Since being made free from my bondage to pornography (something I thought might never happen), I’ve been on a mission to help others experience the same kind of breakthrough.
It grieves my heart (and probably God’s too) that so many are making a buck off of the freedom business. They promise success for a price. I’m convinced now more than ever that the solutions you pay for aren’t solutions at all, you will remain a paying customer or perhaps struggle less but still not be a fully free individual.
I want to be clear. These are good-hearted people honestly wanting to help others. I’m not against having a calling and a ministry and keeping the lights on. I’m even writing a book (very much a labor of love). I will charge a modest price for it, while the blog remains absolutely free. Some of the prices for learning how to break free (courses, coaching, etc.) are ridiculous! And I have a big problem with the software companies and their subscription based accountability. That’s highway robbery.
It’s something that should be free. There’s not a secret formula. No one should get rich off of another person’s misery.
I also have nothing against professional counseling and therapy. It is sometimes needed and can be very helpful. What I am saying is that my experience (and that of many people I’ve come to know) shows an easy path to freedom that shouldn’t and needn’t cost a dime.
So I want you to save your money. At the same time you’ll save your own sanity and restore your dignity in the process. I hate it when something sounds too good to be true. Often those are just scams. I’m aware this sounds a bit like that one of those advertisements, but it isn’t. I would argue that the others (and the examples shown above) are. Why? Because I’ve tried them and came up wanting. They didn’t work. They are man-made strategies that are ineffective. They are behavior based. They are coping mechanisms. We weren’t meant just to cope! Avoidance makes us hyper vigilant and does nothing to solve the root issues. Freedom is not something you can white knuckle and just try hard through your own will power or through accountability. You can’t be guilted or shamed into freedom.
I’ve read more in the last couple of years than I ever have before. I’ve made it a point to read books that I know do not contain the answers they claim to have, just so I can see what is being put out there to try and help people. Even those that say they are different tend to rehash the same tired ideas, and it breaks my heart!
Compared to my own experience, everything that is suggested by conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is entirely too cumbersome and hard work, which leaves you in another type of bondage altogether. It’s not freedom. The authors or “experts” often concede that you will still have triggers and warn against relapses, even if you follow their plan. If you aren’t truly free you can always find ways to cheat the system. Until you’re free, the best of these techniques will continue to disappoint.
Please hear that not everything in these resources is bad. Many are in fact very good, but don’t go far enough in getting you to think differently about the body and your fellow image bearers. Most still have an underlying deep seated dualism that at the core sees the body as bad and the spirit as good. This goes against the correct view of Imago Dei that has our bodies and souls intertwined. The gnostic heresies of old are back with a vengeance, and many are caught unaware.
Many are starting to speak out about the damages done by purity culture and its teachings, which have even left many with actual PTSD! Others go deeper to explore why you have this compulsion in the first place. They say if you go back in your story or history and learn to be kind to yourself, you can start the hard work of recovery. That could be a good exercise, but the fact is we are broken and need to be fixed, restored, dare I say redeemed. It’s my opinion that tragically none of these offer an ideal solution to bring about healing and bringing about complete sexual integrity. They stop shy of the goal, a renewed mind that sees others as God sees them. When you let God do the work, he finishes the job aside from your own efforts. The result will be zero desire for anything that objectifies another person.
While I may do a series of book by book constructive critique posts, I’ll demonstrate my attitude before obtaining freedom of the grip of lust and porn on my heart to the new way that I experience daily life.
THIS OR THAT
I remember the story at the beginning of “Every Man’s Battle” where the author recounts getting in a car wreck because he was looking at a lady jogging while he was driving. That was a wake up call for him, and an effective hook for the book. I could relate to that as I, too, used to typically feast on whatever visual stimuli was available at any moment. It was my automatic because I thought and was told it was every man’s automatic. Now that my mind has been miraculously renewed, I see the world through new eyes. Noticing is not a sin, nor is appreciating beauty; the sin is a lustful intent, coveting what is not yours, and objectifying another human being.
Today, I may notice a woman who has the body most women would dream of having, but what I focus in on is truly intriguing. Maybe she has some fake eyelashes, and out of love and compassion, I pray for her in my head: “Why do you feel the need to wear fake lashes and such heavy make up? You don’t need this stuff to feel secure!” You better believe that’s a whole lot better than the thoughts I used to have.
Then I may see another woman who has a more normal body shape out running, and my heart goes out to her as well: “Good for you for becoming more healthy, but do you know that you are beautiful just the way you are?” No matter what the situation, I see women as whole persons with a life, and a story, and quite possibly one full of insecurities. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I used to gaze at others with the look of a predator. I wasn’t technically a predator, but every woman was visual prey- not all the time, but often enough! This is how I was conditioned to be, and I hid it well. I didn’t want to be that way. I felt guilty about it, but I didn’t know how to replace that thinking with something better.
It takes both a realization and admission of this depraved reality to get better. Thankfully, having acknowledged that terrible condition, now I see myself as a protector of all women. Temptation used to be literally everywhere. Now temptation in this area is absolutely nowhere. It may seem over simplified, but here’s what I believe. When you really boil things down, a man is either be a predator or a protector. I don’t normally like to be so binary, categorizing people in their thinking as either a one or zero. Life is more nuanced than that. Not everything can be black or white due to various shade of gray. However, at the heart level, I stand by these two distinctions and say a man is either this or that. Even if he is a passive onlooker, that is predatory behavior, because he is not protecting his fellow image bearers. Hear me. This isn’t discounting the strength of women. It’s protecting the dignity that comes with women reflecting one half of the image of God. This isn’t toxic masculinity. It’s simply a call for men to take responsibility and stop the blame game once and for all.
Protect the dignity of the women around you. It’s what God did with Hagar. It’s what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery (what ever happened to the man?), and Mary Magdalene. The Lord is a protector of people. He comes down hard against those who would use and abuse others.
Stay tuned for more and further exploration of the woefully inadequate solutions the church is proposing today to address this issue.
P.S. Of course, my go to resource to recommend (aside from this blog) is mychainsaregone, and it’s free too!