“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” 1Peter 2:11.
We come now to an uncomfortable but necessary topic- the single most harmful danger of the internet to all Christians. You may have already guessed that I am speaking about pornography. Think it’s not that big a deal? You are very much mistaken! Please know that the statistics suggest that 50% of all Christian men are addicted to porn, giving us some idea as to how pervasive and truly harmful pornography is, especially to those trying to live a God-honoring life.
It is not only men that are falling victim to the pornography snare- studies show that at least 30% of women admit to viewing online porn. The kids? Age 11 is the average age that a child is first exposed to porn, and 94% of children will see porn by the age of 14. A Barna research study found most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past.
If we are to protect ourselves from the dangers of on-line porn, we must have a well thought out strategy, and we must treat this battle like the spiritual warfare it most definitely is. If you are currently struggling to overcome a porn addiction, there is hope, and we will here outline some steps that you can consider.
- The very first thing we must understand is that it is virtually impossible for us to defeat an online porn addiction in our own strength, or by exerting our willpower. The addiction is too strong, and our next “fix” is only a few keystrokes away. The day always comes when we are tired, or stressed out, or maybe we just had an argument with our wife (or husband), and we all too easily succumb once again. No, we need a better plan, and it should include the following:
- Surrender your addiction to God in prayer by confessing your sin, and asking for His strength for your battle. The Holy Spirit is willing and able to help you to overcome your addiction.
- Spend time in God’s Word! Do not just browse through it, to get your daily chapters covered. Rather, and this is vital, begin a program of memorization. Take the time to research the key verses that relate to your battle- those on spiritual purity, overcoming lust, the gifts of the spirit, and prayer. Then MEMORIZE them! Here’s why. The scriptures promise that, in times of temptation and difficulty, God will recall to your mind Bible texts that you need in the moment, to successfully withstand the temptation. However, you cannot recall what is not already there. Build up a reservoir of key verses, and consider them a key element of your spiritual life insurance. Aim for one verse daily. Write in on an index card. Laminate it, and carry it with you all day. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that one or more of those verses will rise up to protect you the next time you face the temptation to succumb to lust or to view online pornography.
- Confess your addiction to your wife (or husband). She/ he probably already knows, or suspects, anyway. Men who regularly view pornography change. Your wife will likely have noticed a change in the intimacy of your relationship, in your moods, in your secrecy, perhaps in the frequency that you erase the search history on the family computer. Clear the air, ask for her forgiveness, ask for her assistance in your battle. This is a painful but necessary step. Please don’t neglect it.
- Consider counseling, either for yourself, or as a couple. This will depend on the individual circumstances, and how much damage you have caused to your marital relationship. You should preferably seek counseling with your pastor, or someone else you know to be spiritually mature. If you decide to seek professional counseling, make sure that person understands and agrees with the scriptural view of the dangers of pornography.
- Have a same-sex accountability partner. Some years ago Promisekeepers conducted a wide survey in which less than 5% of men said they had a best friend. Tragic though that statistic may be, you must not fight this battle alone. Be determined to find someone with whom you can be open and transparent, who will be non-judgmental but who will also hold you accountable. One of the things that makes Alcoholics Anonymous so successful is that every person in the program has a sponsor. Find yours. Make it someone who you can call before you slip. Meet over coffee or breakfast regularly. And please, do not be foolish enough to think your accountability partner can be opposite sex.
- Install an internet filter on ALL your devices. There are two general types, and here are the differences:
- The first type of internet filter blocks all questionable sites. Your internet usage is first “filtered” through the host company’s servers. Any site identified as dangerous is blocked. Once you install the software, you cannot uninstall it yourself. The company keeps the password to your account. If you want access to a blocked site or to remove the software, you must call and speak personally to a company representative, which is quite uncomfortable. This type of software is good because it prevents one from accessing porn sites.
- The other type works on the accountability model. When you set up your account, you name one or more individuals as your accountability monitors. Your monitors regularly receive a list of the websites and times that you visited. If you have been places where you should not have been, you will be involved in uncomfortable conversations.
- Learn your triggers. Is there a certain mood that causes you to be more susceptible? Is late night your temptation? Is it in your office when the door is closed? Maybe it’s when your wife and kids are gone, and you are alone in the house. Or does your lust flame up while you are at the gym, surrounded by in shape females with tight workout attire? If you do an honest assessment, you will uncover the conditions or events that are most likely to trigger a craving in you. Here is where you must decide if you are serious about defeating this sinful addiction. Find a way, however drastic, to eliminate that trigger from your life. Cancel your gym membership and take up running. Leave your office door open. Take steps to insure you are not home alone.