Pornography and Sexual Addiction
"When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He said unto him, Would you be made whole?"1
Another Daily Encounter reader asks for help saying, "I have a problem with pornography and masturbation. I am 24 years old, and ever since I was in my early teens I have not been able to shake my addiction to these habits. I have resolved many times to put an end to these habits, but each time I find myself returning and am unable to control myself. I feel so guilty about praying because I will have to ask for forgiveness over something for which I have asked forgiveness before. But I can't help myself when I start wanting these things. Pornography has taken over my life."
Dear Henry (not his real name), regarding being addicted to pornography and masturbation. By admitting that you are addicted to these behaviors, you have taken the first step in your recovery.
Sometimes external acts of sin (such as what you are struggling with) are the fruit of a deeper root. If this is so, when we are hiding this deeper sin or fault, we tend to confess a lesser sin all the more vigorously. You indicated that you came from a very dysfunctional family background so your addiction could easily have its roots in your not ever feeling loved as a child. As a result your addictive behaviors are used to anesthetize the pain caused by this deeper painful root.
So first of all, pray and ask God to show you if your addiction is the fruit of a deeper unresolved problem or unmet need in your life, and to reveal to you what that issue is.
Second, to overcome your addiction it is important that you get into a sexual addiction or similar support group to help you stop acting out through pornography and masturbation so you can confront and resolve the pain that is the root cause of your addiction.
Third, pray and ask God to lead you to the help you need to overcome. Most of us are not able to resolve these issues alone. If necessary, seek capable Christian professional counseling to help you resolve these issues because, if you don't overcome the pornography, it could readily destroy your relationships, especially within a marriage. Addictive masturbation can do the same.
Remember, too, that God doesn't expect us to become perfect, as that is impossible as long as we live in this broken sinful world. God's goal is not to make us good either. It is to make us whole; for only to the degree that we are made whole will our lifestyle, our actions, our behaviors, our attitudes and our relationships be wholesome. So always pray that God will help you to become whole and to lead you to all the help you need to be made whole.
For those whose struggle may not be with this issue, remember that any habit we consistently use to avoid facing our inner, hidden pain is also an addiction—such as being a workaholic, a shopaholic, a TV-aholic, a chocoholic, food-aholic, a religious-aholic, an intellectual-aholic . . . and any of a score of other addictive behaviors.
Suggested prayer: "In the words of the hymn writer, 'Search me, O God and know my heart today / Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray / See if there be some wicked way in me / Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen.”
1. John 5:6 (ASV)(NIV).
NOTE: For suggested “Resources in Counseling” visit http://tinyurl.com/counseling-resources.