Subtitled, “Discovering The Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle”, Michael John Cusick begins with an abrupt and compelling question, “What’s Better than Porn?” He spends the majority of the rest of the book answering that question.
“You and I were created to fly. But something has gone terribly wrong…Adam and Eve lost their innocence and…barely a day goes by that I don’t hear a story about a man losing his (innocence) in exchange for pornography…(and) the losses are devastating.”
“Men are losing trust, reputation, and self-respect. They are losing marriages or other relationships. They are losing jobs, ministries, and careers. They are losing strength, purpose, and freedom. And they are losing the external self and the public identity that they work so hard to establish and maintain… (and) when we experience such loss, it also affects wives, children, friends, congregations, and communities. Everyone loses when it comes to porn.”
“Amid their stories of loss, I regularly hear men say two things. First, ‘I am tired of how little porn delivers.’ The second comment I hear men make is, ‘I am tired of the never-ending battle over lust.’ A battle that so often leads to defeat.”
“We’re seemingly stuck with two choices: either suppress our passions or give in and indulge them. We know in our hearts that porn is not God’s best for our lives. But in the heat of the moment, it seems as if there’s nothing better than porn. We desperately need another way to live.”
Cusick adds, “If you are losing the battle, please read closely: following Jesus consists of so much more than trying harder and white-knuckling your way through it. You can be free.”
It’s Not About Sex
“Almost a century ago, G. K. Chesterton wrote that the man who knocks on the brothel door is knocking for God. If he were writing today, he might say that the man who surfs the web for porn is surfing for God. If nothing else, this truth means that sex is a signpost to God. It also points us to the way He designed us as sexual beings—when we are most aligned with this design and intention, we are most powerful, complete, and fulfilled.”
“Sexual arousal is an accumulation of your experiences, deep needs, and unconscious beliefs. Your heart shares a deep connection to your body parts. The way you are sexually aroused reflects what’s happening deep in your soul, beyond your sexual organs. Indeed, sex is as much spiritual mystery as it is physical fact. The reality is that your heart needs something, and porn promises to meet that need.”
The Broken Promises Of Porn
1. Porn promises validation of our manhood without requiring strength
2. Porn promises sexual fulfillment without relationship
3. Porn promises intimacy without requiring risk and suffering
4. Porn promises passion and life without connection to your soul
5. Porn promises power over women without responsibility and humility
6. Porn promises comfort and care without depending on others
Cusick asks, “Have you ever asked yourself what’s really going on beneath your craving for porn? What lies below your desire for a pleasurable, physical release? What is your heart’s real desire, the legitimate need desperately crying out to be heard? Not only can you overcome your sexual struggles with porn, fantasy, and masturbation, but you can also enjoy life at a level you may have never experienced. It’s called joy.”
“If Thomas Aquinas’s words are true—that every sinful behavior is rooted in a legitimate God-given appetite—then identifying those God-given longings must be our first order of business.”
Name Your Thirst
Though this list is not exhaustive, it offers a straightforward way for you to begin to put words to what lies below the surface of your life:
• Attention — I long for people to like me. I long for your embrace.
• Affection — I long to be enjoyed. I long to be delighted in. I long for you to take pleasure in who I am.
• Affirmation — I long to know I have what it takes. I long for your blessing.
• Acceptance — I long to belong. I long to be desired.
• Satisfaction — I long for fullness. I long for well-being.
• Significance — I long for impact. I long for meaning. I long to be powerful.
• Security — I long to know I will be okay.
“All of these core thirsts are God-given appetites and longings…we need to acknowledge that we are thirsty and identify what our thirsts are. Why? Because only when we identify them will we begin moving toward those desires according to God’s design.”
Lust Is The Outcome Of Disordered Desire
“Disordered desire can also be misplaced. When we misplace our desires, we direct our hearts toward something that takes the place of God’s good gifts. It’s the craving for ice cream when you feel depressed or the lust for porn when you are lonely. Larry Crabb explained it well: ‘When pleasures of any kind are used to satisfy (or at least to quiet) our crucial longings, then the craving for what only God can provide becomes a demanding tyrant driving us toward whatever relief is available. Our god becomes our appetite…’ ”
“Hiding our brokenness prolongs our shame.”
“Our brokenness is also the place where we become vulnerable to the Enemy’s lies.”
We are broken. We are terrified of being with ourselves, facing the emptiness of our soul.
Soul brokenness can be transformed and can be developed.
Only heart surgery — a circumcised heart — can heal us.
We circumcise our hearts as a symbol of our internal love and devotion to God. A circumcised heart gives God access to our hidden selves, establishes our new identities, and offers life to others.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal.”
Conclusion: Michael John Cusick has written a compelling and useful book. While its target audience is those who struggle with the temptations of sexual sin and porn, the principles of shame and the necessity of God’s heart-healing work applies to all of us.
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