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By Dr. Jim Beaird

In 44 years of ministry, I have seen numerous men fall victim to the insatiable lure of pornography. Its effects are far-reaching. Many lost their families, jobs, and close circle of friends. The very thing they thought would give them control became a ravenous monster that consumed their lives and altered their destinies. They chose to believe the enemy’s lie about pornography being a personal, private matter that “wouldn’t hurt anyone else.” Yet the fallout speaks for itself. I am convinced there is no greater threat to marriages or to wholesome attitudes toward sex. Today we see a smaller percentage of marriages going the distance.

I enjoy the occasional opportunity to speak to men about safeguarding their minds and their marriages. Permit me to be frank as I share in honest candor.

God created men as visual beings capable of processing an incredible amount of sensory input. A scantily clad woman walking toward us on the beach or sidewalk, a billboard designed to appeal to our darker interests, or even a side banner on Facebook catches our attention and prompts our predictable sensory input mechanism. What begins as simple visual input becomes material for the likely development of a full-blown fantasy. A sex-charged society channels our interests toward fast, easy-to-access sensory input – usually in some form of pornography. The more input through the eyes, the more elaborate the fantasy. A prominent percentage of men who make mental habits of unspeakable acts seal their entrapment in the relentless quicksand of pornography. We cannot un-see images that hold the power to etch themselves forever into our thoughts. The more we see, the more we want. What once was a healthy expression of a God-given sex drive becomes a litany of perverted expectations only satisfied by further exposure to doctored, air-brushed photos of women who do not even know you exist.

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Without an appropriate mental filter, the temptation to take every opportunity to “scan and snack” increases. You scan your surroundings for women whose physical features could become a part of your mental filmmaking and then snack on “eye candy.” Eye candy ruins your appetite for the real thing. If you do not guard what goes into your mind by way of your eyes, you will discover your sexual desire for your wife diminishes and your sexual drive will inevitably succumb to inappropriate expressions of solo self-fulfillment. That is not what God intended for marriages. Mental adultery is not in God’s plan for sexual fulfillment. If you are unmarried, you risk taking unhealthy sexual expectations into a union that God ordained and risk polluting its purity.

What once was a healthy expression of a God-given sex drive becomes a litany of perverted expectations only satisfied by further exposure to doctored, air-brushed photos of women who do not even know you exist.

Once you realize how helpless you are to break free of pornography’s vice grip, you will do one of two things: either continue to yield to the demolition process taking place in your life or take appropriate measures to shore up what’s left and seek to rebuild a wholesome attitude toward sex. A repentant heart and a willing spirit become the first vital components in the restoration process. But it is not easy – particularly if you have nurtured this dark secret for years. Healing must start with total resolve to break free from what has become a familiar and demanding tenant in your mind. Breaking free must be more important than anything else.

One man told me, “I tried for years to break free from porn, but every time I try I fall back into its grip. I think I’ve beaten it, and then it comes back and lets me know how helpless I really am. Is there really victory over it or have I made a permanent choice to allow it to dominate my life and hurt everyone who really loves me?”

My answer is simple: How badly do you want to break free of the very thing that poisons your mind and places your whole life on razor-thin ice? Are you willing to be honest and get free?

God gave us total victory through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. I believe that includes victory over temptation arising from exposure to pornography. Let God heal your mind. Trust someone to walk beside you in the process, and be honest – to others and to yourself.

 

Reasons men do not seek help:
  1. They fear the loss of a spouse or job. The potential loss of their spouse’s love and devotion keeps them from exposing the poison with which they have struggled for years. They simply do not feel it is worth the risk of losing the only wholesome element of their lives, so they keep hoping they will outgrow their attraction to easy sexual stimuli.
  2. They could lose their reputation. Their superiors (or overseer in the case of a minister) might take punitive actions ending up in embarrassment. Nobody wants to be labeled as an immoral person nor do they want to lose their reputation – especially if others have always looked to them as paragons of virtue and self-control.
  3. Shame. I do not think there is any sentiment more powerful. When an individual’s life gets turned upside down because of decisions they’ve made to maintain this personal and private sin, they often opt for suicide to escape the possibility of having to face those who have trusted them. When that happens, the enemy has won. After all, that’s his end-game.
Steps to freedom:
  • First, find someone who will ask you the “hard questions” and keep you accountable. Such a person needs to realize being an accountability partner for someone in the grips of pornography requires utmost diligence and confidentiality.
  • Second, determine to set a filter on your mind. I’m not talking about human willpower. That always fails and leaves behind a sense of futility. I advise the installation of accountability software that sends an email to your accountability partner every time you try to access an objectionable site. CovenantEyes*, just one of many excellent tools, provides an excellent approach to begin the process of maintaining accountability with someone determined to walk beside you in the struggle to come.
  • Third, be honest. Only honesty can dispel the deceit you’ve propagated with your unbridled romp through the forbidden fields of sensory bombardment. You can never break the grip it has on your life if you maintain that hidden mental room in which you maintain shelves of catalogued thoughts – each capable of triggering another foray into mental adultery. Expose everything and hide nothing. Most of all, be honest with yourself and realize that your heart is “the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT).

*Available at convenanteyes.com

Resources for pastors, addiction recovery leaders, or someone struggling to find healing:

Pure Hope Ministries: http://purehope.net/blog/
Heart to Heart Counseling: http://drdougweiss.com
Reclaiming Sexual Wholeness Recovery Guide: http://satpmedia.wix.com/satp
The Brushfires Foundation: http://www.brushfiresfoundation.org/

About The Author

Jim Beaird
Southeast Regional Executive Director for Open Bible Churches

Dr. Jim Beaird served as a pastor for 30 years before becoming the regional executive director for the Southeast Region of Open Bible Churches. He is the author of two books: The Proximity Factor and The Providence Factor. He and his wife, Kris, have three married sons and five grandchildren.