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2 Ways Porn Negatively Affects Your Heart (and what YOU can do about it!) (BLOG)

Pop Quiz: What is your most valuable possession in life? Resist the temptation the answer that question quickly, because there is a wealth (pardon the pun) of things in life that we place tremendous value on. Some very consciously and some pretty sub-consciously.

Maybe it’s your 401K that you’ve been saving for years. Or maybe it’s that beautiful boat sitting in your garage (that you haven’t used in years). Sometimes it’s the really good things life that give great value and worth to: Our careers. Our homes. Our marriages. Our children.

But what if there were something within every single one of us that we were told is our most valuable possession…and we didn’t even know it?! The book of Proverbs says this:

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 TPT)

I love that in this single verse it essentially talks about the very possession we should guard above all other possessions: OUR HEART. We’re told to take care of our hearts. Not just our physical hearts from disease. But the very essence of who we are from unhealthy stuff in this world that tries to sneak in.

Most likely if you’re reading this article, you’ve found yourself in a place like I did where you discovered pornography and you just couldn’t stop consuming it. Perhaps you would say porn ultimately consumed you. Please understand, I don’t want you to feel shamed. I was in that same place for 13 years where I felt incredible guilt and disgust for what I was doing. I didn’t understand the gravity of what pornography was doing to my heart.

Thankfully, this August I’ll celebrate 12 years walking in freedom and healing from sexual addiction. And you can too! But it’s important to understand how pornography negatively affects our hearts to begin with. The effects can be long lasting and very harmful if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way.

1. Porn teaches your heart to objectify people.

One of the most subversive effects that pornography and other sexually explicit material has upon the human heart is that attempts to teach us that people are simply objects devoid of value and worth. It says that men and women can be used, abused, undressed, and consumed simply because their job is to provide us with pleasure. THIS IS A LIE. The perversion of sexual intimacy isn’t a new concept. It goes back thousands of years and has only become worse in the society we live in. Which is why we need to combat this lie that people are simply meant to be treated like objects.

Psalm 139 speaks of the incredible value and worth of every person, because we have been created by God: “You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me!”

Don’t allow pornography to turn your heart into nothing more than a product. Your heart is valuable and so are the people you’re so tempted to fantasize about.

2. Porn undermines your ability to deal with pain.

The human heart was created to feel an array of emotions. From moments of intense joy and happiness to deep places of sadness and anger. The reality is that we’re all going to experience a vast array of emotions through our lifetimes. The question is: How do we deal with those powerful emotions and feelings?

One of the byproducts of pornography addiction is that it subverts an individual’s responsibility to deal with those emotions in healthy ways. Instead, we run from anything that is painful or even remotely uncomfortable. Boredom, loneliness, anger, stress, and fatigue are some of the most common feelings that an addict deals with. We often used the acronym B.L.A.S.T. (Bored, Angry, Lonely, Tired) in our online group to help us discuss the ways in which we’re triggered. It’s so important that we understand WHY we are driven to act out the way that we do.

A major turning point in a person’s addiction to porn is when they’re able to be honest with themselves about the kind of pain they are medicating with pornography. Pain must be addressed. It must be looked at before any kind of healing  can take place in a person’s life.

Remember, pornography is a problem. But it’s only the medication. The even greater problem is the pain underneath the surface you’ve refused to deal with for so long. That’s what you must get at.

“SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT ABOUT IT?” 

Glad you asked! There’s a ton you can do to get your heart healthy from porn addiction. Here’s a quick list:

  1. Find a trained therapist — Preferably one who is certified in sexual addiction therapy. CSAT’s are trained to specifically help those dealing with compulsive sexual addictions.
  2. Get accountability in your life — 2-3 safe, healthy people will really go a long way in your recovery journey. Meet with them weekly at the very minimum for encouragement and so they can ask you the tough questions.
  3. Protect your devices — I can’t tell you how many men I’ve talked with about their addiction that have no software protecting their devices. No filtering. No reporting. It’s almost as if you’re inviting porn to walk through your front door. That’s how easy it can be. Start with some great software that we trust: Ever Accountable.
  4. Join a support group in your community or small group in your church — Community is essential in recovery. We can’t be the men that God is calling us to be by trying to white-knuckle our way to healing. Small Groups Online offers a dynamic solution for this. Imagine a weekly Zoom meeting with 5-7 others men who share many of the same struggles as you. You will be encouraged by others and also have the opportunity to be the encourager in these meetings. Click here to find out more about Small Groups Online.
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It happened again today. I found myself mindlessly reaching for my phone. My hand was in my backpack digging for it when I stopped myself—a moment of grace.

I’m experiencing this kind of reaching more than I want these days.

Checking news in between meetings.
Scrolling social media when I’m waiting for someone.
Opening emails when I get into my car before I start driving.
Checking tomorrow’s weather, schedule, or task-list before heading off to bed.

And more times than I’d like to admit, l have picked up my phone to do one thing and found myself still on it much later doing something else. Sometimes I don’t even remember why I picked it up in the first place.

Silicon Valley understands brain science and they’re doing a phenomenal job drawing and driving us to our devices. This is important to know, for sure. (For a fascinating and eye-opening glimpse at how developers are competing for our attention, listen to this Ted Radio Hour interview with technology ethicist Tristan Harris.)

But in moments of grace like I experienced today, I understand there’s more going on for me than just brain science.

This is about my searching soul. Yours too. When we pick up our devices, on the deepest of levels we’re looking for something.

Augustine put it this way: “You have made us for Yourself [God], and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

For many of us, the first place we’re now bringing our restless hearts is into cyberspace. It’s become our default go-to in our search for rest, satisfaction, meaning, joy, connection, healing, life and love. When our souls are truly hungry for the infinite One, the digital world waves its arms and yells our names, offering a seemingly infinite stream of color, music, commentary, ideas, beauty, wonder, controversy, vitriol, certainty, promise, humor, tragedy, and so much more.

It is god-like.

God Himself does not typically shout at us, distract us, or cut in front of other gods demanding our attention. Developers are fiercely competing for our attention.

A growing body of research is showing that we are becoming addicted to our devices, yet God (who is and always will be our greatest and most fundamental need) has so constituted the human being that we cannot become addicted to Him.

Our souls are searching for God because we are made for Him. And when we find Him, our souls are designed to search ever deeper into God until we are fully His and until we have made Him fully our own.

This is why I can be drawn so powerfully to the device in my backpack. I need grace to leave it so my soul can find what it’s really looking for.

Lord, you alone satisfy my soul. Help me forsake every other god who vies for my devotion.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).

Question: What’s one thing you’ve done or can do to avoid turning to your device to try to satisfy your restless heart?

Source: Josh Glaser/Regeneration Ministries

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Purity Tip: Protect Your Devices

Our pride tells us we don’t need software (we can handle it) on all our devices, while wisdom asks: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get free and find healing? Be smart today and cover your smartphone, tablets, and computers with good software that will keep you safe and help others encourage you along the journey. It’s totally worth it!