Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Ambush of Internet Sex: Repentance Once and For All









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!

7 comments:

  1. This one's been a great series bro - you may have a "second calling" - if not in this specific addiction - but as a counselor for folks suffering from various addictions. Been a good read and I'm looking forward to your closing posts.

    aus

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Aus. Pray with me that many, many marriages and families will be healed!

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    2. Only every day bro - only every day!

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  2. Hi Anthony,

    We are still covering you and your family in prayer (particularly during this series) and think you have done a sterling job of tackling the issue.

    Recently Reinhardt Bonnke said something along the lines of 'The dog you feed the most becomes the strongest', I quite like that analogy. In Romans 6:16, Paul says 'to whom ye yield yourselves as servants to obey, his servants ye will be to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness.' a great verse also for advising youngsters against the dangers of the internet. Perhaps we ought to be asking ourselves "if the internet were a bar, would we spend as much time in it as we do online, without expecting to become alcoholics?" There are dangers on the internet that are clear, and some that are not. I also like the idea of accountability software, though I'm not sure of it's total effectiveness. Other things are probably needed also.

    I seem to have found myself in a situation where I am talking to a number of young men about this. I don't know if I would go as far to say I'm counseling them, I had no intention of going into this area, but I have worked out a few things that seem to help.

    Aus made a comment about you perhaps going on to counsel people in this area. It seems like you have the character tools and I think you would do great also. Having followed your advice I think you have the sympathetic but firm character which is definitely necessary. Having worked with homeless alcohol and drug users, I can tell you that firm but loving character is surely required to help an addict. Rules and boundaries must be set and not broken, if a person is truly sincere, they will break a vice. Ultimately, an addict can only overcome an addiction by their own will and choice, but conversely, they are their own worst enemy.

    Years ago I came across a Christian website offering a free online counseling course with a reasonably respected counselor called Dr. Larry Crabb. Here is the link:
    http://christiancourses.com/courses/browse/term%5Bcategory%5D/christian-counseling/
    While it may not be everything one would need to counsel an addict, it is a starting point that anyone can do.

    God bless and keep going!

    William

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    1. HI, William. Thanks for your considerate comment! Actually I have counseled quite a bit over the years as a Christian minister, and yes, even in the area of Internet sex. But you and Aus are a great encouragement to me.

      I absolutely love, love, love Romans chapters 6 through 8! I especially love Rom. 6:11...

      "In the same way, count yourselves (or 'consider yourselves') dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." The Greek word dokizomai means not only to "count" or "consider" but to "ponder on the reality"! God sees us as already dead to sin. It has no power over us. If more Christians could only grasp that!

      And I love Larry Crabb. Years ago I read one of his books called "Inside Out" that radically changed my life.

      Great stuff, William!

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  3. Oops! I should probably rephrase the 'having followed your advice...' statement to 'I have been reading your series...'
    I wouldn't want my wife to think I had some unconfessed internet sex problem she never knew about! lol

    William

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