I’ve been sexually sober for over 100 days now — not a lick of masturbation, pornography, or promiscuity — and I get a lot of questions like HOW I DO IT. How do you stay sexually sober? How do you still the swirling rage? How do you DEFEAT HOMOSEXUALITY?
Well, my brothers, you’re in luck today. I’m here to help you. Do these five simple things, and you too can stay sexually sober and defeat homosexuality.*
*Doing these five things may or may not help you defeat homosexuality.
Staying Sexually Sober #1: Take Care of Your Body
In the immortal words of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde:
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t
shoot their husbandswatch gay porn.”
The more endorphins flooding your system from exercise, the less likely you will be to act out. Climb from your hole of apathy and do something.
Go for a run. Hit the gym. Kayak down a river. Do something physical, preferably outdoors, that suits you!
As for me, I do around 60 push-ups every morning and 60 crunches before bed. I walk to work and to the coffee shop. I run once or twice a week. Soon I hope to dive into a regular biking routine, too.
Indeed, exercise gives me endorphins and makes me happy, and I generally don’t want to watch pornography after getting all sweaty and then stepping out of the shower.
Eating well goes a long way, too. I’ve cut my fast food intake to one trip a week. And it’s usually Chick-fil-A, so I’m getting my extra Christian points there.
Oh, and while you’re at it, set a bedtime and stick to it. I used to think bedtimes were for babies, but then I realized sleep is, like, good for you.
I don’t feel as tempted sexually when my physical body feels nurtured.
Staying Sexually Sober #2: Take Care of Your Mind
You are what you eat. This is true of physical food, and it’s true of mental food, too. If you play violent video games all the time, violence is going to seem more natural to you. If you watch a lot of nudity, you’re gonna crave more of it — on screen and off.
Fill the well with good water, and keep refilling it. It starts with Scripture, but it doesn’t stop there (sorry, Super Christians). Read books and blogs and articles that supply you with truth and inspire you.
Listen to podcasts. I listen to several ranging from Relevant Magazine to the Brant & Sherri Oddcast to BADCHRISTIAN to The Liturgists. Some are silly, some are serious, and all of them keep my brain gears turning rather than stalling.
I read at least 30 minutes before bed each night. I read mostly nonfiction these days, stuff about God or traveling or lifestories or personality models.
I don’t feel as tempted sexually when my mind doesn’t go hungry.
Staying Sexually Sober #3: Get (and Stay!) Inspired
I don’t know about you guys, but I get tempted and bothered when I’m not inspired. Whenever I start to feel sluggish and lazy and un-inspired, I change that. Pronto. I hop in my car and head for the hills — literally.
I go for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watch the sunset from 6,000 feet up. I hike a couple miles. I breathe fresh air from up high rather than the stale air down below.
I visibly see how small I am and how big this world is, and I’m reminded of how much bigger God is than any single struggle within any individual soul.
How silly am I to think this universe revolves around me and my temptations to check out the personal ads or fire up a web chat with some guy on the other side of the world. There is so much more than me, and there is so much more than the passing pleasure.
I don’t feel as tempted sexually when I remember my place in this world.
Staying Sexually Sober #4: Do Good Work
It’s one thing to be “inspired” — it’s another to do something with said inspiration. Inspiration hoarded for yourself isn’t the full manifestation of inspiration — it’s not really inspiration
If that doesn’t make sense, how about this: once you get “inspired,” do good work that inspires others. This can happen wherever you are: work, school, your living room, behind your laptop, at the grocery store, even online.
I go to a coffee shop multiple times throughout the week and write on this communal blog, my own blog, and otherwise connect with people online. I’m also working on my second book of stories collected from nine months spent around the continent.
I work with troubled youth, and I encourage them to keep going on their recovery journeys; they unknowingly encourage me to keep on my own.
I live in a walkable city where it’s impossible not to interact with someone on any given day. Even if I were a waiter or cashier or mailman, I’d have good work to do by making just one other person happier to be alive today.
I have stars on the horizon I’m shooting for and stepping toward, day by day.
Keep walking in your good work, and walk with confidence that your every step is changing the landscape.
I don’t feel as tempted sexually when I have something to live for everyday.
Staying Sexually Sober #5: Stay Connected
Finally, if you’re playing the temptation game like Solitaire, you’re doing it wrong. You might succeed for a day or week or month or two, but you will fall. Trust me. I’ve been there. Been there many times.
You need other people to walk this walk and fight this fight alongside. You need other brothers, SSA or otherwise.
I have a roommate, and we have weekly accountability meetings. We dive into the nitty-gritty together: how we’re doing spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, and mentally.
We call these weekly check-ins “SPERM counts,” for obvious reasons.
We discuss our temptation levels with masturbation, pornography, and promiscuity. We lay it all on the table.
Is it awkward?
Is it awful?
Is it the worst?
Oh yes. All of the above and more. It is not fun to announce your crap like a trumpet, week to week.
But this act of checking in from week to week is perhaps the most vital component that keeps me on the offensive against sexual temptation.
I never want to come to our weekly meeting with a confession of sin. I just don’t. The thought is sickening, and so I keep fighting.
If you don’t have regular accountability, you need it. You need to find it, and you need to plug into it.
Vulnerability with others will change everything about how you approach any struggle, lust-driven or otherwise.
I don’t feel as tempted sexually when I have brothers to share this road.
So, those are my top 5 tips for staying sexually sober. How do you guys do it? What would you add to the list?
* Photo courtesy chintermeyer, Creative Commons.
Great post, Tom.
#1: I’ve actually found that exercise and physical activity make me hornier. Being lazy kills my libido.
I really like #3 and #4. Being inspired is sometimes work, and then doing something with that inspiration is even more work, but it’s definitely worth it. These are valuable things for life, whether we’re trying to abstain from sexual impurity or not. Too many people out there are content with mediocrity as long as they are entertained.
As for #5, I agree with it completely, but I don’t have it except with people online, which I don’t really count as true accountability. I wish I could get the kind of bonding, vulnerability, and accountability that you talk about here, but it’s just not available to me in this season of my life. And I have a feeling there are a lot of people in similar positions — we want accountability, connection, and all that good stuff, but it’s just out of reach, and it’s really nobody’s fault.
Kevin, I’m finding solace with this blog, but still I am missing a flesh-and-blood connection I long for. Interestingly though, when I disclose my SSA to people I know to be OSA, they tell me about having SSA desires too, or previous experimentation. It seems more and more apparent to me that people are not 100% one or the other, as the surveys also reveal. Still, I’m grateful that I can talk about my SSA with my OSA friends and a lot of them understand because of their past history.
I remember that time period I mentioned last time and I had my accountability leader and she was like “maybe you should get into sports or something to kill energy – that usually helps guys.” I hate sports but I did start taking walks and stuff. Stayin mentally and physically active has seemed to help but I would say more mentally than physically. But what I think helped most was that it was the first time I had an accountability person – I did not want to get to the ed of the month and say that I had come so far yet crashed and burnes again. After a year I stopped checking in once a month, but every few months she would ask me how I was doing and all and I think not going it alone is whats brought me farthest.
On another note, it has not at all made me straight but I have noticed that since keeping a lid on this I do not struggle nearly as much with lust. People have finally become just people.
Tom, thanks for sharing! For me, I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding an accountability partner. It seems like when I share deeply and honestly, it scares them off. Even at a previous church I was attending. Our men’s group had been meeting for a couple of years and finally got to the place where it was a safe place to share. I did so and the next week the pastor (who was at the meeting) changed the whole format of the group and killed the safety. He turned it into more of a business meeting. I didn’t get it. It took so long to get it to a safe place.
Tom, this is gold and well timed. I’ve been meeting with my associate pastor weekly and he’s been challenging me to stay sexually pure. It’s been a struggle, but those practical ways of aiding in the fight are especially useful. Also, your continued fight for purity in this area is inspiring and motivating.
Thanks for sharing! I’ll continue to pray for strength in this fight, as well as a greater understanding of God’s love for you as you go from day to day.
Great post and advice Tom. Thanks for posting
“And it’s usually Chick-fil-A, so I’m getting my extra Christian points there.”
Haha! Of course! Nothing like a well run fast food establishment to boost our self righteousness! 🙂 We all know it’s true!
Good steps–all of them! Since loneliness is one of the strongest triggers I have for acting out, I just want to stress how important it is to stay connected for me. The quote I like is this: “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection.” I have who said this somewhere, but not handy, so ask me later if you need the author! When I am meeting my needs, there is no desire to act out in any addictive behavior!
I belong to a men’s organization and we have weekly email check-ins regarding our current state of being. The areas are, Spiritually, Physically, Emotionally, Missionally and Relationally. We put the first letter of the word at the beginning of that category, which spells the acrostic down the page. At our first few check-in’s I didn’t realize it was supposed to be in that order, so I did it spelling SPERM. Although no one commented, I realized it wasn’t how other people were doing it and I felt embarrassed none-the-less. Your check-in style reminded me of that Tom.
As far as staying pure, it is a lot harder to do if I’m masturbating. I know I just need to stop doing that, but since I’m largely successful at avoiding porn when masturbating, it gives me an excuse to continue. Thanks for encouraging and inspiring me.
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Certainly 5 of the big one’s, Tom! If I may, though, I’d add a 6th:
#6: Keep Jesus Christ as The Center of Your Focus… Not your Sexual Sobriety!
More simply put—and this applies to so much more than just our sexual sobriety—when our real Focus is Jesus Christ, then things like sexual sobriety become the natural result of that on-going and daily relationship.
Speaking for myself, pursuing my Relationship to Christ as second place to any desired result of it, simply doesn’t work! To borrow an old cliche, it’s like “placing the cart before the horse.”
That’s my two cents worth, bro!
I thank Yahweh for this wonderful teaching. It’s very inspiring and I’ll just pray that Yahweh puts me up with the right person to walk this life with staying sexually sober and pure. Thanks Tom.