One of the greatest threats to those who want to overcome their lust is the idea that lust is beyond their control. Men have generally been taught that lusting is a part of their genetic identity as males, and these days lust finds its expression most easily through pornography. The assumption that lust is a natural part of the human condition is problematic because the effort to ‘give up’ pornography will be seen as contrary to the inherent lustful nature of humanity. To many pornography users lusting seems as natural as breathing, and the common response to the challenge of quitting pornography is: “Impossible.”
Luckily for us, this is a lie of our common enemy. Lust is not an inherent part of the human condition and men do not have to be defined by a propensity for lusting. Lust is a choice. I know this to be true because it’s a choice I made for most of my life.
Step 5 of our 8 Steps to Freedom From Pornography is: Surrender your right to lust.
Inherent in Step 5 is the understanding that lusting after others is a choice that we each make, over and over again, throughout the day. When we see an attractive person we choose to lust after them. When we see a “triggering” image in a magazine or on the Internet we choose to lust after the picture. The only reason lust seems natural is that we’ve trained our minds to think this way. We have allowed our minds to slip into lust so frequently and so easily that it seems like a completely seamless and automatic process. To gain freedom from pornography you must gain freedom from your lust. And to do that you have to begin choosing not to exercise your right to lust. You have to re-train your mind so that it does not automatically slip into lusting every time you see a “triggering” image.
Here’s how you put Step 5 into action: Any time you see a “triggering” person or image tell God (and yourself) that you surrender your right to lust after that person. In the beginning it is more helpful to say it out loud, if possible…Verbalizing your words adds a level of reinforcement to your decision. You will probably have to surrender your right to lust several times for particularly “triggering” people. This must become an automatic reaction to anything that “triggers” you. At first you probably won’t feel like using this Step because in your heart you don’t really want to stop lusting. Many of us use lust as a form of self-medication and no-one wants to give up the thing that protects them from pain. You will probably also be operating under the assumption that lust is ingrained in you and is a part of your genetic code, that lust is not a choice. But as you get into the groove and become accustomed to surrendering your right to lust you will begin to see that you do, in fact, have a choice in the matter…And you will start exercising that choice in healthy ways more and more often.
Today’s challenge: The next time you see something that “triggers” you, immediately surrender your right to lust; say it out loud if possible. Listen to your self-talk at that point and determine what it is you are telling yourself. Try to gauge your mental reaction to surrendering your right to lust. Repeat this Step throughout the day, as often as necessary.