What to Do if You Are Struggling with Pornography
Pornography is a dangerous temptation that, unfortunately, is easily accessible within the world we live. As we thoroughly discuss in other articles on pornography, pornography causes harm to individuals, families, personal relationships, and spiritual relationships. It goes against God’s perfect design for sexuality, and it disgraces true beauty. Yet, both Christians and non-Christians struggle with sexual sin, and pornography use is a chief sexual temptation. Therefore, we want to provide a brief outline of some positive steps to employ if you are struggling with pornography. Because this is not the forum for lengthy counseling advice, we strongly encourage you to talk with a pastor and a Christian counselor about your struggles, as they can help you walk through this issue. We also recommend that you read some of the pieces on our website about pornography from a biblical perspective, to help you understand more clearly God’s design for sexuality and beauty.
1. Confess Your Use of Pornography
Confessing your actions to God and to others is a first, necessary step toward life transformation.
Confessing your sins to God is important to renewing a right relationship between you and your Heavenly Father. When confessing, it is also important to come to an understanding of the root causes of your sinful behavior. For example, you may not trust God’s design for fulfilling sexual relationships or His plan for your individual life. This may have caused you to reject God’s lordship, instead putting yourself in charge of your life. This type of analysis may take time, but it is vital for reconciliation with God and for turning from your sin to what God desires.
In addition to confessing your use of pornography to God, it is also extremely important that you confess these actions to other individuals. Because pornography use is a private act and because it involves sexual material, it can promote isolation due to the fear and shame associated with it. However, God created us to live in relationships with other people. We need help in the daily struggles of life and we need others to pray with us. Confessing our private sins to trusted individuals provides relief from carrying our burdens by ourselves. This type of vulnerability is surely difficult at first, but the help that a community can provide can be life-changing.
Finally, in most cases, it is recommended that married individuals confess their use of pornography to their spouses. Open and honest communication is extremely necessary for a healthy marriage. Dr. Rebekah Land, a Southern Baptist psychotherapist and the wife of ERLC President Dr. Richard Land, has spoken about the necessity of confessing to a spouse about pornography use. “There is no way to start the process of working on [recovering from pornography addiction] and your wife not know about it,” Land says. While confessing your use of pornography to your spouse will undoubtedly cause pain, it is the only way for the healing process to begin.
2. Seek Wise Counseling and Personal Accountability
Following confession, it is important to seek counseling and establish accountability relationships in order to gain traction in overcoming your use of pornography. As stated earlier, it is very difficult to defeat pornography addictions without the help of others. We need support, encouragement, and wise counsel to make positive changes in our life. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you seek professional, biblical counseling and that you establish accountability relationships with trusted friends or mentors.
Contacting your pastor is an easy first step toward receiving professional help. If you are more comfortable discussing your pornography use with a Christian therapist, you may simply ask your pastor for a recommended local Christian therapist, without even mentioning the issue with which you struggle. (See Dr. Rebekah Land’s discussion on seeking Christian counseling for more information.) Whether you talk with a pastor or a therapist, it is very important that you seek wise counsel from a professional.
In addition to a formal counseling relationship, it is also useful to seek accountability from a friend or mentor. You need someone who will walk with you spiritually and relationally through your recovery. This should be a trusted person who will pray for you, ask you difficult questions, encourage you when you are down, and celebrate with you as you achieve victories.
3. Install Safeguards
Beyond the accountability and counseling relationships, it is necessary to make wise decisions to build a hedge between you and the temptation of pornography. With these safeguards in place, it will be more difficult to access pornography in a moment of weakness. An easy first step is installing a computer monitoring and filtering technology on your computer to prevent you from accessing pornography sites. To provide a further safeguard, have your accountability partner create the settings, so you cannot easily change them. You may also want to cancel certain television programming to restrict temptations. Finally, you should pledge to make wise decisions about the movies you watch and the books and magazines that you read.
4. Practice Spiritual Disciplines
In addition to confessing, receiving counseling, building positive relationships, and implementing safeguards, it is extremely important to build positive spiritual disciplines into your life. Praying, meditating on God’s Word, and memorizing Scripture can provide spiritual strength and encouragement, helping you resist temptation, overcome shame, and realize God’s perfect design for sexuality. These practices will also aid in healing you spiritually, emotionally, and relationally from the scars of sin, and they are extremely effective when implemented into your accountability relationships.