How do I stop looking at pornography?

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How do I stop looking at pornography?

Oct 19, 2009 |John Thomas
Question

I'm 20 years old and currently a sophomore in college. I was introduced to this website by my girlfriend. I read your articles "How might single guys handle their sexual urges in a Christ-like manner?," and I like what you have to say.

So here's my situation, and maybe you can give me some advice. I've been addicted to porn since right around ninth grade, off and on, give or take. My senior year I somehow managed to "take a break" from it and not really be interested in it. After that, once I started going to college in 2007, I really hit it hard again.

I am a Christian, and I know it's completely wrong, but I've been so desensitized to it that I don't even know why I look at it anymore; it's just something I do because it's there. I feel like a monster because of it. I have a wonderful girlfriend whom I feel the Lord is saying "she's the one," and the more and more I continue, the more and more of a jerk I feel like for not telling her about it. I feel like I'm cheating on her, and to me, that's as low as I can get.

So I guess my question is: How do I stop? If it has no meaning to me anymore (the thrill of actually getting away with it has been gone for quite a while, and I've seen it all, so nothing is remotely as new and exciting as it once was), why am I still finding myself at night looking at it, and what gets me is I'll look at it when I'm talking to her online! I've tried reading my Bible in the mornings, and I pray every day for God to help me, but I just can't seem to find enough motivation to keep me straight, and it doesn't help that my one friend from church, who was my accountability for as long as I remember, is moving to Tennessee. So is there any way for me to break this addiction for good and finally put the monster in its grave?

Answer

As a disclaimer I'll say that porn addiction is real and I am by no means qualified to diagnose whether you have such an addiction. A trained counselor might read your e-mail and say, yes, this sounds like a true addiction and this guy really needs therapy.

Given the level at which you consume, I would advise that you consider at least connecting with the Focus on the Family counseling department to help you determine whether you need addiction therapy. A good Christian counselor can help you understand the nature of compulsive behavior and also address spiritual strongholds that might be at work.

With that as a disclaimer, I'll quickly add that my experience with most young men in situations similar to yours is that while they might have a compulsive problem, I would stop short of calling it an addiction. What they are doing is making horrible personal choices that are well within their control.

Scripture says that what we plant, grows. "For whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."

In other words, whatever we feed in us is what gets strong. When we talk about the "addictive" nature of porn, that's what we mean. The more we view it ("plant" it; "feed" it), the more our appetite for it grows, and the more of it we eat.

So part of the solution is starving your flesh from porn, which is difficult, inconvenient and radical, but not at all impossible; it just depends on how serious you are about starving it. Many of the young men I talk to think they're serious about stopping their porn viewing, but they're really not. Mostly they're just full of excuses.

Online porn's most powerful asset at the moment is its delivery system; if you're going to have any chance of beating it, that's where you have to start. But when I suggest to these young men getting rid of their personal Internet access entirely, and only use the minimum access at work if required, or what is needed for school in public view at the library, they think I'm joking.

"How serious are you about it?" I ask. They look down at their shoes usually. The social and entertainment and convenience aspects of the Internet are just too valuable for them to give up.

Canceling or severely restricting your Internet would be taking your sin seriously.

When I suggest installing non-override filters or programs that send web addresses of the sites you've visited to your mom or dad or girlfriend, they offer multiple excuses of why that won't work.

Non-override filters and real accountability would be taking your sin seriously.

Those are a couple of basic, but serious ways to starve the flesh from Internet porn, but you must do more than starve the flesh. You also must feed your spirit. Scripture tells us to not merely abhor what is evil (starving the flesh), but also to hold fast to what is good (feeding the spirit). There is both a running away from and a running towards.

Feeding your spirit is more than a morning snack on the Bible and a quick prayer. That's good, but you can't sustain and grow your spirit on a morning snack, just like you can't sustain and grow your body on an occasional morning snack.

Growing in intimacy with Christ requires active nurturing of our relationship with Him. Developing a thriving prayer life takes time. Discipleship in the Word of God takes time. Meditating on Scripture takes discipline and effort and time.

So, no, I can't help you if you're seeking solutions to sin that are quick, easy, convenient and not costly. Repentance and rooting out the spiritual strongholds of sin rips up the ground of our heart and hurts. Healing and growing your spirit takes time. That's just the simple truth.

But the rewards of experiencing an appetite change from sin to holiness are beyond anything we can imagine. And if you're serious about it — about Christ-likeness — then your future is bright indeed, because God is serious about it too.

You have asked God for help and maybe this is part of His answer. He doesn't shame or condemn. Yes, He disciplines those whom He loves, and He loves you so much that He cannot love you any more or any less than He does right now. And He's ready to start your journey of healing and freedom. Are you?

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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