We do ourselves a great disservice when we begin our fight for sexual integrity only after we experience temptation. How we respond in the heat of the moment can make or break an outcome, but what is far more important is what we do in the days and hours leading up. There is the difference between playing “defense” and playing “offense.” If lust is our opponent, we play defense when we resist tempting sexual urges. On defense, “lust” is ready to strike, and we adapt ourselves in order to neutralize that potential. On the other hand, we play offense against lust when we are not actively being tempted. On offense, we take steps to weaken the power that lust may have over us in the future.
There’s a saying in English, “the best defense is a good offense.” It applies to sports, competition, warfare, and, yes–sexual integrity. I don’t always quote from Wikipedia, but I fancied their explanation of this saying:
Generally, the idea is that proactivity (a strong offensive action) instead of a passive attitude will preoccupy the opposition and ultimately hinder its ability to mount an opposing counterattack, leading to a strategic advantage.Wikipedia On “The Best Offense“
If we analogize sexual integrity with sports, the heat of temptation is like gameday. On gameday, there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning. You can eat a nutritious pre-game meal, down an energy drink, stretch, focus, and get fired up. However, the team that typically wins is not the team that has the best gameday routine, but the team that prepared the most in advance of gameday, when things were relatively quiet. The times in my life when I was most defensive-minded in my battle for sexual integrity are the times I suffered the most losses. The times in my life when I was the most offensive-minded are the times I experienced the most victories.
In truth, anything we do to grow as people–emotionally, spiritually, and relationally–is an offensive weapon against lust, addictions, bad habits and impulsive behaviors of every kind. In this article, I expand on the ones that I and others have found to be the most effective that we can begin to utilize immediately.
7 Offensive Weapons To Defeat Lust
In the past, I described fasting as the “reset button for the soul” and the “atomic bomb of personal growth.” In Fasting To Break Pornography Addiction And Control Lustful Behavior (4 Powerful Benefits), I outline four mechanisms by which fasting works to achieve this effect: 1-) fasting is training in self-control; 2-) fasting is training in willpower; 3-) fasting is an aid to processing unresolved emotions and traumas, which create dysfunction in our soul; and 4-) fasting is a tool to build a stronger relationship with God. Fasting works, and when done right, it works quickly and efficiently. When I feel that I am in an emotional or spiritual rut, fasting is one of my first resorts. Fasting also one of my first resorts when things are going well, and I want to take my personal growth to the next level.
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?Isaiah 58:6
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and do not give medical advice. You should consult your doctor before implementing any fasting regime or dietary changes.
Frank Rich described stillness as the “key to quitting porn.” As a longtime addict and someone who has helped a lot of people find freedom, that is a really telling statement.
Quiet time and alone time is something we build into the curriculum. . . Stillness. And it makes sense when you think about somebody that is struggling with porn addiction. They’re overstimulated. They’re overconsuming. Their day is either social media, pornography, work, this, that–they’re always intaking, intake, input, input, consume, consume, consume. So, in fact, if you can just learn to slow down and literally do nothing, like sit there with your thoughts, and just be present in your own thoughts. Be still for a moment and just experience what that is meant to be like… It’s like doing nothing will help you quit porn..Coach Frank Rich (Cultural Quote #306)
I have heard meditation described as “the art of doing nothing,” or “the art of masterful inactivity.” Meditation happens when we intentionally quiet our souls. Meditation is a kind of “de-stimulation.” When we are overstimulated, issues accumulate, an emotional backlog develops, and our brains experience discomfort. This discomfort creates the impulse to escape via sugary food, pornography, and other addictive, stimulating, and thrill-seeking behaviors. I find the following famous quote from French intellectual Blaise Pascal hyperbolic, but provocative and telling nonetheless.
All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room aloneBlaise Pascal
The food and drink we consume, both in terms of quality and quantity, impacts our stress levels, how we feel, our self-esteem, and our relationship with God and others. The evidence for the effects of diet on various markers of human well-being is abundantly clear in the scientific literature. I find it ironic when people of faith, especially Christians, discount the importance of diet, as if it were an issue of marginal importance. In the Hebrew Bible, God gave the Jews a large number of dietary laws to follow, because diet was and is an important input in human outcomes.
Diet and nutrition influence things like mood, emotions, sleep, and health, all of which impact our ability to love and be loved.Walk In Integrity (Christian Quote #90)
Lust stems from personal discontentment and/or self-centeredness. Gratitude is the antithesis of both, and its role as a powerful counteractive agent to lust is highly intuitive. Gratitude is a kind of super-contentment that demands to be expressed. The object of gratitude is always someone, or something, other than ourselves. Gratitude for family and friends who make life worthwhile. Gratitude for nature, education, health, intelligence, security, and material objects that meet our needs and enrich our lives. And gratitude to God for grace, love, forgiveness, and the gift of life.
When we are unhappy with our lives, we seek out cheap solutions, which we end up paying a premium for in the long run. Some people keep gratitude journals, while others simply focus their mind accordingly.
If you’re struggling with sexually compulsive behaviors or suffering with pornography addiction, chances are you’re not spending a whole lot of time in gratitude. . .
One of the fastest ways for us to rewire those neural pathways, to reset that dopamine response. . . is the practice of daily gratitude. What ends up happening when you show or express gratitude on a daily basis, that reward center, that pleasure center, that dopamine response–it fires in the same exact way as it does when you’re getting that external stimulus.Frank Rich (Cultural Quote #339)
5. Physical Activity
The problem of people who struggle with lust is rarely that their testosterone is too high. In fact, it’s typically the opposite–they’re too stressed out. They lack healthy stimulation in their lives and find it hard to decompress. One of the fastest ways to relieve stress is via physical activity. In Sexual Versus Sensory Stimulation And Release, I wrote, sometimes we think we need a sexual release, when, in reality, we really just need a sensory one. An addict’s problem isn’t their need for stimulation, its how they go about getting it. In Stretching: An Unsung Remedy For Blue Balls, I elaborate on one simple exercise that can relieve bodily discomfort and associated sexual frustration.
“Motion creates emotion,” as motivational speaker Tony Robbins loves to say. Engaging in physical activity upgrades our state of consciousness and fosters clarity of mind.
6. Spending Time With Family & Friends
Addiction thrives in isolation. If you have ever struggled with a porn habit, you probably already know that to be true. When we can’t experience real connection, we often settle for the counterfeit, and that’s exactly what lust is. The older we get, the more discretion we have over how we spend our time, and who we spend our time with. Many of us put our education, our work, and our hobbies above relationships with other people. And it is a big reason why our mental health suffers in spite of any success we might experience in those domains. Human beings are social creatures and we need to be around the right people every day in order to thrive. In solitary confinement, prisoners notoriously go insane. The bottom line is that when we isolate ourselves, we set ourselves up for failure in life. Believe me when I say that I’m speaking from a place of experience.
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.Proverbs 18:1
7. Spending Time With God
If you are a spiritual person, then this might as well be #1 on the list. In Christianity, the most important attribute of God is holiness. Holiness implies supremacy and greatness, but it also implies moral integrity. It follows that the more we imitate God, the more wholesome our thoughts and actions become. Robert Morris, when asked at Gateway Conference about the secret to a pure heart, had this to say:
It’s hard to have an impure thought when you are in the presence of the pure one [God]. . . For me, keeping me pure is meeting with the pure one every day.Robert Morris
Moral failure is a failure of relationship, as much as it is a failure of self-control.