I’m sure you’ve heard it said that you can’t be ‘half pregnant.’ Either you are pregnant or you are not. You can’t be sort of pregnant. I think some women look at freedom from pornography the same way. Either you are free or you are not. But is that true?
Can you be ‘kinda’ free?
It’s a typical Saturday morning. You’ve been without porn for five weeks and are so happy. Your life is full. This afternoon, your best friend is getting married. You make it to the wedding, full of joy and anticipation (with a slight twinge of jealousy and impatience). The wedding is beautiful; you dance the night away at the reception and then, with cheers and well-wishes, send your best friend off into the sunset with her Prince Charming.
You try not to think on it too much but the elephant in the room is that, in hours, she will be enjoying the beauty of sexual intimacy with her husband. The next week, as you are cut off from your best friend, she will be enjoying the one thing that seems to plague your existence- sex.
You try to busy yourself with wedding clean up but that thought still nibbles away at your resistance. You drive home, and try to sleep, but all you can seem to do is think about your best friend.
Then the temptation comes. You fall. You cry yourself to a guilt-ridden sleep, and wake up Sunday morning feeling like the scum of the earth. The idea of even showing up to church makes you want to hurl. You see your Bible on the bed-stand and shove it in the drawer.
Five weeks, you think. I couldn’t make it past five weeks. I’m never going to beat this thing. I’m not free. I will never be free.
First off, that’s a lie. It comes because we do not understand freedom. Here is the truth: you are free. Read Romans 5-8. It pounds home the idea that Christ won your freedom and you are free. However, you have to choose to walk in that freedom. In those same chapters, we are given different commands, not suggestions. Freedom is not just something that happens to us, it is something that we walk in.
We walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). We yield our bodies (Romans 6:13). We seek. We knock. We ask. We put on. We put off. We surrender. We trust. We act, not to earn our freedom, but to exercise it.
What About Addiction
There is an aspect of pornography that is truly addictive. I know that. I’ve been there, and no, it is not fun. You don’t just wake up one day, read your Bible and boom! pornography is dead on the carpet. God doesn’t up and disable every pornographic website you frequent or make sure your friends call you non-stop so you don’t masturbate.
Choosing not to go to a porn website or choosing not to masturbate are just that- choices. For those with addictions, they are harder choices to make, but they are not impossible. I love what I read in devotions recently. In his devotion, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says,
“All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them.”
We are powerless without Christ, and we know that. We feel that, and we despair at that, because we feel God can’t help us either.
We can fall into this trap of thinking that addictions are above God. We must feel as if we have somehow rewired the bodies He has created in a way that cannot be undone.
Let me tell you something; if I want to have anyone try and untangled the mess I’ve made of my body, it is the One who put it together in the first place. I don’t want to try and do it myself, and while He is untangling, I want to keep my grimy paws off so I don’t keep tangling it up.
This whole process can get discouraging. We think we are making progress only to find ourselves flung back into the muck. We don’t feel free. We feel like failures, but we are free failures. We are free failures who made a choice to fail instead of walk in the freedom.
In those moments, it is easy for us to buy the lie that we are not actually free, that we have actually been lying to ourselves. We’ve been deceiving ourselves for the last two days, the last five weeks, the last two months. We feel however long we’ve been walking free has actually been a lie.
But that is the lie. See, the devil wants to blind you to change, because with change comes hope. If he can get you to believe that you have gotten nowhere, that you are no more free now then you were six months ago, then he can kill your hope. What happens when a former porn addict gets hopeless? Well, we fall, and we fall hard. We give up on the freedom we already have.
Measuring freedom by focusing on our failures, will only make us feel like failures. We will feel like nothing has changed. Did you fall to pornography this year? Well, it doesn’t matter if it’s once or 100 times, you still fell, and you feel addicted.
Do we need to acknowledge our failures? yes. Not doing that will give us a pseudo-sense of our freedom. We can’t be ignorant and free.
Instead of measuring freedom by focusing on failures. We need to measure our freedom by focusing on… our growth in freedom. You’ve gone five weeks without looking at porn? Praise the Lord! Rejoice in that, see that as growth. See that as change, and know that for five weeks you have said “no.”
If you slip and say, “yes” today, don’t let that kill your hope. Look at your freedom, ask for His help, and know that you can say ‘no’ again, because you can and you already have. You are free to say no.