Pornography addiction is the #1 problem I come across when ministering to young adults. According to one survey, 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women say they are addicted to pornography. Addicted, not just “I’ve seen it.” And those are just the ones who admit it. Another survey of young adults found that 68% of men and 18% of women use porn at least once a week, while 85% of men and 48% of women look at porn at least once a month.
But those are just statistics. If you are reading this, odds are it is a problem for you, personally. And it has been a problem for me, personally. In fact, I have yet to talk with anyone who struggles with this more than I did. I share that with you for two reasons: 1) because it’s true and 2) to give you hope, since The Lord has given me continued victory in this area despite regular temptation.
So, I wanted to share with you how to overcome an addiction to pornography.
1. Be Honest
That’s right: the first step is always to admit you have a problem. But let’s define the problem.
Pornography is a drug addiction, which makes it just as powerful as alcoholism or smoking or any other drug. The only difference is that the “drugs” are natural chemicals produced by your body. But they have the same impact of rewiring your brain, which is why you eventually get to the point where you can’t just quit because you want to.
It is also a sin, filed in the Bible under “lust.” Just because you avoid XXX sites, and instead get your fix from Facebook photos or “50 Shades of Grey” does not mean that you are avoiding pornography.
So be honest about the problem, and be specific about it.
What are you using as pornography? TV? Magazines? Social media?
How do you access it? List all ways.
How frequently do you use it?
When is it a problem? What times, places, activities, or events cause you to stumble?
What lies does the enemy tell you in times of trouble? That it’s not a sin? That this will be the last time? That it’s OK to start if you don’t “finish”?
You need to write down your answers to these questions (we’ll use them in a minute) and share them with your community, so they know how to help you.
2. Hate Porn
You have to hate it. Hate it enough to want to kill it. Hate it enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to overcome it. Whatever it takes.
“But, JP, I do hate porn—except when I don’t. That’s the problem.”
Hey, I’ve been there. But that’s why you need to hate it enough during times of strength that you are willing to put up barriers that prevent you from accessing it in times of weakness.
3. Remove Access
You have already listed all the ways in which you access porn. Now you have to remove that access so it is not available when you feel tempted. What does it mean to remove access?
Take a different route to work if you need to.
If you struggle at the convenience store, do not go in the store.
If the TV causes you to stumble, get rid of it.
If the internet causes you to stumble, REMOVE ACCESS.
- Consider every computer or mobile device you have access to.
- Install accountability /filtering software (this is an absolute must).
- If you ever get around a net “guard,” even once, it is useless; you need a new boundary. (But do not use that as an excuse not to have one.)
- If this means you never get on the web again…go back to #2 above. If your job requires you to have unfiltered access to porn, quit your job.
“But, JP, I can’t do that. I can’t quit my job/iPhone/Facebook friends!” Yes, you can. It can be done. What you are saying is that you aren’t willing to do it. See #2. Am I being too extreme here? Legalistic? Read carefully the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-29.
Once a boundary is set, do not compromise. If you do compromise, confess it immediately to your community, and ask for prayer.
4. Pray Daily
If or when it seems impossible, turn to the One Who can do the “impossible” with ease.
God knows your struggle. You will not tell Him something He does not already know. Let Him in on all areas of your life. Ask for His help in overcoming this every morning. Here is the prayer of a struggling addict:
Heavenly Father, today please help me to only think thoughts that honor You. I will come into contact with many people of the opposite sex today. I do not want to picture them naked or mentally have sex with them. Please help me to be victorious in this. Father, please make me aware of where temptation lies and give me courage to flee from it. Convict me of any areas of my life that do not bring glory to You. Please always give me an alternative to sin, a way out. Make me the person you desire me to be.
You cannot have a right relationship with Christ and be actively looking at porn. I’m not saying you aren’t saved, necessarily; just that it hurts your intimacy with God. And intimacy with God kills your relationship with porn.
I would encourage you to keep it simple. Simple does not equal easy; something can be simple and hard. It’s just better than being complicated and hard.
But if you are serious about getting help and want more details, below are some resources that can be useful.
If you are in Dallas, you can get help with any addiction through re:generation on Monday nights.
You need to be in community with other believers you can trust. You can get info on joining a community group here.
I recently gave a talk about this called “Looks That Kill,” which you can stream or download here.
Last week's message by Ben Stuart, "No Shame," is relevant, and is just worth listening to regardless.
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