Pornography addiction is no small thing, and for many men and women the struggle is real. Pornography addiction can leave a person feeling broken, desperate, isolated and simply put, imprisoned. For those struggling with this addiction they are constantly being told that there is hope and that freedom available but they never seem to be able experience it and as a result they feel even worse. The truth of the matter though is that there is in fact hope, there is a way to experience freedom from this bondage. I started watching pornography when I was 9 years old, I always knew that it was something I shouldn't be watching but I began to crave it. By the time I was a teenager I was a full blown porn addict, and I was also beginning to have actual sexual experiences which heightened the watching of porn. This carried well into my adult life. I came to Christ when I was 27, I had many addictions prior to my turning to Jesus from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, to sex and pornography, and when I came to Christ, 4 of those things immediately dealt with. I stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking, and I stopped engaging in sexual activity. For some reason the one that stuck around was the pornography. It had become a way of life for me, it was normal and I couldn't stop watching it. In the beginning of my walk I would seek to hide it as I felt ashamed but then in reading the Gospel of John I came across John 3 verses 20 and 21 which state "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” These verses shook me, I had to ask myself the question, "am I practicing the truth and coming to the Light or am I hiding my sin?" Clearly I was hiding my sin. This convicted me and I began to reach out. I kept my circle tight but I made sure that I had a couple guys I could share my struggle with, and this began the process of me getting the help I needed to walk in the freedom that Christ offers.
Lets get into some practical steps on how to deal with pornography addiction. (Please note that though they aren't directly listed in the steps below, fervent prayer and Bible study are a must in and through this process.) (Also, this blog will be a little longer than normal and that's okay!)
Step 1, Admit you have an issue and need help. This might seem obvious but pride can be a beast and a lot of times we think we can handle these issues on our own. Porn addiction is not an issue that you can handle by yourself, it will require the help of the Holy Spirit and the help of the body of Christ. This is so vital to beating this addiction!
Step 2. Have a couple people that you can openly talk to about your struggles, your failures and your successes. There are a few things to draw out here that are important to mention. Fist, again, our pride can be a beast. If we have those people in our life we need to make sure we exercise the option to contact them and not only contact them but contact them before and not after a failure. This point is so important because it is often the hardest. We get embarrassed or we think they will be mad at us for struggling, or we just messaged them a couple of hours ago, or the day before etc... The enemy is crafty in these moments and our flesh starts to take over, we need to get out ahead of things before they get out of hand (and if we are honest they can get out of hand quickly). You need to have people in your life that will walk through this with you and that you can be open and honest with. I tell my friends that I am accountability partners for that even if I don't pick up leave a message or text me, I will respond and know that I will ask so they will have to answer, I tell them that I expect honesty as that is what they will get from me, and I want them to walk in the victory they have in Christ.
Step 3, Have an escape plan. This follows step 2 as they go hand in hand. This plan should be known by your accountability partners as they are a key part of the plan and holding you to the plan laid out. This plan should include contacting your accountability partners, prayer, Bible reading (specific Scriptures that you have found powerful or remind you of Gods goodness), something or a series of somethings you can do instead (this is where having a hobby is huge, for me it is writing or making music, this helps me focus on something different and is very helpful). If you are alone, sometimes you might have to leave the house and go somewhere public or just get in your car, crank some worship music (or just Christian music in general) and just drive. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a great verse to memorize for those that struggle with lust or pornography "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." This is a fantastic verse to remember, it's one of those verses that removes our excuses. Do we believe and trust that God is faithful and that He will show us a way out so that we can endure the temptation(s) before us? Think of it this way, if you were in a burning building you would do anything and everything to get out, to save your life. You wouldn't just sit in the middle of a room and say "well the building is burning so I guess I am just going to sit here and die." You would fight for your life. I would like to develop this illustration a bit. Let's say that the fire represents temptation and allowing it to consume you would represent you sinning. God gives us an ax in one of those glass cases that says "break glass in the event of an emergency." Jesus is always our exit, we need to choose Him rather than sit in the temptation, allow it to consume us and rebel against Him. Jesus died so we may have life, in Him we have victory over sin and death, we fight for our life by choosing Jesus in the moments when we feel the weakest. This brings me to step 4.
Step 4, Submit to resist. James 4:7 states "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." We have a tendency to read a verse like this and think we resist by fighting and by fighting I mean take things on in our own strength or flesh, when we do this we fail because we can only fight the temptation for so long, we can only resist for so long, eventually we give in. Here is the thing, when we submit to God we are resisting the devil, we are choosing Jesus over sin. So how does this play out in reality, how do we submit to God and resist the devil in real time, we do so by implementing steps 1-3. We get serious about walking in righteousness, we take God serious, we pray, we begin to practice holding our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, we call or text our accountability partners, we implement our escape plan, we get out of the building before the fire consumes us.
Something very important to remember is that we are all in process. When we put our faith in Jesus we begin the process of learning to be more like Him, we are being molded, and shaped into Christ-likeness. Something equally important for us to remember is that we are not hide behind the process, meaning, we can't settle for our sin or justify our sin, we need to be discontent with our sin and long to be freed from those things that hold us in bondage, we should be growing!
One final thing to wrap this all up. The thing that was a game changer for me was when one of my accountability partners, best friends, and brothers in Christ shared something so simple yet so profound. I want to bring you to the account of Esau and him trading away his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau traded everything, he traded his blessing, all for a bowl of soup. We read in Hebrews 12 verses 16 and 17 "that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears." What my buddy said next was a major eye opener for me, lets look at pornography as a bowl of soup. Are you willing to trade everything, to trade away your blessings for a bowl of soup? I am not speaking about matters of salvation, however, we are looking at the fact that God isn't going to be mocked, He isn't okay with sin in the life of a believer. Everything you have is a blessing, your very life is a blessing, you might have a family, you might be a pastor or a part of a ministry, all of that can be gone in the blink of an eye. Pornography in general has a crazy destructive ability, it steals your joy, it distorts your view of others, it destroys families, it ruins future relationships, it simply wrecks things. For me, this was huge, and so when I am faced with temptation, I say "no soup for me", this is the first step in my escape plan, it reminds me that i don't want to trade everything for this temporary moment of sin against God. God has provided me, and I'm sure you, with more than we deserve, He has done so much for us and it is time we take Him serious and take Him at His word. He is in fact faithful to provide a way out, the question is will we take the exit.
This blog is by no means extensive, there is so much more conversation to have, with that, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what works for you, let us know how we can pray for you specifically. If you are struggling with this issue we would love to help so please don't hesitate to email us or if your comfortable leave a comment. Thank you so much for your time in reading this and we hope you found it worth your time and helpful. God bless!!