When it comes to defeating a porn addiction, no silver bullet works for everyone.
I have both personally defeated an addiction to pornography and witnessed many friends do the same. I’ve discovered there are commonalities in every man’s battle, but each man has a different path to victory.
A deep devotional life may be key for some. For others, accountability and fellowship are central.
Realizing this fact allows you to defeat a pornography addiction using what I call the “Kitchen Sink Strategy.” Throw the kitchen sink at the problem. Try every weapon you can find, and see what works for you. There is no silver bullet.
A Story of Victory
Despite being raised in a strong Christian home, a friend of mine became ensnared with pornography in junior high. He fell away from his faith in college, but then he came back to it as a young adult after he married and had his first child.
While his reconversion was sincere, his pornography problem didn’t disappear overnight. He prayed fervently and believed God could overcome this sin in him in the blink of an eye. But he continued to fall into temptation in spite of his prayers.
Eventually, his wife found out and felt deeply betrayed. Steven redoubled his efforts, but prayer alone wasn’t succeeding for him. Though ashamed, he sought out men at his church with which to begin a support and fellowship group. Several men joined him, and they began meeting regularly–sharing their struggles, victories, and encouraging one another.
He partnered with one of the men for accountability and installed Covenant Eyes on his computers. Doing so helped him avoid falling into temptation, and the conversations with his accountability partner gave him strength to get up when he fell.
Steven began reading about God’s plan for marriage, learning about what it meant to be made in God’s image–for purity and love, not lust. He deepened his relationship with Christ and began feeling many graces help him resist temptation and see through the lies of the pornography industry.
After two years, Steven conquered his pornography addiction, and now he helps men at his church do the same.
What Weapons Worked for Me
Pornography also ensnared me when I was in middle school. A close family member had pornography in our home, a venomous snake waiting in ambush for the right time, and I fell into the trap.
I grew up in an agnostic home and was never taught pornography was evil. In fact, all the secular radio stations I listened to and articles I read suggested the opposite: they claimed pornography and masturbation were “healthy for young men.”
Instead, as I realized when I had a radical conversion to Christ, pornography was a ticket to slavery to sin. I attended a Baptist church and availed myself of mentoring, discipleship, accountability, fellowship, and prayer, but still I couldn’t defeat pornography.
After much studying, I entered full communion with the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, I discovered a new set of weapons, complementary to the ones I had used as a Baptist, and tried them out for size.
One of these weapons was the theology of the body. This set of teachings from Pope John Paul II on human sexuality and the beauty of marriage transformed my way of seeing people. No longer would I look at a woman as an object for my own lustful pleasure, but instead as a daughter of God–made for the lifelong commitment of love and not for lust. (I’ve now seen the ideas in the theology of the body echoed in Protestant circles, and even in the secular culture.)
I grew in devotion to Jesus through prayer and adoration. As the years went by, I saw my strength of purity growing within me. And by God’s grace, I overcame lust and pornography addiction.
No Silver Bullet
While no one solution works for all men, there are commonalities: prayer, deepening our relationship with Christ, confession (privately in our hearts, trustfully to a friend and sacramentally), and putting up obstacles to falling that include accountability and filtering.
Beyond the basics, each man should avail himself of every tool and strategy that he can find. Try out different weapons and find which ones work for you. For Catholic men specifically, I created a course that takes this Kitchen Sink Strategy and distills it into a practical guide and boot camp for conquering pornography.
Be wary of anyone claiming they have the “secret tip” that everyone else is missing. Growing in virtue and conquering deeply rooted sin takes time and effort, even with God’s grace. But God has promised us victory: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Devin Rose is the author of several books and the creator of a course for Catholic men to conquer porn. He had a radical conversion to Christ through a social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and depression in 2000. A computer programmer by day, in his free time he teaches his children about Jesus and helps men overcome pornography addiction. He and his wife Catherine have two children and live in central Texas.
There is no silver bullet for a changed heart. God must change the heart, but we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work to will and to do.”
I like the kitchen sink strategy. I have been wrestling with what is my part and what is God’s. The idea that not everything will work but try everything possible and see what does is liberating. Today I feel that I can do this. Thank you
Thank you so much for this website I am just reentering recovery and am trying to “strike while the iron is hot.” I look forward to these several resources on my e-mail account. Thank you for doing the work of Christ in the information age.
I’m so glad that you have found us, Robert, and if you need help finding a specific resource, please let me know.
God is for you!
Behavior change is always about behavior management, so use the “kitchen sink,” if you like, but without a change of attitude to one of obedience, there is no real change from false intimacy to real intimacy with God and others.
oh man, there’s a LOT that goes into this
when you’re in the middle of it, you have to really decide if its something you want to be free of. If your resolve isn’t strong, you’re likely to fail.
after you’ve made up your mind, you need to aggressively cut out negative influences (turn off/lock computer, put restrictive programs on it and your phone, don’t hang around friends that feed into your vices), this is a really hard part, but you’ll get better at it as you progress. it could be something as simple as logging off your computer when you get an urge. eventually you can add things back in as your self control improves (I still try to very much avoid shows or games with sexual content)
the last piece of the puzzle is the most important one, you can’t go it alone. God was the only thing that helped me have complete victory over my porn addiction, and He can help you too. Jesus forgives all your sins when you believe in Him, and His Holy Spirit can empower you to break free of addiction. After belief you gotta keep rebounding (confessing your sins to God) and moving on, sharpening your spiritual skills. It’s only with the Word of God (the Bible) and the Spirit of God that you’ll have complete victory.