In this post we will help you define porn addiction, understand the biology, psychology, and theology of porn addiction, and then share the best resources available to help you break free from porn -- for good!
What Is Porn Addiction?
Let's break down the terms:
Porn -- sexually explicit media, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal.
Addiction -- the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
So, porn addiction is an enslavement to viewing sexually explicit media that causes arousal.
In years past, one might have argued that viewing porn was simply a personal choice that didn't have any empirical effect on one's body, mind or behavior. But research is showing that is simply not true.
In order to understand porn addiction and its effects, it is important to address the whole person: body, mind, spirit.
Therefore, we need to explore the biology, psychology, and theology of porn addiction.
The Biology of Porn Addiction
What happens to the body of the porn addict? Or more specifically, what happens to the brain of the porn addict?
Everything you do with your body is processed through the brain. It is like the "CPU" (Central Processing Unit) of the human body. To wiggle your finger or smell a rose, the brain is vitally necessary.
Your brain is full of neural pathways. These pathways are what "carry" bits of information from one place to another in the nervous system. They are formed whenever you learn something new, and they grow stronger the more you repeat that thought or action.
So, if you view porn over and over again, you are forming very strong neural pathways that eventually become "unconscious" because of the repetitive behavior.
Your brain, in a sense, becomes "hard-wired" for porn. This is why porn addiction can be so difficult to overcome -- biology is powerful!
Before you feel hopeless at this news, let me encourage you. New neural pathways can be created that can "override" the old pathways. This is called neuroplasticity. Your brain doesn't have to stay perpetually "stuck" in old patterns of porn-addicted thinking.
As you focus your mind on what is true and good and beautiful, you can create new neural pathways that grow stronger than your old "porn pathways." Over time, you can "rewire" your brain away from porn to healthier thoughts and behaviors.
One other notable biological aspect of porn addiction is the "feel good" chemical that is released in the brain when viewing porn: dopamine.
Dopamine acts like a chemical reward for pursuing thoughts and behaviors deemed pleasurable. In some ways, dopamine could be described as the "want to" drug of the brain that develops an appetite of "craving" the more it is released.
Therefore, when you look at porn (or even think about looking at porn) your brain releases dopamine. Simultaneously, neural pathways are carrying bits of information along a "track" reinforcing the behavior. Repetition of this activity strengthens both the dopamine release and neural pathway development.
Over time, the "craving" for porn biologically intensifies.
The Psychology of Porn Addiction
While the biology of porn addiction looks at the brain and neural pathways and pleasure chemicals, the psychology of porn addiction focuses on the mind and emotions. What emotional and mental factors play into porn addiction?
In years past there seemed to be a pretty consistent psychological model applied to porn and sex addiction: early trauma in childhood followed by introduction to sexual stimuli, topped off with weak or dysfunctional family relationships.
While this model still applies today to many who develop a porn addiction, a new model is emerging: high media consumption reinforced by cultural normalization of porn, topped off with little to no experience with emotionally bonding to another person.
Research is showing that the ubiquity of consuming digital media is actually reducing our ability to read emotional cues from others (i.e. facial expressions). And when you add porn into this mix, it only magnifies desensitization toward human connection. The mind and heart eventually grow cold and numb.
One of the most common refrains we hear from men who attend our Gateway to Freedom 3-day workshop is that porn "numbed out" their ability to feel empathy or compassion or even desire toward anyone.
Another psychological factor in porn addiction is shame. Shame is the core belief that your value is equal to your performance. In other words, you are only as good as your behavior.
Shame can create a mental "spiral" of thoughts that are highly self-condemning. It's as if there is a perpetual microscope analyzing every minute detail of thought and action.
Shame creates a standard you can never live up to. You are never enough, never wanted, never known. Always less than, always left out, always hidden.
The use of porn only increases the unhealthy shame thoughts because porn never truly satisfies and therefore reinforces the shame lies. Addiction is a vicious cycle of self-destruction.
Porn addiction doesn't just take a toll on your biology, it diminishes your heart and soul, too. Relationships inevitably take a huge blow because of porn addiction.
Over half of all divorce cases "involve one party having an 'obsessive interest' in pornographic websites." The psychological, social and familial cost of porn use can be very high.
But porn addiction isn't only about biology and psychology. There is also a theology to porn addiction. God cares about how you use the body He gave you.
The Theology of Porn Addiction
Does God's Word really have anything to say about porn addiction? Yes!
Regarding pornography, Jesus said, "Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery in his heart." (Matt. 5:28)
To look with "lustful intent" fits the definition of porn: "whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal". Jesus said this is a sin of the heart, not merely behavior.
Pornography is not only about behavior ("biology"). It is an invitation to draw your heart away from what is true and good and beautiful, and instead incite you to lustfully devour with your eyes the flesh of fellow image bearers of God.
Elsewhere the Apostle Peter said:
"...For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved." 2 Peter 2:19b
This clearly fits the definition of addiction: "the state of being enslaved to a habit."
God did not create us to be enslaved to our sexual urges and desires. His design was that we be free to love and be loved in the expansive boundaries of His created order. Sexual expression is reserved for the context God designed: covenant marriage.
Freedom from porn addiction is not merely about tweaking brain chemistry (biology) or seeing a therapist (psychology); your sexuality is a deeply spiritual thing because God created it.
Your sexuality is a beautiful and wonderful gift from God. You were made male or female on purpose -- with a purpose.
God's purpose for your life is not to be addicted to porn. And the good news is you don't have to be! (see below for resources)
Where to Get Help for Porn Addiction
We have looked at the definition of porn addiction, the biology of porn addiction, the psychology of porn addiction, and even the theology of porn addiction.
But now it's time to turn our attention to getting you the help you need to be FREE of porn addiction.
As we have noted in this article, you are made up of body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, in order to get the best help possible for overcoming your porn addiction, you need help physically, mentally/emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are some of the best resources available in each of these categories:
Physical Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction
We recommend you get a check up with your personal doctor to assess your overall health in light of your addictive patterns. Oftentimes other issues like depression, anxiety, or dual addictions can present alongside a porn addiction.
Here are other resources that might also help you better understand and address the physical side of porn addiction:
Mental & Emotional Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction
For help finding counselors and other professionals skilled in treating porn addiction, consider these resources:
Spiritual Help for Overcoming Porn Addiction
There is a growing number of resources available for addressing the spiritual needs of overcoming porn addiction. The following links can help you pursue freedom from a biblical framework:
Help for MEN with Porn Addiction
Help for WOMEN with Porn Addiction
For help finding support groups for porn addiction recovery, visit Groups.Bebroken.com or download the Live Free app at LiveFreeCommunity.org.
For additional resources to overcome porn addiction, visit PureCommunity.org.
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Addiction destroys life. Over time, with each acting out experience, a little more life is drained from the addict. Eventually, all that remains is a walking dead person.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. He conquered sin on the cross and then crushed death by His resurrection. Many addicts are Christians, they believe Jesus Christ is their only hope of salvation. So, how come many are not experiencing freedom and victory from their addiction?
The story of the resurrection of Lazarus might give us some insight into why many Christians are not experiencing freedom from addiction, and how they can.
The full story is found in John 11 in the bible. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus. His sisters, Martha and Mary, were too. Lazarus gets sick and his sisters ask Jesus to come heal him. Jesus doesn't come immediately, and Lazarus dies. Not exactly what the sisters expected from Jesus. And that's the first thing we need to understand about recovery: God's path to freedom and new life won't be what we initially expect.
Most addicts who enter recovery expect the process to be quick, easy, and not terribly uncomfortable. But such expectations are just the underlying lies of addiction. ("If you smoke this, drink this, or look at that, all your dreams will come true.") God has a far better way for addicts, but many never realize it because they can't get over the initial challenge of recovery not being what they expected or hoped for.
Jesus eventually arrives on the scene after Lazarus has been buried. Martha and Mary express their grief and disappointment to Jesus. He responds to both with truth and grace. To Martha he gives a theology lesson (v. 20-27). To Mary he offers his tears (v. 32-36). This is the next thing we need to understand about God's path to recovery: Jesus responds to our pain personally.
No two addicts are identical in their stories or suffering. Each one has unique pain. Some addicts are hardened cynics. To these God may bring a hard truth to break their pride. Other addicts are crushed victims. To these God offers tears of understanding to lead them home. God knows that we need and when we need it on our journey of recovery.
Now the moment comes when Jesus is brought to the tomb where Lazarus was buried. This is the scene that will take our breath away -- literally!
"Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.'" (v. 39a)
You cannot walk out of the grave of addiction until the "stone" locking you in is removed. And you need a community willing to move it.
Dead people can't move stones. Yet, so often addicts are preached at to "get up" or "stop it" or "just make better choices." If Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead without moving the stone, Lazarus would have been "alive" but living in a locked tomb. The stone had to be rolled away for him to come out of the grave. The "stone(s)" in the addict's life must be rolled away before they can come out of their addiction.
Some common "stones" that keep addicts imprisoned are:
And many more. Each of these stones require the help of others to remove. The addict drowning in shame cannot remove that stone by sheer willpower or "positive thinking." Other people need to speak truth and hope and grace in order to remove that stone.
But even after the stone is removed, Lazarus is still a dead man. And he stinks.
"Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him [Jesus], 'Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.'" (v. 39b)
Addiction stinks. The people who come around the addict to help remove the stone need to know this: What lies on the other side of grave stones is a stinky dead person. And depending on how long the addict has been dying in their addiction, the stench can be quite putrid. But it's good to smell the stink. Here's why.
Many addicts, especially those addicted to "non-substances" like porn and lust, are great at hiding their addiction. Their grave stone is securely in place and therefore the "stink" of addiction isn't easily recognized by others. This means friends and family may not know that their loved one is dying, or already dead.
When the grave stone is moved and the horrible smell of death hits you in the face, it is a powerful moment. Don't rush past it. Yes, it hurts when the stinky truth about a loved one knocks you over. But you can learn from it. Breathe it in so you can become familiar with the stench, so that when you pick up that scent in others, you know what to do to help them break free from their grave of addiction.
Finally, the moment has come for Jesus to do the miraculous; to raise Lazarus from the dead.
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. (v. 41-44)
When Jesus, the author of Life, speaks, death must flee. Death could not hold Lazarus when Jesus called him out of the grave. And addiction cannot hold the addict when Jesus calls them out. But an addict might ask, "Why, then, don't I feel free?" Easy, you're still wrapped up in your death clothes.
There are a lot of "walking dead" in recovery groups. They are "alive" in the sense that God has given them new life, but they are still bound by their former, familiar grave clothes. This, again, is why we need a strong, loving community around us to help take off the death garments.
Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (v. 44b)
Jesus alone can call a dead man (or woman) back to life. Jesus alone can break the deadly power of addiction. But Jesus expects the community around the addict to "unbind him, and let him go." Addicts need the power of community to loose them from the familiar, stinky clothes of their old ways.
Are you struggling in your recovery? Do you still feel "dead" on your journey? What is God trying to show you from the resurrection of Lazarus that needs to be applied in your life?
Remember these words of Jesus, "...everyone who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" Do you?
May you, by the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ, and the presence of a loving community, walk today in freedom and victory over addiction.
For help finding a group in your area, visit Groups.Bebroken.com.
I MISS prison?!
If you know me personally, you already know I have recently transferred from one Federal Prison to another. As I sit here at my new temporary residence I find it odd that I miss the old one. Don't get me wrong, many of the things I miss are good, godly things: friends, church services, activities.
I think what I miss most is familiarity. I am having to learn a new schedule, a new way of doing everyday things. There are new officers, new inmates; all new faces. There are new programs, new classes, and new activities. None of these are good or bad, in and of themselves, they are just new.
I am having to find new ways of doing things, because I am separated from that old place.
When we finally separate from sin, or a particular sin, we must have new ways of doing everyday things. Going to work, using our computers, meeting people for business lunches. These things, too, are not good or bad. Some of these things are just necessary things in order to function.
For those of us struggling with sexual brokenness, new ways must be found for functioning in our everyday world. Heading to work will require us to use an alternate route that does not take us by that sex shop, strip club, or suggestive billboard. Our home or office computers will have to be moved to common areas and kept from private use. Or perhaps our computers will need to be password-protected and accountability be had with a family member or a trusted godly friend. Business lunches must be held in groups of three or more when the opposite sex is involved.
If we leave our old prison of sin we MUST be ready for new faces, new activities, and new ways of doing everyday things. Of course, it's not easy. Leaving behind sin never is. We must be ready and WILLING to make compromises and concessions. We must be ready and WILLING to make new acquaintances and associate with new people. We must be separated from that old place.
Yes, I miss that old prison, but I know I am in a better place. I know that this is the next phase as I prepare to re-enter society. When I finally do leave prison, will I miss it? Many inmates do, as is evident by recidivism rates. Brokenness and sin will be a prison for us if we lack the will to change.
I am broken, but I am separated from that old place.
Written by Dennis
Friend of the ministry
It is with some difficulty I begin this posting. Over two years ago Be Broken invited me to contribute to this blog and I did so enthusiastically! For those who may not remember or may not have read the posting it was not much more than an introduction and an explanation of where my sexual brokenness had brought me -- namely, to a Federal Prison.
I was excited! I was finally being called to serve in the very area that was my downfall. Be Broken had been a major factor, or rather, the major tool used by the Lord to minister to me and to get me to recognize and embrace my brokenness. Of course I was excited! I finished that first article and quickly began working on my second...
Life inside these walls can be quite similar to life outside. We, the incarcerated, are faced with daily struggles and problems. And just like you, the "free world," we have to decide to turn to God or to ourselves in these times. This fact is probably no surprise to anybody, incarcerated or not. Perhaps what the incarcerated do know better than those not incarcerated is the way life in prison can drain a person of hope.
Hope. Two years ago hope was going to be the subject of my next posting, my second posting. I contemplated hope. I prayed for understanding of hope. I formulated words to express my understanding. As I sat down to put my words on paper a dark cloud settled over me. I began to understand that I was not convinced that I believed all I was saying about hope.
To clarify, I believed it all, but even as I wrote the words I knew I was not living as if I did. I did not have hope in and for my future. I did not place all my hope in the Lord. In referring to the words of St. Augustine, I was not living as if I already received that which I hoped for.
I was spiritually smashed by the revelation. I had my pen in hand when this realization came to me. I literally put down my pen (and article) for the last two years.
Prison seems to do that to a person -- in my experience, at least, and many of those around me. You may not have steel bars, concrete walls, or razor wire imprisoning you, but what holds you prisoner? Is it the desires of your flesh; selfishness that allows you to discount the feelings of your spouse or family; your sexual brokenness?
We are all held prisoner, it seems, by something. These bars and razor wire are not the things that make me a prisoner, but my sin. The dark one holds the other end of a noose placed around our necks. What outcome could one possibly hope for when tethered to the noose-end of that rope? Struggle as I might I cannot remove this noose myself. Only One can free me: Jesus.
But will He do it if I continue to run the other direction holding on to my noose as if it were a comfy scarf protecting me from the cold? And is this not the real issue with sin? We hold on to it because we think it comforts us, make us feel good in our flesh, or worst of all, feels like home because of its familiarity.
It is my sincere prayer that one day you and I can enthusiastically say with Paul, "I (insert your name here), a prisoner for Christ..." Perhaps one day my thoughts on hope will be fully realized in my heart and mind and my thoughts-set-to-paper will see the light of day. Until that day I at least know that I cannot hope for anything I am not willing to make sacrifices for, nor can I put my hope in myself but in the Lord.
Be broken, but be hopeful.
by Jonathan Daugherty
We rarely, if ever, put the idea of blessing into the same realm with pain. They seem opposed to one another, like trying to mix oil and water. But having worked in addiction recovery for the past dozen years, I have discovered uncanny links between them. And if we pay attention to these links, we might find that our pain can have a purpose that is good and redemptive.
Everyone who knocks on the door of our ministry for help does not like the circumstances surrounding their addiction. There are broken relationships, unfulfilled promises, histories of trauma and abuse, and too many lies of self-deception to count. In other words, they are drowning in pain. And they all want one thing: relief!
Of course, we don't like seeing the devastation of what their addiction has caused. It grieves us to see broken families, sexually transmitted infections, and all else that can come from a life of sexual addiction. But if we really want to help these hurting people find true relief, we need to guide them into a bigger understanding of pain's purpose. Otherwise, they may spend the rest of their lives only trying to avoid pain, rather than acquiring the rich blessings that can come from facing their hurt head on.
There are three primary blessings that I believe can come from pain, if you will allow it. And that's the key: to listen to your pain, and thereby receive the blessing hidden within it.
1. Pain ALERTS us of danger.
I previously wrote a blog post that addresses this idea of pain being a warning system, but I want to highlight it again here in the context of blessing. Imagine if unhealthy choices, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual were allowed to occur without warning. What an incredible mess of destruction would follow!
And what if horrible atrocities were conducted against humanity and nature without any feelings of hurt, anguish, or grief? What a sad existence. What a loss of hope for anyone suffering abuse. We need pain to alert us that something is wrong; something needs correction. This is a blessing, because without such pain, we might not even know what kind of trouble we're in.
2. Pain ANNOUNCES our weaknesses.
Similar to alerting us of danger, pain also (and sometimes in very demanding ways) announces where we are weak. I recall a surgery I underwent a couple years ago in which two major incisions were required across my abdomen. For several weeks after the surgery it was excruciating to move; simple actions like getting in and out of chairs became endeavors that required every ounce of energy and attention. The pain was a constant reminder of my weakened condition.
You might be wondering how "announcing our weaknesses" is a blessing. Well, it is a blessing because we were not made to live independent of our Creator, or one another.
Genesis 2:18 - Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him."
Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Our weakness is opportunity for fellowship with God and one another. When we admit our weakness, it opens us up to the grace of God more fully. We recognize that we don't have to carry the burdens of this life alone. We can't carry them alone. We need help; our frailty in body and mind regularly confirm this.
3. Pain ARMS us for compassion and service.
When you travel the difficult road of heartache, or illness, or addiction, or persecution, or fill in the blank with whatever pain you have faced, you are being trained for compassion and service to others who are in similar pain. Your pain does not have to be seen as a "waste of time" or meaningless.
I started my journey out of secret sexual addiction in August 1999. At that time I couldn't see any good coming out of what my life was up to that point. I was selfish, angry, depressed. I hurt everyone who loved me -- I betrayed them all. I was living in pain, and I had inflicted untold pain on to others. How could anything good come out of something so bad?
Through recovery God started to show me how He could redeem what I had destroyed. He could remake my life, rebuild my relationships, restore my innocence, and even give me a purpose in all of it: to help others who were carrying the same burden.
Believe it or not, when people ask me if I could change anything about my past, I actually say, "No." Why? Because there is no way I could help sex addicts recover like I do today if I had not walked through "the valley of the shadow of death" of my own addiction. The blessing I receive when I look into the tear-stained eyes of a broken man as he embraces hope for the first time just because I shared my story with him is worth all the agonizing tears I shed on my own journey. I could not have the compassion I do for sexually addicted men if I had not lived that pain myself.
What have been your "valleys of death" on your life's journey? What pain have you endured? Are you heeding the alarms your pain might be sounding? Are you allowing God and others to share your burden, acknowledging where you are weak and need help? Will you allow your pain to be used for the good of others, as compassion grows for those with similar weaknesses and struggles?
There is blessing in the pain. May you have the courage to embrace it...
by Gerard Terry
What do Bruce Willis in Die Hard, John Wayne in his Westerns and Sean Connery as James Bond have in common? They are all men of adventure. Prior to modern society and the taming of the west, having an adventure (and getting killed in the process) was much easier. You could take off on your horse with a rifle and a six shooter, and adventure was sure to find you. How about today? Will I find adventure as I take off in my Honda for work in an office building?
Men are Made for Adventure
Manly men need adventure. We were made for it and crave it. Yet today, adventures don’t come as naturally as they once did. While it is true we can still hike a mountain, scuba dive beneath the ocean, or sail across the sea, we are busy. Finding adventure takes work and we are exhausted after a tough day at the office. So, we turn on the TV or the computer, sit back in a stuffed chair and live adventures vicariously through actors on the screen.
An Unhealthy Substitute for Real Adventure
Pornography serves the same purpose. It gets my heart racing as good as any movie action scene. It fills my mind with endorphins. In a sense, it involves adventurous conduct as my mind meets hundreds of women committed to filling my sexual desires. Fantasy can be like that – ready to fill my wildest dreams.
What is not advertised is that porn’s fantasy world carries devastating consequences, as it changes who I am on the inside. I begin to think differently about relationships, about love and about a productive life. It has a possessive and addictive quality which keeps me longer than I want to stay and takes me further than I want to go. It controls me.
Adventure Still Exists Today
Our desire for healthy adventure is not as hard to fill as it seems. Anything with an element of danger, exhaustion, newness, competition or which pushes the limits of routine conduct will do. Take a new route to work. Get up early and hike a nearby park. Dare a friend to swim across a lake with you. Learn outdoor survival techniques. I took one of my Ruckus mopeds across town to work in rush hour traffic the other day, just for fun.
Or, try one of these on for size:
by Ken A.
I met you at a young age. As memory serves, I was around the age of 7 the first time I was shown a pornographic magazine. Little did I know that it would be the beginnings of the longest relationship I have ever known, outside of that with my mom and my brother. From the moment I met you, I was hooked. You had me.
In elementary school, I dabbled in you; steeling glances of my step father’s magazine when no one was around. In junior high we began a torrid affair. I began sneaking those magazines back to my bedroom where I got to know you intimately. It was from you I learned what sex was like. Even then, there were consequences that came from my relationship with you like the time my step father found one of his magazines under my mattress, and grounded me from a party, which cost me my girlfriend at the time. I paid dearly, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from coming back to you.
High school, it seems, you left me alone. I had girlfriends that occupied my time, and I was busy devoting myself to school and to church. I am sure we had encounters, but for whatever reason, that time isn’t as prevalent to me as others. But you were still there waiting for me.
College came, and we didn’t spend much time together, probably because there was always a roommate there to dissuade me from doing anything that would put me in a compromising situation. We dabbled a bit, you, me and my fiancé at the time, but I didn’t need you. You were always there, though, waiting for the day I would come back to you.
After college, we renewed our relationship. I discovered the Internet, and countless sources of pornography to entertain me and keep me company. When I met my wife, you were there. I knew she didn’t approve, but I tried to keep our relationship secret.
When we got married, I hoped you would go away, but you didn’t. You were always there. Calling to me, enticing me. I gave in often. I swore it would never happen again. It did. Over and over again.
I caused my wife so much pain. So much heartache. My wife begged me to stop, prayed for me, supported me while I went to counseling, but ultimately it became too much. Knowing what the consequences would be, I chose you. I always chose you.
You promised so much. Excitement, concealment. No guilt. Companionship. Community (after all, there are only two types of guys in the world-those who look at porn and those who say they don’t). You promised to love me unconditionally. You promised to make me feel like a man. You promised to make me feel proud.
What you delivered was just the opposite. Guilt. Isolation. Shame. Regret. Remorse. A life alone. You lied to me.
Because I chose you, my life and the lives of those around me look very different.
Because I chose you, I am now separated from the 4 people I love the most – my wife of 18 years and my 3 children.
Because I chose you, my daughters have come to the realization that I was never there for them, partially because I was always consumed by you; by the guilt that came from you.
Because I chose you, I have missed prom, dance recitals, baseball games, softball games, National Honor Society inductions, campus tours, holidays, family vacations, bonfires and dinners.
Because I chose you, I have spent most of my life feeling incapable and ill equipped to lead my family spiritually as I have been called to do.
Because I chose you, I have lost track of the number of lies I have told to family and friends to hide my guilt.
Because I chose you, my wife spent our 18-year anniversary with our children instead of me.
Because I chose you, my children spent Father’s Day with their mother instead of me.
Because I chose you, my wife begs me to do the right thing and files for a divorce so she can be free, never having to go back into a relationship of lies, deceit and isolation.
Because I chose you, my daughters have asked me to divorce their mother so they can all start over again.
Because I chose you, my friends have deserted me, tired of being deceived yet again when they find out I have run back to you despite telling them I left you for good.
Because I chose you, sleep doesn’t come until very late most nights, as I lay in bed, pondering my actions, and the hurt they have caused those I love most.
Because I chose you, my wife has spent the majority of our 18 years in marriage on her knees before God, asking Him to help her fall in love with me because she couldn’t do it on her own.
Because I chose you, I have spent my adult life mired in guilt and shame, feeling defective and unlovable by God or anyone else. My relationships have been distant and fragmented so no one would have to get to know the real me.
Because I chose you, my beloved wife, who God gave to me to look after and take care of has been cheated out of years of intimate bedtime conversations where we shared our hopes, our dreams, our fears, all out of my selfish cowardice that I would have to open up and share true feelings and struggles.
Because I chose you, I have had to surrender leadership positions in my church, doing what I love to do most, which is singing and leading people in worship.
Because I chose you, I attend church on Sundays alone, trying to ignore the glances from the people that know me, and trying not to wonder what they are thinking about me right now.
Because I chose you, my wife forbids my son to come to the place I am staying right now because she doesn’t trust that I can provide an environment free from pornography for my son.
Because I chose you, my daughters choose not to have a relationship with me, fearing the pain of being betrayed yet again.
Because I chose you, I have spent thousands of dollars of our hard earned money on counseling sessions that never worked.
Because I chose you, I have made poor financial decisions, hoping that I could buy my guilt away.
Because I chose you, I am unwelcome and unwanted in my own house. I have to leave my house every night after spending time with my son; a reminder daily of the consequence of my actions.
Because I chose you, I wear the title or badge of “Hello my name is Sex Addict who destroyed his family, and is reaping what he sowed for 18 years.”
Because I chose you, my family has felt that I never loved them, never wanted to be with them. They didn’t understand, and still don’t that I couldn’t love them when I was incapable of loving the disgusting person I had become.
But because I chose you, I have been forced to ponder my salvation and wonder if I am saved. I have been forced to learn what a person broken and surrendered to God looks like. I have been forced to take a good hard look at my relationships with my children, the friends I have left, and with God. And I have been forced to confront my “dependence” on you.
Because of you, I identify with Matthew, the tax collector and one of Jesus’ chosen 12. Matthew was originally named Levi, so he was quite possibly part of the tribe that was supposed to lead the Jews spiritually. Instead, he became a tax collector, one of the most reviled occupations of the time. No doubt, Matthew disappointed his family greatly, who probably had much higher hopes for him than to be a tax collector.
Like Matthew, I had never stepped into the role God had laid out for me. I was to be a father, a spiritual leader for my wife and my children. Because I didn’t, someone else had to. In addition to being mom and wife, my wife had to become spiritual leader, disciplinarian, and so many other roles she was never called to be. Jesus called Matthew despite his sins. He chose him to make a difference. Like Matthew, he wants to use me to make a difference.
I want to make it clear to you, Porn. I choose you no longer. Like my family refuses to believe my promises, I refuse to believe your promises. Contrary to what you promise, You only offer a life of regret, remorse, emptiness, shame, isolation, hurt, financial ruin, spiritual bankruptcy.
I choose light. I choose life. I choose relationship with God and with my family. I choose to make sure that my family knows every day that they are loved and treasured. I choose every day to choose God and live over pornography and death.
You may think you have won for now, but this battle is not over. I will never come back to you. You have caused too much pain, too much destruction. I will never give up fighting for my family, and I will not stop bringing your lies to Light. There are thousands, probably millions of women and children experiencing what my family has experienced for the last 4+ months because men all over the world are choosing you. I will make sure they know my story. I will make sure they know that you are nothing but a liar who promises so much, and gives so little. I will help them win.
You will not win. As a matter of fact, you have already been defeated. You see, I have a God who loves me, and not only loved me so much to send his Son for me, but he left me something as well. He left me his Holy Spirit that lives in me. If this Holy Spirit had enough power to raise Jesus from the dead, this same Holy Spirit will surely give me the strength to resist you. He gives me a way out every time you try to entice me. I will choose this way out. Even if I never get my wife back, even if my children never choose to have the kind of relationship God intends for us to have, I will not come back to you. We are through.
God wins. Every time, He wins. He is undefeated. Mark my words. You are finished. We are finished. Perfect love wins. There is hope in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. He wants me more than you do, and I know you want me dearly. It must anger you to know I am leaving you, and I expect you to come at me harder than you have ever come. Bring it on. My family means too much to me. I just wish I had realized it a long time ago...
by Jonathan Daugherty
Whenever a new year begins many people take a personal inventory of their lives and consider what might need changing. We often refer to this as "New Year's Resolutions" or personal goals or some other sort of headline for the notepad where we're making such a list. When it comes to someone drowning in a sexual addiction (or addiction of any kind) these lists often feel pointless and overwhelming. We have been here before and nothing seemed to change. But at its base, we are all desiring the same effect from such resolutions: freedom.
Life, and especially addiction, has a way of imprisoning us. There are responsibilities, deadlines, bills, accidents, illnesses, taxes and imperfect relationships, not to mention the uncontrollable urges that guide the life of an addict. This isn't freedom. This is prison. And too many reach for a blank notepad on January 1st, crossing their fingers that if they just write down the right resolution it will be the key to their escape.
Sadly, new year's resolutions do not set one free from addiction, or the tyranny of the urgent. Thankfully, there is a key to the freedom we so deeply long for. And for those who find it, life becomes a joy, not drudgery. But this key does not magically "show up" on your doorstep. You cannot click your heels together three times and wish it to appear. No, this key requires a search, a pursuit.
It is no secret that when Jesus walked the earth He didn't always have the best relationship with the religious leaders of the day. In fact, you could argue that the religious leaders were a constant obstacle to Jesus' ministry. But He pressed on and did not waver from His mission: to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
One day Jesus was sharing with the crowds insights into who He was and His relationship with His Father in heaven. As a result of His words many Jews believed in Him. Then Jesus said, "“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
I have heard lots of Christians misquote this passage, saying, "The truth will set you free," as though you just need to "scrub" a little truth in those hard-to-reach areas and then you'll be free. But notice how Jesus set it up, "If you abide in my word..." There is a condition on us before we can ever know the truth that sets us free. We must abide in Christ's Word.
If we must abide in Christ's Word before we can even know the truth, what does it mean to abide in His Word? It means to abide in Him, for He is the Word of God. You see, the key to freedom is not an "it," it is a Him, Jesus Christ.
Later in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, " I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) We cannot be free, or bear any good fruit, apart from Christ. Therefore, if we want to know the truth that sets us free, we must know Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We must know Jesus in order to be free!
The only way to know Jesus is to exercise faith in Him, believing what He said; believing His Word. It is very much like getting to know anyone. How do you "abide" with your wife? You must know her. How do you know her? By talking (and listening!). It is also that simple with Jesus. We know Him by talking (i.e. prayer) and listening (i.e. His Word and prayer).
Put down the resolution notepad for just a minute. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Listen to your heartbeat. Your breathing. Let yourself calm down. Now, from your heart of hearts cry out to Jesus (whatever you need to say from your "prison cell"). Wait. Listen. Be quiet. Your Deliverer is coming. Be patient. Don't open your eyes. Wait. Listen. The Key to your freedom is on His way. Beware of all that wants to distract you in this moment: phones, chores, shame, resolutions, fear.
No matter how far you have wandered from God, He has not wandered from you. But you cannot know the truth that will set you free if you do not first abide in God's Word, the Word in the flesh, Jesus. This is why you must replace ritual with relationship, resolutions with real intimacy. God wants to set you free, and He has the power to do it, but it will only happen through a growing relationship with Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.
When God, through Moses, was reassuring His people, even after telling them how far they would wander from Him, He said this, "But from there [their places of idolatry] you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them." (Deut. 4:29-31; emphasis mine)
You will find the Key, the Lord Almighty (the Truth that sets men free), if you search for Him will all your heart and soul. God is merciful. He wants you to be free, and He has made the way for you to unlock your prison door and walk in the way He intended from the beginning. The choice is yours. If you want freedom, abide in The Word, Jesus Christ. If you want more resolutions you never keep, go ahead and pick up your notepad again...
by Jonathan Daugherty
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 1 Chron. 21:24
I have yet another confession to make. Sigh… I am a number cruncher. I like to view various financial and ministry decisions from all angles, calculating probable outcomes and returns. While such planning and forethought are not evil or wrong in themselves, I have a tendency to sometimes put more faith in my calculator than in God. This is obviously not good!
I can only think of a few seasons in my life in which I have given and it was truly painful. In 2003 I was laid off from my job. Naturally, I sat down and started working on a plan to make our savings stretch to cover our expenses until I could find another job. When I came across the line item “Tithe” in our budget, I hesitated, forming reasons in my mind why we should be exempt from needing to put a number in that category when we had no income. But my heart burned in my chest. You know, that “I-know-this-is-the-Holy-Spirit-convicting-me-but-I-want-to-believe-it’s-just-acid-reflux” kind of feeling. Eventually, I put a number in the column. Writing those checks each month without a job hurt.
Through that season, however, God was teaching me about sacrifice, giving even when the cost seemed greater than I could pay. I was learning the way of Jesus during those months. Jesus faced paying the highest cost anyone could fathom, and only He was the one capable of paying the price required to redeem mankind. And even He struggled with the price tag, to the point of sweating drops of blood. (Luke 22:44) What gift have I ever sweat drops of blood over?
The heart of a true giver is one who understands there is a cost beyond money that is required. It is the cost of obedience and faith. God is a jealous God, not wanting to “share” us with anyone or anything that would harm or defile us (or profane His name). One of His expectations of us is to give. Period. He is on a mission to change our hearts from selfish takers to selfless givers. This won’t be pain free!
But the price we pay here in suffering well before God will reap a harvest of eternal blessings, the kind of stuff money could never buy. So, a big part of becoming a better giver is adopting an eternal perspective, seeing that the decisions we make now to “put in everything” will bring a smiling commendation from the One who once said, “Yes, I will go to the cross…and pay the ultimate price.”
What are you withholding in your giving? What are you “measuring” out to God? Take the scary, painful, but eternally rewarding step of “putting in everything” today!
by Jonathan Daugherty
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Heb. 12:4
My life really isn’t hard. I generally get to wake up when I want to. I grab a cup of coffee and have dozens of choices about what kinds of creamers or sugars I might add. I hop into my car, drive to my office or a client appointment, and go about my day. I’m not forced to denounce my faith or engage in activities that clearly defy God’s Word. And yet, I have moments and seasons in which I think this thing called “life” is unbearable. It’s sad, really.
Before you think that I am minimizing the struggles we do face in America or shaming those who get panicky when their “check engine” light comes on, let me assure you I am not saying these are not real burdens. But when we open our lives to the light of Scripture, we find some really convicting and revealing truth regarding our inner battle with sin and obedience to God. I would guess that a majority of my American friends reading this post have never “shed blood” in their struggle against sin. And that’s OK. But God has a whole other view of the intensity by which we should resist sin.
In my comfortable life it can be easy to become just as comfortable with the sinful temptations that surround me each day. Temptations such as laziness, greed, selfishness, slander, gossip, unkindness, lust, and the list goes on (probably fairly similar to your list…). But God doesn’t want me to be “comfortable” with such things. He wants me (and you), in obedience to Him, to RESIST these influences, even to the point of shedding my blood.
It is just as easy for me to become comfortable with only the commands God gives that I like or feel confident accomplishing.
“Pray for one another.” Got it. I can do that (or at least say I'll do it).
“Give.” Okay, a little more difficult, but I can still do that (even on a full-time minister’s salary).
“Love your enemies.” Ouch! Are you sure about that one?
“Turn the other cheek.” Hold on a second.
As the commands cut into my comfort, I am left with a choice: obey or give in to sin.
You may be thinking, “Wait just a minute, Jonathan. Isn’t that a little dramatic, saying our only choice in responding to God’s commands is to obey or sin?!” It may sound overly dramatic, but it is still true. On any point in which God instructs us to do something and we choose not to do it, we are disobeying and therefore sinning against God. I know it’s an uncomfortable thought, mostly because I know I can disobey in such ways multiple times a day. But if we don’t embrace the truth, we cannot be changed by it.
What sins are crouching at your door, enticing you to ignore the good and loving commands of the Savior? Don’t be afraid to let the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, pierce your heart so that you might become better at resisting sin. Jesus set the example of “resisting to the point of shedding blood.” May we be willing to follow His lead…