For the longest time, I have had serious struggles with pornography addiction.
In fact, if there is any one part of my life where I felt like my prayers went completely unanswered, it is in this area.
I so sincerely wanted to achieve victory over this problem.
I prayed unceasingly as I was told to.
I purchased a variety of books on overcoming sexual addiction.
I went to men’s church gatherings specifically tailored to men struggling with this issue.
I attended more than my share of Sexaholics Anonymous meetings in both San Francisco and Tokyo (where I’m living now).
I even once achieved a period of “sobriety” (as they call it in these addiction meetings) for a solid six-month period.
But then one day, when walking by a store, my eyes caught hold of a magazine cover displaying a scantily clad female and BOOM I fell all over again.
I was a miserable human being.
I felt like such a failure and a hypocrite.
How could I consider myself a faithful disciple of Yeshua when I couldn’t even get this habit under control.
In addition to drowning in feelings of guilt and helplessness, I was completely baffled.
Why oh why in spite of all my sincere prayers and being prayed over was I not achieving victory over this?
Didn’t the Scriptures promise victory over sin?
Was I maybe possessed by demons?
I had even seriously considered getting an exorcism for this problem.
After many years of struggling and praying over this issue with no lasting results, I had practically given up.
I was just sick and tired of falling off the wagon into porno binge madness, picking myself off the ground, vowing to myself and God that I would never do it again, only to go through the whole damn cycle all over again….. and again….and again.
It seems like I’m not the only one who has struggled with this.
A survey taken at a Promise Keepers rally revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.
Out of regular churchgoers, fifty percent of men and 20% of women say they are addicted to pornography with the most popular day of the week for viewing porn being a Sunday.
Nearly 20% of the calls received on Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Line are for help with pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
And of the 1,351 pastors that Rick Warren’s website, Pastors.com, surveyed on porn use, 54% said they had viewed internet pornography within the last year and 30% of those had visited within the last 30 days.
What the hell is going on here?
Why are so many believers failing to achieve victory in this area?
Well, after much prayer, engaging in serious Scripture word study, and with the help of other resources, I feel like I finally cracked the code that enabled me to break free from this habit.
There were two keys I needed to crack this code.
The first had to do with a proper understanding of God’s Word, specifically the often quoted Matthew 5:28.
Let’s take a look at this most popular Bible verse so often used to denounce sexual sin and especially pornography.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”-Matthew 5:28
Before I get into the thick of my discussion, understand that Yeshua is talking about adultery here.
We’ve already gone into the Biblical definition of adultery, so you should understand that the word “woman” in this verse CANNOT and IS ABSOLUTELY NOT referring to a single female.
“Woman” here should actually be translated into “married woman”.
Alright, let’s get started.
When you hear the word “lusting”, what meaning of this word pops into your mind?
If you’re like most people, you are probably assuming “lusting” or “to lust” means “an unlawful desire for sex” or “any sexual thoughts for the opposite sex”.
I used to think the same way until I did a word study of this term and I discovered something interesting.
The Greek word used for “lusting” here is the exact same word used in the following verse.
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”-1 Timothy 3:1
The Greek word for “lusting” in Matthew 5:28 and “desire” in 1 Timothy 3:1 is the EXACT SAME WORD!
What’s my point in stressing this?
My point is that the actual meaning of the Greek word (which is EPIQUMEW) used in BOTH of these verses simply means “to strongly desire”, period.
This word has zero “sexual” connotation to it, as the very same word is used as “desire” in other Bible verses.
The word is neutral.
So essentially what Yeshua is actually saying here is simply “don’t strongly desire to take another man’s wife”.
It is not about a condemnation of sexual desire (or lust) in and of itself.
There is actually good lust and bad lust depending on the object of what you’re lusting after.
So why is this important?
Because when one operates under the usual and mistaken interpretation of this verse, the instant a man feels sexual desire for a female, he mistakenly assumes he is sinning.
And this unfortunately leads to intense feelings of guilt and self-condemnation which in turn leads one to engage in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive watching of pornography or paying for sex with a prostitute.
So the first key to cracking the code is to understand that Matthew 5:28 is NOT about Yeshua condemning sexual desire for a woman.
It’s an admonition to NOT strongly desire to steal your neighbor’s wife.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that Yeshua was talking about THEFT (of one’s neighbor’s property) here, NOT lust.
The second key to cracking the code is to realize that God designed you to sexually lust after women.
I’m saying sexual lust is absolutely NOT a sin, it is a natural and healthy God-given desire.
Biblically speaking, I believe the negative feelings our Western culture has attached to the word “lust” are totally unfounded.
God doesn’t have a problem with eroticism, it’s the world that does.
Read the Song of Solomon if you think I’m mistaken.
Actually, to be more accurate, it’s the Christian church that has a problem with eroticism.
See, when you think something is a sin and it’s not actually a sin, what happens is that it consumes you, especially if its something that plays off of a God-given desire.
Think about somebody who represses the desire to eat the foods he or she loves.
Eventually, that person is going to crack and go on an eating binge.
Warring against your natural God-given sexual desires is a battle you cannot win because you’re attempting to fight against how God designed you.
So yeah, I believe Sexaholic’s Anonymous is totally mistaken when they label “lust” as the enemy that needs to be kept “under control”.
Like I said, I used to be a member of Sexaholics Anonymous and I can tell you that the program was based on what I now believe to be the very unhealthy repression of one’s sexual desires.
More often than not every meeting was basically a group confession where each member stood up and admitted that they had failed to keep their lust under control that week resulting in masturbation, watching pornography or paying for sex etcetera.
Well, knowing what I know now, of course they’re going to fail and they’re going to fail again and again and again because their whole way of thinking is based on the false (and I believe Satanic) premise that sexual lust is a sin.
To conclude, let’s unpack the psychology behind why having an incorrect understanding of Matthew 5:28 and God’s natural design of you keeps you enslaved to unhealthy self-destructive behaviors.
First, a normal man is designed by God to sexually lust after women.
I think pretty much most men who are reading this can testify to the truthfulness of this statement.
If you’re walking down the street and you see an attractive woman, there is nothing more good, natural, and healthy than to feel sexual desire for her.
However, if due to your misunderstanding of Matthew 5:28, you condemn this natural God-given sexual desire of yours as being sinful and of the devil, then what happens?
You feel terribly guilty and you feel like a total failure as a human being.
Heck, based on the typical BS church interpretation of Matthew 5:28, you’ve already committed adultery.
You’re now an adulterer man!
In your mind you’ve already blown it.
You’re now a failure.
Your self-identity is that of a complete loser.
And you still have this raging sexual desire inside of you.
So what does somebody who feels like a complete loser and a sinner combined with intense sexual desire do?
He doesn’t have the confidence to approach a woman to initiate a healthy intimate relationship because he feels dirty and sinful inside because of his sexual desires or lusts (which are completely normal and God-ordained).
Well, what results is a lot of what we see in the world today: full blown porno and sexual addiction
I mean a guy’s sexual energy has got to go somewhere, right?
See how Satan has so twisted Scripture to turn one’s natural God-given sexual desires into a tool to make men feel like pathetic losers and keep them enslaved to self-destructive behaviors.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.
What if you have a man who is not ashamed of his God-given sexual desires?
Hell, he’s mighty proud (and he should be) of his God-given sexual desires.
Same situation, different mindset.
What’s the result?
The result is a man who is able to confidently approach and initiate healthy relationships with women and properly channel his God-given sexual desires into great works for the kingdom.
See the mind is a very powerful thing.
If deep down inside you feel like a sinner or a loser due to some ridiculous misinterpretation of Matthew 5:28, eventually your habits and the way you live your life are going to follow suit accordingly.
And of course, the opposite is true.