All those struggling with sexual purity are vulnerable to sinning especially under certain conditions. We call these conditions “triggers” because they can lead (“trigger”) us to sexually act out. Sexual acting out becomes a form of medication that elevates your mood and makes you temporarily feel better. If you’re a Christian, the sexual “high” wears off quickly and the feelings of guilt, shame, and self-condemnation flood in.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the acronym H.A.L.T.? The letters H.A.L.T. are frequently used by Alcoholics Anonymous. AA says they stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These four are conditions which make those battling alcohol addiction particularly vulnerable to acting out on their addiction by drinking again (“falling off the wagon”). In the ministry of sexual purity we adapt those four letters and add two additional letters. In sexual purity H stands for Hurting and two new letters describe conditions unique to sexual sin, Bored and Curious.
Let me explain all six “triggers:”
- Hurting. Hurts are the common lot in life for all of us. Old time Christians used the phrase “in this life we walk through a vale of tears.” That vale won’t be abolished until we enter heaven where God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). When you’re hurting because of an emotional wound you can easily be triggered to medicate yourself through sexual sin. Emotional wounds might be caused by the loss of something or someone important to you, an unkind word or slight which you take personally, a frustration or disappointment in yourself, your spouse, your children, or your job.
- Angry. Anger can be good or bad depending on how it is dealt with. God gets angry and we are created in His image. Anger is a basic component of our emotional makeup. Anger, poorly handled, can propel us to do many foolish and sinful things. When you’re angry you are vulnerable to sexually acting out to make yourself feel better. A common cause of your anger may come from a spouse who is unwilling to be as sexual with you as you’d like. Often a revenge motive raises its ugly head and we say to ourselves, “I’ll show her. I’ll use porn and masturbation to take care of myself even if she won’t.”
- Lonely. You may feel all alone and abandoned. Feelings of self-pity flood in. You hate those feelings so you medicate yourself by sexually acting out to elevate your mood so that you’ll feel better. Single Christians are especially vulnerable to feelings of loneliness.
- Tired. All of us grow tired and weary but it is an especially vulnerable time. In times of tiredness we lower our guard. The enemy of your soul, the devil, knows when to tempt. He attacks when we are physically or emotionally exhausted.
- Bored.When we are bored with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to see, we are vulnerable. The old adage says, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Idle hands means nothing to do, no tasks to tackle. With nothing to do we become bored. The devil sees that and steps up his temptation to kill time by looking at porn in magazines or on the internet.
- Curious.Curiosity killed the cat and it has killed the purity of many men. Rather than staying safely in the middle of the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8), some walk as close to the edge of the cliff as they can. Underlying their curiosity is the thought that maybe, just maybe, they might see something sexually titillating or arousing. We ought not to be curious about sin.
Those are the six conditions or triggers which can force even good men to sexually sin. Next month I’ll cover the Biblical ways to conquer each of the six triggers.
Purity is Possible,