Someone once said, “No matter how loud you shout or how high you jump, what matters is how righteously you talk and how straight you walk when you come down.” With a spontaneous spiritual renewal still proceeding into its second week at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, it is important to ground this movement in Biblical teaching that will hold the believers who are experiencing this on a path that will transform their lives. No area of spiritual revival for young men is more critical than how they will interact with the rash of pornography and immorality that has characterized our society for over 40 years. More on the events at Asbury University at the end of this blog.
The Resolution for Men is a challenging book the Kendrick brothers wrote in 2011. It is a tremendous resource for any man who wants to become a better husband, father, grandfather, brother, son or friend. A companion piece, The Resolution for Women, is on my reading list, and it will be interesting to see how Priscilla Schirer treats the concept introduced as a resolution for men in the movie, Courageous.
The powerful summons of this book leads a man to make a set of 12 resolutions, but this blog is Appendix 8 of the text. The Appendices alone are worth the price of the book! However, in the spirit of fair warning, do not read this book if you have no heart for improving your relationships with your wife, children, grandkids or church. Unless you are willing to make some significant changes in the way you deal with the important people in your life, you will come away from reading this with guilt and a sense of futility. But if you are willing to consider the Resolutions and will allow the Holy Ghost to begin to change your heart, this book can be a lifesaver, a marriage redeemer, a legacy building tutor and a church-invigorating guide to supportive fellowship with other men.
Avoiding Pornography – Appendix 8 in The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alexander Kendrick
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape, also, that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Pornography is idolatry. It creates an addiction of lust that leads a man to surrender his mind, body, money, time and purity in service to it. It becomes his god and perverted master.
When God created sex for a man and his wife alone to enjoy, He permanently linked its pleasure to marriage, love, intimacy and lifelong commitment. Each of these keeps the sexual relationship meaningful and reinforces a couple’s union in marriage. In holy matrimony sexual pleasure is grounded in love, freely shared, and maintains its priceless meaning and many healthy benefits. There is no cost. No shame. No guilt. No regrets.
Pornography is the opposite. It strips sexual fulfillment of all its purposes. It disconnects sexual arousal from its foundation of love, marriage and lifelong commitment, and reattaches it to lust, vanity, irresponsibility and the perverted thrills of sin and shock imagery. Instead of sexual enjoyment being a reward from God, it becomes an undeserved, unearned, unholy illegitimate pleasure with no purpose. It is like sexual cocaine that lures a man into a trap and then rapes his mind and conscience, leaving him addicted, numb and demoralized. He begins caring less about the people he loves. He quits rejoicing over good things and grieving over sin. He feels guilty, dark and dirty, spiritually distant from God and emotionally disconnected from his wife. Not only that, he also gives satan a foothold and permission to torment him now with condemnation, lies and accusations. He is much worse off than when he started.
All addictions create a momentary spike in adrenalin [editor’s note: dopamine] that temporarily feels good but then leaves behind an even deeper void that causes more dissatisfaction than was there before. Because of this, pornography begs you to pursue its short-term thrill again, repeatedly lying to you that its “high” can pull you out of this spin. Lust just keeps breeding more lust. Then you get caught in a cycle that spirals downward and never seems to end.
If you ever feel a ravenous hunger for pornography realize this: it is the last thing you need and it will never satisfy you. Run. it is trying to use cheap lust to quench your thirst for genuine love. Satan always tempts you to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. What you are actually hungering for is intimacy with God, Himself, the only One who can fill the emptiness in your heart. Any lust in us reveals that we have not been feasting on the love from our Heavenly Father. (1 John 2:15-17)
Countless men have defeated pornographic addictions by learning to walk intimately and obediently with Christ in His Word and in prayer each day. Jesus told the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 NIV) His spirit can fill and satisfy you in countless ways that pornography never can. So be courageous enough to recognize pornography for what it is: moral sewage and a pit of lies.
- It lies, telling you that your sexual pleasure is of higher importance over everything else.
- It steals, robbing you of marital intimacy, honor and future enjoyment of the marriage bed.
- It pollutes, coarsening your mind, numbing your conscience and darkening your thoughts.
- It belittles, turning people made in God’s image into prostitutes, mere sex objects of your lust.
- It enslaves, making you feel like you are powerless to stop or control your impulses.
This should disgust us. Look up and study the following verses that tell what else lust does to you. It chokes out the Word in your heart (Mark 4:19); leads you to destroy yourself and degrade your mind (Romans 1:24); causes inner struggle and strained relationships (James 4:1); creates a state of ongoing frustration, anxiety and dissatisfaction (James 4:2); blinds you to what is most important in your life (1 John 2:16-17); and invites the judgment and punishment of God (1 Corinthians 10:1-6). With these truths and grave warnings in mind, you must resolve before God to walk in complete honesty and purity (1 John 1:7), in full repentance and victory. Scripture shows us how to walk in freedom through the following ways:
- Do not allow lust to rule you anymore. (Romans 6:12)
- Put it completely out of your life. (Ephesians 4:22)
- Set your mind instead on things above. (Colossians 3:1-5)
- Remember that you now belong to Christ. (Galatians 5:24)
- Remember that God’s grace empowers you to say, “No!” to lust’s demands and deceptions. (Titus 2:12)
- Run away when it tries to draw you back in. (2 Timothy 2:22)
- Be like Jesus, willing to suffer rather than sin. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
- Trust the Holy Spirit to fill you, empower you and help you resist faithfully. (Galatians 5:16-25)
- Escape by believing the promises of God that He will meet your needs and never leave you. (2 Peter 1:4)
God has provided all you need to be completely happy and successful in life (2 Peter 1:3-4). And His plan involves you living free from pornography. If you have been enslaved to it in the past, you know firsthand how low it takes you. God never wants you again to see anyone undressed other than your spouse. Admit this. Human willpower isn’t enough. You need God’s grace.
So if you are addicted to pornography, confess it to God and someone else in your life who can spiritually hold you accountable (James 5:16). Begin memorizing His Word (like 1 Corinthians 10:13) and using it to fight off temptation. Feast on God each day. He is your source of satisfaction (James 1:17). Get radical about removing things that cause you to stumble (Matthew 18:9). During times of battle, shift your focus to praying for others to distract you from lustful thoughts (Ephesians 6:17-18). Stay accountable to godly friends and never stop pursuing victory in Christ. Here ends the Kendrick’s Guest Blog.
I note the end of the Guest Blog because I wish to add some observations. There are very few men in the West who have not struggled with pornography, except those who refuse to stop indulging in it. The Bible does not mince words as though sin or sinful actions are miserable and repugnant. Hebrews 11:25 notes that Moses refused to be called Pharoah’s son but preferred “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Catch that!? The pleasures of sin! Dopamine is the neuroactive molecule your brain releases when you experience sexual pleasure, and it is addictive! It feels great!
No one in his right mind has ever been tempted to put a fire on his chest (Proverbs 6:27)! If sin showed its “rewards” immediately, every brothel would shut down for lack of business; every pornographer would become a scenic photographer. The attraction of any temptation is the bald-faced lie that it hides: THIS will be fun! THIS will be satisfying. THIS TIME it won’t hurt you. NO consequences! If you can expose the lie under the temptation, much of its attractiveness is removed. But even that is still sometimes not enough when it comes to sexual temptations, especially of “victimless” pornography. “I’m just looking; I’m not enslaving nor abusing real women.” However, real women are being used or trafficked for you to get your dopamine thrill!
The bottom line is that every man’s battle is unique and finding the “guardrail” that can keep you from a pornography addiction might take some creative thinking. Focusing on the fact that a pornographic subject is someone’s daughter helps some men. One man prayed specifically that God would cut off his hand, or at least make it unusable, if he ever again accessed pornography on his phone or computer; praying in faith, he believes God will honor his request! Another focuses on alternatives to the attraction such as George Sanchez encourages in his paper, Changing Your Thought Patterns. Yet, another gave his wife and daughter every password of every site on his computer and smartphone and often leaves his phone with his wife. Another places his computer so that others in his office can always see what is on his screen. Others subscribe to a porn monitoring program such as Covenant Eyes or install filtering software on their computers. One man I know actually gave up using a cell phone rather than risk his soul with addiction to porn; when he finally got another phone he made sure it could not access the internet.
Jesus was very clear. The wide path that is easy and has a wide gate offers no resistance and is fun. Living without porn for some men can be extremely narrow and hard. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14) But it IS findable! And the consequences of not finding it are severe. It will cost your marriage, your relationship with your children, your friends, your extended family and maybe even your employability!
The stakes are enormous; the risks are treacherous. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30) Whatever it takes, even if it means taking a Resolution for Men, do not give up as though to accept that you are trapped as a slave to pornography. Hundreds of thousands of men have found release from its bondage and YOU CAN, TOO!
Carlson: Asbury Revival ‘Amazing,’ People Turning to Spiritual Life to Counter Evil in the World