How to win the battle against sexual sin and addiction
You can find joy in purity
You can find joy in purity
Not so long ago I heard a song that was popular over 25 years ago by Billy Joel. The title of the song was Only the Good Die Young. For those of you who are not familiar with the song, here are a few lines: “Come out Virginia don't let me wait. You Catholic girls start much too late. But sooner or later it comes down to fate; I might as well be the one, you know that only the good die young.” The song is about a young man trying to get a Catholic girl to lose her virginity to him.
I remember how many of us – just young teenagers then – would sing the song without much thought. Without spiritual awareness, we can get brainwashed. In many cases we get brainwashed with mud. The lyrics of this song may have captured a popular attitude in society, but that attitude is opposed to good spiritual fitness. It denies the truth about the blessedness of purity, chastity, and real love. It lies about the truth given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, Billy Joel’s lyrics are mild compared to the lyrics that saturate our young people ears.
Recently, I opened up the newspaper – and one of the major headlines was an ad for Playboy magazine to attract college models from MSU. The ad showed a young guy with his head dug into the magazine.
What passes in through the eyes takes up harbor in the soul. It is difficult to get such images into the memory trash bin. A person’s memory and imagination become sabotaged. The illicit images take over. Within a short time, a person can become addicted to them. That is one reason pornographic use has increased dramatically and is a multibillion dollar business. Because this is such a growing problem, I would like to help you understand the basic stages of addiction to pornography as outlined by Dr. Victor Cline. This information came from an article published by Focus on the Family and other sources:
Are you on the path to sexual addiction?
1 Early Exposure: Most porn addicts were exposed to some pornographic images when they were just kids.
2 Addiction: The person keeps coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of their lives. They are hooked and feel they cannot quit.
3 Escalation: After a while, the person looks for more and more graphic porn. They start using porn that would have disgusted them when they started.
4 Desensitization: Eventually, the person becomes numb to porn. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn’t excite them anymore. They become desperate to feel the same thrill again, but can’t find it.
5 Acting Out Sexually: At this point, the addict makes a dangerous jump and starts to act out sexually. Their addiction gets an even stronger hold on them.
“The stages of addiction show that it is a progressive addiction, much like an itch. It starts small, but over time the itch needs more and more scratching for it to be satisfied. Those who struggle with an addiction come from all types of homes and backgrounds – even those that look totally healthy on the outside.” This kind of addiction can be broken. The pattern can be stopped. If you have a problem, you need to admit it and surrender yourself to God’s care. Like Alcoholic Anonymous, there are 12-step programs for those who have a sexual addiction. For those who are struggling with sexual addiction, it is important not to despair. God will not spurn a contrite, humble heart.
For good spiritual fitness we do need to avoid at all costs the following sins against chastity – pornography, masturbation, fornication and homosexual practices. None of these actions lead us to God, and all will muddy our minds and hearts and render them impure.
Jesus says,“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Spiritual fitness is doing what is necessary to respond to God in our lives. How can we be pure and chaste in an unchaste environment? Chastity is a virtue – a habitual way of thinking and acting – that allows our sexual desires to be ordered in a holy and good way. If a person has this virtue, they will not see others as objects for their own pleasure or sexual desire, but will see others as brothers and sisters in Christ.
7 spiritual steps to clean up your soul
I know many people who entered the battle against sexual sins and in time developed the virtue of chastity by the grace of God. As this article reports, we have much to fight against. They say exercise is good for the heart. In a like manner, spiritual exercise is good for the spiritual heart! So for our spiritual fitness this month, we pray for purity, and the new heart our Father in heaven promises us in union with Christ.
1 If you have any pornographic material around, magazines, books, videos, etc. – destroy them and block pornographic internet sites.
2 Go to the sacrament of reconciliation if you are aware of any sexual sins you have committed. Confession really can be a spiritually freeing experience.
3 Prayerfully read Ps 51. King David wrote this psalm as a prayer of repentance for the sins of lust, adultery and murder.
4 Prayerfully read Ezekiel 36:23-27. Pray for a new heart.
5 Pray the following meditation. Pray 10 times, “Dear Jesus make my heart pure like yours.” Close your eyes and imagine a stream of clear water. It pours over you and washes you. Imagine it washing your insides, too. Imagine Jesus standing in front of you. He is the one pouring the water over you. Look up into His eyes. Behold the eyes of God. How is Jesus looking at you? If you can look into His eyes, do so. Ask Jesus to purify your heart. Pray again 10 times,“Dear Jesus, make my heart pure like yours.”
6 Thank Jesus for His purity. Think of Him as a pure spotless lamb, and remember Him in the Eucharist. Next time you receive the Eucharist, pray for the strengthening of the virtue of chastity in your life.
7 Do not give up! Remember, chastity is habitual way of acting and thinking.