The Worst Advice for Breaking a Porn Addiction

“Is the love of pleasure and amusement growing on you—gaining the power and authority over you? Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures? Is it making Bible study, prayer, communion with Christ, and meditation upon holy themes—less sweet enjoyments than they once were? Is it making your hunger for righteousness, and for God—less intense? If so, there is only one thing to do—hurry…to return to God…to find in Christ, the joy which the world cannot give.” –J. R. Miller

The Worst Advice for Breaking Addiction: “Just Stop!”

An addiction of any kind is more complex than simple. It is all-encompassing as opposed to one-dimensional. It is fueled through many sources and overcome through several steps. Many people battle addiction for years with minimal success because they suppose the outward action is the problem and do not understand the strong roots stemming way back in the mind and heart.

For the addict, the command to “Just Stop!” is the worst advice. It is vague, ineffectual, and hopeless. It makes light of the problem and unrealistically sends the message that freedom from what binds him or her will be effortless, painless, and quick. Here are three reasons this is terrible advice.

1. It doesn’t address the real issues.

“Spiritual wisdom consists in finding out the subtleties, policies, and depths of any indwelling sin…to trace this serpent in all its turnings and windings.”  –John Owen

A headache often calls for taking an aspirin. A toothache demands a prompt visit to the dentist. A poor health report makes daily exercise a requirement to stay alive. So too, habitual sin in our lives is a siren that signals there are very real issues to be worked through if we are to mend and repent fully.

Related: What Your Sexual Fantasies (Might) Say About You

2. It overestimates a person’s strength to do right and underestimates the power of sin.

Even after significant growth in godliness, no one is exempt from the possibility of returning to the sins that he or she falsely believed gave him or her life. It’s just a matter of how intense the trial, circumstance, or stress level we are experiencing that makes it easy for the depravity that formerly brought us comfort and relief to beckon us to return to it again.

Anyone who loves food can testify how difficult it is to say no to junk food brought in the house. If it is present, that means it is available, and we are likely to give in. A homeless person eats scraps out of a dumpster not because of the appeal necessarily, but because he is hungry and is seeking to pacify that gnawing feeling.

3. It robs a person of holistic healing and focuses on one aspect of their brokenness.

“We are holistically in need of God in every area, not just [sexuality]. … When I was able to see that all of me needed Jesus, and all of me needed to be whole, and all of me needed to be discipled, and grow, I think that’s what helped me because it humbles you in a place where it’s like ‘I’m really messed up’ because it’s not just one little fraction of me, it’ s all of me and I’m able to really crawl to Jesus and know that only He can fix me, only He can make me whole.” –Jackie Hill Perry

The Lord wants our obedience, submission, and surrender–not in one area of our lives but in its entirety. It is beyond me why we humans would expect anything less of our Creator, the One who gave us life and purchased the redeemed with a high price. If we see ourselves through the lens of Scripture and see God biblically, we will joyfully commit ourselves to His refining process and allow Him to beautify even the minimally ugly parts of us.

Ultimately, a strong and daily walk with the Lord will free us from being unable to say no to pornography’s lure. My lengthy history of sexual brokenness and the equally lengthy journey of healing are evidence that we cannot overcome sin, nor experience abundant life, apart from Christ. We must depend fully on Him, prioritizing regular Bible reading and prayer. We must continuously remind ourselves of the Gospel in order to renew our minds and do our part in the process of sanctification. No person, place, or experience can restore us like Jesus can. No amount of worldly philosophy or secular counseling could ever do for our hearts and minds what the true and living God can.

“Take these three spears—the Word of God, prayer, and mortification—and strike through the heart of your lusts, so that they die!” –Thomas Watson