Going beyond Addiction
Men go beyond addiction when they make a conscientious choice to move from the addictive cycle that repeats itself to deliberate choices to develop their masculinity. Take confidence for example. When we grow in personal confidence, our draw to men will be reduced and the need for pornography will be reduced.
But how do we grow in confidence? One can often go back into the past of men and ask “what were the experiences of life that deflated my confidence?” One man told me that whenever he attempted to help his father mow the lawn, his father criticize him if he did not complete the work perfectly. After several occurrences the son lost his confidence in his ability to please his father. At that point he gave up on pleasing men because it seemed to be impossible. He generalized his experience with his father and concluded that all men would be impatient with him, and he would be unable to please them. For this man, he needed to speak with his father about how hurtful this situation was and forgive his father. He needed to forgive himself for not being able to perform to the standards of his father, which were unrealistic to begin with.
Another means by which a man can grow in confidence is to place himself in the company of men who will show him acceptance for who he is. The church is the intended environment God has established for this support. Unfortunately, the success of men in the Church (in caring for one another) is sparse at best. We need not throw the baby out with the bath water and give up, but rather choose men who are mature enough to be patient with the struggler and will focus on who he is rather than how well he performs. This can occur in less obvious contexts as well.
I had one client who had been trained as a culinary chef in New York. His culinary team of men was very inclusive and accepting of him, always encouraging him as part of the team. The team produced good work in a very stressful environment. This man concluded (at the end of his experience) that these men really cared for him, and he began to grow in his confidence as a man. This is real healing, and a great emotional memory to continually return to.
Healing takes on a new level of responsibility for the individual. Growing up and maturing means that we take responsibility to work toward resolving the damage done to us by others in our life. No one is going to come to us and make this happen, especially our fathers. While dad may be responsible for our pain, we are responsible to engage the process of being free from it. The struggler is the only one who can take control of change for himself. At this point we are then co-laboring with Christ to seek healing.
Choosing to be set free
Understanding the source and meaning of attraction alone will not free us from pornography. To be free from pornography we must come to the conclusion that it is not good for us. Do you truly believe that the pornography in your life leads to an emotional, relational and spiritual death? Apart from all other people and their expectations of you, do you choose to be free from pornography for no one but yourself? In other words, if there were no one around you who cared whether you participated in pornography, would you choose to refrain from it because it is blocking a fulfilling life for you? Most men of whom I asked this question honestly answered by saying, “no.”
This is a test of the human will to determine if we are really willing to give up pornography for a more healthy means of meeting our emotional needs. If you answered “no,” it is not the end of the journey, but rather the beginning of an opportunity. The opportunity is to choose ‘yes.’ You do have a choice to take control of your life. You are in control of your choice to seek out pornography. No person has ever been free from pornography who did not choose it for himself. Conversely, many men who have returned to pornography are attempting to change for the purpose of finally becoming accepted by someone, or to get someone off their back.
If you answered “no,” then I encourage you to seek the Lord and ask him to change your willingness to pursue meeting your needs in a healthy way and resisting pornography. One man made this choice and his action included discontinuing his Internet service in his home. Another man chose to only use his computer in a public space of the home so that he was never in secret. A man who truly wants to be free from pornography is a resolved man, to do whatever is necessary to distance himself from exposure to pornography.
A man who has not chosen to divorce himself from pornography says the use of such determined actions are too extreme. He rationalizes his need for his computer use without restraint and believes that he can control himself. He can control himself, until his urge becomes strong, and then he lapses into an addictive trance and needs emotional comfort. He argues that he can be free from pornography and yet continue to use his computer to access pornography.
The human will is like an emotional gate within us. If we consciously choose to avoid pornography at all costs then the emotional gate is closed tightly. That doesn’t mean that we will never have setbacks. If we keep pornography as a secret and do not take deliberate steps to block ourselves from it then the emotional door is still open and we will continue to access pornography. Most men who continually complete the cycle of the pornography and masturbation experience regret this phase of the addiction cycle in which vow to never use pornography again. This is different than an act of the human will.
The act of the human will to avoid pornography takes place during the moments when we reflect and think about our life and what we truly choose: a life of liberation, or of captivity. The man who willfully chooses to avoid pornography realizes in his spirit that the only way to a fulfilling life is to rid himself of pornography. He is willing to submit to being accountable by using Covenant Eyes and other tools that inhibit his path to pornography. He releases control of access to pornography because he admits he cannot control himself when he is most vulnerable.
The journey to recovery from same sex pornography requires uprooting the source of temptation. The source is the pain, disappointment, rejection and father-wound that has been covered up for years. When we go beyond the surface behavior and uncover the roots of pain, we can overturn the years of coping with negative emotions for which pornography was used to sooth. We begin by turning our will to choose change. We look beyond our circumstances and begin to believe that even though we think our condition is incurable, there is a cure, there is a way. As long as there is a savior Jesus Christ, there is a way to be healed from pornography.
Never give up!