For many individuals, sexual addiction and in particular looking at pornography and masturbation feels like a battle. It isn’t a battle with physical weapons. It is a drawn-out psychological biochemical war with an extremely skilled and experienced unseen enemy who constantly attempts to hide in the darkness.
How do we defeat such a formidable enemy? The key is to realize the power available to you when you align with God’s Power.
Every addiction results from an unmet need at the unconscious level of the mind. We are not conscious of the unmet need, and the addiction becomes our “go to” or our “savior” or our God for whatever it is that we feel is unmet.
If we want to overcome addiction, we need our lives centered on a God who can fill these needs and whom we can always rely upon..
As we examine the war chapters in the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon, we discover several strategies that align us with God’s infinite power and enable us to put on His protective armor.
They help us to fight with a righteous and pure purpose. And, they help us to maintain a firm stand on the battlefield of pornography addiction until victory is assured.
Many of the strategies outlined in Alma demonstrate a combined use of Spiritual and Behavioral principles to winning your battles.
Quite often, when people first become aware of the idea of training or interventions that synchronize or synergize these two principles, they try to “force” a dichotomy. It’s as if their challenging question is something like, “Are you teaching your people to work with God, or are you teaching them to fight by themselves?”
I have never been in a dangerous military situation, but, from what I understand, soldiers in combat have no problem combining the two principles. They pray with all their heart, might, mind and strength hoping desperately for the involvement of Divine power.
But, then they fight with all their heart, might, mind and strength. If interviewed after a battle, they would tell us, “We and God both work full out during the battle. We can figure out who gets the credit after the dust settles. In the end, it doesn’t matter who gets credit when we work as a team.”
As we consider how to fully align with God while giving our all to winning the battle over sexual addiction, we find several common themes outlined in the Book of Mormon.
We Fight With Our Savior, Jesus Christ
It isn’t enough to have a cause that moves us when we only draw upon our own relative strength and experience. We fight against a vicious and unrelenting dark general who possesses at least 6,000 years of experience in defeating men and bringing them under the yoke of bondage.
The critical key to success in any battle we fight is to align ourselves with the absolute power of God and the redeeming power of the Atonement. The Atonement is infinite in its depth and breadth to empower and save.
When we align ourselves with this power, we have unlimited capacity to win against any attack even when we may lack worldly experience to fight.
Consider the following examples from scripture where the Nephites’ success in battle resulted from their connection to the Savior and his grace:
48 And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.
49 And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.
50 And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that self same hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.– Alma 43:48-50
Here we see that the mere faithful cry for help was sufficient to turn the tide of a battle that was all but lost. Until that moment, the Nephites had been outnumbered and overpowered by the strength of their adversary.
Their natural capabilities were no match for the Lamanites. Statistics would dictate that failure was imminent. But, the Nephites weren’t counting on their natural capabilities to deliver them when they cried for help. They exercised faith in an unseen power and force that they felt confident could show them a way to victory where none was apparent.
What battles are you currently “losing?”
Where does the adversary appear to have you pinned down or in full retreat?
Are you able to trust in Jesus Christ’s power to provide you with sufficient strength and skill for victory?
When was the last time that you asked for that power to deliver you and then held fast with the trust that it would come?
3 But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.
4 Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.– Alma 44:3-4
In the preceding verses, Captain Moroni pointed out a critical part of drawing upon God’s power. It is through our faith that we are saved from destruction.
And, it is through our religion with its laws, covenants and ordinances that we can be cleansed and connected to God through Jesus Christ. As long as we remain faithful to those covenants, God will protect us from our enemies.
It may feel tempting to neglect important covenants when times are peaceful and flow with relative ease. Satan is cunning at convincing us that other things are more important and should take precedence in our mind and heart.
However, the commandments and our covenants keep us in a state of connection with Eternal power. The strength of this connection can not generally be re-established instantaneously after being neglected for weeks, months or years.
Like a rope woven strand by strand, each covenant faithfully kept will open our minds and hearts to greater flow of light and love and subsequently strengthen our ability to act from love rather than fear.
Do you feel like you’re being continually overpowered by Satan’s powerful waves of fear?
Have you remembered the covenants that you have made or perhaps the ones that you have neglected to make because you feared the commitment? How faithfully do you honor them? Where could you step up your commitment?
While we may feel derided on all sides because of our decision to be called by the name of Jesus Christ, this covenant relationship is the key to our safety and protection.
Are we willing to bear His name in all situations? Do we fear the trends of the world more than the commandments given from the Savior by whose name we are called?
In contrast to earlier defeats and bondage that stemmed from the Nephites’ slothfulness to remember, as they sharpened their remembrance, they could detect every snare and attack from their adversaries.The Nephites enjoyed freedom when they were quick to remember their dependence on God.
28 And it came to pass that the Nephites began again to be victorious, and to reclaim their rights and their privileges.
29 Many times did the Lamanites attempt to encircle them about by night, but in these attempts they did lose many prisoners.
30 And many times did they attempt to administer of their wine to the Nephites, that they might destroy them with poison or with drunkenness.80
31 But behold, the Nephites were not slow to remember the Lord their God in this their time of affliction. They could not be taken in their snares; yea, they would not partake of their wine, save they had first given to some of the Lamanite prisoners.– Alma 55:28-31
Do Satan’s snares regularly catch you unawares?
One of the objectives of our prevention and recovery programs is to help participants sharpen their spiritual senses and awareness of Satan’s attacks long before he has had the opportunity to surround them in full hand-to-hand combat.
As they draw upon God’s power and remember what is important to them, they learn to see Satan coming from afar and become effective snipers to counter his attacks.
55 And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.
56 But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.– Alma 56:55-56
And similarly these verses:
10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.
11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would 82
deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.
12 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.
13 And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites, who were in the city of Manti…– Alma 58:10-13
These verses demonstrate that statistical strength of numbers and natural capability does not matter when we are connected with Jesus Christ. His assurances of protection and safety are always backed with miraculous events that the faithless might call “luck” or “circumstance.”
It is my belief that God sometimes gives overwhelming statistics so that, in the end, we are assured that He is the one who delivered us versus our own wisdom and strength.
37 But, behold, it mattereth not—we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies.
39 And those sons of the people of Ammon, of whom I have so highly spoken, are with me in the city of Manti; and the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain.
40 But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.– Alma 58:37-40
From these verses, we can clearly see that aligning with the Savior is in no way passive. It requires continual diligence and exactness and doing all that He has commanded.
We clearly demonstrate our alignment by our willingness to hearken especially when the commandment feels challenging for us to obey.
Captain Moroni shares the following perspective regarding our alignment with Jesus:
But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now we see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.– Alma 44:3
When Captain Moroni gives all the credit to Jesus Christ, he is not erasing the hard work that he and his men exerted towards becoming skilled, strong and dedicated.
He is reminding his men and his enemy that the power to win comes from the combined effort we make with the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
We play a role for our warriors like that played by Captain Moroni in his community. In our training sessions, we drill and drill and drill how to increase discernment (detecting the enemy early), followed by high speed, accurate and strong responses.
Just like Captain Moroni, we, of course, obtain and maintain a working relationship with God, but we don’t expect to win our battles without doing our best part.
Overcoming sexual addiction can feel daunting when we are on our own fighting with only our available light and capabilities.
When we fight with the Savior and bring our very best to the fight, we always have sufficient power and resources for victory including victory over sexual addiction.
We take back our power in the process of trusting in God’s power and decide to be “All In.”