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How do I hold someone accountable for their porn use?

Last Updated: July 29, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Neuroscientist William Struthers talks about how you can be a good friend to someone who is harming themselves with repeated use of pornography.

How do you hold someone accountable for their use of pornography? Struthers mentions several good points…

1. Avoid shaming

Guilt is that feeling we get when we believe we have failed before a standard. Shame, by contrast, is when we feel we have failed before the eyes of another. That other person could be a spouse, friend, parent, or even be a “cosmic” sense of shame (believing one has failed “everyone” or “God”). Shame is relational.

If someone is using porn and already feels a deep sense of shame, it is important for you to help them not to compound that shame needlessly. Your tone of voice, body language, and words need to communicate: “Your wrongdoing has not caused a breach between us.”

2. Tap the power of negative consequences

All the same, we need to not shy away from talking about the real harms of porn.

As a good accountability partner to your friend, ask him or her, “What do you have to gain in life by avoiding these temptations? Instead of giving into this temptation, what kind of person do you want to become?” Or ask, “If you continue doing this over and over, what do you stand to lose in your life?”

Help them vocalize the reasons why avoiding pornography is a good thing.

3. Acknowledge their responsibility

When accountability is divorced from personal responsibility, we will be disappointed every time. In the end, it is not your job to change your friend’s life. It is not your job to reach your friend’s goals for him or her. Your friend must completely own his or her mistakes, messes, weaknesses, habits, and character.

  • Comments on: How do I hold someone accountable for their porn use?
    1. Daniel on

      The only concern I would raise would be the role a spouse plays in accountability. That can be a slippery slope and depending on the situation and temperment of the spouse, it can be too great a burden to bear in some cases. I have found that setting your spouse up to receive weekly CE accountability reports is one of the most effective tools to use, but there does come a point where a gender-based accountability partner outside of the spouse is also critical. Because men and women think differently, the perspective of an accountability partner that is the same gender as you allows you to discuss things that your spouse may have blind spots to simply based on gender and the perspectives of how being male and female affects your flesh. Ideally, accountability through your spouse (if married) and an additional accountability partner is the best recipe for success to begin with.

      The other more paramount issue is that accountability cannot be forced to be effective. You have to want it, be committed to it, and be willing to do whatever it takes in the context of transparency and vulnerability in order to experience freedom over the lusts of the flesh. True change occurs in the heart, and that begins by owning your sin and deciding for yourself that you are sick and tired or being sick and tired…and by God’s grace, you will submit to the authority of Scripture and to the accountability of a Biblical partner in Christ.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Amen, Daniel. Totally agree. So would Bill Struthers.

        The spousal accountability question is a big one. We have had numerous posts on our blog about that. I’ve done a few interviews with some Christian teachers about that. We have a large number of our married accountability users that send their reports to their wives, but the dynamics of that relationship differ from couple to couple.

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