One of the most frustrating things I found in my search for freedom from porn addiction was the slowness of my progress. Why, if God is so good and so powerful, did he not heal me at once?
I was recently thinking about one of the strangest Gospel stories: the story of the blind man’s healing outside Bethsaida. Several of Jesus’ own disciples were natives of Bethsaida, and Jesus had performed many miracles there. In this familiar setting the blind man is brought to Jesus by certain people begging Jesus to touch him. Jesus led him by the hand outside of the small village, spat on his eyes, laid hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” The man replied, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Apparently his vision was still cloudy, foggy. Jesus laid hands on him again and this time his vision was completely restored (Mark 8:22-26).
Why progressive healing?
It’s the only text I know of that shows Jesus healing in this manner. I’ve read and heard a whole host of potential reasons why Jesus would do this. Some say Jesus was showing the blind man, and hence us, that He is sovereign over healing: he chooses how it is done. Some believe that Jesus was building this man’s faith: he was brought to Jesus by others but had little or no faith himself. Some believe that Jesus is illustrating to his disciples how he will heal their spiritual blindness and confusion: slowly and progressively. Some see this merely as a two-stage healing: one natural, the other supernatural. The spit on his eyes merely separated his eyelids that were gummed shut; the second act of laying on hands was to perform the miracle of new sight.
We simply aren’t told the reason why.
I’m learning more and more that sexual addiction, such as pornography addiction, has a very real biological element. Repeated visits to pornographic websites condition our bodies to receive endorphins and enkephalins (chemicals in the brain). These chemicals are highly addictive. We literally carry within us our own source of addictive chemicals.
I recently read an interesting transcript from the “Hearing on the Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Families and Communities.” One of the contributors, Mary Anne Layden, Co-Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, calls pornography an “equal opportunity toxin” and highlights both the biological and psychological effects of repeated pornography use.
I love what she says here:
“There are no studies and no data that indicate a benefit from pornography use. If there were a benefit, then pornography users, pornography performers, their spouses and their children would show the most benefit. Just the opposite is true. The society is awash in pornography and so in fact the data are in. If pornography made us healthy, we would be healthy by now.”
I remember the very real physical side of my addiction. It was like a drug shooting through my system. I remember times lying in bed, thinking of going to visit internet pornography, literally shaking and convulsing as I thought about it.
Kirk Franklin’s Testimony
Over two years ago Kirk Franklin appeared on Oprah to speak candidly about his pornography addiction. He first viewed pornography at the age of 8 and struggled with addiction for nearly 22 years. He talks about how “it was literally like a drug calling me.” On the show the founder of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, Rob Weiss, said the drug for pornography addicts is “their own neurochemistry . . . I talk to guys who say that hours and hours and hours go by, and they’re not even aware of the time change because they’re so filled with adrenalin and dopamine and serotonin.”
Will Jesus Heal Me of My Addiction
All this being said, being delivered from pornography addiction is not unlike seeking the Lord for other types of physical healing. Jesus the Great Physician needs to come and heal not only our spirits and our minds, but also our bodies as well.
But will he heal us progressively or at once? I’ve met men who fall into different categories, but most of the time the healing comes gradually.
Like the blind man, I want be healed right there and then. Jesus, instead, takes me by the hand and takes me somewhere else, somewhere unexpected. Like the blind man, I expect Jesus’ first touch to make me whole. Jesus, instead, wipes away the grime and grit first allowing me to see the root of my pain and my sinful choices. Like the blind man, I needed to be brought to Jesus by loving friends, people who didn’t want me to stay the way I was. Jesus, again, shows Himself both amazingly good and incredibly sovereign in my journey towards being whole and living holy. Like the blind man, I begin to see . . . and Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, does not leave me among the walking trees: He finishes what He starts.
Thanks for this open and courageous discussion. I am a Christian Mental Health therapist, and I occasionally work with men with porn or sexual addiction. I will put your letter in my repetoire to let them read as they begin their journey, hopefully with more patience as a result of your well-placed words.
Having been an addict for several years, I am finally entering into the healing process. It is very frustrating sometimes, when I think on how I want to be, at the level of purity my father or older friends have. Yet then I think on how I used to be and the fact that He has brought me thus far over a years amount of time is comforting. Like the blind man, I will just have to stumble along until I myself have enough clarity to lead those around me.
Thanks for the article. I don’t think it comes as news to anyone addicted to pornography that it actually physically controls you. I have found one further problem with this addiction, however. It is very difficult to enter into and enjoy normal, healthy sexual relationships with this addiction. Even when I have not been indulging my lust, I find this to be a problem. My wife is beautiful, but she does not look like the stereotypical woman on a porn site, and I have found that I don’t get that rush from her that I get from pornography. It’s pitiful, I know. Could you at some time comment on how to deal with this? I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one.
You are not the only one, I am having the exact same dilemma and I want to change this dynamic, and re-learn how to have a real relationship. I have a wonderful lady in my life, but I can not maintain an erection, due to that rush that you referred to. I need help, as I have come to find out that I can’t do this by myself. I welcome your comments.
@Bob – Thanks for your comment. This is certainly a problem for many men whose minds have been submerged in pornography, especially for long periods of time.
I remember an article I read by Naomi Wolf called “The Porn Myth.” It describes this same problem among single men: porn deadens our libido real live women who can’t measure up to “porn standards.” This is sad because so much of porn is fake: pixels, camera angles, lighting, breast implants, and scripted pleasures.
I wrote a post a while back called “Getting to the Root of Lust.” In that post I talk about what I’ve learned about the nature of my own pattern of lust. For me, the outward attractiveness and demeanor of the “fantasy woman” (conditioned greatly by what my culture tells me is attractive) is only a prop my mind uses to validate myself. When I really look deep I realize my lustful fantasies are really more about me than about the woman. The post describes this in detail.
I also wrote a post for wives about why the physical “beauty” of porn stars is not really what men are drawn to. Oh, sure, on the surface, it is what men crave. But what we really love is the variety, the novelty, the ease of fantasy over relationships, and the ego-fulfillment porn brings. If our minds have been poluted by porn, our minds need to be rewired if we are going to find real sexual satisfaction in marriage.
I’m not trying to ignore the importance of physical attractiveness, but I believe God can redeem your mind so that your wife becomes your standard of beauty (in all senses, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.).
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Sacred Sex, by Tim Alan Gardner. Great book on how God rewires our hearts so that the big ‘O’ of sex is not Orgasm, but Oneness.
I am a student in Kabale Uganda and am 22 years. Six days ago I got into the school computer labaratory and found that not many were there so I could get exreme privacy. I recieved Christ as my Lord and saviour in 2005 and He has blessed me with the wonderful gift of preaching and song but I dint realize how much lustful I have been till six days ago. Impacted in the excuse that, “its okay to watch this as coz I will preach better on it”, I typed porn on google search and there I began to view all this naked stuff. Within me I knew it wasnt what I should be watching but something caught me to it. To be honest, this happened during my Fasting period and for five days I even lost my appetite craving to watch more and more.
I decided to renew my fasting with a five day period prayer, am on the way and yesterday I began to sense God answer me, makng me to despise and hate what I was beginning to crave for. I praise God for He is faithful even when we are not and His patience towards us is to the extreme. Before I came to Him I was addicted to Marijuana, He derivered me but in a few days I sensed that porn might be stronger and It might be the greatest addiction per now. Thanks for your encouragement.
@Daniel – Thanks for this testimony. It is sad how our minds justify getting closer to temptation. I praise God that He has build new affections in your heart that make you hate the sin. I pray he continues to unearth the sins underneath the lust. Blessings!
I can identify with this article a lot. My experience was that I struggled for a long time (more like lost battle after continual battle). Over time after being saved and truly confessing my sin to God the problem seemed to weaken but was still there. Not until I confessed this problem to someone close to me (other than my wife) did something actually happen. I’d read through James 5 countless times and seen that verse about confessing sins one to another and being healed. I guess I never really took what God was saying at face value. I didn’t truly believe that for me it could be that simple. But it was. The morning I called a friend up and told him what was going on it was like the shackles fell off and I was in the middle of a jail break. I’m talking totally released from the addiction. With the help of counseling and an incredible CSAT, I realized where the root of this was and what my triggers were.
I’d be curious about what others would say (and maybe Luke and the gang can put together some kind of survey to test this), but how do you guys who are currently struggling respond to these questions:
1. Does anyone else outside your wife and you know you are struggling?
2. Have you truly pulled a James 5 confession with someone safe to share with?
3. If yes to number 2, explain more what your experience was.
4. If you haven’t tried this, would you commit to finding that safe person to confess to?
5. If you’re still struggling with porn, are you using any form of filtering and accountability software combo such as CE?
Overall, the confession and accountability and filtering seemed to be the right one two punch.
Others may still struggle, I’m just having a hard time understanding how anyone can honestly think they’ve got a real shot at winning without the right tools. Who knows, maybe someone will show me differently.
@J – James 5 is a pivotal verse for understanding the connection between confession, prayer, and healing. Person-to-person confession of sin is vital if we want to overcome our deeply rooted issues. Thanks for your questions and thoughts. We’re planning on pulling together Biblical resources like this to equip our members and future members to live a life of freedom!
Hi I once confessed to someone other than my wife about my addiction to porn and am still struggling to get out infact the feeling has been leaving me drained so much that at times i feel hopeless that I will never get out of this please help me see the way .
Hi Clive, confessing once to someone other than your wife is a start, but it likely won’t be enough. An on-going, “iron sharpens iron” accountable relationship is absolutely necessary while you battle this monster. Can you find someone who will walk alongside? This article describes what the relationship might look like from a lot of different angles. God IS for you! Be strong and courageous and press on my friend.
I am encouraged to see that men are calling on the Only One who can deliver them of addictions.
A little back ground:The man I married 23 years ago this month, we are now in the midst of divorce due to addictions. IDOLS is the correct word; that is what God calls anything we put befor Him, an idol. The man that I married when given the choice to give up the idols and get counceling, chose alcohol. This was the open door for porn, credit card debt, verbal and physical abuse… and much more. fIt is the language of idolship.
This man once told me that he and other men would always have the battle… NOT TRUE! Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED” And that means He completely, absolutely takes every bondage from us and sets us free…free indeed.
I encourage you men to TOTALLY – COMPLETELY give yourself to God; don’t hold anything back and then watch Him heal you COMPLETELY. Be doiers of the Word and DO what ever it takes in HIm.
I understand and believe what you’re saying is true because the Bible says that,but just because a person truly accepts Christ as their personal savior doesn’t mean that the problem goes away.When a person accepts Christ,the devil seems to bring stronger desires upon them because he has lost that person.The sin is always going to be there but it doesn’t have to be a part of your life.The Bible tells us that we have to be renewed by the transforming of our minds.
Hi there, my husband has been struggling with pornography, it has affected out sexual relationship and i want to trust him again, i don’t even feel in love with him anymore. everything about him frustrates me now.
Hi Chantal. I think you’re experiencing the reality that “not looking at porn” is not an adequate basis for a relationship. Once the relationship has been damaged this way, it takes a while to recover. One of the things I see a lot of times is that all the effort goes into helping guys quit, while wives are left to struggle with all their emotions without a lot of support.
There is so much more to a restored relationship than “no porn”! You really need a restored relationship. While he’s working on his recovery, you can work on yours as well. I’d encourage you to seek out support for yourself, to help you process through the emotions you’re experiencing. Once you’ve gotten a handle on those emotions, you’ll be better able to make good decisions for yourself. Personal counseling can be a great help. Groups like Celebrate Recovery or S Anon can be helpful as well.
You might also appreciate our free download, Hope After Porn, where several women talk about their experiences in recovery.
please help. am a christian who believes in remission of sin and resurrection of Christ.i dont want to fail in doing GOD’S will here on earth.my problem is porn.i am tired with pornography.am deeply in pain.i have struggled quiting in vain.what worries me is that i only watch it when am stressed up. please help me.
I highly recommend you read this book. It is free and available to download from our website.
Hi my name is Alex I’m 27 years old I’m married and I’m about to exspect my first child I too struggle with porn what makes it even worse is the fact that I am a leader in our church when ever I watch it I become so num and I hate myself for doing it I really feel like a true hypocrite sometimes when so many people come to me for advise ,counseling and guidance but I needs it myself I really need help
Hey Alex. Well, I’d encourage you to find a good CSAT (certified sexual addiction therapist) right away. I do think that when you’re in the ministry, the burden of porn plus all the secrecy is enormous. It’s hard to ask for help when you’re afraid you could lose your career over it.
Having said that, I think you are far better off losing a job and gaining your soul! My husband and I were missionaries for many years and he hid his porn problem from me and everyone else. It devastated his emotional and spiritual life, and it took years for him to recover. In fact, I know he’d tell you that today he finally has a true walk with God like never before. 14 years into recovery. He likes the Pure Desire book and Surfing for God, btw. So I’d look those up. You and your wife might also like my memoir, As Soon As I Fell.
The good news is this: recovery is absolutely possible. Andy and I are happier together than we ever were before porn. But it’s a lot of hard work, it takes up to 5 years to really get past it, and you’re going to need help. So get yourself a therapist and get cracking.
Blessings on your healing journey, Kay
I don’t recall when I got hooked but I know it started with ” loose magazines” those that had just enough truth but the last 2 pages had some explicit material . I then progressed to books like HR( will not give full names) this was certainly before the Internet became mainstream and later progressed to Internet .
All of what has been mentioned above are quite true.
1. This cuts across both believing and unbelieving men.
2. Is there support for women out there.
3. I think because it is something we grew into. We have to make the necessary changes both physically and spiritually before it is whole. There is a place in the bible where a man with demons was made while but if his house is clean then 7more powerful demons will return and the state of the man will be worse than when he was made whole. We need to confess to one another but whom ? Our spouse , a therapist , our pastor , a friend from another church . ( finding that person to confess to must be part of the process and the most difficult)
without going through the process I feel we make Jesus a fraud as without you doing what has to be done physically – going to bed earlier than 11pm. Cancelling that HBO channel , giving your wife the phone and computer passwords. Fasting and praying to overcome your doubts and unbelief. It aids the process and journey to complete healing.
Hello all! I wanna say that its 100% possible to overcome porn addiction, I used to be addicted to porn before now, but now i am free! To anyone who believes, anything is possible, hence I wanna say that the first step to being free is to stop being afraid of porn. When the thought of porn comes to you, does your heart still leap? Fight that fear with the word of God(meditation) like:
the thought of your believe in Jesus alone! I mean this:
“my believe in Jesus” should be your back fire when the thought of porn comes. . . This helped me a lot in my recovery from porn process. Catch you later.
Hey, I struggle with porn,some times I can go a full day or week without watching it or doing the do,and I feel great.Then sometime later I return to it,and it frustrates me.Its like am I making progress or not? i’m just 22,love Jesus,and I want to be free of this monster. I’ve been struggleing with this for a few years,i got baptized last year,and it seemed like the feeling came on me even stronger. I need help.
Hello, Jerry – I’m so incredibly sorry you are struggling. It is a tiresome loop to be caught in, to want so desperately to “never do it again,” and have victory for a day, and then fall right back into the trap. But, I’m also glad that you’ve admitted your struggle here. I’m going to ask what might seem like a strange question, but here it goes…how badly do you want to quit? I mean really. Do you seriously want to do whatever it takes in order to break free? Even breaking your phone? Going to counseling? Speaking openly? Whatever it takes? Until you can say “yes” to that question, porn will continue to own you. This post lays it out: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/04/23/how-to-quit-porn-6-essential-steps/ This one also provides some tough steps: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2016/06/30/stop-looking-at-porn-you-sicko-part-1/.
I truly hope that you find the freedom you so desperately desire. It will be hard work. But, all things worth having in life require effort. Grace-driven effort.
I’ve been struggling with this devilish monster which am desperate to stop it ,to an extent that I can break my phone but am so scare to share it with a fellow.I believe that Jesus will never let go of me and please help me in prayers and advice
Hello, Isaiah – I’m sorry that you’re still struggling. What have you tried? Do you believe you can quit? If you don’t believe it’s possible, then it won’t happen. Do you believe that the Cross of Christ that you gave you life to can break even your sin? Or, do you believe that it only works for everyone else’s sin? These are the big questions that you need to ask while getting alone so God can look you in the eye and lovingly answer. Would you read one more thing? Here: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/04/23/how-to-quit-porn-6-essential-steps/
I am 16 and have been addicted to porn for most of my life. I was born in the church so I knew it was a sin. Everytime I try I just fall back to it again. The guilt constantly eats me alive. I reached out for help 2 years ago I believe I was saved for few months but I fell off the wagon. I have said enough is enough and stopped, I have pulled my self closer to God and everytime I’m always reminded and it hurts cause I want to do it again. I need help.
Hey there. When you say that you’re 16 and you’ve been addicted to porn for most of your life, that waves a red flag to me as a therapist. It sounds like you must have had very early exposure? A lot of folks don’t know that deliberately showing an underage child pornography is included in the definition of sexual abuse. The reason being that explicit sexual content, and especially the violent and demeaning content of today’s online pornography, can be traumatic to children. When children are traumatized, they act out and may repeat the traumatizing behaviors. I would suggest that if you can find a therapist to help you, that would be great. Talking to a trusted friend can be helpful in reducing the shame and stigma. And I would suggest some yoga as well as a way to calm and soothe your body.
I always like to reassure adolescents of either gender that masturbation is normal! It feels good, and it’s a part of your whole self, which includes your sexuality. It’s private, but it’s not shameful. It shouldn’t take over your life, but it’s fine as a part of your healthy physical self.
Problems arise with masturbation, as with many other good things, when we use it as an unhealthy coping mechanism when we are overly stressed, upset, etc. We can all be vulnerable to using good things–food, wine, exercise, Netflix–to cope in unhealthy ways. Instead of feeling our feelings and processing through them, we substitute a behavior that feels good in the moment but didn’t actually solve the problem and may in fact produce more problems.
Unfortunately, there is huge shame around sexuality in Christian circles. Often, shame itself becomes the problem, as you feel distressed over shame from masturbation, you then masturbate to feel better in the moment.
Here’s a short animation on interrupting shame cycles that you might find helpful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmz9aB-hlr8
I want some advice. My husband is so porn and addicted to sex I am so tired of him. I wanna save my marriage but he’s wearing me out and he’s 57 yrs old.
Well, you can’t save a marriage by yourself. The other person has to be onboard as well. If your husband isn’t willing to do his part, then I think you have to honestly assess the situation and decide what healthy boundaries will look like for you, in the face of this reality. Here, here, and here are some articles that might help.
You might also reach out for support with a therapist, a group, or in the online resources at Bloom for Women.
My husband and I are our 60’s. He is always on his phone on nasty porn sites. I say nasty because it involves anal sex multiple people of all ages etc. My husband thinks it is perfectly fine but I find it totally against what God wants for us. I am in fear frequently that he is on these porn sites and of his bullish way he speaks to me want me to perform sex acts I simply cannot. My sex drive has dropped since I grew older plus this stuff is just plan nasty
I only see one way out that is leave a marriage of 26 yrs.
do not publish my email address
I am so sorry. Of course you get to have the boundaries that are right for you. You also have the right to be treated with respect at all times. Speaking to you disrespectfully and pressuring you for certain sex acts are clearly not respectful, loving behaviors. In fact, as a therapist, I would call that verbal and sexual abuse. Here’s an article that you might find helpful: A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce. I’m so sorry that you may indeed need to leave this relationship. I hope you’ll find a therapist for yourself, and maybe check into the online resources at Bloom for Women. Whatever he chooses, you can choose to be healthy and whole.
Peace to you, Kay
Thank you for your comments
One correction we have been married 36 years not 26 which makes it all the more difficult
I did move out and still feel very scared and sick to my stomach
How do I tell our adult children why I left
You are so brave!
Tell your children the TRUTH.
Peace to you,
Hello. I’m 22 years old. I started masturbating at 14 years. I’ve always kept this and it’s like emotionally breaking me down and eating me up slowly. I’ve always wanted to stop. I’ve not seen Someone I can tell. It’s not out of fear. This is Africa and such is considered highly imoral yet many are dying in it secretly. It feels like chains have been tied on me. I really want to stop this act and not. Please help.