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    Guest Post: Freedom from Pornography and Lust As a Woman

    Thursday, May 14, 2020

    Walking in freedom from pornography and lust is not an easy thing. People don't want to talk about the struggle of lust, especially as a woman. The enemy brings in lies and shame. But God is bringing light to this darkness. He is using people, like my friend Taylor, to share their stories and encourage others in their walk to freedom. Pray and ask God to work in your heart and mind as you read how Taylor wisely advises how to break free from pornography and lust. (Read her testimony here.)
    Lauren: When you gain victory in an area, the temptations do not easily go away. What mental boundaries do you have in place and how do you enforce those?  What do you think of and remind yourself of in moments of temptation?
    Taylor: Getting free was one thing, but staying free throughout the stages of being single, dating, engaged, and most recently, married, has been a journey of its own. Regardless of my relationship status, I decided that I had to a) have strong mental and physical boundaries, b) be honest and real with myself and my accountability about my weaknesses, and c) planning accordingly, every single day. Essentially, I have to put on the full armor of God every morning, even in marriage! My husband Alvin and I have both had similar struggles with porn and masturbation addictions, so we have an agreement in our marriage that we don’t watch anything with nudity. It’s like 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (ESV).
    Lauren: This is a hard topic to be open and vulnerable about. What are some important tips in seeking an accountability partner? In what ways do you have accountability?
    Taylor: A key part of Alvin’s freedom from pornography was accountability, even though I never had an accountability partner. He had a group of friends he would talk to, as well as spiritual leaders that he could go to when he was struggling. He will tell you that accountability was essential to his freedom.
    Lauren: How did it feel when you were dating someone with a pornography addiction? What advice would you give?
    Taylor: When Alvin and I began dating, I was already walking in full freedom from pornography and masturbation. However, it was still something Alvin was struggling with, and while he was up front and honest with me about it, it was still really hard to hear. Yet, because it was something I had dealt with, I had more grace for him. Shortly into our relationship, Alvin took a week to fast and pray for freedom. Ultimately though, it was his heart for Jesus and his heart for me that helped him become free.
    Something that we agreed on really early on was that lust wasn’t going to enter our marriage, so before he proposed, he had gotten completely free. When you’re serious about getting free and going after God, He will free you!
    I’d say to anyone dealing with pornography in a relationship to look for the red flags: 
    - Are they seeking freedom and do they truly want to stop? 
    - Are they taking practical steps? 
    - Do they have accountability in their addiction?
    If your partner isn’t doing these things, that’s a red flag. A pornography addiction isn’t necessarily the cause for a breakup, but if your significant other isn’t actively chasing their own freedom, taking practical steps, and finding accountability with someone other than you, that is major cause for concern. You should absolutely never be your girlfriend/boyfriend’s accountability partner, because it will eat at your own sense of self-worth and eventually destroy your relationship. On that note, when you’re in a relationship where someone is dealing with a pornography addiction, it’s important to make boundaries with that person - both physically and emotionally. Remember, you are not Jesus! It’s not your responsibility to save that person.
    Lauren: In your experience, do porn and masturbation always go together? What if you have gained victory in your struggle with porn but still struggle with masturbation?
    Taylor: In my experience, when I would watch pornography, I would always masturbate . . . I mean, that’s kind of the point! But it is easy to masturbate without porn. In my case, masturbation became a crutch that I depended on for comfort, which meant that I wasn’t going to the Holy Spirit, who is literally the best Comforter there is!
    Masturbation can definitely be more difficult to stop than watching pornography. There’s a lot that you have to wade through mentally when you’re trying to get free from masturbation - lies like, “I’m not watching porn, it’s all in my head, so I’m not hurting anybody.” But that’s a really slippery slope, I mean, Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV). It’s still a struggle, which is why you have to have someone in your life who is willing to speak the truth of God’s word into your struggle. Proverbs 4:21-22 says, “Your words … bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole flesh.” (NLT).
    Lauren: So much wisdom and truth. I’m so thankful that God has helped you gain victory. What would you say has changed in your life now that you have experienced victory in the area of pornography?
    Taylor: Everything has changed now that I’ve experienced victory over pornography! My life has changed. My eyes were opened to the fullness of my calling, and I live everyday shameless, guilt free, and with a greater understanding of my own worth. My relationship with Jesus has been so elevated because I understand God’s love and grace for me at such a deeper level than I did before.
    That God would still love and use me for the freedom of others is incredible, especially since I “broke my promise to get free” so, so many times. God showed me that He desires freedom for me even more than I do, and because of that, I have been able to forgive myself. The best part is that now I get to encourage and pour into other young women who struggle with the same thing, and I get to help them see victory in their lives, which brings me so much joy!
    Thanks to Taylor and her team for sharing these responses to the SOFH community’s questions. Taylor is 21 years old with a passion to see the captives set free. Her heart is to see those addicted to pornography set free as well as those trafficked and abused in the porn industry. Staying silent about the things that matter is not her thing. She currently works for a missions organization called “Circuit Riders” and is residing in Huntington Beach, California with her husband Alvin. 

    A Testimony of Freedom from Pornography and Lust

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    No one talks about being a woman and struggling with pornography and lust, but according to research, "one-third of all internet porn users are women." So who will break the silence and start the conversation? My friend Taylor steps up and shares her story of being addicted to pornography and how Jesus set her free.

    I was exposed to pornography at 8 years old by a friend, when I was too young to know that what I was seeing was wrong. Every time she came over, we would watch it together, which is when I learned what masturbation was. Watching pornography and masturbating soon became an addiction as I learned how to look it up for myself. I didn’t think about why I was watching porn or why I was masturbating, it just became a habit. I was young and na├»ve when I was introduced to pornography, and it quickly turned into a habit.

    When I was 11 years old, I heard the word “pornography” for the first time at youth group and realized that what I had been turning to for comfort for over 3 years was wrong. The only thing I heard was - “this is wrong”, and in turn, felt like I was undeserving of God’s grace. At that point, a lot of shame and guilt fell over me, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone; I would get over my addiction to pornography and masturbation by myself. Of course, that didn’t work, so two years later I brought it to God - and He told me to tell a specific adult leader. I was terrified of what that leader would say, since I was also a student leader, so I told God no. God didn’t stop nudging at my heart though - I would fall again and again, and I knew what He said to do. After wrestling with my own shame for a while, I got the courage to tell her, and the first thing she said to me was “I’m proud of you.”

    I thought that would be the end of it, but I kept struggling with it. It was then that I realized in order to be truly free, I would have to take practical steps. So I asked my mom to take my TV out of my room - even though I told her at the time that it was because I wanted to watch less T.V. - and I stopped sleeping with my phone nearby. It was clear that pornography and masturbation were things that I turned to when I was lonely, or needed comfort, so I took steps to find comfort in Jesus and Godly community instead of in porn, but progress was slow and felt impossible. Even with all of these practical steps, I kept slipping into habits formed in my childhood. It truly felt like a hopeless situation - like I would never get free.

    It wasn’t until I found out about the crossover between human trafficking and pornography that I truly got my freedom. At 18, I was in the midst of raising money for a safehouse in Nepal, where girls who had been trafficked and exploited could be rescued and rehabilitated. God absolutely broke my heart for the victims and survivors of human trafficking, and I couldn’t bring myself to watch pornography any longer.

    The truth is that shame keeps you quiet, and it keeps you bound in sin. Once you expose what is hidden, God can put His light on it and set you free from it, no matter if your freedom is immediate or a process over time.

    Taylor is 21 years old with a passion to see the captives set free. Her heart is to see those addicted to pornography set free as well as those trafficked and abused in the porn industry. Staying silent about the things that matter is not her thing. She currently works for a missions organization called “Circuit Riders” and is residing in Huntington Beach, California with her husband Alvin.

    Rethinking Sexuality Book Review

    Tuesday, May 12, 2020

    “Sexual issues are ultimately spiritual issues . . . When the body of Christ is not willing to engage in these conversations, we allow the Enemy to build strongholds in people’s lives. Their most private temptations, struggles, pain, disappointments, and shame represent their doubts about, resentment toward, and mistrust of the character of God.” Rethinking Sexuality by Dr. Juli Slattery

    For some reason, the church seems to be silent on the topic of sex while the culture around us is shouting about it. The silence of the church can lead to feelings of shame about struggles, misunderstandings of desires and how to fulfill them, or lies that sex is dirty and gross. But truly, sex is part of God’s good creation and we as Christians should not shy from talking about it because sex displays His desire to know and love His people. 

    Sex was free from guilt and shame before the Fall. Adam and Eve “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). But sin entered the world and the fig leaves of shame created doubts of God and His goodness and - can how He designed things really be trusted? Satan has been distorting sex ever since. Why wouldn’t he? Slattery says, “God intentionally created our sexuality to tell the story of His covenant love . . . We will never grasp the spiritual significance of sexuality until we understand its link to covenant love.” Satan wants to ruin anything that portrays the love God has for His people. 

    Dr. Juli Slattery’s book Rethinking Sexuality leaves you with a greater understanding of God’s design for sex and a deeper love for Him. Slattery writes on hard topics and talks through difficult questions. Why would God give us sexual desires as singles and not allow us to fulfill them? How can I, created as a sexual being, be obedient to God in singleness? What do I do with unfulfilled desires? Above all, she reveals the goodness and love of our Creator. This would be a great book study to do with friends. There are some great questions in the back to get the discussion going. Don’t avoid talking about the good things that God has created!

    Guest Post: Unbroken by Loneliness

    Monday, May 11, 2020

    Grab a cup of coffee, settle down somewhere cozy and open your heart to hear from my Singled Out sister Josie as she shares what God has done and is doing in her heart during her season of singleness.

    When my sweet friend says of my prolonged singleness, “I don’t know how you do it…” I smile.  ‘Tis like she is insinuating that I have some sort of superpower that no one else has.

    But, I know.  I remember.  I remember some of those hard moments.  Those moments that happen each Sunday, when I watch everyone at church get in their vehicle and go home with family.  And I walk away by myself.  I go home and eat lunch alone.  Oh certainly sometimes a friend or three join me, but many many times they don’t.  Yes, I think of the countless times when my friends felt distant, and I wondered if they’d forgotten that I existed.  I remember those times when I’ve checked my phone multiple times in the hour, hoping that someone would connect with my heart’s plea for friendship.  I’ve wondered too about my past guy relationships.  Did I make good choices there?  Should I have done something… anything… differently?  I mean, I honestly don’t want to be single for the rest of my life.

    But at the age of 34, I’ve learned one main thing, about doing this singleness thing well, about enjoying this season of my life, however long it might be.

    The number one thing that has kept me from being broken by singleness is a simple revelation really.  It’s grown stronger in me the past couple of years.  It’s held me in those hard places, even when my heart felt that it might not be true.  That revelation?  I’m not doing life alone.  In fact, I’m not ever alone.

    When I was a young girl I remember hearing a sermon about “practicing the presence of God” which was in short treating God as if He really is with you every step of the way.  That message stuck.  Today, it’s no longer a message.  It’s a lifestyle.  I’ve finally realized that God really meant it when He said that He would never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).  He is really right here with me every. single. moment. of every single day.  I can sing to Him all day long.  I can drive to see a friend by “myself” on a long road trip and worship my King the whole way and have so much fun doing it, and feel so on top of the world, in love with my very best Friend, Jesus.  It’s He who has kept me; it’s He who has held me; it’s He who will continue to hold me all of my eternity.  It’s the truth… an absolute.  Jesus is always there.

    And so in those moments “alone” when my friend didn’t invite me, when my other friend declined my request to hang out, and when it seems I’m the only person that knows where I am, I hear Him whisper, “I’m here, Josie.  I promised I would be until forever, and my promises never fail.  It is I that have held you, that have kept you, that have molded you, and it is I that will never walk away.”  He is my Provider, my Healer, my Lover, my Strength, my Song ... my Everything.  I turn to Him again … and again … and again… and even when I’m discouraged and frustrated and thinking about it all wrong, He’s right there by my side, lovingly, patiently turning my heart back toward Him, the One that’s never left.  And that is precisely what has kept me from being broken by loneliness.  And whether you are surrounded by a family of ten or a family of none, whether your last profile picture got a hundred likes or two, God sees you.  He knows right where you are.  He is watching after you and whispering to your heart, “I see you.  Turn to Me.  I will take care of you and fulfill your deepest heart’s desires.”  So that’s it.  That’s my superpower.  Now that I’ve revealed it, you go and be SUPER too.

    Josie is currently a teacher and an administrator at a Christian school in Missouri.  She’s a country girl at heart but loves being around people too much to live too far from civilization. Outdoor activities are her favorites, and if she’s not doing school, you will likely find her hiking, biking, kayaking, or taking naps.  Above all, her greatest passion is introducing others to Jesus and helping them to discover their powerful place as a Child of God, loved by Him, and led by His Spirit.  He is oh so sweet. 

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