To start I want to let you know this podcast will be a little different. One that I hope will be helpful for you.
I am going to talk about the difference between being sexually aroused and desire.
The reason that’s so important for us to recognize is that when we feel arousal towards something that we know we don’t want, it can produce an amount of shame for us.
If you’re pursuing sexual integrity, if you’re trying to walk away from unwanted sexual behaviors, the fact that those behaviors are unwanted means you desire something more for yourself, your family and for your life than the sexual sin that’s entangled you.
Walk Don’t Run When Sexually Aroused
Today is not going to be very prescriptive in the sense of offering you three steps to this or that. But I’d like to share with you what happened to me recently and how I dealt with it in the hopes that it will be useful for you and help you see things that you might want to do differently.
- The difference between arousal and desire.
- I want people to be free from pornography.
- Slow down your thinking and not rush.
- Breathing deep breaths.
- The importance of picturing Jesus in different scenes.
- Fleeing sexual temptation.
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Transcription for this show
Good day, everybody. Glad that you’re back. I hope this podcast continues to prove to be helpful to you. Listen, I want to take us on a different kind of podcast journey today. One that I hope will be helpful for you, it’s not going to be very prescriptive in the sense of offering you, you know, three steps to this or that. But I want to share with you what happened to me recently, and how I kind of walked through it in hopes it will be helpful for you both and seeing things that you might want to do differently. And also in in maybe some things that can be helpful for you as you’re thinking about how you might handle specifically sexual temptation in the future. Because recently, I was at work, and I had received an email from an organization that combats sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. And one of the emails I got included a link to a very brief video that was exposing some of the harms of pornography. And so I’m always interested, that’s part of what I do as for a job. So I watched the documentary. And to be frank, I found it to be very triggering. And as far as my own sexual arousal goes, it was it was difficult to watch. In that regard. It didn’t show nudity. But it just showed some scenes that reminded me and that kind of lit up old parts of my brain that used to view pornography reminded me of pornography that I had seen in the past. And so in that way, it was it was triggering it when I felt an increased sense of temptation. So I wanted to share with you a couple of observations and some of how I walked through that in the days that followed. And it was a matter of days, like I like to say I watched it and kind of you know, then, you know, just shifted gears and was able to leave those images behind, but I wasn’t they really haunted me. And even even today, I can still see one or two those images. Again, they weren’t pornographic, they were blurring things out. But there was just enough that it reminded me and my, my brain seemed to take hold of those things. So one of things I just want to point out is, and I owe this observation to I think his name is Dr. Doug carpenter. He taught at a retreat or conference webinar that was hosted by Drew boas, ministry, husband material, and one of the observations that he made was, there’s a difference between arousal and desire. There’s a difference between arousal and desire. And he was making the distinction that arousal is something that happens to your body that you may not even want to happen. But desires really speaks of the deepest desires of your heart. It’s what you really want. So when Paul writes in Romans seven, why do I do that which I don’t want to do, he’s talking about desire, we feel temptation may feel a arousal towards something. But that doesn’t mean that’s what we really, really want. And the reason that’s so important for us to recognize is that when we feel arousal towards something that we know, we don’t want, it can produce an amount of shame for us. I was disappointed to feel the arousal that I felt, I mean, I’m watching a documentary for crying out loud on why pornography is bad. And, and yet, I feel like something my heart begins to race a bit as I’m watching it. And that produced some shame, until I remembered until I recalled in mind, that the fact that I feel arousal is not the same as what I deeply desire. It doesn’t speak to the truest sense of what my desires are on an identity level, this is who I am. I want people free from pornography, both people in the industry, including the people that I saw, that were depicted in this documentary, I want them free, I want them alive and well and loved and following Jesus and receiving His mercy and grace and goodness in their lives. I want them in healthy relationships. I don’t want them to be exposing their bodies and to people they don’t know and to be having sex with strangers, just to make a living or to make a buck i That’s not the life I want for anybody. My desire is something different than the arousal that I felt and yours is to I mean, if you’re pursuing sexual integrity, if you’re trying to walk away from unwanted sexual behaviors, the fact that those behaviors are unwanted means you desire something more for yourself and for your family and for your life than the sexual sin that’s entangled you. That was a helpful thing for me to recall and continue to recall to mind. The second thing I noticed I needed to do is to resist the urge to rush to resist the urge to rush in and specifically, I don’t know if this will resonate with you or not, but specifically in the realm of my mind, like I want to just kind of almost like my brain almost wants to scurry when it’s tempted. Scurry when it’s aroused, like I don’t I don’t want to sit still very long in my thoughts. And some of that is I want to get away from the any any tempting thoughts. But there’s more to it than that. I think some of it might mix it with the shame. Some of it might just be I don’t know if there’s a neurological reason for it or not. But even as I was watching, there was, what I needed to do is to slow down my, my thinking and not rush. And so I was able to pause, I’m gonna watch this on my own computer. So I was able to pause and invite Jesus in, even as I was experiencing what I was experiencing, and the Lord helped me to see what you see, the Lord helped me to receive from you the grace I need, these are difficult things for me to see. What I wish I had done in the moment was take a little bit more time to ask Jesus, if he would even have me watch this documentary. That’s something I regret that I didn’t do differently. Because he knew it was in there. And he knew how it’s gonna impact me. And he may have said, you know, yeah, Josh, I want you to watch, but I want you to draw close to me, or may have said, you don’t need it, you know. And in retrospect, I don’t think I did. I mean, I didn’t really learn a whole lot that was new in this documentary, it was mostly stuff that I knew it just mostly kind of reinforced stuff that I knew. So anyway, so but to slow my mind down, slow my heart down and actually to approach Jesus with it would have been helpful. But as I went, I did slow my thinking down, I did slow my heart down. And after the fact, I also again, when I felt temptation, when I felt that arouser, when those images came to mind, unbidden, I would again slow myself down and say, Jesus, this is happening again, helped me. And as I did that, it did two things for me, one, it brought me back to reality, instead of kind of drifting down the the river, that the images would want to take me towards some kind of fantasy or reminiscing of what I saw, and instead, kept me in a place of like, Lord, I really want to be here with you. And then the second thing it did was to remind me of what my real desires are, so it kind of brought me back to present and reminded me who I really am and who I really want to be who God has made me to be, along with slowing yourself down or slowing myself down. The other thing to do is to breathe deep breaths. When our heart races, when we’re scurrying mentally, or in our in our bodies, we tend to not breathe very deeply. And that actually is not helpful for us in our decision making. Breathing deeply, actually helps to add to produce cortisol, which helps to enhance our ability to make good decisions, and lowers anxiety. And so taking deep breaths on purpose can can be a helpful thing and resisting, you know, whatever temptation or in helping to calm down sexual arousal. And then with that, as I’ve said, I prayed, and not just once, Lord, you know, help me not to fall, I mean, to think those things, please remove this from a mind. You have kind of scurrying, we don’t want to scurry in our prayer, we want to, we want to spend time with it. So again, I watched a 30 minute documentary, I can take some time, over the course of the next few days, as those images come to mind, to, to pray, to be mindful to slow myself down to breathe. And as I pray, I would also envision in Jesus, not that I’m trying to depict him when I was accurately, but I tried to open my heart to Lord and open my spirit, Lord, I need to see you, I want to see you, I want to approach you in prayer. And so I would picture his nail pierced hands, I would picture him on the cross, I would picture him resurrected. I would picture him holding me I would picture him leaning his forehead against my forehead. You know, I’m wrestling in my thoughts. And so to have Jesus’s forehead against my forehead, in prayer is is is me asking the Lord, Lord, you take my thoughts, I need your thoughts. The reason I bring up picturing Jesus are envisioning Jesus imagining Jesus in these different scenes, and I’m not making stuff up there. I’m trying to imagine true things that Jesus either has done Scriptural Scripturally are things that, that encapsulate truth about Jesus, like we are called to put on the mind of Christ. And so that picture of pressing my forehead to Jesus’s forehead is a picture of me, praying, seeking to put on the mind of Christ. And what a picture does is it it helps to remove or to replace the other images that I was seeing. And so sometimes when we’re trying to resist temptations, and we’ve got images in our head that aren’t helpful, that are enticing or luring or triggering, and we just try to not think about those things. We’re trying to move from an image which has appeal to it. And beauty to it, I mean, I’m you know, I’m looking at women in this video women men who are attractive who have you know, some of the the glory of God in their in them because they’re made in His image.
I might even like them, if I sat down to talk with them, you know, I mean, they’re real people. So I’m trying to move away from seeing real people and then also seeing provocative pornographic images. To to, to nothing to avoid. That doesn’t really work. So Thomas Chalmers used to say you don’t read Place an affection, one a bad affection, with nothing to replace it with a positive affection. And so in the same way, moving my mind away from that, which is drawing it in these unhelpful pictures to imagining Jesus. And if you have a cross or crucifix or some other depiction of Christ, or have something in scripture that’s inspiring to you’re helpful for you, then by all means use that. In all of this, what I’m trying to describe is, is we want to move away from trying to run, run, run, run, run, run away from our thoughts in our head, yes, you want to flee sexual morality. Paul tells us that in First Corinthians six, but when when we feel a temptation in our brains, and we have thoughts that are coming into our minds, we want to act decisively, but not by we don’t want to just sit sit there with them. But we want to we want act decisively. So yes, flee in that way. But we want to, but we flee, not by just trying to scurry ourselves away and busy ourselves and distract ourselves with TV or whatever else, because that doesn’t make them go away. We want to present those before Jesus be with him in them with whatever we’re experiencing, so that he can truly take them. And so I am describing some mental exercises and just things that I did. But I also believe that what happened over time was was not just what I did that, that the Spirit of the Lord actually moved in, and, and took what I needed him to take the scripture say that He became sin for our sake, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And in that way, this this temptation towards sin was, is too much for us, it was too much for me. And so Jesus took it. And so I want to invite you to that as well. And in all of this, you might need brothers and sisters to help you. I reached out for prayer, I actually went to my wife that night and say, This is what happened today. And this is, you know, these thoughts are kind of my head and she was very gracious and just, I didn’t want to walk in the light didn’t want to be harboring those things on my own. So it’s all a part of kind of opening myself to the Lord and to others who love Me, so that I could deal with this stuff. So anyway, I don’t paint all that to say, you know, I handle this perfectly. I think you can probably hear some mistakes I made in there that I could have done differently. And but I just want to commend it to you for your thoughtfulness as you wrestle with whatever you may wrestle with in this journey towards sexual wholeness.