5 minute read

Stop Looking At Porn You Sicko! (Part 1)

Last Updated: August 10, 2017

Chris McKenna
Chris McKenna

Chris McKenna is a guy with never-ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. He is the founder of Protect Young Eyes, a leading digital safety organization. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, podcasts, and most recently on Capitol Hill for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation that could radically change online child protection laws. With expertise in social media usage, parental controls, and pornography use in young people, Chris is highly sought after as a speaker at schools and churches. Since 2016, Chris has worked with Covenant Eyes creating educational resources to help individuals and families overcome porn. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, and candy.

There are numerous strategies for battling pornography, and I tried many of them. My go-to strategy was the “Stop looking at porn you sicko!” approach mentioned in The Porn Circuit–which was to binge on porn, be furious with myself, look in the mirror, and just commit to “trying harder.”

stop looking at porn sicko

Too many men and women who struggle with sexual temptation love trying harder. If there’s still a bookstore in your town, you’ll probably find a wide assortment of “self-help” books for every human inclination. Our American, “pull myself up by my bootstraps” self-sufficiency compels us to want to fix it ourselves.

The problem is this: if “self” got me into the addiction, what are the chances “self” is the solution? More of me and my effort has never worked. All of my efforts are imperfect and tainted with an ugly undertone of pride if I’m honest.

There have been two revolutionary concepts that wholly changed my perspective on pornography. I’d like to share one of them in this post and a second one in a future post.

A “Complete and Effective Decision About Sin”

Although I’m far from an everyday devotional guy, the book I most often pick up other than my Bible, is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This Christian classic was interestingly compiled by Chambers’ wife, Gertrude Hobbs, after his death, using notes from his sermons to students and soldiers. It has been an invaluable spiritual resource for me. Even though I have cycled through it multiple times, I find it has a profound depth that continues to reveal new truths about the nature of God because of its tight connection to God’s Word.

On April 10th years ago, I read this:

Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you– not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified—just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.

Pull yourself up, take some time alone with God, and make this important decision, saying, “Lord, identify me with Your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

… Are you prepared to let the Spirit of God search you until you know what the level and nature of sin is in your life—to see the very things that struggle against God’s Spirit in you? If so, will you then agree with God’s verdict on the nature of sin— that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? You cannot “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Rom. 6:11) unless you have radically dealt with the issue of your will before God.

For days I thought about the phrase, “complete and effective decision about sin.” What does that type of decision look like? Here are three ideas:

Be Still and Know

The devotion pushes us to set aside the busyness of life and get alone with God.

Where are you most relaxed? Where are you most focused? Where is your favorite spot on earth? Yes, go there. Spend an extended amount of time there. If it takes you two to three days to calm down and start to relax, then take a five day break away from everything and look God in the face.

Our God is not distant–it’s our mind that has often runs far away from Him. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10) is not a pithy suggestion to go take a nap. It is an exhortation to actively seek the face of God through a zoomed in, knuckled down, concentrated, honed in focus on Him.

A natural response to this idea is “I don’t have time.”

Is this really true? If you added up all the time you’ve spent in whatever you are battling, how much time would it be? Hours? Days? Weeks?

It’s not about having time. It’s about making time. Gandhi said, “Actions express priorities.” If your priority is to make a “complete and effective decision” about your sin, then you’ll have to make time for it.

Pray Like You’re At War

The well-known phrase “there are no atheists in foxholes” conveys a subjective truth that in moments of intense fear or threat, everyone turns to a higher power. If you have decided to turn away from consuming pornography, habitual masturbation, or sex addiction, then you must understand you are at war. Whatever you choose to fight will fight you back.

Have you ever watched any movie that depicts the storming of Normandy Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944? The scenes are intense and graphic. I’ve often wondered what was going through the minds of those young men who approached the beach in amphibious boats with the sounds of bullets and bombs everywhere. I imagine it was a tangled mix of abject fear and intense focus on a singular task. Kill or be killed. Is that similar to how you approach your addiction?

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”

Thanks to Simba, many of us have a Disney-like impression of lions. All of them are cute, talkative, and animated. Compare this to what lions truly are. In nature, nothing hunts lions. They are apex predators–at the top of the food chain. Have you ever watched a pack of hungry lions hunt and then eat? Stealthy. Quick. Violent. Bloody. Ripping away flesh from bone. They are a predator, finely tuned to hunt and kill.

This is our enemy. Know him and appreciate what you’re up against. And then, pray as if you’re standing with your comrades on the boat, ready to storm the beach. The sounds of war are all around you.

But, in this battle, we do not go off to war to lose. We go off to war to win. We stand in the authority of Jesus Christ.

Will you pray like a victor? Yes, fall on your face and cry out to God, but then lift your head up in confidence and pray as if your life depended on it.

Make Irrevocable Decisions

Often in the guilt-ridden moments immediately after we commit some habitual sin, we find ourselves willing to do almost anything to “not do that again.” There is a very slim window of time where it is absolutely necessary to make decisions that prevent us from backsliding again.

In another sermon, Oswald Chambers said, “If the Spirit of God has stirred you, make as many of your decisions as possible irrevocable, and let the consequences be what they will.”

In the moment you are at the bottom, make as many good decisions as possible that are difficult to undo.

Make a phone call. Set up an appointment. Text a trusted friend to tell him about your sin, no matter how embarrassed you are. Take the smartphone into the garage and pound it with a hammer no matter how much that will cost. Give your accountability partner control over the 4-digit restrictions for your iPhone no matter how inconvenient it is. Join a support group of some kind no matter how prideful you are. Do something.

Make a decision and move. Go. And then, tell as many people as possible about what you’ve decided to do.

Has there been one “revolutionary” idea that has convicted you personally about your sexual addiction? As an encouragement to others, I invite you to share it in the comments below.

  • Comments on: Stop Looking At Porn You Sicko! (Part 1)
    1. Greg on

      A great post topic, and yes–it is the Lord that changes hearts and rescues from pornography.

      I personally believe God began the process of rescuing me from pornography after He got my attention by publicly exposing my hypocrisy as a Christian in a “dollar” movie theater when I went to watch a crude movie one Saturday afternoon in 2002. Before the movie started, two teens who had apparently been expelled from a Christian school recognized me, and from across the theater, yelled out in an attempt to embarrass me: “Hey you–don’t you go to church?”

      Their tactic worked; perhaps even better than they thought. Shamed and embarrassed as I deserved, I remember sitting there in the theater and praying “Lord, make me sick of this sin.” I prayed that He would somehow deliver me, make me sick of what I was watching, and He began to answer my prayer, albeit slowly because of my own stubborn sinfulness. Over the next six years or so, I began to realize that many times even the movies themselves I watched did not portray a “happy” ending, but rather the devastating consequences of the sin engaged in (I can easily name a number of movies from memory that did this).

      He also used the personal testimony of Jessica Harris (a very gifted writer, and contributor to Covenant Eyes) to stir me to share my own confession in front of my coworkers, and later, to my Small Church group–a key part of the healing process.

      God had to tear down my stubborn will, pride, and excuses to bring me to repentance, and He did this in several ways:

      * Causing me to grow weary of living a lie and trying to hide my sin. I wanted to be the same person on the inside that people may have believed I was on the outside.
      * Making me come to grips with the truth that:
      – Pornography is a series of lies. There is no love or beauty (hence intimacy) in porn–it’s about lust and selfishness.
      – I was contributing to the sin that is so rampantly destroying our country–and world.
      – At “best” pornography leaves lasting personal damage, and at worst, destroys the intimacy, trust, commitment, blessing, beauty, and sacredness of biblical sexuality in marriage–even ahead of time, not to mentioned damages relationships and trust among your family.
      – Sin grieves and dishonors God, and hinders my relationship with Him.
      – It does not—and cannot—truly satisfy.

      There are many more things that God used, but the work He did in rescuing me from pornography will likely be very different from how He rescues others–it probably won’t happen overnight, but I believe He will if you’re sincere in asking Him for deliverance.

      Reply
      • Jerry on

        I am a 53 married mail my wife knows i look at porn she also has tried to help me by blocking iton our pc with passwords she says i still satisfy her sexually but she does notwant it as as often as I would like so i catch myself finding ways to vew some types of porn i never use my phone for it but use my pc a lot i am a man of God even graduated two-year minutes to school last year Porn has got to go in my life

      • Ken Ryder on

        I am a 70 year old male that has had a long time addiction to porn. It truly is damaging to the mind, the heart, the soul and the physical body. I have done so much self examination about my addiction. I can feel so much shame, guilt and remorse by this vile habit, so much so that I find it difficult to talk to others about it as a part of my recovery. I was raised as a “hard core” Catholic. I was led to believe that the Catholic Church is the only “true” church, that Catholicism is the only “true” religion. I was indoctrinated into this belief and guilt became such a strong force in my life. In order to rid myself of guilt I would purposely yield to temptation and do “bad”, “naughty” and “sinful” things to see if I would, in fact, feel guilty. If I did feel guilty and felt that I had truly sinned, it was an easy matter to go to confession on a Saturday afternoon, confess my sins, do my penance (usually a lot of Hail Marys) be cleansed of my sins and with a pure soul, take communion at Mass on Sunday morning. During my sophomore year in college I remember being at Mass on a beautiful spring, Sunday morning. The priest was droning on and on during his sermon and all I could do was focus on the beautiful light streaming through the stained glass windows and listening to the song birds chirping outside. I realized I had had enough of the Catholic Church. My mother was heart broken when I told her I was leaving the church. However, I realized that I wasn’t leaving God.

        I have always had a strong spiritual side. A sense that there is more to our existence than being born, growing up, working, marrying (or not), raising a family (or not) and otherwise living life on the material plane. This spirituality lead me on a life long quest to understand our existence, our reason for being here. If someone asks me if I believe in God I say yes, I do. However it is really difficult for me to define God in a succinct, precise way. For me God is the life force, God is the miracle that created all life. I have explored other religions and belief systems. I have a particular affinity for Buddhism since it is more of a philosophy for how to live a good life than a religion per se. The bottom line is that there are so many teachings, so many religions. Christianity is one of these many. I am getting a bit heavy here but this is a heavy topic.

        The whole topic of pornography and addiction to porn is not confined to Christians alone. It is a universal, human problem. You can be a follower of Jesus, or Mohammed or of Buddha, be a Jew, a Hindu, a Taoist, an agnostic or an atheist. It doesn’t matter. We are all humans on this planet and we all have the same basic make ups to become addicts.
        Porn addiction is especially insidious. Making a personal, heartfelt commitment to overcome porn addiction, is, I believe, the beginning to recovery. The tools to use in recovery are myriad. Prayer, for me, is one of the most important tools in the tool box. It is the hammer and saw of the carpenter. If nothing else, the Catholic Church taught me how to pray, or at least the mechanics of praying. Now, when I pray it is a recognition that I have a serious problem that I sincerely want to overcome and I am asking for forgiveness but more importantly to receive the strength from God, the “life force” my “high power” to recover and bathe in the universal light of love.

    2. Kimberly on

      Thank you for this insight. God has recently convicted me about gluttony and the principles for change are what I need.

      Reply
    3. Phil on

      Thanks for the article. I have been reading the same book by Oswald Chambers too. The Holy Spirit plays music before and as I get up. If I just go right to my book ( my utmost) I can have victory. I shared with my wife about porn. Hardest decision I’ve ever made. She and my pastor are my accountability partners. And my iPhone is locked. But now since my wife got a new iPad she gave me her old one. Now I need to get blocked on that. Making the decision about Sin is the key. I am weak In my flesh, but the word says when I am weak He JESUS is strong, so I need to boast in my weakness?

      Reply
    4. Frank Honess on

      While I understand that a man who is addicted to porn is not healthy (I was addicted for 13 years) I think the title for this blog is horrible. It sends a shameful message that makes a man feel like a loser. Bad choice CE.

      Reply
    5. Robyn on

      This post is crazy. I see what I need to do in times of temptation. In the past I tried the “Stop looking at porn you sicko” method and it never worked because I would always fall back in the same cycle. Letting it go and telling someone helped me. Also praying about it helped me. Giving God my time hurts and it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I get joy and peace from reading and abiding in Him. Being ashamed of my sin stinks and letting it out felt good. My pride always got in the way also In God I have to trust and I have to make up my mind to serve God. I have believe that God is greater than my problems and that His blood can wash me clean.

      Reply
    6. Geoff Allen on

      I am very grateful for this article. I have been in a recovery program for about a year, after having spent many, many years addicted to porn and masturbation, which then lead to adultery on an epic scale. For me, this has been a difficult but very good year of reconciliation, recovery and healing. I have learned a lot about myself, and feel that I am (slower than I would like!) beginning to take control of my mind. In the last couple days, I have been away from my wife, and have felt myself beginning to slip into old habits – ‘skirting the pit’, as I put it. I decided that, if the internet has been my downfall, then perhaps it could serve in helping me, so I googled, and came across this website. I have emailed a friend to confess, have read through this article, and now feel that my mind is back on track. Thank you, very much. I think it’s very important for those of us that struggle with this to remember that we are loved by God, loved by each other – we now need to love ourselves (in the true sense of the word). No more wallowing and self-hatred, but a realistic assessment of who we are, our weaknesses, our shortcomings, and set in motion a plan that will point us toward God.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Geoff, I’m glad it was helpful. Be encouraged! Stay strong!

        Peace, Chris

    7. David Billingham on

      This article has come in God’s perfect timing for me, having recently slipped quite badly after some time of relative freedom. It sent me to Mark’s account of Jesus’ death, from the Last Supper onwards, and to marvel at His total dedication to the task His Father had set Him. No question of any minute deviation. His reward? At least in part, a dreadful sense of God’s absence. (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”) This is what it means to reckon ourselves dead to sin. Yet, at the same time, we know that it was FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM that he He endured the cross, despising its shame. (Hebrews 12:2)

      May this article help many of us, thousands of us, to take the necessary steps to count ourselves dead to sin, so that, even more significantly, we may count ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus. May we leave the muddy pools behind and drink of the crystal clear living water of the Spirit.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi David, I’m so glad. How wonderful that even when we slip, God’s grace is fresh every morning. Walk in the light of now!
        Peace, Chris

    8. Andrew on

      Your articles came at a very good time for me = within the “slim window”. After some months of progress with the help of CE and of my accountability partner, I’m now on vacation and I’ve relapsed since some days in my old ways looking for porn on internet. Many thanks for what you said about “prying like at war” and “making irrevocable decisions” it’s what I’m about now.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Awesome, Andrew. May God’s Spirit strengthen your actions so that they stick. His grace and mercy are fresh the moment you look to Him!
        Peace, Chris

    9. Shane Bekker on

      Kill or be killed. How desperate are we to win? Pray as if you’re standing with your comrades on the boat, ready to storm the beach. The sounds of war are all around you. Sin isn’t a toy, but a real lethal weapon along with the enemy Satan. As serious as this is there is a creativeness in how we prepare for war and defeat the enemy and conquer sin in our lives, remembering that we do not do this alone, but with Christ and the powerful help of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for sharing this Chris.

      Reply
    10. Donna on

      Can and would you please explain how it is not about beauty in porn? After twelve years of marriage, my husband described what he considered most beautiful; it wasn’t my look. He’s also confessed to many general lies he’s told me about beauty that were hard to swallow. He appears saved and changing now, but still seems prone self deception. I feel I can’t trust what he tells me he sees. What can i hope for? Am I just never going to be the prettiest /sexiest since I don’t have the features that look like they provide the best sex? Or do I suddenly become the best after he understands he destroyed our marriage and wants me to feel better. If he says he can compare me to anyone now, and I look the best in every way, please tell me how? If a man discovers love and satisfaction in marriage, might it be that other women still look better, but he accepts and is loyal to you?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Porn is, for the most part, about deception. It’s fake people, fake sex, fake attachment, fake feeling good for a fake few minutes.

        Because it’s fake, you can’t out-pretty or out-sexy it. What you can do is out-REAL it. You can be real with you. Go to therapy. Find a counselor, process your emotions and build healthy boundaries for yourself. Join the online community at Bloom and talk with other real women in recovery.

        Stop trying to compete with the fake, and be your absolute realest healthiest most wonderful self.

        If your husband becomes real in the same way, if he goes to therapy and deals with himself, then your relationship together CAN become the best thing for both of you. How you look or what magic sex postions you use won’t matter any more. Sex won’t be about fake attachment and fake feeling good for a few minutes. Sex will be a real expression of real attachment and real joy with each other.

        Peace to you, Kay

    11. Donna on

      Would you do me a favor and answer one other question? What about the girlfriend he had before we married? It wasn’t an honest relationship, but that doesn’t seem to matter. That sex was real, wasn’t it? It’s not the same as pornography is it?He said it was good. He said he was sorry. He stopped using magazines before we married, but then later confessed he was lusting due to prior porn use. He’s made it appear sex just isn’t as special since he’s had it before. Does it matter if he thought she was sexy? It seems to me that the comparison hasn’t been good for our marriage since it gave him experiences to compare to ours, and he’s communicated in ways that make it seem comparable. I’m asking you if sex outside of marriage can seem as good or better than in marriage. Does it matter if he’s being honest about what it meant to him? I have been reading covenant eyes articles for some of my counsel Some of the writers seem to understand the PTSD feelings I have had as a result of discovering my husband’s unfaithfulness. I am feeling better as a result of knowing that some people are not condemning me and do understand how I feel. I’m not a stranger to counseling since what happened really has me seeking God for answers and wise counsel. I’ll keep trying to find the right one. Some have helped my husband more than me. Would you address my second question?

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        I think those are all questions that depend upon the individual person. I’m sure sex outside of marriage can seem better than married sex. I’m sure sex outside of marriage can seem worse than married sex.

        The real issue is NOT about the sex act itself. The real issue is that sex should and can be a reflection of the intimacy of the marriage. And if the marriage is emotionally nourishing to both partners, if the marriage is the place where both partners feel most loved and accepted, then the sexual relationship will most likely reflect that.

        The truth is, though, that building emotional intimacy is a task that many people don’t want to undertake. It’s easier to shove all the blame onto sex: who had it when, where, with whom. And it’s easier to hope that having good sex will fix all the problems. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.)

        If you want to have great sex, have a great relationship.

        Good news: Dr. John Gottman has done all the research, and there’s a great book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work which I highly, highly recommend.

    12. Beckner on

      Covenant eyes- I’m disappointed to see an article with this title printed by you. Calling anyone- even a porn addict- What this title does is inappropriate. ‘Judgementalism’ like this is a relative to ‘toxic shame’ that helps perpetuate such behaviour. Someone like this author is unlikely to have truely overcome at the thought level. When someone is completely clean they have the heart of Jesus to both addicts and wives. They also understand that God-given shame leads to repentance and no condemnation. Please take this into consideration when publishing articles. Ty

      Reply

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