Struggling with Impurity


#1

I am starting this thread as a way to engage a discussion with those who have experienced and are healing from or are currently being defeated by bondage to sins of lust. This could include but is not limited to pornography use and addiction, compulsive auto-erotic behavior, adultery, obsessive thoughts of sexual fantasy, etc. I am interested in hearing from both those who are presently suffering in this way and those who have experienced the healing of God’s grace in this part of their Christian life.

My particular questions are:

  1. What are the primary obstacles? (as you experienced them, not looking here for a theology of chastity)

  2. What causes you to fall?

  3. Have you tried a twelve step group like SA or any sort of Catholic support group to support you in chastity growth?

  4. If you have experienced a degree of freedom from the bondage of sexual sin, what has helped? (again, not looking for a catechesis here but what means and spiritual resources people personally utilized).

  5. If you are someone who is continually falling to sins of impurity, what would be most helpful in not only staying chaste, but growing in purity?

Please keep the discussion appropriate and avoid any words that could incite the passions or scandalize, being mindful of the virtue of modesty. Some may want to answer under an alias they aren’t normally known by.


#2

I had struggled with sins of impurity in my past.

I think the very first thing that helped me was confessing these sins to my priest. It was a horribly difficult thing for me to confess - I get knots in my stomach just thinking about that moment. However - admiting that sin aloud to my priest (and Jesus!) really began a healing process for me.

After I had confessed these sins to my priest - he offered a suggestion that I go to our Mother Mary to help me to remain pure. And that she has greatly helped him to remain pure in his life.

Since that day - if I have ever felt any temptations, I go right to Mary asking her help. I have gotten a great deal of strength from her - and honestly have not fallen since that day.

I hope that this is helpful to you. I will offer you up in my prayers.


#3

For what its worth.

A wise old priest told me once:

“Until the reason to avoid the temptation becomes stronger than the desire, you’ll continue to fail.”

The way to become stronger in your reason to avoid sin, is that you must have a close relationship with Christ. It is through this relationship, He will give you the transforming grace that will increase your love, so that you will have a stronger reason not to sin than the desire demands.

You will never be rid of desire while you are in this life, its biologically driven. But you’ll avoid the occasions where you increase the intensity of the desire and love for Christ will be the over riding motivation.

Hope this helps.

God Bless
Jim


#4

:thumbsup: Great post, Jim.

Barry,

I had a lifelong (since early childhood) and intense sexual addiction completely healed after following the Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance. Once I started the steps, I struggled for two weeks with temptations, and when I finished step 3, Confession, I was free of that addiction and haven’t fallen again since. It’s been nearly a year. Following those steps helped me begin that relationship with Christ that Jim describes in his post.

Now when I am tempted, instead of giving in immediately, I stop the temptations at the thought - but if they persist, I say a Hail Mary. Works for me every time.

The same site that has those Seven Steps also has a very active Catholic Support Group for Sexual Addictions Recovery. There are no in-person meetings, it is all through a forum on that website.

May God bless and heal you,
Becky


#5

Hi Barry,

I agree with what the others have said, and have some other thoughts.

Practically, self-reflection is a key activity for Christians in all aspects of their life, hence the examination of conscience. After many years of being oblivious to the problem, and then a couple of years of strong spiritual development, I know myself well enough to know where my weaknesses are (I am now 25). For instance, if I am dehydrated, have eaten poorly or not exercised, or have become bored, then I am more likely to succumb to thoughts of lust.

I think for boys in particular, they must come to realise that lustful behaviour (particularly when they are alone) is as much a bad habit as a biological drive. I still struggle, but (through the Spirit) my behaviour is changing e.g. I don’t have music video channels on ‘in the background’ while I do other things any more, and (I hope this isn’t too personal) I don’t sleep naked any more. Little changes like this help prevent situations where unhelpful thoughts or actions occur easily.

Also, realising that chastity involves gaining something great, not just giving up something pleasurable, is a key. Since my behaviour has changed, on the mornings when I awake after a ‘pure night’s sleep’ I don’t feel groggy and lethargic, as I would if I had had an ‘impure night’. Indeed, I feel great, and some days I’m so full of energy that I get everything done I had planned to do by mid-afternoon! Obversely, after an impure night, I don’t get started until mid-afternoon. Good habits breed other good habits, and bad ones breed bad.

Likewise, because my desire for sex as an end in itself has lessened, my desire for love has increased. I am still attracted to girls, but now I am wanting to get to know them better as people, which has improved my existing friendships with women, and allowed me to become good friends with others, because I’m not expecting/hoping for anything from them (not even their friendship, which is a gift). Knowing that I am deliberately not ‘chasing sex’ also means I can talk to any girl without becoming the nervous wreck I used to be, and (it seems) that I’m more attractive as a result!

Spiritually, prayer is key, and the Rosary becomes the ‘weapon’ it is supposed to be. It’s hard to be lustful when you spend so much time with the perfect woman and the Perfect Man! Again, boys need strong, manly role-models, and there are plenty of saints who fit the bill. St. Augustine, the intellectual powerhouse who begged God for chastity so that he could give it back to Him, and Ss. Benedict, Dominic, Francis and Ignatius Loyola are good too. The best for me have been St. Paul, who had a ‘thorn in his flesh’ just like me, but was strong willed enough to submit to God’s will and ‘ran the race to the finish’, and St. Joseph, (often overlooked) who was a paragon of manliness - he worked with his hands, was physically, emotionally and spiritually strong (try fleeing your homeland on foot in the middle of the night with your young wife and her divine Son in tow because an angel told you to), and called by the Church “the Terror of Demons”. Come on, that’s just awesome. What boy would hear that and not think, ‘I want to terrify the demons too!’

Hope all that helps.


#6

I believe our sex drive is biological. There’s no point in trying to purge ourselves of it. Instead, we must control it, and understand that doing so will be a life-long endeavor. It’s another part of the cross we must bear.


#7
  1. What are the primary obstacles? (as you experienced them, not looking here for a theology of chastity)
    My primary obstacles when first attempting to overcome my struggles were television and the internet. For the most part I have been able to overcome these after years of struggling. My current obstacles are seeing women dressed in provacative clothing and controlling my thoughts when I am around women. The last is the most difficult as I find myself in a struggle with keeping my mind from wandering & creating fantasies.

  2. What causes you to fall?
    Spending large amounts of time around women, particularly if there is drinking involved. Spending large amounts of time alone.

  3. Have you tried a twelve step group like SA or any sort of Catholic support group to support you in chastity growth?
    No support at all other than confession for me.

  4. If you have experienced a degree of freedom from the bondage of sexual sin, what has helped? (again, not looking for a catechesis here but what means and spiritual resources people personally utilized).
    What helps me the most is keeping my mind & body occupied. By doing that I seem to avoid most thoughts that would cause me problems. I have also had to be willing to avert my eyes from certain situations (don’t always win there). Staying away from shows that I know show women in provactive attire has been important. As has staying away from the computer unless actually working on something. I also attend confession about once a month, though often I feel like I am just going through the motions since I always find my way back for the same sins again.

  5. If you are someone who is continually falling to sins of impurity, what would be most helpful in not only staying chaste, but growing in purity?
    Having support would help IMMENSELY! Many times I feel like I am fighting all on my own.

2 books that I found helpful were Every Man’s Battle and Every Young Man’s Battle. They offer some very practical advice for avoiding lustful sins.


#8

tkdnick, thank you for replying to this post with such honesty. I have appreciated everyone’s contributions and felt blessed to see the examples of folks who are winning the battle so to speak and have experienced freedom from temptations that used to cause them to fall.

I particularly apreciated your post because you shared with me from your own experience of what has helped and where you are still struggling and avoided getting into advice giving. Not that I don’t appreciate the suggestions, I do appreciate them, but you answered the questions personally and that is what I was hoping for.

One of my motivating factors for doing this post is that I am starting a Catholic ministry for men who are struggling with lust and desire to grow in purity, (which includes me). The ministry is called Puritas Cordis. I am hoping to get the backing of my Bishop as I develop it. I have experience in the SA community and have seen what elements of this 12 step support network are so helpful such as accountability, fellowship, concrete solution based living (getting out of the problem), the deepining of the spiritual life. It is not necessarily going to be a parish based ministry but the goal is to purify and strenghten the parish. Because of the nature of sexual sin, being a private matter, most men will not feel comfortable coming out openly at their parish with their problem. And for good reason, this coud cause scandal. My intention is for this ministry to be a network of men who might be geographically seperated from another, particulary as the minstry develops, but nevertheless rely on one another for support and guidance in the Lord for growth in purity and chastity. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, the Dicocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and maybe another diocese have begun similar support groups.

I am starting to put some info about this ministry up on a blog at pureheartministry.blogspot.com/ and there is an email contact for me there if anyone is interested.

Basically, as you mentioned, what is helpful is not being alone, not having idol time, avoiding near occassion and living a sacramental life. I have found these things to be very helpful too. I think what is particularly helpful for me about a support group is that there is a plan of life, a way of healing, and fellowship to help me grow in this specific way God is calling me to grow. This helps me move from the problem to the solution. Satan wants me to stay in the problem, God wants me to live in the solution, Jesus Christ. Taking concrete actions in the form of steps in a support group is really helpful and also having a sponsor and some others who can relate to what I am going through is really a blessing.

More recently through working with a sponsor I was able to have a few periods of around six months of chastity, which was a great victory for me. More recently I have fallen and I see that in large part as being from me resting on my laurels and not thinking I needed additional support anymore. But I am learning. And I have grown in chastity. However, I could loose all that growth very easily if I wasn’t diligent and honest about my own limitations and proclivities.

Currently, I am completing a Master of Theological Studies degree and working on an essay titled Catholic Ministry to Persons with Sexual Addictions. This has been a very enlightening project and helped me to see how pervasive and unaddressed this problem is in the Church and beyond.

Thanks again for your input,

Barry


#9

tkdnick, thank you for replying to this post with such honesty. I have appreciated everyone’s contributions and felt blessed to see the examples of folks who are winning the battle so to speak and have experienced freedom from temptations that used to cause them to fall.

I particularly apreciated your post because you shared with me from your own experience of what has helped and where you are still struggling and avoided getting into advice giving. Not that I don’t appreciate the suggestions, I do appreciate them, but you answered the questions personally and that is what I was hoping for.

Believe me, I still struggle a great deal. It doesn’t take much for my mind to wander into places I know it shouldn’t. And I am not always quick to bring it back into check. On the bright side, I believe that the physical “activities” have been overcome by the grace of God. Now it’s all the mental stuff that I struggle with.

One of my motivating factors for doing this post is that I am starting a Catholic ministry for men who are struggling with lust and desire to grow in purity, (which includes me). The ministry is called Puritas Cordis. I am hoping to get the backing of my Bishop as I develop it. I have experience in the SA community and have seen what elements of this 12 step support network are so helpful such as accountability, fellowship, concrete solution based living (getting out of the problem), the deepining of the spiritual life. It is not necessarily going to be a parish based ministry but the goal is to purify and strenghten the parish. Because of the nature of sexual sin, being a private matter, most men will not feel comfortable coming out openly at their parish with their problem. And for good reason, this coud cause scandal. My intention is for this ministry to be a network of men who might be geographically seperated from another, particulary as the minstry develops, but nevertheless rely on one another for support and guidance in the Lord for growth in purity and chastity. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, the Dicocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and maybe another diocese have begun similar support groups.

I am starting to put some info about this ministry up on a blog at pureheartministry.blogspot.com/ and there is an email contact for me there if anyone is interested.

Sounds like an awesome ministry! Hope it works out for you (and others). I’ll definitely have to check out your blog.

Currently, I am completing a Master of Theological Studies degree and working on an essay titled Catholic Ministry to Persons with Sexual Addictions. This has been a very enlightening project and helped me to see how pervasive and unaddressed this problem is in the Church and beyond.

That is very cool! I’ve always wanted to get a degree in Theology.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


#10
  1. My primary obstacles to chastity seem to be a changing desire to want to STOP doing what I do. To explain: there will be times when I want to remain chaste. And then the temptations come…and if I don’t remain careful, I lose the desire to want to remain chaste and give-in. I then have to head-off to Confession, rid myself of these things, and start over again. It can happen in 1-3 week cycles for me.

  2. My failures usually stem from several things: lack of sleep, lack of desire to want to remain chaste when the temptations arise (usually happens on and off), boredom, if I fail to pray the Rosary for awhile, ect. My causes are many.

  3. No. There is one I know of, but it conflicts with my current schedule.

  4. I did over summer. I somehow (probably because of a busy schedule) avoided masturbating for around a month. Very liberating.

  5. No clue. Hence why I’m replying to you (in the hopes someone reads it, and can offer concrete advice).


#11

In my experience it’s very hard to overcome temptation if I don’t banish the thought at once because once desire and excitement are enkindled, it’s very, very difficult to say no to the temptation. Stoping the thought at the first moment it enters the mind is key to long-term success in chastity. Playing with sexual temptation is like playing with fire; you’ll be consumed by it if you dwell too long in the flames of concupiscence.
As far as your struggle to remain pure, it’s a noble and necessary fight in this spiritual life. Just be patient with yourself. It’s a tough battle to be sure but those that perservere with ultimately prevail with God’s grace.


#12

That’s been my experience, too. I’ve heard it said if you don’t want to go over a cliff, then don’t pull your car up to the edge and rev the engine.


#13

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