Blog Archive

Living as both single and sexually faithful might feel impossible. For someone who is single, committing to live within God’s boundaries seems foolish in our current culture’s celebration of sexual ‘freedom.’ But for Christians, we find comfort in knowing our loving and holy Lord has a design for every aspect of life. Jesus is present always to help us stay the course of the race of faith, and he constantly holds out forgiveness and mercy when we fail. Jesus and the Bible are also wise and practical when it comes to our street-level fight against sexual sin and temptation. Jesus stands ready to help when we turn to him as we face struggles and temptations.

So let’s consider one important tool in this battle to help us as single men and women: identifying and fleeing triggers.

In the world of addictions, the concept of a ‘trigger’ is significant. It refers to people, places, experiences, and things which stir up thoughts, feelings, memories, and desires connected to certain behaviors.¹ A food addict may be triggered to overeat by the sight of pastries or criticism from a parent. A TV addict may binge watch while important work is left undone, triggered by feeling lonely or work-related stress. A trigger prompts a person to move towards a harmful behavior which soothes or numbs troubling and painful life experiences. In other words, it’s a temporary pain killer. But then the pain comes back, stronger than ever. And a cycle is set up.

Identifying triggers isn’t meant to make us live as suspicious, joyless Christians who avoid people or good gifts!

For a single person battling sexual temptation, it is crucial to identify the triggers which prompt us to move towards various pain-reducing behaviors like viewing or reading pornography, crossing physical boundaries with a person, or engaging in sexual fantasy and masturbation. Let’s be clear: married people also must battle sexual sin! However, singles committed to walking in sexual integrity do not have this context for sexual expression, so fleeing sexual temptation will never involve having God-blessed sex such as married persons enjoy.

Identify your triggers
Emotions and feelings – What emotions are most troubling to you? Which are difficult to ‘sit with’ or bring to the Lord in prayer? In addictions counseling the acronym HALT is often used to teach that feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired are common triggers which addictive behaviors serve to soothe or numb. With the men and women who come to HARVEST USA, we add boredom, sadness, and relational pain. Sexual sin (with people, self, via technology) often is an attempt to avoid internal pain in our lives, which is usually tied to external, troubling situations.

Circumstances – What are the situations which seem to most often precede your fiercest battles with sexual temptation? Is it work-related stress? The holidays? Family gatherings? Church-related events? Large gatherings of people or times of aloneness? Traveling and being out of your normal routine? Having downtime or a vacation?

People and relationships – Do certain people or relationships seem to consistently trigger the feelings that are troubling for you? On this side of heaven, not all relationships will be redeemed or ‘safe’ for us, so identifying individuals we need to avoid can be challenging for Christians to consider. After all, aren’t we supposed to love our neighbor? Yes, and sometimes loving God and loving people wisely (Philippians 1:9-11) means being aware of relational dynamics which pull us away from Christ, rather than towards him and obedience. Wisdom will necessitate having firm boundaries with people with whom you have participated in sexual sin; those who constantly tempt you towards lust and selfish fantasy; people who consistently discourage and disrespect you and your boundaries; and those who are manipulative, deceptive, and hurtful with their words.

I know that seems like a lot to keep track of, but with focus and intention, it can become second nature. Learning what the triggers are in these three categories will help you not just to know what to avoid; you can make those triggers the things that prompt you to run to Jesus, and that’s the best part of doing this. Identifying triggers isn’t meant to make us live as suspicious, joyless Christians who avoid people or good gifts! The goal is increasingly running towards Christ and running away from sexually sinful activities that we use to soothe difficult experiences.

What we need to understand is that when we use things repeatedly to get through life, those things we use become our functional gods. They become idols to which we run, they become the things we worship, and that’s no different than what Israel did when they ran to and worshipped idols made of wood or clay.

The process of learning how to flee triggers and temptations can mean taking various steps of faith, such as:

  1. Contacting close friends to pray for you, with a call or quick text
  2. Setting up an accountability relationship for honesty and prayer
  3. Putting into place intentional steps to grow in your faith, like doing daily devotions
  4. Willingness to limit technology and media if they are strong temptations

Do you see how practical it is to identify your triggers? It’s a way to bring Jesus into your struggles, and to experience the joy that comes from living in new, better, and God-glorifying ways.

 

¹https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-addiction/201003/triggers-and-relapse-craving-connection-addicts


For more help in this vital aspect of faith for singles, consider HARVEST USA’s mini books, Sex and the Single Girl: Smart Ways to Care for Your Heart, What’s Wrong with a Little Porn When You’re Single?, and How to Say No When Your Body Says Yes: Finding True Satisfaction.

To see Ellen talking some more about this issue, click on Ellen’s video blog, Sexual Integrity for Singles: It’s not a tragedy, and it’s not impossible! Part 2. These short videos can be used as discussion starters (together with the accompanying written blog) in small group settings, mentoring relationships, men’s and women’s groups, etc.

Robert Lynn, Associate Pastor, Knox Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Part of Harvest USA’s mission is to encourage and equip churches to reach out to individuals struggling with sexual brokenness and sin. Several years ago, two Harvest USA staff members traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to meet with the pastoral staff and present a seminar at Knox Presbyterian Church. Pastor Robert Lynn spearheaded this cooperative effort. He writes how God has since used him in the lives of strugglers and how he has reaped personal benefits. Here’s another blog post that will encourage you to lead a support group for men; you can read it here.

I recall some years ago, one of the pastors I serve with stopped me as we left a bi-weekly meeting. “I’ve got to tell you,” he said, “that you’ve really changed over the past eight months or so. You seem so much more relaxed and at ease. You’re taking things in stride in ways you didn’t use to…” The conversation went on a few minutes as he articulated the differences he noticed. I was taken by surprise, but it didn’t take long to see the significance of the eight-month time frame.

A bit of background might be helpful to understand this small tale of pastoral transformation. Eight years ago, I found myself in a difficult season of ministry for me. It was difficult to the point of me thinking, “I don’t want a new church. I want a new career!” The last half of 2007 was a time of tending to wounds, so if you had asked me at the beginning of 2008 how I was doing, my answer no doubt would have been, “Great.” And on many levels, God had done some wonderful heart work, but clearly the work wasn’t finished.

What happened in my life that took my healing to new depths. Quite literally, God opened a door, and one by one a string of men struggling with sexual sin entered my life. They’re still coming. I look back now and see that God was preparing me for all this—understandably, I couldn’t see that then.

What is the result of walking with these men in their sexual struggles? First, there is the opportunity to bring good news to them again and again. I have the privilege of calling them to the only One who has the wisdom and power to make all things new. 

What is the result of walking with these men in their sexual struggles? First, there is the opportunity to bring good news to them again and again. I have the privilege of calling them to the only One who has the wisdom and power to make all things new. It seems that I’m always talking about the gospel!

Second, there is growth and strengthening of my own faith—my own understanding of how Jesus is sufficient for the men and for me. When I begin to grasp that and stake my life on it, things begin to change. Jesus will meet all my needs; therefore, I do not need to trust in worldly things to find meaning or peace.

Third, there is an overflow of deep, deep joy. As I read the Psalms, David provides words that say it best, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalm 4:7, ESV). How can fellow sinners get together with the Gospel at the center and not see an explosion of joy? If anything brings new vitality and passion for ministry, it’s Gospel-promised, cross-purchased, and resurrection-guaranteed joy.

Fourth, I have a new love for my fellow strugglers. In 401 AD, Saint Augustine wrote his friend Pammachius, “I have seen your inner being… Seeing this has made me know you, and knowing you has made me love you.” I have experienced this same truth. These men have all let me into their hearts to see their needs. I have seen Christ at work in them as we engage the Gospel. Seeing has made me know them and knowing them has made me love them.

Finally, I now realize how much a pastor needs strugglers. My personal struggles have been ministry wounds and anger, while theirs has been sex, but we each need Jesus desperately. To my surprise, I find that the one who points them to Jesus needs Jesus as much as any of them.

Bob Heywood shares his story about his battle with pornography and what it took for him to change.

 

Discovery Support Group – This biblical support group builds on the Foundations group, helping men further process their struggle with sexual sin and learn to embrace Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, rather than medicating through their sexual behavior. An initial visit with a staff person or intern and completion of the Foundations group is mandatory before entering the Discovery group.

Philadelphia:  This group meets every other Tuesday night, beginning at 7:00pm

Please call the office at 215-482-0111 to set up an appointment.

 

For information on our Foundations Group please Click Here!

For information on our Open Support and Accountabililty Group please Click Here!

Discovery Support Group – This biblical support group builds on the Foundations group, helping men further process their struggle with sexual sin and learn to embrace Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, rather than medicating through their sexual behavior. An initial visit with a staff person or intern and completion of the Foundations group is mandatory before entering the Discovery group.

Philadelphia:  This group meets every other Tuesday night, beginning at 7:00pm

Please call the office at 215-482-0111 to set up an appointment.

 

For information on our Foundations Group please Click Here!

For information on our Open Support and Accountabililty Group please Click Here!

Foundations Support Group – This is the introductory level biblical support group for men seeking to overcome struggles with pornography, promiscuity, unwanted same-sex attraction, sexual addictions, masturbation, etc. This group focuses on the work of Christ – applying the gospel to sexual brokenness – and examines the importance of community, as well as taking personal responsibility, to overcome sexual sin.

An initial visit with a staff person or intern is mandatory before entering this group. 


This group will run: August 27, 2015 to December 17, 2015  – Excluding 11/26/15

 

For information on our Evening Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here!

For information on our Afternoon Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here! 

For information on our Discovery Group.

Location: 3901B Main Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 189127

Contact: Dave White: 215-482-0111, Ext. 119 or [email protected]

Foundations Support Group – This is the introductory level biblical support group for men seeking to overcome struggles with pornography, promiscuity, unwanted same-sex attraction, sexual addictions, masturbation, etc. This group focuses on the work of Christ – applying the gospel to sexual brokenness – and examines the importance of community, as well as taking personal responsibility, to overcome sexual sin.

An initial visit with a staff person or intern is mandatory before entering this group. 


This group will run: August 27, 2015 to December 17, 2015  – Excluding 11/26/15

 

For information on our Evening Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here!

For information on our Afternoon Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here! 

For information on our Discovery Group.

Location: 3901B Main Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 189127

Contact: Dave White: 215-482-0111, Ext. 119 or [email protected]

Foundations Support Group – This is the introductory level biblical support group for men seeking to overcome struggles with pornography, promiscuity, unwanted same-sex attraction, sexual addictions, masturbation, etc. This group focuses on the work of Christ – applying the gospel to sexual brokenness – and examines the importance of community, as well as taking personal responsibility, to overcome sexual sin.

An initial visit with a staff person or intern is mandatory before entering this group. 


This group will run: August 27, 2015 to December 17, 2015  – Excluding 11/26/15

 

For information on our Evening Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here!

For information on our Afternoon Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here! 

For information on our Discovery Group.

Location: 3901B Main Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 189127

Contact: Dave White: 215-482-0111, Ext. 119 or [email protected]

Foundations Support Group – This is the introductory level biblical support group for men seeking to overcome struggles with pornography, promiscuity, unwanted same-sex attraction, sexual addictions, masturbation, etc. This group focuses on the work of Christ – applying the gospel to sexual brokenness – and examines the importance of community, as well as taking personal responsibility, to overcome sexual sin.

An initial visit with a staff person or intern is mandatory before entering this group. 


This group will run: August 27, 2015 to December 17, 2015  – Excluding 11/26/15

 

For information on our Evening Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here!

For information on our Afternoon Open Support and Accountability Group Click Here! 

For information on our Discovery Group.

Location: 3901B Main Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 189127

Contact: Dave White: 215-482-0111, Ext. 119 or [email protected]

Discovery Support Group – This biblical support group builds on the Foundations group, helping men further process their struggle with sexual sin and learn to embrace Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, rather than medicating through their sexual behavior. An initial visit with a staff person or intern and completion of the Foundations group is mandatory before entering the Discovery group.

Philadelphia:  This group meets every other Tuesday night, beginning at 7:00pm

Please call the office at 215-482-0111 to set up an appointment.

 

For information on our Foundations Group please Click Here!

For information on our Open Support and Accountabililty Group please Click Here!


1 2 3 4 12
Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved. Developed for HarvestUSA by Polymath Innovations.