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Flee from Porn: Say “No” Before You Need to Say “No”

Last Updated: September 13, 2015

Guest Author

Want to write for the Covenant Eyes blog? Share the story of your journey to freedom from pornography. Let us know how you overcame porn or how Covenant Eyes has made a difference in your life or the lives of those you love.

I like the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39) for several reasons.

  • First, it shows that the sexual instinct can be so powerful that it can cause someone to choose to ignore their familial bonds.
  • Second, it shows how a man can allow this instinct, which is a gift from God, to be corrupted and lead him toward incredibly self-destructive behavior—the effects of leaving one’s spiritual commitment behind, the changing of the brain’s chemistry, experiencing the coldness of the sex addict’s heart that comes with using someone sexually, and the reliving of self-imposed trauma all make sexual “acting out” a very short-term pleasure (Hebrews 11:25).

Run from porn

One of the keys to Joseph’s success in this story is that he had already learned the importance of relying on God, not only in his moment of testing, but also earlier in his life by his choice to “walk with God.” He had already established a spiritual structure that would help him when he was tested by the challenges in his life. Because of the structured spiritual framework that he developed through his relationship with God prior to the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, he was able to say no to her.

Another way to describe this is that he had already said no to situations like this because of his spiritual preparation before he had to say no to her in the exact moment that he was challenged. It was the discipline of pre-establishing his no prior to this event that helped him respond quickly. He saw the possibility of pleasure with her as a spiritual threat, rather than viewing it only in terms of his sexual gratification. The spiritual structure he had established in his life prior to experiencing temptation made it more likely that he would do the right thing in the moment.

Don’t Study the Lion

Since sexually addictive behavior is often initiated based on an impulse, successful spiritual structure needs to include a response that allows you to immediately flee. You do not have time to think about or assess the negative impulse. How long would you spend studying a lion who looked hungry before you started to move away from it?

As a psychologist, I have led sex addiction groups for at least 25 years. At least half of the men in my groups could have led you to Christ with Biblical accuracy. I would often tell the men in the groups to “get out of there” when they found themselves in a situation that tempted them with sexual gratification.

How to Flee

I believe that if Joseph had not fled, he may have given in to the temptation. If the sexual impulse were not as powerful as it is, there would be a lot of people, historically, who would not have dishonored God, destroyed their families or demeaned themselves.

The first fact that must be acknowledged regarding building a spiritual structure is that it does not always work. Because of your human imperfections, you must prepare yourself ahead of time for using your flee response quickly when the situation calls for it.

Second, a necessary component of an effective spiritual structure is accountability relationships with men who will be completely honest with you. They will reinforce your spiritual structure by sharing the parts of themselves that make them who they are.

Third, God is a God of the miraculous—walking close to Him is essential. His power and ability will get you through difficult circumstances, if you ask Him.

Become a Modern-Day Knight

At Knights21 we believe that understanding the complexity of your design, developing your potential, and fulfilling God’s call are the keys to successful manly living. Our men’s ministry DVD/curriculum programs help men develop the personal spiritual structure, with God’s help, that makes sexual sobriety more likely to achieve.

Manhood is a goal most males want to achieve. Knights21 helps males become men of God. Knights21 has developed the “15 Principles of Manhood,” which focuses on the man’s body, how his soul interacts with his spirit and how to develop and guide his mind. Understanding these principles prepares a man to say no before he needs to say no. The group discussion format of the men’s ministry DVD/curriculum programs leads to accountability-type conversations between men and the development of a supportive network which allows life’s stresses to be processed before addictive responses can take root.

Sex addiction is a life challenge that begins and is bred in isolation. Spiritual structure helps a man build his identity on his Creator and helps him create a supportive environment, which makes the next “Potiphar’s wife” who crosses his path less likely to succeed. Start a Knights chapter today—begin learning how to say no before you need to say no.


RoySmithDr. Roy Smith has worked for over 30 years as a psychologist/counselor to men and their families. He developed the Knights of the 21st Century program to help men grow, which helps them learn how to lead more effectively and contributes to the over-reaching goal of positively changing our culture. Roy has a Master of Divinity degree and a Master’s and a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. Roy is married to Jan, who is also a psychologist; they have two children.

  • Comments on: Flee from Porn: Say “No” Before You Need to Say “No”
    1. Thomas Weyandt on

      Please do not talk about manhood. For me it means you become a bully, especially at home. My grandparents raised me and Dad carried on high with Mom. As a child, my brothers and I traveled a long distance so Mom could catch Dad with his current girlfriend. In many marriages, men physically and psychologically abuse women. Mom would never take physical abuse. She wasn’t scared of that monster of ‘manhood’. He knew that if he crossed the line of physical abuse, Mom would put him in jail. I guess for this reason, women seem a great deal better than men.
      So don’t talk to me of manhood. All I have seen is the monsters in my family. My birth mother was deserted by her adulterous first husband as she was having me and her second husband was a drunken wife beater. At school I wasn’t able to defend myself against year after year of bullies. I’m really quite disgusted with so called ‘manhood’.

      Reply
      • Kerri on

        I am very sorry for the abuse you have been through. I can not imagine a life like that. That said, I think you need to understand the use of manhood here. Trust me, I may not have been where you are, but I’ve dealt with a husband with porn addiction for 21 years, and the resulting consequences in his behavior and actions. Needless to say I find it *very* difficult not to describe ALL men as base and disgusting. But I know that that is not the truth. Men were created by God with certain giftings, as were women. But each of those giftings can lead us to sin because we live in a fallen world. We should all be praying for men to return to *GODLY* manhood. Because certainly the mainstream idea of manhood is messed up! I took a look at Knights21 and I am excited to see such material available for guys. I have three sons that I want to grow into strong, caring, Godly men. I am grateful that others are taking the time to fight for true manhood. I can not tell you how often I have felt despair at the thought of my daughters trying to find ‘the one’. And I have five of those! The oldest two are 18 and 16 and it is hard to deal with the truth that there are very few real men out there right now. I would say to take your hurts to the Lord, and then pray for programs like Knights21 to be successful in reaching the men in our communities.

        Blessings,
        Kerri

      • Jason L on

        Watch Little House on the Prairie. Obviously, the spiritual dimension is very limited but still, as corny as it sounds, see if the Charles Ingalls character isn’t a positive force. To me, in a limited sense, he represents what manhood should be like.

    2. Gary on

      I found this information very practical & helpful. I recommend that anyone, like myself, who deals with sexual addiction issues to be involved in a good men’s group if possible & to use Covenant Eyes on all your electronics.

      Reply
    3. Thomas Weyandt on

      It is hard to change one’s views. My views about men were shaped by the discovery of just how mean and evil were the men in my family. Also men are the ones that start wars. We men seem to be brainwashed into what men are supposed to be. Women have also done their evil but man’s evil seems so much greater.
      My grandmother or Mom as she and my grandfather raised me, Dad came from a violent family. He only had one eye as the other was knocked out by a book thrown at him by an uncle and his father would not take him to the doctor for several hours. Dad’s brothers and father beat their women and probably beat their children. My grandmother or Mom, also had a very difficult life of her own. Mom and Dad got together after Mom’s first marriage ended. Mom always said that Dad would never run her. One time when he was cruelly beating up their son, Mom took a metal garbage can and knocked some sense into Dad. When he recovered, Dad realized he had gone too far.
      My role in this home was that I was a baby and my grandparents were facing an empty nest. Mother had to leave to find work to support herself and send money home after her marriage ended.
      Mom and Dad gave me all the love that their children didn’t get. I was doted on and spoiled. Meanwhile, before I came along Mom accepted Christ in our kitchen while listening to a radio in 1947. Regretably, the local church was very legalistic and Mom made her children’s lives very hard as she ran the house according to the legalism taught by the local church. If it felt good, it must be sin. Endless rules.
      Although spoiled, Mom gave me good training in believing in God and good morals. I grew up sheltered. We never had much money. Dad worked in the coal mines until they shut down and he had to move away for work at the Masonic Homes. Mom worked there for awhile and moved back home with me. Distance did not help the marriage.
      Over the years Dad became the villain while my mother become the villainess as she treated her children very harshly but she may have gotten that harshness from her upbringing. She had married again and he turned out to be a drunken wife beater. Dad lost his job in 1966 and in the following years Mom, myself and Dad lived in another town while Dad found work as a security guard. Dad was very intelligent but was a product of a brutal home life and while he graduated, the first in his family, with honors from high school, he was promptly put in the coal mines instead of furthering his education. They did their best for me but I was an oddball and always bullied and never accepted in school. But I was smart and while the other kids played and later went out for high school sports I would be in the school library reading Lord of the Rings, Nazi concentration camps, Von Bruan’s Mars mission plans, science and technology and science fiction but I went into a dream world where I lived my books in my head.
      I graduated and Dad retired end of ’73 after I would up in the psych ward. I was forced to take twenty shock treatments and the use of sodium pentathol anesthic caused me to feel like I was drowning and dying as I went under and woke up. It was not until 2000 when I had anesthesia again and recently, those memories made me cancel a colonoscopy.
      Mom said that she would outlive Dad and get his checks. She outlived him 19 years and got his SS, Black Lung and Miner’s Widow Pension. Dad died at home and when Mom told me that she thought he was dead, I had to find out if he was and debated attempting CPR which I could not bring myself to do. I did contact our doctor and our pastor. The doctor came, contacted the funeral home and they came. The pastor came and he and the doctor were able to provide Mom with support.
      At the time, my mental illness was getting bad again. I am schizoaffective, bipolar, panic and obsessive compulsive disorder. I was not properly diagnosed for decades and effective OCD drugs didn’t come out until late 1980s. Panic disorder was very bad as I had to fend off urges to gouge out my eyes. This made driving the car an adventure. I never acted on the self mutialation, suicidal and one time homicidal urges but when they were bad, I was terrified, resisted them and prayed for help from God.
      I accepted Christ in 1971 and the following year my life fell apart from the mental illness.
      The medical model of mental illness being caused by brain and brain chemical disorders didn’t come out until the ’80s alone with newer drugs but I was treatment resistant and embittered by my bout with legalism courtesy of my OCD. OCD can manifest itself as Scrupulosity, where you become so tangled up in duties not commanded by the Bible and think activities to be sin which the Bible does not call sin. The enormous energy involved in censoring my life ruined my life.
      I would consider the mentally ill to be the new lepers in the Church. Ministers did not want to handle mental illness but that is changing with more ministers having training in what to do with an MH parishioner. But the Church is not yet comfortable with MH brothers and sisters.
      In my time, it was a number of secular professional people, mostly all women, who were there to help me live my life with no prospect of a cure, but they provided treatments that like insulin, controlled my mental illness. In recent years, my OCD has faded but I retain the anger at my gender, the Church and God.
      God has always been there to help when I needed it even when I shook my fist at him. He is overwhelming with love, patience, kindness, aid and forgiveness and understanding. I wish I could submit to Him but that is like banging on a wall with only your fists. You don’t get through the wall that way.
      God is great and wonderful.
      I wish I could feel that.
      I’ll close with saying I am going to a nearby church. After 14 years in assisted living, I now live in my own small apartment and God has relieved the panic attacks so that I have freedom most of the time from them. I’m still a loner though. Mom and Dad have died and I know Mom is in Heaven and hope Dad is there also. I’m about the only one in my scattered immediate family who is saved. Mother is 80 now and I am 60 and wondering what use I have been to the world. I do believe that God is not finished with me and yes, I have pornography addiction. Today, I gave into after two or three weeks without it.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Hi Thomas. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. I think that’s an act of courage, because you’re right–people don’t understand mental illness very well, and really, the only way they can understand it better is to listen to stories like yours. I think when we understand better, we can love better.

        So thank you. Thank you for being willing to share these tough things that create a doorway to more understanding and love. By telling your story, you are “of use” to all of us. But you are infinitely valuable, precious, and beloved even if you don’t say a thing! I’m sorry your life hasn’t often reflected the reality of how precious you are to God, and to the Body of Christ. We are all part of each other, and you are a part of us. I grieve with you for the failure of the church to serve those with mental illness. You’re absolutely right: we just don’t do this well at all, and it causes great pain to those who are already suffering so deeply.

        I am so grateful that medical care for mental illness has advanced so much in recent years, and that your OCD has faded.

        I was wondering if you’d ever run across Clubhouse International? From the website: “Clubhouses are community-based centers that offer members opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education, and access to medical and psychiatric services through a single caring and safe environment, so members can achieve a sense of belonging and become productive members of society.” A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of volunteering with a clubhouse and it was a truly amazing community. I know there’s a directory at the website, so you could check and see if there’s one in your area.

        Your story is one of incredible perseverance, and I think you have so much to offer to others who need to hear what you have to say. Thank you for speaking up here. Blessings, Kay

      • JeremiahP on

        Thomas, it breaks my heart to know what kinds of abuse you have experienced, and the kinds of bondage that you have had to fight through to just survive. I was brought up in mediocre physical, mental, and verbal abuse, and I can’t imagine it being compounded.

        I cannot speak for all men, but I look to real manhood as being more Christ-like. A man that wants to protect others, serve others, and lead others in need to the Bread of Life. Jesus is a spiritual warrior who spent amazing amounts of time in prayer, fasting, and preaching the truth. He loved the unloveable – prostitutes and pharisees alike – and wanted so much to heal the sickened hearts and souls. That is true manhood to me, and I hope that I’ll be able to completely escape all of my addictions and become a spiritual warrior that prays and serves like Christ.

    4. Thomas Weyandt on

      The Christian I knew were mostly people who did not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, ect. This defined them. At home, Mom and Dad fought their verbal war. The contact that I had with mother was limited and she went too far with her discipline which was done in anger and inflicted pain. I almost never faced the belt at home but was a compliant child who rarely got into mischief save for not doing my studies and homework which led to average grades for the most part. I suppose they made a mistake in not disciplining me.

      I appreciate the kind words that you folks have posted.

      Self hatred is a major problem and self esteem is so low that I think that I have to apologize for being alive.
      I know, the Bible doesn’t teach that but the attitude is cast in stone and will require major ongoing efforts to change.
      Christian literature does not generally address this issue and assumes it’s readership have normal self esteem.
      A notable exception is Dave Seamands Healing For Damaged Emotions that explores people’s hurts and pains that do not just magically go away with salvation and prayer. Sometimes, a deeper healing is needed for people like me with mental illness and emotional problems.
      In the nearby building, a couple of years ago, a ninth story tenant took out his apartment window and then jumped.
      Maintainance Supervisor had to remove what was left of the body after the fall. A minister committed suicide and a radio minister chewed out the dead man who just had something they called depression.
      Must we Christians always be so insensitive to others?
      For myself, I have many days of isolation and loneliness. That hurts.
      As for God, He is doing something good in my life but I just can’t see the improvements over the years. I tend to see the current big problem or crisis. People who have a better view of me are always pointing out the changes I have undergoing.
      God is the good guy here along with the mental illness support people and people like my two woman pastors who, because one works with the retarded who sometimes also have a mental illness, are willing to listen and learn.
      Meanwhile, God has enabled my money and supplies to stretch beyond what I thought they would.
      Yes, I know God is good but proper ability to appreciate that or say things like Praise the Lord don’t happen for me very often.
      Loneliness can be addressed by resuming attendance to the drop in center, a place run by the mentally ill for the mentally ill as a place to offer social rehabilitation. Huntingdon Couny Drop In Center has been around since 1993 when it was started by Grant Clapper, who had both a mental retardation and mental illness to contend with. He raised funds to start it up and incorporated the Center in 1994. As the years went by, we began receiving public MH funds that helped us operate and until now provide the lion’s share of our finances. Drop in centers are cheap, only costing $78,000 in annual MH monies plus whatever we get from donations or fundraisers.
      Yes, even though I don’t feel what you normal Christians feel about God, I know He is all about setting things right.

      Reply

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