She gazes at you with warm brown eyes, a smile of delight and invitation on her face. “Come, spend time with me,” she seems to say. You feel desire leaping to its feet inside. It doesn’t hurt that she’s already pulled off most of her clothes and looks eager to take off the rest. What a wonderful moment this could be, if only she were your wife. But she’s not. She’s just a pornographic fantasy who’s been paid to work your libido.
Can you turn away and cast her out of your mind? Many cannot. Pornography and sexual imagery in general floods our marketplace. But, as I explained last week, pornography, delightful as it seems, is deadly. It’s one of the Devil’s fiery darts. He’s taken a fantastic gift of God; the privilege of intimacy between husband and wife, and twisted it into a tool for evil. Even as we speak it’s damaging many a believer’s marriage and their walk with God. How can we win this battle? Today I’ll suggest two strategies; offensive and defensive.
The offensive strategy
I believe that the major part of gaining spiritual victory is often decided before the battle begins. This is why, in our real world, soldiers spend so much time training before they’re sent into battle. Under pressure, we usually act instinctively, and the proper instincts often have to be trained into us. Spiritual preparation is a crucial part of winning the pornography battle.
How find victory in the battle with pornography offensively?
1. I find victory by being filled with the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, God living in us, is our ultimate weapon. He gives us strength, wisdom, sensitivity, godly desires, conviction, and so on. Allow Him full access into every part of your life. Listen to Him. Depend on Him. Spiritual filling is not primarily an emotion, but an act of our will. We deliberately, regularly, yield ourselves to God.
2. I find victory by filling my mind with God’s Word
Psalm 109:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. When our minds are packed with Scripture, the dominant conscious thoughts become more godly and wise. Scripture also takes up more space in our subconscious mind. Our whole mind is slowly transformed. A lot of the impact of old pornographic pictures fades and gets pushed to the back. Its appeal also becomes less compared with the spiritual beauty of God’s truth.
3. I prepare to win by having a good support team
Pornography flourishes best in secrecy and isolation. On the other hand, if I’m struggling with porn I’m more likely to succeed if I let a few other trusted friends know and help hold me accountable. Should your wife be one of them? This is a tricky question. You’ll have to decide that between yourselves. While this sort of secrecy is generally a bad idea between husband and wife, some wives are so wounded by their husband’s pornography problems, that they choose to allow other men help him in this area. If a severe problem occurs though, she probably should be told (she’ll discover it eventually anyway). My wife just knows that I sometimes struggle with lust and is willing to leave it at that. I have a male accountability group if I need it.
4. I find victory by building a solid love relationship with my wife
In Proverbs 5, when Solomon warns against adultery he goes on to give a positive command:
Proverbs 5:18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer--
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
This is pretty explicit, but it’s meant to be. Start out by developing a solid overall love relationship, and then put a little energy into keeping the sex life interesting (men, be realistic, women be seductive). Let’s move on to the defensive strategy.
How find victory in the battle with pornography defensively?
The purpose of a defensive strategy is to minimize your risks, in the first place, of being trapped by pornography. The odds increase if you plan ahead. Too often, we get caught, because we become careless or naïve about the dangers all around us and get blindsided.
1. I find victory when I err on the side of caution
Andy Stanley calls this “building guardrails”. Set your moral boundaries further back than you technically must. Don’t walk as close to the danger line as possible.. Be more extra conservative. Don’t do this legalistically, or try to mandate your standards for everyone else, but if you know that certain programs, magazines, or various media get you stirred in the wrong direction, why not put some distance between you and them? What can it hurt? There’s plenty of wholesome material out there already. A lot of “R” rated movies, for example, simply aren’t worth the entertainment they provide. Or even that pretty woman you notice walking down the street. Thank God for her beauty, enjoy it, and then look away before lust gets momentum.
2. I find victory when I learn to practice mind control
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5b: “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We can’t control every pornographic image or idea which drifts into our mind, but we don’t have to let it linger. Reject it right away and ask the Spirit to help you think properly.
3. I find victory when I learn to set up barricades
On the internet, especially, it’s easy to get into dangerous territory when we’re vulnerable (tired, discouraged), or even when we’re not looking for pornography. The programmers set all sorts of traps. Fortunately, there are various internet barricades which minimize our ability to either access pornography or get hit with it accidentally. One of the best programs, I’m told, is called “family.qustodio.com” (spell it). It’s also a good idea, when possible, to use our computers in places where others can easily see what we’re doing, rather than in some basement corner or behind bedroom door.
4. I find victory when I focus on positive goals
Make your main reason for avoiding pornography your desire to be holy; to please God, to have the best possible marriage. Let these wonderful goals be your main focus. What’s cool is that they’re actually much more enriching anyway.
5. I find victory when I recognize the real source behind my weakness for porn
Why do people get so drawn to porn? Sure, it’s pleasurable. But we’re also drawn because of our spiritual emptiness. Often porn helps us deal with low self-esteem, discouragement, weariness, and so on. That’s why the offensive strategy mentioned earlier is so important.
6. I find victory when I act decisively in moments of temptation
When the porn temptation leaps up before us, the best way to escape it is to run. If we stop to say “should I or shouldn’t I?”, the battle is half-lost before it hardly begins. There’s nothing to consider. It’s wrong. It’s destructive. And its pull quickly fires us up the longer we consider it. Run, don’t walk. Your hormones care nothing about your theology. Lust overrides logic every time if given much leeway. Sex is God’s gift. Let’s use it well.