Hope for Recovery
Caution: Do not think of a white bear.
In The Lord of the Rings, the wizard Gandalf speaks to the young hobbit Frodo about the relationship between the evil ring of power to Gollum, a vile creature who had long possessed it. Gandalf says of Gollum, "He hates and loves the Ring... he will never be rid of his need for it." Gollum's paradox is similar to the struggles many men and women have felt about pornography. They can logically decide, "I should not look at this," but when the temptation takes hold they again lose the battle. Frodo must fight the powers of the ring because, if he does not, much of what he loves will be destroyed. Many people fight a similar battle against pornography daily. It seems hopeless.
But there is hope. In the end, Frodo does destroy the ring, but he cannot do it alone. Along the journey he finds resources and people to help him. In the end, his friend Sam actually has to carry him the final steps and help Frodo through one final raging battle against Gollum, after which he pulls Frodo to safety from the rim of a burning, lava filled crevice. Freedom from pornography is a realistic goal, but it will not come without a conscious decision followed by effort.
A good first step in defeating the temptation to view pornography is to change your core values in looking at it. For instance, men often have an idea that they must prove themselves and somehow measure up to a level of sexuality. When men and women try to measure up to false ideas of sexuality, they develop a false sense of what is "normal." This can sometimes be lived out with pornography usage. Yet, as Dr. Archibald Hart puts it, "If every male in a given country, for instance, has decayed teeth, you still couldn't conclude that it is normal to have bad teeth." Just because an idea has become socially popular does not make it right. In order to defeat the temptation to view pornography, a big part of the task is to change focus away from false ideas to a healthier set of activities and ideas. Did you notice the statement at the top of the page, "Caution: Do not think of a white bear"? If you spent the last few paragraphs trying not to think of one, you probably failed miserably. While our natural inclination in doing anything is to think it through, different tactics are necessary to avoid a thought. In order to avoid thinking about a white bear, some other thought must replace it. In order to avoid thinking of pornography, standards and activities must be set in place to replace it.
Steps to Recovery
In The Sexual Man, Dr. Archibald Hart suggests several steps to assist in breaking out of an obsession with pornography. They are described in some detail below.
I. Destroy the Porn
II. Change Your Habits
III. Don't Feed Your Fantasies
IV. Be Accountable
V. Be Patient
VI. Resist Feeling Defeated
VII. Pray About Your Problem
Applying the Steps
These steps, when actively applied, should help curb problems with pornography. Of course, temptations will never entirely cease, but it helps to think of the periods of arousal and temptation not as a demonic force waiting to explode, but as a rhythm that is natural and will pass eventually. If you are facing the challenge of pornography, there is hope. Seek out good resources and remember to ask people you trust to help you with the problem. A good starting point is the resources link.
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