In recent times, as I have read through blogs, social media threads or magazines and followed through Christian TV shows, a subject that keeps coming up during feedback from readers or the audience hinges on addiction to pornography and masturbation.
In almost every instance – particularly on Christian forums – the struggler admits he has prayed, fasted and in some cases, even received deliverance ministrations to be free from these twin enslaving habits, yet the problem persisted.
These are deep areas, and I believe we will keep encountering such problems as the Internet and/or social media increasingly becomes an addictive past time.
We are in an era where obsession and preoccupation with sex has become the norm and abstinence has become quaint and impractical.
Visual pornography entered mainstream western culture with magazines, which confined users to static erotica.
The few x-rated movies of the 80s were found mainly in adult bookstores and other public or semi-public venues where most people didn’t want to spend much time at.
But then, video rentals and late-night cable channels emerged, which gave “life” to static porn and offered to people a level of access and privacy which cinema houses didn’t have.
Though there were private, cheaper and dialed up porn in the early 2000s, the sexual floodgates opened with the rise of high-speed Internet in 2006, giving rise to a whole new creature: a plethora of short porn clips, hardcore streaming videos and “tube sites” which have wrought incalculable damage to many lives and families.
In 2016 when, Pamela Anderson, the former Playmate and Baywatch star described pornography as a “public hazard” that affects men’s “ability to function as husband, and, by extension, as father,” her informed opinion was greeted with a howl of rage by the secular world who felt she was ripping their sacred cow into shreds.
The sad truth is that, we have reached a stage in which so many men and women are shackled to several sexual sins and when they enter into marriages with such unresolved issues, sexual problems and other unwholesome consequences begin to show up.
Take for instance, a man who has spent years objectifying women through the virtual images that porn synthesizes in the mind.
When he now meets with a real three dimensional woman (flesh and blood), the effects of that sin start to show themselves as forms of sexual dysfunctions (e.g. dependence on porn to stimulate sexual desire, premature ejaculation, anorgasmia – inability to achieve sexual climax often without self-stimulation), a cultivated taste for perverse sexual acts or a complete loss of attraction for his partner.
Gary Wilson, in his enlightening book, Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction, notes that:
“The earliest people to report porn-relates problems in online forums were totally computer programmers and information-technology specialists. They had acquired high-speed internet porn ahead of the pack – and then developed uncharacteristic sexual tastes, delayed ejaculation or erectile dysfunction (ED) during sex. Eventually, some experienced ED even while using porn. Nearly all were in their late twenties or older.” (Commonwealth Publishing, 2014, p. 17).
Unfortunately, these are problems many Christians refuse to admit – even to themselves – hence, their roots remain buried beneath a dark pool of psychological and spiritual bondage.
An urologist and author, Harry Fisch, writes bluntly that porn is killing sex. In his book, The New Naked, he zeroes in on the decision element: the Internet. It “provided ultra-easy access to something that is fine as an occasional treat but hell for your [sexual] health on a daily basis.”
In May 2014, a prestigious medical journal published research showing that, even in moderate porn users, use (number of years and current hours per week) correlates with reduced grey matter and decreased sexual responsiveness.
The researchers cautioned that the heavy porn users’ brain might have been pre-shrunken rather than shrunken by porn usage, but favoured degree-of-porn-use as the most plausible explanation (Simone Kühn and Jürgen Gallinat, JAMA Psychiatry, 2014 doi:10:1001).
In July 2014, a team of neuroscience experts headed by a psychiatrist at Cambridge University revealed that more than half of the subjects in their study of porn addicts reported “that as a result of excessive use of sexually explicit materials, they had … experienced diminished libido or erectile dysfunction specifically in physical relationships with women (although not in relationship to the sexually explicit material” (Valerie Voon, et al., PLOS One, 2014:DOI:10:1371).
I am deliberately quoting these secular and liberal sources to show you that the damage that porn does to the human soul goes beyond the conservative and liberal debate; it goes beyond puritanical religious and social norms – it is a widespread effect of the consumption of virtual sex in our time.
As I reflect on these baffling scenarios, a Bible verse flashes into my mind:
“[In the last days] For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Tim. 3:2)
My attention is drawn to the first line, “people will be lovers of self.” Self is the root of all personal sins. Sexual sins are one of the fruit of self.
Selfishness is the leading cause of many broken marriages today because it has become rife. Many enter into it to please themselves first before the other person.
And when a sexually selfish person is joined to another sexually selfish person, what do you think will be the end result?
So many people are only interested in things that will pleasure self. And this is why love has been mis-defined and misconceived.
Because selfish people have no love to offer anyone, they replace love with sex to an extent that once the word “love” is mentioned, what it means to them is “sex.”
The problem will have to be addressed from the heart. Self must be crucified for Christ to dwell in us.
Now, how can a Christian struggling with addiction to pornography and masturbation attain victory?
The solution to the bondage of sin is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
It was there that He took up our sins and the punishment we justly deserved upon Himself and in exchange, imparted onto us His righteousness – God’s righteousness (1 Cor. 5:21).
The outworking of this righteousness is to take away our sins and then give us power over that sin, enabling us to live as spotless children of God. The outworking of this grace of victory over sin is based on faith in Christ’s work.
One reason many fail in the area of victory over enslaving habits is because they do not walk in this faith, hence do not receive the grace to walk in victory.
They do not allow the Holy Spirit to operate on their hearts but want to walk the Christian walk in the flesh.
Romans 6:6 tells us that we have been crucified with Christ so that the domination of the flesh is destroyed and we can now be free from the enslaving power of sin.
The degree to which you walk in faith in God’s power is the degree of grace that will be available to you.
Another reason, which I briefly referenced above, is that many people want to walk with God and run with the devil.
They think they can experience freedom from guilt and oppression on the one hand, while holding to all the rottenness of the world on the other hand.
For instance, you can’t have victory over pornography if you still drool on graphic sex scenes in movies, websites or books.
You can’t attain victory over masturbation if you listen to lyrics of vulgar music like Naira Marley’s “Jo Soapy.” That’s like snorting bits of coca every night and asking for rehabilitation every morning.
Here’s what God expects of us:
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11)
“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as…” (Col. 2:20)
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24)
Take note of these verses and mediate on them. Make them your combat kit.
A guy said when he was gaining victory over his addiction to masturbation and he felt the urges coming on, he would begin to confess the scriptures and the thoughts would dissipate. That was how he was able to eventually gain victory over it.
That leads me to another point: many people who are bound with addictive sinful patterns have weak prayer lives and don’t feed on the Word of God.
I have been in touch with several Christians who have lamented about how they’ve tried “everything” to be free from enslaving sins and yet still get defeated, and I give them a litmus test. Once they flunk this test, the answer they are seeking is right there.
I would ask, how much do you pray daily, read your Bible, and how much of Scripture do you commit to memory from time to time?
Most of the time, you will hear crickets chirping from the forest, because they don’t pray to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit; they don’t dig deep into the crystal spring of the Word, but they somehow want to be clean! It doesn’t work that way! Jesus said:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matt. 26:41)
When you don’t pray or hide the Word of God in your heart, it will be very easy for you to sin because you are as spiritually light as paper, blown about by every wind of spiritual or physical pressure.
What gives you strength from within is how much you are connected to God through fervent prayer, worship and the Word.
However, I know that some people do pray and read the Bible and try to apply much discipline but are still enslaved. That’s because the root of that bondage hasn’t been dealt with.
You would think these people have a “split personality” if you didn’t understand how demonic forces operate within people.
I can relate to this because I know what it is to have an area of your life held hostage by evil spirits. And I have seen it in people – these are Christians who were truly saved, but have some aspects of their lives still shrouded in darkness which demons have a fortress in.
There’s usually a progression:
Phase 1: Sin. The sinful act resulting from the thoughts and decision to sin. If it becomes regular it leads to this:
Phase 2: Besetting sin. The sin habit forms and when the person indulges in it frequently it leads to:
Phase 3: A stronghold. This is a “sin tumour” or fortress in the believer’s life (2 Cor. 10:4-5). If it’s not pulled down by spiritual weapons, it leads to:
Phase 4: A strongman residing in the stronghold (Lk. 11:21). The cultivated sin tumour is now energized by a demon from within and the person loses control over that area until the strongman loses the legal grounds.
Most people who have struggled with porn or masturbation for decades usually follow this downward spiral category, but not in every case.
Some of these people are married but will admit masturbating at least twice daily or more. That’s a sign of bondage.
I also notice that people who have been sexually molested or exposed to sex at young ages tend to have this demonic compulsion to masturbate or end up in porn/exhibitionism.
One of the best kept secrets in the secular world is that most porn stars are actually victims of sexual abuse. They never left that spiritual cage, they only decorated it.
Before such captives are rescued, the strong man first have to be bound and dislodged.
This is simply about renouncing the sin that led to a stronghold, breaking demonic soul ties forged with one’s own flesh (or others as the case may be) and expelling these spiritual strangers from one’s life.
Forget about the scenarios prevalent in Hollywood: folks levitating, heads spinning like owls, pea soup or green slime being spewed or people barking like dogs.
These are borderline scenarios and are not even necessary if your faith in the power of Jesus is strong enough. He has paid a great price for your freedom, make use of it and walk in victory.
Finally, people seeking deliverance from addictions to unclean habits should first be properly educated on how to exercise self discipline, see the necessity of spiritual growth and discipleship and learn how to crucify self. Otherwise, they would most likely obtain temporary relief.