I feel for anyone and everyone who has struggled with Internet sex and has “repented” for the thousandth time. I know that you are confused, frustrated, and feeling SO much guilt that you often doubt whether or not you are saved.
Like any addiction, there is a cycle. This post is certainly not an attempt to oversimplify what psychologists have spent years researching. There are many, many triggers to addictions and not everyone is launched into an addiction cycle given the same set of circumstances. But I do believe it is important to recognize that addiction cycles do exist. If we know that we react to certain life occurrences in the same old negative ways, then we can repent of how we’ve been dealing with our hurt and pain for perhaps years.
For example, those dealing with an anger addiction (and yes, it can be an addiction) can gain victory over it when they recognize that as soon as someone treats them wrongly, it is equally “wrong” to yell at them in return. Why is it wrong? Not only because it is a non-biblical approach to resolving issues, but also because yelling does not help one to be heard more. In fact, it produces the opposite effect, since the screamer loses the receiver’s respect of them. Not only must the angry person repent of reacting that way, he or she must seize the opportunity to substitute their age-old reaction with a biblical one—“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). And “Fools show annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (Proverbs 19:11).
Clearly it’s not different for those with a problem with Internet sex. Nationally known speaker and author on sexual addictions, Dr. Patrick Carnes recognized the first stage that triggers sexual addiction is emotional pain (The Beginning of the Addictive Cycle, Carnes, p. 67). If that’s true, can you imagine how hungry the Lord is to touch you where it hurts most and heal you once and for all?!
Exactly hear is the place where we repent for shunning that pain through the exercise of sexual sin. We are not to blame for pain. It is what it is. But we are responsible to remedy that hurt by turning to the Lord Himself.
We’ve heard all of the definitions of the word, repent.
“To turn 180 degrees away from your old lifestyle of sin and turn toward God.”
“To have a change of mind.”
“To commit your heart to turning a new leaf.”
These are all good, workable definitions. But in a nutshell, it means we must “turn AWAY in the opposite direction of our sin and run TOWARD God.” The apostle Paul puts it best in 2 Cor. 7: 10: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
It’s not enough to be sorry. Our sorrow must drive us into the arms of the only One who heals our deep, emotional pain. And this drive must occur each and every time our addiction cycle wants to kick in.
If we can only get to the place where we know for certain that if we jump off the cliff, the Lord will be there to rescue us. What absolute freedom. We arrest the addiction cycle at the first stage, then we never have to worry about the stages beyond that. We need to spend at least three weeks in boot camp—retraining ourselves to cry out to God when that bad boy wants to shove us into that same-old-same-old.
Just like someone addicted to food, the Internet addict must forget about the “quick fixes” of starving himself or trying a new diet pill every week. She must change—once and for all—old habits and ring in a NEW LIFESTYLE that will last for the rest of her life.
Is it hard? Heck, yeah! Is it worth the work? You answer that.
Like I mention in THIS POST, we have to believe that leaving the “dark side” is worth it! That God IS a better alternative. That He IS the most rewarding source of healing and contentment in light of our personal pain. He touches us where it hurts the most. REALLY!
Hey, readers! Now is the time, as we draw near the close to this series, to write to me and ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have. As always, your anonymity will be respected!