Q: I try very hard to stay away from porn and masturbation but I did it again. I feel really guilty and feel that God will abandon me. Any guidance?
Most men, and also women, struggle with lust. Because of the internet, access to pornography is everywhere. Many people who want to stop feel incredible guilt and remorse after viewing pornography. While I think repentance is a good thing, we are called to move into God's grace and empowerment as result, rather than wallowing in shame. Many people get caught in a cycle of defeat where they give into the behavior, feel bad, then repeat the behavior to feel better again. The cycle continues.
When people come to me to work on their addiction to pornography, I try to help them go deeper. What is the reason they are giving into the behavior? What makes them jump on the carousel in the first place? First, many use it as way to de-stress. Pornography is a powerful distraction and the chemicals that flood the brain during an orgasm are intense. I typically help these clients find other ways to relieve stress so they don't have to resort to porn as their outlet.
Secondly, many people who are addicted to porn have issues with intimacy. They are really desiring a close connection with another person. An image on a screen gives the illusion of that connection but falls far short. I encourage people in this situation to start dating real people and start putting themselves out there. This helps dispel the fantasies they are used to indulging in. I have found that pornography addiction is a behavior that someone has to mature out of, something that happens as they gain a more realistic perception of sex itself.
Guilt and shame alone will not take you to the freedom you desire. It's time to go deeper. One book I suggest is Feels Like Redemption by Seth Taylor. I also did a podcast episode on this subject called Shame and Sexual Addiction. Finally, the enemy will always tempt and even trip you up, just don't allow him to keep kicking you while you're down. Christ is calling you forward. —T.A.
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This information is given with the understanding that the author is not rendering medical or legal advice. This is provided for educational purposes only. Names and identifying information have been omitted.