Anonymous asked: Hi Glen! I’m a 20-something woman and I’ve been struggling with pornography and masturbation on and off for about 5 years now. God granted me a level of victory in college, but after graduating college, I fell back into masturbation, and sometimes still use porn to fuel that. Every two months I fall into it again, it never seems to go away completely.
My question is: how hard should I be fighting this? Because honestly… my relationship with God is actually pretty good right now, and I am serving Him in ways that are much more consuming (in a good way) than focusing my time and attention on killing this particular sin. I’ve devoted my entire life to fighting this before, and I guess I just don’t know how much time I should give to battling it, because there are so many other things going on in life. [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: You’re experiencing something called “perspective”. I know it sounds extreme and weird, but it’s actually a good thing. You see, most Christians navigate through their spiritual lives by playing a game called: Find The Fear!
It goes like this, you take every new development in your life, and you find everything that you could be afraid of, about that new development. Then you do everything you can to avoid those possible fears coming true, by locking things down, playing it safe, and keeping yourself afraid enough to maintain focus.
This is what most Christians do instead of asking God for wisdom.
Fear doesn’t work. If you try to stop a behavior by focusing on how wrong it is, you end up blowing things out of proportion, in order to scare yourself into stopping. This is doomed to failure, because a) you know you’re blowing it out of proportion, and b) it doesn’t tell you the right thing you should do instead.
In this case, how wrong is it to watch porn and masturbate? Well, there’s no degree of sin, so there’s that. There’s the lust part, but ya see, lust is the disease, using porn and masturbation is just the symptom. Why would you attack a behavior without addressing the root cause? Sounds like the kind of mentality our enemy would try to sell us on.
Sure, you could always find the fear, and you’d come away with something exaggerated and out of proportion like how you’re on a slippery slope to extreme sexual perversion, and no man would ever be attracted to a sexually imaginative Christian woman, and that God is especially grieved by your “wrist aerobics”, in a way that makes poverty, injustice, and a lack of mercy in the world look small by comparison.
But like I said, the fear doesn’t work. In the end, fear is an emotion (it’s not a Godly virtue like it’s opposite, courage). Emotions fade. They fade quickly. And then you’re looking at a backslide again. This is the cycle you’ve been on, and it’s important to know that unless we break this cycle of thinking, we’re all just in between backslides.
But you found the first piece of the puzzle: stop blowing this thing out of proportion and ask yourself, what is the right thing I should be doing instead? This gave you the Godly wisdom that it’s possible to focus on your sin in a way that steals focus from actually figuring out what we should do to serve the Lord, and in the end, this focus on the sin becomes a sinful distraction in itself (and just like that, you’ve invented meta-sinning).
This is why we let GOD give us wisdom on the question: what is the most important thing for me to be working on at the moment? Otherwise we end up distracted by trying to treat the symptoms when the larger disease goes unnoticed. If this isn’t the top of the list of things God wants dealt with, then get busy focusing on the things that are.
But let’s assume that the Lord is indicating that this does need to be the main focus, because you’ve successfully dealt with some of the larger issues in life, and this is now the main concern… what then? In that case, I think it’s about asking: what am I looking to get out of porn/masturbation?
There’s the physical pleasure, and a sort of emotional and physical release that takes place. But there’s also an element of control, isn’t there? It’s not like sitting around and waiting for the right guy to come along. This is something you can make happen when you want. And the enemy whispers in your ear that you have to hook yourself up, because the Lord doesn’t care about your sexual longings.
But now take all the sexual pleasure you can imagine on one hand, and on the other, imagine that I opened your heart and hooked it up to a pipeline of pure, angelic, holy, galactically huge joy. Pure, raw, uncut joy, all day every day, any time you wanted it, you just have to open the valve and receive it. You want peace instead? Okay… free, unlimited, perfect peace straight from the heart of God Himself. Oceans of peace.
Then I gave you a choice, these perfect virtues of peace and joy in unlimited supply, anytime you want, or this counterfeit pleasure that tries and fails to mimic these greater pleasures… Well, the choice is simple, but getting up and choosing it every day is hard. However, if God is telling you that this is at the top of your list of things to deal with, and He’s saying this needs to stop, then you give this thing everything you’ve got.
By making wrong choices in this area, then finding the fear in it, we feel as though we can’t go to God for peace, and joy, and love, and mercy, and all the other spiritual blessings God has for us. We cheat ourselves. You didn’t want too much pleasure, you settled for too little. God wants more for you even when you mess up. Especially when you mess up.
Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son? He went off seeking his own pleasure, and ended up catching his own reflection in pig slop, and realizing that on his worst day in his father’s house, he had it better than this. And remember that the son walked his way home, but when the father saw him, the father RAN his way to the son.
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- lanceonline said: This is beautiful answer to an extremely common issue, great job!
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