The Root: Sexualized society.
The Solution: Pursue Holiness.
– Ephesians 4:24
Sexual temptation is everywhere.
To address this root, a person must
- Identify triggers
- Establish boundaries in accordance with God’s Word
- Act on those boundaries.
Sexual temptation is everywhere.
Lean in close… we have a porn problem.
- The Unites States is by far the largest consumer of pornographic content in the world.
- The biggest porn site’s traffic statistics are high enough annually that EVERY man, woman and child in the US could visit 25 times. That is just one website!
The statistics repeatedly bear out that the combination of streaming video with the proliferation of smart phones has exploded the amount of pornography created and consumed. The disastrous effects on lives, marriages and relationships has risen as well.
Outside of these pornography stats- in order to address this root- we must come to the realize that our society is deeply sexualized throughout: in children’s TV shows, in movies, in ads, in video games, in retail, in marketing campaigns and social media. Though all of this sexualized content exists, the appetite for sexualized media is growing. In 2013, only 31% of Americans believed pornography was morally acceptable. Now almost half do, including 67% of men ages 18-49.
A Radical Commitment.
The Bible’s answer to sexualized society is holiness. However, without a vision of God’s holiness and a desire to be like Him, addressing the root of the sexualized society can become a list of do’s and don’ts. But when we have a relationship with God and a biblical vision for holiness, boundaries become an opportunity to walk more closely with Jesus and to become who we were created to be.
Throughout the Bible we see God’s holiness proclaimed by those who encounter Him (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8). To be holy is to be “set apart” and God invites us to be like him in holiness:
I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44).
We must understand and believe that this invitation from God into a life set apart from sin is God’s best for us.
Holiness is an all-consuming concept. It is an all-in mindset and until there is a true repentance and willingness to do whatever it takes to leave the sin of pornography behind, you will remain trapped. Effort alone will not bring you freedom, but a lack of effort and commitment is a sure path to relapse.
The first step to addressing the root of a sexualized society is detox. The porn or sex addict needs to avoid temptations within our sexualized society in order to avoid relapse. By relapse, we mean an engagement in any unwanted sexual behavior. Detox allows your brain to reset. As outlined in our discussions on how porn changes your brain, porn users are engaging the dopamine reward system of the brain and creating pathways that are difficult to break once they are built and reinforced over time.
Regular porn use elevates dopamine levels in the brain to unnatural heights. A period of detox allows the brain to return to normal, and most sex therapists agree that a 90-day detox is a good initial goal. This amount of time may feel impossible to one mired in porn use, but taking it one day at a time with a committed accountability partner or group will be key.
Here a few short notes on the detox period:
- Detox will almost certainly result in withdrawal symptoms that may include the following: feelings of depression, boredom, lack of interest and motivation, the desire to isolate. Some may even experience feelings of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts.
- Engage in activities that can naturally raise dopamine levels such as the following: exercise, good eating and sleeping habits, spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, prayer, etc,), enjoying friends and family.
Detox will be a challenge and can best be attained through accountability with a friend or mentor; it will will require both a total commitment to abstain from viewing porn as well as commitment to avoid sexual triggers.
A person must not only be committed to their detox, they must be strategic. A strategic detox begins with identifying triggers- the situations or images that initially stir up sexual desire. Identifying and avoiding these triggers allows us to take seriously the encouragement to, “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (II Cor 10:5).
Each individual must identify their own triggers and craft a course of action in order to avoid them. Once the work of this plan is done, you can now disclose this plan with your chosen accountability partner and ask to be held to it.
In every Freedom Fight group, participants often list the same key triggers: the internet, social media, sexualized movies, and immodest dress. Here are some example steps we have seen others take in order to avoid triggers:
- Restrict or cut internet access on their phone.
- Buy a flip phone with no internet access.
- Install filtering and accountability software on all devices. (read our recommendations on filtering software here)
- Sell, give away or remove a laptop.
- Sell, give away or remove gaming systems.
- Remove their bedroom door so they can’t be truly alone in their room.
- Delete and block numbers of old hookup partners.
Not all of these apply to everyone, but they are examples of the kind of commitment that is needed for successful detox.
Without one even knowing it, environmental cues that have been a part of a person’s sexual acting out can subconsciously trigger dopamine in the brain, so they crave porn. Examples might include: turning on the computer, entering a bathroom stall or turning on the shower- anything that acting out has been connected to in the past.
When people identify their own triggers, they can set boundaries and get accountability for those boundaries.
Routines that Trigger.
In much the same way, routines can also be a form of environmental triggers. A routine consists of doing certain things to get ready to act out sexually. Examples might include: locking the door, getting in bed with a phone, scrolling through social media or locking the door to the bathroom and taking a shower.
Oftentimes these routines have been so closely associated with acting out that they themselves become triggers that cause dopamine to be released. Identify your triggers, develop boundaries and communicate them to your accountability.
Boundaries & Accountability.
Those who are successful are the ones that identify triggers and routines that move them toward relapse. Then they set up boundaries. Once boundaries are established, they set up accountability to help them maintain those boundaries. A willingness to reach out to accountability- even preemptively made the biggest difference.
Those who enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ are given a vision for holiness. Holiness is the path to the abundant life Christ promises.
Looking for more help in quitting porn?
The ROOTS blogs (Roots, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6) is all content summarized from a more thorough and detailed account found in the The Freedom Fight book. You can go buy it here if you need more details and help.