CONQUERING STRONGHOLDS CHALLENGE 2
4: Signs and Symptoms of Sexual Bondage
As men, we are fixers by our very nature. We see a problem, and we charge into the fray until it’s either fixed, replaced or in worse condition than ever. The problem with finding ourselves in sexual bondage is that we’re often shackled by the compulsion before we realize we’re in too deep.
Do you know the most common signs and symptoms of sexual bondage?
Not only is the behavior destructive, but the confusion about it adds to the stress and shame. I came from a middle class, blue collar home. My parents remained married until one died before the other. I graduated high school and college. I’m a pretty typical guy. Except that I had the draw toward physical sex for attention and acceptance.
Once I realized it wasn’t healthy, I was powerless to stop it from happening. I wanted to be good, I just couldn’t do good. That caused even more stress because now I was locked into a cycle without control over my actions. Helplessness is a dangerous feeling for men. This is where shame and guilt become compounded and we retreat into silence and secrecy. Signs of sexual bondage come in the form of emotional, physical or both. One of the most common emotions is the fear of being alone or abandoned. It causes men to move from one relationship to another.
For another man we’ll call Chuck, he wasn’t good at being in a relationship, but sure hated when he went without one. Chuck said it was sort of like Tarzan swinging through the jungle. There was always a grip on one vine (relationship,) and usually he confided that his hands were on more than one vine at the same time. But never would there be air time where no vine was clung to. Chuck said he always understood that the chances of one woman discovering the relationship with the other woman was a high probability, but he shared that he wasn’t concerned about it. Chuck, like so many guys fighting the emotional struggle, didn’t value women and saw them as a means for satisfying his needs. Chuck often talked about his feelings of fear. The fear of being alone is deep rooted, and require us to dig down to discover where that fear originated. Were you abandoned either emotionally or physically as a child? Was there sexual abuse or exposure to sex in your youth that created a distorted understanding of the reality of sex being created by God for marriage? Chuck admitted that he was sexually abused by a teacher in school. Although he thought it was cool at the time, his impression of sex had been imprinted with a negative exposure that taught him sex was dirty, and best kept in secret. The absence of emotional connection left Chuck cold and able to separate sex from caring.
There are no real physical signs of being in sexual bondage. Although, there are by-products of a highly sexualized lifestyle. An inability to perform sexually is a common issue for pornography addiction. The hours spent consuming porn, and the self-stimulation until orgasm, is drastically different from the actual physical act of sexual intercourse.
The irony is that the obsession with sex actually prevents you from engaging in it because you’ve rewired your brain’s natural design. The good news is; you can undo this. The other physical symptoms of sex addiction involve 38% of men and 45% of women who contract a venereal disease. Additionally, 70% of women reported at least one unwanted pregnancy that resulted because of their behavior. Sexual bondage prompts social isolation as a means of hiding your addiction and the guilt and shame of your behavior. This results in a decline in personal relationships among family, friends and work.
Warriors, this is a the time to truly assess where you are in your war with sexual bondage. There is zero judgment, so put the shame and guilt aside to focus on you. You are what matters at this moment in time.
If you are still on the fence about whether you have, had or may be in between breaking the chains of sexual bondage, check out a few more signs and symptoms associated with it.
Do you engage in:
• multiple affairs
• compulsive masturbation
• sex with strangers
• sex with prostitutes
• pornography consumption
Remember, everyone approaches sex in a different manner, so no matter how slight the difference, it affects your approach to identifying the signs.
What is similar is that as the symptoms continue, so will your appetite for them. If you're not already, you will begin to surrender big chunks of your life to sex bondage. Work usually suffers along with getting busted for watching porn, having sex at work or trying to meet others to have sex with while at work will jeopardize your career.
Have you been suspected of or caught watching porn or pursuing sex while at work?
Not only does it attack your livelihood, but your ability to maintain a long-term romantic relationship decreases. You find actual relationships mundane and unfulfilling as they can never compare to the fantasy that sexual addiction traps you into. Additionally, your need to lie to cover up the cheating that occurs while you look for other people to have sex with, destroys the trust and the relationship. Warriors, now is the best opportunity to regain control of your life. We are focusing on your fight to break the chains of addiction. This demands that you come open and honest with yourself. If not, you can look forward to a progression of your behavior until it reaches a point where you take greater risks to satisfy an unsatisfiable obsession through sex. Your desperation to feel the rush is always just a fingertip away, and you’ll begin to engage in aggressive behavior that might result in your need to hurt or injure others during sex just to gain your own pleasure. This slippery slope erodes any safety net you may have relied upon and can soon lead to arrest.
5: Who Is Affected?
Who would you least want to hurt in this world? That’s probably the best question to ask yourself. And, now follow the question up with the reality that the person you named is exactly who you are doing the most damage to through your enslavement to sexual bondage. They may not even realize that they are being injured, but if they aren’t getting 100% of you at your most free, then yes, they are being denied.
We carry a spirit of sin like a dark cloud. Sin separates us from God, and that opens the door for additional sin and pain. When you handcuff yourself to the devil’s wrist, you expose your family, as the spiritual head of the household, to the same separation from God. I’d mentioned that lots of guys look at sexual sin as a victimless activity, but in reality, you are the victim and so is your family. God didn’t create you to live in a sin state where satan reigns over you. The lie of it not harming anyone is just that; a lie. Satan has masterfully weaved sex throughout the history of creation to jam a gap between us and God. You may be in too deep to even see that you’ve lost the relationship with Christ, but that doesn’t mean He’s not waiting for you. There is restoration and renewal in your life. Most importantly, there is hope for you to repair what sexual bondage destroyed. You can live the blessed life God promised.
I also know that a spirit of defeat can jab deep hooks into your soul. So deep in fact, that you may have adopted the martyr’s syndrome. It’s another tactic of the devil to keep you so downtrodden that even if handed the key to escape into the light, many struggle with placing the key in the lock and look for excuses why they can’t.
Warriors, now think about who you love most in this world. Yes, these are the very same people who will thank you, support you and always love you. Do this for you, but never forget that they need you to do this too.
6: Is There A Cure?
Is there a cure? Only if you’re willing to take your medicine! Warriors, sexual obsession that places you in bondage is not the problem. Whatever happened to cause you to aggressively pursue sexual sin to ease the pain, is the problem.
Until you are willing to dig deep to reveal what the root cause is, you’ll continue to cycle through this addiction. Or, you will swing over to another form of medicating such as alcohol or drugs. I won’t mislead you because I’ve got skin in this game too, my brothers. Sexual bondage can be very complex. The reality of a complete breakthrough in thirty days may or may not be a reality. It depends on many factors, but one of the most important of them is identification. Some of us know very well what happened in our lives that now causes us to rely on the sin of the flesh to get through each day. Others honestly don’t know or can’t recall why they were set upon such an unrelenting path. But, take heart, because I've said before, focusing on healing is more important than recreating partial or inaccurate memories.
As you free yourselves from the layers of injury, you may actually begin to recall past abuse. It's vital that you're ready to process those past abuses or abandonment that created the deficiency in your spirit. So, if that's your scenario, please focus on what you know is ahead instead of what's not clear from the past. Barry, a personal friend, has been unable to maintain a job and has been arrested several times for various misdemeanor crimes. His alcohol addiction landed him in jail once for DUI. He knows exactly what started his porn addiction. One that he didn’t beat until a few years ago. At 10 years old, Barry’s uncle though he’d be the cool uncle and show his nephew naked women on a porn site. Barry admitted he was afraid and confused because he had no idea what he was looking at. But, it was easy to access, it was free and his 23 year old uncle seemed to love it. Barry said those were all the elements he needed to want to see more.
Unsupervised, Barry was free to surf the web, and with simple search entries, he found unlimited sites offering free pictures and videos. He said his curiosity soon led to obsession. As he closed himself off from family out of fear for getting caught, he also avoided friends and outside activities. The pornography made him feel special, and the more alone he became, the more the actors became his friends. Barry said he never even knew what pornography was until he was introduced to it. He knew his brain wasn’t wired to consume it, but it eventually became programmed to need the stimulation to feel pleasure. Thanks to confessing he had a problem, his willingness to expose his darkness to the healing light of Christ and a skilled Christian counselor to guide him through, he was able to break the chains of pornography addiction. Secular methods of treating impulse control disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders are regularly used when the diagnosis is sexual addiction. Treatments range from medications, support groups to 12-step programs. We however, are focusing on a biblical standard for breaking free.
After decades of captivity during which I knew I was doing wrong, I just didn’t know how to do right, I smashed into the reality of my past. Until then I’d never heard of past pain causing current hurts. Nor was I aware that what I was doing was medicating the actual pain I suffered as a result of that past. Coming into a supernatural understanding of that past pain, I learned about true and complete forgiveness. I also began to talk to my wife about what my past actually was, not the façade I convinced myself it had been. I also came into a posture where I admitted there was a problem, and I wasn’t able to fix it alone. The more I had tried to “be good,” or deal with it, the more ensnared I became. Have you ever tried to untangle those smartphone earbuds? The harder you tug and jerk them around, the more twisted and knotted they become. Through God-centered teaching, I surrendered my fight to Christ. He imparted me with the information I never had to help me understand that I was just coping and not healing. Once I understood that to heal from darkness required light, I opened up my wounds to allow God’s light to chase away the darkness in my life.
This is where I want you to focus during these 30 days. Praying, accepting, identifying, confessing, forgiving and surrendering your pain to God’s healing light. You can’t pull any punches with this. It’s an all-in effort.
There are so many variations when talking about sexual bondage. Pornography, prostitution, masturbation and fantasy just to name a few. While we can’t tackle everyone in thirty days, we sure can lay out a solid foundation for constructing a battle plan for victory. Facing the facts is vital. Let me help take some of the pressure off of you. You’re not perfect. You, just like every other human has been born into the original sin caused by Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. This isn’t a license to do worse, but instead is a reassurance that God isn’t mad at you. He is waiting to receive you.
I guess this should actually be a note at the very beginning of this course, but unless you come under the spiritual authority of Christ, these scriptural principles will mean nothing to you. Have you surrendered your life to Christ and confessed your sins to Him? This is a very real and tangible decision. It’s not like a peek and see. God has the gift of eternal salvation, and it’s yours for free. All you have to do is accept His son as your Lord and Savior.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, from a human and carnal understanding, it just might be too good. The bible is an inspired message from a supernatural God, and was meant to be read and understood with supernatural understanding by His people who have accepted Him. Receiving Christ is all about surrender. This can’t be the typical macho man moment where you wave off your friends and say, “I got this.” Pride prevents us guys from admitting we are weak, out of control and unable to fix the addiction. Pride trips most of us up because we’re not naturally inclined to ask for help. God hates a prideful look, and He makes no bones about it (Proverbs 16:18).
Your daily spiritual diet should contain heaping doses of daily prayer. There’s only one way to get to know someone, and that is through conversation. God longs to hear from you. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say, or how to say it. God wants your voice, not your vocabulary. Consistent prayer provides an opportunity for you to confess your sins, renew your commitment to Him, praise and worship Him, and ask for His help, strength, and guidance in living a life in accordance to God’s will. Don’t worry that you’ll have to live a strict, boring life by following God’s word. There is more fun, excitement, and reward imaginable in God’s glory than without. Warriors, living in God’s word requires knowing God’s word. The only way to know this is to read the bible and focus on memorizing key scriptures. These will provide you with strength in your times of temptation.
Becoming familiar with the word of God will help you establish an accountability posture when it’s just you and nobody is watching you. But, this sensation that God is watching you isn’t enough at this point to beat the battle against sexual bondage. You have to draw closer to Him so that His will becomes your will. That comes through prayer. Also, don't worry about sounding fancy or religious. That's not God - that's man. When you pray just talk with Him like you would a friend. And, if you don't know what to say, be honest and tell Him that. He'll help you get started. A trusted friend or a spiritual mentor of the same sex is so valuable. They are called accountability partners. Statistically, men accomplish and usually overachieve whatever task it is they set out to do with an accountability partner. Whether it’s avoiding sins of the flesh or meeting fitness goals, we always do better when someone else is there with us. I know it’s hard to open up about sexual bondage to someone. This is exactly why satan is so successful in keeping us wrapped tight in our shame and secrecy. Opening up to another brother who agrees to serve as your accountability partner is the best way of moving forward toward true freedom. Don’t let the devil shame your game. Open up to transparency and accountability.
You should even consider sharing certain social media and email accounts with your partner. Expose anything that has the potential to lead you back into the traps of sexual seduction to your accountability partner. They'll guard you and protect you like you're unable to protect yourself at this moment. There are various technological web-tracking tools available. Covenant Eyes is what I use and given my wife access to it so she would be alerted anytime I accessed anything or anyone that threatened my pursuit of purity. I’m not officially endorsing it, but you should seriously consider installing an accountability software to monitor all, and I mean all of your electronic devices. Warriors, this is no time to mess around. I ask you as one brother to another brother to be on your honor for only 30 days. There are 335 other days in the year, so all I’m asking you to commit is a mere 30 days. You do this, and you won’t only gain restoration for the other 335 days, but you’ll know God’s freedom and joy all the days of your life.
Get serious by doing what we’ve already talked about, and the last few things we’ll cover. You are setting up defenses against the enemy’s attack. And, trust me, the devil with come after your like a raging, roaring lion. What will you do? Be like Daniel (Daniel 6:16-23)
You must dig deep to overcome this temptation. Change the settings on your internet to block all pornography sites. I’ve been asked whether just a little porn hurts. The answer is a resounding, yes. It not just hurts, it kills the connection with God. You’ve got to do everything at every moment to protect yourself from temptation. What are your triggers? If it’s late nights online, then go to bed earlier. If it’s a certain part of town where prostitutes frequent, take another route home. If there’s a fetish that triggers fantasy and masturbation, then avoid that stimulant. Would you walk into the enemy’s encampment? No, so why play games with whatever it is that tempts you to lay your skull beneath the sole of satan’s heel? Don’t keep a stash of porn or pictures that excite you. Throw them out or delete them, or place them on the blocked setting, but do not think it is okay to keep a little something special just in case times get tough. How about a list of prophets instead a list of prostitutes? It’s time to surrender everything.
Look, I’ve been there. I had to delete and block any woman who I’d ever slept with or had flirted with through messages. It wasn’t easy because I was actually worried what they might think. Seriously, how crazy was that? My heart quickly focused on how my wife felt once I stopped thinking of poor me and began considering how she deserved so much better.
Warrior, all I ask is for 30 days. Pray, read your bible, meditate on these daily messages, stick to the battle plans, and protect yourself from the landmines, snares and spies that the devil has lined up.
I promise that as each day goes by and you come through, you’ll grow stronger and more capable of facing the next day, and the day after that, until freedom has become your way of life. You can do this in Christ.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.