In my last video I talked about the cycle of temptation, applying it specifically to pornography. If you haven’t gotten a chance to look at it go ahead and watch last week’s video. If you are finding yourself in the middle of the series, don’t worry, click this link and it will take you to the start of the series so you won’t be confused.
Last week we looked at James 1:12-15. James says it all starts in desire, leading to enticement, leading to the conception of sin, then the birth of sin, then the growth of sin, and finally death.
We broke these steps down into smaller steps so we could really understand the experience of the person enslaved to porn: desire, triggers, tempting thoughts, rituals, indulgence, defeated thoughts, loss of control, guilt, shame, and self-atonement.
The Deadly Results of Porn Addiction
The last part of the cycle is death, and for the person entrenched in pornography, death is experienced internally in several different ways.
First, is a sense of crushing guilt. We see the ultimate dissatisfaction of our sin, and we know we’ve violated our conscience and God’s standard.
Second is a sense of shame. Now, guilt and shame are related experiences, but they are different. You can think of the difference this way: If guilt is our sense of failure before a STANDARD, shame is our sense of failure before the EYES of people. It might be a sense of failure before our spouse or our boyfriend or girlfriend. “What would they think of me if they knew about this?” It might be a sense of failure before our church or community. “What would they think if they knew what I’ve done?” It might be a sense of failure before the eyes of God. “What must God think of me now? He must be disappointed in me right now.” It might be a sense of cosmic shame, as if the universe itself was frowning upon you. Or it might be a sense of self-shame. “I am so ashamed of myself.”
Lastly, guilt and shame often leads to self-atonement–ways we try to make up for our sin. Someone locked in this cycle can do this in many ways. We might develop a sense of moral resolve. “Never again,” we say. We promise ourselves we will perform better next time. Or we assign ourselves certain duties to make us feel better: more prayer, more Bible reading, more Christian activity, more romantic gestures toward our spouse, more effort. Or we might simply feel like we need to wallow in pity for a while. We come crawling back to God with penitent offerings in the hopes He will take us back, hoping our emotional pain is good enough for Him to see we’re sorry.
Time passes and we’re back at the start of the entire cycle, back at desire. We find that all our moral resolve may keep sin at bay for a while, but we still feel that latent craving inside.
This is the common cycle of temptation for the Christian man or woman. For some, this cycle is slow, something that builds over time, and they eventually give in a few times a year or once a month. For others who’ve been entrenched in pornography for a while, this cycle can happen very fast: a couple of days or even every day. It happens so fast they don’t even see the stages along the way.
How Do We Escape the Cycle of Addiction
So the million-dollar question is this: how do we escape this cycle. Notice, I’m not asking how do we escape porn. The Bible promises us that God provides a way of escape out of not just the moment of indulgence, but the whole cycle.
That’s what our next video is about, so stay tuned for more. In the mean time, leave me a comment below: which of the desires I mention really identifies with your experience or the experience of those you are helping with this problem? Is there a deeper desire I didn’t mention? Share your thoughts or your questions about this cycle and be looking for my next video in a couple days.
Also before you leave, I’ve got a gift for you. If you are involved in church leadership at any level at all: you’re a pastor, an elder, a deacon, a small group leader, a youth leader, whatever—please download a free digital book, Fight Porn in Your Church: What Works and Why It Matters. In this book, there are some broad, higher-level strategies churches can implement to really tackle this huge problem head on.
One question that has been prominent in regards to this topic is: how are we supposed to use this model to help others? It’s a great question. Here’s what some have done:
- Simply sit down with those struggling in a one-on-one context or in a small, manageable group
- Quickly introduce this cycle and then talk about each stage of the cycle in depth for a specific person
- If you get stumped applying a specific stage of the cycle for a specific person at a specific stage of the cycle, don’t worry. Just skip that stage, move on to the next one, and come back around to it as the conversation warms up.
- Asking people to dissect the cycle in their own lives can be hard at first, but it is critical to do.
So, now that we know the steps of the cycle of temptation, what steps can you provide to others to help them break free at each stage, or maybe even break free yourself? Tune in next week to hear what steps you can take to break free at each stage of the cycle.