I am often referred to as a chocoholic. My usual treat preference can be found in the cookie aisle of most grocery stores. Chocolate cookie sandwiches with creamy centers in shiny blue packages wait for me to put them in my shopping cart. If I subject myself to a great deal of restraint, I can make a package of cookies last three days.
Obviously, eating these delicacies is not healthy and I am well aware that the path towards ruining my health is a slippery slope. If the cookies are not in my pantry at home, the temptation is not there. But every week, when I go grocery shopping, my desire for them intensifies.
As my shopping takes me towards the center of the store, I travel closer to temptation. The moment I enter the cookie aisle my will power weakens. Once I look at the blue packages along the shelves my self-restraint is practically non-existent. At that point it is easy to pick up a package of cookies and place it in my cart. Although I always have the choice to put the cookies back before I get to the cashier, I never do. Once I have the treats home my journey towards gaining five pounds is an almost foregone conclusion.
Just as it is possible for anyone to share my strong pull towards certain chocolate cookies, sexual temptations can be experienced by us or someone in our families. Although these enticements can be difficult to overcome, perseverance over each is possible. My quest towards maintaining my health equally applies to a loved one pursuing self-control over inappropriate sexual tendencies. Here are some ways to exercise restraint over inappropriate sexual temptations.
Recognize the problem
The sexual urge is a God-given, powerful part of human nature. Although my craving for chocolate cookies can be strong, our sexual desires can be even more powerful.
Sex within the appropriate bonds of marriage can be good and appropriate, but giving in to those desires in other instances is not okay. We are bombarded with such temptations as having sex before marriage, reading over sexualized novels, and viewing pornographic images. Satan wants us to give in to these urges as he seeks to draw us closer to him and farther from God. Giving in to inappropriate sexual temptations destroys families. These circumstances can lead to the lack of trust within the family unit, divorce and broken families, which can have a negative impact on a family for generations.
The first step is recognizing there is a problem. If each week consisted of me taking part in a cookie-buying spree, my husband would step in and point out the detriments to my health and how those little problems would affect our family. Similarly, if a family member exhibits signs of inappropriate sexual tendencies, you, or someone close to them, can help by recognizing the problem and bringing it to his or her attention. While recognizing such a weakness in yourself or someone you care about can be difficult, such a step is vital in order to regain peace in your life.
The same way that I know my will power will start to deteriorate once I am in the grocery store, it is also possible to pinpoint specific temptations that trigger inappropriate sexual appetites.
Obviously, it is impossible for me to quit going to the grocery store entirely; I need to buy food for my family. However, I can make the conscious effort to abstain from going down the cookie aisle. Our sexual temptations can be dealt with in similar fashions. If pornography is a problem, keeping computer usage in a central room with lots of traffic can help. If a relationship begins to head down a dangerous path and maintaining proper bounds is difficult, establish some bounderies that will prevent the situation from escalating.
While many sexual temptations can be difficult to overcome, you can find help. I know if I ask my husband to keep possession of the blue package it is easier for me to maintain better self-control over how many cookies I consume. Friends, family members, and clergy can be valuable and needed resources in maintaining self-control. If you are the one who suffers from inappropriate sexual desires, ask someone you trust to help you overcome any inappropriate desires. Likewise, if a family member has these issues, ask how you can help them find the self-control to fight them. Although admitting to a sexual habit can be embarrassing, overcoming it is usually impossible without outside assistance.
Determine the overarching reason to change
The desire to keep those five extra pounds off my frame is a good one, but I have found an even greater motivation to stay away from those pesky cookies — my health. Similarly, though many reasons are good and valid for not giving in to sexual temptations, there is one that overarches them all: our relationship with God.
I know my reward for staying away from those blue-packaged temptations will be a greater chance of living to see my grandchildren. Likewise, by standing strong against sexual temptations, we are able to make sure our hearts stay pure. God promised the pure in heart will see him (Matthew 5:8). But having hearts blackened from sexual perversions will make that sight impossible.
If our sexual temptations are strong, and struggling against them seems impossible, our desire to have a close relationship with God can help us remember why we are fighting so desperately. Likewise, he will not leave us, or those we love, to withstand trials alone. David Bednar, former university president and winner of various awards for teaching, said “every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” God can help everyone find the strength to persevere over their addictions whether they be dealing with excess chocolate or inappropriate sexual cravings.