Women who struggle with pornography all experience it in different ways—from Internet porn, to erotica and fantasy, or a combination of all of it and more. But there is one recurring theme among women who struggle with porn, and it is the crippling, overwhelming feeling of shame. Perhaps you know exactly what I am talking about. Women experience shame in their sexual behaviors, largely because they experience them in silence and isolation because no one really talks about it openly.
There’s shame because you’re female and “women aren’t supposed to struggle with porn.”
There’s shame because you can’t seem to stop yourself. There’s shame because when you do stop, you find yourself falling back into old habits again. There’s also shame because as a Christian woman, you are keenly aware that watching porn and struggling with sexual compulsion is simply not God’s best for your life. There’s shame because you feel far from God because of your struggle.
Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) tells us, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” But unfortunately, for so many who fall victim to shame, they believe the lies of shame. Have you experienced thoughts such as these?
“I am a failure.”
“I am a hypocrite.”
“I am unlovable.”
“I am undeserving.”
“I am a bad person.”
Shame vs. God
If yes, then you are a victim of shame. I am here to tell you that there is absolutely no room for shame in meaningful recovery.
Shame has only one goal: to keep you stuck in the seemingly never-ending cycle of addiction.
The reason shame is so believable at times is because shame speaks to you like it knows you. Shame speaks into the insecurities you already have. Shame speaks into the negative areas you already believe about yourself. Shame will tell you all is hopeless. Shame will tell you that God doesn’t love you. Shame will tell you that you have strayed too far. Shame likes to tell you who you are.
But the truth of the matter is, shame doesn’t know you at all, and the shame you feel does not come from God.
How often have you believed something negative about yourself because you believed that is how God felt about you? Nothing could be further from the truth. We know that the enemy of your soul “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). In order to defeat shame, you have to learn to discern the voice of God from the voice of the enemy because often it is so easy to confuse the two.
God doesn’t force His will on you. When He speaks over you, His voice is quiet and non-intrusive. He pursues you with words that speak life and grace, but also gentle correction (conviction). Conviction leads you to repentance and reconciliation with God.
The enemy, on the other hand, only knows how to force his will on you. When the enemy speaks over you, his voice is loud and invasive. He pursues you with words of death and hopelessness, but especially shame (condemnation). Condemnation drives you to despair and separation from God.
Shame is not a life sentence.
In order to defeat shame, you also have to change how you see yourself right now into the truth of how God actually sees you.
Friends, God loves you. Even at the beginning of all sin, God called Adam and Eve out of hiding. Instead of shaming them more, He drew them out and clothed them in their nakedness. He loves you unconditionally, but He loves you too much for you to stay in the cycle of sin and shame—in hiding.
This thing you battle, the cycle of sin and shame, does not define you and it does not have to be a life sentence. I know that when you slip in on this journey it can feel like a hundred steps back. Don’t allow the voice of shame rob you of the victories in the process. The only way you fail in recovery is by listening to the voice of shame and not get back up.
Just as God speaks over you with life and grace, you can pursue Him with the confidence of knowing you will be accepted—even when you slip—because while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8). In Him, there is no shame, only grace and hope. Freedom is possible.
There is hope for a life free of addiction, and it begins with believing you are worth fighting this fight for!
Portions of this post have been adapted from a brand new ebook for women written by Crystal Renaud Day and Lisa Eldred from Covenant Eyes, coming soon. Get your free download at the SHE Virtual Recovery Summit kicking off on October 5, 2020!