Today, Brandon reflected on the moment when he realized that viewing porn and masturbating were sinful. He wanted to be free of that guilt. As a Catholic, he went to Confession, which he thought would end his porn usage, but he quickly learned he was wrong. Instead of finding freedom when he confessed, he was driven into a cycle of shame when he kept failing.
Although Brandon only mentioned it in passing, the Shame Cycle is really important in understanding why people keep turning again and again to porn. Simply put, it works like this: when you watch porn, you feel a sense of shame. This shame drives you into isolation and secrecy, particularly about your porn use, but in your isolation you’re more vulnerable to triggers, which drive you back to porn. Each time the cycle triggers, you’re driven a little deeper into it. Maybe you watch porn a little longer, or something new triggers your porn use. Maybe your sense of shame is compounded as you dig deeper into Scripture! Whatever it is, the cycle tends to get faster and faster over time and becomes more and more difficult to break.
Circle labeled "The Shame Cycle" with arrows leading from "Viewing porn to feel better" to "feeling shame" to "isolation and secrecy" to "vulnerable to triggers"
We see this played out in Romans 7:7-25. Just as Brandon didn’t feel shame until he was forced to face the reality that his porn use was sinful, Paul writes that our condemnation for sin comes through the Law. He elaborates in verse 21 that now that he knows the law, he desires to do good, but sin still has a hold on his flesh. Verse 25 tells us that Christ will rescue us from the law of death, but even so, we still do what we do not want to do.
Brandon learned that the hard way when he kept failing. Even though Brandon’s shame was covered the moment he put faith in Jesus, it took years before Brandon’s relationship with Jesus deepened and he was able to live in freedom.
In other words, if you’re reading this and wondering why Jesus hasn’t just “lifted the cross,” remember: you have been trapped in the Shame Cycle for years. Take comfort in the fact that in Jesus’ death, He took the guilt for your sin on his shoulders, but also take comfort in the fact that sanctification—being made holy and purified from sin—is often a years-long process for deeply-rooted sins. You will get there, but it will take time.
1) The Shame Cycle has four main parts: porn viewing, followed by shame, followed by isolation, followed by triggers (we’ll get to triggers later). How have you seen that cycle play out in your own life, especially the sense of shame?
2) Don’t let the Shame Cycle break you. Break it. Together, with a trusted ally, you can take back your life and leave the shame behind for good. Don’t wait any longer. Take advantage of a 30-day free trial from Heroic Men and Covenant eyes here: https://rb.gy/gb9zkn
3) Read Romans 7:14-25 together. How does Paul’s experience resonate with your own?
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.