We’ve now finished another year – a year of victory for some and defeat for others. Like every year for the past several years, I watched in 2015 as more church leaders fell into the trap of pornography. I would love for 2016 to be a year with no friends falling, but I doubt that will be the case. Perhaps these proposed steps to win over pornography will at least slow the rate of failures:
- Admit its power over you. Pornography has a unique power over people, particularly over men. I’ve previously written about that power. Until you admit its power – and the corresponding truth that you simply cannot break its power on your own – you’ll continue to live in defeat.
- Recognize the potential cost. Think about it – for the brief pleasure that pornography brings, the cost can be immense. Marriages destroyed. Ministries ended. Children hurt. Sometimes, jail sentences enforced. And, for the Christian, a gospel witness harmed. The cost is simply too much for a few seconds of pleasure.
- Refuse to blame others. I grew up in a home where pornography was available, but it wasn't my parents’ fault if I made stupid choices. It’s not a spouse’s fault. It’s not the media’s fault. It’s not simply a response to the stress of work. If you choose to use pornography, take responsibility for your choice.
- Consider your children and grandchildren. I would not want to be a child or teenager today, especially with the immediate access to pornography. It’s hard enough to avoid the temptations without the stuff unexpectedly showing up on Facebook, emails, TV, etc. Any pornography you bring into your life also increases the possibility of your children discovering it, regardless of how hard you fight to hide it.
- Recommit yourself to spiritual disciplines. I know it sounds simplistic to say, “You need to study the Word, pray, fast, and hang out with believers,” but basic Christian faithfulness is fundamental to victory over pornography. In fact, I’m not convinced a person can win the battle otherwise. You are much less likely to turn to pornography when God means so much to you that pornography loses its lure.
- Find an accountability partner who knows victory over the temptation. If your accountability partner is also continually losing this battle, you may be only enabling each other. Somebody needs to be winning in each accountability relationship.
- View the anonymous actors in pornography as people created in the image of God. That’s who they are, actually. They’re somebody’s son or daughter. They’re created in God’s image, though that image is marred by sin. To treat them as only an anonymous object for your pleasure is to dishonor the image of God in them.
- Take whatever drastic steps you need to take to remove temptations. Jesus used hyperbole to make His point, but He told us do what it takes to avoid sin; if we must gouge out our eye or cut off our hand, that’s what we do (Matt. 5:29-30). Move your computer into a public place. Add filters, and give somebody else the password. If you have to, get rid of your phone or your computer. Get connected with a counselor. Do whatever it takes – that’s what Jesus said.
- Thank God every day for victory. In fact, thank God for every moment of victory. You would not win at all were it not for God’s grace and power.
- Don’t ever assume you’ve fully won. The enemy who seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8) is smarter than that. As soon as you think you’ve won this battle once and for all, you’ve opened the door again. Walk in victory, but stay on guard.
What steps would you add?
I would add to get in with a 12 step recovery program. Get involved with an SA (sexaholics anonymous) program and get a sponsor and work the steps. These men are in successful recovery and the meetings and sponsorship give "true" deep water accountability rather than shallow accountability in the church, due to lack of vulnerability. The program is spiritual progress and not perfection and is Dependent upon God for true recovery. I am a Christian, and this program is a must for anyone dealing pornography and lust.
Thank you for these great words of wisdom. Will use this in our meetings on Tuesday nights. Celebrate Freedom. We are a bible based ministry that helps people with addictions and sinful strongholds. John 8:32-36 is where we begin. True freedom thru Christ.
I second Brian’s 12-step recommendation. God can and will use this means in the life of a Christian believer. For someone with ongoing pornography struggles, the goal is to honor Jesus through success in purity…if ongoing focus, strength and encouragement to achieve that goal is provided through ongoing (possibly lifelong?) participation in a 12-step program, that’s victory and we can praise God for it!
Also, what better place is there for evangelism than as a sponsor for someone in a 12-step group for sexual addiction working with someone seeking to take the 3rd step: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God”? People who find the “rooms” of a 12-step group may be some of the most spiritually receptive people on the planet…why would we wait for them to come inside the doors of our church?