“What are you really looking for?”

Chris was in the midst of searching for pornography when he ended up on the phone asking an older Christian brother for help. Chris had struggled with viewing porn for so many years at this point, and he’d tried and tried to break free from his habit. Yet here he was again. He thought what he was looking for was self-evident, so his friend’s question seemed so out of place it took him by surprise.

“What are you really looking for?”

It was the “really” that caught his attention. He’d viewed porn a million times and never felt satisfied. In fact, he’d only ever felt worse—dirty, ashamed, and discouraged. Could it be that it had never satisfied because he was looking for something else? And if so, what was that something else?

Two weeks ago, I wrote that even though sexual fantasy seems benign when compared with weightier sexual sins, it’s actually the most dangerous because it’s both the doorway into and the fuel for all other sexual sin. Last week I wrote about how God wants to reclaim our imaginations from the unreality of sexual fantasy, and sanctify our imaginations to fuel faith in the unseen realities of God in and around us.

This week, I want to talk about sexual fantasy as a sign pointing to our deeper longings, which in turn point us to the One who satisfies our deepest desires.

Jay Stringer, in his book, Unwanted, writes: “Sexual failures, Internet searches, and browser histories expose our sin, but far more, they are road maps…You may not like the ‘map’ you’ve been given, but to navigate your way out of unwanted sexual behavior, you will need to pay closer attention to what it desires to show you.”

This is what Chris’s friend was getting at with his surprising question. He knew what Chris did not yet know: That he wasn’t looking for illicit sexual scenes but he was looking for something, and what he was looking at could reveal something about what he was really looking for.

His friend’s question that day and in the many days that followed created moments of grace for Chris where instead of trying to run from his sexual fantasy, with the help of his friend, he began to look through his fantasy and to welcome the presence of Christ into it. As he did, Chris began to recognize he was really looking for a place where he could feel he belonged, he mattered to someone, and he was strongly desired—all things porn seemed to supply in the moment but really never did.

What about you? What are you really looking for in porn and sexual fantasy? (For that matter, what are you looking for in all the illegitimate places you run?) Don’t beat yourself up for searching in the wrong places. The fact that you are searching means you are not satisfied with what you have yet found, and that is a hopeful thing.

Jesus asked the men who would become His first followers: “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). I’m convinced He asks you and me the same thing. We may not have a clue at first, and so like those early followers, we might stammer a reply (see John 1:38b). Jesus invites us nonetheless, “Come, and you will see” (John 1:39).

Searching,
Josh

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Stacy
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Stacy

Thanks Josh. I appreciate these blogs so much. They are very helpful. You have a great thing going with this. God bless this ministry.

Matti Paavola
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Matti Paavola

This is a compelling story! The power of a question is amazing. It can truly reveal what one is really searching for; or it just reveals they haven’t really considered the topic all that deeply. Just like the Luke 18 rich young ruler who asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus reveals his underlying motive with a question, leading to a masterful interchange whose power survives to this very day, 2000 years later.

Lee
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Lee

Thanks Josh!

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