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Posted by on Jun 24, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

5 Steps for Finding Freedom from Lust, Porn, and Masturbation

Life would be so much easier if there were a big ole ‘recover from porn and masturbation addiction’ button lying around, wouldn’t it?

I know given the chance, many of us would hit that baby so hard it would crush under our enthusiasm.

Or maybe frustration is a better word…

But alas, if it exists, it remains a mystery!

That’s what brings you here.

But, I bring good news, my friend!

There is in fact, a big, red button! …It just looks a little different than you may have imagined.

Instead of slamming down on a shiny hunk of plastic, all you’ve got to do is be a STARR:

See you’re not alone,
Tell someone,
Get Accountable,
Recognise pain,
Restore intimacy.

These are five simple statements that will lead you into finding freedom from porn and masturbation. Let’s zoom in on what they mean.

1. See You’re Not Alone

The biggest lie addiction feeds you is ‘you are alone! If anyone knew, they’d be disgusted!’

Not true.

Check out the stats. Chances are, someone (well, a lot of someone’s) in your life, and in your church are struggling too.

Women are especially vulnerable to this lie. They can feel drained of their femininity and balk in the face of struggling with ‘a guy’s issue.’ But remember, one in three visitors to adult websites are female, and between thirteen and twenty percent of Christian women consider themselves addicted! You are far from alone.

This ministry wouldn’t exist if you were the only man or woman struggling. But here we are. Let that sink in.

2. Tell someone:

The Bible refers to Satan as the ‘Father of Lies.’ He works best in the dark where there is no one to rebuke him. When you confess your struggle, you shed light on that dark place and open a space where truth can be spoken! When you tell someone and are accepted, it flies right in the face of the lie ‘You are not worth loving’. It is a taste of the grace of God.

If it were possible to get free on your own, you wouldn’t be here, would you?

Recovery is a team effort. As Craig Gross says, a good story requires more than one character!’

3. Get Accountable:

You need someone on the outside to speak clarity. Your brain is on autopilot, so you need someone to remind you, ‘You don’t actually want this, remember?!’ in those clouded moments of lust.

This means having someone you can text or call at any time (even those crazy hours of the morning) when temptation strikes, meeting regularly (over coffee, Skype or phone) to share victories and struggles, using accountability software or joining a group.

Accountability means brutal honesty and vulnerability. But it also means freedom.

4. Recognize Pain:

Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder. Think of yourself as a tree. The fruit is the behavior you exhibit. But apples don’t just grow out of nothing, do they? Their life-force is in the roots.

Those who fight sexual compulsion often have their roots in trauma, abuse, abandonment or some other form of ruptured intimacy.

Healing comes when you recognize those hidden triggers. It can help to delve into these issues with a mentor, counselor or recovery group. Without dealing with the root, you’ll never heal the fruit.

5. Restore Intimacy:

Recovering from addiction isn’t about cutting something out of your life. It’s about adding to it!

This addition is threefold: With yourself, your community and your God.

Self-intimacy isn’t as inappropriate as it sounds! This means self-love and self-care. When was the last time you believed you deserved to be pampered? Be gentle on yourself, nourish your soul and allow yourself a treat!

Community is vital because shame is isolating. It stops you from engaging with the world like you used to. Community is a healing way to re-enter reality. Enjoy sports, hobbies, activities, church or just having semi-regular coffee with some friends. They will start breathing freedom and hope into your lungs.

Of course, true and lasting intimacy is with God. He knows every image and temptation you’ve faced. And he likes you. He enjoys you! Connect with him however you can, whether that means swearing, running, singing badly, reading theology books or sitting on a beach with him in silence. He longs to come near and hold your heart.

The Bible talks about shining like stars; I’ll bet my hermeneutics are off, but you’ll sure as heck start shining when you use this process of being a STARR. That big, red ‘recovery’ button may not be as far off as you think. Get to it.

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Posted by on Jun 10, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Can a Christian Ever Really Be Free from Lust and Porn?

As porn addicts, one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves is this: what do we want?

– Do we want to stop looking at porn?
– Do we want to not feel crappy about ourselves every waking moment anymore?
– Do we want complete freedom?

Most of us want all of those. If pushed, we say we want freedom, but really we don’t want freedom; we want control. Think about how we talk about addiction in the church. We regularly say things like, “Through God all things are possible,” or, “God offers us freedom from our sins,” but in the next breath, we talk about porn and lust and sin as “something we will always have to deal with.

Are all things possible for God, except complete freedom from addiction and lust?

As the saying goes, “Once an addict, always an addict.

Really? Is our God that small?

Too many Christians are terrified of sin. In fact, I would go as far as saying we have a very unhealthy obsession with it. This is why, when it comes down to it, we don’t want freedom but simply control. The Christian life for millions of us is nothing more than a game of How Can I Not Screw Up Anymore. We’re so weighed down by the stress of not living a moral failure in front of others that we don’t actually get to enjoy life as fully as we can.

We like control because, for many of us, not sinning has become the ultimate goal. And freedom terrifies us because it requires us to give up the need to be in control.

But true freedom for a believer in Jesus means we are no longer controlled by living up to certain standards set for us. If we really think about it, we have no standards to reach anymore, because there is nothing we can do to be accepted. You can screw up everyday for the rest of your life or never screw up again.

God welcomes you. Period.

It’s like Brennan Manning writes: “Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself.

Now some of you will read this as an excuse to do whatever the heck you like. Like Paul’s warning in Romans. But this is anything but. In fact, Jesus spent a lot of His time trying to break down the control over people’s actions that many religious people would use to keep people in order.

Countless times, Jesus opposed the very message that even today some pastors or books or churches provide: that we have to live a certain way or we are failures. But that’s exactly the point! We’re already failures. We’re already broken and we’re already in need of rescuing. You don’t need rescuing because you stay up to 3 am every morning to look at porn. We believe that for Jesus to accept us, we need to stop; and so when we can’t, we drown in shame.

The good news is not that if you just manage to keep your head above the water you’ll be fine.

The Good News is actually much, much better than that.

It’s that in the very act of letting go of trying to swim, we can learn to breathe.

You see the Gospel message is not one of getting our crap together so we look good. It’s about laying our crap out for all to see and learning that our strength has nothing to do with how we appear, but rather in our honesty and openness to be real.

Having some sort of control over the sin in our lives may be important in the short term, but eventually we will simply get burned out and will grow tired of fighting or clinging on simply because we’re not dealing with the deeper issues. This is why Jesus didn’t just tell His listeners not to murder or to commit adultery but not to even be angry or think lustfully about another person.

Why? So He could put further unattainable standards and pressure on us to behave, like the Pharisees?

No.

He told us to not even do those things because ultimately there is something deeper going on when we murder. You can go your whole life without killing someone but still harbor deep anger towards someone that will slowly kill you.

So, too, with porn. Maybe you won’t cheat on your spouse or hire prostitutes. But when you carry around pain and it begins to express itself in using porn, a quiet disconnect from the people that matter the most in your life creeps in.

If being free from lust and porn is simply never looking at porn again, then great. But if that’s as far as our definition goes, we’re missing out on so much peace, joy, and life.

In Jesus’ Sermon on Mount, there is no call to those who are well, who are healthy, who say and do all the right “Christian” things or who are not looking at porn. There is simply a call to come.

The people described in that sermon are not people whose live have worked out to plan. Yet, shockingly they are the ones called “blessed.” Which are you? I know who I’d rather be.

If you think you need to have your crap together before you are accepted, all I can say is, “Good luck with that.”

Because ultimately, freedom might mean you never lust and look at porn again, but never looking at porn again doesn’t always mean you are free.

 

 

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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Can I Give My Husband Sexy Photos of Myself?

This month we’ve been exploring some of the common “permission based” questions we get from people on a weekly basis. Questions that quite honestly, don’t help anyone.

If you are a woman, maybe you’re wondering if taking those sexy photos for your husband is okay during his recovery from porn or if it will trigger him to use again.

I get it.
It sounds innocent enough.

I mean, it is photos of yourself for your spouse.

Technically speaking, you are staying in the lines of what should be accepted into a marital sex life. But, there are some reasons it may be a no go.

Here are a few of thoughts to ponder through before doing something like this:

1. What are YOUR motives in having these photos done?

I know that may seem like the answer is simple, but it’s not. When I was in the midst of my husband’s addiction to pornography, I thought that maybe having sexy photos done of myself would curb his appetite for other forms of pornography.

It did none of that.

In fact, he continued to look at porn AND my pictures to find his pleasurable result.

I just contributed to him looking at pictures and masturbating to them. When it comes down to it, he said that it felt like I was giving him PERMISSION to continue in the addiction.

Another motive that I had, but just didn’t realize, was so I could feel “as good as” the women in the porn he liked. Pretty twisted, right?

Think about it: when our husband’s look at pornography, it makes us feel less than. We feel like we don’t measure up somehow. This is not the truth in any way, shape or form.

Our husband’s pornography addiction truly has NOTHING to do with us.

Yet, we still feel unworthy at first. So, in my entangled web of thoughts, I figured that I could prove to him and myself that I do measure up through giving him what I thought he needed.

That idea backfired and only left me feeling used.

You may have not even thought about what the photos could do to you and YOUR recovery.

Taking the photos, and then seeing the pleasure that your husband would undoubtedly get from them, could cause some triggers of your own. I know that it set off all the internal triggers of not feeling good enough, having no worth, being a sex object, being a less than wife and reliving all of my husband’s actions.

If those motives sound familiar, you probably should not be taking sexy photos. Don’t go backward in your recovery. Go forward.

2. Pornography addiction is just that: ADDICTION. With any addiction, there is a cycle.

According to Rob Weiss, LCSW on January 20, 2015, in Sex Addiction Expert Blogs, pornography, and sex addiction cycles look like this: Triggers – Fantasy – Ritualization – Behavior- Numbing – Despair-Triggers.

This means that there are triggers which begin a behavior that leads to the end pleasurable result that leads to despair which starts the cycle all over again.

If your hubby is struggling or has struggled with pornography this cycle is true for him. Addictive behavior has triggers. Some of those triggers could simply be “sexy” photos.

While the photos would be of you, the photos could still cause the addictive behavior cycle because they could very well be a trigger. If you are anything like me, the last thing you want to do is possibly trigger your husband to use again.

Be an advocate for HIS recovery, not a stumbling block.

3. Lastly, when having Boudoir photos done, it possesses the questions of who is taking them, how are they being stored and where (if you are) are you getting prints?

If anyone other than your husband is taking the photos, you are allowing someone to see you in a way that is reserved for only your husband. In this day and age of technology, if you are storing the photos on any device, that leaves the door open to your photos accidentally making it onto the internet.

If you are having the photos printed, who is printing them?

If you are printing them anywhere outside of your home, you are again allowing other people to see you in a way that only your husband should.

If you are printing them at home and storing the physical photos at home, what actions are you taking to ensure your children (or anyone that is not your husband) will not get a hold of them?

All of the actual steps to have the photos need to be thought through thoroughly.

Bottom line here: While there may be some gray areas, if you are looking to spice things up in the bedroom, try to always do it in the flesh together.

Buy some nice lingerie and wear it in person for your husband. Start having conversations about your sex life with each other. Open up the door to honesty and deep conversation.

Instead of spicing it up through actively condoning masturbation, start creating some real intimacy.

Real intimacy will make your marriage better!

Build up a deeper, genuine relationship. Taking pictures can never compare to the REAL thing.

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Can Porn Be Good for Couples to Watch Together?

We’ve all heard the arguments.

Porn is bad in heavy doses but it can be helpful in small doses when couple use it “responsibly.” Even Dr. Drew has maintained this type of stance at times.

Of course not everyone shares this opinion, so then we get into questions and debates that go something like this:

Does porn make you compare yourself and/or your partner to the actors on screen? How does that affect your self-esteem? Theirs?

Surely if a couple is watching together, at least there is openness and no secret porn viewing, right? Isn’t that good?

Couldn’t it give ideas for sex that might spark a great sex life?

What does watching together actually entail? Just watching? Mutual masturbation? Having sex at the same time?

Can some couples watch porn and it be okay? Only if both are in agreement? If they can, who are we to disagree? Is there a difference between that and welcoming someone else in physically?

What about a couple whose experience has been that porn has been helpful? How can we argue against that? Does experience trump what the Bible says about sexuality or vice versa

Or is it okay for a couple to watch porn together as long as they aren’t Christian?

But maybe these are the wrong set of questions completely.

One of the issues the Church has had with sex (and there are many) is that we are so worried about what is right and what is wrong that we have sucked all the fun right out of it by telling people what is acceptable and what is not.

We’ve taken all the spontaneity out of sex by making up all kinds of rules.

Christians don’t know how to have sex, and we need a new discussion on sex that takes it outside of the bedroom.

Is sex just about two people coming together physically (pun most definitely intended) or is it an outpouring of their love?

Does it start with sex itself or is sex the result of a deeper expression?

We typically take a strange approach to sex in the church where we are cautious of anything that involves our bodies or that feels good, while simultaneously neglecting the spiritual side of sex. Which is why, when the questions around sex focus mainly on the physical at the expense of the spiritual or emotional, we lose out on a deeper intimacy. Something that could be the key to unbelievable sex.

Rob Bell describes the idea of amazing sex in his book ‘Sex God’ like this,

“It’s easy to take off your clothes and have sex. People do it all the time. But opening up your soul to someone, letting them into your spirit, thoughts, fears, future, hopes, dreams… that is being naked.”

This is truly great foreplay.

When it starts outside the bedroom and takes place in all the little interactions you have with someone. How you respect their dreams, how you consider their needs before your own, when you are vulnerable about your deepest, darkest fears or desires, when you tell them how you are truly feeling, and in those small looks to each other where words aren’t required.

This puts porn to shame.

If you want to have sex with your spouse every night but aren’t willing to take the time to be vulnerable with them throughout the day, then it’s not surprising that sex can become stale, something to fear and something to get anxious about.

So is sex a physical act or a spiritual one?

Yes.

We shouldn’t wait until we have no clothes on to shake things up in the bedroom.

It should be happening in the normal, seemingly mundane moments of our lives with someone we have committed to traveling this life with.

Which brings us perfectly back to the question of whether couples can watch porn together.

We would not recommend it.

There are many people who are reading this where porn has crept in and is sucking the life out of them and their marriage. Porn is something that we return to time and time again to medicate some buried pain that we don’t want to deal with.

If you’re using sex to heal a physical wound in your marriage then you’ve misunderstood what sex is about.

If you’re using sex to heal an emotional wound then you aren’t getting to enjoy sex as much as you should.

So because of our discomfort with anything remotely sexy, Christians have often been accused of hating sex or for being prudes, but understanding that sex is more than merely physical can change everything.

If we begin with the physical, then it is more likely to grow stale or boring. But if we realize that in our marriage we are free to be real in front of each other and there is no pretense, we allow ourselves the grace to be patient and honest with each other.

Which breeds intimacy.
Which, guess what? Should breed a sex life that is natural and focused on no one else but each other.

This isn’t stripping sex of its fun, it’s making it even more fun than we could ever hope.

So much fun, in fact, that you simply stop searching for ways to fix it or make it better because it’s too good to be true.

But instead, it’s very, very real. And very, very good.

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Posted by on May 6, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Isn’t Game of Thrones Really Just Porn?

This is not exactly news, but in case you live in a cave, Game of Thrones (GOT) may be the biggest thing to hit TV since The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.

And, consequently, as the series heads into its last season, there are a ton of questions surrounding it. Stuff like…

Who will live and who will die?
Does Jon Snow really prefer Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts?
Who will sit on the Iron Throne and does it even matter?

And then you have these questions too…

How many sex scenes will there be?
Isn’t Game of Thrones really just porn?

Of course, the last question mostly comes from the Christian or religious audiences.

First, let me tell you I can’t answer most of these but I can kinda answer the last one.

Isn’t Game of Thrones really just porn?

In a word, no.
Not technically.

It certainly doesn’t fall into the “genre” of porn. I’m pretty sure the porn industry would agree with that one.

Admittedly, it is well cited that the series has leveraged the prolific use of sex over its past 7 seasons, even hiring six different “porn stars”  to handle some of the more graphic sex scenes.

But while this might be distasteful to some, the reality is that “sex sells” and the creators of Game of Thrones are simply just taking full advantage of that marketing truism. That doesn’t make GOT officially “PORN.”

So then if GOT isn’t porn, what exactly is porn?

After all, we have hardcore porn, softcore porn, racial porn, gay porn, straight porn, even food porn.

There are practically more categories for porn than there are characters in GOT.

So what is it?

I can’t tell you how many times we at XXXchurch hear this question.

Is [X] porn?
What about [Y]? Is that porn?
If it’s not porn, then is it okay to watch?

And on and on.

We love to put labels on things and classify everything by a type or genre. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple with porn.

Porn isn’t so easily defined.

There is no checklist.

And to be honest, usually, the REAL question behind these questions is this… “Can I get permission to watch this or not?”

So, here is what I would offer as a practical definition for porn.

Porn is anything you use (watch, read, hear, or imagine) that’s used to elicit sexual arousal outside of your spouse.

In other words, if something gets you excited, then that thing is porn for you.

So, movies can be porn even if they aren’t rated XXX.

TV shows can be porn even if they are on regular cable channels or network TV.

Magazines can be porn even if you don’t have to unwrap them or stand on your tippy-toes to get them off the top rack.

Books can be porn, even if they are called “romance novels.” (Does that ring a bell, ladies?)

Talk radio can be porn even if it’s not on the Playboy channel.

Social media can serve as porn for many.

Your imagination can even be porn.

Now, I don’t say this because I’m trying to label everything as porn or because I want you to go out and sanitize your life of all “worldly influences.” I don’t want you to cancel your HBO, delete your Facebook account (although that might not hurt for some people), and throw out your satellite radios. That’s not my point.

I bring this up because there is a better question than “What is porn?” That question is: “What is porn for me?”

This is the question we need to be asking ourselves.

If you struggle with porn, sex, masturbation, or whatever – take your pick – and you need to ask yourself whether something is porn or not, then there’s a good chance it’s porn for you.

I struggled with porn for many years, and in those days there was a lot that served as “porn” for me that wouldn’t be porn for other people. There were many things that could trigger my desire to go, well, you know.

Stop trying to classify everything.

I hate how we need to denounce something as “porn” in order to place rules on someone else.

Maybe instead of asking these black and white questions, we need to be asking better questions.

Questions that breed responsibility and honesty.
Questions that provoke self-examination.
Questions that get to the real heart of the matter.

Stop labeling everything in an attempt to have super-defined boundaries.

Life isn’t like that. More often than not, we live in the gray, not the black and white, and our struggles are not all the same.

So next time you stumble upon something that stirs those lower regions ask yourself, “Is this porn for me?”

Examine your heart, your mind, and your motives, and if the answer is “yes” then shut it off. Even if it’s Game of Thrones.

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Every Time I Visit My Parents’ Home I Feel Triggered. Is That Weird?

Hey, it’s Craig again.

The question that I’m going to try to answer this week is this:

“I tend to look at porn after I visit my parents’ house. Is that a trigger?”

The answer to the question is… yes. If you identify something that triggers this response, then yes, it’s a trigger.

And I think it’s something you should look into. What’s the history there? Does it have something to do with your upbringing? Is it somehow related to childhood memories?

What is it about your parents’ house? Does going there bring up bad feelings or bad memories? Maybe the reason you’re feeling triggered is because visiting your parent’s home conjures up feelings that you’d rather numb than engage with.

When you go to your parents’ house next time, do something that brings you life beforehand.

If it’s too much (and you know it’s too much) then be honest with your folks. You don’t have to tell them everything, but it’s alright to tell the truth: “Hey, I can’t visit for a while because I’ve got to take responsibility for some things that I’ve realized affect me a certain way after leaving your place. I don’t want to put myself it situations that I know will be too tough to handle.”

Dig deeper into the why behind that response. Find out what the root is.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE

  • If you identify something that triggers this response, then yes, it’s a trigger.
  • Maybe the reason you’re feeling triggered is because visiting your parent’s home conjures up feelings that you’d rather numb than engage with.
  • What’s the history there? Does it have something to do with your upbringing? Is it somehow related to childhood memories?
  • Dig deeper and find out what the root is.

 

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO

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