In the movie BraveHeart, Mel Gibson armed with a sword, followers and a dodgy Scottish accent sought freedom for his people inScotlandfrom the English. And everyone knows if you want a villain inHollywood, an English actor i.e. Alan Rickman is usually the man for the job.
All Mel…sorry William Wallace, wanted was his people to have the freedom from being ruled by another country. To be able to live without fear of being enslaved to powers that would control and dominate them.
Things that every country is entitled to. Things that should be natural. But things that often aren’t.
Scotlandpaid a lot for their freedom. Many died, families were destroyed and it took a lot of work.
For the average porn addict, they find themselves battling the same powers. There is a constant desire to be free from porn which rules and dominates them. There is a desire to be free to follow the plan that they know they were made for but find themselves unable to because, they just can’t. Porn has such a hold over them that they can’t escape.
But often we want an easy answer to porn. We want a switch that will turn off our desires. We want the quick fix.
But I don’t think this is how you stop looking at porn. We read our Bible for a few days and pray more fervently and end up back where we started. We then start to wonder why we can’t get through this.
We think that if it doesn’t work straight away then it is not going to work ever. So we give up.
So often when I started to battle porn in my life I would study the Bible more. I would journal my thoughts and I would practice techniques such as Lectio Divina. Then I would get bored or assume that I was through my problems and would slowly give up on those things.
Funnily enough that is when porn crept back…when I let my guard down.
And the reason I did that was because I didn’t really want to be disciplined. I turned to reading, or praying, or listening to worship music or fasting as a last resort. But when I eventually screwed up I viewed those things as broken or not for me.
What I really wanted was God to do His magic and be free. But then I started asking myself, what if God wants to do his magic through those things? What if when I treated God like a genie I was missing out on the most important thing that disciplines result in? Knowing Jesus better.
When you look to disciplines as an answer to a problem like porn you have missed the point so badly. They are there to know Jesus better. That is all. But that is all we need. Because when we try and earn our freedom from porn we are wasting our time. We are trying to fix something that is already fixed.
What we do need though is Jesus. And that is why disciplines are there.
Sometimes though we do need to get creative. Sometimes reading through the Bible in a year is not the most inspiring way to get to know Jesus. Let’s be honest about it. That is why we need help. My accountability partner and I meet up two or three times a week and read through a book in the Bible. Just reading and sharing what we think God is saying. And when that gets boring. Which it does. We don’t give up. We try a new, fresh approach. We listen to a sermon instead or change our setting. We mix it up.
Discipline needs change. That is ok. Giving up on it is not.
Recently we hit a blip like the one I just described. So we started fasting. We gave up food for 24 hours, lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner. It doesn’t really matter. The point was to allow us to focus on Jesus to provide us with something we really needed. Like food. And when we tried that the results were remarkable. We found it easier to stay away from porn because the needs we thought porn supplied were now being supplied by Jesus in a real physical way. By simply giving up two meals. By trying something neither of us had tried before.
It worked so well that we regularly fast and it has in turn given us a new outlook on Jesus and discipline.
We just needed something new. And that has given us more confidence to keep pursuing God through reading, praying, fasting and worshipping.
And perhaps the most important discipline anyone can work on to help get past porn is regularly meeting up with someone who can help you deal with the crap everyone needs to deal with.
I have tried so many ways of accountability and I have had a few partners in my life. Sometimes we got it so wrong and we kept things from each other and it broke down. But I kept going. I kept at it and now have been able to carry on a good system with my best friend. We chat, we pray, we tweek things if needed, we are open and we do that because we know it is bringing us closer to Jesus. If one of us messes up we confess it and we clear the air. We do that knowing that Jesus has already dealt with our sin and we have no reason to feel guilty.
Which for me is possibly the biggest lesson I have learned from disciplines. The number one reason I quit a discipline, despite being so excited about it initially, was because I would be ashamed when I looked at porn.
So when it came to praying to God or spending time in His Word I was naturally unlikely to keep going. The shame was too strong and I didn’t want to face God. Or I didn’t think He wanted to face me.
But now I know that nothing I do can affect his love for me. It is as strong as it ever has been or ever will be. Now when I screw up in my life somehow, I am free in His love for me to continue to pursue Him. So I can confidently continue to pray, to read, to fast, to confess.
Maybe you have never really been that disciplined in your life. That’s cool. Join the club.
But today perhaps is your chance to pursue Jesus in a new way. Perhaps now you have the confidence to confidently approach Jesus through disciplines.
What have you got lose? Definitely not God’ s love that’s for sure.
Out of interest what disciplines have helped you? How creative have you got with disciplines? Is there a right or wrong way in your opinion to commit to disciplines?