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Porn: Dying to Quit

When moments of clarity arrive, do you take advantage of them or let them slip away, returning again to the fog of addiction?

Rack

I recently wrapped up Stephen King’s book Duma Key. It was a fantastic read and no one writes like King. He really is a master storyteller and managed to keep my attention through 700+ pages which flew by like a children’s picture book.

The plot focuses on a man, Edgar, who suffered a construction accident which lost him his right arm and damaged his hips. As a result, his wife divorces him and he moves down to an island off Florida called Duma Key. Here, he finds that things are not as they seem and some ancient spirit which has lay dormant for decades has been stirred and begins oppressing the characters. She possesses people in some way and causes them to do destructive, murderous things against the protagonists and their families.

It makes a lot more sense when you’re reading it.

In one scene, Edgar is sure that his wife is about to be killed by their attorney, Tom Riley. Minutes later, the phone rings and he expects to hear the news that his ex-wife has been slain. However, the voice on the other end of the line is that of his former lover, in tears because she has just received news of Tom’s death. He was in a car accident, but it was odd: He had driven straight into a brick wall. He was not intoxicated and there were no signs of foul play; he seemed to have just driven straight into a brick wall.

Edgar pieces the puzzle together: Tom was possessed by the evil sea spirit and sent on his way to kill his ex-wife. For a split second though, he had a glimpse of clarity and made the snap decision to veer his car into the wall rather than go through with the murder.

As I thought about this anecdote the past week, I realized there is a bit of wisdom we can glean from it as it pertains to sexual temptation. As a counter example, let’s look to a much different episode from scripture.

In Mark 6, King Herod is throwing a big party with women dancing, drinking, and revelry. He sees his niece dance and is so pleased with her dancing that he promises her anything, up to half his kingdom. She made the grotesque request for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, which he obliged. Growing up, I always interpreted this as a little 7-year-old girl doing some cute dance which tickled him and made him make a rash vow.

However, when I looked into the passage more deeply, I realized a number of things. For one, his niece was probably a grown and developed young woman, and the type of dance she was doing was not that of a toddler at a family gathering. Put frankly, Herod was turned on by his niece, and in his trance of lust, made a promise to give her anything she desired.

It’s easy to dismiss this event as disgusting and proclaim that we would never do anything that repulsive. But if you’ve ever been ensnared in a web of lust, you know the feeling of giving anything to the object of your affection in order to satiate your desire. Maybe not the incest part, but the offer of half his kingdom because of how blinded he was by his turned-on-ness.

Just like Tom Riley, Herod was in a trance, possessed by a force much larger than himself, only he was not able to break free and as a result, a prophet of the Lord was beheaded.

When we are under the control of our sin, unable to break free, we will always wound others or ourselves.

In the fictitious account of Tom Riley, he was able to break free only for a few moments and save the lives of others, though it cost him his entire life. I think this is what Jesus meant when He talked about chopping off various body parts if they cause us to sin. It’s better to suffer wounds on ourselves than to do damage to others while under the power of sin.

So what do we do with this?

As a porn addict, I can point to very specific instances where the trance lifted long enough for me to make a hard decision; to chop off the hand, so to speak.

If you’re anything like me, you know what it’s like to live under this fog for days at a time, and when it relents, we are able to catch a glimpse of clarity and make a decision to effect change. In college, I confessed my addiction to a friend and made the decision to turn over control of my phone to him. He put a passcode on it so I could not access the internet at all via my smartphone.

Years later, in a bold move of frustration at my struggle, I told my dad, who decided to pay for counseling and accountability software. Similarly, I occasionally take time away from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by having a friend change my passwords.

There are times when, in the words of Sexaholics Anonymous, you have lost control and your life has become unmanageable. You may think you have autonomy over your struggle, yet there is a reason you keep returning to it like a dog returns to his vomit.

My urge to you, brothers and sisters, is to take advantage of those moments of clarity when the fog lifts and you’re able to see clearly for a few minutes. Make the hard choices to swerve into the brick wall, or chop off the hand which causes you to sin. Make changes that will effect your actions when the trance returns and the fog settles over your mind once more and you are driven to act out.

Go to a meeting,

confess to a friend or parent,

put a password on your phone or laptop,

fellowship with other people who are in recovery,

install the software you keep putting off,

etc… (I’m sure there’s something popping into your head right now. Do it.)

Addiction is a singular and inescapable focus on the object of your desire. You cannot make the decision to walk away from it when you are under its spell, so make the move that will prevent your fall ahead of time, rather than always acting responsively.

Whether it’s alcohol, sex, porn, drugs, or any other unhealthy habit, be proactive. Don’t wait for the temptation to return before you take action because by that point, you will most definitely give in again. It is worth suffering a wound in order to save your life and the lives of others. After all, addiction does not just affect the life of the addict, but all those connected to him or her. Spouses, children, families, friends. Everyone suffers the longer we choose to dwell in our addictions.

So may we be people who, in moments of lucidity, can choose to make changes to our lives which will prevent our addictions from consuming us. May we make decisions in the light, rather than in darkness. May we act in wise activeness, rather than passive response, waiting for our addictions to magically drift away on their own. If it hasn’t stopped on its own yet, chances are it’s not going to.

But most of all, may we never forget the grace which is offered to us every time we give in to the trance of addiction. May we live with a constant awareness of Christ and all He has done for us that we may be free from the destructive power of sin.

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