4 minute read

True Story: How Michael Overcame Porn

Last Updated: June 7, 2017

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.

Our stories matter. Each of us has a compelling story to tell. When we share, we can’t always anticipate how our story will impact the people around us, but sometimes the impact is significant.

Jesus made it very clear that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But, what will you do with those troubles? Think about the apostle St. Paul. If Paul had been permitted to visit all the churches he wanted to visit instead of being imprisoned, he would have never had a reason to write his letters! But, he embraced his “trouble” and used it for the glory of God.

how michael overcame porn

This year, we released Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge app for iPhone, and we’ve recently made some great enhancements through a new release. (Don’t worry Overcome Porn is also available in an e-mail format.) Below is a testimony, raw and real, from Michael, an early challenge participant.

My porn addiction started when I discovered my dad’s stash when I was a kid. Back then nobody knew about the Internet, so when the magazines inexplicably disappeared I was forced to quit. Then I went off to a Christian college with strict rules including expulsion for porn. For about a decade, I was porn free due to accessibility issues, but I never really dealt with the heart issues, and I believed getting married would solve the problem.

In 1993, I married a wonderful Christian woman, but it quickly became apparent that our libidos were quite different. Probably over 90% of our disagreements over the past 22 years have been over the frequency of sex. Around 2000, we got Internet in our home. Due to ongoing disagreements about the frequency of sex and the removal of accessibility issues, I started watching porn. I justified it as a way to fill in the gaps. It seemed harmless since I wasn’t physically cheating on my wife.

Over the next 15 years I watched porn with varying but increasing frequency. Many times I tried to quit in my own strength, but I always failed. Increasingly divergent libidos caused me to become angry at God. Angry that He gave me a desire He would not allow me to fulfill His way. Often after rejection from my wife, I would head to watch porn saying, “God, since you can’t provide your way, I’ll take care of it.” I also suffer from frequent migraines (sometimes as much as six days a week), so I used porn to “medicate” the pain.

How I Overcame Porn

This past summer I went to summer youth camp with my children as a counselor. All the messages were on prayer, and I kept asking myself why my prayer life was so pitiful. Every time I asked myself that question, the Holy Spirit would hit me with one word “porn.” I once heard, “Prayer keeps you from sin, and sin keeps you from prayer,” and that was certainly true for me. I decided I had to do something about porn. I had at various times read material from Covenant Eyes, so I turned there and found Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge.

I started the challenge with every intention of succeeding without the accountability or abstinence parts. About five days into the challenge, I became convicted that I needed to follow the advice of the challenge and find an accountability partner and try abstinence to reset my brain chemistry. I scheduled an appointment with my pastor and an elder at my church. I also confessed my sin to my wife. My pastor was wonderful. He met with me weekly during the challenge, and his support and prayers were a tremendous help. I asked the elder, who is also a friend, to be my accountability partner. His prayers sustained me through the early days of the challenge

But I am most thankful for my wife’s help, prayers and support. Her immediate and unconditional forgiveness of past sins was nothing short of a miracle from God. Her forgiveness drove me forward to succeed like almost nothing else did. I had inflicted a deep wound, yet she offered Christ-like forgiveness. There were a few days she apologized to me for anger at what I had done. I told her I’d take a few bad days after giving her 15 bad years. She was also my greatest accountability partner since she was with me at night when I often crept away to watch porn. I had permission to wake her, and several times I did just that. Or I would just hold her hand while she slept when I was tempted. That gave me strength to not leave the bed. But by far the best part was setting aside kid-free time every day to pray and talk together. The increased intimacy has been a tremendous blessing for both of us.

How My Freedom Changed My Family

I have been porn free for nearly 90 days now, and I can say the blessings have been manifold and unexpected. I am reading my Bible and praying more than I have in years. My wife and I feel closer than we’ve felt in years due to our efforts at improving intimacy. Our floundering sex life has blossomed, and my wife seems more beautiful each day.

My daughters know nothing about what I was doing or that I quit, but they must sense something is different because they have responded. My teenage daughter hadn’t sat in my lap or let me kiss her in years. Now she regularly comes and sits in my lap to chat, and she lets me kiss her sweet forehead before bed. I even get hugs which I hadn’t gotten in years.

Since I am no longer “rewarding” being awake at night, sleeping has improved. I don’t wake as much at night and am far more likely to sleep through the night. My wife says she feels like she has a new husband. According to her I’m more patient, compassionate and loving. I have also had a noticeable reduction in migraines. I had no idea porn was affecting so many areas of my life.

I highly recommend Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge to anyone who wants freedom from porn. It has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family.

Friends, I am not making this testimony up! It was received months ago, and I recently traded messages with Michael only to learn that he is now one full year porn-free, and Covenant Eyes continues to be the encouragement he needs through our blog and browser.

In Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge, you’ll get 40 days of:

  • Gospel-centered articles and videos to encourage you in purity.
  • Prompts to help you think through your struggles.
  • A tracker to chart your progress.

Both men and women will benefit from what the challenge has to offer. Maybe Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge is exactly what you need. Don’t wait–maybe today is the day for your fresh start!

And, once you overcome porn, let us know. Because your story matters.

  • Comments on: True Story: How Michael Overcame Porn
    1. HAlarmon Heckathorn on

      I pray that you release the email 4o day challenge soon. I’ve been using covenant eyes for about a month and a half now. I’ve made some good progress but am still struggling at times. Please help.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        We are getting close, sometime this fall. Are you on the notification list? If not, leave your name here: https://www.covenanteyes.com/challenge/

        Peace, Chris
        Covenant Eyes

    2. Pete on

      What if you don’t have an I phone but Android platform?

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Pete – we are going to re-release an email version of the 40 Day Challenge soon. Please follow this link to be notified when it’s ready! https://www.covenanteyes.com/challenge/

        Peace, Chris

    3. Ben on

      I enjoyed reading this article. I had my own little victory last night — I contacted my accountability partner when I felt lonely and tempted to look at porn last night. Then I contacted a few other guys but didn’t tell them all that I was struggling with that. It helped to dissipate the loneliness though. It’s a new feeling now that I found that contacting people in that situation can help get me through it. I feel new hope.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Ben, thank you so much for sharing! I’ve experienced the same relief when reaching out to trusted friends in those moments I feel weak.

        Peace, Chris
        Covenant Eyes

    4. Joanne on

      Chris

      I have tried to download the 40 day challenge onto my mobilephone but the phone will not accept it. Sorry I dont really understand why, something to do with the ios????

      Does Covenant Eyes have an email version of the app, this would be such a help for me

      Kind regards

      Joanne

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Joanne – can you please try calling one of our Customer Service Reps to diagnose the download issue? Ph. 1.877.479.1119, and also, we will release an e-mail version this fall, and you can be notified when that is available by leaving your contact information here: https://www.covenanteyes.com/challenge/

    5. Unsure on

      This is a great story, and completely useful to publish. I am however, quite skeptical in regards to the amazing outcome and how it’s portrayed. God works amazing miracles for sure and I will never discredit that. What I get out of this story is how easily porn can be overcome and what an amazing turnaround the testimony shows. I feel this too easily glosses over the pain and hardship and dedicated hard work it takes to tackle the porn issue. Since porn is symptomatic of a deeper lying issue, and almost always an intimacy disorder instead of addiction to porn. The addiction is the coping.

      Certainly the story of Michael is greatly encouraging, having a seemingly and amazingly supportive wife is a big part. So my skepticism comes from the “overcame porn” tagline. Perhaps the story needs to include the hours of addiction recovery homework, the numerous counseling sessions needed to heal a broken relationship, and the daily diving into the Word to get an appreciation of the Father’s unending, incomprehensible love for us is what’s behind the remarkable turnaround.

      I’ve been in recovery for almost two years, and certainly don’t have a testimonial story like Michael’s to share. The damage and hurt is deep, and simply just not looking at porn anymore isn’t the real problem to be solved.

      Again, I’m not discrediting anything in the article, I’m grateful that some have experienced such a positive turnaround. I suspect for many though, like myself, this feels too easy, and especially within a year to declare that he’s “overcome porn”

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I agree with you that Michael’s story sounds like the exception rather than the rule. I think you are so right: true recovery is a long process and usually NOT a magic bullet. The numbers I’ve seen say 5 years, and my husband says he thinks that’s a pretty accurate measure of when he really felt free. AND–as you say, “not looking at porn” is not the real problem to be solved! There are so many underlying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that have to be sifted through. And a whole new way of relating to self and to others that has to be worked into place. I do think it can happen. Our marriage is exponentially better today than it ever was before porn! But–we’re 13 years down the road and still working every day on ourselves and our relationship with each other. I think you’re on the right road, with good insights. Keep walking. You’re going to get there. Peace to you, Kay

      • Tracy Riggs on

        I fully agree. Thanks for bringing this up.

    6. Joanne on

      Hi Chris

      I do not really understand all this stuff about IOS etc. My son will be here this weekend I am going to see if he can sort something out for me. In the meantime I am now liasing with CE Customer Service. I am sure we will sort something out shortly. If not I will register and wait for the 40 day challenge email

      Thanks for all you do

      Joanne

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Joanne – I bet Customer Service will be able to help! We’re updating the email version right now.

        Peace, Chris

    7. Connie Reza on

      Hi Chris,
      Can I download the 40 day Challenge to my son’s iPad? He has an android phone and an iPad.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi Connie – no, unfortunately he cannot. It currently won’t work on those platforms (we are working on an Android version right now). Another possible solution might be The Victory App from Life Teen. They are a Catholic organization, but they do great work with teens (I’ve worked with them extensively this year through Covenant Eyes). They have an Android version of their recovery app. I’ve not used it, but I trust the organization! If you use it, please let me know about your experience.

        Peace,
        Chris

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