Monday, November 7, 2011

"I Know That Man Is Nothing"

“It came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10).
How did Moses describe himself as compared to God?

Moses had just seen all of God's creations, and his recognition of the nothingness of man has, I think, so much to do with the 'nothingness' of human cares and concerns.  We see now darkly, as through a glass, preoccupied by the natural man and his "needs" but if we could, as Moses did, see the whole of God's creations, then we would realize that mortality is just a small blip on the long timeline of eternity, and that the things we are concerned with here are completely meaningless.  

So what does this have to do with being honest with myself about a pornography addiction? Well, if I am honest with myself then my addiction is largely about two things. 1) My desire to control something in my life, particularly my desire to control my physical needs.  Its the same reason I don't like someone to tell me what to eat (is it?). And 2) my desire to avoid pain ( or stress or disappointment).

And if I am honest with myself, these are concerns of the natural man, the natural man that Moses has said is "nothing."  So when I am preoccupied by the concerns of the natural man, I am preoccupied with a lie from Satan (Why do we capitalize his name?) that natural man's desires are the most important thing in the world.

So, if I can be humble enough to acknowledge that the natural man tendencies that I am susceptible to are not as important as Satan would have me think, then this is a first step in learning to control my own body.


Interesting that in seeking something to control in my life I have instead largely lost control of a portion of myself.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Putting Trust in the Lord

When Nephi felt overwhelmed, in whom did he place his trust? What can you do to place more trust in the Lord?

Nephi put his trust in the Lord, always.  But what does that mean to trust the lord?  It means I believe him when he tells me something, that I accept his promises and act accordingly.

So what are the Lord's promises that I can trust in?

I was just thinking about this the other day. I trust God completely when it comes to tithing. When we pay our tithing the Lord provides for us. I have tested that promise over and over again and I believe it--no, scratch that--I know the Law of tithing is a true law and I know that the promises associated with the law of tithing always play out. I know this.  Its not a matter of faith anymore. I've seen it over and over and over again. I know it as clearly as I know the sun will rise in the morning.

Alright, that may be an overstatement.  I don't go to bed in the morning feeling hopeful, yet a little nervous about the prospect of the sun rising, but I do feel hopeful and a little nervous when I write a tithing check.    But i have seen it over and over again--the windows of heaven opening up and receiving so many blessings that we cannot receive them.

So if God's promises are true with tithing, then they will be true with all his commandments.

Then what are the commandments associated with pornography addiction?

From True to the Faith
Chastity is sexual purity, a condition that is “pleasing unto God” ( Jacob 2:7). To be chaste, you must be morally clean in your thoughts, words, and actions. You must not have any sexual relations before you are legally married. When you are married, you must be completely faithful to your husband or wife. 

From Matthew
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28)
Fom the Doctrine and Covenants
“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:22–23)
From 1 Corinthians
"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"(1 Corinthians 6:18-19)
From Genesis

 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

 From Jacob

"For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts."

So these are the commandments that make up the Law of Chastity. "No sexual relations except between husband and wife legally and lawfully wedded - be morally clean in thought, word, and action.

And the associated promises?

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

Promised Blessings:
  • Confidence in your standing with God
  • Receive blessings of doctrines of the priethood (priesthood power, fatherhood)
  • Companionship of Holy Ghost
  • Righteous Judgment
  • eternal increase (everlasting dominions)
So have come to keep the law of tithing because I have tested it and over and over again, the Lord has fulfilled his  promises. How can I transfer that faith to the law of Chastity? These promises are amazing.

Do I trust the Lord enough to live up to them?

How do I trust the Lord? By not putting my own rationalization or curiosity over his commandments.  By believing him when he warns me and when he promises me.

His Promises are true. I know it.  I should act like it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Giving in to addiction

What situations or feelings weakened you so you gave in to your addiction?

Well this is easy, right now I am at work and the regular sensation is--"Here I sit facing something uncomfortable and challenging, but it would be so easy to click away to something stimulating, something that would let me escape."

When I am alone on a business trip.  The very fact of being in a hotel room is a trigger.  I think I am afraid of being alone, of feeling alone.  Which is ironic because I often stay up late so that I can have some alone time (ironically not typically a time of temptation for me), but when I am alone I don't like the feeling of being alone.  I think part of the reason that being on a business trip or being home alone for long periods of time becomes a trigger is because there is less a concern about getting caught.

And, of course, that is a fact that bugs me to no end, that causes a lot of shame.  If virtue is a measure of our behavior when no one else is looking, then how virtuous am i if the first thing I think about when I'm alone for any stretch is going to look up some pornography? Hmm...

I think the feelings that most commonly cause me to fall into temptations are feelings of loneliness and lack of control. Initially it was curiosity.  As a teenager I was fascinated by sex and sexuality and the idea of it all, but that curiosity led me to seek out pornography as a way to feel in control of something.

Sex, is after all, about control.  The best sex is the sex that allows you to completely give up control of yourself and expose yourself emotionally and physically to another person without fear or shame. And if you believe, as I do, that masturbation is a sin, and that having sex with someone who is not into it, or who is simply doing it for you, is worse than not having sex at all, then when it comes down to it, your sex life (my sex life) is entirely in my wife's control.

Because I want to have sex more often than she does, she, by default, controls when we have sex.  She either says yes or no, and that is that.  This puts me in an awkward position because emotionally I connect sex with acceptance, intimacy, and approbation (if she is making love to me, then she approves of me - I'm doing something right. If she is not making love to me, then she disapproves and I must be a failure).  I would like to have sex more often, but I don't want her to do it just to please me - I want her to want me.

Is that co-dependence?  Or is that how its supposed to be? I mean, isn't a man supposed to want to sleep with his wife and vice-versa? And I know that a lot of regular life gets in the way of having the time and emotional space to take an hour to be intimate together, but it seems to me that sex shouldn't be something that one spouse should have to convince the other spouse about.

"Hey, this is really great, you know, trust me, we should try it some time."

Especially when for me, sex is so much about pleasing your partner.  If it were just about orgasm, then it would be a different story, but the mutual act of opening ourselves up to each other is about so much more than that.

So the long and the short is this. I don't feel in control of my own sexual needs.  And pornography is a counterfeit answer to those needs. I don't have to ask anyone. I don't have to wait for someone to be in the mood, or to not be stressed out. I don't have to give back rubs or foot rubs.  I don't have to wonder and worry if she is really enjoying herself or if she's faking. It's counterfeit for sure, but it seems "easier" at the time then engaging in the difficult work of navigating a real intimate relationship.

Of course its not easier, and the more I seek out counterfeit intimacy, the more difficult it is to communicate clearly with my wife about our relationship. That's the definition of a vicious cycle.

I find it terribly embarrassing to feel like I'm in the position of begging for sex.  Even as I write, I can feel rage creeping up inside of me. The idea that women can be so out of touch with what their husbands needs are that a man has to ask over and over again for sex.

Just the phrase "asking for sex" sounds pitiful.

Shouldn't it be something we give willingly, because we love each other?  Shouldn't a husband's sexual needs be as important as anything else in the relationship.

Now, if the husband doesn't know how to meet his wife's sexual needs, that's one thing, but what about husbands who have that figured out (I spend 90% of my time in love-making doing things for her that are designed to help her enjoy herself), and I still feel like I can't ask her for things, can't expect her to do the same for me, like the very act of her being willing to join me in bed should be thanks enough. 

Hence, one big reason for the pornography addiction.