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What It’s Like to Live Porn-Free

Last Updated: August 24, 2015

Bobby Angel

Bobby Angel is a campus minister and theology teacher at an all-boys' Catholic high school in California. He enjoys writing, surfing, and drinking too much coffee. He and his wife, Jackie, travel often and speak to youth and young adult audiences, sharing the Gospel and the call to a life of chastity. They have two beautiful daughters who won’t let them sleep. Connect with Bobby at jackieandbobby.com.

My friend Sam fell into a bad crowd during high school and sadly I saw him transform from a bubbly, happy kid to a constantly doped-up, intellectually deadened player. I thought the Sam I knew was gone forever.

A few years later, after hitting rock bottom and experiencing a massive conversion in his faith, Sam was back with that old, familiar glow in his eyes that he seemed to have lost. He got involved in the youth group where I was helping out and simply radiated the love of Christ. We talked often about how his experience with drugs led to a dulling of all his senses and how it even seemed to make his soul lethargic. I asked him one evening, “What stops you from going back to the drugs and to that lifestyle when you feel tempted?” He smiled and told me, “I remind myself, I like being free.”

What it is like to live porn free

What a response. Pornography, I would argue, entails that very same deadly deadening effect upon our souls, our brains, and our very freedom. Pornography is rightly being hailed as “the new drug” by many honest scientific and secular agencies, and there’s no shortage of statistics bearing witness to its addictive and destructive nature. Nine out of ten boys will see pornography before they turn eighteen, and the average age of first exposure to pornography is twelve. Well before our brains are fully formed, we’re molding our ideas of sex, relationships, and love on these images and movies, and it will affect our entire lives if we don’t talk about this problem, purge it, and find the accountability to live a virtuous life.

Once you arrive at that freedom—and you CAN get there—you have to cherish it and hold on to it. Your freedom is a heavenly gift in an earthly vessel. You must guard and protect it, anticipate any threats and not enter where you know you are tempted. You must do this for yourself, your loved ones and family, and for the world that needs your freedom.

A young man I once taught pulled me aside last summer and said, “This is a big day for me, Mr. Angel.” I asked him why and he responded, “Today it’s officially been one year since I’ve looked at pornography.” He was proud. His face seemed to radiate of freedom and thankfulness to God for this supreme gift. I smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s make it two years,” I told him.

His secret? Like an alcoholic, he took it one day at a time. Instead of “getting rid of pornography forever,” which is a daunting task, he would tell himself that, “I’m not going to look at pornography today.” Every day. Two days become two weeks, which became two months, and yes, my former student made it to two years living porn-free.

Freedom is yours—but you must have the will to fight for it. Every day. Above all, in moments of temptation, try telling yourself this simple phrase that my friend taught me years ago: “I like being free.”

  • Comments on: What It’s Like to Live Porn-Free
    1. steven hurd on

      I really like this article, as it brings a fresh perspective on our battle to stay pure for the glory of God. I appreciate how you focus on the positive aspect of staying pure versus the negative aspect of the consequences the sin brings. It’s easy for me to think about the pain and cost of sin, but difficult for me to think of the benefit of obeying God and enjoying the joyful freedom he provides when we seek to keep his commandments. This article serves as a great reminder of that freedom!

      On another note, I have been hearing the phrase “take it one day at a time” for so long now that I think it has lost it’s meaning for me. Can you share what you do to practically take it “one day at a time” as it relates to your thought life/mental attitude? I look forward to your response and thanks again for writing this for us!

      Reply
      • Bobby on

        Steven,
        Thanks for the kind words. When it comes to taking it “one day at a time,” I think it starts with knowing that God sustains me everyday…if am succeeding at chastity, it is His work first, mine second. Concerning praxis, I find that scheduling my day helps so that I am constantly productive or at least have a task at hand (so I’m not faced with a 5-hour block of ‘nothing’ to do…that’s when trouble creeps in). If I am tempted or sense that I will be tempted (because I feel a stirring of loneliness, boredom, tiredness, etc), I get up and DO something…I read, write, pray, read Scripture, or play a WW2 game on my phone until I’m exhausted. As a Catholic, I also cling to the rosary and have fallen asleep with it many times (1) to pray and (2) to practically have some object to grip onto. The pure life is a battle, and we ought to treat it like one.
        It also means being patient and being compassionate with yourself. On your best day, you’re still human. Know your limits, don’t go where you are tempted. Be merciful on yourself when you fall, but when you fall, get back up. Everyday I know that I am liable to fall, so I’ve learned to never trust myself completely. This has helped my growth in humility and protected my marriage thus far. God sustains me, but I have to lean on Him everyday.
        Hope this helps!

    2. Roger on

      Thank you for sharing! I know all too well the danger of porn and drugs. Recovery is a process easy does it, one day at a time live and let live. I thank God for every day.

      Reply
    3. Jessica on

      Thank you so much for the helpful article. I was wondering about how to bring up the issue of pornography within a family. I am pretty sure my dad watches it, but I feel like it’s a really sensitive, touchy subject to bring up. As a daughter, would I be out of line in bringing this issue up? I do pray a lot for him and understand God’s grace will ultimately be the one to change him, but are there any practical steps I can take to help my dad consider quitting porn?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Wow, what a tough question. You’re right, it’s a very sensitive subject to bring up to a parent.

        Generally speaking, I think it’s unhealthy for children to have the burden of the emotional care for a parent. Best-case scenario, I see a family like a ladder, with the children on the bottom rung, the parents above, then above the parents, extended family, church, community resources, etc. When the parents need help, they should go up the ladder where there are more resources provided by other adults. Does that make sense?

        Now, if you can talk to your dad about this without becoming entangled in being his support system, okay. I wouldn’t want to see you being his source for ongoing accountability or discussion, though.

        If he is interested in quitting, there are many excellent resources here, including Your Brain on Porn, a free download for men. He should filter/block his internet on all devices. And he should get into a group like Celebrate Recovery, Pure Desire, SAA, or xxxChurch. But all of that should be up to him, without you having to keep up with it or know anything about it.

        Bottom line: if you want to speak, speak. Just don’t get enmeshed with his recovery process. Let him take responsibility for himself as an adult.

        I hope that helps as you think this through. Kay

      • Steve on

        Jessica, by all means pray for your dad that the Holy Spirit convicts him that watching porn is sin. If your mom lives with you and your dad I would bring up your suspicions to her first. As with any brother in Christ I would tell your dad that you love him and you only bring it up out of concern. Jesus said, ” if a man looks at a woman to lust after her he has committed adultery in his heart already.” I also like Celebrate Recovery but I received the most help from SA (Sexaholics Anonymous.) The first step is he needs to admit he has a problem. I will pray for you and your dad. Steve

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