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The Ridiculously Predictable Cycle of Porn Addiction

Last Updated: September 7, 2016

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.

Battling against sexual images and content is a full time job for most Christian men. They must battle against it while waiting in line at the grocery store next to the tabloids. They must battle it while seeing explicit billboards on the highway. They must battle it while working on the computer with sexual pop-ups appearing every few minutes.

The Ridiculously Predictable Cycle of Porn Addiction

This ongoing battle can be exhausting and unfortunately, many men eventually get fatigued and fall, which sets up an ongoing cycle of fall, guilt/repentance, renewed strength, coast/fatigue, and the cycle starts over. See if you can relate to the cycle:

1. Fall

You allow yourself to take a quick peek at a mild level of sensuality. You figure it won’t hurt anyone, and it’s not like you’re looking at explicit pornography. So you click on the news article about the 10 hottest celebrities of 2015 and immediately start to feel a mild rush of excitement as you glance over the photos of the beautiful actresses on your screen. You have now been bitten by the pornography bug and a hook has just been put in you.

“All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose” (Proverbs 7:22, NIV).

Quickly, you notice the additional links at the bottom of the article on more graphic stories, such as an article about a women’s bust size being too large to fit into any normal bra. Of course, you click on it out of curiosity and find that this second click was much easier than the first. Now, as you read this piece on breast size you feel the rush of excitement strengthening until you strongly desire another click with more graphic images.

At this point, there have been several hooks put in you and you start to feel powerless as if someone else is controlling the mouse. You know it’s wrong but you can’t help taking one more click to a full-on pornography site to satisfy your lustful desires….click….you have fallen again.

2. Guilt/Repentance

During your fall and especially afterwards you’re filled with immeasurable guilt for your sinful behavior. You beat yourself up that you have done it again and that you are unworthy of God’s and your family’s love. You feel like the scum of the Earth. These feelings push you to your knees as you ask God to forgive you one more time as you promise Him you’ll never do it again.

3. Renewed Strength

You ask God to give you strength and power to overcome online temptation so you don’t fall into pornography again. You double up your efforts to stay pure with your eyes in public and especially on the computer. You’re making progress and staying clean and you’re starting to feel good about yourself again.

4. Coast/Fatigue

You’ve been staying pure for a period of time so you stop praying for strength and stop trying as hard. You begin to coast. This diminished effort allows glimpses of sensual images back into your radar again. You think the glimpses are fine because you’ve been pure for a while and you know you’re never going to look at pornography again. However, the pull of sensual images and articles begins to intensity and you start feeling fatigued in your continual denial of them. The urge to scratch that itch becomes more acute and you rationalize one small click on a sensually related article is innocent enough….you take the first click….you’re back on your way to another fall.

Avoiding the Cycle

Now, there are multiple strategies that can be helpful with each phase of this cycle. However, the key to avoiding this cycle altogether is getting rid of any type of pornography anywhere within your grasp. If you can access pornography right now if you choose to then it’s probably just a matter of time before you do. A weak moment plus access to pornography leads to a fall. However, a weak moment plus no access to pornography leads to no fall.

God says we should not even have “a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3, NIV). However, it’s almost impossible to follow this mandate if we have access to pornography because we often become powerless when faced with the temptation of it. Therefore, the key is thinking through all possible ways you could access pornography if you wanted to and eliminating them.

For some of you, this may mean taking the Internet entirely off of your smart phone. For others, it may mean putting a filter on your computer and blocking all search engines to avoid images. For others, it may mean having your hotel clerk remove the room TV before you check-in. Whatever it takes, be radical and rid yourself of all access so that even in your weakest moment, you can’t access pornography even if you wanted to.


Wyatt FisherWyatt Fisher, Psy.D. is a believer and a psychologist. He’s passionate about helping Christians connect and develop God-honoring relationships. His free porn addiction seminar, PornBattle, has helped many Christian men start winning the war on pornography.

  • Comments on: The Ridiculously Predictable Cycle of Porn Addiction
    1. Steve on

      The porn cycle article was interesting. I would add that sometimes the battle is at church. One young man told me that he did not expect the battle to be at church also. Many women are probably unaware at the thoughts they stir for men and boys of all ages by their clothing. What I see every Sunday is skirts too short, even shorter when sitting, too much skin showing, open backs, way too much cleavage and tight fitting clothing. Moms should advise their daughters on dress and dad’s should be asked because we know what can stir another man.

      Stteve

      Reply
      • Wyatt Fisher on

        Very true Steve….Church can definitely be another battle ground….of all places

      • Kelly on

        That is so frustrating to hear as a woman. Your thoughts are your responsibility. Period. What’s next? A burka? This is just another way to shirk responsibility and put blame on women.

    2. Brian on

      It’s a familiar cycle because that’s what it was like for me as a curious teenager. But I went several years without porn, then stumbled back into it in my mid twenties. It’s a struggle that has continued to come up into my late twenties, but it generally has very little, sometimes nothing at all to do with sexual gratification. It’s more a perverse coping mechanism when life is really hard. Maybe I’m alone in this, but for me it’s almost always a wrongful escape from stress, pain, and loneliness that I should be bringing to God in prayer, and not a primal, “Oooh, boobies!” I’m not like the alcoholic who always drinks because his body physically craves alcohol. I’m more like the guy who, when he’s down and out, abuses alcohol to forget things for a while. I’m certainly not saying that makes it ok, or any less evil and debauched. Probably the opposite, actually, since it is even more pronounced spiritual adultery, as well as the obvious visual and mental adultery. I’ve never obtained any lasting victory over porn except when I deal with my OTHER problems rightly. You can’t just stop, unless you first understand why you fall. In a perfect world you could simply remove all access, and everything would be fine. But in my experience, the heart and its internal habits have to change, otherwise some new avenue will ALWAYS present itself. One does not simply quit porn; you have to replace it with something. If porn is primarily sensual for you, work on making your body a living sacrifice to God, and if married, making your wife your standard of beauty, and practicing Proverbs 5:15-19. If it’s emotional and spiritual, then work on making the Lord your joy and strong fortress. Making sacrificial efforts to improve your prayer life will do more to defeat porn than any amount of device downgrading. That certainly may be necessary for a time, but by itself it only buries the problem (still very much alive) instead of crucifying it. I hope this helps someone.

      Reply
      • Wyatt Fisher on

        Great points Brian…yes, discerning the drive behind the pull for porn and addressing that is essential for long-term victory. I also agree that as emotional strain peaks, so too does our desire for pleasure and escape

      • Kerri on

        Brian, I totally agree!! This has been the reason my husband has not been able to defeat porn. He is now seeing the bigger picture. But, you are correct, all the filters and boundaries mean nothing if the root problem is not addressed. Though to be sure I would add that setting up boundaries is wise and helpful for rebuilding trust if you are in a relationship. Not having a filter would be foolish, but having one thinking that is what is going to ‘save’ you is foolish as well. You need both, the boundary AND the right relationship with God and others.

      • Rob on

        Brian – I very much identify with what you wrote there. Thank you for sharing it. When I read what you wrote I had one of those “so I’m not the only person who feels this way” moments. Thanks again!

      • Dan on

        Both Wyatt and Brian are “spot-on!” As I read Wyatt’s blog post, I felt like he must be a little bird watching over my shoulder so many times in my life. And Brian talking about dealing with the other stuff to get at the root, YES! As a Christian and former pastor, I have struggled all of my life with that thing we like to call “self-esteem.” I was born to a single teen mother and had no relationship with my biological father until my forties. Instead of growing up in my mom’s home, I was raised by my grandmother and her youngest son. I realize that this history contributed to my struggle with acceptance. I have always wanted that, wanted my efforts to be complimented and praised, even though it embarrassed me. I have struggled with rejection. In my humanness, there was no rejection in porn. It has always brought that pseudo-acceptance because it’s not real. The reality has been that it destroys my acceptance with others (i.e. my wife). But when I truly latch on to that knowledge that I am accepted by the Savior, to the point that He went to the cross for me, I am falling on the floor in awestruck tears of humility. Our pastor recently said in a sermon that the problem in society is not a self-esteem issue, but a Jesus issue. When I am driven by my acceptance, I am driven by me. I need to driven by that acknowledgement of Christ’s acceptance of me and draw closer to Him every day.

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