There is a line in the SA “white book” that defines sobriety as “progressive victory over lust.” Note, the goal is not to (a) quit masturbation, (b) quit porn, or (c) quit any behavior. The goal is to quit lust.
So what’s the big deal about lust? It’s simple. When we lust, we tend to act out; when we don’t lust, we don’t act out. It all begins with lust.
This may be the most practical blog I’ve ever written – “Nine Ways to Stop Lusting.”
1. Distinguish lust vs. notice.
To notice a beautiful woman or handsome man is not the same thing as lusting after them. As visual creatures, we notice things – a rainbow, deer along the road, classic car – and muscle-bound man or beautiful woman. It’s okay to notice, but not okay to stare. So don’t beat yourself up because your eyes work. To notice an attractive person is not a sin.
2. See people, not body parts.
Lust occurs when we diminish an attractive person to a collection of body parts. Try this. The next time you see a really attractive person whose appearance would normally tempt you to lust, focus on the part of the body that is not a turn on for you. See the whole, not the parts.
3. Practice the 3-second rule.
This is some of the best advice I ever give clients. When a good-looking person enters your viewfinder, go ahead. Look at them. If you don’t, it will get in your head and torment you – sometimes for hours. But train yourself to look away within three seconds. Count 1, 2, 3 – then look away.
What you pray matters less than the fact that you pray at all. Pray the Serenity Prayer. Pray the 3rd Step Prayer. Pray the 7th Step Prayer. Pray for the object of your potential lust. Pray for purity in your own life. Pray for God to do in you what you are seeking in another person. Pray.
5. Avoid the land mine.
Alcoholics should stay out of the bar. Addicted gamblers should avoid casinos. I should veer clear of Baskin Robbins. And sex addicts need to avoid situations that will be stimulating and tempting. These places will vary from person to person. These land mines may be the beach, television set, movie theater, mall, or certain relationships.
6. Join a group.
Several times, God repeated, “It is good” in the creation story. Do you remember what broke his streak? When he saw man alone, he said, “It is not good.” Sure enough, man got in trouble when he isolated. You need to surround yourself with a few friends, a recovery group, and an accountability partner.
7. Look into their eyes.
When it comes to overcoming lust, the eyes have it. When you enter a conversation with an attractive person, look intently into their eyes. The best way to avoid looking at the wrong thing is to look at the right thing. Look into their eyes.
8. Stay in the battle.
I have yet to meet the man (or woman) who totally overcame lust. The Bible tells us that any man who says he has completely overcome sin is a liar. We all battle lustful thoughts and the lust of the eyes. You need to win more battles than you lose, until you eventually gain total victory.
9. Make a covenant.
Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not sin against God” (Job 31:1). Job drew a line in the sand. He made a covenant, not with God, but with his eyes. Why? Because Job understood that we can only control what our eyes take in if we control where our eyes focus. Try that today. Make a covenant with your eyes.