Why Your Resolution To Abandon Pornography Will Fail
Approximately 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and 88% of all resolutions fail. Your resolution this year could be to lose weight or stay organized or quit smoking, but regardless of that, there are good psychological reasons for most New Year’s resolutions to fail. And when you’re determined to stop something as enjoyable as consuming pornography, the odds are definitely against you.
So how do you define a resolution that works? What does behavioral science have to say about it, and more importantly, how can the Bible help when it comes to giving up pornography?
1. Start with small goals that are measurable
What a mistake – the whole idea around New Year’s resolutions. People are not dealing with specific behaviors, they are dealing with abstractions, says BJ Fogg, founder of Tiny Habits.
Dr. Coral Arvon, director of behavioral health and wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center, agrees. She says there is a big difference between making resolutions and actually changing habits. Setting small short-term goals are the most effective resolutions, taking one step at a time is the best way to succeed.
Dr. Richard Wiseman observed 5,000 individuals in their New Year’s resolutions. Only 10% have achieved their goals. One of the key things the 10% did to succeed was to break their overall goal in a series of steps by focusing on sub-goals that were concrete, measurable, and time-based.
The Bible is filled with such wisdom. Jesus says that those who end well as disciples are those who will anticipate the measurable steps along the way. According to him:
Which of you, if you want to build a tower, first do not sit down and calculate the price, to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if he lay the foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it will laugh at him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14: 28-30).
The book of Proverbs also recognizes the wisdom of understanding everyday steps, logically ordering what is necessary to achieve a goal. Prepare your work outside, and equip it in the field, and build your house (Proverbs 24:27).
Stop Porn Addiction, Chronic Masturbation, Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction and Sexual Exhaustion has been helping to change the lives of countless men that unfortunately fell victim to excessive, habitual porn-use, over-masturbation and the plethora of side-effects that can accompany them.
So how do you transform Stop looking at pornography on smaller goals? Is not that all-or-nothing kind of thing? Yes and no.
Yes, one of our sub-goals should not be just to cut down on pornography or reduce it to some manageable frequency. Simply drinking less deadly poison compared to yesterday is not an admirable goal.
But we can, and must, break our goal into everyday tasks. Quite often, the freedom of pornography has nothing to do with sin happening a moment; it is a question of saying no in the choices of everyday life. The miracle of healing is a process.
Write down the places and situations where the temptation to see pornography is stronger and plan an exit strategy to escape these tempting situations over the next three weeks. Plan how you will avoid these situations. Write them down.
Plan how you will get out of these situations when they arise. Write them down.
Why three weeks? Because it’s easier than saying for the rest of my life. After three weeks, set a new goal.
Write down the list of DAI-Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions – which usually take you one step closer to pornography. Certain activities seem harmless, but often there is a hidden reason. Staying online at night by yourself? Do not go to bed at the right time? Watch certain TV channels? Hearing a certain type of music? Close the door to your office or bedroom?
Do these activities, determining that in the next three weeks, you will not do these things.
Choose an incentive verse that you will memorize and choose to speak out the moment a tempting thought enters your mind. Choose a Bible verse (or a snippet of one) that will serve as a trigger, so you can remember your overall goal, so you remember what is at stake, to remind you of your commitment.
There are many popular (Job 31: 1, Psalm 101: 3, Psalm 119: 9-10, 37, Proverbs 7: 25-27, Matthew 5: 28-29, Romans 6:12, Romans 13:14, 1 Corinthians 6 (2 Timothy 2: 11-13; 1 Peter 2:11).
Do not be ambitious and memorize them all. Choose only one. Speak to yourself throughout the day and at times when you notice your thoughts drive you in the wrong direction. (And if you’re thinking that this step is somehow too incipient for you, it’s probably a good indication that you need to do it.)
2. Focus on the rewards
According to Peter Kinderman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, one of the biggest problems with New Year’s resolutions is that people are using a rather arbitrary event = the beginning of a new calendar year – to motivate themselves and be different . The very fact that we are using the New Year to stimulate ourselves to action may indicate that we are not really capable of doing the hard work of changing, he says.
Dr. Wiseman notes that the 10% who actually achieved their resolutions are those who regularly remind themselves about the benefits. He recommends people to create a checklist of how life will be best when they reach their goal. But what will be the reward?
Again, the Bible is filled with rewarding language. How could Moses, who grew up in Pharaoh’s palace with the fleeting pleasures of sin at his fingertips, manage to say no to these pleasures?
The book of Hebrews says: He was looking for the reward (Hebrews 11:26). In fact, this is the very nature of true faith. Faith is the certainty of things hoped for (11: 1) -the expectation that life is promised to us is real.
When it comes to saying no to lust and pornography, there are scriptural promises that hold for us the blessings of having a sexually pure mind and body. The apostle Peter writes that we can become more like God himself through His great and precious promises (2 Peter 1: 4).
In practical terms, this means that if we have fed our minds on pornography, we must now feed our minds on promises full of hope from God. Just as we spend hours absorbed in sexual media, we must spend hours filling our imaginations with God’s vision for our lives.
If you are sexually pure, you will live in God’s will for your life (1 Thessalonians 4: 3).
If you fill your mind with that which is noble, just, pure, loving, commendable, excellent and commendable, and peaceful, then the presence of God will be with you (Philippians 4: 8-9).
If you are not enslaved to your passions, you will be freer to serve others in love (Galatians 5:13).
If you are sexually pure, your life will be fruitful, and the fruit will be full of goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5: 8-9).
If you are sexually pure, your mind will not be foggy, your heart will be docile, and you will be filled with the life of God (Ephesians 4: 17-19).
If you are sexually pure, your heart will not be enslaved to the cult of sex, which means that you can earnestly dedicate yourself to the living and true God (1 Kings 11: 4).
If you are sexually pure, you will be more prepared to be a great lover and to enjoy sexual intimacy with your spouse or future spouse (Proverbs 5: 18-19).
If you are sexually pure, you will keep your marriage bed spotless (Hebrews 13: 4).
If you are sexually pure, you will no longer waste time, but rather enjoy it better (Ephesians 5:16).
If you are sexually pure, you will be an honorable person (1 Thessalonians 4: 4).
If you are a sexually pure person, you will not be enslaved in your passions (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Read and reread these promises. Rewrite all these promises as a statement of I Want it for yourself:
I want to be aligned with His will and surrounded by His peaceful presence. I want to master my desires, not being a slave to them. I want to be full of goodness, full of life, full of honor, full of worship, tender-hearted and clear mind. I want to make the most of my days. This is the vision of God for my life, and this is the promise to the pure in heart.
When pornography assaults your senses or when these lascivious flashbacks fill your mind, let that view, and the promises inherent in it, be the fuel you must use to reject the temptations of the world.
If you want to get rid of pornography, a surefire way is to be caught in the trap of obsessing over what you are missing out on, not having to overtime your temporary fix. Instead, focus on what you are earning. Every day, in a spirit of prayer remember: This is the kind of person I want to become.
3. Surround yourself with reminders
A dra. Arvon suggests something simple like, Set your smartphone’s calendar to give you positive messages or reminders about your goals a few times a day. Dr. Wiseman says that those who live up to their tangible resolutions mapped their progress, noting their minor goals and the benefits they wanted.
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This is also biblical. Moses established an annual calendar and set schedules for the priests to sound the trumpets as reminders to the people (Leviticus 23:24). Joshua asked the twelve men of Israel to transport stones from the Jordan River and build a memorial as a reminder to cross the river on dry foot (Joshua 4). Jesus Himself instituted the Lord’s Supper to serve as a visible reminder of the church of His death (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26).
It is not non-spiritual manipulating your physical environment so you can be reminded of your commitments. Do what works for you. Cole Post-its® everywhere. Wear a ring or bracelet. Set alarms or alerts on your phone or on your computer calendar. Or like what Jason George does: record your voice speaking out loud the promises and blessings listed above on your iPod and listen to it every morning for the next three weeks and then make the same commitment three weeks later .
4. Be responsible for your goals
Dr. Wiseman says that all those who achieve their resolutions had something else in common: They told their friends and family about their goals. This done two things: it increased the fear of failure and created a support network.
The same is true in cases of pornography addiction. A study at Fuller Theological Seminary found that those who combined Christian counseling and using Covenant Eyes Accountability software on their computers suffered a 66% fall in relapses, and many participants said they never relapsed.
Accountability is also something that the Bible talks about. James teaches his readers to confess their sins to one another and pray for one another so that they may find healing for their troubles (James 5:16). Throughout the New Testament, the phrase to each other is repeated over and over again, giving an image of the kind of relationship destined to be in the church: relationships of encouragement (1 Thessalonians 4:18), bearing burdens of one another (Galatians 6: 2) ), admonition (Romans 15:14), and love (Romans 13: 8).
Accountability also brings with it the fear of failure or shame before others. The Bible also talks about this:
Another motivator that God has given us to turn away from sin is the threat of potential shame or dishonor before others (Luke 14: 9, Romans 1: 24-26, 6:21, 1 Corinthians 11: 6,14; : 35). We should be aware of how our sins impact other people and our relationships. The term Paul uses for this is to walk correctly (Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 1 Thessalonians 4:12). It means living in a decent way, and being aware that our actions impact those around us.
We do not sin in a vacuum. Our sins affect our families, friends and communities and therefore affect our place in these relationships. (Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability)
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That is why accountability is key to success, and when it comes to Internet pornography, accountability software is a proven tool.
5. Have the right attitude about slips
It’s easy to fall into the trap of the I-could-very-well attitude.
If we slip and start watching a bit of pornography, we often say: Well, I have sinned. I might as well sin more. Dr. Wiseman advises those who are making New Year’s resolutions: Expect to revert to their old habits once in a while. Treat any flaw as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.
This is definitely true in the area of pornography. In their groundbreaking Conquer series, Jeremy and Tiana Wiles teach those in sexual slavery: A relapse not to the healing process, but it will have consequences. This balance is fundamental. Relapsed into sexual sin are real setbacks, but neither should they defeat us.
Dr. Mark Laaser writes: Falling is an acronym for Falling Now. Going to recover myself. Yes, it is good to say that you have not seen porn for 88 days, but when you slip on day 89, you do not go back to step 1. Genuine progress has been made. Change happened. Do not let him defeat you.
At the same time, Dr. Laaser says, it remains a short lapse only if the person learns from it, repents, and grows in understanding as a result (L.I.F.E. Guide for Men, 45).
6. Fighting from a new identity
Psychology professor Peter Herman coined the term false hope syndrome. When someone makes a resolution that is completely out of alignment with what they truly believe is possible, or how they see themselves, this not only leads to failure, but to great discouragement.
Researchers Anirban Mukhopadhyay and Gita Johar have found that when people believe that self-control is something unlimited and dynamic (ie, I can stop watching pornography if I focus my mind on it), they are much more likely to stick to their goals. But those who believe that self-control is limited (I can not help myself in this by watching porn. I have an addictive personality) are worse at their resolution goals.
While it is true that the Bible speaks of human limitations because of sin, the Bible also speaks of a strong message of God’s power to do the impossible, despite our limitations. As Christians, we must fight pornography with faith: we must believe that we are children of the living God.
Christian counselor Brad Hambrick says that with all the struggle in our lives, be it overcoming sinful habits or going through moments of incredible pain, we will always be simultaneously: sinners, sufferers and saints.
Sin: Sin is part of our own nature.
Sufferer: Our sinful world has done us harm.
Saints: We are children of God.
Yes, as sinners and sufferers, we are actually limited in our ability to change. But as saints, we are united to a God who knows no bounds, who is not intimidated by our sin or our lack of faith. The grace of God not only overcomes the guilt of sin; it overcomes the grip it provides.
In His grace, God unites us with the Spirit of the Risen Christ. His resurrection power now runs in our veins. Knowing this, Paul says: Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). He does not tell us to die for sin (a command), nor does he tell us that we are dying for sin (a process), but he says we are dead to sin (a fact). This statement reaches the core of who we are. We are no longer defined by our sinful past, our present struggles with sin, our guilt, our shame, or our relationship with this sinful world. We belong to the coming age without sin. This is who we really are.
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If we make a resolution to stop looking at pornography, we should firmly stand on our identity as saints. Every time the temptation comes, we must resist it by saying to ourselves: This is not who I am. I am dead to sin. I have received a spirit of power, love and self-control. I am united to a liberator who is able to do infinitely more than anything I can ask or imagine.