“Tom” came to me for help, and he seemed sincere. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get sober,” he promised. So he entered my 90-day program. Tom did well until he realized that recovery is really hard work. I cut him no slack. He had to do the daily readings and exercises, attend multiple meetings each week, and complete all the assignments. Tom gave it 90% effort.
And then he relapsed.
“Larry” was referred to me by a friend. He did the work I gave him for just a few days before slipping back into his old behaviors.
Here’s the lesson.
Tom was 90% in. Larry was 10% in. But, they ended up in the same place: total relapse. It is only the man or woman who gives 100% who finds real recovery.
Tom and Larry learned the same thing: recovery is hard work. It’s a road wrought with potholes, crazy turns, and sudden, unexpected drop-offs on either side. If you are among the millions who have started down the road of recovery, remember this: the ditch is just as close, no matter how far down the road you’ve gone. So why do it?
It’s a road worth traveling. Let me suggest ten reasons to stay on track and remain sexually sober.
1. Sobriety honors God.
Voltaire said, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”
We can’t “live well” while living in sexual addiction. Paul reminds us, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:13). We honor God by what we do with our bodies. This includes our biggest sex organ, the brain. There are many reasons to stay sober, but the most basic is this: by living a sober life, you honor your God.
2. The only other option stinks.
Paul reminded his followers, “Remember that you were at that time separated from God, alienated, having no hope” (Eph. 2:12). Paul was basically saying, “You’ve lived in both worlds. Remind yourself that a life of compulsive sin didn’t work for you.”
When you are tempted to act out, press rewind. Remember how it has always turned out. There has never been a time when acting out worked well for you. There never will be. You need to stay sober because there is only one other option, and it stinks.
3. Sobriety makes the mirror look better.
A study on men who consume large amounts of pornography found that they had a high level of body dissatisfaction. This study also found that porn users have lower self-esteem and don’t connect well with others. A porn user is like the man described by James. “He is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, but once he goes away, he has forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23). It’s amazing how much easier it is to look at ourselves in the mirror when we know the person looking back is sober.
4. Sobriety gives marriage a second chance.
The Bible says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). In an article for Time, Belinda Luscombe reported on a study that found that married people who start watching porn are twice as likely to get a divorce. A paper presented to the American Sociological Association reported that women who use porn are three times more likely to leave their husbands.
So stay sober–for the sake of your marriage.
5. Sobriety is cheaper.
Jesus said, “Where your heart is, there you will find your treasure” (Matthew 6:21). For many men, sex has become their treasure. Sex addiction is expensive.
An article titled “How Big Is the Porn Industry?” found the following: (a) porn films generate $15 billion in annual revenue, (b) the porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA combined, and (c) every second, $3,000 is spent on porn. I know men who have spent $100,000 on this addiction. Sobriety is much cheaper.
6. Sobriety is easier.
A client once told me, “The only thing harder than staying sober is staying drunk.” I don’t know anyone who lives in their addiction 100% of the time. Most addicts carry on otherwise normal lives. They raise families and hold down jobs. But, living a compartmentalized, double life is hard work. A life of total sobriety is much easier. James nailed it: “A double-minded man is unsure in all his ways” (James 1:7).
7. You’ll be happier.
Jesus came to give us “abundant life” (John 10:10). But, this life of joy cannot be realized apart from sweet surrender to God. Dr. David Sack wrote, “In rehab, addicts learn life lessons and skills that many people don’t learn until much later in life, if ever. As a result, people in recovery live happier, more meaningful lives.”
I agree. God wants you to have a joy that can only be experienced in a life of sobriety.
8. You’ll have more time.
Ben Franklin said, “Don’t waste time–it’s the stuff life is made of.”
Paul wrote, “Redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16). No one breaks this command more than sex addicts. It is not unusual for a man to spend four or five hours at a time on his sex habit. One porn site concluded that 4.5 billion hours were spent watching porn each year. I’m still waiting to meet the man who said, “I was up all night watching porn. That was a good use of my time.”
9. You’ll keep your job.
Every year, thousands of men and women lose their jobs because of porn found on their computers. According to the Family Research Council, almost half of porn addicts will lose their job as a result of choosing to view pornography in the workplace. They found that 70% of porn is viewed during normal business hours. You don’t have to be a pastor to get fired because of something that is found on your computer.
The God who created work said, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecc. 9:10).
10. A clean instrument works better.
Paul told Timothy, “Keep yourself pure; shun youthful passions” (2 Tim. 2:21-22). I am the best (and only) sax player in my family. My Selmer tenor sax and Yamaha soprano sax are as good as any instrument ever made. But, they sound awful unless they are clean. God uses clean instruments to play sweet music.
Confess your addiction to God. Ask him to clean your instrument. Walk in freedom. This will allow God to do things in you–then through you–that you can’t imagine.