6 minute read

Singleness and Longing: Why Porn Is Not the Cure

Last Updated: August 9, 2021

Lisa Eldred
Lisa Eldred

Lisa Eldred is the Educational Content Strategist at Covenant Eyes, and has 10 years of experience in researching and writing about porn addiction and recovery. She has authored numerous blog posts and ebooks, including More Than Single, Hobbies and Habits, and New Fruit, which was co-authored with Crystal Renaud Day. Her writing about faith and fandoms can be found at Love Thy Nerd.

Valentine’s Day is still a few weeks away, but the seasonal items—the balloons, the teddy bears, the crummy candy in heart-shaped cardboard boxes—are already going up in the stores. Pretty strange, considering that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that the only people over the age of 25 who actually care about the holiday (besides greeting card producers) are singles. While many married couples only pay the holiday lip-service with an exchange of fairly small gifts, to singles it’s another spray of lemon juice in the paper cut of their ongoing loneliness: hence alternate names for the holiday, like Singles Awareness Day or Day Before Cheap Candy Day (a holiday we can all celebrate).

And so, a day meant to celebrate one of God’s gifts to humanity—romantic love—becomes an exercise in bitterness, and singles are left to retreat, to deal with their own overwhelming feelings of longing and the pain of exclusion.

Granted, many singles try not to feel this way. They—or their well-intentioned friends—try to remind themselves that they don’t need a relationship to be fulfilled. This is absolutely true. A person’s self worth is defined by their position in Christ, not whether or not they have a “plus-one.” But it also downplays the reality for most people: the desire for marriage and companionship is a God-ordained desire.

Longing, you see, is universal. As Genesis 2 illustrates, creation was incomplete until God created Eve to accompany Adam, a story which culminates in Genesis 2:24’s proclamation, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.” Elizabeth de Smaele, in her talk Holy Longing, points out that even our sexuality is Imago Dei, made in the image of a God who is relational and calls us into relationship. Marriage was created by God for humankind as a reflection of that longing, so of course, singles long for marriage. In Eden, mankind was whole. With sin came separation from our Creator and each other.

A Slippery Slope

Unfortunately, unless we recognize God as the fulfiller of our desires, we become obsessed with trying to fill the emptiness with other things. A photography student once explained, “We are forced to dance to the whip of our internal emptiness, be it spiritual, physical, mental, or sexual, and sometimes it makes us do strange or irrational things.”

For many this longing is transformed into lust and obsession. It often has its origins in innocent thoughts: “What would it be like to date that guy?” “She’s cute! I wonder if she’s seeing anyone.” But if you continue to feed those thoughts, they can rapidly degrade into sinful lust. Put it this way: if you started to be attracted to a nice, single Christian person, what would you do? Pray about her and seek opportunities to get to know her, regardless of any romantic outcome? Let your mind linger on what it would be like to share a home with him? Search for porn starring gals who look like her?

This is compounded when you realize that many singles find themselves locked in a cycle of “look, don’t touch.” Sometimes other singles disqualify themselves. One of my friends ranted that online, the theoretically-eligible bachelors in her area were named “Starfader,” “Smoochielips,” and “Roadblock.” Others may find themselves surrounded by people who, for one reason or another, are off-limits: “the one” is already in a relationship, or doesn’t share the same values, or rejects you when you ask her out (a man’s curse), or never thinks to ask you out in the first place (a woman’s curse).

When all you have are thoughts, it doesn’t take much to bump those thoughts from the pure to the sinful, for the normal desire for a relationship to become a fantasy for self fulfillment.

The Gray Havens, in their song “Sirens,” sing about the slippery slope this way:

One taste of the sound
Of the Sirens in the water
And I’m thinking I should get out
The sharpest sword and suit of armor
So I can be ready to strike
But I pause one more time
One last taste of the sound
Then I’ll cut these Sirens down.
But as they sang, I forgot
They were death, so I brought
Them my heart to be filled
And I followed them.

No trace could I find
Of any joy the Sirens promised
They had found a way with a lie
To turn what’s good and should be wanted
Into what’s highest above
All desires and love
‘Til my heart would obey
Whatever it wants, whatever it takes
To feel alive and set free
Only bound to the sea
Where the Sirens are leading me on…

In short? Once Satan has a foothold, he is going to do what he can to get you to continue taking steps toward sin.

As Christians, many of us know this intellectually; we’ve heard the injunctions against physical impurity all of our lives, but for those of us who are perpetually single, we feel like we’re being denied. Porn, then, becomes a stop-gap for a relationship, an attempt to find our places as sexual beings, to meet our longings.

In Delivered, Jessica Harris explains that, after accidentally stumbling onto porn, she kept returning to porn and erotic fiction to experience love and acceptance. At first, she says, it was repulsive; but on the other hand, the porn stars were doing what the cheerleaders at her school did in the back seats of cars; despite her Christian upbringing, she quickly equated sex with happiness.

Stephanie, who was caught up in pornography and erotic literature since childhood, took things one step farther. She said in Dirty Girls Come Clean:

I yearned to experience what I saw. I didn’t just crave the visual, I craved the physical. I was in my late twenties, still single, and angry at God because he hadn’t provided a husband to fulfill my desires. I decided it was time to start satisfying my cravings. And I became willing to do whatever it took to get it.

Eventually, still feeling depressed after two years of a double-life, Stephanie realized something: she realized she was still depressed, and, more importantly, she realized that even though she didn’t feel forgiven, Christ had something better for her.

A New Hope

So then, if porn isn’t the solution for singles, what is? There are two, and both are critical.

First, singles (and, indeed, everyone) need to refocus and find their hope not in other people, but in Christ. Partially, this means embracing those longings for oneness as a picture of the longing for Heaven. Tim Keller explains, “Through the Spirit we have a foretaste of the future, and the taste of our future love, and the taste of our future grace, and the taste of that future, now, radically frees us in this world from the things of this world.”

Lore Ferguson, writing for Christianity Today, explores the pain of longing as a benefit, saying,

“Those who have wrestled deep with their prolonged chastity have experienced something of earth’s groans in wait for her Creator. A friend recently confessed struggles of waiting sexually for her upcoming wedding day. I was able to tell her the hunger pangs of longing she feels for her fiancé are akin to the hunger pangs we feel when we’re fasting. Those pangs teach us we’re waiting for a better feast. For the one fasting, the feast isn’t the break-fast, and for the virgin, the feast isn’t the wedding night. The feast is the marriage supper of the Lamb and an eternity spent with him.”

For those looking for more day-to-day hope, God has listed a number of other promises in the Bible:

  • Our faith will be tested, but this testing will produce endurance, which produces character, which produces hope (James 1:3).
  • He who began a good work us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).
  • Nothing we do and nothing that is done to us can separate us from God’s amazing love (Romans 8:35-39).
  • Everything, whether pleasant or painful, works together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). That especially includes our love life (or lack thereof).
  • God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our abilities, but He will always provide a way to escape it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

In practical terms, what does this mean for singles? It means that, as followers of Christ, we are followers of a faithful God, one who will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). We may not know what next week will look like, whether we’ll finally meet “the one” or whether we’ll stay single forever, but we do know this: God is faithful, and our future is secure. And while that doesn’t give us license to sin (Romans 6:1-14), it does mean we do not have to worry about our future (Matthew 6:25-34). Like the feminists say, singles don’t need a romantic relationship for fulfillment—at least, not when we have Christ on our side.

There’s one other key component to coping with longings: finding community. This isn’t a secret code word for finding a mate, but rather, finding lasting friendships. There are innumerable benefits, but a core one for singles is finding mutual encouragement among other singles. In Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?, Carolyn McCulley explains,

I’m training myself that whenever I feel alone in a crowd, I should look around for someone else who may be feeling the same way–so that I may be used by God to extend grace and kindness instead of being consumed by my own feelings.

A single’s use of pornography—and the longings that lead to it—are often caused by an inward focus, a desire for personal fulfillment. By entering specifically into community, whether through a small group at church or a one-on-one strong friendship and accountability relationship (or ideally both), we are slowly drawn outward, away from our own sinful, selfish nature and into a fellowship that leads to growth and belonging.

  • Comments on: Singleness and Longing: Why Porn Is Not the Cure
    1. Greg on

      No, pornography isn’t the answer. But we also need to realize that spiritualizing our singleness isn’t the answer either. Adam already had a perfect, sinless relationship with God in the Garden of Eden when God Himself–not Adam–decided Adam needed a mate.

      God created a physical, mental, and emotional need for intimacy that He intended to be met by His creation; not by Himself specifically. What part of that truth don’t we understand? We are too quick in our Christianese to try and medicate our loneliness with spiritual answers that don’t exist.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I agree that we spiritualize our loneliness way too much. I think we expect things from a “relationship with God” that maybe God doesn’t even think are realistic. The first not-good thing in a perfect world: not good for Adam to be alone. But wait a minute–God was there! Walking with Adam in the cool of the evening! So clearly, human companionship is a necessary part of “goodness.” Thanks for adding to the discussion, Greg.

      • Linda on

        Loneliness is something that all people feel, married or single; it clearly doesn’t feel good, so I think this article does a fine job in taking that longing in our hearts in loneliness, and to seek solitude with God. There is a difference even if it seems like splitting hairs; one is just us alone longing for relationship, and soon will fill that void with something (healthy or not), and the other is alone with God.
        I don’t believe she is over spiritualizing the single state, but recognizing a longing in the single man/woman’s heart, and where are they to turn? There is a spirituality for those who are single, just like there is one for married people. It’s a state in life. Jesus wasn’t married, therefore wasn’t satisfied by creation as you propose. Was he not fully human? Then he didn’t fully save us if he wasn’t. He was satisfied in His relationship with the Father. St. Paul also wasn’t married, and writes about it. All this just to say: let’s not be afraid to spiritualize the single state, just like we shouldn’t be afraid to spiritualize the married state. We do live in this world, so we can’t get trapped in some nice theories either, but must remain grounded, but first must be grounded in our relationship with Christ. Loneliness is real, let’s do something about it, give it to Jesus. Okay, rambling is over ;-)

      • Mark on

        I agree with Greg. I think it’s easier for females to connect with God spiritually, so us males need a more practical answer.

        We still have desires, so what we need is desire management.

        I think searching for healthy ways to find pleasure is good, but that can fall short. I think we’re driven to dependence upon God, but I experience angst toward God because I can’t fulfill these desires in a healthy way, and so I live each day as a sexual schizophrenic. I’m sorry if that’s irreverent; I just wish I had control. I get angry.

        Well, check out Joseph Prince “Overcoming Pornography Addiction,” and remember ” Romans 7:6 (ERV) In the past the law (of Moses, the ten commandments) held us as prisoners, but our old selves died, and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way, not in the old way, with the written rules. Now we serve God in the new way, with the Spirit. and
        [Romans 5:17] If by the trespass of the one [man] (Adam), death ruled as king through that one, much more will those who keep receiving the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness rule as [as kings] in life through the one [person], Jesus christ.
        [New World 1961]

      • Lisa Eldred on

        Good thoughts. As a note, I’ve always hated the nebulous, Sunday-school answer of “Well, Jesus, duh” as the answer to everything. It’s true that getting closer to Jesus will help you stop sinning…but the people who just say that without following up with practical advice drive me nuts. That’s why I put in the practical advice of “No, really, read the Bible” and “Find a friend to hold you accountable.” The Holy Spirit provides the growth in your life, but we can certainly take practical steps to keep the soil healthy.

        By the way, for anyone living as a “sexual schizophrenic,” there is absolutely no shame in seeking out counseling. Much like how depression is sometimes a neurochemical disorder that needs medication, so too sometimes we benefit from a trained professional who can help us develop personal strategies for healing.

      • JeremiahP on

        I used to have a friend that would rationalize his lust by saying that it was not good for man to be alone, and that he obviously did not have the spiritual gifting for single life. Unfortunately, his preoccupation led him from one unhealthy relationship to another, until he married a foreign girl that he couldn’t even talk to (didn’t know her language) and was really marrying him for the citizenship, then left him after a time. We have to be careful that we’re not mooning so much for a relationship that we don’t find a right spiritual match. In other words, do not be unequally yoked, which would be worse than attempting a life of singleness, no matter how we try to explain the loneliness.

      • Joe on

        I understand what you are saying but we must remember that the reason why God said that it is not good for us to be alone is because we are created in His image and He is a God of relationship in relationship with himslef though the Trinity as The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and in relationship with mankind as we are to be in relationship with our spouce and become one in flesh and one family. Also, in relationship with God. So since it’s all a picture and reflection of Him because we are made in his image it is a spiritual thing and as long as we are spirit beings we can never be seppate from the spirituality of it.

      • Mark on

        Valentines day is not of GOD. Do the research.

    2. GR Rugged on

      A lot of times I think we live in a fast paced world where we are used having our own way the things we want- when we want them. I know God does test our patience. That doesn´t take away from the “lonely feeling” However-

      In my humble opinion I think looking at porn further proves we only seek to fulfill our sexual desire.-if God finally gives us one of his Daughters more than likely we will still struggle with NOT having sexual discipline.

      I actually think abstaining yourself for at least 1 year form anything related to sex can prove one has sexual discipline.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hey GR,

        We talk to a lot of men who assumed getting married would make their desire for porn go away, but it did not. This is because marriage is meant to satisfy a sex drive, not a “sin drive.” If we haven’t gotten to the bottom of why we look at porn (beyond the obvious), if we haven’t made strides towards accountability, saying no in the moment-by-moment choices, seeking God’s grace, and fostering a real hatred for our sin, then marriage will only appear to help (for a time).

        That said, for the man who is making real progress in this area of his life isn’t wrong to want to get married so he can experience sex. It is a noble, good, God-given desire, and as long as the man doesn’t have some outrageous idea that marital sex will be his “porn replacement,” it is good for him to pursue marriage to the right woman.

    3. Ben on

      Great thoughts Lisa. A lot to think about and ponder.

      Reply
    4. B.Person on

      Lisa as man I can honestly say that this is the first editorial on porn and the terrible journey some of us have to walk down that has actually Touched. I so appreciate your honesty and can dot about this. I’m looking forward to reading more. And I agree with with Greg I hate when we overspiritualize the struggle we all have. In some writers and biblical teachers effort to tell us what thus sayeth the Lord they seem to negate the Reality of our plight (I.e my need to validate or vindicate my intimacy needs and the reality of the struggle ).

      Reply
    5. B.Person on

      And thanks for that song and those scriptures. It made me feel as though I can be honest about my struggle and I’m inspired to write my feelings down which I am going to start doing.

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        Glad to be of help. As a tangent, I think the role of art (music, writing, etc.) is highly underrated when it comes to dealing with things like pain, depression, and loneliness. Biblically, for example, when David played his harp it helped drive King Saul’s demons away. Another author (Pete Peterson) once wrote that he never would have been able to write his books after he got married; his loneliness while single helped drive the writing and the story itself.

        Obviously that’s a pretty half-formed thought, but yes, even just personally journaling can be a helpful tool for your journey.

    6. me on

      thank you for your openess everyone. my husband was steeped in porn and unfortunately i was not able to help him with the chains that are keeping him captive. He is a good man, and truly is bound. He decided to leave our short marriage and is not in contact with me.. But our God is in contact with him. thank you for your concerns of so many of us that are in and out of this mind numbing hold. i understand that porn would not be available if there was not a need for the mind to be pacified.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I’m so sorry for the sad choices your ex has made. I hope you’re getting support for yourself in this? Personal counseling can be a great help, and I also really like the Divorce Care groups that many churches offer. Blessings on your healing journey, Kay

    7. Wow Really? on

      Being alone all the time is awful. It amazes me how people who have someone are so quick to write about how it is okay to be alone. They have forgotten what it is like and are speaking from a position of ignorance. It is like the rich person telling the poor person that money does not matter. It is like the married couple rushing to divorce. They think they are going to be single again and rush right back into dating and all will be well. That might work if you are a rich guy because women love money. Absolutely love it. If you have money, you can get all kinds of women. Seen it happen a billion times. It might work if you are a smoking hot woman. A great body will get you someone quickly. But for the vast majority of the people, they soon remember what it is like to be single again and remember all the loneliness and nonsense you deal with.

      Also, lets just stop with this nonsense “you will be tested.” It is a catch all excuse for justifying the garbage people go through. If God knows you. If you pray for something you really need. Like someone to love you and for you to love. But God withholds that or does not help in you getting that. Then it is not a test. It is just being cruel. There are tons of people out there tonight praying to find love. Tons of people not finding it. I can drive anyone to anything by withholding it from him or her. If I withhold food from a person, that person will steal to eat I assure you. If I withhold sex from my spouse, I will drive my spouse to cheat I assure you.

      “Like the feminists say, singles don’t need a romantic relationship for fulfillment—at least, not when we have Christ on our side.” Tell that to your heart at night! That line is such utter nonsense! Christ can’t hug you, hold you, kiss you, and hold your hand. So just stop it with that nonsense. As I say with feminists, they are crazy. Anyone who spends any amount of prolonged time with them know this. Please do not quote feminists. They are awful and have caused so much damage in this world. Many of the ills of society have been caused by feminism. I could write a day about this. From 50 MILLION abortions to men not getting married to rampant divorce to boys committing suicide at a rate four times higher than girls to the inequities of the divorce court to selling women on the pipe dream that they can all at once be wife, mother, lover, career person, activist, in shape, or if that doesn’t work, that women can do it alone —- people who bought into the feminist nonsense find themselves much more miserable and much worse off. Feminism has morphed from being a noble idea into being a political agenda that is all about superiority. But don’t believe me. Go hang out with them. You will until some large woman says you are raping her by looking at her. Then you will see the insanity of a true feminist. Women so self-centered that they know what a person is thinking by a mere glance. The term femi-nazi just didn’t come about for no reason.

      The best thing a Christian can be is a matchmaker and I really mean this. Help your friends find love. It is the only thing worth a damn in this world.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I know what you mean. It can be really annoying when those who are married speak to singles about not needing someone. That said, since a single woman wrote this article, I’m not sure it applies here.

        At the crux of your argument is your belief that if God is real and if He really hears our prayers and can give us what we need, then experience tells us He must be cruel for withholding things. I completely understand what you’re talking about, and it can be very frustrating when you are facing real suffering and loneliness.

        I think what enables people to face that problem is that they believe they have a greater and more sure revelation of God than their experience supposedly gives. They aren’t banking merely on their own experiences (the experience that says: “I clearly need this, and God clearly knows I need it, but He isn’t giving it”). These people believe God has spoken in powerful ways that has given not only a clear revelation of who He is, but has spoken clear meaning into their suffering. They believe God has revealed himself through all His miraculous acts through history and ultimately through Jesus Christ, His Son. Granted, it sounds like you don’t share that belief, but that belief is the reason why people see their suffering through a different lens.

        As for feminism, it doesn’t seem like the author is quoting from feminists out of wholehearted agreement with them, but only if their mantra of “not needing someone” is supplemented by faith in Christ—something not a lot of modern feminists believe. I think you’re reading into things the wrong way.

    8. JCStephens on

      Anyone who says romantic love is not needed in a life is a fool. If churches spent more time helping people get together and stay together as they do talking about sinning, there would be a lot more families in this world. Also, when you die, I am sure you will say you wish you loved more. I hate to tell you but what drives people is finding a mate and sex. Heck, sex is actually the reason why Covenant Eyes exists. They are selling software because of the sex out there. In a twisted sort of way, they need the situation to exist to stay in business.

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        JC, you may want to spend some time reflecting on 1 Corinthians 7, especially verses 25-40. Paul says it’s better to remain single, as he was. Is he a fool? Is Jesus? When both of them died, did either of them wish they had loved more? Maybe Paul, in the Schindler’s List I-could-have-helped-save-more sense.

        It’s true that death-bed regrets are often tied to loving the wrong things. But those who remains single their entire lives, focusing on loving those around them and using their free time for things of lasting value, such as missions work or volunteering or honing an artistic hobby or strengthening friendships with the people around them — they will be able to look back at lives well-lived.

      • Greg on

        @ Lisa Re: “JC, you may want to spend some time reflecting on 1 Corinthians 7, especially verses 25-40. Paul says it’s better to remain single, as he was. Is he a fool? Is Jesus?”

        In Matthew 19:12 (NLT), Jesus recognizes that not everyone is able to accept life without sexual intimacy (note His words “who can” at the end of the verse). The implication is that, if you sense that desiring intimacy is (for lack of a better term) ‘optional’ to you, then by means pour all your energy into service for the Lord:

        “Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

        But the reality is, it’s not most of us “who can” live without intimacy and not be affected by that stark lack in our lives. Most of us were created to experience and appreciate marriage and intimacy. We may never experience it, and that doesn’t mean we whine and complain, but it does mean we should acknowledge, sympathize, and empathize with what is a very real, ongoing issue for many.

        BTW Lisa, not sure why you don’t have a “Reply” button following your comments, so readers can reply to your comments?

      • Lisa Eldred on

        @Greg, easy answer first: it looks like our blogging tool limits nested replies in comments.

        I was about to reply to the “‘can’t live’ without intimacy” comment, then noticed the “and not be affected” follow-up. You’re absolutely right, and I apologize (especially to JC) if my comment read as “just get over it.” People can and do live very fulfilled lives without ever finding someone, Jesus and Paul being prime examples, but that doesn’t mean the longing isn’t there. My own journey to contentment has taken several years — the book Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? played a huge part — and I still have my share of emotional low points, like Valentine’s Day, or weddings, or watching my friends start to have babies. So, trust me, I get it.

        The point I apparently failed to make in my original comment was that we don’t need to be ruled by these longings. We singles may not be able to help the fact that we can’t find someone, but moping about what we don’t have doesn’t do anyone any good, least of all ourselves. Singles are given the gift of extra time, and if we invest even just a portion of that time in “treasures in heaven,” then the deathbed regrets JC listed really shouldn’t be that big a factor.

    9. Sam Stearns on

      As a single man myself, I can certainly identify with the deep longing for a wife; I think and/or pray about it every day. And, as a man (single or not), I understand the lure of pornography and why it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. However, with regard to its use to relieve the longings inherent in singleness, I can’t help but think that porn is something that actually prolongs singleness, rather than being a “cure” for it. I won’t try to name here all the reasons porn is a poor substitute for God-honoring marital love; there have been many articles from the likes of Luke Gilkerson and Lisa Eldred that deal with that misplaced expectation. But it’s a prevalent notion nonetheless. Prevalent enough that a lot of young men who ought to be wholeheartedly pursuing a marriage relationship are “drugging” themselves enough with porn and related activities that they usually don’t feel nearly as much motivation to seek a wife. If they weren’t “satisfying” their sexual appetites with porn, perhaps they would be a little more driven to find a woman to marry them.

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        You’re exactly right. On the female side of things, I’d also argue that porn sets up pretty unrealistic standards of beauty, meaning a lot of women never get a second glance.

        Regardless, there’s a definite correlation between delayed marriage among millennials and the rise of hookup culture…and I’d definitely put the rise of the Internet (and with it, porn) as a factor.

      • Greg on

        Re: porn setting up unrealistic standards of beauty

        Yes, it does; and promotes lust at the same time. But arguably, beauty matters to both women and men. We need to be honest about that. As men, we need to respect women for the inner beauty they may have, not just their outer beauty–after all, men are hard-wired by God to find the female form very beautiful and appealing.

        Where we all (especially our greedy, agenda-driven, and abrasive culture/media!) go wrong is underestimating the fact that beauty is subjective–it differs for all of us. As a result, people may see positive things in, and about, us that we would never agree with ourselves. And (as an example) passing off anorexia as if it’s healthy and attractive.

    10. Angel on

      Thank you for the article. Yeah, I agree with all of that. I am a 21 year old male, and I have never had a girlfriend, at least not in a way that would seem approved by my parents and the parents of the girls with whom I have had loving relationships in the past. I have never had sex with anyone, but I admit that since I was at least 13 years old I began to masturbate, and I admit it felt good. Later on, when I was about 15 years old I began to view pornography, and I admit that I liked it and started becoming addicted to it. Shortly after though, when I was 16 years old, I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, and I have learned quite a bit from reading the Holy Bible and from different Christian organizations and websites that I have gone to. I am still single, but I regret doing all the wrong things I have done in the past regarding sexuality and relationships. I have done my best not to view pornography this year, and so far I haven’t both on TV and online, but I find that I am still struggling with lust and masturbation, and I think that it is because I remember some pornographic TV shows, videos or movies that I have viewed in the past both on TV and online, and even though I no longer view them it is hard for me to forget what I have seen and not to want to have sex with someone of the opposite sex sometimes, and so, I tend to masturbate as a result. I do believe that most of the times that I have masturbated I have had lust in my heart, but sometimes I just feel like I can’t help it, and I still do it anyway (specially at night when I’m in my bedroom and no one is watching me). I often wonder if I am really saved because I have tried not to view pornography, not to lust, or masturbate, but I have been unsuccessful (at least with not masturbating or not lusting while I am masturbating). I have prayed and fasted about this in the past and have seen good results, but I eventually get tempted to do it and I end up masturbating again. I feel ashamed of myself as a Christian, or at least to call myself a Christian having done wrong to others and to myself because of the fact that I have been a porn and a masturbation addict. However, I am glad that in my search for help with all of this I came across this website, and I like all the articles and posts I have seen and read so far since my first visit to this site. I do believe what I have learned has helped me, but I still find that I am struggling with not viewing pornography, not lusting, or masturbating. I would really like to be pure in heart and marry a good Christian woman in the future, but I really do not feel like I deserve to date or marry a good Christian woman while I am struggling with these things. I would really like to repent from all of that in that I would not only feel ashamed of doing it but also in that I would not do it if I can help it. Any kind of help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and God bless.

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        Thanks for sharing your story!

        The first thing to remember is your position in Christ. If you haven’t already, work on memorizing Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Christianity is not about being a perfect person or trying to fix yourself to be good enough for God; it’s about acknowledging that you aren’t perfect and you can’t fix yourself, and trusting Jesus to do the work He came to do. And when you struggle (which you will; it’s part of life), remind yourself of Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Will you fail? Yeah. But God is faithful even though we are sinners, and he will keep working in you to bring you closer to Himself.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t do anything for yourself. The big key is to find accountability. I’d find a campus minister or former youth pastor or other mentor (possibly even your parents), confess your struggles, and ask for their help. As part of your recovery, we recommend Internet Accountability software, which will send a report to that person so you can have conversations about specific instances of viewing pornography. Of course, you need to be honest about your offline struggles too.

        By the way, you’re wise to hold off on dating while you’re working to break free. If you do meet someone and choose to pursue a relationship, be honest about your struggles, and show her the steps you’re taking to find freedom.

    11. Angel on

      Thanks. I have told my mother about this. She is also Christian, and she has told me to not view pornography anymore. It was embarrassing and hard for me to tell her this when she asked me what my addictions were and I mentioned pornography as one of them, but then I felt relieved because I had told her the truth. I have also told a close friend of mine (who is also Christian) about this addiction I have had, and he told me he is not perfect either and that he has also viewed pornography before but that he has discipline to not view it as a person who would be addicted to it would view it. I will do my best to memorize those Bible verses, and I will consider installing or using Internet Accountability software as soon as possible and ask my friend or someone else that may be able to help me with this, once I mention my struggle to him or her, to be my accountability partner.

      Reply
      • Lisa Eldred on

        Good plan.

        As a word of caution, you might want to think twice before asking the friend you mentioned to hold you accountable (or at least, have someone else hold you accountable as well). I’m basing this only off what you’ve said here, but the “discipline not to view it as a person who would be addicted to it would view it” line implies that he doesn’t see porn as all that big of a deal. Does that mean he “only” binges once a month? Limits himself to 10 minutes a week? What? To paraphrase Michael Leahy, author of Porn University, “Is it okay to beat my wife as long as I only beat her once a month?”

        All of that to say, I think you’ve got the right attitude in seeking help and trying to break entirely free. And I don’t actually know what’s going on in your friend’s heart. But if you talk to someone who has the attitude that occasional porn use is okay as long as you don’t get addicted, you should probably look elsewhere for an accountability partner.

      • Angel L. Galvan on

        I agree with you in that I should think twice before asking my friend, whom I mentioned, to hold me accountable and ask some else (who may be against viewing pornography altogether) instead. Good question. I am not sure exactly what he meant by that since I did not ask him how often he views pornography, if he has not stopped viewing it, but I am assuming he only views pornography every once in a while. Thank you for telling me that. It is not easy for me to do this, but I am willing to do everything that I can (with the help of the Lord and my family and friends) to stop viewing pornography and to stop masturbating as well since it has been hard for me to do it without lusting.

    12. Paul on

      I think this is a very perceptive and helpful article, thank you.

      Reply
    13. Bill Grove on

      After reading the article and the replys it is hard for me not to say that some of these replys point to selfishness in themselves as the I am instead of pointing themselves to the real I Am! Without Christ I am nothing!

      Reply
    14. Jon Evan on

      The verse in Genesis 2:18 is important to understand. It comes before there was a person called Adam. There was just “the man” ‘adam’ with a small ‘a’ in Hebrew: human being. What follows is interesting because of the words “not good”. It is not good for the human to be alone because Yahweh was/is not alone but describes Himself to people as “us” or “we” as in Genesis 1:26. Now, this condition of being alone is simply incomplete and needs completion. What follows in Genesis 2:18 is that Yahweh creates “a companion” who will “help him” NLT. What is important is that the second part of Genesis 2:18 does not promise that the “companion” will end the man’s aloneness. It can’t! In marriage the man still finds himself alone. For example, no matter how hard he tries to describe to his wife a sunset he experienced one day she won’t completely get it. How could she? She doesn’t have access into the man’s soul to completely understand him. That is reserved only for God who understands completely. She is her own soul who thinks and sees the world differently and simply adds to his reality but does not see it the same. The woman provides companionship and is a helper who adds to his reality what she sees differently. So, even in marriage being alone is reality and it too is “not good”. Realize that if marriage solved aloneness then people like Paul and Jesus Himself have something which is “not good”. This cannot be. In fact, Jesus declares in John 16:32 that “I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” What ends our own aloneness is what Jesus declares in John 14:23 “we will come to them and make our home with them.’
      It is the “we” which ends aloneness beginning now and finding completion in Heaven where you will not find marriage because it will not be necessary!

      Reply
    15. Josh on

      I find this lesson very simple and as follower of the program here in covenant eyes, I find it refreshing to see a back to basics approach to treat the longing or desires that may lead to sexual immorality. The basics here are filling our longings with Christ and having healthy Christian fellowship. I filled up practical approach and details here but these two remain the goal.
      About “spiritualizing” this, I think we have to see that it is really more about spiritual not just physical. A good read would be how pornography and sexual immorality in terms of desire-reward affects the brain from some articles here, to see the physical aspect of it. And there are numerous techniques and detailed strategies that they teach here. But these are all details and the medicine is really our drive and thirst for purity that comes from the desire or hope in God (1John 3:3) – this is really spiritual. We have to work on our love for Jesus – that’s building our relationship with him. If we love someone so much we would not hurt his feelings even if we have to give up something that we really like.
      “You mean really giving up sex?” well I know it’s a hard idea to process but sex is not life, this is one lie that the article “6 reasons why porn is addictive” is debunking. God’s will is for us to be absolutely free of sexual immorality and even lust in marriage (Thes 4:3-4; Eph 5:3-4). Reading more on how brain works with sexual immorality, the science behind porn, makes this picture of “sex free” life a possibility. But to endure and even start a the transformation really calls for a much stronger drive to love and honor God.
      When God said it is not good for man to be alone – he didn’t say, he needs a sexual partner or someone to procreate, rather a helper or companion. So that’s why Paul wrote that we should not give up habit it of meeting together and encouraging one another (Heb10:24-25). Now from here you may also draw techniques from accountability partners, going to seminars and counselling, Bible study and cell groups, to sports and athletic fellowships to divert our need to connect to people from sinful kinds of connections limited to married people.
      Thanks for this article, it reminds me of our main motivation to fight for purity.

      Reply
    16. Abcess on

      In the words of Between Thieves, a band from years ago in a song called “Privately”, talking about internal struggles that are hard to talk about or even put into words…

      Privately, behind dull eyes a soul cries out in pain
      Quietly, behind the smile, the tears will fall like rain
      Alone is not a number, but a state of mind
      Surrounded by my friends, sometimes I’m hard to find
      And I run and I run and I run
      But I can’t get out of the rain
      And I run and I run and I run
      But I can’t get out of this pain
      With rituals and habits, I mask reality
      In silent desperation, I face my frailities
      It takes every ounce of strength to face this world’s demands
      But my heart is softly crying
      Someone please understand
      Refuge for my spirit, catch my silent tears
      Speak to my heart oh Father with worlds I cannot hear
      With words I cannot hear

      I totally empathize with this and after reading many of these posts I agree that it just “spiritualizing” the topic doesn’t help. I’m not married either. I have struggled with porneo-grahpos (from the Greek word roots). I was molested as a young kid. I had an affair with a married woman (who had her own share of problems). I’ve done about all of it. And, I have to get up everyday and just try to ‘breathe.’ And reading things like this, I used to get angry, but not anymore. I’ve come to the realization that God (YHWH) owes me nothing. Yes, the desires hurt and the hopelessness that seems to attend them hurt, but in the end God owes me absolutely nothing. I’m the one who owes God. I’m not over-spiritualizing here. I’m being practical. God doesn’t owe me help. God doesn’t owe me explanations. God doesn’t owe me answers. God doesn’t owe me satisfaction (I’ll find that in God I suppose). Now, if God gives me those things, well, awesome. It will help to a point. I think marriage does help people struggling with things like addictions (of any kinds), because two people helping to fight is better than one. I’m not saying it’s easier, just saying you can have regular help! (Not thinking just relieving sexual frustration…I mean, praying together, etc).

      As far as community goes. I sat in churches of various denominations for years and it was the same message about sex. They spent more time trying to sin-manage it then make it look like an Olympic Gold Medal you should be striving for. I agree, it’s not everything, but for those of us who have been alone, lonely, and rarely touched by the opposite gender, it is a start to seeing the physical blessing that represents the spiritual blessing. I feel for those of us who are alone, have waited, who cry ourselves to sleep, who find it hard not to scream at some romance commercial or eHarmony commercial. Just wanted to say I empathize with all of you out there. I’ve been there, am there, and possibly because of my consequences, will remain there until I die. And, sadly, I have to tell you, the pain you feel at this seeming loss, this absence…it will never get better. The secondary fight, to keep from being bitter, that will be a war on another front you’ll have to face. But I hope God meets you in the battle. On occasion I’ve sensed ‘him’ in mine, but often, no. Good luck.

      Reply
    17. Erik Trusdell on

      This is good info. However I think it’s important to remember that we as guys are supposed to lead and God isn’t going to do everything for use. Especially when it comes to relationships. You need to do some of the work and ask.

      Reply
    18. Michael Guernsey on

      This is going to be an odd response I think, but I have been struggling with masterbation for years, I have quit the actual porn and haven’t watched it in like a year, but I still masterbate and no matter what I do, it has not gotten better.
      Porn has also destroyed my view of sex in marriage, making me hate it because I associate what God has made… with porn, so I see it as evil. I’ve been working on this, and am starting to get healing in this area.
      But now I am afraid that God will give me someone who doesn’t like sex. I hear the story about the girl who desperately wanted the physical relationship with a man like she saw in sex and I get terrified that that’s not going to be what my future wife will be like. I’m terrified that my marriage will be devoid of sexual intimacy. I’m afraid my wife won’t be like the bride who felt pangs of sexual desire for her husband that were hard to control. I refuse to ever have sex with my future wife unless she wants to. I also read in a book about recovering from sexual brokenness that in some cultures, there is an actual set of marital laws and 3 of them are:
      1. Sex is the woman’s right, not the man’s.
      2. Sex is only done when the woman wants it.
      3. You are only aloud to touch or preform sexual acts that are comfortable for the wife and put her first.
      (These are mostly paraphrased because I can’t remember the exact wording.)
      I firmly agree with these rules. But I am terrified now that God will give me a wife that doesn’t like sex. So it hurts and terrified me when I read about women who desire sex like the women in this post.

      Side note: I am in no way disagreeing with anything in this post, I’m just saying something about my personal fears.

      Reply
      • Keith Rose on

        Hi Michael! Praise God for your victory over porn. Keep fighting the battle against lust. Porn can have lasting effects on how we view sex, but God can heal you and restore your perspective on marriage as well. Sometimes we minimize how good sex is in the context of marriage (it is great!), but other times idolize it too much (other things are more important). 1 Corinthians 7 teaches that the husband and wife belong to each other, and God designed sex to be a gift to be given rather than a right to be demanded by either the husband or the wife. As a godly husband, you’re called to put your wife’s desires above your own and lay down your life for her. Sex is about bringing pleasure and gratification to another person rather than yourself. This is completely different from porn and masturbation!

        When I was single, I was afraid that God would give me someone I didn’t really love. Eventually, I realized this was because I doubted God’s goodness. It was also because I was so locked into worldly thinking about love that I failed to see that God’s design was much better. I don’t know what God’s plan is for you, but I know God is not going to give you a sexless marriage as punishment. God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). He works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes (Rom. 8:28).

        It could mean that God will lead you into a marriage where sex is very difficult or even absent. That might be the way God sanctifies you and teaches you to love Him more. It might not. But don’t be afraid, because He is working things out for your good. Not just what you imagine is good, but what He knows is the best for you!

        God bless,

        Keith

    19. Guest on

      Porn would be the answer when many of us men were very badly punished by God with singleness. Or should i say we were very extremely Cursed, by God. Either way.

      Reply

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