When someone decides to come out of an addiction that has consumed years of their life, there has to be some re-wiring and some re-training that’s done in the mind. This can be seen with any kind of habit or pattern in a person’s life. The more you do something, the more comfortable you are continuing to do it. Your mind adapts to the “new” and the pleasure that it brings. So there’s a change in behavior that needs to happen.
But I would suggest it’s not even the behavior that’s the most important factor as much as it’s the mindset. The thinking. How do I think about myself? What do I believe about myself? These questions are supremely important if a person wants to break the stronghold of addiction in their life. Oftentimes (or should I say probably 100% of the time?) there are lies we begin to believe. Because we have practiced something so self-destructive for so long, we tend to make agreements with things that aren’t true. Some lies are very subtle and some can be very blatant.
This month, I wanted to address four specific lies that we tell ourselves in recovery. There’s no way to capture all of the lies we believe but I think these are probably four of the most common ones out there:
LIE #1: “PORN IS HARMLESS” — Perhaps one of the most dangerous lies a person can ever believe is that there’s nothing wrong with consuming manufactured images of hardcore sexual acts, which are often forced and considered by many to be abusive. Just consider the following statistics from Covenant Eyes:
- 90% of teens and 96% of young adults are either encouraging, accepting, or neutral when they talk about porn with their friends.
- Teens and young adults 13-24 believe not recycling is worse than viewing pornography.
- Just 55% of adults 25 and older believe porn is wrong.
- Only 43% of teens believe porn is bad for society, compared to 31% of young adults 18-24, 51% of Millennials, 44% Gen-Xers, and 59% of Boomers.
These numbers are startling! And yet, it’s a telling indicator as to where our culture stands on this issue. Sadly, the Church isn’t exempt from many of these numbers because we haven’t properly taught about how pornography can affect our thinking, our view of the opposite sex, and our relationships with each other.
LIE #2: “PORN ENHANCES MY MARRIAGE” — Equally as dangerous as the previous lie (and even more foolish) is the belief that some how porn will help to restore excitement and passion between you and your spouse. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve worked with many men who’ve used porn WITH their spouse. What really is the difference between one person viewing porn and two people? Pornography only creates a false reality of love. There’s nothing intimate about using someone as an object. This reality is only magnified when a husband and a wife think it will draw them closer.
This according to Focus on the Family:
“Marital sexuality is to be radically exclusive. So, pornography not only decreases true intimacy in marriage but actually prevents it. Introducing pornography into your marriage, whether viewing it together or alone, has the same effect as bringing in a third party. God’s ideal for sexual intimacy in marriage is for one man and one woman for life. Even though porn isn’t a relationship with a physical person, the result is just as destructive as having an affair.”
Never fall for the lie that somehow pornography will take you and your spouse to deeper levels of sexual, emotional, and spiritual intimacy.
Whereas the first two lies are ones that tend to be exhibited from culture (and the Church), the last two lies are much more universal to most porn addicts. The next two lies are incredibly self-destructive if they are believed long enough.
LIE #3: “IF PEOPLE REALLY KNEW ME, THEY WOULDN’T LOVE ME” — Looking back, I think this was the greatest lie I ever fell for in addiction. The belief that beneath the surface, I was really unlovable. That if people saw the “real” Frank, they would turn in the opposite direction and take off. Part of this lie was rooted in the ignorance over my sin. In the lack of understanding on how to get free. Who was I supposed to talk to? What was I supposed to tell them? Where would I even start to find freedom and healing from something that had consumed years of my life? These questions raged inside as the cycle of addiction continued.
My confession of porn use came during a counseling appointment regarding a relationship that had gone south. As the counselor & I talked about the relationship, he began to ask me a series of questions — one of which included whether I had ever looked at pornography before. It was the first time someone had ever directly asked me that question since the addiction began. Because I felt a sense of safety and acceptance from him, I told him the truth. And with no judgement, he continued to ask thoughtful questions. He never turned his back on me or treated me any different. He and I remain friends to this day. I’m grateful that our relationship in many ways felt like a catalyst…a turning point towards a new way of living for me.
LIE #4: “I’M ALWAYS GOING TO BE THIS WAY” — For someone who’s been struggling with addiction for years, this lie has the potential to be the last nail in the coffin if left unchecked. This particular lie falls especially into the category of what are called agreements. Agreements contain words like “always” and “never”. Statements based solely in false perception, not truth. And with a mindset like this one, growth is virtually impossible because the decision had already been made ahead of time.
A promise that I love to return to often in Scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. I particularly like the way The Passion Translation says it:
“Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.”
Jesus is the only one who can break the mindset that says that change is impossible in my life. His death and resurrection are what MADE it possible. Transformation has to not only be something I want, but it’s also something I must choose. And that transformation lies in Christ.
Small Groups Online will help you find an authentic, honest environment where you can share your story without judgement or fear. Through genuine conversation with others who also struggle, you will find a safe & healthy community to be apart of. We were all made for relational connection and SGO does a great job at helping to facilitate that.
If you’re telling yourself lies today, make the decision to start walking in truth! Believe me when I say that your life in recovery is worth it.
Frank is passionate about helping individuals live with sexual integrity. He also works alongside his wife Tracey in helping spouses who have been devastated by their partner’s addiction. Frank & Tracey live in beautiful southern Delaware with their two children: Nathan and Addison.