By: Allie Joy Hudson
6 min. read
In a lot of my blogs, I write about how my husband and I have been learning over the years to strive for sexual integrity together. He has been on this journey for about a decade, and it’s been so awesome to see him surrender this area of his life to God. We talk about this often, and this time, I asked him to share some of his thoughts with you. Today, Michael will share his perspective on what renewing your mind means to him.
Allie: Can you give us a brief background on your story?
Michael: I was exposed to porn when I was in elementary school. I was re-exposed to porn in middle school, and, on and off for eight years, I struggled with it daily. I carried it into mine and my now wife’s first relationship briefly, but stopped and didn’t watch it for most of our relationship. But I didn’t tell her about it until she asked me. That derailed our relationship, and we eventually broke up. The following year I had a relapse, and it became a daily occurrence. The year after that, after having a restored friendship with my ex (now wife), I was thinking through what I wanted and needed in a spouse with help from my step-dad, who spiritually poured into me. And Allie checked off all the marks on my list. And at that moment, I realized I had to marry her and would be a fool if I didn’t, and stopped watching porn cold turkey, and haven’t since.
Since then, I have come across a few hiccups here and there, but I have an array of practical strategies, blocks, and accountability partners to help me. This will continue to be a battle until the day I die, and if you think for a second that it won’t be, you’re fooling yourself and setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. But the good news is, we have a God that is bigger than our struggles, and He has power and authority over them, so if you abide in and rely on Him, every day, earnestly, you will succeed. Even in the setbacks, even in the hiccups, you will succeed, because you will be free from shame and will have the drive to continue trying.
A: Paul writes in ROMANS 12:2 about being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What does the concept of “renewing your mind” mean to you, specifically in regards to sexual integrity?
M: I think it has to do with two things. One, I think it has to do with asking the Father to literally cleanse and renew our minds. But I also think it has to do with the rewiring of our brain and how our thought processes work.
A: Agreed. Neuroscience has also taught us a lot about the resiliency of our brains and about rewiring our thoughts. What are some of your thoughts on this subject?
M: I think that’s exactly it, and that’s a really great idea and tactic to use. We have to rewire how our brains think because they’ve been messed up with the oversaturation of sexuality and pornography in our culture. We need to rewire them to how God originally intended for them to be – how we are to think and process information concerning sexuality and things like that.
Related: Fighting Porn in Marriage
A: What has this process of renewing your mind/rewiring your thoughts looked like for you?
M: For me, it’s looked like being very intentional with whenever I come across a woman online, or one of my friends or coworkers, or just a strange woman out and about. I have to be very intentional with stopping myself and literally saying in my mind, “This is my sister. This is a child that God created. They are beautiful and deserving of respect.” And if my mind starts to slip, look away. Get off my computer or phone, pray, and don’t come back for a bit. And if that situation comes up again, do the exact same thing. Over time, you’re literally training your mind to think in a healthy, person-edifying, God-edifying way.
There’s a really great book called Every Man’s Battle by Steven Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey. It gives a lot of other great tactics on how to rewire your brain. And not just your brain, but your eyes and your heart too.
A: What were some of the tactics described in Every Man’s Battle that have been helpful to you?
M: Bouncing my eyes. So, if I ever see a woman who isn’t my wife, and my mind starts to go to a dark place, look away, bounce my eyes to something else.
Also, starving my eyes. You literally starve your eyes of any sexual gratification or stimulation other than your wife, if you have one. And that trains your mind to associate sexual gratification and stimulation with your spouse.
Also, knowing more about your female friends and coworkers is a huge help. Because, the less you know about someone, the more free room your mind has to make up fantasies with that person. But the more your mind does know about that person – say, they are happily married and have kids, they dislike what you like, their disposition is not what you once thought it was – your mind has less room to create fantasies with that person, because things are less likely to actually happen with that person in real life. Also, knowing more about a person humanizes them and makes them less of an object for your own gratification in your mind. You become less attracted to that person and are able to see them more as a friend, a coworker, etc.
A: How has being married changed the way you strive for/view sexual integrity?
M: First off, marriage is a contractual covenant. I’ve legitimately made a promise to my wife and to God to honor her and be faithful to her, so that ups the stakes if I don’t follow through. And also, being married helps me in that I have one person now who I have permission to assign my sexual attraction, gratification, and stimulation to. And whenever I am in need of those things, she’s there to satisfy me if she’s able and willing.
A: What did renewing your mind look like for you when you were single?
M: Honestly, I really didn’t make that much of an effort, and that’s something I regret. It would have saved us a lot of struggles.
A: Anything you wish you would have done differently?
M: Yeah, I wish I would have not watched porn. I wish I would’ve treated my female friends and coworkers with respect with my mind and with my eyes. I wish I wouldn’t have pushed the envelope with my female friends or former girlfriend. It would have saved me a lot of work that had to be done in the future.
A: Do you have any advice for others as they seek to renew their minds as well?
M: Yes. Abide in the Lord and ask for His help daily. That is the only way you can truly win, is with His strength, not yours. Implicate practical tactics and strategies to help your eyes, your mind, and your heart. Seek out accountability with a brother, a friend, a mentor. And, don’t be so strict with yourself. And, what I mean by that is don’t view the slightest look to be sinful. Looking at a woman and appreciating her beauty as God created it isn’t bad, but when your mind starts to linger and it starts thinking of non-edifying thoughts, that’s when it becomes sin. It’s all about heart posture and mindset. If we view something as sinful that shouldn’t be, our flesh is going to crave that in a more intense way.
A: What’s the biggest lesson God has taught you on your journey to sexual integrity?
M: Complete reliance and surrender to Him is the only way. If you’re truly committed and you’re seeking Him and abiding in Him every day, you will see victories.
Start with Being Honest
One of the biggest things I’m thankful for in Michael is his willingness to be honest. He’s humble and willing to say that he has struggles and that He needs the Lord. It’s been cool to see lots of other guys open up to him because he is willing to set the tone and be honest first.
I challenge you today: Be honest with your spouse, with trusted a friend or mentors, with yourself, and with God.
I hope hearing from Michael has encouraged you. As he shared, we need the Lord to succeed in this fight. Abide in Him daily, and you will find hope, peace, cleansing, and renewal. Ask Jesus for help. He is willing and able to work in your mind and in your life.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven for three years and serves as the Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a B.A. in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, running, singing, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.