Is Lent the Answer to Sexual Addiction?

Today’s article comes from the Christian Post and can be found here. The article is titled:

Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?

By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

The Law. Don’t do this, but do this instead. It’s a fascinating show of original sin when people think that the way to stop sinning or to overcome a struggle with sin, is to use more Law. As I read the headline if this article I was fairly certain that I wasn’t going to be getting the Gospel as the answer to such struggle with sin and temptation. Let’s dive in and see how this plays out.

“Did you know statistics show believers struggle with pornography as much as non-believers? Pornography use is a silent sin inflicting far too many Christian men. And with their inability to stop using pornography, these men desperately keep their shameful behavior hidden in the dark in fear of being discovered.”

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

Yes, it’s a shame that so many believers struggle with sexual sins and the majority of the help that they receive is void of Gospel. I recently wrote two articles on this subject. You can find the first one here, and the follow-up article here. I highly recommend reading them if you or someone you know struggles with moral sins. Even if you don’t personally struggle they are helpful in understanding if one can lose their salvation by their willful sinning. Yes, that’s real. Many Christian’s are unaware of the doctrine of preservation. Check out those articles for more info.

Once again, during this holy season, it’s time for men to exam their hearts and ask God for the strength to turn away from pornography, as well as illicit chat rooms, massage parlors, affairs, strip clubs, and other activities that demean women and dishonor their wives.

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

“People are often shocked to learn this addiction is not about sex but instead is an intimacy disorder. Men abuse sex to distract themselves from emotional distress that often is subconscious. In dealing with an addiction, understanding the root cause of why it developed is a significant factor in recovery.”

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

If all it took to be free from porn addiction or sexual addiction was to ask God for strength to turn away from the temptation would have solved the problem, especially with Christian’s. Also, sex addiction isn’t just some psychological self-help disorder; it’s idolatry.

People cannot be free of sin without proper Law and Gospel. Calling sin something other than sin and relaxing the sixth commandment is not going to help, it’s going to push the idea that you can overcome this with some work; which is Law. You cannot overcome sexual addiction by your own efforts, if you could, you would have already done so.

“As we enter the season of Lent here are several steps men can take to begin the process of removing a porn addiction from their lives:”

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

“1.    Admit your struggles. Denial is a stumbling block for all addicts. The inability to see the potential destruction their actions cause leaves many people struggling needlessly. Ask God to help you examine your heart and make you aware that you need assistance. “Moreover, the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30: 6.”

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

Firstly, lent isnt a magical time when you can overcome sin. Eddie is using lent as if it were a New Year’s Resolution. Secondly, admitting your struggles is not the same as confessing your sin. If my sin is just a character flaw or defect then it’s greatly under defining it, and taking glory away from Christ. Which this article contains no mention of the Gospel, it’s all Law and your efforts with a hat-tip to God by following the second commandment, to use God’s name correctly, as in to call on His name in prayer. Thirdly, Deuteronomy 30:6 is what happens in repentance. It is the inner workings of of the Spirit to convict you of sin (contrition) and give you (faith) forgiveness in Christ, and to produce good fruit in you. It isn’t praying to God that He help with temptation, that is a fruit of repentance but without contrition and faith you are only giving people Law, and the Law tells us what to do (in this case you’re saying to obey the sixth commandment by obeying the second commandment), but it doesn’t give us the power to do so.

“2.    Ask for help. Removing sexual sin from our lives is something we can’t do on our own. We need assistance and accountability. Seek out a trained professional and/or support group to help you get your journey going. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16″

‘Have you heard of give up lust for Lent campaign?’ By Eddie Capparucci, Op-Ed Contributor

The power, the ability, to have repentance comes with the Gospel. Eddie isn’t pointing us to the Gospel but to our own works, Law. He thinks that the good news is that you ask God to help you and to seek help from others. So, according to his article, to stop porn addiction just follow the second commandment and ask someone else for help in keeping you accountable to the sixth commandment. This is not good news and you will be worse off than when you started if you go this route. The more you rely on your own efforts the harder it gets. As Luther states:

111] Else if you venture to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will only make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent’s head, which if it gain an opening into which he can slip, the whole body will follow without check. “

Luther’s Large Catechism; Lord’s Prayer

Finally, the only mention of sins in this post is Eddie’s quote of James 5:16, which Eddie is taking out of context. The context of that verse isn’t to confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we would to God in prayer or in confession, but to confess our sins to someone that we have sinned against. This passage is about seeking reconciliation between people and praying for them, not confessing our general sins against God. Eddie isn’t really giving us much of a gospel here. He isn’t even giving us the Law correctly either. For Christians this sin is a big deal, it’s a mortal sin that can cause us to drive out the Spirit and lose faith; it’s the doctrine of the Preservation. Mueller’s Dogmatics puts it this way:

“This earnest admonition implies that many do not endure in faith, and that again suggests the weighty query, How can the believer endure in faith unto the end? In answer to this question Holy Scripture stresses two vital facts: 1) All who endure in faith to the end do so alone by divine grace; or we may say, Christian preservation is solely the work of God’s omnipotent grace. 2) All who fall from faith do so through their own fault; in other words, the only cause of apostasy is man’s willful rejection of God’s Word and his malicious opposition to the operation of the Holy Spirit in the divine Word.”

Mueller’s Dogmatic’s; The Doctrine of Preservation

“Doubts regarding salvation arise only when men intermingle Law and Gospel, that is to say, when they apply the Scripture passages that are meant as a warning against carnal security, 1 Cor. 10, 12; Rom. 11, 20, to penitent sinners, who in the anguish of their hearts cry out for the comfort of the Gospel, Rom. 7, 24, or when they urge despairing souls to assure themselves of salvation by their good works. Penitent sinners who long for comfort should listen to no other message than that of God’s justifying, sanctifying, and preserving grace, Matt. 11, 28 ; Is. 55, 1-3.”

Mueller’s Dogmatic’s; The Doctrine of Preservation

“The warnings set forth in Holy Scripture against defection, 1 Cor. 10, 12; Rom. 11, 20. 21; Heb. 3, 12, etc., enforced by examples of temporary believers (Saul, Demas) do not militate against the blessed assurance of the Gospel that God will graciously keep the believer in faith to the end, Phil. 1, 6, but rather sustain it. These warnings belong to the Law and must not be misused to nullify the Gospel promises. St. Paul, though aware of the possibility of his becoming a castaway, 1 Cor. 9, 27, was nevertheless fully persuaded of his perseverance, Rom. 8, 38. 39 ; 2 Tim. 4, 7. God warns us against defection through the Law in order that we may beware of carnal security, which destroys the certainty of salvation, and cling to the Gospel, which bestows and nourishes the assurance of salvation.”

Mueller’s Dogmatic’s; The Doctrine of Preservation

“With respect to the question (crux theologorom), “Why do not all believers persevere in faith” (Cur alii, alii non)? The Christian theologian has no other answer than that given in Hos. 13, 9. Those who persevere in faith do so alone by divine grace; those who fall from faith must blame themselves for their apostasy (unbelief; self-righteousness; malicious neglect or rejection of the means of grace).”

Mueller’s Dogmatic’s; The Doctrine of Preservation

I highly recommend reading those two articles (here) and (here) as they will break your sexual addiction and explain why the Law is of no help. Only when you rest in the Gospel of Christ crucified can you truly have freedom. God, taking on skin and bones, to live a perfect life of obedience, to be the perfect sacrifice for your sin, and then rasing from the grave for your justification, is where the freedom is. God’s love, His mercy, to take the cup of wrath for you, so that you can go free as if you never sinned, as if you were Jesus, is the Gospel that sets you free from the bondage of sin. This is because He gives you His righteousness in Word Sacrament, through the gift of faith. He nurtures you, forgives you, gives and strengthens your faith in daily repentance in that Word and Sacrament. God isn’t far off judging you, He’s there in Word and Sacrament, giving Himself to you, forgiving you, and bringing you closer to Him because He loves you. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.

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