People everywhere are starting to get serious about pornography addiction. But for everyone who struggles with porn, they have a much more dangerous problem.

Sexual fantasy.

We need to talk more about this. I think we typically don’t, both because fantasy is very personal and because people don’t think fantasy is very significant, especially in comparison with the “weightier” problem of pornography (or adultery, or promiscuity, or sexual harassment, or so many other sexual issues).

But they couldn’t be more wrong.

I get it. Fantasy seems benign when compared with the pervasive problem of porn. If you’re going to pull an animal into your lap, reach for a labradoodle not a grizzly bear, right? The one might scratch you a little if it gets too excited, but the other…the other will tear you open and eat your insides.

We’ve actually got this backwards.

Far from being innocent, sexual fantasy means to maul you. It is not benign. It’s deadly serious. It’s the head of the beast of all sexual sin.

Here’s how:

First, sexual fantasy is where we depart from reality and enter into a false reality. In this way, it serves both as the gateway drug to all other sexual sins and the fuel that powers them.

Before a person indulges in porn, he or she first indulges in sexual fantasy. Temptation to view porn doesn’t come as a sentence (e.g. “How about watching some porn?”), it comes as an image. In fact, the first temptation is not to view porn, but to enjoy the image—to linger on it, manipulate it, reshape it, animate it, feed it in order to increase the pleasure it brings you.

Once you’ve begun engaging your imagination in this way, now fantasy takes on a life of its own, coming alive and adding fuel to the temptation. In other words, the simple choice of saying yes to a little fantasy adds kerosene to the heat of temptation and it grows. While you may have found yourself here unexpectedly (even though the process has followed the same course a thousand times), fantasy meant this all along. It never intended to just give you a little something. To put a not-so-unlikely spiritual spin on it, fantasy is like a spirit hungry for a bodily host to feed on.

Second, fantasy means to maul you not just by leading you into a false reality, but also by leading you away from the reality of where you are. The unreality you’re tempted to enter into through fantasy is actually a futile attempt to deal with the reality you’re trying to escape. Sexual fantasy doesn’t want you to know that you feel lonely, angry, anxious, rejected, or ashamed; instead it wants you to bow at its altar, and in exchange it will make those pains disappear for a while. But disconnecting from reality in this way leaves your pains untended and you at risk.

Sexual fantasy comes disguised as a nurse to help you, but the IV it hooks to your veins is not life-saving medicine; it is a narcotic keeping you dull and numb while your wounds (both big and small) fester and eventually steal your life away.

If you’re struggling with pornography, move the battle line to that first hint of sexual fantasy. Draw the line there: Resist, run, pray, call an ally, and seek to know and heal the pain or wound needing tending. We’d be honored to help.

If you can hold the line with fantasy, porn won’t even show up for the fight.

For you,
Josh

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Scott in MD.
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Scott in MD.

Oh how I wish I had focused earlier in my recovery on the truth of this last sentence “If you can hold the line with fantasy, porn won’t even show up for the fight”! This is SO true and yes, followers of Christ need to help others see this truth. Well done, Josh.

Wade Browning
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Wade Browning

I really think this is an absolutely true Josh. It’s similar to why there are bad things that happen in this world as a result of Sin present. If no sin, then no brokenness. In the same way, if no sexual fantasy, then pornography wouldn’t have the pull that it does. Porn becomes like a pill we take to ease the pain of our god-given desire instead of directing it in a holy direction.

Lee
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Lee

Good stuff Josh.

Stacy
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Stacy

“The unreality you’re tempted to enter into through fantasy is actually a futile attempt to deal with the reality you’re trying to escape.” Powerful.

Dusty
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Dusty

Fantasy is an infant porn problem, reading to feed on your dreams and grow into a ravening monster. Even if it is of one’s own wife, it can be the doorway to photo and video “fantasies.” As Jesus, said, looking in lust is the seed of adultery – and even looking in imagination starts the process.

Ray
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Ray

Have never seen it put this way! You broke down the porn issue to the least common denominator, thought. We just don’t have to go down that road! Thank you for the tools to obtain control and peace with oneself to be free to enjoy life with a healthy perspective! God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ!

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[…] wrote last week about the importance of moving the battle line from resisting porn to resisting sexual fantasy. […]

Alison
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Alison

Brilliant break down! So true fantasy is rarely spoke of and yet is most dangerous, at the root of all sexual sin. No wonder it is such a rampant and powerful ploy of the devil disguised as an escape – a comfort, so easy, and private. No doubt controlling the mind is so much harder than controlling actions. I’ve often thought that it’s an area in which human help only goes so far. Surely only with the help of God’s grace can this be managed.

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