Do you have a favorite movie? A favorite scene from a movie? Mine appears in The Return of the King, the final segment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Whether you’ve read the books or watched the movie series, you know that the Ring is no ordinary piece of jewelry. It contains compelling forces; those who behold it are at once captivated. Many have killed or been killed in their attempts to possess its dark power.

So Frodo—an unlikely little Hobbit—finds himself entrusted with destroying the Ring. Standing above the liquid flames, Frodo experiences something altogether unexpected. Despite every good intention, after he had fought the good fight, the Ring now captivates him.

In the heat of the moment, its seductive power entrances him and he refuses to throw it in the fire.

Frodo knows what he ought to do and why he should do it. He understands that the fulfillment of his mission—and countless lives—hangs in the balance. But he just can’t drop the Ring.

You and I have been caught in the same struggle as Frodo, but the power of porn is far from mythic.

Like Frodo, we’ve been given a critical mission of epic proportions and eternal significance. We’re charged with loving God and loving others so that the kingdom of God will become more real in our hearts and the world around us (Matt. 22:37–40).

Deep in our hearts we want to fulfill the mission and kick back the powers of darkness. But, we find ourselves giving in to something “less than,” a counterfeit—porn.

So let me ask you a question. If you share this struggle, why can’t you throw the ring of pornography in the fire? If you’ve thrown the ring in the fire, why does it keep rising from the ashes?

Right now, whether you know it or not, you have a deep-seated belief for why you struggle with lust and porn. Why does porn exert such power over you? Why do you indulge?

Maybe you attribute your compulsions to a sex drive that’s in high gear. If I weren’t so horny all the time, I wouldn’t struggle this way. But hey, I can’t change my sexual urges.

Maybe you attribute your struggle to your partner’s lack of interest in sexual intimacy. If my wife were more turned on or did what turns me on, if she’d just cut loose and be more uninhibited, then I wouldn’t need porn.

 Maybe you believe your struggle with porn comes from your wife’s appearance or lack of sex appeal in your eyes. If my wife lost weight or got a boob job or dressed sexier, I’d be more interested in her.

Maybe you attribute your struggle to a lack of willpower. If I could be more disciplined and focused, I know I could get over this. If I really tried harder, I could give up porn.

Or maybe you’ve concluded that if you were a more spiritual person, then porn wouldn’t be a problem. If I read my Bible more, prayed more, and focused on God more, then He would help me avoid this temptation.

Or maybe you frame your struggle as needing more accountability. If I knew more people I could trust, guys who really understand what it’s like, men I could come clean with, then I know I could control this.

Whatever you believe is the cause, my prayer is that you will come to realize that your struggles with lust and porn are not actually about sex.

I hope you will realize that the compulsion toward porn far exceeds the thrill of orgasm or appreciation for a woman’s body proportions. It involves far more than viewing a new stimulating sexual position or a hotter, more provocative partner.

In the same way, overeating is not about food—something else compels the food addict to eat an entire one-pound bag of M&M’s in one sitting. Compulsive shopping is about so much more than needing more stuff to put in our garages or closets.

So, too, our sexual lusts and preoccupations with porn point to more than naked bodies or illicit sex.

Question: What do you tell yourself as to why you struggle with porn and lust? Have you ever pondered the idea that it’s not really about sex?

Excerpted from Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle by Michael Cusick. Copyright ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc.