5 Tips to Remember When Helping Someone Quit Porn

Twenty years ago, you probably heard of someone who had a porn problem. Today, you know someone with a porn problem.

In 2015, nearly 4.5 billion hours of porn were watched worldwide. Porn is at least a 12 billion dollar industry in the United States. Sixty-four percent of evangelical men view porn monthly. Thirty-three percent of women under 25 seek out porn monthly. Fifty-four percent of pastors surveyed had viewed porn in the last year.

The question is, what are you going to do about it? Let’s assume you have made the determination to help. Welcome to the battle! But like any good warrior, you need a battle plan before engaging the process. This is that plan.

There are five things to keep in mind while helping your friend quit porn.

1. You can only help if he is desperate.

Jesus asked the paralytic who was sick for 38 years, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6). Jesus was testing his level of desperation. Was he willing to do whatever it took? Was he willing to pick up his mat, risk failure, and attempt the first step in front of his friends? Notice, Jesus didn’t offer a life of freedom until the man had already exhausted all other options. The doctors had failed him, his community had abandoned him, and recovery had eluded him.

Your friend can get well, but he must first get desperate. This usually means hitting bottom. You cannot help someone who is not desperate any more than a doctor can remove a tumor from a man who would rather die from the disease than live without it.

2. You must build two walls.

Every dual addict I know says the same thing. “Beating my porn habit is harder than beating alcohol, cocaine, or any other addiction.” For your friend who battles porn, remember that this is his greatest battle.

What’s the answer? Help him build a wall of defense, and then a second wall. Do what Hezekiah did. “Hezekiah worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. Then he built another wall outside the one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David” (2 Chronicles 32:5).

Help your friend repair the “broken sections of his wall.” His first wall of defense should be to sign up for Covenant Eyes for all his devices. His second wall of defense may be to join a 12-step group. He is in the battle of his life. He needs more than one wall of defense.

3. He needs your life more than your words.

The year was 1919. An aspiring author recovering from injuries from the first World War rented a small apartment in Chicago so he could be close to an established author named Sherwood Anderson. He wanted time with Mr. Anderson, who was happy to oblige. For months, Anderson spent hours each day with the young man, who sought to glean as much from the relationship as possible. The name of that young man was Ernest Hemingway.

There once lived a remarkable prophet named Elijah. He knew the end of his ministry was near. So he spent time with a young prophet named Elisha, who begged, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit” (2 Kings 2:9). Notice, Elisha didn’t ask for Elijah’s sermons, memoirs, or ten steps to becoming a better prophet. What Elisha needed was Elijah.

What your friend needs–more than your advice–is you.

4. Never work harder on his recovery than he does.

Consider two seemingly contradictory passages in Scripture. Paul said to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Ten seconds later, he wrote, “Each one should carry his own load” (6:5).

So which is it? Both! If you are going to help someone through his porn habit, you better have a strong back. You will be carrying quite a load. But the ultimate responsibility is on the back of the one with the problem. You can help your friend–to a point. But you must learn this hard lesson: Never work harder on your friend’s recovery than he does! You can help plan the work, but only he can work the plan.

5. Trust his behavior, not his words.

Never trust the words of an active sex addict. Dr. Milton Magness writes, “I tell the partners of sex addicts that a person cannot be successful as a sex addict without being a world-class liar” (Stop Sex Addiction, p. 60).

You cannot help your friend apart from real accountability. In her article, “How to Help Someone End a Porn Addiction,” Trudi Griffin writes, “Accountability increases results and effectiveness.”

People do what you inspect, not what you expect. That’s why Jesus said we are known by our fruits, not by our words (Matthew 7:16). Any user of porn has a long road ahead of him if he is to break free. If you choose to walk this road with a friend, always put a premium on actions, not words. Is he going to meetings? Is he in therapy? Did he install Covenant Eyes on his phone? Is he willing to do a full, clinical disclosure? Hear what he says, but respond to what he does.

Helping others brings us joy.

Over 1,900 years before Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. founded AA, four men practiced Step 12. “Some men came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them” (Mark 2:3). Your friend has been paralyzed by his porn habit. You can help, if he is ready.

Like these four men, your responsibility is to get your friend to Jesus and to help him in his journey toward wellness. Then you will discover the joy that I have found dozens of times. The only reward greater than our personal recovery is that of helping someone else discover his.