Why are human beings so fascinated with graphic sexual images? The surface answer is that they make us hot, they turn us on, and they get our motors revving. But we're not stopping at surface answers. We are diving deeper. Most of us know what sexual images turn us on, but few of us know why. This information is absolutely vital to our spiritual and emotional growth. After all, how can we "take thoughts captive" unless we acknowledge the true nature of those thoughts and seek to fully understand where they come from? How can we break free from their bondage if we ignore the grip they have on us?
Over the past year I have been interacting with two individuals. Although they come from very different backgrounds, they have one thing in common: Each is addicted to some form of pornography. Mitch, a Christian leader in his church and community, occasionally dons a disguise and drives to a topless bar on the outskirts of town; and Tammy, who uses her company laptop to view porn while traveling, tells herself this is better than hanging out in the hotel lobby bar and running the risk of an actual affair.
Each has asked the same questions: If I'm a Christian, why do I still do this? Why hasn't God given me the strength to stop?
While God is perfectly capable of miraculously delivering us from our sexual addictions, this isn't usually how the process works. God invites us to fully participate in this healing work with him—for our own growth and benefit. A significant amount of soul work on our part is necessary, or else we will never move past the pain of addiction or past the pain that drives us toward porn in the first place.
What's real for Mitch
Mitch, the Christian leader who occasionally visits a topless bar, says that he never sits up front to gawk at the girls up close. He prefers to have a lovely lingerie-clad lady approach him in the back of the room, eager to chat with him on a deeply personal level about his thoughts, feelings, and struggles—some sexual, some not. "It's the interest that she shows in me and the safety I feel with her that arouses me sexually," Mitch realizes.
He didn't have to wrestle long when I asked him, "When have you felt so uninteresting to a female audience that you need this fantasy to experience sexual arousal? And how far back does this feeling go?"
He said, "The temptation to go to this club is strongest when my wife and I get disconnected, especially if we hit a spot in our relationship when almost every subject is a sensitive one. When she's troubled with me, I simply can't get sexually aroused. I feel like a dud who doesn't know how to make a woman happy, so I go to a bar where I can pay a buck to have someone dispel that myth in my mind."
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