The Way Out
Taken from an article found on the XXX Church Blog:
Addicted to masturbation??? Is that even possible?
[Yes], …masturbation can become a legitimate addiction, just like any behavior. I’m not intending to make a moral statement or provide a biblical guideline but rather to help you decide if you are addicted so you can seek healing.
Here are three practical ways to help you discern if you’re addicted to masturbation:
1) Are you using masturbation to alter your mood?
Masturbation is a quick fix. It’s free, accessible and easy. It’s the perfect drug. Understandably, men and women use it to medicate bad moods. Those warm fuzzy chemicals sure hit the spot!
There are more positive ways to sooth moods, for example, listening to calming music or having a hot bath after a lousy day. The difference with using masturbation to alleviate negative emotions is that the powerful chemicals and hormones involved set you up for compulsion and emotional repression, not to mention they can be a detriment your future or current sex life. These are powerful chemicals you’re playing with.
Take note of when you feel the urge. What has triggered you in the past? Did you feel stressed? Powerless? Rejected? Lonely? Tired? Anxious? Sometimes our sex drive is just being its thoughtful self and saying ‘Hey! It’s been a while since we’ve tried reproducing! I’m here to personally encourage you to today!’ (Thanks Sex Drive: maybe take note of the relationship status next time) However, there is often an underlying motivation: to feel good. Because you don’t already.
If you’re regularly masturbating in response to negative emotion, you may be addicted. Why? Because it reveals you’re not processing your emotions and indicates you’re living in some level of distress, making it the perfect opportunity to get hooked. Addiction loves pain. It is a faux salve for emotional wounds. But in reality, our vice, be it masturbation or otherwise, is infecting that wound that so desperately needs to be healed.
2) Do you feel like you can’t stop?
Perhaps one of the clearest signs of addiction is when you feel you can’t stop, even when you really want to. Pretty simple. You may white-knuckle it for a few weeks, but it always come crashing back into your life.
There’s a reason for this.
A sexual encounter (with someone else or on your own) instigates the release of a host of nice-feeling chemicals into your brain’s reward system. It’s an incredible gift from God when it’s not confused. It keeps humanity thriving and surviving. It releases chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin when you participate in a behavior that it believes ensures survival of the body or gene pool (hence why an orgasm feels so much better than mopping the floor or eating dirt). The reward pathways function is to remind the brain to do that thing again! Your body begins to make unconscious associations. When you feel poorly, it remembers how to give you a kick! A process begins deep in your brain which, unbroken, leads you right back to the behavior, because your brain is wired to seek the easiest route to pleasure.
3) Is your habit harming you or those around you?
A characteristic of any addiction is continuing despite harm. Harm can come in many forms: emotional, relational, physical, spiritual or criminal to name a few.
If you’re masturbating to the point of overuse or needing medical assistance, you may very well be addicted. This is nothing to be ashamed about. Doctors have seen it all.
Compulsive masturbation can lead to sexual dysfunction and less-than-ideal intimacy with your spouse. This is a very real harm that must be identified. More than physiological, this can affect your spouse emotionally. Are you masturbating to the detriment of your sex life?
Isolation is another harm to look out for. Such retreat can be rooted in shame, anxiety or the lost ability to interact non-sexually. Perhaps you would rather be at home masturbating than socializing. Having an orgasm is easier than building real relationships. But only the latter will bear good fruit in the long run.
Masturbation is a very personal and complicated topic. It can be a response to sexual or emotional trauma, it can be a struggle that begins in early childhood, it can be accompanied by porn or voyeurism or nothing at all, and the line between “struggling with” and “addicted” can get blurry. There is a battlefield of opinions out there and it is so easy to slip into judgment and shame in this conversation.
Please know that, no matter what, you are known and cherished by the God of the universe, and the team at XXXchurch have resources to help you find freedom. You are not alone, and you need not feel ashamed. Recovery is so possible.
Original article source: https://www.xxxchurch.com/women/3-ways-tell-youre-addicted-masturbation.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social-post&utm_campaign=Social-Lead-Gen-X3church&utm_content=3-ways-tell-youre-addicted-masturbation&utm_term=twitter-followers
This is a great article I read on the Covenant Eyes blog. A good reminder, and good encouragement. Enjoy:
Porn Addiction Recovery: 5 Ways to Avoid Burnout
1. Be realistic about the long haul.
2. Find ways to channel that energy with a new hobby/idea.
3. Recognize that falling into sin may happen, but it does not discount the effort that has been taken in the recovery process thus far.
4. Celebrate the little victories.
5. Document the process.
You may ask yourself this question. However, you may be asking the wrong question…
Your behaviors are not the source of the problem… it is your thoughts…
One of the first steps to recovering from an addiction is to correct negative ways of thinking and faulty or wrong belief systems.
In CBT, these are called negative schemas. Changing how we think causes us to change what we believe. Changing what we believe results in changes to our behaviors. In my work with pornography addicts, one common goal is the attempt to repair and/or rebuild my clients’ worldview.
The following are ways of thinking that fuel [and perpetuate] sexual addictions. Which of the following do you believe and tell yourself often?
- Normal sexual behaviors and desires are wrong.
- I am alone and no one will [or can] meet my needs.
- I must give in to sexual urges and desires they are too powerful for me to resist. [no choice]
- I am worthless, unlovable.
- I can only trust myself to meet my needs.
- My sexual needs are my most important needs.
- I am powerless to control my life. [I am not responsible for my actions]
- I am a dirty pervert.
- Others exist to meet my needs because I deserve it.
- Others entice me and I cannot help myself. [I am not responsible for my actions]
- Others are here for my pleasure.
- If no one sees [what I do], it does not matter.
- If no one knows [what I do] it cannot hurt them.
- I cannot live without sexual release.
- I cannot live without my addiction. [It is who I am]
- I am not hurting anyone by watching porn.
- It is nobody’s business what I do with my own body.
- I am not capable of handling my own life.
- I am unattractive, stupid, ugly, unlovable…
- I cannot be free…
If you believe any of the above statements, you are believing lies. Seek truth. Seek help.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you will eventually (if you haven’t already) realize that you do not have the strength to overcome your addiction on your own. I challenge everyone to Seek God for His help in this time; for He is the only true source of limitless help and strength. If you don’t know Him, you can… right now. Start Here:
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10; 13 NLT)
In addition to seeking the Lord, enlist the help of other people. Admit it. You have an addiction. If you could quit you already would have quit. You need help overcoming an addiction to pornography, and you need others to hold you accountable. You may need someone to show you the path to recovery. If so, please reach out to a local counselor/therapist with experience treating sexual addictions. Start your journey to freedom… today.
If you are looking for help recovering, and live in the Upstate of SC, consider reaching out:
I currently serve as Counseling Pastor for a church in the upstate of South Carolina. I hold a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University. I am awaiting my scheduled time to sit for the SC LMFT-I licensing exam.
It is my goal to help rebuild broken lives and families from the inside-out through awakening and fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. I specialize in helping men recover from addictions to sex and pornography. I run a support group for recovering men on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.
“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
This really speaks to me. This is how recovery really works for most of us. At first, we keep falling for the same things and maintain the same rituals. Then, we begin the process of recovery and continue to fail, (but learn from our failures) until we reach the end of the journey, like Portia did, and decide to take another street.
An Autobiography in Five Chapters
by Portia Nelson
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in. I am lost….I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the side walk.
I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I fall in….it’s a habit…but my eyes are open.
I know where I am. It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
This article originally appeared on Familylife.com.
These five steps will help you break free.
Pornography has become one of the most destructive forces in our culture today. Never has it been so widespread … and never has it been so easy to find.
What we would call “hard-core pornography”—the more explicit images, videos, or descriptions of erotic behavior—has grown rapidly during the last two decades. In the past, pornography was available only at stores or through the mail. But the pornography industry is often the first to take advantage of new media technology—and now with cable television, DVDs, cell phones, iPods, and especially the Internet, it is easier than ever to find, and harder than ever to resist.
Internet pornography has earned itself a reputation for being the crack cocaine of sexual addiction. “It works so quickly and it’s so instantly intense,” says Dr. Robert Weiss of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles. “We’re seeing a whole population of clients who have never had a history with the problem, but for the first time, they’re beginning one particular activity and getting hooked.”1
Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” This is a perfect description of what happens when you choose to view pornographic material—it brings darkness into your body.
Pornography takes something that is beautiful when it occurs between a married man and woman and makes it dirty. God created the act of sexual union as a special gift for a husband and wife. It is a celebration of love that strengthens a marriage and builds oneness.
But pornography twists and perverts the beauty and biblical design of God’s creation. The focus on sensual pleasure becomes such a powerful drug that it destroys all that is important in the rest of their lives. It leads men and women to look at each other as nothing more than sex objects. It causes them to fantasize about sexual relationships with other people, and that’s a terrible blow to their marital commitment.
Whenever ®FamilyLife Today airs a program on this subject, the letters and emails we receive confirm that pornography can tear apart a home, and it can tear apart a person’s soul. Here are a few examples:
“Before we were married, my husband had confessed that he was into pornography “somewhat”, but it stopped once our relationship grew. I found out that wasn’t the end of it. A few months back I was heartsick to find almost 100 photos of graphic nature on my computer. A lot happened since then, a confrontation, many fights, but the hardest for me has been the lost of trust and feeling I truly was my husband’s best friend and fantasy. It hurts a lot and I don’t see how our relationship will ever be the same or I can have that total trust in his character and integrity again.”
“Please pray for deliverance. I am a Christian that is addicted to pornography, especially on the web. Pray that God would give me the power to withstand under the temptation and be victorious. I know that this is hurting my marriage.”
“Your broadcast on pornography over the last two days has had a profound affect on me. I was amazed at the accurate description of how pornography affects your whole being. The last 18 months have been the worst because of the easy access I had to pornography on the Internet. I progressed to the point where I would spend hours at a time to find pictures that would stimulate me. Just as with a drug addict, it took more and more pornography to satisfy my addiction. I began to push my wife away in many direct and indirect ways. I would delay going outside to play with my six-year-old son because I was on the Internet …
“My wife gradually spent more and more time with her best girlfriend across the street because I was emotionally dead inside. The life had literally been sucked out of me. I felt as though my ability to think clearly was greatly affected. I had trouble repeating phone numbers because I was consumed with guilt and shame. I gradually lost respect for my wife as a person. It was almost impossible for us to carry on a conversation. These changes occurred so gradually that I did not realize it was the pornography that was affecting me.”
These are just a few examples of the frustration, shame, and guilt that habitual use of pornography brings to a life. Sin can be alluring, and can bring temporary pleasure, but in the end sin will destroy you. James 1:14-5 says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Sometimes pornography is described as a “victimless crime,” but in reality you are a victim, your wife is a victim, and your marriage is a victim.
Breaking Free From the Trap
If you want to break free from the sexual sin and lust fueled by pornography, the first thing you need to realize is that you can’t do it in your own power. You need the presence of God in your life. In fact, if you have never understood what it means to be a Christian, and how you can know God personally, please read this clear presentation of the gospel. It will be the most important decision of your life.
If you know Christ lives within you, here are some suggested steps for dealing with the trap of pornography:
Step One: Confess Your Sin
When you try to keep such sin secret, your spirit will become increasingly troubled. Remember the comment from one of the e-mails above, where one man said he became “emotionally dead” and that life was “sucked out of me”? Compare those words to those of King David in Psalm 32:3-4:
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
David realized he could not go on until he confessed his sin to God:
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
On one hand, confession is simply agreeing with God about sin in your life. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When you look at those pictures or images to stimulate you sexually, you are committing adultery in your heart. When you confess this to the Lord, you simply say, “Yes, I was lusting after that woman. I sinned against You, Father.”
You may be thinking, “I’ve done that. But nothing changed.” That’s because, when faced with a deep-rooted sin such as this—one that has involved numerous poor choices over a period of time—your confession must come with a broken heart that shows that you are repentant—ready to turn away from your sin. Repentance means “to turn around.” When you have a habit of sin in your life, it is like getting in a car and driving away from God. When you repent, you stop moving away from God and turn around to face Him, and through His power start moving toward Him again.
Repentance is a sorrow that comes from realizing that you have offended the very holiness of God. You must be willing to turn away from your sin and toward the life God wants for you. If you are going to deal with your sin successfully, repentance is essential.
What does God do when you come to Him with an attitude of brokenness and repentance? He offers forgiveness and cleansing. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You may not be freed from the desire to commit this sin again, but you can be freed from the crushing weight of guilt and shame.
At some point, you also need to confess to your wife. You shouldn’t tell her all the sordid details of your sin and entrapment by pornography. But if you don’t confess your sin to her and ask for her forgiveness, the air will never be clear between you and your relationship will not grow and prosper as it could.
You may be thinking, “I could never share these things with my wife.” It will be the hardest thing you ever do and one of the most courageous. Steven Fetrow writes, “Confession may lead to a period of profound pain and disappointment, but without full disclosure, the marriage cannot be authentic and will never become the type of relationship that God desires for us.”2
Step Two: Make no provision for the flesh
In Romans 13:14 Paul tells us, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Having acknowledged your sin of lust, and admitting your weakness, you need to devise a strategy for reducing the temptation of pornography.
Not only do you need to remove every trace of pornography from your home or office, but you also should take practical steps to put barriers between you and any sources. If magazines or books are a temptation, stay away from the stores where you purchase pornography. If you’ve been watching erotic movies on cable or satellite television, downgrade your service to eliminate the offending channels … or get rid of the service altogether if necessary. When you travel start staying in hotels that can block or turn off the pay-per-view movies in a given room. Ask the desk clerk to do that before you enter your room.
If you are involved in computer porn, you may need to change your Internet service provider, your e-mail address, and even your credit card so that porn sites cannot contact you. Find a blocking or screening program or even an ISP that screens Web sites. If you have used a computer at the office to view pornography, then ask about getting a screening system for the office.
Move your computer into an open area of the house. Tell your wife or children to come and ask you what you are doing on the computer anytime they want to. You can also teach someone in your house to check the history in your Web browser.
No matter what you do, you won’t be able to avoid seeing sensual images altogether. When you find yourself looking at something involuntarily, follow the advice of 2 Timothy 2:22, to “flee youthful lusts.” You must run from pornography as if you are running from a rabid dog.
Step Three: Find an accountability partner
You need a godly man who will walk with you through this battle for your purity. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion, but woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Fighting a battle is easier when you don’t have to do it alone.
Accountability is a scriptural principle that tells us to ” … be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). This means you choose to submit your life to the scrutiny of another person in order to gain spiritual strength, growth and balance.
If you do not go to your pastor first, I recommend that you do so immediately after making open confession to the Lord. He is spiritually responsible to pray for you and teach you God’s truth. If he is the man of God he should be, he will gladly pray for and with you, and exhort you in your spiritual growth.
Ask your accountability partner check with you anytime, day or night, about what you have been doing on the computer. Tell him to ask what you watched while you were traveling. Call your wife each night from the hotel room.
Step Four: Build biblical truth into your life
If you’ve been filling your mind with pornographic images, chances are that you have not been spending much time reading God’s Word. Begin spending time every day reading the Bible, chapter by chapter. Start with a book you like to read—the Gospel of John or the gospel of Matthew, or maybe even Genesis. Expose yourself to large portions of God’s Word.
I also encourage you to read one chapter from Psalms and one chapter from Proverbs each morning before you begin your workday. After reading Psalms and Proverbs, spend ten minutes or more in prayer. If you find a particular verse that ministers to you, then use it in your prayer as you ask the Lord to strengthen and protect you throughout the day. Set a time and place to read those two chapters and spend time in prayer every day. If you are not sure how to get started, ask your pastor or a godly friend to talk to you about it. You may not feel comfortable the first few times, but God is not judging your performance anyway. He is only interested in meeting with you, one-on-one. Try this for a month, and I’ll bet you want to continue it at the end of the month.
If there is any way, get involved in a Bible study with other men. If you get the chance, attend a Bible conference with your wife or with the men in the Bible study. As you look for these opportunities to build truth into your life, you may have to look outside your own church. You are fighting for your life and that of your family, so don’t be afraid to search beyond your normal sphere of activities.
Step Five: Begin to rebuild your marriage
Your wife may not be able to respond openly to you at first. She needs time to heal. But one thing you can start doing right now is to begin praying with her. It may be embarrassing, it may feel awkward, or it may even be frightening, but do it anyway. Your wife needs to hear you pray and she needs to hear you pray for her. There are few things in a marriage that can draw your wife to you and to your heart like prayer.
FamilyLife offers a number of conferences and resources to help you reduce the isolation you are experiencing in your marriage. Our Weekend to Remember® conferences may be the best place to start the rebuilding process. At some point, you also should become involved in a small group using a study from HomeBuilders Couples Series®. We can help you find out if there is a group in your area of the country.
God will honor each small step of obedience you take. He has the power to change your heart … to help you experience the joy of a cleansed heart … to wash away your sin and guilt and shame … and to help you experience oneness again with your wife.
Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
- “Dangers and Disappointments,” Ryan Hosley and Steve Watters, Pureintimacy.org
2. “Bold Next Steps, Steven Fetrow, Pureintimacy.org
Retrieved on November 3, 2015