Sexual Addiction

Pornography is the worst kind of perversion because Satan takes God’s most beautiful creations and twists them.  Satan cannot create anything–he can only distort those good things which God has already made.

Most men know that pornography and lust are evil.  Even if they have convinced themselves that these evils are okay to do, deep in their hearts they know it is shameful and wrong.  Nonetheless, the addiction to pornography can be incredibly strong and hard to break.  I don’t pretend to have the magical recipe for breaking the addiction, but I have some ideas about it from my own struggle against pornography addiction.

Some ideas to put into practice

  • First, don’t ever give up in your fight to be pure.
    • The key to overcoming this addiction is perseverance.
    • God will help you to persevere and help you all the more when you persevere.
  • “God won’t forgive me–I’ve fallen to this sin countless times and don’t think I can stop.”
    • This lie is Satan’s favorite.  God will certainly forgive you if you repent and ask him to.  Don’t believe the lies.  His mercy is greater than this lustful sin, period.
  • “It’s not that bad.  Other men do far worse things than this.”
    • Wrong.  It IS that bad.  You are degrading God’s beautiful daughters and the gift of sexuality he gave you.  And when you face God in your judgment, he won’t ask you if you did less worse things than your next door neighbor.  He will only ask what you have done, and you will have to answer for it.
  • The same Satan who delights in torture, kidnapping, brutality, abortion, and abuse, delights in men lusting after women in pornography.
  • “I can handle watching TV when I want, and even if I see some women in immodest dress or in sexual situations, it doesn’t really affect me.”
    • Oh really?  If you’re like me, this just ain’t true.
    • These images stick like glue in your mind and accrue, and inevitably those images will return to your mind and the seeds of temptation will be planted.  You are not as strong as you think you are.  The slightest temptation would overcome you if God did not help you, but he also requires we do our utmost to avoid these temptations.  Turn off the TV except for movies you know are clean or special programs you want to watch, and only with someone you trust close by.
  • Pray everyday.
    • Are you tempted in the morning while lying in bed?  Get up!  Immediately when you wake up, ask the Virgin Mary to pray to God for you for the grace to protect and respect all of His daughters.
    • Renew your resolutions to be pure throughout the day, and ask for the Holy Spirit to give strength to your resolutions.
    • Thank God for giving you the grace to be pure at night.
  • Make good friends who share in your beliefs and struggle against this manifestation of evil and spend time with them and your family.
  • When the first tempting thoughts come into your mind, pray immediately for God to protect you and set your mind on another matter.
    • If they persist, pray even more and keep trying to steer your mind to other things.
    • Avoid idleness!
  • If you feel a strong temptation, pray even more for help and grace, confess your weakness and nothingness to God, and your desire to be pure.
    • If you are alone, go somewhere and meet up with friends or family, or go do something where you interact with people.
    • Quickly go over in your mind why pornography and lust are evil, and why you do not want them.
  • Make yourself accountable with a brother in Christ who also is striving to be pure.
    • Pray with him, pray for him, everyday, and keep each other accountable for your actions.
    • Within good judgment, tell him of your struggles and victories, and if you fall to temptation, let him know and ask for even more prayers.
  • All of this is in addition to praying, receiving the Sacraments (if Catholic) and striving after God in your daily life.

Finally, pray for hope in overcoming this addiction.  God CAN do it.  He can do anything and regularly works miracles in peoples’ lives who call upon him for help.  He has worked wonders in my life to overcome this addiction, and if he can do it in me, he can do it in you.  Satan wants you to despair, for when you despair, his work is made much easier, but our Lord never wants us to despair.

When I say I have “overcome this addiction”, that doesn’t mean that I am not tempted still.  I am tempted almost everyday, and every minute and every hour of every day, I am vigilant over my heart and mind and eyes to protect my soul from impurity.  I am always on guard against it and ready to fight it.  As Jesus said, if the man knew at what time of night the thief would come to rob him, he would stay awake and be ready for him.  We must do the same in this matter!.

I encourage you to learn more about the Theology of the Body.  Learn about how beautifully God created sex and marriage, and how good it is to enjoy it as God intended it.  God’s Truth is the antidote for Satan’s lies.  We hear the lies 24/7 on the TV, the newspapers, and in the confused thoughts of people who have been duped by the world’s perversion of God’s greatest gifts.

Finally, if you’re a single man, pray for your future wife everyday!  Imagine the joy of getting to give yourself to her in purity, as a real man.  Imagine the joy she will feel in being joined to a husband who has fought so hard to be pure–not perfect, but striving to be perfect.  Imagine the goodness of being a man of purity for your children, teaching your daughters what to look for in a man, and being a model of true manhood for your sons.

Imagine looking deep into your holy and beautiful wife’s eyes and telling her with passion, “My love, I’ve been so pure, for you.”

You can read a more recent reflection I wrote on the joy of victory in overcoming this sin here.

St. Joseph, pray for us! And may our Lord bless you with is grace to be pure.

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24 Responses to Sexual Addiction

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think you are very brave to write about your struggles with this. There are a lot of men who deal with this issue secretly. They are afraid to talk openly because they fear professional repercussions. This is something that tears so many families apart. Thank you, and bless you.

  2. Tom says:

    I am a deacon aspirant. I can honestly say that I have had a masturbation addiction for years. I was doing this 3-5 times a day. I am down to twice a week now. I’m making progress, but I get frustrated because it is taking so long to stop. I did stop looking at porn, though. I recite the Chaplet of St. Benedict often. He is VERY POWERFUL against satan! After I said my first Chaplet, I stopped looking at porn almost immediately.

  3. Devman says:

    Hi Anonymous and Tom,

    Yes, pornography and addiction to lust are such problems among us men, and so widespread. It is an elephant in the room that everyone is humiliated or ashamed to talk about, so it rarely is dealt with as it needs to be, and each man often has to tackle the problem without others’ support, though God’s grace can provide even then.

    Tom, God bless you and don’t give up. Any progress is good progress, even when it seems that it is 3 steps forward then 2 steps back. It took years for me to overcome these addictions, and still today I am always vigilant, guarding my eyes and renewing my vows of faithfulness to my wife. May Christ help us to be men of honor and fidelity!

    I wore a St. Benedict’s scapular for purity for many years, and also the cord of St. Joseph.

  4. Tina says:

    Came over from Conversion Diary’s blog and saw SA as a topic. Just wanted to put it out there that women struggle with this as well. And while every single one of your suggestions was excellent, sometimes more professional intervention is needed–counseling or meetings.

  5. Cathy says:

    And maybe another item to add to your very well thought out list of ways to keep this addiction at bay is to pray for the modesty and purity of women. I don’t think women quite understand the impact we have on men when it comes to visual attraction. Or maybe we do and that is why sometimes women use their very selves to manipulate men to get what we want! If we women were more careful about what we wear (dressing feminine, but modestly so), then maybe that would help the situation as well. It’s not just men who are at fault here. And it’s not easy either, given the way society portrays they way women *should* look if we are to be considered ‘pretty, attractive, desirable, and beautiful’.

  6. Nick says:

    The great majority of men struggle here, but as has been said, it’s an elephant in the room. Worse yet, much of Christendom (except for Catholics) says masturbation is not wrong, so it fuels the fire (and goes hand in hand with contraception, pardon the pun).

    It is not something easily overcome, and it doesn’t help that few Catholic males are in line during confession while the rest of us think it’s only us few that struggle here. I’ve had to go to confession multiple times a month for years, which has helped tremendously, but I’m still not “free”. And it really is hard going this alone, since our society at large (not just the devil) is against us.

    One of the most important things I’ve learned (the hard way) is that you must eliminate something the Church has traditionally called “the near occasion of sin,” meaning anything that puts you in danger of falling into sin. One thing that helped me tremendously is to stop watching TV almost entirely (except when I’m at someone’s house and it’s on). Same thing for renting movies. There is sexual stuff on tv on virtually every other commercial and channel, regardless of how “family friendly” it is. TV is a very real near occasion of sin and when it’s removed, it cuts direct temptations down by over 90%!!!!!!!!!!

    What’s also hard is that men naturally have an “urge,” so this can build up over time (even weekly), and it’s not easily dealt with (and too often leads to giving in). This is a particular struggle of mine since I can be fine all week until this ‘urge’ hits and I cannot subdue it.

    Another thing is give up any venial sinful habits, especially cussing. I found out that I didn’t have a problem cussing too much since I saw it as only venial…but there is a long standing understanding of the Church and teachings of the saints that unchecked venial sins greatly assist in falling into mortal sins.

    Lastly, the internet is probably the next biggest killer after TV, but TV is worse in my opinion because it continuously and directly brings the temptations to you. At least on internet, you have to seek it out. Some advice on the internet I have found (again the hard way) is to not go on after 9pm or 10pm.

    Secondly, http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ is a FREE internet filter you can get that you can do various good things with such as (1) restrict what time you can be online, so it’s impossible to get on after 10pm or whatever, (2) force “safe searches” to be the only thing allowed, (3) block a huge number of adult categories, (4) block individual key terms such as ‘sex’ and ‘xxx’ and ‘bikini’ from sites with that in the address.
    AS FOR A PASSWORD, this is a bit more tricky, since if you know the password, you can get around the block. Even if you know the password, just having the filter makes it HARDER to “accidentally” search out something or give into temptations and search something which would LEAD UP TO actual porn or whatever. This is like a barrier of protection that protects you from tempting yourself.
    Possible ways to help even further is to make the password very hard to remember, so write it down and hide it somewhere in your house or even copy and paste it into an email to yourself. At this step, you dont KNOW the password directly, and must make an effort to seek it out. This “delay” can save you, since it’s effort that you don’t always want to put in or can cause the temptation to pass.

    Ultimately you can also get rid of your computer/internet, which is a very hard thing to let go of (I’ve not done so), and I consider any guy who has to be a saint in the making.

    Prayer is extremely important, and without prayer the Christian is a sitting duck. I’m thoroughly convinced the DAILY Rosary will root out these sins, and that’s why Satan’s made it hell for me to get good solid daily prayer in my life. When I’m praying well, I am stronger, and when I fall I often realize I haven’t been praying worth squat.

    Two other quick points I’d make: When you fall, try to limit how badly. If you masturbate once, dont “go all in” and do it multiple times. Easier said than done, but reducing the number of times greatly facilitates in Confessing it and reduces the habit. Secondly, don’t be afraid to go to Confession once a week, even if you don’t “need it,” this will help you fight urges. Unfortunately, I need it almost once every 10 days or so.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: NEVER GIVE UP. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen, you can be forgiven IF you get up. God knows this is not easy, God knows people fall repeatedly with this cross. I’ve been to Confession twice in a week a few times. Giving up only lets the devil win, and I tell myself that even if I don’t consider myself worthy of forgiveness that I’d rather be humiliated with going again to confession rather than letting Satan win out. I wont give satan that gratification, after all the hell he’s put me though, even if I don’t act for the glory of God I’d rather not let satan win. That’s my motivation.

    • Hal Watts says:

      K9 is the best internet filter I’ve found. Its great at allowing legitimate sites, but blocks out the harmful ones.

      Often, I have the temptation to type in the password to override the protection. I put a hard-to remember password on the software, and then put the password in my safety-deposit box at the bank. One note–you will need to also have an email account with the same difficult password. If you click in “forgot password” on K9, it sends and email with your password to that email account.

  7. Nick says:

    Just wanted to add something I found last week – I’m really enjoying it and seeing amazing results!!!! Three Hail Mary’s, morning and night, with the added prayers!

    Reproduced in full below:

    Three Hail Mary’s a Day Keeps Mortal Sin Away
    ———————————————————–
    http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2010/10/three-hail-marys-day-keeps-mortal-sin.html

    One of the greatest and most powerful Marian devotions is the practice of reciting three Hail Mary’s every day in honor of the three Divine Persons of the Trinity and for the grace avoid all mortal sins, specifically sexual sins.

    The Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary taught the “Three Hail Mary Devotion” to St. Mechtilde about the year 1270. It’s rather simple. Pray the three Hail Mary’s in honor of the Holy Trinity who lavished so many graces upon Mary and then end with: “O my Mother, preserve me this day (or night) from mortal sin.”

    The great doctor of the Church, Saint Anthony of Padua practiced the Three Hail Mary’s devotion and exhorted others to do so, as well. The other great Franciscan missionary St. Leonard of Port Maurice (1675-1751) also openly exhorted his listeners to practice this devotion as a remedy against sexual sins.

    The doctor of the Church St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, in his book The Glories of Mary, says the following about the devotion:

    “Each morning and each night, when arising and when going to bed, say three Hail Mary’s prostrate on the ground, or at least kneeling, and to each Hail Mary add the short aspiration: ‘By thy pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.’

    Pope Leo XIII later indulgenced the daily Three Hail Mary’s. Why not add this easy and simply devotion to your spiritual tool belt.

    And don’t forget, the daily Holy Rosary is the greatest weapon you have against concupiscence, sin, and the devil.

  8. Sean says:

    Thanks to everyone on here for their comments, points, and honesty. Really helpful, to me! Great to hear from honest men and ladies both, on this subject. Thanks very much Nick for your useful points in how to cope with TV and the Internet. Your point about a complicated password, i.e. one you won’t easily remember, is a great safeguard, and one I hadn’t thought about! So that’s very helpful here! May St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Joseph, help all of us to continue our struggles, and strive to be pure, even if that seems difficult, at first. Devon’s witness here is a powerful encouragement! Thanks guys! God bless. :-)

  9. Glen says:

    I go to S.A. meetings weekly read scripture on a daily basis, I also have the Bible on mp3 I listen at work but I think memorizing scripture works pretty good for me. Each day I need to surrender my will to the Lord. Thank you God for confession.

  10. Mike says:

    I’ve been getting free by applying the principles in The Way of Purity course from settingcaptivesfree.com, recommneded by Fr. Larry Richards. There is an online version but I recommend the book version because I had to get and stay OFFLINE to get free (I’m writing from my work computer). The first day’s lesson emphasizes that our motivation for getting free must be the glory of God. Any other motivation will fall short, because we’re still serving ourselves.

    I’m encouraged to see more talk like this coming out in the open. The battle for our world is a battle for men. The battle for men is a battle for their hearts. Let us perservere as Devin says! He stands in the same tradition of St. Teresa of Avila, who identified perseverance as the key to prayer because all other difficulties will be overcome by he who never gives up.

    Ad majorem dei gloriam.

  11. Fr. A says:

    A very powerful program fully in harmony with the Church’s teachings can be found at http://www.reclaimsexualpurity.com There is a free introductory course and a more extensive program all online and anonymous. This is all based on brain science and is very well thought out.

  12. John says:

    Suggestion: mount a crucifix conspicuously next to the TV and your computer display.

  13. Curt says:

    Hey All

    There are some really good internet monitoring software programs that can really help in this area. Several guys in my Bible study (including me) use a system called Covenant Eyes. With it, you have full access to normal internet sites, but if you try to go porn, it reports those sites via email to an accountability partner (in our case, each other). This type of system allows you to keep using the internet for work and other purposes, but takes the anonimity out of the equation. No hiding behind the curtain. If you want to up the ante, make your wife your accountability partner. We have found this to be quite effective.

    Brother Curt

  14. Devin Rose says:

    Curt,

    It is always good to hear from you. Thank you for giving us this information. I have used some of this with brothers in Christ as well for accountability. God bless!

  15. Nick says:

    A good article from a recent Catholic Answers Magazine:

    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/virtual-conversion

  16. Dominic says:

    Something that helps me is the idea that lust destroys romance. Lust and true romantic love are in conflict and each will seek to force the other out. Instead of thinking negatively “don’t lust after women” I think positively and yearn for a beautiful romance with a girl. Something pure and joyful, free from foul and cantankerous lust. I try to encourage these hopes by reading Medieval Romances, I think that these stories brilliantly depict great love between the sexes based on the chivalric virtues such as chastity and piety. I’d recommend Chretien de Troyes. Also, El Cid a magnificent film starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. The love between man and woman is a great gift from God and when I think of it in its highest form then lustful interactions seem deformed and unnatural and therefore easier to overcome.

  17. Ann says:

    I would think that seeing the women involved in porn as real people and someone’s daughter would help. If you have a daughter or sister think of how horrible you would feel if men were using her. Even if you don’t have a daughter or sister, think of how the parents feel if they knew what was happening to their loved one. Or, in many cases, women in porn have been abused or neglected by their parents and have no self-esteem. Think about how you are contributing to this woman’s misery. If you think about the women involved in porn, or even the clueless actresses who do compromising things, you know they are someone’s daughter, sister, mother and they deserve better.

  18. anonymous says:

    I have already overcome it once. As in I was totally healed. But I decided to go back to the habit because I had to cope with a difficult situation. I had to be away from my girlfriend and I could not really bear the loneliness. So I forced myself to do it again. Yes -force. Until it developed again into a habit and until now I can no longer overcome it – harder to overcome than before. I remembered Jesus talking about how an evil spirit return with seven more powerful spirits. I continue to pray but there are times when I just wanna give up. I am certain that this is God’s punishment to me for choosing to go back to this sin. I just hold on to the memory that I have already overcome it before. God really heals

    • Devin Rose says:

      That is very difficult, but as you said, God can and will heal you again and give you the grace to develop a strong virtue (habit) of purity. God love you!

  19. Oghma says:

    This may help some people: http://yourbrainonporn.com/

    As a scientifically-oriented person, I found this very calm, multi-video discussion of why porn is so addictive, and how overloading your brain’s dopamine sensors is both unnatural and damaging (it makes the real thing unsatisfying), to be the information I needed to kick the habit cold-turkey. YMMV…

  20. redeemed says:

    Masturbation is not directly condemned in the bible but the Book says that it can lead to viewing people as sexual objects and that is the true corruption. I believe that masturbation does lead to wanting fornication even for the most pious people; social science has proved this true but acting upon these temptation depends on the person. I do not believe that all people will do what they feel in their hearts are wrong unless they want to, and in that case if they can forgive themselves and ask.for.forgiveness they can be redeemed.

  21. Nick says:

    This is the best YouTube movie I’ve seen on this subject:

    http://youtu.be/R3HJPG62MIM

    This guy does not shy away from any of the key points. I would share this with everyone I know.