Curious about this article’s title? Good. Where am I going with it? Glad you asked (or didn’t, I’ll tell you anyway). I have the unfortunate problem of, when it comes to porn and any related material coming into view, getting the need to be vigilant confused with the the strong feeling of condemnation. I am choosing these very strong words because each represents something important that needs to be addressed if you or someone you love struggles with lust. I’ll break it down.
Guilt and shame are all too common in my life, especially with this particular issue. I tend to dwell on anything negative, which also means I don’t move on and the feelings consume me. But, gentlemen, hear this: we are not meant to live this way! We are not meant to live in shame and guilt and to feel condemned when we aren’t! It is hard to accept, yes. It is very hard for me to accept that I am not condemned or marked by shame when my eyes and mind wander where they shouldn’t. Men are also often made to feel these emotions when their struggle is found out which is truly shameful, because that will not help solve the problem where stern but gentle accountability and love will do so.
How can we separate guilt and shame from appropriate vigilance? First, one must remember when or if possible that we MUST be vigilant, as the temptation for this sin is everywhere as I discussed in a previous post. Vigilance makes one’s heart, mind and eyes aware of the danger around them, and when appropriately applied, can be the difference between resisting or falling to temptation. A lot of the time, it will seem very hard to separate the two or to even exercise vigilance, especially if you’re feeling weak or even run down. Furthermore, seek help! I cannot stress this enough, look for places and people who can help you in those weak moments and give an encouraging word or offer prayer.
All in all, shame and vigilance often seem to go hand in hand, but they aren’t meant to, at least not to the extent that I have allowed it to. Yes, be vigilant and guard yourself, but don’t be so discouraged by a slip-up or relapse and allow the shame and guilt to overpower you. It is phenomenally difficult, yes, but not impossible to be vigilant and not let shame be a non-product or replace the former altogether. Men, I say again, keep your shields and swords raised and know you aren’t alone, for you have brothers (and sisters) who fight this battle everyday, and don’t let shame devalue you or dent that shield which would leave you vulnerable. Fight on!