Pornography Addiction


Click on this link to Focus on the Family's page of Pornography resources.


Buy This Book!

American men are in a tough position.  We live in a country awash with sensual images available twenty-four hours a day on a variety of mediums:  print, television, videos, internet. It is impossible to avoid such temptations, but thankfully, not impossible to rise above them. The process starts when men realize two things. First, they aren't alone. In fact, sixty-five percent of men at Promise Keepers indicated they have a problem with pornography. Second, there is help. Honest, real, life-changing help, written in a brother-to-brother style. A practical, detailed plan to help men find freedom from sexual temptation God's way. Includes a special section for women, designed to help them understand, empathize, and support the men they love.
 
 


Webmaster's note:

I recently subscribed to an e-mail service, Laugh & Lift, that provides daily e-mails of Christian humor and uplifting messages. However, right when my subscription started, the web master for that site, Chris Long, in a rare moment of candor among web users, decided that he needed to level with his subscribers, and let us all know that he was undergoing a battle against sin, and he wanted to share what he was learning from the experience. For awhile, his columns were not filled with jokes, but with his comments on the battle he has been having.

LivingTheWay.org applauds this young man for making this bold move. He received quite a bit of e-mail from his readers, some positive, some negative. But I believe he also received some healing by sharing what he has gone through, and some encouragement and strength from the many positive replies he has received.

Below are excerpts from his e-mailed columns, followed by a number of links to resources which pornography addicts may find helpful in their struggle to break free from their addiction.

If you like, you can click here to subscribe to the Laugh & Lift e-mail issues.

Below are Chris Long's comments regarding the scourge of pornography addiction and sexual sin (used by permission):

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In my hand, I hold a printed copy of some statistics released by the Christian organization, Focus on the Family, from a poll that was conducted by Zogby International. Here's one of the key parts in it:

"31% of the men surveyed said they had visited sex sites and 37% of 18-24 year olds gave that response. Of interest to Focus on the Family was the fact that 17.8% of those who claim to be 'born again' Christians and 18% of those who are married have also viewed sex sites."

Although there are many evils on the Internet, the most prevalent by far is pornography. When I read that statistic above, about nearly 18% of Christians viewing sex sites, I admit to being a little surprised, but not really. Pornography is so easy to run into on the Internet, as I know most of you are probably aware. Even typing in completely innocent phrases into search engines can bring up sexually related sites.

Whether it's viewing pornography (which is really the sin of lusting) or pre-marital sex, or homosexuality, or other sexual sins, one thing is certain -- they are silently eating away at the Body of Christ. In this age that we live in, with pornography and other evils instantly available at our fingertips (and our children's fingertips), we cannot afford to be silent. We as Christians need to address these topics, and we need to help those in our midst that may be struggling.

We need to recognize that pornography and the sin of lusting (and other sexual sins) come straight from the evil one. Satan has deceived many people, including many Christians, into the trap of pornography. I use the word "trap" because, for many, that's what it is. The viewing of pornography can be an addiction, just like taking drugs or drinking alcohol can be an addiction.

And I have no doubt that there are people on this list who are in this trap, or in others laid out by the devil. My goal in this issue is to 1) Raise a consciousness among all on this list that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, not just on some email list, but within our churches, schools, and homes, for that is where it hits and hits hard; and 2) to offer help to those on this list struggling with sexual sin.

I've heard it said that true Christians cannot possibly repeatedly view pornography or be involved in other sexual sins and still be a Christian. Really? If that is true, then I am not a Christian. That's right. By that standard, the guy who sends you Christian material every day is not a Christian. I can almost see the faces of the people on this list right now -- people with expressions of surprise or astonishment, all thinking "Did Chris just admit to being involved in sexual sin?" Yes, I did.

Satan introduced me to pornography when I was only 10 years old. By the time I turned my life over to Christ at the age of 15, I was already long addicted to it. Oh, I tried to stop over and over again, but I couldn't. Satan had control of me in this one area. But yet, I was still a Christian. Yes, that could sound to some like a contradiction, but if you've ever been addicted to anything, then you know that, really, it isn't. Yes, there were many times (way too many to count) where I cried out to God to forgive me and deliver me.

Back in October many of you may remember that I wrote about a Christian renewal based "retreat" that I went on. I gave this issue up to God at that time (again) but this time it seemed different -- I felt I had finally broken free. And I had, for a short while, but then I foolishly let down my guard and gave in again. I picked myself back up and am trying to live a pure life, but I fight a battle every day. And I know that some of you are fighting daily spiritual battles, too. Maybe it's pornography, maybe not. The truth is that it doesn't matter what the battle is you're facing, because underneath they are all the same battle -- a battle between righteousness and unrighteousness, purity and impurity, faithfulness and unfaithfulness. There's a war a-ragin'...a war for our minds and souls.

I'd like to share a quote with you, by C.S. Lewis:

"Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. That is why bad people know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means -- the only complete realist." - C.S. Lewis

Some may be bothered by the fact that I have admitted to having sinned. I find it odd that ministers and leaders of ministries are often put on some pedestal as though they are perfect individuals. They're not. And I'm not, either. I try to live my life as Christ would have me live it, but I fail, just like everybody else. There are no perfect people alive on this earth today. The only reason I have chosen to disclose my particular area of vulnerability is that I feel it is an issue that affects many people, and Christians by and large are not addressing it, or not addressing it in the way that it needs to be addressed.

Make no mistake about it: If you are not personally struggling with the sin of lust (viewing pornography, having sinful thoughts) or with other sexually related sins, chances are really good that someone you know and love and care about does. That could mean your parents, your children, your spouse, your neighbor, your friends -- just about anybody. They are silent sins. They're not talked about. And often, people who are struggling are afraid to talk about them and seek help.

But they need to be talked about. And help needs to be given. We need to talk to our children about these sins and why they are wrong. We cannot afford to be silent. It has been said that sexual addictions and sexual sins are the silent killer of the Church. And I believe it.
 

The Roaring Lion
(by Dr. James Dobson, from his book "Life on the Edge")

He [Satan] laid a trap for me during a time of particular vulnerability. Shirley and I had been married just a few years when we had a minor fuss. It was no big deal but we were both pretty agitated at the time. I got in the car and drove around for about an hour to cool off. Then when I was on the way home, a very attractive girl drove up beside me in her car and smiled. She was obviously flirting with me. Then she slowed down, looked back, and turned onto a side street. I knew she was inviting me to follow her.

I didn't take the bait. I just went on home and made up with Shirley. But I thought later about how vicious Satan had been to take advantage of the momentary conflict between us. The Scripture refers to the devil as "a roaring lion...seeking whom he might devour" (1 Peter 5:8 KJV). I can see how true that description really is. He knew his best opportunity to damage our marriage was during the hour or two when we were irritated

with each other. That is typical of his strategy. He'll lay a trap for you, too, and it'll probably come at a time of vulnerability. Beautiful, enticing, forbidden fruit will be offered to you when your "hunger" is greatest. If you are foolish enough to reach for it, your fingers will sink into the rotten mush on the back side. That's the way sin operates in our lives. It promises everything. It delivers nothing but disgust and heartache.

Someone said it this way: All you need to grow the finest crop of weeds is a tiny crack in your sidewalk.
 


=========================================



Hi again, everyone. I appreciated the many thoughts of people that wrote me in regards to yesterday's message and I was genuinely touched by many of them. And I do appreciate all of your prayers for me!

With almost all that wrote me, there was one common thing that was said, and I'm summarizing here: "Thanks, Chris, for sharing something so personal and letting others know of your sin. It takes a lot of courage and undoubtedly will help many." I will admit that I was afraid to send that message last night. After I had finished writing it, I prayed again about whether it was the right thing to do. I felt it was and so I sent it. Immediately after I sent it, I thought to myself - "Well I guess I'll just have to trust the Lord on this one..."

A quote by James Bryan Smith:

"One of the paradoxes of confession is that we fear we will weaken our relationship with the person we confess to, but in reality, we strengthen the bond. God has given us the wonderful gift of mutual accountability, but too few of us actually take advantage of it because we are afraid of what others will think of us if we share our doubts, fears, concerns, sins, and failures. The devil is counting on this fear preventing us from becoming transparent with one another." - James Bryan Smith

Another quote:

"Nothing so dispirits the demons as when their assaults are revealed. And nothing so heartens them as when their temptations are kept secret." - The Desert Fathers

One of the things I've learned about how to overcoming sin of any kind is to be accountable to people. It is important to share our struggles with fellow believers who can lift us up and keep us accountable. I personally am meeting with two different individuals right now for this purpose, in addition to meeting weekly with an accountability group at my church.

I strongly encourage all those with addictions of any kind (or actually I just encourage everybody in general) to find individuals with whom you can share your inner struggles and just talk and be lifted up and encouraged. Some people may say, "But I don't know anybody like that." My response is that you probably do - you just don't think you've gotten to know people around you well enough to share with them. Sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and share with people.

The devil would like nothing more than for us to keep silent and struggle alone. He knows that there's serious power in believers uniting together to help each other overcome his dirty tricks.

Sexual sin is quite possibly the biggest area in which Christians are silent when it comes to their own struggles. But at least for me, I can say that I've learned that I can't face my struggle alone. I tried that. I tried it for a long, long time. And I failed. My true healing did not begin until I confessed for the first time to a pastor on that Christian "retreat" I mentioned that I went on several months ago. The odd thing was that, only when I experienced how much more free I was after sharing my struggle for the first time, did I realize just how important it is.

Originally when I started writing yesterday's message, I had no intent of sharing my struggle; the intent was just to write some information about sexual sin and the stronghold it has on some people and then share the related links. But as I was writing, I thought about the thing that I frequently have heard from Christians, which is that one cannot truly be a Christian and continually sin in the same area over and over again. And I just had to rebuke that argument because it's not true, and I'm proof of it. I had bought into that lie a little bit myself for awhile, but I've come to learn that the key is that we continually acknowledge our sin and strive for holiness. If we fail, then we pick ourselves up and try again. Now on the flip-side, there is a problem if one continually sins but does not acknowledge the sin and seek forgiveness and continually strive for holiness.

This reminds me of something in my archive and this seems like a really good time to send it and I think I'll close today with this:
 

How to Get to Hell
(By Rich Mullins, writer of the song, "Awesome God")

I remember one time Beaker and I were hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and he met some friends of his, so I walked into town. It was about a five mile walk from the campsite down the trail and down into town. And when I got there I went into a restaurant, and I was having a steak, and this guy started talking to me and we had this great conversation. We were having a good time, and he said, "Hey look, it's dark and it's five miles up the road to your campground. Why don't I drive you up there?"

And I said, "Hey, great!"

And so we got in his car, and just as we pulled out from under the last light in that town, the guy said, "You know what, I should probably tell you that I'm gay."

And I said, "Oh! I should probably tell you that I am a Christian."

And he said, "Well, if you want out of the car..."

I said, "Why?"

And he said, "Well, I'm gay and you're Christian."

I said, "It's still five miles and it's still dark."

Then he said, "I thought Christians hated gays."

I said, "That's funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command."

He said, "Well, I thought God hated gays."

And I said, "That's really funny, because I thought God was love."

And then he asked me the big one. He said, "Do you think I will go to hell for being gay?"

Well, I'm a good Hoosier, and I puckered up to say, "Yes, of course you'll go to hell for being gay." I got ready to say that, but when I opened up my mouth it came out, "No, of course you won't go to hell for being gay." And I thought to myself, "Oh my goodness, I've only been in New Hampshire for one week and I've already turned into a liberal!

What am I going to tell this guy now?"

Then I said to him, "No, you won't go to hell for being gay, any more than I would go to hell for being a liar. Nobody goes to hell because of what they do. We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give to us, regardless of what we do."
 


=========================================

From the replies I'm getting, it's clear to me that this is an issue that is very deserving of taking some time with. As one subscriber put it, "I enjoy your jokes, etc., but what you are writing the past two days is SO much more worthwhile!"

Today's message is going to get deeper theologically than the last two, and I ask that everyone consider what I write and be open to it, even if it may differ from what you believe or have been led to believe.

I think today I'm going to start with some more expansion upon a concept that I laid out in the last two messages. That is the issue that those struggling (and falling) repeatedly with sexual sins can be Christians. While most of us will agree with this on the surface, for many Christians there is a desire for us to somehow "rate" some sins as being more "evil" than other sins. Sexual sin is one of these and is probably one of the biggest. Why? Because it seems so "dirty" to us and subconsciously (or even consciously with some people) I think we think that one can't possibly be a Christian and be involved in sexual sin.

Here's the questions I believe many people ask: How can one who is a Christian repeatedly sin in the same area over and over again? Doesn't that mean that they are not truly repentant? And because they are not truly repentant, doesn't that mean that they will go to hell?

The story I included at the end of yesterday's message (about the gay man) was an attempt to illustrate what I believe the answer is to these questions above, but I want to expand further.

What this comes down to is the issue of God's grace.

I believe that, though God is concerned with our sin, that is not the underlying issue. He knows that as humans we will sin. And He knows that we stumble. He knows what our temptations are because He experienced them himself. He became man and was tempted by the devil (though because He was also God He didn't give in). While he wants us to turn away from our sin, and I don't believe that He can fully use an individual for His glory who is involved in perpetual sin, I don't believe that is the determiner of our final home. He judges the heart. He knows if somebody is sincere in their fight to eradicate a sin from their lives, even if they are not successful. And this is where we must rely on God's grace. For that's what the concept of grace is all about -- that none of us is perfect before the Lord because WE ALL HAVE SINNED and therefore have fallen short of the glory of God. (See Romans 3:23)

But by His grace, because of Jesus' death on the cross, we are wiped clean. I strongly believe that all BELIEVERS, regardless of their sins, be it past, present, or future, will be accepted as children of the Lord when we die. If somebody truly knows the Lord and has accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, then there is not a single thing that one could do (with the exception of the one unforgivable sin listed in the Bible, of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit -- although I have a hard time believing that somebody who has accepted Jesus could commit this sin) to separate himself from God's love and mercy. God loves YOU! Even if you sin, God loves YOU! Even if you've committed horrible sins, God loves YOU!

This is an important concept for all Christians to understand. Regardless of your sins, if you truly love Jesus, and He is in your heart, and You believe in Him, then your eternal home is not in question.

When the knowledge I had of Jesus in my head made that short trek down to my heart in 1995, I became 100% sure of my salvation. However, I still struggled with the issue of addiction to porn. Now, shortly after I gave my life to Christ, I did make a serious attempt to get rid of it in my life. I threw away all of the filth I had, and I prayed about it. But it wasn't enough. And there were zillions of attempts after that to change. And they were ALL SINCERE. I prayed loads of times and I cried loads of times. And I tell you the truth when I say that each time I was sincere. But nothing changed.

Eventually, I ended up feeling like such a hypocrite, being "Christian Chris" 95% of the time and "Evil Chris" the other 5%. There were nights when I would finish looking at pornography and feel guilty and then realize that I had to put together the Laugh & Lift to send out. Did I feel like a hypocrite? You bet. Did I ever start to wonder about whether I was really saved? Yes.

But I see now that my eternal home was never in question. That doesn't mean that there couldn't be consequences for my sin, but my eternal home was secure because I was a believer and I was continually sincerely asking for forgiveness, even though I fell down time and time again.

Our eternal home is not in question if we are a believer, because we are not judged by our works. Where we will spend eternity is not judged by how much we sin or how good or bad we are at being able to resist the devil. There are consequences for sin, but our eternal home is secure. Why? Because of grace. God sent Jesus to die so that our sins are not the determiner of our salvation. If we believe in Jesus and we have accepted Him into our heart, we are secure in our salvation. (See Romans 3:23-24) We do not have to work for our salvation. It is a gift to us. It just needs to be accepted.

But now I can hear some people asking, "Does that mean that we have a 'license to sin' because of grace?"  I know that this question is one that many people ask when talking about the concept of grace, but I believe that the question misses the point of grace entirely.

As true believers in Jesus, how can we not want to be holy creatures living out what He commands us to do? I know of no Christians who don't strive to be holy and live out a Christian life. Now, some actually implement it better than others, but I don't think that it's possible to be a Christian and not want to be free of sin at the same time.

As Christians, we naturally strive for holiness and eradicating sin in our lives. And this is important because God cannot really use someone to their full potential who is not doing what He wants them to do. For me, I want to hear the Lord say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant," not, "Well you did okay, but you failed a lot, but you're still my child, and you believed in me, and I love you, and because of my love and grace you will have eternal life." I'm striving for holiness because I WANT to please God. By the time I die, I want the Lord to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You did some sinning early on in your life, but you turned away and I forgave you; and then, though you still sinned occasionally, you focused much more on Me and resisted the evil foe."

I hope I've established that, as Christians, our eternal home is secure regardless of our sin, and that it is by grace that we are saved. Now I need to point out that this does not mean that our sin will not bring us consequences. If somebody who is a Christian does something illegal, their consequence may be that they go to jail. If somebody who is a Christian has pre-marital sex, their consequence may be that they get a sexually transmitted disease. But for many people struggling with sexual sin, I believe the consequences are more spiritual in nature. If I continually disobey the Lord, then He cannot use me to help others the way He could if I were in obedience to Him.

I'll wrap up with several thoughts I've received from list members:

"Ain't it good to know that our God is in the restoration business? You may not be old enough to remember them, but they used to make blow-up punching bags, full of sand on the bottom and filled with air for the rest of it. When you punched it over, it would pop right up again. It reminds me of our journey through this world: many times knocked over, but never knocked out, popping back into His fellowship, never having been out of His relationship as His child."

"The church that has honest people testify of the struggles God has brought them through is the church that will grow, and thrive. I am sick to death of candy coated Christianity."

"One of the things that helps me is to realize that lust is kind of the opposite of love - lust often is a desire to use someone's body, not to love them. Pornography almost always is absent intimacy because it's about using the other person, not loving them. I know I want love and real intimacy when I get the woman I have been waiting for, and I remind myself that lust is the opposite of love, and I want love. I want to be ready for love when it finally comes, and I do that by not doing something that I am sometimes confused into thinking is love. Lust is about self and love is about selflessness, so I try to think about these things to kill the will to sin."

"One prayer that really helps me through times when I fail is 'Lord, please forgive me. I struggle and struggle and just keep falling down. I give this to You, Lord. It is too big for me. I can't fix it on my own. Please lead and guide me and when I stumble, please help me up. Thank You for Your wonderful grace. The Bible says Your grace is enough. Amen.'"

"I am a chaplain and Christian counselor, and we try all the time to get people into accountability groups, and partners. But it sometimes is so frustrating, because they are so afraid to be transparent."

"One lesson I have learned through this is not to be so quick to judge others. We never know what struggle others are going through until we have walked in their shoes. We need to have compassion and care for those that are hurting. We don't need to further wound those that are already hurting."

"As I looked through the pictures I really began to enjoy myself. There were pictures of the kids when they were little; they were so cute and innocent. Pictures of new puppies and kittens, those cherished toys. There were pictures of Grandma and Grandad, brothers and sisters when they were little, birthday parties. Then I found the wedding pictures, my wife, how beautiful. Suddenly it occurred to me, it was no accident or coincidence I was looking at these pictures. God had answered my prayer. The feelings of lust became obvious for what they were, animalistic, shallow, cheap imitations of something that God had designed for good. Nothing more than a twisted attempt by the devil to get me to dishonor God and a family I am blessed to have. Praise God for his loving kindness."

"Thank you for your candid confession and message today regarding sexual sins and pornography. It is an issue that the church rarely addresses but I believe this activity is making the church weak and impotent to reaching the world for Jesus Christ. So I pray that everyone will take the time to read it and ponder it in their hearts."

"One day I realised that I was really wasting my time and life with that junk and that I should put something better in my mind.... that day I asked God for some help... I asked God to help me remember the way I feel after I see those pictures before I see them."

"Sin is sin; what is temptation for one person may not be for another. But we all sin and we have a God who said that WE ARE OVERCOMERS...WE CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS US."

"We can (and society does) rationalize, justify, and even deify activities which we know (or ought to know) are wrong. It is difficult to resist the temptations of our addictions as well as any other temptations when we feel alone."

"I have had to face issues lately that I didn't want anyone to know about and as a result of sharing them, the Lord is setting me free from the guilt that I carried for so many years."

"I've found a key. When Satan comes to plant the suggestion that I almost always fall for, worship God. Testify of His deliverance from sin and its power through His Son."

"People are shocked when they find out bad things about someone who's serving Christ, but we're all human. Just because we serve Christ doesn't mean the desires and temptations cease."

"This is a very real and huge problem that needs to be dealt with, and yes, even in our churches."

"God called David a man after his own heart, David committed sex sins and murder! Yet God called him a man after his own heart."

"We all have struggles and there are no sins that are greater or lesser than. We are ALL sinners and God loves us anyway."

"It has been my sincere prayer that ministers would take a much more bold stand on this issue."

And finally, this poem I want to share with you, that I received tonight from someone on the list who wrote it (through God) last night for me. It touched me and I pray that it will touch you as well.
 

SECRET SINS
(By Debbie Preuss)

The secret sins I try to hide
In my spirit do abide
Hidden not from God above
As He looks at me with eyes of love

I try to turn my face away
For I don't really want to obey
This "secret sin" seems so much fun
I stay when I know I should run.

I seem to be so firmly entrenched,
Accustomed to its familiar stench,
But He draws me out through His love.
He never tries to push or shove.

He gently shows me the way
Until I choose to Him obey.
Then He holds me in forgiveness close,
The One who loves me the most.

He cleans my spirit where they abide,
The secret sins I try to hide.
They were hidden not from God above;
Now He holds me close in His embrace of love.

He saw my sins all along;
He's come alongside to make me strong.
He's forgiven the past, and the future, too;
I know He'll do the same for you.

He understands like no one can,
For He's fully God and was fully man.
My Father loves me, so to Him I pray,
"Give me the strength Lord, just for today."
 


=========================================



Even though this issue is important to discuss, I have been trying to be very careful to avoid crossing the line in my writings. Because I am not a pastor or Christian counselor, and because I am a struggling sinner myself (and a young one at that -- for those that didn't know, I'm only 20), I have been trying to avoid trying to give too much help (although I do recognize that to some people the fact that I am an admitted struggling sinner qualifies me in many ways to discuss this issue). That is why my writings recently have primarily been focused on basic truths in regards to this issue, but not about specific ways to overcome sexual temptation.

I stand by my message yesterday about grace (with one minor correction I'll get to in a minute) because the concept of grace is one of the cornerstones of Christianity, and I believe that some Christians have never really given a whole lot of thought to it. The reason I have been writing about grace so heavily in regard to sexual sin is that it is one of the first things you have to understand in order to overcome any type of addiction or repetitive sin. By stressing this concept, I've been trying to help Christians struggling with sexual sin (or other sins) right now to avoid making the same mistake that I had by thinking things like, "God doesn't love you anymore -- you're such a failure to Him," and "God can't possibly forgive me again." Those types of thoughts are what really spiritually deadened me and caused me to try to hide from God (which, by the way, can't be done), not the actual sin itself. But once you really understand the concept of grace, it changes the entire perspective.

I'm not sure that I adequately made the link between Jesus and grace yesterday. Grace was the whole purpose for Jesus coming to this earth. The one and only purpose for which He came to earth was to defeat the law of sin and death by dying on the cross. See Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 8:1,2; John 5:24.

The one correction I need to make to my message yesterday is not with the issue of grace, but rather with the part where I was talking about possible consequences of sexual sin. I failed to mention that, for many involved with sexual sin and looking at pornography, there are indeed many consequences. Even though I did acknowledge the existence of some, there are many others. For me, I have not had much in the way of physical consequences -- it's been mostly spiritual. But I would like to share with you parts of what a reader wrote me:

"This is a quote from the National Coalition for the protection of Children and Families:

"'...But research shows that pornography is involved in shaping attitudes and encouraging behaviors that harm others.'

"Pornography is extremely degrading to women. To start with, pornography cheapens women's bodies. As my husband (a fellow porn addict) stated so poignantly, 'I didn't see those women as daughters or mothers or sisters. I just saw them as objects.' That is the attitude that contributes to rape, incest, sexual violation of women -- the list goes on and on...

"...please do not be so deceived to think that porn only affects yourself. Even if you are a "physical virgin" as my husband was when we were married, pornography devastated our marriage relationship. Our whole life together was started upon the rock of deceit. I am thankful that you are acknowledging your sin before you are married. I must tell you though, that it will affect your future marriage. Be as open as you can be with the women you date and give them a chance to get out of the relationship. Some women will not be able to deal with your problem in a healthy way.... Pornography not only defiles women's bodies, it takes out of context boundaries. Little boys who see porn are not told that women's bodies are sacred and beautiful. And that sex inside of marriage holds no regrets or shame.... The effects of childhood sexual abuse, as devastating as it is, is intensified when that same woman is sexually victimized by her husband's porn addiction."

Absolutely true!

What I want to talk about now is how we as Christians deal with those who have confessed involvement in sin. I truly was prepared for a fairly large exodus of people from my list. Why? Because I truly thought that some people would somehow believe the lie that because I have confessed my sin, I am not worthy to be in a position of any type of ministering to others. That is the same fear that keeps many pastors and other Christian leaders from admitting their sin. It is a false belief. We ALL SIN. We need to stand behind and support those in any kind of spiritually influential position, especially if they admit they are struggling with sin. If they are struggling, that's all the more reason for us to support them. If a pastor or Christian leader recognizes that he has sinned, asks for forgiveness, and is striving to eradicate that sin, then we as fellow brothers and sisters through Christ are to support them.

So did this "mass exodus" of people occur? No. Did some people unsubscribe? Yes, they did. Over the last few days, there has been a higher unsubscribe rate than normal. But get this: There has also been a larger subscribe rate than normal too. And not only that, but it surpassed the amount unsubscribing, meaning that there are actually a few more people right now on the list than there were when I started the sexual sin messages a few days ago. Not only that, but I've gotten only a couple negative messages; the rest have all been positive.

That tells me that most of you understand the concept above about how to deal with those struggling. It also tells me that most of you have no desire to "cast the first stone" because you know you are also not without sin.

Even so, I do want to briefly address a specific verse in the Bible that some could use to counter this. That's 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, where it basically talks about not associating with those who are sexually immoral and that the "wicked man" should be expelled from among us. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth in this letter. To understand these verses, one needs to read the surrounding verses, where it makes it perfectly clear that the sexual immorality Paul is talking about is "of a kind that does not even occur among pagans" (see verse 1). It is also clear from these verses that some in the Corinthian church are "proud" of the sexual immorality, which leads us to believe that neither the people who are actually sexually immoral nor some others in the church recognize it as sin, and are therefore not seeking forgiveness. Second, we have to remember that we're talking about the beginnings of Christianity here. It wouldn't do to have the church become corrupted before it was ever able to spread.

At this point, I'd like to share some additional thoughts by list members.

Here's the first one - long - but important:

"...I feel that most, if not all of us struggle with recurring sins. Our lives will be filled with temptation and troubles that we are not always strong enough to resist as long as we reside in this life. The thing that I agree with you on, and applaud you for stressing is the fact that we have to be constantly aware that we need to be repentant and waging battle with these sins. We cannot become accepting to these sins and somehow justify in our minds that God doesn't really mind if we fall to temptation, after all He's a God of love, right. As true Christians we know that our sinning hurts God and we have to make as many repeated attempts as necessary to free ourselves from this bondage. We also know that God will forgive us and pick us up as many times as we come to Him for redemption. As I tell my children, we all sin, and a sin is a sin. The time to be concerned is when we fall into the false belief that because it feels good or it's convenient, maybe it really isn't a sin after all. Some people say we should start being more accepting of these behaviors. This is the stand that even some of our major church denominations are taking! I tell my children, it's black and white, if God tells us in the bible that it's a sin, then that cannot ever change to fit our human conveniences. I sin too, Chris. Thank-you for your message. Thank-you for making it crystal clear that we cannot become accepting of our sin. We must continually fight the fight. And yes, God is love, but God feels, and our sins deeply hurt Him, and he does hold us accountable to continue to battle these sins. As I will. Chris, keep up the good fight!"

Note from Chris: You know - I used to believe that God was MAD at me when I would give in to temptation. I've learned that it's far more likely that He's SAD than mad. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there's been weeping in Heaven over me.

"I am sure you are aware of this, but sexual sin of this sort, pornography can be a problem for women as well. There are probably less women than men with this problem, but just maybe not. I am one of the women who has had a severe problem with sexual sin, in just nearly all areas you could think of...Jesus was my deliverance...That was [awhile back], I'm not saying I have not slipped, the first time was months later and the last more recently. But God showed me each time where I had let my wall down and let Satan in to have a foot hold. And each time true repentance was made and God's amazing love, grace and mercy covered me...Sexual sin is rampant in the world and in the church, it's about time we acknowledge it and give help to the members of our own body who need it."

"I have only written to you once before to commend you on the cleanness of your list in contrast to some of the other lists that I had subscribed to. It seems that other managers couldn't resist the 'cute' slightly off-color sexual nuances. Now I know why your list is clean. You know the stench of sexual uncleanness and do not find it humorous. As a result, you are more vigilant in what you send out on the list."

Note from Chris:  Bingo!

"...God will strengthen you in your struggle. Each resistance brings with it additional spiritual strength for the next battle."

"Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your door for years."

"Satan is quite skilled at selling us counterfeits. After we open the package, we are discouraged and empty - no matter how many times we open it."
 
 

=========================================



Since yesterday, a couple of others have written me expressing (and trying to back it up with Scripture) the view that basically those who sin will not be granted eternal life. These are people that essentially believe that the guy that sends you Christian material (me) every day would go to hell if I died right now. I just have to ask myself, "What Bible are these people reading?" My Bible says that "...ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23).

The entire Bible backs up this whole point. I mean, that's the main point of the Bible, to explain the need for a Savior (Old Testament) and to explain what was accomplished through this Savior (New Testament). These people seem to naively think that we can somehow STOP sinning. I'm sorry, but that is just a bunch of nonsense. We are living in a sinful world, and we are tempted, and because of our nature we stumble and fall. Now, that doesn't mean that we aren't to try our best and be on guard against the enemy; it just means that we acknowledge that we are not, and can never be, perfect. It also means that, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then He alone JUSTIFIES US by His grace (see the second part of Romans 3:23). This is a basic Christian concept. Yet, amazingly, there are a number of Christians who hear this week after week in the pulpit, but don't quite grasp it. And there are others (probably brought up in very legalistic churches) who are very hard-headed against this concept. I know that the large majority on the list understand this VERY important concept. You cannot truly be FREE unless you accept it, because it is the whole basis for belief in Jesus. And it is crucial in any discussion of sin (including sexual sin).

Those who believe there are contradictory Bible verses need to do a couple of things. One, they need to read the Bible straight through, like a story, so they can understand the big picture. And two, when they come to seemingly contradictory verses, they need to ask themselves: "Is the writer or speaker talking about believers and unbelievers, unbelievers, or just believers?" Typically these verses fit the first two and not the last. And finally, they need to remember that there are indeed a lot of verses about how we are to try to eradicate sin, and this is not a contradiction -- we are indeed to try our hardest.

I know that these messages on sexual sin have helped a great deal of people (myself included), and I know that there are a number on this list that are struggling with sexual purity. Which is why I thought it would be a good idea for us all to pray for those on the list struggling with this (as well as other sins) today. I'll lead the prayer below. If you are personally struggling with sexual sin, just change "them" and "their" to "us" and "our".

"Father, I come before You and I give You thanks Lord for all of the many blessings that You've given me. Thank You Father for sending Jesus for me to die so that I might live. I praise You so much for the love and mercy that You show to me, a lowly sinner, each day. Lord, I ask that You would be with all those on the Laugh & Lift email list as well as any of my friends and family members that may be struggling with sexual temptation. Lord, you know their hearts. You know that they are torn between the flesh and You. You know the war that rages within them. I ask Lord that You would comfort each of them. Hold them in Your loving arms. Remind them, Father, that You love them and care deeply for them. Help them to understand that each time they turn against You, they deeply hurt You. But at the same time, Father, I ask that You would comfort them and remind them of Your unfailing and unwavering love. Lord, I ask that You would help give them the strength to fight the temptations of the evil one. And give them the courage to do all that they possibly can to fight this battle. I ask that You would make resources available to them to help them in their struggle. I ask that You would show them the need for an accountability partner or partners that can support them. And Lord, I just ask that You would be with them and guide them. Let them, above all else, never forget just how much You love them.

"I also ask Lord that You would be with all others struggling with sin on this list, whatever it may be. Remind them also of Your love for them, and impart to them Your strength to face their battles.

"Lord, I thank You for hearing my prayer. You are truly an AWESOME GOD. In Your name I pray. Amen."
 

*Thought for Today*

"The devil tries to destroy our faith through our sin. He whispers, 'See, you are a failure. God could never love you. You have sinned your way out of His love. You promised you would never sin again, and you did. You let God down, and He is angry with You. It is best if you just run away.' The desire of the devil is to see us become estranged and alienated from God." - James Bryan Smith
 


=========================================



I just wanted to share a couple of additional messages that were sent to me by list subscribers that reinforce what I've been talking about, and then I need to follow them up with one point of clarification.

Here's the first message:

"...In our society we are 'overexposed' to sex, so we can rationalize our thinking that it isn't in the category as 'murder, rape, drug-usage', or other sins we KNOW are unacceptable; however, our Guide is the Word of God - not man's thinking - that is how God got through to me - when I read the definition of these sins:

"(1) Uncleanness: This fleshly sin includes a wide range of moral sins. Evil or impure thoughts, so-called dirty stories, lustful desires, desires to read pornography or to see morally unclean pictures or movies would certainly be included. Uncleanness springs from the fleshly desire to gratify (the) sensual appetite through thoughts and words in conflict with God's Holy nature and divine plan;

"(2) Lasciviousness: This sin represents the practice of stirring up lustful desires which cannot be satisfied within the limits of God's approval. One may be lascivious about his dress, his speech, his laughter, his smile, his eyes, his physical gestures, his modesty, and so forth. This sin springs from the fleshly desire to attract attention to one's self in a manner that flaunts God's standards of moral purity. {"The Adversary" p.p.29-30 - Mark Bubeck Moody Press,1975}

"These and other sins of the flesh are in Galatians 5:19-21 - but what precedes them is very important: 'I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so that you do not do the things that you wish (Gal 5:16-17).' Am I saying that I went on to 'sinless perfection' - Absolutely Not!!!! I am not saying I 'never sinned again' in this area, but the Power of the Word of God to change lives, and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit brings Victory. As the Lord showed me recently in my 'Quiet Time' as I read of the Temptation of Christ again in Luke - the difference between...Adam and [Jesus] was that Jesus quoted the Word of God to the devil with every temptation - Adam could have done the same since he had the Word of God directly FROM God, but listened to the enemy MISquote God's Word instead and gave in to the temptation! Thank you for sharing your struggle...Many will be praying for you now - who would never have know if you had not shared! So, don't be concerned about the 'Pharisees' and 'Legalists' - they end up miserable, rejecting everyone!!!"

Message #2:

"This is a very difficult topic. On the one hand, we sometimes feel that we would rather not know about someone's very personal struggles, and in certain situations that is more appropriate. On the other hand, when we are in a dialogue with a brother and he feels called to share with us, there is generally a good reason and we have a duty to thoughtfully listen and respond if we can. The key as you obviously know, is to remember at all times to detest the sin but love the sinner. Like 'loving your enemy' and putting old ways behind us, this is much easier said than done. For some reason, we tend to feel superior to someone who has a tendency toward sexual sin or substance abuse. We may find that it makes the rest of us feel 'stronger', and the other person 'weaker', I don't know.

"I was born and raised Roman Catholic, but later in life, through my wife, converted to a Protestant faith and began to read the Bible personally for the first time. It was a revelation, especially the comfort that Christ died so that we could be saved once and for all. Once accepted in truth, He does not withdraw his gift.

"Man's being sinful by nature and totally incapable of living up to the standard required to earn our own way is the whole reason for Christ's coming. Having sacrificed himself for us, I can't believe that He would then leave us to our own powers to finish the journey. If that were possible, the law of the Israelites would have gotten them salvation. The Bible tells us, though, that the law didn't save them, it condemned them. Also, Christ died for future sins as well (since at that time my sins all lay in the future, He must have).

"You are of course right and it's sad that these people are missing out on a measure of peace if they are relying on their track record since conversion to get them into Heaven. If they are honest with themselves they must be condemned every day, or else they are completely unlike anyone I have ever known."

Note from Chris now: The previous message mentions the "once saved, always saved" principle. Just for clarification, I need to make clear exactly what I was talking about in my previous messages. My intent was not to debate the merits of the "once saved, always saved" principle. All I was trying to do was point out that if a Christian sins and is sincere in asking for forgiveness, then I don't care if you've come to God a million times before, He will forgive you and your eternal home is not in question. That's what grace is about. But the issue here is of whether one who has accepted Jesus can lose salvation.

For a long time, I saw my sin of looking at pornography, as "the devil made me do it" type of a thing. Several years ago, that changed when one day I realized that I was making a conscious choice to deny Christ and follow Satan. And once I realized that, my faith took a major nose dive and I found myself frequently unable to face God. But I was sincerely repentant in my heart. Sometimes I didn't bring that to God because I wasn't sure myself whether God would really forgive me, a lowly sinner, again, and I was afraid to face Him. Surely there must have been a limit, I thought, to how many times He would forgive me. But looking back, even during those darker times, I have no doubt now that my salvation was secure. Why? Because I was truly repentant after sinning. I still believed in Jesus and tried to follow Him. I turned my back on God and instead gave into the flesh temporarily, but I came back and sought forgiveness (even if I didn't seek it as often as I should have). God knew my heart and He knew my sincerity. My salvation was secure.

Now talking theoretically here, if it is possible (and I have SERIOUS reservations about this) to willingly turn your back on God and never come back and you had no desire for forgiveness, then I suppose you could lose salvation. But I'll tell you what: I've never seen this happen and I have serious doubts that one who knows the TRUTH and has accepted that TRUTH and has truly let Jesus into their heart can then turn around and deny that truth without any hint of sorrow and remorse. I very highly doubt it can be done.

And now, I want to just give you all a whole bunch of Bible verses on the area of sexual purity as well as grace: 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Corinthians 6:15; Hebrews 2:18; Acts 10:43; Romans 6:1-14; Matthew 1:21; Acts 13:28; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Timothy 1:15; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 10:14
 

*Thought for Today*
"Sin is not something that is really good that God for some reason has something against. Sin is toxic... I have never had anyone - anyone - say to me, 'After I committed the sin, I was really glad about it.' We dwell in the ruins of a disordered world, one in which sin has many defenders but no defense. Sin is destructive by its very nature, but it must mask itself in the beginning in order to lure us until we are caught by the bait of present or promised pleasures." - James Bryan Smith
 

LEARNING ABOUT LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND SEX
(By Luis Palau)

I was only twelve, but I felt like a man. School was out for the summer, and I was helping with the family business. The work was a refreshing break from my just-completed exams.

This particular day I was helping deliver a load of cement bags. The driver, a twenty-year-old laborer, seemed friendly and boosted my ego as we worked together.

"Luis," he said as we pulled over to the side of the road, "since you are becoming a young man now and you have no father, you need someone to talk to you about the facts of life."

My heart began to pound. I was excited to think I might get some straight answers from someone who really knew the score.

But instead of telling me anything, the truck driver simply opened a magazine and turned the pages while I stared in unbelief at the pictures of naked men and women. I was shocked and disgusted.

Later, I could not push the images from my mind. I felt sinful, degraded, horrible, guilty. Impure thoughts invaded my mind. I had been curious before, but had always resisted the temptation to look at such magazines. Now one was thrown at me unexpectedly, and I was repulsed.

It wasn't until I was twenty-three that a man talked to me plainly from the Bible about human sexuality. I was amazed by how much the Bible actually says about sex.

I think it's a crime that, as God's pilgrims journeying through this world, we leave sex education to other people and institutions that usually teach only about the physical aspects of reproduction and anatomy. We need to understand and teach what God says about the total spectrum of love, marriage, and sex.

The Bible teaches that God created sex. God made Adam and Eve as perfect, sexual beings (Genesis 2:18-25). Not until after the fall of humankind did Satan tempt people to misuse and abuse this gift. Often adults communicate to their children by their stubborn silence that sex is somehow evil. That's false! Sex, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given humanity.

The Bible shows that God created sex for pleasure as well as for reproduction. God's Word exalts the joys of marital love. See the Song of Solomon, for example. Scripture likewise speaks of children as a special blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).

The Bible presents sex as wholesome and right only within marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."

Only six percent of the young adults questioned for a survey indicated that by age twenty-one they were still waiting for God's ideal--sexual intimacy only in marriage. God's beautiful gift has been distorted and cheapened in so many cases.

How were your own views of love, marriage, and sex formed? Are they consistent with what the Bible teaches? In an age of confused immorality, we need to personally study and understand what God says about wholesome sexuality.
 

To Ponder

Do you feel you have a clear, biblical understanding of sex now? To what degree? Think back to how you learned about sexuality. Did you have any experiences that left you feeling defiled? If so, what did you do about it?
 

To Pursue

In John 13, Jesus washed His disciples' feet, cleansing them from the defilement of the world. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from any defilement you've experienced.
 


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++=



Resources:

There are several web sites that I want to share with all of you. They are meant to offer help to those struggling with online pornography or other sexually related issues. I do not personally agree with everything on each of them, and some of them even contradict each other on some things, but as a whole they are valuable resources. I need to warn you that they are frank and candid (which I think is the way it should be).

1) www.pureintimacy.org - A site run by Focus on the Family, which specifically addresses the issue of online pornography. There are 2 sections of the site, one for people struggling with pornography and one for people who have a loved one who is struggling with pornography.

2) www.settingcaptivesfree.com - This site, run by an individual who himself was once a slave to pornography, not only discusses the dangers of pornography, but has a free 60-day online course to help free people from pornography.

3) www.doorofhope.net - Similar to the settingcaptivesfree.com site listed above, except this site deals with homosexuality. It also has an online course to help free people from homosexuality.

4) www.afa.net/pornography - Loads of articles relating to pornography and sexual addiction. Also contains several links to additional Christian sites in this area.

5) www.sexualintegrity.org - A site run by Christians for Sexual Integrity dedicated to helping people maintain pure lives. Through this site, one can request resources and get information on a toll-free call center where one can speak to a live person.

There are also a number of printed resources in this area. For a resource list, you can call Focus on the Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY and request the resource list entitled "Sexuality: Special Situations" This list contains information on several resources you can order through Focus on the Family. If you are currently struggling with pornography, I can personally recommend a book entitled "The War Within" by Robert Daniels, and it can be ordered by calling the number above and asking for resource #BP870.
 

Two additional articles I recommend are:

http://www.everystudent.com/features/search.html

http://www.everystudent.com/features/wolves.html
 

Another book that I personally recommend is: "False Intimacy" by Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg. It can be ordered by calling 1-800-A-FAMILY and asking for resource ID# BK895. This books gets to the heart of what causes sexual and other addictions in the first place.

In addition, list members have recommended the following resources. I have not yet personally utilized these resources, so I cannot personally vouch for them. I simply offer them as an additional source of resources - what others on the list have found that they liked and recommend. -Chris

"Read 'Every Man's Battle' You can call 1-800-newlife. Dr. Paul Meier and Stephen Arterburn highly recommend this book for men struggling with pornography. These men are Godly psychologists who's desire is to see persons set free from sin."

"I do not know if you have ever read any of Neil Anderson's books or not. They are excellent. He has one entitled 'Freedom From Addiction' which includes his 'Steps to Freedom in Christ'. He has a vast amount of experience in dealing with people in bondages. He also wrote 'Released From Bondage' and 'The Bondage Breaker'. His books are available in all Christian bookstores and are easy to read and understand. He includes his 'Steps to Freedom in Christ' in all of his books. In fact his ministry is called Freedom in Christ Ministries. I have taken these steps myself for another type of bondage and know God has delivered me."

Note from Chris: A number of subscribers recommended Neil's books, particularly "The Bondage Breaker". I also personally recommend the following web site related to the "Freedom From Addiction" book. It's http://freedomfromaddiction.org/ Click on the "Truths That Set You Free" link on the left hand side - there's lots of good resources there!

"I wanted to also let you know about something that you (or others) may find useful. A Christian writer by the name of Joshua Harris has written two powerful books entitled 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' and 'Boy Meets Girl'. In these books, Joshua talks about the importance of sexual purity and waiting to get involved with others. One of the things he talked about that hit me like a ton of bricks was the following: when one dates person after person (even fellow Christians), when they meet 'the one' they don't have their entire selves to dedicate to that person because they have left a part of them with each of the people they have committed to before. That commitment could be on a variety of levels. This made a lot of sense to me. And even when one doesn't commit to someone, like you mentioned, they commit to other sexual impurities such as pornography, prostitution, etc. I would highly recommend this author. You may also want to know that the first book is primarily written for people who are not ready for a commitment (marriage) and the second is for those who are. Again, I would highly recommend these books. Another nice thing is that he is our age... he wrote the first book at the age of like 19 or 20, and recently wrote the second at the age of 24-25 I believe."

I've got a few more links for you on the subject of sexual sin:

http://www.christiananswers.net/sex/ (Q&A)

http://www.geocities.com/~newlifemn/ (Support for Men and Women)

http://www.afafilter.com/ (Server-based filter)

http://www.redrival.com/nlpartners/index.htm (Support for Wives)

http://www.imaginethatministries.org/bookstore.html (Books that can be ordered)

http://members.aol.com/hawebpage/ (Homosexuals Anonymous)
 

And finally, these sexual sin messages will eventually find their way on to the list information page of my web site at: <http://www.premiumhealth.com/laughlift/members.html>.
 
 

Your brother in Christ,

Chris
 

Home