Thursday, September 27, 2012

When Fighting Against Temptation - Don't Ever Assume You've Made It

I had an opportunity to catch up with a good friend of mine, someone I trust as a mentor, a friend, and a guardian. Guardian? Yes, guardian. My marriage is important to me, and I have chosen to take a nearly fanatical approach to guarding my heart from anything that would dishonor my wife, or steer my heart from her. My friend's reminder to me today was, "Never assume you've made it." It's when we take a prideful stance that we cannot fall to temptation that we actually fall into temptation.

What Do I Need to Guard My Heart Against?
One area in my life where I have struggled has been with pornography. I would not call it an addiction, but it has been a part of my life since I was about 7-years old when my friend (also 7-years old) who lived next door to us showed me his dad's stash of magazines. I saw my first nude scene in a movie around the same time, and by 9-years old I had watched a porn movie with my 3rd Grade friends. Fast forward 18 years later, and I was confused and surprised that my newlywed wife was offended and hurt that I would want to keep a stash of Playboy magazines in the house. The pain in her face and voice was enough to get me to throw away my Playboys, but I did not understand her pain right away. By looking at those magazines, I was actually communicating to her that she was not pretty and that I needed some "hot ladies" to look at from time to time. That was the pain I was causing her.

How Do I Guard Myself Against Pornography?
Lifestyle change is not easy, but it is possible. I eventually received Jesus Christ as my Savior, but I still had the temptation of getting my hands on pornography. Years ago, I put into place Internet filters on my home computer and smart phone using a service called Covenant Eyes. My wife has the password for this service. Beyond that, I have two accountability partners, men who receive weekly reports from Covenant Eyes about my Internet activities. If a bad report were to pop up, they are to call me and reel me back in. Any attempt to tamper with or delete the program sends a report to my guardians. I love this program.

It doesn't stop there. I refuse to look at anything that objectifies women, Maxim magazine, FHM, swimsuit models, and even women jogging. Miss America? Haven't seen her in years, but I have watched the 2006 Miss South Carolina flub. Hilarious! Victoria Secret's tv special, never watched it. I even had YouTube blocked on my phone and home computer. Seem extreme? Seem nuts? For the love of my life, totally worth it.

Most importantly, I humbly turn to God for strength, and adopt the mindset that this is always a temptation. In the few times I have slipped up, it has been a time when I proudly boasted either to myself or others that pornography is not an issue. When I lose sight of God, it becomes very easy to gain sight of pornography.

Why So Extreme?
I could do more, like stop using the Internet. There are many reasons to take these measures. First, I want to honor God with my actions, and I want to honor the woman He has placed in my life to be my companion, my equal, and my other half. Second, I want to raise my son to be a man who respects women. I was exposed to pornography at a young age. Third, I want to set the standard high for what my daughter expects in a relationship. Fast forward to the day that I die, and I will be content with the sacrifices I made because they will not have been sacrifices as much as they were tickets to living a life worth living.

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