality for Pharisaism, vanity in himself to the contempt of others, let him not think that he has mortified the sin that he seems to have left. He has changed his master, but is a servant still.”
Obedience from the Heart
If it’s true that God looks at the heart first, what are some markers of that inner-cleanness he desires beyond the changes in our behavior?
- A sense of neediness and dependence on the grace of God. Christianity is nothing if not the religion of the helpless. The godliest thing any of us can do in our fight against sin is to admit we cannot fight against sin on our own. We need the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. If you feel defeated in your struggle against lust, let that sense of defeat push you further into the arms of your strong Savior today, and push you to lean on his strength and help, again.
- A steady gaze at Christ as our treasure and satisfaction. Most of our efforts in sanctification fall short of seeing Christ this way. But Scripture is clear: There is no legitimate conquering of sin without a pursuit of Christ in its place (2 Timothy 2:22; Romans 13:14; John 6:35). Jesus is a good meal for our soul. The battle for purity is really a battle to delight in God.
Don’t mistake what I’m saying. God absolutely wants external, visible life-change: “[Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). But a change of behavior is only God-glorifying if it is motivated by a change of heart.
As you war against your flesh, as you fight against lust and addiction, as you counsel others in the battle, aim higher and deeper than outer moral conformity. Feel your inability to produce lasting life change apart from the work of God’s Spirit. Pray for a heart that is so enamored with the beauty of Christ that it despises the temptations of sin. Win the inner victory with Christ’s help, and the external victories will not be far off.
Jimmy Needham is a singer/songwriter and serves on staff at Stonegate Church in Midlothian, Texas. He and his wife have two daughters and a son. Learn more at jimmyneedham.com.
Article source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-real-battle-for-sexual-purity
I know the struggle of lust. It’s a battle that seems to have no end, in a war that too often already seems lost. Pornography addictions very often lead to sexual addictions, and compulsive, reckless behavior that destroys families, relationships, and can even end lives. When I realized what I had was not just something “natural”, or that it wasn’t okay “because everyone does it”, I realized it because it was ruining me. It was ruining, even more, a marriage that had been built on lust and no understanding or belief in what marriage was created by God to be.
This life I wanted so badly to escape at nearly 26 years old was the only life I had known since I was eleven years old. It may not be fair to say this filth ruined me, rather, it may be more accurate to say it kept me from ever knowing who I was. I would not know who that person was until I found out who this God was I had constantly rejected pretty much my whole life. What I found out told me it was possible to escape this death grip.
I found out, in the midst of much sel-loathing, guilt-filled regret, and suicidal thoughts that God is a God who loves us, in spite of us. He is a God who fights for us, even when we fight Him, and try to do it our way. When we realize this, who He is, we are faced with who we are: Wretched Sinners. We could not save ourselves or make ourselves worthy to be in the presence of God, even if we somehow possessed the power to do so.
If we could save ourselves, the Jews would have done so when they faced the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exodus 14), but they couldn’t. God brought them there to show them just that; He is the ONLY way to life. Without His love, our story ends in the Garden when Adam and Eve failed God. It ends in bondage, slavery, and death had it not been for grace and mercy from the Author of Life. He gives life, and He saves life.
God parted the sea, not because the Israelites worshiped Him flawlessly, but so they would really see God for His might, glory, and most of all, His love. He did not ‘fight’ for the perfect people, or for the righteous. He fought for HIS people, in all of their brokenness, doubt, sins, and contentment for less than Him. He broke into their lives when they thought He had forgotten them and hardened their hearts. We are His, not because of what we do for Him, but because HE says we are His.
If God needed us to be perfect before He rescued us, there would be no grace or mercy. If we could be perfect God would not have needed to send His Son to bring us new life by laying His down for ours (John 3:16-17). No, instead, He meets us where we are to save us from ourselves, and to save us from the guilt and shame of our sins. His grace is stronger than our guilt, and His mercy reaches further than any sin I’ve ever committed, or any sin you could commit.
This is the freedom you seek, and the cure for the addiction you feel. This is the Good News of the Christian life. And this is the way out for the man or woman who feels trapped by their lusts. He is the Savior who can make this life you live now a distant memory. He is the only way to life, and He forgives you like He forgave Adam, and He will save you like He has saved the Israel of the Old Testament, and like the wretched sinners Christ has come to save in the New.
Don’t just cry out in your guilt and shame and face another day alone. Cry out to your savior. He WILL fight for you.
Great article from the Gottman Institute:
I recently saw a video of a couple gracefully dancing on the streets of Israel, moving in and out of crowds, encapsulated by one another and their dance.
This couple moved with immense strength, agility, and elegance. Every step, spin, and lift was a piece of fine art. Their flawless performance left me mesmerized, inspired, and eager to return to the dance classes my husband and I had begun taking at Flow Studios in Seattle.
During our second lesson, my inspiration quickly turned into frustration as my partner and I began tripping over each other’s feet, colliding with one another, and growing steadily disheartened.
Our dance was anything but graceful.
Mistakes are normal
As we moved clumsily across the dance floor, I recalled the Israeli couple and their “flawless” dance. I had to remind myself that while this couple’s dance appeared perfect, they definitely made off-camera mistakes and had probably already practiced this dance hundreds of times.
No couple is perfect, whether on the dance floor or in everyday life.
From a distance, there are plenty of individuals or couples who appear to live their lives perfectly together. But in reality, we all slip and stumble from time to time.
While mistakes are inevitable in our relationships, it is how we respond to them that makes all of the difference between relationships that are resilient and flourish through imperfections, and those that crumble apart.
Pause: Acknowledge when you stumble
If, or rather when, you stumble with your partner (on or off the dance floor), it is necessary to first acknowledge the mistake.
When we take the time to acknowledge that we have messed up, we should mindfully search ourselves for the potential roots of our blunder. In taking the time to “check ourselves,” we build greater self awareness and cultivate the ability to choose wisely in the future.
On the dance floor, this can happen in the flash of an eye.
When we began our lesson, I repeatedly found myself tripping over my partner’s shoes but continued to stubbornly push through, determined to move beyond and perfect our dance.
It finally dawned on me that this issue wasn’t going to fix itself until we paused to take the time to explore the roots of the problem.
Our dance teacher, Michael, explained the importance of looking up at your partner and staying focused on the rhythm of the music. “No matter what you do, stay in beat with the song,” he described.
I had been so intensely preoccupied looking down, trying not to trip over my husband’s feet, that I had completely forgotten to listen to and feel the rhythm of the music. Taking a moment to pause and reflect on the roots of our stumbling was crucial to resetting our dance. In this situation, I inevitably needed a little external guidance to build this awareness.
While acknowledging our issues or mistakes is pertinent, it is equally as essential that we don’t “get stuck” looking down, or internalizing that we are defined by our imperfections.
Brené Brown explains the difference between shame and guilt as related to our mistakes. While guilt says “I did something bad” and is a normal, healthy reaction when we operate outside of our value system, shame says “I am bad.”
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change,” she describes.
When I was stuck in a pattern looking down at my feet stumbling on my partner’s, it was hard not to internalize that I am simply a “bad dancer,” and that there’s not much hope that I will ever improve. As I was able to shift my lens and look up at my partner, I was able to glean more hope that together, we could improve and strengthen our dance and relationship.
Process: Make repair attempt
After recognizing that one has made a mistake, it is important to make a repair with your partner.
The Gottmans explain that while it is normal to make mistakes and have conflict with your partner, healthy relationships are those that make repair attempts. Repairs, defined by the Gottmans, are “any statement(s) or action(s) — silly or otherwise — that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.”
As my partner and I danced in our second lesson and I continued to clumsily stumble over his feet, I felt my blood pressure starting to rise with waves of frustration emerging above the surface. My partner inevitably felt these forces in our dance, which suddenly had taken on a rather negative tone.
While it wasn’t necessary for me to apologize every time I stepped on my husband’s feet, it was crucial to make a repair before I got “flooded,” as the Gottmans call it, and said or did something regrettable.
So how do you make repair attempts? They can vary drastically from couple to couple, and from situation to situation.
In this situation, I not only apologized verbally to my partner for my impatient and frustrated attitude, but also threw in some big, theatrical dance moves, twirling my partner around and dipping him, in an effort to lighten the mood and let him know that we are on the same team.
Through this repair attempt, we were able to break our negative pattern that was spiraling downwards and reset our tone with greater gentleness, playfulness, and care.
Over time, we have become increasingly quick and effective in making and responding to repair attempts. It is a skill that, if practiced, will help strengthen your ability to recover and thrive as a couple.
Proceed: Continue the dance
After acknowledging your mistakes and making repairs, keep dancing!
It may not be necessary to stop and have an extended conversation after every single slip and mistake. Every situation will vary greatly. Sometimes, a repair is a quick facial exchange acknowledging a mistake. Sometimes it means throwing in a silly dance move, or sitting down to have a five-minute conversation. Other times, it may involve seeking out external help through a therapist or other trusted individual to help you process as a couple.
Regardless of how long it takes you to work through the first two steps, at some point, it is crucial to move on, look ahead and continue your dance as a couple.
“Keep dancing! Don’t stop! Keep going!” our dance instructor shouted to us as he caught sight of me breaking our dance, discouraged by more tripping, even after we had processed the cause and remedy of our stumbling patterns.
As we moved forward and continued the dance, we kept a few principles in mind.
First, we focused on staying in rhythm with the music. When we stay in rhythm or true to the beat of the music, or our values, we are going to function more harmoniously as a couple.
What are your values as a couple, and as an individual? As we build awareness of and maintain focus on our values, we are more likely to operate within their realm.
Second, rather than looking down and stumbling on our feet, we focused on keeping our heads up and our eyes on each other as the central focus of our vision. As we did this, we actually found that we not only stumbled less, but also experienced a deeper connection and synchrony, which began to polish our dance.
Expand your story
We can choose to focus on our mistakes and internalize that there is little hope for change within ourselves or our relationship. Or we can acknowledge our mistakes, explore their roots, make repairs, and move on to continue the dance.
The choice is ours. We do not have to be defined by our errors. Instead, we can choose to learn and grow from them as we strengthen our personal and relational resilience and weave a preferred story of who we are, and who we want to become.
We can choose to recognize that we are imperfect human beings, but that together we are committed to move past our imperfections, to create a dance that reflects our story as a couple—one that is marked by unconditional love, joy, strength, and creativity.
This is part two of a four-part series on relationships and dance. You can read part one here.
Article source: https://www.gottman.com/blog/moving-beyond-mistakes-marriage/
This post is a “re-post” of a great article forwarded to me by a friend:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6, ESV).
If you’re a follower of Jesus—if by faith you have turned from your sins and received His forgiveness—I have news for you.
God is after you.
IF YOU’RE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, GOD IS STILL PURSUING YOU.
He’s still pursuing you. Wanting more of you. Hungry to make sure you’re experiencing every blessing that His Son died and rose again to give you, for His glory.
It doesn’t matter how defeated or discouraged you are today. He’s still after you. All that matters is that you are His. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said, “and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Is that you? Following Him? Not perfectly, of course, but following? Sometimes stumbling, but still getting up? And following? And trying again? And wanting to follow Him even better, even more?
Then God Himself is also following you. He’s on your trail. He’s after you. Promising you that your best days are still ahead of you, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Your greatest days of usefulness and service to God are still in the future, because “goodness” (defined as bounty and blessing) and “mercy” (lovingkindness and favor) will be on your heels and hunting you down every second of the time.
Can’t be true, you say . . .
Too many failures. “I’ve failed God too many times. No way am I on His first team anymore. I’ve blown it. I have areas in my life where I’ve never gotten victory. Even today I failed again. I’m on the shelf from here on out, and I know it.”
Too many years. “It’s too late for me. Too much water under the bridge. It’s fine for those who came to Christ as kids or in college or whatever. But I showed up late to the party. The best I can do is just sneak into a back corner of heaven.”
Too many others. “I don’t have any big-time gifts. I don’t have any great abilities. Other people have training and know what they’re doing. Not me. I’m just not that important. It might even be wrong for me to get in their way.”
Too many obstacles. “I’ve got so many things going on in my life right now—work, family, health stuff, all of it—I don’t really have time. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
Believe me, I’ve heard all these lies and dodges before. They’re as old as time, because the enemy will do anything to convince you that God has lost the scent and given up on you.
But just you try staying hidden behind these shadowy half-truths. Just you try imagining you’re out of sight, out of mind. Just you try giving in to the unreality that your home and heart are off His grid, out of His hunting zone.
Because, listen. Can you hear it? It’s the panting of the hound of heaven, running full-speed, headed your way, chasing you down. Following you “all the days” of your life—not to rip into you, but to restore you and refresh you, to overwhelm all of life’s badness with His “goodness.”
- Which of these fears and excuses have sometimes convinced you that God’s “goodness and mercy” are not coming for you anymore?
- How different would your life be, even today, if you wholeheartedly embraced this truth?
Lord God, I believe Your Word, even when I doubt myself. I believe what You have done to claim me as Your own, even when I too often resist You and choose my own way. Thank You for loving me enough to want me experiencing the full blessing of relationship with You. And thank You for relentlessly pursuing me until I’m actively living in it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
article source: https://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/devotionals/2017-09-15/
1. Once porn is left behind, the brain pathways it created will start to fade.
(Source: Doidge, Norman. The Brain that Changes Itself. New York: Viking, 2007.)
Have you heard the “feed the right wolf” analogy? If not, it’s pretty simple:
If there are two metaphorical wolves locked in a power struggle, you can decide the outcome by choosing to feed one or the other. The one that is fed becomes stronger. As one urge or “wolf” becomes stronger, the other becomes weaker. This is exactly what happened when you started getting involved with porn, you kept feeding it and it got stronger. If you turn the tables, the urge for porn will begin to fade away. As we build positive influences into our lives and gain more and more distance from pornography, the pathways in our brain that tell us we need it will start to shrink. It will be slow but it will happen.
2. When a brain that has become accustomed to chronic overstimulation stops getting that overstimulation, neurochemical changes in the brain start happening. As a result, many users report withdrawal symptoms.
(Source: Avena, N. M. and P. V. Rada. “Cholinergic modulation of Food and Drug Satiety and Withdrawal.” Physiology & Behavior 106, no. 3 (2012): 332–36.)
This might sound bad but it is actually very good. Like a bodybuilder who learns to love the burn because it is tearing their muscles down to grow stronger, we can anticipate and welcome the pain of recovery. Withdrawal sucks and it can be frustrating, but it means our brain is changing. Instead of looking at withdrawal pain as evidence of how messed up you are, think of it as painful healing or soreness after a workout.
And guess what? Former addicts have found that when they approach their withdrawal symptoms with this type of positivity, they find the pain less powerful and shorter. It’s a win-win to endure the pain in order to break free.
3. The brain can regain sensitivity to healthy, every day activities.
(Source: Lisle, Douglas and Alan Goldhamer. The Pleasure Trap. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications.)
One of the main parts of your brain that is affected by porn use is the reward center. Basically what happens is that things gets overused, which results in it producing less of the the “happy chemicals” (dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, etc) and also becomes less responsive to them. This means it takes more stimulation to make us feel good. If we eliminate porn as our main source of these chemical releases, our brain will start looking for new ones. We need start to connecting to positive things in our life that will actually support our physical, emotional, mental and social health. These connections might start off small, but they will grow and eventually replace the old neural pathways.
4. Research indicates that damaged frontal lobes can recover once constant over-stimulation stops.
(Source: Kim, Seog Ju, In Kyoon Lyoo, Jaeuk Hwang, Ain Chung, Young Hoon Sung, Jihyun Kim, Do-Hoon Kwon, Kee Hyun Chang, and Perry Renshaw. “Prefrontal Grey-matter Changes in Short-term and Long-term Abstinent Methamphetamine Abusers.” The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmocology, 9 (2006): 221–28.)
Addiction can cause harmful changes in the brain, the most common of which is frontal lobe shrinkage. This is a big problem because the frontal lobes of the brain are the part that deals primarily with choice, logic and reasoning. This change is one of the main reasons scientists believe addictions can become so powerful, it’s like we’re missing the part of our brain that helps us make good choices. That’s why addicts—even the ones who want to quit—keep returning back to negative behaviors.
What’s the silver lining?
It grows back!
Like anything, it takes time for the frontal lobes to recover but daily victories will make a big difference in the long run. The best part is that as our brain gets healthier, recovery gets a little easier. Think of it like a muscle that gets bigger and stronger the more you use it—the longer you stay away from porn, the easier it is to do so.
All it takes is practice.
I hope you enjoy this article I found about forgiveness and deciding to stay in a marriage where there has been infidelity. I hope it encourages you… to make the right choice.
By: Davida Brown
Romantic Comedy is my favorite genre. Romance films make me feel warm and tingly, as they pull on all my heart strings: love, commitment, faith and unity.
I happened to watch “the Vow” a few days ago, and there was a scene in that movie that made my heart stop, a line that captured the essence of what I say day in and day out to my clients. If you’re not familiar with this movie, it’s about a young married couple, Leo and Paige, who are in a car accident, resulting in Paige losing a chunk of her memory. To Leo’s chagrin, she has no memory of him, their relationship or marriage. The movie chronicles their journey back to each other.
During the movie, we learn that Paige and her parents were estranged for a number of years. Paige can’t remember why and no one in her family will tell her what caused the fallout. Eventually, Paige discovers that her father had an affair with one of her friends. Paige is distraught and angry. She confronts her mother, spewing contempt. She doesn’t understand how she could stay after what he did. Her mother responds, “I couldn’t leave. I made a choice. I chose to stay with him for all the things he’s done right; not leave for the one thing he did wrong. I chose to forgive him.”
Her words hit me like a mack truck. YEEEESSSSSS, I screamed inwardly. Marriage is a choice. Choosing to stay married when your spouse violates your trust is a choice. Choosing to acknowledge and appreciate all the things your spouse does right, despite the breach in trust, is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice.
When the movie ended, I reflected on this scene for quite some time. Years ago, I too made the choice to stay after the love of my life cheated on me. I chose not to end our relationship because of his mistake. I chose to forgive and trust again.
It wasn’t easy folks. NOT AT ALL. I was angry, hurt, disappointed, embarrassed and on and on. How dare he step out on me? We had a great relationship, or so I thought. Why would he do this to me, to us? I eventually had to come to grips with the fact that I would never understand why he cheated. We often think that if we know why he or she did it, it’ll help us get over it. It doesn’t and in my opinion is a waste of time and energy. Did I ask why he cheated? Of course. But at the end of the day none of the reasons made any difference in how I felt. Cheating is a choice and my husband made that choice. It was inexcusable and no explanation would change that. So instead of trying to “understand” why he made that choice, I directed my energy to figuring out what I wanted. Did I want my relationship? Yes or No? I grappled with this question for months. I thought about all the good things about him, about us. Was his mistake bigger than us?
Ultimately I decided that I wanted my relationship. Making that decision was the biggest hurdle. Once I did, my actions from that day forward were in alignment with that choice. That meant I had to forgive and had to figure out a way to trust him again. It didn’t happen overnight, but with a lot of effort, together, we found a way to rebuild the trust. While I certainly wish the infidelity never happened, I can honestly say that we are now in a great place, and I am so glad that I made the choice to give him another chance.
There are many of you reading this article that believe that infidelity is unforgivable, that once the trust is broken it simply can’t be restored, that if you choose to save your marriage you are weak or insecure. If that’s you, you certainly are entitled to feel that way. Only you know what’s best for you and only you are equipped to make that decision. But, if you are committed to trying to save your marriage, if your spouse is committed to trying to save your marriage, I want you to know that moving past the infidelity can be done. We did it and so have many couples we coach. I want you to know that choosing to give your spouse and marriage another chance does not mean you are weak, insecure or lacking in self-respect. Only you know the value of your marriage. Only you know if your marriage is worth fighting for. Take the time to consider everything before making a choice. I did. Take the time to pray for discernment and to listen for that voice inside you. And if you decide that you want your marriage (spouse must want it too), take the necessary steps together to implement that choice.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
One definition of insanity is “doing the same things and expecting different results.” Haven’t we all done that – been insane at times, I mean? How many times have you wished and begged and pleaded with God to just take away your lustful desires? I know I did… over and over… and over again.
Many years and many petitions later, I realized why He never just “took away” my problem [my porn addiction]. It was not because God was unable to do so. It had more to do with me and my choices. When I begged for my “lustful desires” to be taken away, what I really was asking for [this is what I realized] was for Him to remove the guilt. In the worst part of my addiction, I wanted to keep looking at all the pornography I could, but I didn’t like the guilty feelings it brought. The guilt and the shame were so “heavy” on my heart that it was hard to breathe at times. At that time, I did not want healing… I wanted to “have my cake and eat it too.”
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:13-14)
I am so thankful that God did not answer my prayers back then. I am so grateful that He did what I needed, and not what I wanted. What I needed was to grow up, and take responsibility for my life, my choices, and my behaviors. I needed to make amends and CHOOSE to change and CHOOSE to live differently.
Where are you on the road to recovery? Are you still looking for an “easy out?” Are you still “mad” at God because He won’t take away your “lust?”
God will heal you and restore you; but you must first CHOOSE to give up your addiction. Just as the man at the pool of Bethesda was asked by Jesus, “Do you want to be healed” you too, must decide that you want to be healed. Once that decision is made, you must commit to the process it will take to get you to recovery. I highly recommend a very structured recovery program combined with individual counseling. You need help getting over your addiction, and if you could have done it on you own… you would not be reading this. Reach out to godly men and ask for accountability; sustained sobriety depends on this! Rise up, take hold of your recovery, and begin your journey today:
Decide to Change
Commit to the Process
Great post that I read recently.. had to share:
I spend a fair amount of time on Reddit and other online communities interacting with people who are trying to find freedom from porn. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is there seems to be a tendency for folks to come down hard on themselves when they relapse.
“I looked at porn again after 30 days clean. God must be so mad at me.”
“I screwed up and masturbated last night, why am I such a horrible person?”
“Why can’t I fix myself? I suck at being a Christian.”
You get the idea.
I wish I had the time to respond to every one of these posts and let them know that God isn’t mad at them. Seriously. In fact, this whole idea that God becomes angry with us when we fall is likely one of the major factors in their ongoing struggle to find freedom from porn.
It’s easy for us to see all the crap in our lives as a huge pile of trash, with us on one side and God on the other. We think we need to clean it up before we can get anywhere close to the Father. But the more we try to shovel it down, the more we realize we’re just adding more to it every day.
If you look closer at the Gospels, though, you’ll realize that’s not a very good description of how God actually views you. The truth is He sent Jesus to walk around that pile of trash, put His arm on your shoulder, and offer to clean it up for you. Better yet, Jesus promises to stand with you at all times to make sure any additional trash that gets dumped on the pile is immediately removed as well—which includes those times you still look at porn.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said “It is Finished.”
Not “It was finished, but now you went and screwed it up by looking at porn again.”
“It is finished.”
All your sin, past, present, and even future sin, has been paid for on the cross. Your entire pile of junk was removed giving you a clear path to the Father. (Think about it, how much of your sin was future sin when Jesus was on the cross? All of it!)
So instead of feeling like you need to hide from God, clean up your life, or worse yet, beat yourself up when you look at porn, I’d encourage you to run back to God, knowing that He is a loving and approachable Father.
In the same way the father of the prodigal son looked to the horizon daily hoping for his boy to return (knowing full well what he had done), your Father in heaven is eagerly waiting for you to come back to His embrace as well.
He doesn’t want you to “work off your debt.”
He doesn’t need to hear your well-thought-out excuses.
He won’t require you to earn your place back starting as a hired servant.
He doesn’t think you suck, or that you’re a horrible person.
He loves you, and all He wants to do is throw a party to celebrate your return, because there is always a place for you at His table, regardless of what you’ve done.
Author: Stephen Kuhn on July 1st, 2016