I really like the bear analogy when thinking about lust. Right now I am starving my lust by avoiding porn or masturbation for the past several weeks. Feeling starved, the bear is now extremely hungry, and when it is hungry it definitely rages through the woods. The bear is big and strong, having fed it well with lots of pornography, masturbation, sexual fantasies, and women gazing for many, many years. What I find interesting is that when I try to starve the beast, it is able to hibernate in the sense that I can go several weeks, if not months, with lust-free purity without having any cravings to act out or commit sexual impurity. I avoid my triggers and the bear remains still. It does not rattle the cage.
There comes a point, though, when the bear wakes up, and it wants its Big Mac with fries, biggie sized. With no food insight, it gets angry and begins to forage the forest. In my case, this started when I had a very vivid dream (or nightmare, I should say) in which I was having sex with some anonymous woman. (And of course, since all this mess is about objectification, I remember her beautiful body well but have no idea of what her face looked like, let alone who she was a person).
Fortunately, I did not wake up with the desire to masturbate or watch porn. However, the bear is still strong and determined. It has been turning every stone in my mind, and I have been reminiscing about women that I have seen online, and I have lusted, fantasized, and even had sex with them in my mind. This has not translated into masturbation or pornography, but the walls of resistance are growing weaker. With every lustful thought that I entertain in my mind, I give a morsel of sustenance to the hungry bear. It is not the three-course meal that it is seeking, but it is enough food to keep it alive.
The takeaway here is that the bear can hibernate. You can go for long periods of purity and feel that you have turned the corner. Yet once the bear finally wakes up from its slumber, it is a whole other story. At that point it becomes a battle to not let it get a hold of any scraps of food, not even the tiniest thing. On this stage one has to starve the beast, and it will use all the strength that it has harnessed through the years to fight back and scour the forest.
The bear is essentially our brain’s chemical desire for arousal. But in our lustful minds it has grown into an enormous drive that needs to be fed frequently, and in extreme amounts that only pornography and sexual fantasy can provide. I pray that I and all of you brothers can starve the bear by making a covenant not only with our eyes but also with our minds. The challenge is to immediately slam the door at a lustful thought the moment it starts to surface. But let’s not kid ourselves. Hardly anyone can do it on his own. Accountability is key, and this is what so far has kept me from giving in. But I’m still feeding the bear. I’ve been sinning with my mind, and I must admit that I worry. Let us pray that you and I can built this healthy habit of shutting down any lustful thought and living a life that gives the bear not even a whiff of food nearby. Let us starve this awful beast once and for all.