The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Does pornography give you lustful thoughts that you can't control? I used to watch pornography, but I stopped. Well, now I frequently get lustful thoughts that I shake off.

At school a scary thought came up: "If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you.'' I fear that my imagination is causing me to think of lustful thoughts since they usually come in when I'm daydreaming and sometimes they even come when I'm not daydreaming. I want to believe that it is the aftermath of pornography, but I'm scared to even accept this thought.

What do you think? I don't want to throw out my ability to make up stories in my head!


Answer

Memories cannot be erased. They fade over time as we pile other memories into our minds, but they never completely disappear. That becomes just one reason that pornography needs to be avoided. Pornography fills the mind with ideas of sinful sex and those memories can influence our future decisions.

"Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell" (Matthew 18:7-9).

What Jesus was talking about is that at times we have to talk drastic steps to keep the world from influencing us. The problem is not your imagination but the material you gave your mind to work with. I've know people who only carry flip-phones because they know that they are too tempted to use a smartphone for sinful things. I know people who don't have a computer, but instead use computers in a public library to avoid temptation. Others keep their computer in public areas of their house where others can see what they are looking at. All of these things sound radical to many people, but they are mild compared to being condemned to hell for continually sinning.

You can't turn off your mind. As you noted the memories of illicit sex that you saw intrudes whether you are imagining a story or not. That is because you are reaching the age that your body is manufacturing semen and as it gets close to time to ejaculate, you thoughts get pulled toward sexual ideas. You have to learn to manage your body and mind by keeping your hormones as stable as you can, though admittedly during the adolescent years this is impossible to do perfectly. "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:25-27). It means not hindering yourself from ejaculating when you need relief, whether it comes in the form of wet dreams or whether you need to masturbate when the sexual urge gets strong.

When your mind does head off in the wrong direction, you find something else to focus on. It may be struggle. It may mean that you'll have to finish your story a bit later after you calm down. But all of this helps you strengthen your self-control.