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Why You’re Addicted to Porn…and How Jesus Can Relate

Last Updated: March 22, 2017

Guest Author

Want to write for the Covenant Eyes blog? Share the story of your journey to freedom from pornography. Let us know how you overcame porn or how Covenant Eyes has made a difference in your life or the lives of those you love.

Why You're Addicted to PornI’ve heard the line often: men say they are addicted to porn because they “have needs.” And I agree. Men do have needs (as do women). I also agree that porn addresses those needs…for a little while. But I also know porn will never satisfy, because sex isn’t what porn addicts really need. Behind every addiction, there is a deeper need. What is it for you?

Roots of Addiction

For Rick*, it was the “need” for love and acceptance. Growing up in a home filled with conflict and a dad threatening to leave, Rick received negative thoughts like these: “I’m rejected, I’m worthless, I’m not accepted.”

When he stumbled on his brother’s porn magazines, he found a fantasy world that trumped reality…for a little while. Unfortunately, Rick’s fantasy eventually turned into a nightmare of addiction that led to shame, guilt, and a troubled marriage. After twenty years of living in this cycle, he finally sought help from a pastor: myself.

I showed Rick a list of negative thoughts and asked him to identify two to three that described how he felt before engaging with pornography. I also explained that Satan is the father of lies, and the negative thoughts in Rick’s heart were the roots that led to the fruit of pornography addiction.

Identifying his needs for love and acceptance was a good breakthrough, but now Rick needed to know how to overcome those roots—and meet his real needs.

Roots of Healing and Freedom

Root and FruitNow I shared the gospel story, or the “good news” of Jesus, in a fresh way. I shared that Jesus suffered in all ways like Rick. To understand Rick. To identify with Rick. What? you may be asking. What does it mean that Jesus suffered “in all ways” like a porn addict?

Please note: Jesus never engaged in sexual sin. He did not act out the “fruits” that Rick did. But like Rick he was rejected by others, and then tempted to provide for himself and protect himself. He was tempted by the same roots as Rick. And in the midst of all these temptations, He turned to God (see the bullet points below and Isa. 53; Luke 9:22; 22:15; 24:24-26; 44-46; Heb. 2:10, 17-18; 5:7-9).

Because Rick was willing to humble himself and turn to God, he was able to receive mercy, grace, and help in his time of need (Heb. 4:14–16). And as Rick prayed with me, he was able to gain more and more freedom from his addiction as he saw how Jesus:

  • Was rejected, to identify with Rick.
  • Was tempted to believe He was not accepted, to identify with Rick.
  • Was tempted to numb His pain with alcohol, to identify with Rick (Mark 15:23).
  • Was faced with this temptation in His lowest, weakest moments, to empathize with Rick.
  • Chose to refuse the temptation and instead rely on God to resist temptation and break addictions, for Rick.
  • Chose to take all sin known to mankind into His body and soul so He could nail it to the cross, once and for all, for Rick.
  • Rose from the dead to heal Rick and set him free to receive his truest, deepest identity as God’s son, with His purity.

In this expanded picture of the gospel, Rick found new hope, and as we continued praying Jesus’ story into his week after week, Rick was able to find freedom and reconcile with his wife.

Your Turn: Finding an Anchor of Hope

If you are struggling with pornography addiction, you can begin to let Jesus release you from Satan’s lies and invite Him to fulfill your needs by praying a simple prayer like the one Rick started with as part of the discipleship process:

“Dear Jesus, Thank You for choosing to fulfill prophecy when You were rejected, not accepted, tempted to believe You were worthless, and tempted to numb Your pain. Thank You for suffering like I’ve suffered to take to death on the cross all my negative beliefs behind my behaviors. Thank You for rising from the dead to heal me, set me free, and break all bonds to pornography, so I can receive my truest, deepest identity as Your son (or daughter), bonding to Your purity and Your victory. In Jesus name, Amen.”

While this is one piece of the puzzle and there are many additional resources to address the problem of pornography, I believe identifying with Jesus’ suffering opens the door to victory. Soon, I hope you can say with Rick, “I no longer turn to pornography for false comfort, or false a false sense of intimacy…. Instead, I’m growing in the grace of God, receiving His purity day after day.”

* Rick is not his real name. Rick shares his story of gaining freedom from a 20-year addiction to pornography in my book The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours.


Paul Coneff and Lindsey Gendke, Paul Coneff is the author of The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours and the president of the nonprofit ministry Straight 2 the Heart. He is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with an M.A. Religion, and more than twenty-five years in pastoral ministry. After spending 10,000+ hours applying “prayer and ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4) and training others in many countries around the world, Paul’s passion is training churches to have discipleship groups offering freedom in Christ.

  • Comments on: Why You’re Addicted to Porn…and How Jesus Can Relate
    1. Maybe on

      Why do people think others have shame and guilt when looking at porn? Oh that is right. That is what religious people WANT people to feel. Religion and guilt has caused more people to feel awful about themselves than all the porn ever made combined. It starts from birth — with original sin. A baby is born and from day one he or she is a sinner. Guilt from the beginning.

      It amazes me just how blind most religious people are. They say they follow Christ but literally do very few things Christ asked us to do. The prison situation in America is a prime example of this. When the one nation that claims to be under God has 1/3 of the world’s prisoners, that is huge indicator that this nation does not have mercy or compassion or forgiveness. We just seek vengeance. What makes it worse is that people know Christ was a convict himself that was wrongly convicted, yet we turn a blind eye to this fact and say those things do not happen today. We are so selective with our morality in America. So very selective.

      Then what religious people do is deny the greatest of all facts. No one asked to be born into this harsh world of ours. This world is brutal. Then when we sin in this world we never asked to be born in, we are condemned to a fiery hell. None of it makes sense. My advice to the religious out there. Stop with the guilt trips all the time. No one likes them and they will not lead to people turning away from sin. It will only lead to people turning away from religion and that is exactly what is happening in this country.

      Guilt trips. Hypocrisy. Casting stones. Holier than thou attitudes. These define many Christians. Remember, you reap what you sow. What you are reaping now is many people not believing in Christ at all.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I think others think people feel shame and guilt over porn because when they walk into counselor’s offices, they say, “I feel so guilty,” or “I feel so ashamed.” Certainly not everyone, but many do. But then, it sounds like you already know that because the rest of your comment is a commentary on why religious people are filled with shame. I guess I’m not following your train of thought here.

        I won’t comment much on your thoughts on religious people in general, because it is a gross over-generalization. I’m sure you and I have had run-ins with plenty of religious people like the ones you are describing, but it would be impossible to quantify if “most” religious people share those traits.

        Some of the sentiments behind your thoughts have merit, for sure. Is an overly shameful environment unhealthy? Yes. Does it breed toxic shame in others which only contributes to addiction? Yes. Does that mean the answer is to release ourselves from all things spiritual? No. In fact, for many Christians I know, the solution is not the abandonment of Christianity as much as it is the rediscovery of true Christianity.

    2. john langden on

      Why do we have 1/3 of the world’s prisoners and most of the nuclear weapon? Because we the people have been subverted by Satan. All those who harp on shame guilt porn and drugs instead of questioning why our govt. in our name is bombing and killing people around the world and putting whoever they can in prison is doing Satan’s work. Satan wants us to harp on matters that are inconsequential and tacitly accept the horrible evil he creates in our lives. Yes we the people are now complicit with Satan and are his most powerful ally in his quest to create misery throughout the world, We all need to recognize that Satan has subverted our will and oppose all evil our govt and Satan are doing in our name,

      Reply
      • Paul Coneff on

        We are offering hope, healing and freedom. As a Marriage and Family Therapist with over 10,000 hours of clinical and pastoral counseling, teaching and training around the world, I’ve never had one person who received freedom from shame and guilt say they want to return to an addiction that brings the shame and guilt. And while some Christians can be hypocrites, many are not. Regarding pornography, science has shown that pornography changes the brain chemistry, making the person more and more self-centered, reducing the pleasure of sexual intimacy in many areas (partners’ affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper). Science has also shown that during sexual intercourse the body releases 400% more of the relaxation hormone prolactin, than during that masturbation, which is usually part of watching pornography. So the person watches pornography, masturbates, has a 400% less sense of satisfaction and relaxation than sexual intercourse, setting up the seeds of addiction. (The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety, Brody S, Krüger TH., Biol Psychol. 2006 Mar;71(3):312-5. Epub 2005 Aug 10, Retrieved July 26, 2010)

        In other words, secular science has revealed the ways that pornography rewires the brain, reducing sexual satisfaction and sows the seeds of addiction, where we are trying to get more and more of a sense of fulfillment that pornography cannot bring. It’s destroyed non-Christian marriages and homes, just like it destroys Christian homes and marriages, regardless of belief systems. So again, we are offering hope, healing and freedom, not shame and guilt.

    3. Dave on

      Should I feel guilty about porn?
      • Yes, if I believe what Jesus said in Mt 5:28 about breaking the ten commandments with thoughts.
      • Yes, if I’m honest enough to admit looking at porn is not a victimless crime. Porn makes many victims:
      1. The first victim is me because porn damages my mind and body. 1 Cor 6:18
      2. The second victim is my wife or future wife because porn sabotages the quality of our intimacy.
      3. The third victim is God because porn erodes my relationship with Him and because the naked bodies that I am objectifying are His precious daughters who are purchased with His own blood.
      4. The fourth victim is the girls on my screen. They are in the business because porn is profitable and it is profitable because people like me watch it. I’m supporting an industry that uses, abuses, and disposes people like livestock. Most of the people who appear in porn productions have been molested at some time in their life. This is how they become so apathetic about their sexuality. It means nothing for them to expose themselves on screen because in the past, somebody who should have been protecting them exploited them as if they had no meaning.
      5. The fifth victim is the many young girls around the world who will be molested because men educated themselves through porn addiction to desire variety, to desire adolescent bodies, to desire an erotic experience that involves aggression and exploitation.

      If I am tortured by guilt, there are two ways to deal with it. I can either try to discredit my guilt by trying to justify my behavior or I can accept my guilt and look for ways to make it right. Many of us have felt powerless over our addictions so we thought our only hope for freedom from guilt was to justify our behavior. There is another way. We can let God heal us from our addictions. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

      Reply

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