Lust is like a nasty monster that lives in your heart. If you feed it, he gets fatter and eventually overcomes you. If you starve it, then he’ll waste away to nothing and you’ll win those battles with pornography much easier. So, how do you win that battle with porn? You bounce your eyes—turn and look the other way.
That was the gist of how I was taught (and in turn taught others) to battle lust and pornography. While I do believe there is some warrant to this teaching, I believe now that it is largely incomplete.
First of all, lust isn’t a monster that gets obese when fed and skinny when ignored. He gets louder when you ignore him. He’ll make you think more about porn and not less; at least until you feed him, then he’ll mock you and go about his merry way. Lust is not a monster that needs to be deprived, it is a rebel that needs to be actively slain.
Secondly, you lust and/or or indulge in pornography because you have a problem with objectifying a person. It is impossible to look at porn and not objectify a woman or a man. This is why “bouncing the eyes” is incomplete advice. It continues to objectify people. All you are doing is telling yourself “no” to an object.
We like to use Psalm 101:3 to remind ourselves of our covenant to “set no unclean thing before our eyes”. The unclean thing, we imagine, includes the objects of our lust.
Granted, those engaging in sinful sexual acts might be “unclean”, but they certainly are not things. They are people created in the image of God. Some of these “unclean things” aren’t who you think they are. They are scared little girls thrust onto the screen, or in front of a camera, against their desires.
She doesn’t need you to simply “bounce your eyes”. She needs to be seen as a person, created in the image of God. Even if she is sinning of her own accord. She needs rescue.
Listen, if you stop at “bouncing your eyes” and think you have conquered your porn problem you haven’t. We aren’t fully healed until we stop seeing men and women as objects.
Real healing is found in a Person.
You and I need Jesus Christ to pour His grace upon us. We need forgiveness for the way that we’ve made shipwreck of God’s good gift. The guilt of our sin needs to be removed from us as far as the east is from the west. This is what Jesus loves to do. He loves to wash those that have engaged in the vilest of sexual acts and viewed the worst of pornography.
Only through Jesus Christ is the monster of lust decisively slain. And only through Jesus Christ do we regain our true identity. If you are in Jesus Christ, your fundamental identity isn’t as a “porn watcher”. Your fundamental identity is as one that has been washed—you are redeemed. And that is your identity no matter how many hours of porn you watch after coming to know Jesus.
Furthermore, it is through Jesus Christ that our minds are restored. It is through Him that we are able to view men and women as His creation and not as objects of our desire. If we are to win the battle with lust, He can (and must) change our view of people. This He does.
Marriage won’t fix your heart. Bouncing your eyes won’t fix your heart. Accountability groups won’t fix your heart. Only Jesus Christ. Fight with Him. Yes, you might need to do various things like unplugging your computer, not going to the beach, and turning your eyes on occasion. But that is incomplete. You need Jesus to transform that which you view as objects into people.