Freedom from Addiction to Porn and Masturbation

Masturbation-porn
Addiction to enslaving habits

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.

Straight Talk on Sexual Self-Stimulation

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A married man once wrote to a Christian counselor:

I was [sexually] abused when I was young. I’m so addicted to pornography and masturbation.”

Two single young men also shared their struggles:

I’ve been battling with masturbation for a long time now and it’s killing me. I notice I masturbate each time I feel depressed. I’ve prayed and done a lot still I find myself doing the same thing over and over again.”

I have a very big problem with both sex and masturbation. It has really gotten to me. I am a devoted Christian … yet I find it difficult to quit … I have planned to cut myself off media, phone and internet so as to stop going through porn sites and downloading its content … Why is stopping sex and masturbation too difficult for me, or is it my FATE? I am really confused.”

Sadly, sexuality is still a no-go area topic in many Christian circles. This is why I applaud Christians who summon the courage to open up about their personal sexual struggles.

I’ve come to realise that when such “uncomfortable” issues are swept under the carpet of church rules and strict conservatism, they not only fester but eventually become elephants in the pews.

Many people in the church today are suffering from silent frustration as a result of private problems that have created turmoils in their hearts. They can’t find anyone who understands or is able to handle the details of what ails them.

Sexual issues need to be openly discussed because they are crucial to life, and it’s an area where the devil is enslaving many believers.

I was told of a Christian guy in my undergraduate days who broke with “tradition” during a Bible study by telling how God helped him beat the sinful habit of masturbation.

Typical of hyper-conservative student fellowships, his audience looked on with shock and distaste, but he defied their countenances. As he was leaving the fellowship that evening, about five Christian brothers walked up to him saying, “Please sir, I’m struggling with masturbation, can you help me?”

If we are really going to help people find freedom and healing, we’ll need to blow open the citadels of pretense and role-playing that the devil has used to wall us in.

Masturbation or “solo sex” is a hot topic on several fronts. A 2016 survey by TENGA, a sexual health and wellness company, indicates that 88 % of 1,200 Americans masturbate.

To remove the stigma from self-pleasure, this company launched “an online empowerment campaign that celebrates and encourages masturbation” called #DoItInMay.

Secular society has always lauded masturbation as a safe, healthy valve of release from sexual pressure.

Some scientists tell us that it boosts the mood; has a natural sedative effect; helps maintain body immunity; prevents prostate cancer, heart diseases and STDs and even confers a longer lifespan!

If one’s life is patterned by their claims, solo sex becomes a placebo to cure virtually all of life’s hitch. I guess a time would soon come when we will be told that if we don’t masturbate frequently, our brains will stop functioning and our hearts will stop beating!

From a scientific perspective, however, one needs to tread with caution before touting masturbation as a “silver bullet” to bodily infirmity.

Masturbation triggers the brain into releasing a flood of internal chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream.

These natural “drugs” give quick, temporary escape and relief from stress, insomnia and anxiety. This can make masturbation a convenient “drug” for instant pleasure and self-medication.

It also results in a chemical dependency that people use to escape from boredom, negative emotions and the stresses of life.

We all know how drug addicts resort to drugs to escape from reality. Sexual self-stimulation works out the same way. Thankfully, the debilitating effects of addictions are not disputed by secular society.

Frequent masturbation stimulates acetylchlorine and parasympathetic nervous functions and when it is excessively done, large amount of this hormone and neurotransmitters are being produced, thus altering the body’s chemistry. This leads to fatigue, erectile dysfunction and pelvic cramps.

Even in the medical world, there are check and balances that govern drug use. That’s why pain relievers are given with prescriptions. When the body is made to naturally circumvent these regulations through masturbation, it becomes a form of self-abuse.

Many scientists, psychologists and even some Christian leaders argue that masturbation is not a sin. If that is the case, why then, do many men and women feel so guilty after indulging in it?

The ready-made answer that such people are conditioned by social indoctrination and upbringing doesn’t cut it. That guilt is an indication of our God-given conscience which must not be muffled with empty rationalizations.

This is why science, psychology and philosophy – albeit beneficial – cannot be our final arbiter of truth, ethics or morals. The Bible, God’s Word is.

Science sees man as a “higher animal” that is subject to all base instincts and desires, but the Bible dignifies man, stating that he is created in God’s image.

Psychology also fails to address the complexity and depravity of the human heart. The Encyclopedia Britannica presents a lengthy discussion on sexual deviations but adds that:

“Although most psychiatrists and psychologists consider masturbation an expected practice on the path to heterosexual relations, it serves equally to gratify in fantasy many of the sexual deviations discussed above” (16:610).

That is, masturbation can be fuelled by fantasies involving sexually debased acts like paedophilia, rape, sado-masochism, voyeurism, homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality.

The human heart is so deceitful and depraved that most sex criminals usually start off by masturbating to fantasies of what they later indulged in.

With the way sex toys like strokers, dildos, sex dolls etc. are becoming lucrative even here in Nigeria, God’s view – not man’s opinions – of solo sex needs to be emphasised.

Granted, masturbation is not directly mentioned in the Bible and can’t be accurately termed as the “sin of Onanism,” but it’s still a sin because it involves lust of the mind (Matt. 5:28).

Virtually all sexual self-stimulation is accompanied by either sexual fantasies or pornographic materials. It cannot be imagined or carried on without committing the sin of lust.

It also fails the Bible’s eight fold test: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

Our body “is the temple of the Holy Spirit … You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Solo sex spiritually defiles our body.

God says we are to “put to death … whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires…” (Col. 3:5), but masturbation does the very opposite: it energizes the fleshy nature.

Furthermore, masturbation is a selfish act. God intended sexuality to help relieve a person’s loneliness, but solo sex does not relieve loneliness. In fact, one feels more lonely than ever after this sin.

Being immersed in one’s body sensations is a form of narcissism. As time goes on, self-pleasuring becomes the brain’s preferred method for achieving sexual gratification and this ultimately affects a healthy relationship with one’s spouse.

I am not writing this to lay a guilt trip on anyone struggling with this habit. What I’m saying is that it is a sin that one can repent of and forsake just like any other (1 Jn. 1:9).

There is one more reason why sexual self stimulation should be avoided: it often attracts sexual spirits called incubi (those appearing to be men) and succubi (those appearing as women).

These demon spirits are responsible for the sexual dreams many men and women frequently have.

These sex demons are also sought after in the occult and can invited by sexual fantasies. When these spirits latch themselves to people, they wield a web around them, draw away their virtues, destroy their potential and pump their demonic garbage into their lives.

In some cases where the demon already resides in the victim, it will control his or her hands to sexually stimulate himself or herself, at times after having an erotic dream.

One of the ways to know if masturbation has led a person into spiritual bondage is that, it becomes a besetting sin and he/she would be having relationship or marital troubles (if married). That individual might be oppressed by a demonic sex partner and may need to be ministered to.

Such persons would tell you that they feel more pleasure when they have sex in dreams with demons (who appear as very beautiful ladies or handsome men) or when they masturbate, unlike with their physical spouses. This problem is a very common one. I have personally met real Christians victimized by it.

The way out

Although there are no specific “formulas” to conquer masturbation, some steps are crucial.

1. Repent and forsake the sin. This involves getting rid of porn or sex materials. Because masturbation feeds off secrecy, sharing your struggles with someone mature is also good, but it’s not compulsory.

2. Know what triggers you. Some masturbation triggers are: depression, porn, indecent dressings, images of past sexual acts, erotic chats or phone calls, stories or TV shows that border on sexual themes.

A guy named Immanuel wrote:

“I can remember heavily masturbating to Rihanna’s Rude Boy’s music video immediately it was released till my organ got painful sores.”

Now if Immanuel is going to maintain his victory, he will have to avoid music videos or lyrics with sexual innuendos. Some are triggered by certain places, smells, gestures, words or objects.

A Christian guy once admitted he gets “triggered” to masturbate once he sees a boxer short. So know your own trigger and address it.

3. Filling one’s heart with God’s Word has a cleansing and renewing power (Ps. 119: 11; Rom. 12:2). Daily meditate on the Bible and control your thoughts

4. Resistance. You can only resist what you dislike. This involves:

a) directly resisting the urge to masturbate by avoiding compromising situations and exercising bodily control (1 Cor. 9:27).

You could be tensed up and unable to sleep and feel tempted to give in to it; but don’t yield. Endure hardness as a soldier and resist the sin (1 Tim. 2:2).

b) standing back on your feet if you have a relapse (Prov. 24:16). Don’t let the devil beat you down with guilt. Some people gain victory quickly, some don’t. Focus on Christ.

c) praying fervently, especially before going to bed. That is how to draw on the power of Christ (Mt. 26:41).

Years ago, a close friend shared with me how God set him free from the bondage of masturbation.

After praying one night, he went to bed and while he was asleep, he felt a strange pressure mount over his body. With his eyes still closed, he felt someone raise his hands up and make him say: “You spirit of masturbation, I renounce you in Jesus’ name!” and the pressure lifted.

Since that day, the urge to masturbate vanished. There is great power in Jesus Christ.

If you are struggling with this sin but not yet born again, I want to tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins at the cross of Calvary and rose again for us to have a new life.

Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Ask Him to forgive your sins and make you a new creature.

The Ugly Truths about Porn

Shelley Lubben, an ex-porn star (now a Christian) blew the lies of the porn industry out of the water with her book, The Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn. She wrote:

“[Porn stars] get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lie because this is their occupation. Porn stars are paid professional liars who know how to ‘act’ and they do it well”.

The world of porn is based on lies and deception. These lies have ways of adapting to the liberal Western culture (which birthed it) as well as conservative African culture. This is why some Nollywood porn stars double talk:

Judith Okpara (“Afrocandy”): “I …want to solemnly clear the air here and now that I do not act porn movies, never acted in any porn movie and I am not a porn star…”

Collins Owochei:I did not shoot or act in a soft porn movie … I have no interest in nudity.”

Mimi Quaker: It’s only make-believe. You are not having sex but making it look like you are having sex.”

Cossy Orjiako: I can act in a porn movie, but I can never go nude myself.”

Maheeda: “I don’t have a problem doing that but I think it is because of my job and I know most Christians won’t understand it … I just believe His grace is enough for me. He loves me more than my ‘nakedness’. If you see God as a Father because He sees you as a daughter, I would not because of your nakedness want to ruin you or kill you. That is how I see God. He understands me. He hates me but He loves me at the same time. Jesus is the best thing that happened to my life.”

Notice that these are the same things most drug addicts will say in public: “Oh no, I’m not a junkie, I’m clean!”

“I was never a drug addict! My body may be going awry, but my soul hates weed! Praise Jesus.”

“It’s just make-believe. I’m just making you people think I was smoking that crack.”

Jennifer Lynn Case, an ex-porn star, reflects:

“One thing I remember was trying to separate the real me from the porn star me. I became two people and turned it on and off when needed. My other personality ‘Veronica’ was just a fake front to protect the real me and get the job done,” she said.

“When I did porn, I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible and it was all about the money for me. I thought I did what I had to do to survive at the moment. My fantasies usually consisted of living a normal life, I fantasized about what life would be like if I wasn’t stuck in that nightmare. When you watch porn, you are watching a lie that is made to destroy you,” she admitted.

This applies both to the porn makers and their consumers. And this is why the first step to freedom from porn is to stop living in denial.

Porn is destructive because it needs a dark place or a “fortress” within the mind in order to survive. So to uproot it, you need to stop shielding it.

After delving into porn, a young man observed:

“I had never had severe social anxiety, but I noticed that I found it hard to look people in the eye, I became very lazy and unmotivated in my teenage years going to bed late, waking up late.”

He began to lack self-confidence in approaching many women because porn was easier, “and the fact that the guys in those scenes are huge and I’m an average Joe,” he said.

This spiral descent is fairly common. There are several effects that looking at porn can have on people.

Gary Wilson in his article Brain on Porn, demonstrated with several cases that porn addicts commonly show symptoms like tiredness, social anxiety, depression, isolation, insecurity, erectile dysfunction, poor academic performance, relationship/marital issues and a lack of interest in anything other than porn.

Porn materials stimulate a hormone in the brain called Dopamine which desensitizes a user such that a porn that seems “hot” to him today will seem “boring” tomorrow.

This is why most porn addicts seek different types of new porn materials in order to maintain the thrill.

“I was exposed to porn at the age of 12 by spelling a URL wrong,” wrote a Christian man, “I quickly closed it because I wasn’t interested.”

But one day while browsing, he logged on to a porn site. “A whole new area with tons of porn images and videos and live streams started coming up” he adds, “then it started to where I was searching Google images and I started watching live cams and stuffs like that. It grew from watching just nude girls to actually sex porn videos.”

This illustrates how sin – particularly porn – quickly grows and when it has properly grown, it brings death. And one of the first things it kills is one’s relationship with God (James 1:15).

“I was having thoughts of self-injury because of the pain and anger and shame from my addiction to masturbation and pornography” wrote Alex, “the Devil has constantly been telling me that I’m fake and not worth God’s time because of this.”

Virtually every Christian struggling with this habit also struggle with guilt and even depression. Most people resort to porn to “escape” from an emotional pain, such as rejection, or boredom.

Therefore, a good starting point to freedom is to find out why you keep falling into it.

No matter how long one has struggled with it, the truth is, porn can be overcome in Christ just like every other sin. It has to repented of however, and this implies eschewing all porn materials/websites.

To maintain your freedom, you will also have to actively resist porn; this involves discipline – and it takes time. The duration will vary depending on individuals.

In some cases, a Christian struggling with porn may need the help of a mature Christian to counsel and pray with him regularly.

Personally, there are some magazines, movies or TV programs that I consider very dangerous for a person who is just recovering from such.

“If you are viewing porn or addicted to porn, you are trying to fill a void inside of you that only God can fill,” says Jennifer, mentioned earlier.

“Whenever you look at porn, you are making the void bigger and you will destroy your life. It’s evil; it’s a drug and it is poison and a lie,” she stated.