According to Dictionary.com, one of the main definitions of sobriety is “temperance or moderation, especially in the use of alcoholic beverages”. For those of us struggling with addictions to porn and sexual sin, this also rightfully applies. When you are a spiritual being who exists in the world, temptation to derive from temperance and moderation a given.
When I think of temptation, my former addictions to porn and masturbation come in to mind, but the way I can best explain my struggles with temptation is through my former life as a bulimic person of over 15 years.
Although I had periods of daily bulimic activity, I mainly went off and on with binging and purging, usually correlated to periods of intense stress in my life. Growing up in an ungodly home and later living completely in the world, bulimia was a way for me to control my chaotic surroundings. I couldn’t control the harsh words and cruelty from my father and later my ex-husband and stress inducing jobs, but binging gave me a misguided sense of purpose. Thinking on that, the same reasoning applies to why I masturbated and sought the false comfort of online porn. I stopped binging and eating in my 30s when I sincerely got the direct notion that my activities were causing me serious physical harm and that I was on the path to cheating a child who needs me to be healthy.
My mother never really understood why I was bulimic and never really accepted the fact that my throwing up after I ate half of the refrigerator was a call for help. An ungodly woman, she has never offered much in the way of loving support and even today it is one of the main sources of my temptation. She doesn’t realize it, but when my mother buys and prepares massive amounts of my triggers – white bread, pastries, rice – and encourages me eat plenty, I have to make an extremely conscious decision to control going off the bandwagon. Being sober in terms of bulimia and my online porn addiction means being able to look at my triggers directly and make the decision to abstain because I now know that I am made righteous through Jesus Christ.
Although my days of binging and purging on a daily basis are far behind me, I still feel the urge to quickly fill my body with nutritionally void food, to not taste or enjoy it but consume as much as I can. I will admit to falling prey to that temptation on occasions in the past, binge eating and then later realize why I cannot purge anymore. Purging is physically painful, with effects that last far after it has been done.
Dealing with temptation is not easy, but it is possible and in my experience I am much more successful when I am armed with the Word. We cannot afford to let the devil find chinks in our armor and worm his way in when we are unprepared. Instead of spending time focusing on my addictions in the past, why couldn’t I have focused that attention on gaining fellowship by spending time in the Word?
As the mom of a young son, I have realized recently that kids need some kind of a discipline, like music, art, or sports. It helps to focus their minds, to hone their attention, with the intention of carrying that into adulthood. The same thing needs to apply to us who follow the path of Jesus. We must make it a point to be disciplined, to prepare ourselves, fortify our defenses for those times when we are weak and the enemy knows just how to get in the cracks of our stronghold. Sobriety does not mean merely abstaining, it means having stock piles, having our defenses on the ready.
If you are struggling with temptation, you are not alone but you are also not defenseless. In the New Year, let’s commit ourselves to nightly reading of the Word and renewing our minds. Even if it’s five minutes at a time, begin a discipline to spend time with our Father’s thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:6).