Pornography became a part of my life when I was 15 years old. I knew immediately it was wrong. But that didn’t stop me from going back to it time and time and time again.
And while I’m happy to say that today porn is no longer a part of my life, it has affected me and almost everyone in my generation. My years in high school and college would have been happier times had I been free.
Porn has become not only accessible; it has become both mainstream and tolerable. It has become socially and culturally acceptable; practically packaged online and economically feasible. It has become integrated with everyday life for modern men and women. Nowadays it’s almost a given that everyone has seen (or is consistently seeing) sexually explicit media.
The Sexual Revolution of the 60s, along with the industrious work of the porn industry, has metastasized into anything but a free society for those living in today’s world.
Ask most who are either suffering from a porn addiction themselves or married to someone who is struggling with porn and you’ll quickly discover: there is nothing free or life-giving about this stuff. My generation is enslaved to pornography – and even actively enslaving others for its propagation.
For those seeking freedom from the clutches of pornography here are four practical tips I’ve found helpful.
1. READ No-Porn.com’s E-Book for Recovery
There are a lot of resources out there for those looking for meaningful recovery from porn. However, not all of them are truly helpful. No-Porn.com’s walkthrough is not only practical, but powerful. The author shares firsthand how his own addictive tendencies extended far beyond the actual behavior of going back to pornography – even (especially?) after he was married!
While I’d recommend anybody to read it all the way through, there is one central concept that is tremendously empowering for recovering addicts.
One thing the walkthrough argues that your addiction is a separate entity from your true identity. It has latched itself on self-destructively to your psyche and fools you into thinking that you and it are synonymous. This is how it continues to justify your self-destructive behavior. But as the e-book rightly identifies, addiction is actually a separate entity than your identity. In fact, your addictions are your true self’s worst enemy.
To combat this threat from dominating you from the inside out, the book suggests thinking, repeating, meditating on a central phrase:
“I never masturbate or look at pornography now.”
This phrase uses two of the few words that your addictive mindset truly understands: never and now. Never means never. As in your self-destructive behavior will never take place in the future. You see, oftentimes we give ourselves license to perpetuate bad habits by fooling ourselves into thinking that our rhythm of life is not possible without it. We also often think of our commitment to abstain from pornography against the backdrop of our whole lives, and the weight of it crushes us. While this is a sinister lie in its own right, the word never attacks the addictive mindset head-on. The behavior is done with. End of story.
The other word, now is one of the only other words your addictive mindset understands. It always lives in the now, to the detriment of everything else, both past and future. Remember that disgusting feeling you had once you came out of the now moment of pornography? The addictive personality has no concept of that moment. It only lives for the now of a rabbit-hole lapse in consistency when it can binge on anything to sate its desire.
By saying that the now moment will never be given over to porn, you can successfully fight it from invading the present time.
I personally have found this to be devastatingly effective. That’s not to say that I don’t ever face temptation. Only that I when I do come face-to-face with temptation I’m armed with something that keeps my perspective grounded, even when the fight is most difficult.
2. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY RELATIONSHIPS & SOFTWARE
Another thing that is indispensable in the fight against pornography is accountability.
It’s in our nature that where there is no accountability we are inclined to cut corners and to compromise. Having a close friend, sibling, or even a parent to act as your accountability partner will go a long way in your fight against pornography.
Personally, I recommend two accountability relationships: one, with an older member of the same sex; two, with a close friend you consider your peer. This avoids two dangers. Firstly, it prevents your accountability relationship being purely about empathy, which peer-to-peer accountability relationships excel in. However, they also stagnate by being only empathetic. This is a mistake, as the fight you’re in doesn’t just require acceptance, but it requires a constant resolve to fight.
This is where an older mentoring relationship is helpful to exhort, challenge, admonish, correct, and appraise; the things upon which the integrity of your fight is built on.
But even relational commitment will only get you so far. You need software to keep you honest.
The Internet is truly, unavoidably a part of everyday life now. Even if you’re a die-hard opponent of social media, your web presence is an indispensable extension of your life. To think of it in any other way is to fool yourself.
I personally recommend CovenantEyes, which is a great option for those looking for an accountability software that still leaves it up to you to lapse or not. There is a subscription fee involved but it’s very manageable.
3. HAVE SOMEONE LEAD YOU THROUGH LISTENING PRAYER
This is an item that most wouldn’t add to the list of practical tools to recover from porn, but for me listening prayer has been the most powerful thing I’ve encountered in my ability to hear the voice of God both in the moment as well as throughout my whole life.
For those of you unfamiliar with the exercise, listening prayer is a discipline in which a facilitator guides you through a prayer exercise revolving around a series of passages of Scripture and crafted questions meant to bring you into contact with how the Spirit is speaking to you through the passage at the specific point in life you find yourself.
For me, I went through a listening prayer exercise with my mentor that revolved around my struggle with pornography. I was met powerfully by King Jesus in that moment, and I rank it as one of the most significant spiritual experiences of my life, not only because it was full of out-of-body experiences, vivid images and words received, but also because it gave me very practical and tangible takeaways that have come in the clutch when temptation and compromise seemed unavoidable.
The kind of transformation that comes by the grace of God is more than conceptual. It is potent. And it is very real.
I do plan on blogging more about my experiences in listening prayer to help those of you who have no experience in it get a better idea as to what the practice looks like.
In the mean time, I would recommend beginning a read-through on Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. He not only discusses multiple forms of prayer (the chapter on “Meditation” is most similar to what I am describing as listening prayer), but expounds on other disciplines that help mature the Christian lifestyle. If you don’t have anybody in your life who is familiar with the practice, slowly begin building towards a sense for the voice of God through meditation in particular.
Eventually, you ought to find someone you respect and trust as a mentor to facilitate listening prayer for you, preferably someone who has experience of doing this sort of thing and it could just blow your mind.
There’s a scene in the Gospels in which Jesus simply places the decision before a rich, young man,
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:21-23)
Jesus places the decision before the man, giving him the option for which life to live. One devoted towards self. The other devoted to the life that Jesus offers.
In our self-deception we often convince ourselves that another life without these self-destructive practices is impossible. By doing so, we ironically give ourselves license to continue wallowing in terrible patterns. Freedom is much nearer to you than your addiction would ever want you to believe.
Do you truly desire to change? Then take the necessary steps to do so. A fundamental decision acts as the backbone you need to get up! You’ll most certainly slip along the way, but as Rocky says:
“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Not only is an actively abstinent life without the practice of pornography possible – but it is preferable.
Keep moving forward. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith. No matter what.
In an age in which relational and sexual dysfunction has become an epidemic, commit to becoming the kind of man or woman who could be the catalyst for healing in their relationships and communities.