So many men are trying to overcome lust and porn addiction and fantasizing — but the bad news is, we will fail.
The thing about stopping lust is that we can’t just “stop lust.”
That’s impossible. You might as well try to bite your ear or benchpress an airplane.
Besides: what you’re experiencing is probably not lust, but just your hormones and desires and natural human design. There’s nothing wrong with that, at all. We were made to have attraction and chemistry and romance and get married and have sex and make babies. To suppress that is to undermine our humanity: and God wants to make us more human, not less.
Actual lust is when you’re excessively orbiting around the objectification of another human being. It’s when natural desire becomes impersonal impulse. It’s to consider flesh as your mental play-toy and physical receptacle. It uses and abuses. It dehumanizes.
But lust is not just a bad organ that you can cut out of your body. Lust problems are indicative of a much bigger picture. It’s a systemic widespread issue that is connected to all the areas of your life. It’s wrapped up in who you are.
If you spend money like crazy, wake up in time for dinner, twist the truth to manipulate other people, show up late to everything, never listen to anyone, never put in effort anywhere, and push your agenda everywhere — then you will inevitably be a more lustful person. I would know, because I was like this.
If you live an undisciplined life: I wouldn’t expect that lust would be easy to control. Whatever we choose to orbit, this fundamental axis will also determine our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Each facet of your life is so interconnected that if you move one, the others must follow.
Lust then is really the default state of our lazy complacent drifting when we do what we want. It’s a spendthrift detachment that fixes on self-centered pleasing, like dancing by yourself on a two foot stage. It’s not about the sex or the porn, but your entire being.
When we get this wrong, you’ve seen how this plays out.
If someone wants to quit porn while they’re also lazy whiners and they’re pursuing stupid things, they don’t have a chance.
If they keep saying “I’m a work in progress” — which is absolutely true of all of us — they’re still neglecting the words work and progress.
And for the few decent people who get all aggressive to quit, their struggle becomes their whole glory and they trade the idol of lust for the idol of conquest. Neither is better off, and we end up shooting ourselves in both feet.
So then: we can’t just “quit lust.” We need to choose something better.
There must be a direction: not to say “I finally defeated lust,” but to move towards the powerful work that God wants to do through us.
When you grit your teeth and decide to quit porn: then you’ll have all this idle free time and you’ll be bored out of your mind. Nine times out of ten, people go back to porn out of boredom. Or they just distract themselves to death with meaningless activities, but on the inside the lust will reach critical mass.
The Christian life can’t just be about running away from sin: but is ultimately about running to Him. That means finding His mission, His purpose, and His heart for you. It means asking for His wisdom in how to discipline yourself, to be shaped by His truth, to be restructured in His image. It means bonding with other like-minded individuals to live out your God-given calling.
It’s so fully experiencing the love of God that you are shaken down to your very core, melted and tenderized by His grace to never go back, but only pursue Him forward.
Really, this all comes down to that awful word surrender.
I hated this word for so long. I ran from it, because I liked my fantasies, my stash, the dark room, the secrecy, the selection. I really loved God, but surrender felt like something only those “radical Christians” do.
To my horror, it’s what every Christian is called to do.
I eventually had to confront myself. Can I really surrender this? To submit? Not just my “lust” and porn and physicality, but every area of my life that really matters? Can I do the scary work that God has called me to do?
I was between two ends of a widening chasm and being torn in half, and I had to choose. The cognitive dissonance of hypocrisy was slamming down my door. I had to answer for it.
But soon we learn a wonderful truth: that when you surrender to Him, this is not a restriction or removal or religion. God made us and He knows what’s best for us. His Word offers us life. We are essentially trading up towards Him, and we get Him.
When we follow God, anything that first feels like sacrifice is actually giving up what we never needed anyway. We give up pride, greed, anger, jealousy, and lust — things we find so comforting and familiar but actually imprison us — and we get love, peace, joy, wholeness, and His Spirit in return. He wants to flex His Spirit in you to make supernatural fruits for His glory. This is a pretty good deal.
I know it’s not easy. I have no magic words, no silver bullet, no romantic thoughts about it. If I’ve made the struggle sound pretty, I have no illusions that it’s some glossy testimony. It’s an ugly battle. We’re used to the complacency of our status quo and it will sometimes feel like clawing out of a pit. It’s an uphill fight everyday.
That’s sort of the point: there’s no easy way around this. But many of us are finding out there’s a Big Picture here. We can see a map beyond our single issue thinking, a vision beyond quitting, a Great God who gives us strength as we gain momentum into His glory.
We are defined not by our struggle behind us: but our story ahead of us.
Whatever you need to let go of and whatever you need to start: you already know what it is. Don’t be afraid to surrender. By the grace of God, you can begin today.
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
— C.S. Lewis
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
— Ephesians 2:10