Pastor John, in a previous podcast you expressed how important deep and rich theology is in the fight against porn addiction and lust. I want to revisit this and look more closely at how Christian men can serve each other. What would you say to men who are committed to helping friends win the battle against lust and pornography addiction?
Yeah, I have been thinking a lot recently about Paul’s text in 1 Corinthians 9:27 where it says he disciplines his own body. The word is literally gives his body a black eye. He says, “I don’t box as one beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26). In other words, “I know where to land my punches.”
"Jesus means us to be as vigilant and as forceful in opposition to sin as we need to be in order to put it to death."
And he is talking about the sins in his life that need to be punched out. They need to be put to death. And so he is talking about a kind of self-denial and a kind of self-opposition that stands up and pokes himself, and I think he is just extending Jesus’ words where he says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out” (Matthew 5:29).
Now we know that is not meant to be literal, because he says if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out. Well, you have got your left eye still, and you can seek the naked woman just as well with your left eye as your right eye. So we know that the literal tearing out of the right eye wouldn’t solve the problem. He means to be as vigilant and as forceful in your opposition to sin as you need to be in order to kill it in your life.
Lust Is Psycho-Erotic Euphoria
Now here is my new wondering. Why does sight — I am thinking mainly men, but not only for men — why does sight have such a force to draw us to click on pornography or to linger over some bathing suit issue of Sports Illustrated or to linger over some ad for a movie. Just what is it about us? And as I have tried to analyze my own body over the years, I have got this phrase that I use called psycho-erotic euphoria. I made that up — psycho-erotic euphoria.
What I mean is, I don’t know what it is or where it is. It is not very localized in the body. It can get localized, but it isn’t localized usually. And it is just like power in your body that makes you so pleased by the erotic, by the visual, that you are moving toward it visually with such a force that it starts to nullify moral conviction. It puts you out of touch with all the arguments you had before to be pure and move you into behavior that you are then later going to disapprove of. What in the world is that like?
"Lust, like drunkenness, has a power to attract with such force that it starts to nullify previous moral convictions."
And my answer is: It is like drunkenness. So suppose you go to a bar with a buddy and you are planning to witness for Jesus tonight at the bar. And you are sitting there and the friend that you are with starts drinking. He drinks too much and gets drunk, and you say, “Well, this is obviously not working. We aren’t going to win anybody to Jesus. Now, we have just disobeyed Jesus by getting drunk. We’re just going to go out of here.” So you grab his arm, and you say, “We’re leaving.”
But he is the one who drove, and so he wants to drive and go watch a movie downtown while he is drunk. And you say, “You are not driving. I am not going to let you drive.”
“It is my car. I am going to drive this car.”’
And you bend his arm behind his back and just throw him in the back seat and grab his key, and since he is your friend, he doesn’t hit you, and you drive him home and throw him in bed.
Now that is a lot of manhandling of a drunken guy. Is that right? Should we do that? And I think most people would say, “Yeah. Yeah, you should do that. I mean he was drunk. He was going to kill himself.”
Intoxicated by Lust
And my question is: In the fight against lust, is there something similar that we should do for each other? If this psycho-erotic euphoria is as powerful as drunkenness — and I think it is — do we need people in our lives who will break our arm? Not just, as Paul says, “I pummel my own body.” I am saying you should pummel me.
You know, we often talk about accountability relationships and a lot of people get all bent out of shape about “legalism,” and “You are supposed to love Jesus from your heart and not have to be constrained.”
"Lust is much more like drunkenness than anything else. Our accountability should reflect and resemble this reality."
Look. If you are drunk, and you are going to kill yourself, you had better be glad somebody is in your life to throw you in the back seat of a car. And later on when you wake up, you will glad they did. Then you can pray towards some kind of appropriate stance where you obey freely from your heart.
But this lust thing is much more like drunkenness than it is alike anything else. And so we may need this kind of personal accountability where we have some kind of connection, some kind of special number on our cell phone, a way to call up a friend and say, “Knock me out if you have to, because I am about to lose it because of this psycho-erotic euphoria that has come over me like drunkenness.”
Fight One Addiction Like Another
So I am just throwing that out there to guys to say, compare it in your life. Analyze your own soul to see whether the sheer physical, erotic, psychological nature of this power is enough like drunkenness that you would put a thing in your life like, “Drive me home.” If a guy is fighting a losing battle — and most of the guys or gals know who they are — “OK, I am supposed to fight this. I am supposed to win it. I am regularly losing this battle.” If they know that, then they need to say that to their small group.
Then one idea would be, I am going to put your number at the top of my favorites on my phone. It will take one punch, and I want you to give my number a special ringer on your phone, ok?
So when it goes off, you say, “Ok, the only time he ever hits that number is when he needs me to intervene.” And so you get on the phone and say, “Stand up. Go outside in the snow.” Or, “I am coming over right now.” Or something. You just have it worked out just the way you would if he were an alcoholic. He’s saying, “I am just moving towards this bottle on my wall. I don’t know what it is that’s making me want it. I want you to come smash the bottles for me.” I mean it is that weird.
Extreme Measures in the Fight Against Lust
Why else would Jesus say things like cut your eye out? I mean that is just wild. If somebody says, “Oh, that is wild to put a special number on your phone.” Really? Like take a screwdriver and jam it in your face? That is not wild?
I am saying when Hebrews 3:13 says, “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” you would extend that out, and say, “Perhaps throw one another in a cold shower every now and then, so that none of you may act out of a heart of inebriated, psycho-erotic drunkenness.