Recognizing Triggers and Traps, Pt. 3: The Tempting Situation
By Biz Gainey
As I write this post on preparing for and resisting The Tempting Situation, I am sitting in a Starbucks drinking my customary Grande Bold Coffee, black.
Here is what I can tell you based on this one morning in Starbucks: For those of us who are trying to live a porn-free life, or who are trying to maintain a porn-free life, temptations abound, and they are everywhere.
We will, at some point, be tempted or face a Tempting Situation, in which our desires to click on a porn link or website will be tugged and cajoled – many times more than once a day.
Often, more than once an hour.
Yes. If you’ve battled the soul-wrenching beast of porn addiction, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Facing temptations, or the Tempting Situation, is a reality with which we must all come to grips.
The irony of writing this post - about resisting the Tempting Situation - in a Starbucks, is that I am going to suggest we consider a picture from an ancient writer, Homer, to help us prepare for and resist temptation. The work to which I am referring is found in Books 12 – 14 of his Epic, The Odyssey.
Tempting Situations and the Long Journey Home
By way of summation, Odysseus and his crew are on their voyage home, after the Trojan Wars. During this lengthy journey home, he and his shipmates sail past the Isle of Sirens (thus the irony, as Starbucks’ logo is based on a Siren), where the famed daughters of the gods await, singing their silky songs of seduction.
The Sirens’ objective is to tempt the crew to take a detour and investigate the beautiful shores of the island they inhabit. The Sirens make promises they cannot – and have no intention to – fulfill. They promise Odysseus and his crew passion, pleasure, and gratification, knowing they will deliver distortion, destruction, and, ultimately, death.
The crew, in other words, faces a Tempting Situation that’s filled with power and persuasion but will end in distortion and destruction. The Isle of Sirens’ power is found only in its persuasion, not in its intention or ability to deliver what’s promised.
Consider this gripping stanza and the stark reality of how the sultry sounds of the Sirens would lead to death and death alone:
Their song is death, and makes destruction please.
Unblest the man, whom music wins to stay
Nigh the cursed shore and listen to the lay.
No more that wretch shall view the joys of life
His blooming offspring, or his beauteous wife![i]
The line that grabs my heart, “No more that wretch shall view the joys of life,” describes how terribly wrecked life becomes when one gives in to the Tempting Situation. I have been there on more than one occasion. You know, that place where we experience the wretchedness of giving into porn’s sultry song.
In all likelihood, you’ve been there as well. Indeed, to give in to the Tempting Situation the Isle of Sirens poses, is to give the temptation power over our life. It’s a power that leaves us awash on a shore of guilt and shame.
When we give in to temptation, we experience detachment and disengagement from those people who love is the most and in those places where our life finds the most meaning! No more do we enjoy the wonders of life found in our spouse, children, extended community, and vocation.
The porn industry has taken a page or two from Greek mythology, offering the hope of satisfaction while delivering the reality of suffocation.
The sights and sounds of the Tempting Situation are often enticing. Of course, if they weren’t enticing, there would be no need to prepare or resist. So, how do we prepare for and resist the many Tempting Situations that we face on a daily basis?
After all, Sirens abound in today’s porn-saturated world.
Consider the following ways I battle the ongoing reality of temptation in today’s Isle-of-Sirens society:
A Few Ways to Prepare for and Resist the Tempting Situation
1. Be Prepared! Accept the reality that the Tempting Situation is going to present itself. I don’t care how many days, weeks, months, or years you’ve been porn-free, you will still be tempted. There is nothing wrong with being tempted; it’s how you respond in the Tempting Situation that determines the immediate outcomes. It’s important that you develop a list of Triggers and Traps that are specific to you and your own struggle (this series can help).
2. Be Intentionally Preventative! Take preventative steps so that you can resist when you face the Tempting Situation! Odysseus and his crew prepared for the Tempting Situation the Isle would present by taking steps – ahead of time - to resist the tempting Island. The crew plugged their ears and covered their eyes. Odysseus himself was tied to the mast to prevent him from giving in to the sultry sounds of the Sirens’ tempting song.
3. Build a Team! Find a community of people whom you can trust and upon whom you can rely when the Tempting Situation occurs. Porn’s Tempting Situations exploit isolation and fatigue. Ongoing participation in and with a community of others who struggle in this way will play a crucial role in your ability to resist when the Sirens sound their song!!
4. Behold True Beauty. While this is last on the list, it’s the most important. A vision of beauty around the joy of being home is life-giving and provides power when faced with the Tempting Situation. In other words, our desire to be with the ones we love and those who love us – fully engaged – is the place where our resistance begins! The only way I’ve been able to resist the tempting trinkets of porn’s lust-filled, soul-sapping world, is by beholding the true and life-giving beauty already present in my life! Odysseus holds fast because he has a vision of being at home. He has beheld the beauty of his loving wife and longs to be captivated by the beauty he beholds. The Tempting Situation presented by porn, conversely, pounds the love out of us and strips us of the beauty we desperately long to behold!
Odysseus was compelled to ‘stay the course’ because his true love – his beauty beheld - awaited his return.
I will spend my next post exploring the joy and necessity of Beholding True Beauty when I conclude this series on Triggers and Traps (previous posts can be found here).
As I sip my last sip of morning joe, I do so from a cup that reminds me there are Sirens all around and, as such, I must be prepared and ready to resist the Tempting Situation. I am also encouraged by the reality that the Siren song, though a reality in our world, loses its power of persuasion as I lean into and live out the suggestions above!
What has become a reality for me is also possible for you!
It is our hope, at Men Against Porn, that you are beginning to believe freedom is possible. If so, then you are on your way!
Be encouraged. Reflect on and implement just one step above and try to take it one moment at a time!
Check out the Memes and Partners section of the Men Against Porn website for resources and ministries that will provide tools and encouragement as you continue on your journey into freedom!
If you find our resources helpful to you and those you love, we ask that you share our work with your friends, neighbors and communities!
Together we can experience a porn-free life and help usher in the end of porn addiction in our lifetime!
[i] Homer; Pope, Alexander (2012-05-16). The Odyssey (p. 208). . Kindle Edition.