Relapse Into Porn and Self Gratification: How To Prevent It, Part 1

I want to take the time to share my own story of victory and relapse because many of you will be able to identify with it. If you have read or heard my story on BlogTalkRadio about porn and self gratification, commonly called masturbation, you are aware that relapse could happen at any time.

Stephen Arterburn’s book, “Every Man’s Battle” accurately portrays on fact.

This is a battle.

This is a deadly fight for your purity unlike any other. If you are to stand in the victor’s circle, it must be done one moment at a time. Do not wait till the end of the day to tally the score because your flesh and mind is too weak to withstand. The armor of God is spiritual and must be donned until it’s time to go home to be with the Lord.

Briefly, in 2008, the Lord gave my wife and I a tremendous financial victory. The only problem was, I was still involved in porn and masturbation. When we left Brooklyn, the Lord blessed us with a home. My wife and daughter went to New York to spend time with my mother in law and I saw it as another “opportunity” to do my thing.

Dr. Patrick Carnes, a noted authority on sexual addiction points to the sexual addiction cycle that is common among all sex addicts.

1. Thoughts or Fantasies.

2. Rituals.

3. Acting Out.

4. Remorse.

This cycle depicts precisely what I was experiencing every single day and on more than one occasion, a few times a day.

Prior to understanding this cycle, I realized afterwards that I was going through a series of emotions that drove me to run to sexual addiction. These emotions were, what I, by the Holy Spirit termed as “trigger mechanisms” or things that would happen to me that would affect my emotions to start the ball rolling to fulfill a need.

If I was lonely, I would uses images in my mind that I would file. It didn’t matter what the image was or where it came from, I would file them for use later.

If I was angry, mad or upset, I would act out sexually to change my mood. Dr. Archibald Hart, author of “The Sexual Man” said that if you want to change the mood you are in, sex is the game changer.

When I felt rejected, I would run to touch myself to make myself feel good.

When I needed to be loved on my terms without the relational pain associated with being loved, self sex would be the first choice. With having sex with the opposite sex, you want that orgasm to be just right without any relational interference. Sex is meant to be shared to please your spouse as your spouse pleases you.

Now do not get me wrong.

Self sex is sin because sin is always at the root of all sexual immorality. There is no escaping this. Just because you use porn and self gratification as “medicinal properties” it doesn’t mean that you just need sex therapy or sexual counseling like a 12 step program to “fix it.”

On the other hand, if things went well or I felt good, I would “reward” myself for a job well done by acting out sexually with myself.

You must understand that your emotions will fool you every time and coax you to get satisfaction from other places and persons without God. That’s anarchy. Making the rules as you go that excludes the rule of God and His Word.

Back to the story. I went into another room where I set up Directv and paid for my porn. As I was masturbating, the Lord spoke to me and said….“Is this what you do to Me after all the good I’ve done for you?”

This was November, 2008. My time of porn ended on that day but the masturbation continued until December, 2009. I purposely etched that date in my soul because I would never return to self gratification again.

Or so I thought.

I took a 60 day course on the recommendation of my accountability friend, Pastor Roger Jamison. The site is called Setting Captives Free and the course was called “The Way To Purity” by Mike Cleveland.

This course challenged me unlike any other. You had an accountability person assigned and at the end of each lesson, two questions were asked among many.

1. Did you watch porn?

2. Did you masturbate?

To avoid hearing about it, I refrained from both. After each lesson, I proudly answered “No.” And I didn’t relapse during that time.

Lying is against the Word of God so I didn’t want to be judged for porn, masturbation, and lying.

As a side note, you do not need porn to masturbate.

All you need is the files of the un-renewed combative soul. Thousands of images are captured until you dethrone each image. You can create images too. Perverted images for pretend sex. But to be free, each image must be captured, dethroned, and burned by the Word of God, and drowned, and dissolved in the blood of Jesus.

Afterwards, I felt I had this thing licked but I knew in the back of my mind that relapse was a possibility. I tried to ignore it but the eventuality kept presenting itself to me. Little did I know that my flesh and mind was planning a sexual immorality comeback.

You see, there are some things that it’s the devil. More often than not, it’s you.

So, in my strength, I attempted to be very bold about it by establishing a date and making myself stick to the fact that this date would be the date that I would never do it again.

A couple of years passed. The porn was never a relapse problem because I did an extensive study as to why I did what I did.

I took courses from Light University on Healthy Sexuality. I receive numerous insight from many of the professors. I also took courses on Sexual Addiction. One noted teacher, Dr. Mark Laaser, who studied under Dr. Patrick Carnes really asked a point question.

It was the toughest question that I had ever faced.

“Could you do without sex and masturbation?”

If you can’t you are probably addicted. I also learned that just because you watch porn or masturbate, you may or may not be addicted because addiction is the inability to stop or manage sex.

With all this knowledge, I was “puffed up” (see 1 Corinthians 8:1).

If you acknowledge that you are puffed up, at least you could probably do something to deflate it because all puffiness comes from pride and arrogance. Paul had to be deflated and the way that God did it was with the trials and persecution called “The Thorn In The Flesh.” 

When you get an abundance of revelation, you actually feel special, unique, and privileged. Paul evidently may not have listened. He wasn’t supposed to be martyred. He was told by the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem (see Acts 21:4).

Then the relapse. The mind and flesh of man can be very creative to satisfy itself. I will not discuss the various ways to accomplish sexual tension release because I do not want to fill your minds with ways to accomplish self gratification.

I will declare that when your reasoning remains defiant and filled with self accumulated knowledge, it is very easy to reason how you call relapse and not really call it relapse.

Your mind could easily say, “You didn’t really masturbate. You just let off some tension. Don’t call it relapse because it won’t look good in front of the thousands of people you told that you would never do it again.”

There came a point where the masquerade and disguise had to come off.

Hypocrisy is a foolish game that only God is forced to expose. Every form of hypocrisy is a form of pride that satan lost his place over. He thought he could be like God and came up way too short. Just because you think you can kick a field goal, shoot a basketball, or swing a baseball bat, it doesn’t mean that you are in the big leagues.

In pride, I once said, “You are looking at the first black CNO (Chief of Naval Operations).” Mind you, I never was an officer. I was enlisted, E4. I was recommended for OCS by my last CO, but I was not to exceed 4 years enlisted.

Besides the competition for command and flag ranks makes even the smartest officers retire.

Self gratification is the ability to sexually satisfy yourself. That’s the only rule to masturbation.

Do it yourself!

There is no sense in deflecting responsibility and try to avoid what took place. True deliverance is about being honest with yourself before the Lord. Saving face is a mute point and quoting Scripture to show that I have recovered is sometimes a self effort to keep your armor shining when there is obvious soil on it.

It was a combination of not getting into the presence of the Lord, reading the Word at the time of temptation, and telling my accountability partner about my real struggles.

Did I ever relapsed into porn?

No! Never!

What lead to my relapse into self gratification?

Pride and arrogance, disappointments, and frustrations. Not necessarily sexual frustrations because my wife was never the issue or problem. When it came to pride and arrogance, it was about the fact that I thought that I had all this “knowledge.” I thought I would be able to tell brothers how to kick this thing to the curb and ended up on the curb, licking up my own vomit like a dog myself.

I made this thing about me and not about God’s loving grace.

Through this relapse, I learned that it is all the grace of God and all obedience without fluff, fanfare, puffiness, head knowledge, aptitude, arrogance, and stupidity. On the other hand, humility became a more pronounced attitude because you begin to see others struggle and desire to extend grace to them instead of being hard nosed and repulsive.

You cannot show the world how to be delivered from the position of looking down on the many brothers that never come out of dark places. We can never deal with sexual immorality from a judgmental position. Meaning that when you think you have it all together, you now feel competent and qualified to help others while you, yourself still need help.

When you read about other men and women trapped in their false intimacy world and you look at them with disdain, you are probably just as sick as them. Sin sick. That’s why you have to have compassion as Jesus. Without compassion, you will only rise in pride to condemn others just to make yourself feel superior.

Like that Pharisee that broadcast about his self righteous living. The publican wouldn’t ever look to heaven but cried out for mercy and declared that he was a sinner. Now what we have done is that sometimes, we parade our sinner status around and that is another form of pride and arrogance.

Such was the case with me. I took pride in that and that’s not what we are to do.

God is not pleased when we proudly display our dirt.

With living wells of love, we must look at them. With confrontational love and compassion, we extend grace. We look to help and not to hurt. We pity, like God, every groan.

I told my wife about my relapse and she looked at me like I always thought she would. With tender love and forgiveness. She knew my struggles a long time ago and she continues to pray for me every day. Of course, we are still healing because any wife that has experienced the assault of sexual immorality in the home prays that it would never darken our doorstep again.

It’s a clear threat to the stability of the marital relationship in the house.

Each day though she does her best to keep me centered on our relationship. The hurt that I caused her is slowly dissipating but she knows that I have to keep fighting. For the sake of our love for each other, it is my job to come clean and stay clean.

How long ago was the relapse?

July, August, and the first week of September of 2011. More recently, February 2012. No matter how you do it, when you make love with yourself, it is called masturbation. No trivial reasoning. Sin is sin.

What must I do from here on out?

Recognize that this is all about God, His compassion, His love, His grace, obedience to His Word without pride or arrogance. Never let the moment of being on top of the world deceive you into thinking that you finally got this thing licked.

Paul said, “Be careful lest you be tempted…”

Realize that grace works in such a way that a time of testing comes and you must not pass the test for passing the test’s sake. You look to the Lord and He supplies everything that you need to stand true to Him. You learn to hide in Him, in the secret of His tabernacle, in the pavilion of His presence. You learn to take His yoke and learn of Him, for His yoke is easy, and His burden in light.

You never pen things on FB or anywhere, for that matter, to show how you did it.

The destruction comes where pride is and the fall is certain to happen where haughtiness is.

I hope that this has been helpful to you. Please pass this to those that are in this thing called MOAB, the Mother Of All Battles.

Is it possible to win? Is it possible to stay free? Is it possible to defeat porn and masturbation?

The answer is, “With God, all things are possible.”