I want to stop watching porn. No really, I want to quit. I have made promises. I have tried fresh starts on the New Year. I have even gone forward in church, gotten down on my knees, and begged God to help me stop watching it.
However, like a dog that returns to its vomit, I find myself back online watching porn. What is the real problem? Is God deaf to my prayers? Am I not a Christian? Is God just tormenting me for my sexual impurity? Will I ever be able to stop watching porn? Because based on my past it seems impossible.
Porn addiction is an extremely complex issue with no simple answers or cookie cutter solutions. Most men fall into what I call the “Zap Trap”–praying that God would just heal them, and they will be able to stop watching porn without having to fight the fight of recovery.
Could God do that? Well, sure He can do anything.
However, in working with hundreds of men over the past ten years, I have learned that He rarely does an instant healing in this area. So, let’s look at three main reasons why it is so hard to quit looking at porn.
Reason 1–Porn is addictive.
Apart from the spiritual battle you are in by simply being a Christian, you are in a physical battle with a physical addiction. You have literally become a drug addict. The drugs you are addicted to are those released in your brain when you become sexually aroused.
God designed those drugs as a wonderful part of His plan to bond a husband and wife as one during times of sexual intimacy. They all have a distinct purpose and are marvelously effective. However, your brain does not differentiate between having sex with your wife or having sex with porn. The same drugs are released with the same effect. Pleasure, focus, energy, release, and other things happen which make having an orgasm one of the most enjoyable things God has given to us.
We like it. We like it a lot. So, we want it again and again. With that experience accessible in a five minute trip to the bathroom with your smart phone, we start using it more frequently. When we get stressed. When we get angry. Or when we want escape from problems, we can easily get a fix that does not fix anything.
Dopamine, testosterone, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and serotonin flood our brains, and we feel good for a while. Then shame and fear return, and it is not long before we want another escape.
Christians who can’t stop watching porn do not like it when I tell them they are drug addicts, but that is the truth. The drugs are between their ears. They do not need a pusher. Their drugs are basically free of charge and are extremely effective. We can now access whatever things we want to view and get a quick fix within a few seconds.
Also we can walk out of wherever we just acted out and seem fine to everybody. No hangover. No trace of what you have done unless you forget to delete your history.
To break free from this addiction takes a lot of work and most men are not ready to fight that battle. Especially due to reason number two.
Reason 2–We remain in isolation.
How many people know about your secret struggle? You simply cannot tell anyone because you might lose your job, your friendships, your wife, and your family. People will drop dead in shock because everyone thinks you have it all together, and so that pressure keeps the truth buried deep in your darkest places. You feel trapped because you are in a prison of your own making.
I know this from experience. I was a pastor for 26 years and struggled with a sexual addiction for eight long years. I hated myself. I did many sexual sins, and there was no way I could just say to my wife and my board, “By the way, I am addicted to sex.” However, God in His mercy revealed my secret life and my recovery began in September 2005. Talk about a train wreck and painfully injuring my wife and our four adult kids.
Remaining in isolation makes it seem impossible to stop. Recovery demands confession, disclosure, coming clean, and genuine repentance. If I had been a better and braver man I would have stepped forward and asked for help. But I lived in denial and minimized my actions by telling myself I knew enough to be able to stop.
At 180 Ministries, we say that a lone sheep is a dead sheep.
If you remain in isolation, you are a dead man. Satan prowls around seeking whom he may devour, and you are an easy target. The sin that so easily entangles you has its hooks in deep, and you will need a team of people to help you pull the hooks out and stop watching porn. Your daily choices allow sin to be your master, and the father of lies has you dancing like a puppet on a string.
To make it through a withdrawal period of about 90 days, you need people available to you on a constant basis and you need to learn how to reach out to them when the whole temptation process to watch porn begins. We like to say reach out before you reach in. Reach out to your team before you reach into your pants.
The opposite of isolation is community. Scripture has a lot to say about community and our ministry was founded on this passage in 1 John 1,
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Fellowship is community. It is being daily connected to other men to help you fight the battle. How many armies send their troops out alone to fight the enemy alone? None. Stupid question. So why are you trying to fight it alone? Lone sheep are dead sheep.
Reason 3–We don’t take it seriously.
It is so easy to say to yourself that everybody is doing it. It is not such a big deal. Are you kidding me? Porn use is destroying families and marriages at an alarming rate. God says sexual sin is a big deal. He calls us to purity and holiness. He has started a good work in us and plans to finish that work but if we are walking in sexual sin we grieve and stifle the Spirit within us and will continue to be pulled into deeper areas of sin.
Every Monday night about 100 men gather at our church because their sexual sin has and is ruining their lives. They cannot stop and are heading into very dangerous and dark waters. We lie to ourselves when we think that we can handle it. If that is the case, why are you reading this article? Why are the statistics saying that over 50% of all Christian men are addicted to porn?
Did you see the cover of Time on March 31, 2016? They found that Millennials who have used porn over the years are experiencing erectile dysfunction because they have trained their brains to see sex as something you do online. So, when it comes time to have a real relationship they fail to answer the call.
Are you aware of the rise and prevalence of sex trafficking around the world?
We need daily encouragement to stop watching porn
I believe with all my heart that the answer to stop watching porn is found in God’s Word. He calls us to community with no condemnation. He wants all of us to be connected and truthful with one another (and Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability can help with this). We need to do as James says. We need to confess our sins to one another, pray for each other and then healing can begin to come. Lastly, we need encouragement. Look at this passage in Hebrews 3:
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
We need encouragement every day or we will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. For this reason, I began writing e-mails to encourage believers struggling with sexual sin. Six days a week I encourage people all over the country, and you can receive that encouragement as well. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll add you to the list.