If you’re addicted to porn, is it going to be impossible to withstand the temptation? After all, isn’t what makes it an addiction the fact that it’s so enticing you can’t resist?
Maybe it’s time to rethink how we see porn addictions. Yes, porn can have a big hold on you, and it can be rewiring your brain so that you crave the “high” that porn brings.
But regardless, using porn is still a choice. And what I’ve found on my blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum, as I minister to couples whose marriages have been so hurt by porn, is that porn recovery is real. You can get to the other side.
And here are the five steps that couples who have overcome porn have all taken:
1. People who overcome porn treat the problem seriously
No matter what pop-culture tries to tell you, studies show this: Porn has terrible effects on your brain, your marriage, and your sex life. Porn use has been labeled a Public Health crisis by the state of Utah. Why? Because porn hurts people. Rates of erectile dysfunction are going through the roof as more and more young men find their minds rewired by the effects of pornography. Porn use causes men to look down on women and, disturbingly, even women tend to use porn that includes violence against women. Using porn, whether you’re a man or woman, has been linked in studies to increased aggressive behavior. Also, porn is often made by using trafficking victims–and it is literally impossible to tell if the porn you’re seeing was filmed with a sex abuse victim or not.
Porn kills your sex drive for your spouse; makes you unsatisfied in your marriage; makes it difficult to commit to a marriage partner; makes sex with a real person difficult to complete; and makes you angrier, more stressed, and less peaceful.
When you come face to face with what porn is doing to you, and how porn is wrecking your relationships, it’s much easier to withstand that temptation.
2. People who withstand porn temptation don’t do it alone
Asking for help is really hard, but Jesus calls us to do hard things. If you have a bad porn habit or are a porn addict, you need help. Find yourself a friend or pastor you can confide in for accountability. Find a Christian counselor who can help you talk through the reasons you’re using pornography (many teens turn to porn because they feel powerless or unloved in their daily lives, and that continues into adulthood). Most churches have programs that will help scholarship people through counseling if you’re unable to afford it. Get some accountability software for your computer and your other devices and give your accountability partner access.
Unfortunately, many who repent of porn use don’t want to tell anyone about it because they’re ashamed. But biblically, repentance is accompanied by confession (James 5:16). If you’re truly sorry, you won’t let pride stand in the way of getting help. And this is such a common problem that it won’t be hard to find someone who has also walked this path who will want to help you!
3. People who beat porn block porn
The first thing an alcoholic does when they decide to quit drinking is get rid of all the alcohol in the house.
Porn users need to do the same thing. We need to get rid of the thing that is causing the temptation. Jesus says that if your right eye causes you to lust, gauge it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:30). Clearly, he was speaking metaphorically (otherwise he would have replaced the eye with another organ). But his point is clear: if you’ve got a sin problem you can’t seem to fix, it’s time to take drastic measures. Those measures may be hard, they may be hugely lame, and they may be the opposite of fun. Even still, you need to make it harder for yourself to use porn.
I’m not sure what that looks like for you. But here are a few ideas: don’t take your phone into the bathroom. Leave all devices on a central charger in the kitchen overnight so you won’t have them with you in the bedroom. If you can’t handle having a smartphone switch to a flip phone for a while. Use a wifi blocking software. In general, make it harder for yourself so that porn use is less convenient.
4. People who beat a porn addiction fill the space with something else
If you find yourself compulsively using porn, take away your temptation by getting yourself busy. Join an ultimate frisbee team, volunteer for a praise team at church, get super deep into hobby board gaming, start woodworking, or plant a garden. Even pick a hobby to do as a couple! (I’ve got 79 great hobbies for couples right here). Find an awesome coffee shop and pick up a shift a week for fun. Whatever you need to do to get yourself out of the house, visiting with people, and away from temptation–do it! If your life is filled with happy, productive things, you won’t have the ability to turn to porn because you’ll be kept otherwise occupied.
Now I recognize that for some of you, this is never going to work. To be busy enough to avoid porn use isn’t possible for you. Maybe you struggle with social anxiety and so being with people is beyond exhausting. I’d still recommend finding something new to try, or finding a skill to hone, even if it’s just taking an online course from home. Here’s why: you will feel AMAZING when you go from being not-great at something to being great at it. And feeling great about what you accomplished will help to give you the strength to say no to porn.
5. People who beat a porn addiction claim their new identity
In all of these practical tips, I’ll end with this: Add things to your life that will allow you to commune with God. Maybe that’s listening to worship music on the way to work, finding a devotional to use, attending a small group, or listening to Christian podcasts. And please, simply be still and know that God loves you and he likes you. He chose you.Porn is a battlefield most of us struggle with at some point in our lives. But I think it’s wrong to say it’s every man’s or woman's battle because that implies we’ll ALWAYS be battling. That just isn’t true. You can win!Click To Tweet
Jesus saved you! He thought YOU were worth dying for. And he has given you his Spirit. He says you are no longer a condemned sinner, but you are redeemed by his death and resurrection and you are now one of his holy ones, his saints. But out of that, He asks you to follow him in believing loyalty and to throw away the deeds of darkness. He calls you, with great compassion, knowing how hard it is for you, to do the hard thing of getting better. He wants your life to glorify him and he doesn’t want porn to get in the way of your life, your family, or your friends.
If you commit to doing that, His Spirit will help you. You are not alone. This is a battle worth fighting, and if you engage, He will give you the strength you need to win.