Recidivism, why so many are discouraged in the fight for purity.

Recidivism, why so many are discouraged in the fight for purity.

Recidivism, the cycle that keeps us down

“As a dog returns to it’s vomit so a man returns to his sin”, the old proverb says and what an apt description of the soul stuck in the muck of pornography addiction. Recidivism is perhaps the most discouraging factor for those struggling for freedom from lust. A specific circular pattern can be observed here: temptation, fantasy, ecstasy,reality, making of vows, increased effort, failure, temptation. Of course there are variations to this pattern, but it holds true generally speaking. The vicious cycles usually continue until every hope of freedom is crushed and total defeat has been accomplished, a sad commentary that is affecting many in our churches today. How can we turn this around?

The necessity of retraining the mind

Pornography addiction deeply affects our minds. Fantasy involves the engagement of our powers of imagination. We as humans have the power to imagine something and then make it happen. For instance, an architect imagines a building design, and then drafts it on paper. In her insightful book, “An Affair of the Mind”, Laurie Hall gives us some profound insights into the power of imagination.

Imagination is the gateway to the soul…the thinking, willing, and feeling part of us. What we imagine becomes what we do. Imagination based on truth is extremely powerful…Once Imagination ceases to be based on truth, it slips into fantasy. Fantasy is a play of the mind. It is delusion. Even though it will seem real to a deluded person, fantasy cannot become reality because it is not based on truth.

She continues to describe the effects on the soul to those who harness the power of imagination for the sole purpose of self-gratification.

In a healthy soul, imagination is a creative force that flows outward giving birth to expressions of beauty and solutions to problems. In a deluded soul, the imagination becomes a vacuum sucking into itself people and objects that can be used for self-gratification. In time the deluded soul implodes on itself…fantasy becomes a way to make selfish desires become reality by controlling others. In a sense, fantasy is like witchcraft. Using illusions and delusions, fantasy seeks to make the deluded one believe he has found truth. The one given to fantasy is enthralled-their mind captivated by an unreal world from which the only escape is truth. And truth is the last thing the fantasizer wants because it will destroy their make-believe world.”

She then relates the paramount need for truth to invade the unreal world of fantasy

For the deluded one, imagination is reduced to a magic carpet ride that will take them wherever they want to go but never lands to experience the country. Instead of being a resource to solve problems, the imagination becomes a convenient escape from life’s pressures…where the fantasizer will “shoot up” in the recesses of the mind. The more deluded you become, the more powerless you are to leave your make-believe world by crafting solutions to your problems. It is a vicious cycle you cannot get out of by fantasizing. You can only get out of it by truth. Truth is the foundation on which the power of change rests. Truth is unchangeable reality. It does not depend on circumstances. What is true is always true in every place in every occasion.

Truth is the greatest need of the deluded soul to dismantle the unreal world of fantasy constructed by the power of imagination. Delusion is brother to deception and lying becomes the language of the addict. The powerful nuero chemicals that are released in the routine of using porn reinforce the experience making it extremely addictive. What is described here is no average prison. This is a super max of the mind, solitary confinement of the soul. Is it any wonder the sexual addict seems jaded when the idea of lasting freedom is presented? All previous attempts to break free have resulted in complete failure. When a person has tried everything to get free, hopelessness settles in. It is the slave mentality we see in the children of Israel under their cruel task-masters in Egypt. When Moses told them the mighty deliverance that was about to happen, “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” Nonetheless, a mighty deliverance is available to all who are enslaved by delusion. Jesus said, “I am the truth…” and He sets captives free. However, the deliverance from sexual sin is not usually accompanied by dramatic signs and wonders, but is an arduous slow grind and severe hand to hand combat. Much of this is the work of re-training the mind.

Our Minds are Created for Victory

God has constructed our minds in a wonderful way. We do not think simultaneously, meaning lots of thoughts all at once, we think sequentially, meaning one thought at a time. Sequential means following a logical order or sequence, like the staggered lines of a passing lane on a highway. Often our thoughts seem to flood our minds all at once, but this is actually our brains ability to switch thoughts in a fraction of a second. Because of this fact of sequential thinking, it follows that we can only think one thought at a time allowing us to take 100% control of our thinking.

A useful tool to retrain your mind

The 3 second rule is a very effective method to begin to master your thought life. It is awkward at first, but with practice one can become very proficient. Start by screening your thoughts to catch the “offenders” which are: sinful thoughts, potentially sinful thoughts and negative thoughts about yourself and others. Now it takes about a second to realize that you are thinking one of these offending thoughts, a second to deal with the thought and a second for grace because we do not want to be overly harsh with ourselves.


A great way to deal with an offending thought is to re-frame it. Re-framing means to look at the temptation from the perspective of truth instead of instant gratification. When we re-frame a thought, we follow it through to the worst possible consequences or change the thought into a distasteful image. For example, instead of thinking about the promised ecstasy, bring to mind the terrible feelings of guilt and shame connected with a fall, or the humiliation of confessing to those who hold you accountable. Distasteful imagery is also an effective way to re-frame and it can be as creative as you are: cleavage can become a cow’s utter’s, bikini’s a loaded diaper and a hard body can be changed into a rotting corpse. Notice how the Proverbs employ the use of re-framing in reference to the adulteress,

“For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; (instant gratification/promised ecstasy) but in the end she is bitter as gall,sharp as a double-edged sword.Her feet go down to death;her steps lead straight to the grave.” (worst possible consequences/ distasteful imagery)

By taking effective control of our thought lives, we shut down the thinking patterns that we have honed for sexual sin and erect a new sanctified pattern of thinking, able to stand against the draw and cravings of seduction. This goes a long way in stopping recidivism because our minds are no longer passive, but strong and disciplined. Occasionally we hit an abnormally hard spot and these mental disciplines can break down. That is when we need the humility to reach out for help and call our accountability partners. This act of humility will release the power of the Holy Spirit with a boost of spiritual energy to get over the temptation. If you don’t believe me, put it to the test the next time your struggling.

These are just two of the many tools Free Indeed teaches in our highly effective programs. We assign coaches to work one on one with our program participants to provide the intensive support needed to gain lasting freedom. If you or someone you know needs help overcoming sexual addiction please fill out a confidential application on our website or call our toll free number 888-934-0333.