Is It Possible to Break Free from Porn?

Can’t see this video? View it here.

Is it possible to break free from porn?

Many people ask me—usually at the end of one of my presentations about the effects of pornography—if it’s truly possible to be free from porn. They feel they’ve tried everything and are beginning to despair. They’re beginning to think that, while it might be possible for some people to break free from porn, it’s not possible for them.

I know that freedom from porn is possible, and I know this for two reasons:

  1. I, and many people I know who have begun to find freedom from porn, have been exactly where you’re at and have felt the same way you feel now.
  2. As a Christian, I know that, no matter how entrenched in porn you are, God’s grace is bigger, and that He is able to do more than we can ever hope or imagine.

Before we engage in practical steps, we need to keep in mind these three important truths in order to even begin battling porn addiction effectively.

  1. You should think about sex.
  2. Freedom is one day at a time.
  3. You should struggle with the temptation to look at porn.

1. You should think about sex.

Australian author Frank Sheed wrote that modern man practically never thinks about sex. He might dream about it, joke about it, write songs about it—but he doesn’t think about it.

What is the nature of sex? What is its purpose?

Sex wasn’t invented by Playboy, Cosmo, or 50 Shades of Stupid. It was warped and distorted by these things.

If we want to know whose idea sex was we only need to look to the very first commandment in the Bible from God to humanity. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the face of the earth” (Genesis 1:28). And as Dr. Peter Kreeft notes, “I do not think that he meant, ‘I need you to grow pineapples and invent calculators.’” No. Sex is a good thing, a sacred thing. And so is sexual desire.

Christianity is not about the annihilation of sexual desire. It’s about the reorientation of it for the sake of love. Many people get confused because they think that strong sexual desire is the same thing as lust. It’s not. Sexual desire is a God-given gift which should propel us to make a gift of ourselves to another, according to the demands of chastity and prudence. Lust, on the other hand, doesn’t propel us to give, it compels us to take.

Love says, “This is my body given up for you.” Lust says the opposite: “This is your body taken by me.”

2. Freedom is one day at a time.

If you view freedom from porn as a destination, you’ll almost certainly remain disappointed. This is because freedom is not so much a destination we reach as it is a daily decision we make. Freedom is one day at a time.

Your goal today is not, “Okay, I’ll never look at porn again!” Instead, it’s, “Today I resolve to be the person God made me to be, and one thing that means is this: today I will not get sucked into lust and pornography.”

As Jesus said: don’t worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Real freedom is a lifetime of todays: moment-by-moment choices.

3. You should struggle with the temptation to look at porn.

Many Christians I encounter seem to think that the word “struggle” is synonymous with “give into.” We hear people say, “I’ve been struggling with porn,” and we assume they mean “I’ve been giving into porn”—and that is what they mean. But struggle doesn’t mean “give into,” in fact, it means the opposite. It means “to contend with an adversary or opposing force.”

So now we understand that, I hope you won’t be offended when I say, “If you are tempted to view pornography, I hope you struggle with it, since the only other alternative is to just give in.”

Recognize this: when we struggle, when we “contend with an adversary or opposing force,” we grow stronger. When we struggle with pornography we grow in virtue. It’s not just the virtue of purity we grow in, we grow in other virtues as well: moral courage, patience, temperance, humility, and self-mastery.

If you struggle with pornography, recognize that you have an opportunity—an opportunity to tap into a massive outpouring of God’s grace.

Your Brain on Porn