Mar 282012
 

A friend wrote recently about the struggle he is going through in trying to break away from pornography. I could understand because, unfortunately, I’ve been there.

I’d heard warnings about porn being addictive, but like Eve, I stood around the tree for a while and thought about the forbidden fruit: You know, it might be “pleasing to the eye.” a little nibble can’t do any harm, can it?1

Well, the nibble turned out to be pretty good. So I guessed I’d try a little more. Before I knew what was happening, it had grabbed me like a monster octopus. I was amazed at how quickly it happened, and how hard it was to break away.

A Massive Problem

I am not alone in this. The specific numbers vary widely in the different studies, but there is no doubt at all that porn addiction today is massive, and Christians are not exempt. Millions of church members of all denominations are caught in its spell.

At a Christian conference in Austria, 75% of the men in attendance admitted to being involved with pornography. At a men’s retreat in Oregon, before 2,000 men, Shelley Lubben of Shelley Lubben ministries challenged those who were struggling with porn addiction to stand. Thirty percent rose to their feet. She immediately challenged them a second time, with the result that some 70% were standing.

Porn has always been considered a male problem, but no longer. One out of three visitors to all adult websites today are women and 49% of women report having downloaded sexually explicit material. Several surveys have shown that 17-20% of church-going women struggle with porn addiction.2

Why Is It So Powerful?

Understanding some of the things that give porn its power can help us in the struggle to break away. The addiction to pornography is similar to other types of sexual addiction, and not too different from all other kinds of addictive behavior. Contrary you might think, its roots are physiological, as well as psychological. Most of us have heard about endorphins, sometimes called the feel-good hormones. Physical exercise, a good laugh, a hug and thoughts of gratitude can increase their flow.

So does sex. Sexual excitement activates the production of several endorphins, notably oxytocin which works directly on the brain to strengthen pair bonding and identification. God designed the sex act to be part of the total intimacy of heart and mind that is marriage. It is powerful for strengthening the union and bonding of husband and wife as they grow toward the goal of becoming one flesh and one spirit.3

Pornography, too, activates these pleasure chemicals, but it is a critical short circuit. It produces the excitement, the “high” of sex, without the object and without the closeness, the giving and sharing that is part of married sex and without the natural checks and balances that marriage brings with it. It produces hyper stimulation of a natural function that can be repeated again and again at all hours and for hours at a time.4

It might be an exaggeration to compare the high that comes from pornography to a psychedelic “trip” produced by street drugs. Nevertheless, it is powerful. There is a sense of euphoria. The pupils dilate, the breath and pulse rate increase, as do salivation and perspiration. Between sessions, the addict feels a great anxiety and eagerness and can hardly wait for the next “fix”.

Making the Break

When making the break, at first it seems you can hardly stand it, that you’ve just got to go back again. When quitting I found encouragement and help in understanding what was going on. I knew my brain was hungry for one more endorphin high, but that the struggle would not last forever. And so it was. After just a few days of nail biting and sweating it out, the nearly irresistible pull was much weaker, and in few weeks it was nearly gone. Notice I say, “nearly”, rather than “entirely”, because I don’t think that it will ever be totally over.

But there is one thing you’ve got to get inside your head: that is that you can never go back, not even a little bit. At times, when I was trying to break away, I would think: I’m really not going to look at porn again; I’ll just sort of touch it with my fingertips. By going back even a little, by sort of edging up to it again, I was prolonging the suffering and symptoms of withdrawal; I was perpetuating the cycle of despair and sense entrapment it brings, and that was monumentally stupid.

Other Keys

I am speaking from personal experience in overcoming, but I realize we are all different. Getting over it—maybe I should say getting into recovery—was difficult and took several tries. But by the grace and power of God it was possible. I have heard that some have found help by joining up with an accountability partner. Others connect with an online support group and still others get the help they need through counseling. The internet is the main purveyor of porn nowadays, but it also offers a lot of help. Open your web browser and type in “pornography addiction”. You will find many helpful sites.5

There is an adversarial relationship between porn and spirituality. Porn destroys weakens spirituality and will eventually destroy it, but spirituality is not passive. Its role is not limited to meekly accepting the blows that porn throws at it. It is an aggressive combatant that wages a war on our behalf. Keep your spiritual life strong through a healthy and vigorous devotional life. Focus your religious experience on a love relationship with Jesus Christ. When Jesus is a vivid reality in your life, when He walks by your side at every hour of the day and night, when prayer is as natural to you as breathing, your porn temptation will slink away like a hyena from a blazing fire

Drawing From the Fountain

“Our life is to be bound up with the life of Christ; we are to draw constantly from Him, partaking of Him, the living Bread that came down from heaven, drawing from a fountain ever fresh, ever giving forth its abundant treasures. If we keep the Lord ever before us, allowing our hearts to go out in thanksgiving and praise to Him, we shall have a continual freshness in our religious life. Our prayers will take the form of a conversation with God as we would talk with a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. When this is in truth the experience of the Christian, there is seen in his life a simplicity, a humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart, that show to all with whom he associates that he has been with Jesus and learned of Him” (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, 129).6

When this is our experience, when it truly becomes a way of life, then pornography, instead of being a dominating power, will seem like a much-regretted and bitter memory from the past.


  1. Genesis 3:6
  2.  http://www.blazinggrace.org/cms/bg/pornstats gives the results of a number of surveys. See also http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html#internet.
  3.  An excellent summary on this subject: Nature’s Own: The Feel Good Hormone, by Nicole Stevenson. Also see this new book (2014) available on Amazon: Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction by Gary Wilson.  Understanding the science behind addiction can help defeat the monster. And Wilson offers some practical advice. Available in downloadable Kindle format almost anywhere and in Paperback in the US. You can read Kindle books on any device by downloading this free app.(It’s probably the best explanation of porn addiction available today. Check the customer reviews.)
  4. In a study of Internet addiction of 396 addicts, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, the average time spent on the Internet for nonacademic and nonprofessional purposes was 38 hours per week (Cooper, A., Scherer, C., Boies, S., Gordon, B. Sexuality on the Internet: From Sexual Exploration to Pathological Expression. 1999. Vol. 30(2), 154-164.)
  5. For more on the subject, see Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction, by Gary Wilson.  Understanding the science behind addiction can help defeat the monster. And Wilson offers some practical advice. Available in downloadable Kindle format almost anywhere and in Paperback in the US. You can read Kindle books on any device by downloading this free app.
  6. You can pick up your own copy of this classic commentary on the parables of Jesus on Amazon.com – all the way from free to over $60.00 for leather-bound.
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Sep 012011
 

“No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness,” so I read in Steps to Christ, p. 65.

What does it mean to realize my own sinfulness? Does is mean agreeing to “Yea, I’m a sinner.” (After all that’s what the bible teaches, right?) But I’m not that bad a sinner. I don’t kill, steal (at least not big stuff), swear (at least not out loud), commit adultery (at least not in the flesh), deal in drugs, take drugs, prostitute myself … Yeah, there are lots of worse sinners than I am … But I am a sinner. The bible says so.

Is it possible that we miss out on the most awesome relationship in the universe because we do not recognize our own sinfulness?

Gay Adventists really have an advantage over the rest of the Adventist population. After all being “gay” is considered the worst of sins by many Adventists. It should be easy to realize our own sinfulness. But do we really?

Or do we think that if this same-sex attraction would just go away, we’d be all right? Maybe we just want to be like “everyone else”?

Or are so programmed to reach heaven by what we do that a feeling of sinfulness breeds only despair?

I do remember the time I first recognized that even all the good I ever did was shot through with self-centeredness. It was tainted. So it wasn’t really “good.” Reminds me of Christ’s saying, “Call no man good.” Certainly not ourselves.

Though many years ago, that time is still vivid in my mind. I had been confronted with my own self-centeredness, and this made me seek God desperately. Then I was overwhelmed with the certainty that without God’s mercy I was doomed to eternal death.

I knew that I needed to surrender all that I held dear. I needed to surrender my very personality – my tendency to express my opinion in any serious discussion. My tendency to be in the middle of the action. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.

But the Holy Spirit made me willing.

I told God I would be willing to just sit like a quiet little mouse in the back of the church, if that’s what He wanted me to do.

And I found out what it was like to die.

I understood what Paul meant by “I die daily.” It wasn’t fun. It hurt. It hurt a lot. It was agony … I could not see the end of the tunnel.  But I chose to trust God use me in whatever way He could … or not to use me.

I sobbed my surrender and lay on my bed, spent.

Then a quiet peace stole into my soul. I was at rest.

And in that peace I heard a still small Voice – not with my physical ears, but with the ears of my heart. That Voice said, “I needed that from you. You needed to give up on yourself. You needed to surrender your tendency to be in the center of things. With your surrender, it is safe for me to give it back to you. I can sanctify even your personality. If you will listen to my Voice, I will use you for my glory.”

Awe-struck, my soul whispered, “Really?”

I have failed since then. Failed to listen to the Voice. I’ve run ahead of God and messed up royally.

But I have also been used of God. Used in the most unlikely circumstances … with a hard-headed elder in the church getting teary-eyed at my testimony – a testimony of what God could do for him too, if he would but surrender. In the end, it seems it was too much for him, but God used me. Awesome!

I’ve preached sermons that moved apparently hard-hearted members. Did I say I preached sermons? No, I believe the Holy Spirit used me and spoke through me. And He touched hearts. (And, no, I’m not a preacher.)

There’s nothing quite like being used of God.

But then, too often, the busyness of life took over, and I lost a sense of my sinfulness. With it I lost the sense of His love.

What a loss!

But I’ve always known where to go when my experience with Christ goes stale. When the joy is but a memory. I need to go back to the cross – the cross on which self must be crucified again … and again. And then love is reborn. Joy is rekindled.

Just now, I watched the Youtube video of “In Christ Alone,” (above) and I was struck again by the fact that I am just as much condemned and just as needy as the woman caught in adultery. I need Him a much. And Christ is just as merciful. His love overwhelmed me to tears … again … because I sensed my own sinfulness.

I’ve been too busy recently to have an acute sense of my sinfulness, my self-centerednes. And my love suffered. So did my sense of being loved.

I am reminded that I need to spend “a thoughtful hour or two each day in contemplation of the life of Christ – especially the closing moments.” That’s the only way to maintain a sense of my sinfulness and a genuine love for what Christ has done for me and is still doing.

Lord, help me get my priorities right!!

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May 102011
 

We’re the new kid on the gay Adventist block. So let me outline what those of us who post here stand for.

We believe we represent the silent majority of gay Adventists. Please note that when we say “gay Adventists” we simply mean Adventists who are “gay” by orientation — that is, romantically attracted to our own sex. The scientific term is “homosexually oriented.” Conservative Christians often prefer the term “same-sex-attracted.” Since most folks simply say “gay” rather than “same-sex-attracted,” we think we’ll stick with that term. Continue reading »

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