So, you’re addicted to porn… well you may not put it that way. But if you’ve looked at it in the past month, week or couple of days, there’s a good chance you are. But here’s the thing–you are not alone. Porn addiction is actually one of the most common problems we come across in ministering to thousands of young adults at The Porch. According to one survey, 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women say they are addicted to pornography. And those are just the ones who admit it.
There is hope for you. We’ve seen God bring freedom to countless men and women drowning in a porn addiction, and we believe he can do it again, with you.
Here are ways that you can overcome a pornography addiction.
1. Be honest about it.
Tell someone you are looking at porn. The first step is always to admit you have a problem. One thing is certain–you’ll never find freedom if you keep hiding it and facing it alone (James 5:16).
Be honest with yourself. Confess to God and to God’s people. The Bible says that God provides a way out for every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Part of the “way out” he has provided is the gift of community, or solid friends who are following Jesus and members of a healthy church.
It’s not enough to only confess to God. In fact, only confessing to God may make you feel better, but it rarely makes you live better.
Maybe the most courageous and life changing thing you can do is call someone who loves Jesus and knows you well, and say, “I’m addicted to pornography and I need help.” You need to have trusted people in your life fighting with you and for you. Fighting alone isn’t fighting at all.
2. Be specific with your sin and temptation.
How do you access it? Tell them.
When was the last time? When was the time before that, and the time before that? Tell them.
When is it a problem and when are you tempted most (i.e. “When I’m home alone scrolling through IG; when I’m stressed about something that happened at work; when I feel lonely, invalidated or insecure from a fight with this person”)? Tell them.
What lies does the enemy tell you in times of trouble? That it’s not a sin? That this will be the last time? Tell them.
3. Learn the facts.
Pornography is a drug addiction, which means it's just as powerful as alcoholism, smoking or any other drug. The only difference is that the “drugs” are natural chemicals being produced by your body when you watch porn. These "drugs" 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. Studies show that neurologically, your brain on porn produces cravings similar to a cocaine addiction.
56% of divorce cases involve one party being addicted to pornography.
90% of porn performers are sexual abuse victims.
Porn fuels the sex-trafficking industry.
Many porn performers are exploited against their will by pimps, sex-traffickers or family members.
Viewing porn has devastating consequences on the viewer (including problems with sex in the future, and trouble being satisfied with one partner) and on society as a whole. These effects should compel even a person who doesn’t love God to hate porn.
4. Treat those “images” as the people they are.
The pornographic images you are viewing are real people, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
The girls or guys you’re looking at are not objects designed for your pleasure. They weren’t made for you. Whether or not they believe that about themselves, you, as a follower of Christ have a responsibility to treat every human you encounter with dignity. That means not using them but praying for them. That means believing that they exist for more than your pleasure.
That means refusing to add to the multi-billion dollar industry of pornography and sex-trafficking that perpetuates abuse, kidnapping, and other horrific crimes.
5. Hate porn.
On top of the astounding consequences on porn-viewers, porn-performers and society as a whole is the reality that every time you look at porn and/or masturbate, you are sinning against a holy God. The God who sacrificed his son to pay the penalty for your sin (1 Peter 3:18).
You have to hate it. Hate it enough to want to kill it. Hate it because you love God more. Hate it enough to be willing to do whatever it takes to overcome it. Whatever it takes.
“But, I do hate porn—except when I don’t. That’s the problem.” We get it. 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.
It’s not about “not” doing something. It’s about fearing God instead. When God says something is wrong, there’s a good reason for it (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
6. Remove Access.
This is a big one.
You know all the ways in which you access porn. You know a small portion of the consequences. Now you have to remove that access so it is not available when you feel tempted.
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 interwebs again…go back to point 5 above. If your job requires you to have unfiltered access to porn, quit your job.
“But I can’t do that. I can’t quit my job/iPhone/IG followers!” Yes, you can. It can be done. What you are saying is that you aren’t willing to do it.
And before you say, “that’s extreme,” 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 group, and ask for prayer.
7. Replace your bad habit with a good one.
Understand that porn is usually not your real problem. It’s the temporary solution you’ve found to a deeper issue.
You feel disrespected, so you run to people on a screen who won’t make you feel that way. You feel unseen, but in your fantasy-land, you’re seen. What is it for you? Loneliness, anger, the desire for comfort? Uncover why it is you turn to pornography. What problem do you have for which porn is your current solution?
Instead of escaping, choose to deal with your problems in a healthy way. Instead of reaching for your comfort in times of stress, can you recite a Bible verse that speaks to that? Can you call a trusted friend and ask that person to pray for you? Can you take a jog? It will be hard. But at all costs, you need to find a better alternative.
8. Pray Daily.
Turn to the One who can do the “impossible” with ease (Luke 1:37).
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. God, please make me aware of where temptation lies and give me courage to flee from it (2 Timothy 2:22). 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.”
The truth is that you cannot have a right relationship with Christ and be actively looking at porn. We’re not saying you aren’t saved, necessarily; just that it hurts your intimacy with God.
And having intimacy with God will help kill your relationship with porn.
You may think that no one struggles the same way you do. You may believe you’ll never be free from it. But that is a lie. God hasn’t given up on you. If you are a Christian, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you (Romans 8:11). That’s crazy, and crazy good news.
While God is broken-hearted for your sin, he loves you. We know that life is hard. We know that you are going through things. And we believe there’s hope for you. Yes, even you.
Love you. In it with you.
-David Marvin & Laura Eldredge