The slippery slope of addiction: From pornography to prostitutes
Augustin Cheng // August 1, 2018, 3:40 am
After struggling through years of depression and anxiety and coming out stronger on the other side of it with the help of counsellors and Christian community, you’d think God was done with me. But I couldn’t be more of a work-in-progress.
Underlying my mental health issues was a deeper problem – I was addicted to pornography and masturbation. I discovered masturbation as a Primary 5 kid, when I was just 11. Gradually, my curiosity in my own sexuality and the opposite gender grew.
Back then, any discussion that involved sex was usually frowned upon and sex education wasn’t taught in schools yet. No one guided me or taught me the right views on sex, much lesss the Biblical view on sex.
In my teenage and early adulthood years, my sexual addiction gradually grew and festered. That is exactly how sin works – like a beast within us. And there I was, daily feeding the carnal beast of my addictions with lewd images, videos and masturbation.
Then things got really out of hand when I started visiting prostitutes.
My destructive behaviour continued for about 2 years until it became insufferable, and I cried out to God that I wanted no more of it – the shame, guilt, and this lifestyle that I knew was so utterly displeasing to Him.
But I was already neck-deep in my addiction. I tried so hard to quit, but by my own efforts, I kept failing.
I knew it was impossible for me to overcome sexual addiction just by willpower or my own strength. I had to rely on Jesus to free me from my slavery to sin.
So I took by first step by approaching my pastor to say: “Yes, I need professional help.” And I started receiving regular counselling from a Christian counsellor. In that process, I learnt about negative coping mechanisms and more about my destructive behaviour that had been partly shaped by my growing-up years.
But I also know that I cannot simply blame circumstances, because even though the winds of circumstances may have started me off in a certain direction, I am still responsible for my own choices today and every day forward. (Ephesians 5:3).
Through my counselling sessions, I learnt techniques such as “The Power of Pause” that helped me to mentally press pause when temptation arises and switch from lustful thoughts to pure, holy ones. I also learnt how to rely on the Holy Spirit to to wage war on the desires of my flesh – instead of trying to do combat all by myself.
“Run as fast as you can from all the ambitions and lusts of youth; and chase after all that is pure. Whatever builds up your faith and deepens your love must become your holy pursuit. And live in peace with all those who worship our Lord Jesus with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
With total surrender and reliance on Christ, I was eventually freed from my slavery to sexual addiction. Over the months, I witnessed His amazing healing work not just in my own personal life but also in my relationships with family and friends.
By drawing nearer to God, I continue to move further away from my addictions that once kept me away from Him. The healing continues today, and so long as I am in this world, I will always be a “work in progress” (Philippians 1:6).
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
Friend, if you are struggling – whether with sexual issues or with lust – I strongly encourage you to to find someone you can trust to walk with you, or find a safe community where you can talk openly and honestly about your struggles.
Many times, I think it is harder to be honest to man than God. In my personal experience, confession was a starting point of surrender unto Christ and the journey of healing to wholeness in Him.
Stop keeping it a secret – a skeleton in your closet – and talk about it with someone you will trust, because at the end of the day, we will all stand accountable before God about what we have said or done on earth (Matthew 12:36).
Jesus alone is able to remove our guilt and shame because He has taken it all on the Cross. For those who choose to hide themselves in Christ Jesus, we are free from condemnation so we can live life (Romans 8:1) as He intended – free and wholly loved.
The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.