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Defeat Lust & Pornography 4 minute read

Hungry for Porn or Just Hungry?

Last Updated: January 30, 2023

What in the world would make a fish go after a worm on a hook? Perhaps it’s because he’s just a total idiot. Or he’s a disgusting gluttonous pig who can’t control his desires. Maybe it’s because he’s evil.  Possibly it’s because he’s worthless and doesn’t even deserve to live at all. No, in reality, the fish goes after the worm on the hook for one reason: He is hungry and doesn’t comprehend that his meal is on a hook that will eventually take his life.

​Why are we bent toward pornography, masturbation, compulsive sexual thoughts, or a host of other ways that we may act out sexually? Perhaps it’s because we are just total idiots. Or we are disgusting perverted pigs who can’t control our desires. Maybe it’s because we are evil.

No! In reality, we go after our unhealthy ways of acting out sexually for one reason: We are hungry and we don’t realize that our “food” of choice is on a hook that will eventually cost us our lives.

Sorting Out the Logic of Porn’s Temptation

My over 24 years of experience with my own sexual struggles, coupled with my 8-plus years of working as a counselor who specializes in helping those with sexual struggles, has convinced me that most people assign a reason to themselves for their acting out. Very often, that reason has little to do with reality, and more to do with something negative we think about ourselves (similar to the reasons outlined in the two paragraphs above). Although it is true that we must address our selfish sin nature, this really is less than half of the story. A recovery that is based solely upon addressing “character flaws” and not underlying hunger is an incomplete recovery at best. As human beings, we are created as logical creatures.  Thus, when we understand the need behind a behavior, even the most seemingly illogical behaviors begin to make sense. 

Satisfying Needs With Short-Cuts

Our sexually acting out is more of a shortcut to getting our emotional needs met than it is about getting our physical needs met. Let’s look at a few general “for instances”:

  • In pornography, an individual may subconsciously be telling themselves,” I don’t have to take the time to be relational with a real man, deal with his ups and downs, his emotions, and really get to know him or make any effort to disclose myself and make myself vulnerable to rejection by him. These men always accept me, are never moody, and are always ready to give me their all”.  In this example, the main underlying need is that of relational intimacy.
  • While reading erotica (or engaging in escapism-type fantasy) the subconscious conversation may go like this, “Here my life gets to be whatever I want. I can plug into a fictitious version of my own life or live vicariously through these characters. My own life is too painful and dull to engage in”.  Here, the underlying need could be a desire for fulfillment and purpose in life
  • During masturbation, the underlying logic may look something like this, “In this fantasy, I can be who I want to be and experience whatever I want without putting in any energy and I also get the physical payoff of orgasm. I get the added bonus of not having anyone else meet my needs, I do it myself”.  In masturbation, the underlying need is often a desire for intimacy and a need for nurturing.        

Understanding the Deeper Hungers

“A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry” (Proverbs 27:7).
Hunger is one of the strongest internal forces we face as humans. We see from the above scripture that when we are hungry even our taste buds work to satisfy our hunger in that they trick us into believing that something horrible is indeed delightful to the taste. Such is our appetite for sex. What we don’t realize is that often our appetite for sexual pleasure really has little to do with sex. It has to do with a hunger for acceptance, to belong, for relationship, and for emotional and physical intimacy–along with a host of many other things.

Christ came not just so we would stop sinning, but so that we might be free from the things that drove us to the sin in the first place. 

Paying Attention to Your Moments of Hunger

I want to encourage you to begin to look at what hunger is driving your sexual behavior(s). If you find yourself struggling to identify what you are truly hungry for, let me offer the following suggestion. Begin paying attention to your thoughts and feelings prior to acting out and/or when you’re tempted more than you pay attention to the lust those thoughts and feelings produce. You can begin doing this by reflecting upon your past couple of slips and asking questions like:

  • Was I experiencing any strong thoughts or emotions prior to my slip?
  • Was there anything making me anxious?
  • Did I have an argument with someone?
  • Was I feeling insecure about something?
  • Did I have a work-related, ministry-related, or relationally-related challenge coming up?
  • Did something happen to cause me to feel shame?
  • Did I mistreat someone or was I mistreated?
  • Was I experiencing anger, hurt, or rejection?
  • Was I hungry or tired?
  • Was I feeling lonely?

Additionally, these same questions can be asked during temptation. Once you realize what the true hunger is for, ask the Lord to meet that need through His Spirit or by helping you find ways to meet that need in healthy ways. 

Anything other than healthy relational intimacy with ourselves, other people, and our Maker will not truly satisfy our hunger. Meeting our sexual and relational desires in a way that God never intended will have the same result as the fish biting into the hook.  Only Jesus offers bread and drink that truly satisfy.     

  1. Stan

    Hello Kimberly. The struggle to be free began about two years ago, when the Lord took hold of my life. But almost from that time, I went right back to masturbating. I didn’t want to leave it behind. For both the reasons you outlined and the physical pleasure.

    I’ve really been struggling terribly lately. I feel like I’m being pulled apart. I keep telling myself, Lord, You’re here. And I know He’s showing me my sin and working to embrace Him.

    But I’m struggling terribly. How long did you still desire to indulge in masturbation after you committed to God? Do urges still reoccur?

    I made a commitment last night to Him, and here I am, seeing an endless road of not engaging in this activity. That’s not the proper view but it’s very hard not to think that way. God bless.

    • Keith Rose

      Hello! Kimberly isn’t available to respond to comments, but I wanted to follow up. I’ve faced the same challenges myself and I’ve also been an ally for friends struggling with masturbation. It’s a tough battle, but you’re not alone. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is an important promise – God says you will not be tempted beyond what you can bear, but he will provide a way of escape. I think one of the most important ways of escape is having an ally who can encourage you to stay strong. It can be intimidating to open up to someone, but when you have a friend who stands alongside you in the fight, it will help you stay motivated when you feel weak. Michael Leahy struggled with sex addiction on his own for years and he talks about the importance of accountability: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2017/02/21/how-do-i-find-my-accountability-partners/

      God bless,

      Keith

  2. William Cookson

    I escaped the tightening grip of porn around 2005. It was not an instant event like flipping a light switch, but a steady pull out of the quicksand and a firm march in the opposite direction of refreshing freedom. Two things were associated with the change:
    1) Breaking the ease of access to the images over the internet (if necessary, remove the hardware or disable the connection making it very difficult to restore it. Using a public library to go online).
    2) Concentrating daily on all the negatives with its use: damage to the victims in the photos/videos, fruitless waste of time, weariness of confessing the same sins to God, loss of self-esteem and social energy, etc.

    For some, exploring inner feelings won’t feel like progress. Decisive personal action is inevitable for everyone seeking freedom from this thing, and each individual must discover (by God’s guidance) what ideas will work for them.

  3. Joe

    Good morning Kimberly, a very pretty name.
    Thank you for your writing. I am much older than you and have struggled with many of
    the issues you address. “To have” is past tense but there does not seem to be a past, it is
    a constant battle, a battle I have lost for far to long. We have many of our own perceived
    reasons but the fact remains is an affront to one’s well being regardless of the reasons.

    Thanks, again.

  4. Michael

    This was a very encouraging take on porn addiction, as I’ve been way more in the self-hatred kind of space. It will be interesting to see what trying this approach does. I liked that verse from Proverbs too.

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