So, you’re a teenager and you’re battling lust. You know that lustful thoughts don’t honor God, and you also don’t like the out-of-control feeling of your sexual desires. It feels dirty—and scary. But it seems like other Christians don’t have the same struggles, and the world around you thinks you’re weird for worrying about it.
What can you do? Here are four things you need to do to overcome lust as a teenager.
1. Don’t Panic!
The first thing is actually something not to do: don’t panic. Struggling with lust as a teenager is very common. There are three helpful things to keep in mind when you start to feel overwhelmed.
You’re Not Weird
You need to know is that you’re not weird. You’re not the only Christian who has these thoughts and temptations. And you’re not the only one who feels like it’s a battle every day to keep your mind in the right place. It’s normal.
When you’re a teenager, you begin to experience sexual desire for the first time. It feels strange! But this is God’s design for your body. Experiencing sexual attraction and sexual feelings is a natural part of growing up.
Sexual feelings aren’t the same thing as lust. Sexual feelings aren’t bad in and of themselves. This article we share with parents does a great job explaining the difference.
You’re Not Alone
Also, you need to know that you’re not alone. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
Even though it feels like you’re in the fight alone, you’re really not. Other Christians around you might seem to have it all together, but they don’t. Even if the non-Christians around you seem happier with their sexuality, they’re really not.
Both men and women struggle with lust. Whether you’re a teenage boy or girl, sexual desire and the temptation to lust are very common.
As we’ll see in a moment, one of the best ways to overcome lust is by finding other people who share your desire for purity and sharing your experiences with them!
There’s a Way Out
Note the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13—he will show you a way out! Sexual temptation can feel impossible to overcome when you’re a teenager. Your body is just getting used to these feelings and they’re POWERFUL. But God promises that you don’t have to sin; there’s a way out.
Now, this doesn’t mean your sexual feelings will go away. It doesn’t mean your sexual desires are just going to disappear—probably not. And that’s actually a good thing because sex is good! God has equipped you to deal with these desires in a way that honors Him.
We’ll look at some of the specific strategies for escaping lust later on in this post.
2. Understand Why Porn Is Dangerous
For many Christians, “overcoming lust” really means “overcoming porn.” There’s a reason for that: porn is EVERYWHERE these days. If you’re going to battle lust, you’ve got to find a way to avoid porn.
It may feel like everyone around you watches porn and it’s no big deal, but porn is bad news. It doesn’t matter how common and popular it is! Porn damages your mind, robs you of confidence, and hurts your relationships.
Let’s look briefly at these three things.
Porn Damages Your Mind
We’ve explained before why porn is so addictive. During the past twenty years, lots of researchers have studied the effects of pornography. Like other stuff that’s really addictive, porn is really bad for you.
What many neuroscientists now believe is that porn damages your mind, similar to alcohol and other drugs. When you watch porn as a teenager, it warps your view—and experience—of sexuality. It hooks itself to your brain like a drug.
That’s why even celebrities like Billie Eilish are recognizing how bad porn is! Don’t let people fool you; porn messes with your mind.
Porn Hurts Your Relationships
Another problem with porn is the way it affects your relationships. When you watch porn, it changes the way you think about sex and relationships. Not surprisingly, this changes the way you experience sex and relationships.
People who watch porn report being less satisfied with their relationships.
A lot of singles think their porn use will go away when they get married, but that’s not true. Check out this article from Pastor Noah Filipiak that talks about why you won’t just stop watching when you get married.
Porn Steals Your Confidence
Maybe you’re not worried about the effect on your mind or relationships, but many people report losing confidence because of their porn use.
Members of the forum NoFAP recount experiencing a sharp increase in confidence after cutting out porn and masturbation.
As a teenager, one of the best things you can do to fight lust is to steer clear of porn. Porn can grab hold of you before you realize it and sabotage your life.
3. Have a Plan to Stay Away From Porn
So, porn is bad. Got it. But what can you do about it? It’s everywhere—whether you want to see it or not. Even aside from actual porn, there are a million and one images we encounter on a regular basis that can trigger lustful thoughts.
Just trying to block it isn’t enough.
Blocking porn (e.g. installing a filter on your device) is a great idea, but blocking alone isn’t enough to keep the porn away. There’s too much of it.
Plus, if you’re feeling tempted, having a filter can actually motivate you to bypass it. Covenant Eyes founder and CEO Ron DeHaas says:
“I have heard from many filter users who say they are actually more tempted just to ‘get around’ the filter. And once they find a way around the filter (and there are ways around every filter), they get trapped by a predatory porn culture. And nobody knows… there is zero accountability. The filters give zero motivation to ‘never’ look at porn.“
Instead of just blocking, you need accountability monitoring and accountability relationships (which we’ll talk about more in a moment).
Develop positive habits and attitudes.
As a teenager, you’re developing the mindsets and behaviors that will shape the rest of your life. It’s awesome that you’re thinking about overcoming lust now, because what you do now will make a lasting impression.
Getting lots of rest, regular exercise, and establishing a routine for devotions are powerful habits that affect your mindset. For more suggestions, check out our free ebook, “Hobbies and Habits.”
You need to talk about it.
The best way to keep porn out of your life is by talking about it with people you trust. That’s right, don’t keep it to yourself! You need honest and open discussions with people about the temptation to look at porn, so they can keep you accountable.
Since smartphones, computers, and tablets are where we’re most likely to see porn, you should install Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability. When you use Covenant Eyes, the software monitors the images on your screen. That way, there’s a report of what you’ve been doing with your phone, computer, or tablet. You can send this report to your ally, and it guides your accountability discussions and helps keep you honest.
Here’s a link that explains more!
4. Who Should You Talk To?
So, we’ve made it pretty clear: to deal with lust and porn you need a trusted ally. You need a friend to talk to. But that’s easier said than done, right? I mean, who are you going to talk about lust with?
Start with prayer. Ask God to help you and to give you wisdom and courage to stay on the path! If you’re not sure what to pray, I love praying the Psalms:
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,(Psalm 130:1-4)
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
That’s pretty raw! The Bible writers understood their sin and their need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. The Psalms give a model of how we can pray to God, especially when struggling to overcome lust.
It might feel weird—or scary—but your parents can be great allies in your fight against porn. Your parents want what’s best for you, and they want to know the kinds of things you’re facing.
A lot of parents feel just as awkward as you do to talk about lust. But if you bring up these temptations, they’ll want to help you. That’s why Covenant Eyes has created free resources for parents to help with these conversations. You can share this free ebook with your parents to help them out!
If you want to talk to your parents but aren’t sure how, check out this article by Michael Johnson, “How To Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling With Porn.”
You may also consider talking with an older person like a youth pastor, mentor, or counselor. This may seem like something an older person has never struggled with, but you might be surprised. And even if they haven’t struggled with the exact same temptation as you, they’ve probably experienced something similar.
When you decide to talk with an adult about this, just make sure it’s someone you trust. You also want to make sure they understand that porn is a bad thing and support you in your decision to fight against lust and temptation.
Some of the best allies I’ve had in the fight against lust have been close friends. It was awkward to start the conversation, but somebody had to break the ice! Once we did, we realized both of us were facing a lot of the same things. When we shared our struggles, we were able to keep each other accountable. We were both challenged, encouraged, and motivated!
A great way to start these conversations with your ally is by going through Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge together. You can also find it in the app store on your iPhone or Android device. This free challenge kickstarts your journey toward a porn-free life. It’s also packed with encouraging scriptures, prayers, and advice.
Thanks so much for sharing my post: How To Tell Your Parents You’re Struggling with Porn! I’m glad you found it so helpful, and pray it helps MANY!