Pornography/Purity - Practical Tools - Week 1- Motivation to Change

 

As a Christian therapist, I thought it would be helpful to offer some of the better practical tools and Christian insights I have garnered, to aid my Christian brothers and sisters struggling with pornography use they can't seem to stop. I hope to do at least a 12 week series on this. At the beginning, several questions may arise: Is pornography use permissible/acceptable in any context for Christians? Can pornography by addictive? What exactly is addiction? Why do some people struggle so much to stop such behavior? While many of these questions are worthy of addressing, they are beyond the scope of this series. This is the audience I write for: Christians who struggle to stop, yet continue to view pornography, even though this is contrary to their core identify in Jesus and their deepest held values.

 

In the next 12 weeks(or more), I plan to offer Biblical and psychological insight, scriptural encouragement, practical tools, and exercises to help those struggling, begin to make meaningful change in this area.

 

Where do we start? Let's be honest. Change is difficult, especially that of any well entrenched, oft-repeated pattern of behavior. We must be sufficiently motivated at the outset and maintain that motivation throughout our efforts if we expect to change in any lasting and meaningful way. Your motivation to stop viewing pornography will come from a combination of understanding and internalizing the Biblical reasons to stop the behavior (repentance) and the belief that change is actually possible and likely (faith-hope). Once motivated, you will have the will-to-change. But you will also need to learn the way-to-change (practical steps and skills) and maintain the wait-to-change (the mettle and courage to persevere long enough until change happens).

 

So that's where we'll start, motivation, will-to-change. From a Christian perspective, any meaningful change in behaviors is going to be accompanied by profound changes in what/how we think and feel about such behaviors. Indeed the Greek word commonly translated as repentance (metanoia), has more to do with a deep and profound change in one's mind (thoughts, values, convictions, worldview), than it does with behavioral changes. Luke 3:7-14 shows quite clearly that specific behavioral changes were the fruit of repentance (metanoia), not the repentance itself. Romans 12:1-3 tells us that our transformation is rooted in the renewing of our minds, not just the control and inhibition of certain outward behaviors.

 

How can we catalyze this repentance, this changing and transforming of the mind? By saturating our mind with the thoughts of God as found in scripture! The parallel phrasing in Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16-17 suggests that one of the ways we are to be filled with the Spirit is to allow the word of Christ to dwell richly in our hearts. See the following for more on the power of scripture (Hebrews 4:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Ephesians 6:17, John 17:17, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Psalm 119:6, Psalm 119:11, Jame 1:21).

 

The world at large constantly bombards us with values of sexuality quite contradictory to the values held up in the Bible. Don't think for a second that those constant exposures to world values in all media avenues do not affect your thinking! You must learn to combat this through the word of God, looking to the scriptures to mold your thinking on sexuality. You must take ample time to read, study, and meditate on the Bible as whole as well as its specific teaching on sex, allowing those teachings to permeate to the deepest parts of your inner being. Only then will you develop lasting motivation to change your pornography habit. Here are your practical steps for the week:

 

Practical Step 1 - Develop a daily practice of walking with Jesus. This is usually begun with a time of daily devotion: scripture reading and prayer, but the goal is to experience his presence throughout the day. There is much great advice out there on this, so I won't say much more. Only that this is absolutely essential. Our goal as Christians isn't to stop a particular behavior (watching pornography), rather it is to walk in fellowship with Jesus daily! Learn to enjoy his presence and the joy of faithful obedience as you walk with him daily.

 

Practical Step 2 - Allow the Bible's teachings on sex, sexuality, lust, and impurity/purity to mold your own thinking and build your motivation to change. Grab a notebook of some sort and study the following scriptures. Try paraphrasing them in your own writing; jot down notes and ideas for what they teach about sexuality and how this links with pornography use. (Job 31:1-2, Job 31:9-12, Romans 8:6, Galatians 6:7-8, Matthew 5:27-30, Colossians 3:5-6, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, Proverbs 6:25-27, Psalm 101:3, Proverbs 5:3-5, Proverbs 5:8-11, Ephesians 5:1-3, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 6:13, Romans 13:13-14, Galatians 5:19-21, Mark 7:20-23, 1 Peter 2:11).

 

Practical Step 3 - Begin praying daily for God to help you to make this change. As I have heard said - Pray as if it all depends on God; Work as if it depends on you. (See Philippians 2:12-13).

 

 Practical Step 4 (optional) - Begin to memorize and meditate on helpful scriptures. Pick a shorter verse that you find helpful in this area and memorize it. When you feel tempted, quote this scripture to yourself as a reminder of your desire to change.

 

Want to practice scripture meditation? There's quite a bit of quality writing out there on this, but try thinking of it this way: Scripture meditation is like taking a multifaceted gem and examining it closely, turning it slowly in the light, noticing the many different intricacies of it's cut, color, sparkle, and design. Try the following with a short verse like 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV):

 

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

 

Read it slowly and deliberately several times through. Each time you read it, emphasize a different word and note the different implications, applications, and thoughts that come up with each emphasis.

 

Flee from sexual immorality...

Flee from sexual immorality...

Flee from sexual immorality...

...All other sins a person commits...

...All other sins a person commits...

 

...etc, until you have meditated on each word in the verse, drawing out the deeper meaning and implications.

Coming next week - Part 2 of Motivation, Building the belief and hope that change is truly possible!

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