Pornography has such a huge impact on our sexuality, soul, and marriage that I'm going to take a while and go through my friend, Michael Cusick's book Surfing for God: Discovering the divine desire beneath sexual struggle. Order it now. It will be good for any man or woman to read, not just those who have significant struggles with pornography.
The book opens with this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one's life to a larger goal.
The point of the book is not just to help you to kick your porn habit it's to guide you to something more spectacular in your soul and the world.
In the introduction, What's Better than Porn?, Michael shares this story,
A rabbi and his young disciple sat side by side under the shade of a large oak tree.
"Help me, Rabbi," said the disciple. "I am a double-minded man. The law of the Lord tells me, 'The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not be in want.' But oh, how I want!"
The rabbi's face revealed a trace of a smile, but he remained silent.
"And Rabbi," said the younger man, "the law of the Lord tells me that my soul finds rest in God alone. But oh, how my soul finds rest in everything else!"
The rabbi's face revealed the same trace of a smile, but still he remained silent.
"And Rabbi," said the student, "the man after God's own heart told us to ask and seek after only one thing--to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple. But my heart seeks after so many things." The student lowered his voice to a whisper. "And the beauty I secretly gaze upon brings me shame. How will I ever become a man after God's own heart when I am so unfaithful!"
With this the rabbi let go of all constraint and began to laugh, his eyes sparkling. "My son," said the rabbi, "Listen to the story I am about to tell you."
"Long ago, a skylark flew above the the parched and desolate ground of the desert. Times were hard for all living things, and worms were not easy to come by for a creature of the air. Even so, the skylark sang a winsome song day after day as he sought his daily portion. As each day passed, the difficulty in finding food grew more extreme. In his hunger he began to grow restless. And in his restlesness he forgot how to sing."
The rabbi paused for a moment, wiped his brow, and exhaled deeply. The student sat attentively on the edge of his seat but wondered what this story had to do with becoming a man after God's won heart.
In a whisper the rabbi continued. "One day the skylark heard an unfamiliar voice. It was the voice of a traveling peddler, and the skylark could not believe what the pedlar seemed to be selling. 'Worms! Worms! Mouthwatering worms!' cried the peddler. "Come right up and get your delicious worms today!" Incredulous at this sudden good fortune, the skylark hopped closer to the peddler, drawing nearer to this manna from heaven.
"'Worms today! Two worms for one feather!' said the peddler. At the mention of worms, the skylark felt a pang of hunger, and suddenly he understood. My feathers are many, thought the skylark, imagining the taste of the worms in his beak. Surely I will not miss just two small feathers. So, unable to resist any longer, the skylark plucked two of his smallest feathers and surrendered them to the peddler, who, unbeknownst to the skylark, was the unholy one in disguise.
"As promised, the skylark had his choice of the fattest, juiciest worms he had ever seen. And all without needing to dig and claw in the unyielding ground! So the skylark took hold of four glistening worms and swallowed them. Such small sacrifice, yet such great reward, the skylark told himself. Two small feathers is of no concern to me. With his stomach full, the skylark stepped from his high perch and began to soar. And as he did he began to sing once again.
"The next day the skylark swooped and sang until he met the nefarious peddler once again. Just as before, the peddler offered two worms for one feather. So the skylark feasted on the luscious worms until he had his fill. And so it went day after day. Times were still hard for all living things, and worms were still not easy to come by for creatures of the air."
"One day, after finishing the worms, the skylark attemptd to take flight. Instead of soaring, he plummeted to the ground with a thud. Stunned but grateful to be alive, the skylark realized he had no more feathers. Of course, he could no longer fly."
The rabbi paused for so long that the disciple thought the story was over. He responded to this teacher by saying he would ponder the meaning of the story.
"Ah, but the story continues," said the rabbi. Sitting down, he exhaled deeply again. "Once the skylark realized he had given up his feathers and could not fly, he came to his senses," said the rabbi. "Desperate, he hopped and stumbled through the desert, gathering worms. A small one here, a small one there. After several days of striving and toil, he had a small pile of worms and returned to the peddler. 'Here are enough worms to exchange for my feathers--I need them back.'
"The devil, however, just laughed and said, "You can't get your feathers back! You got your worms, and I've got your feathers. And after all, a deal is a deal!" And with that, he disappeared into thin air."
As the rabbi finished speaking, the young apprentice noticed a tear running down his teacher's cheek. "Rabbi, why the tear?" the disciple asked.
"The heart of God breaks when we give away our feathers for worms," the rabbi answered. "But even more, His heart breaks when we try to buy our feathers back. For only God can restore our feathers."
After a long silence the disciple asked, "And Rabbi, why were you laughing before you told me the story?" The rabbi turned, his moist eyes now twinkling again. "I laughed with joy because I have seen your heart. In your heart there is a song. And with your heart you will learn to fly."
Michael then says we were created to fly. But we exchange our feathers, our masculine strength, for pornography.
He later offers this encouragement,
...following Jesus consists of so much more than trying harder and white-knuckling your way through it. You can be free. God has charted a path to freedom that men before you have walked. You can discover this path leading to authentic transformation in your soul, a path that consists of so much more than sin management. You also need to know that your masculine soul is deeper and truer than your desire for porn. Part of you longs to walk intimately with God. You want to be like David, the man after God's own heart, who wrote, "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free" (Ps. 119:32).