Help Others Restore Integrity Two men running up steps.
Help Others Restore Integrity 6 minute read

5 Important Steps to Help Someone Overcome Porn

Last Updated: September 14, 2022

As a counselor and pastor for 40 years, I’ve had scores of accountability relationships, many with porn strugglers and their families. Though the main priority is understood to be a relationship where we hold each other accountable, I think it is helpful to go further than that in describing what the relationship looks like over the long haul.

Relationships always involve commitments and challenges—many of which can’t be predicted ahead of time. However, there are certain things that will always be necessary. I find this a good way to make sure I’m being the kind of accountability partner others need.

Here are the five steps.

Step 1: Trust-Building

I will stop short of insisting that these five steps always follow the same sequence. However, I will insist that Step 1 always comes first. Without a solid foundation of trust in relationships, they won’t grow. And especially in situations of moral failure and brokenness, without trust, everything you do will be met with suspicion or even deception.

Building the Trust Bridge

Everyone has trust issues of some kind. Those trapped by porn have even more than most. Even if an accountability relationship begins well with good intentions, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Trust-building remains an ongoing challenge! All relationships require a “trust bridge.”

Picture yourself on one side of the bridge. Your partner is on the other. Notice the bridge between you, however. It’s like one of those old wooden ones and the planks are broken and rotting. The only way to have a relationship with the other person is to replace those broken planks with good ones. That’s what trust-building means in accountability relationships. We can’t take shortcuts. We build and maintain relationships one plank at a time.

Step 2:  Story-Telling

I hope the phrasing of the second step perks up your curiosity! What I mean here is that as the trust bridge is built, we are in a better place to tell each other the real stories of our misery. I use the term “story-telling” on purpose because it summarizes so well the conversations and interactions that begin to flow back and forth as we meet each other on the trust bridge. In accountability relationships, we meet so we can share our stories.

Writing and Re-Writing

Everyone tells stories or at least has personal stories of their life and misery. Porn addicts have usually convinced themselves they are victims in the story of their life. That victim narrative allows them to justify their actions. In accountability relationships, we will hear those stories, but we need to rewrite the false narratives to more accurately tell the real story.

When I begin meeting with a porn addict I usually try to get into this second step in the first session. I want to hear the story of what has been going on in the last few days or weeks. But at some point, I also want to hear their “first experience” story with porn.

Gaining a New Viewpoint

Though most people will talk about their story of misery in some way, that is not the goal here. Step 2 is to begin seeing the story from a different viewpoint than they have before. As a Christian, my hope is that they will see their struggles and failures from God’s perspective and be able to tell their story in a new way.

I’ve found whether functioning as a counselor or simply as a friend, the best way to accomplish this second step is to model it myself. In other words, I need to be willing to tell my own story of sin and victory. We don’t need to hijack the purpose of meeting and become the center of attention. We shouldn’t view this as a chance to get the other person to feel sorry for our own misery. However, as I humbly admit my own moral failures and my own sin struggles, framing them in the larger story of God’s purpose for my life, I can build trust between us and model the pattern of accountability I hope to see in them.

Mistrust and fear of rejection often haunt our accountability relationships. The Bible says, “confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16). The confession and vulnerability of step two hold tremendous spiritual power!

Step 3: Truth-Living

Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:42). I don’t set anyone free. Even though I have a graduate degree in counseling and have studied many counseling techniques and theories, those will never set anyone free. Only the truth can do that.

If truth has such priority, why would I make “truth-living” the third step and not the first? In most of my experience working with others, until you’ve traveled the first two steps, a partner won’t hear any truth I have to share. Scripture says, “he has ears to hear, let them hear!” (Matthew 11:15). Who is the person that has “ears to hear?” We all have ears! The one who has “ears to hear” has been prepared in heart and mind to receive it.

Knowing and Living

While the truth sets us free from our traps and chains, Jesus said, “you shall know the truth…” The truth in a book or flow chart doesn’t set people free. Knowing the truth sets people free. And Jesus means experiential knowledge (Greek word gnosko). That involves more than just information. It requires living out the truth that we know.

Sadly, in my 40 years of caring for others, not many have embraced the truth as I presented it. As a professional, I like to imagine that those I meet with will eagerly hear and accept what I have to say. Some do, but most do not.

Readying the Soil

Delving into the underlying reasons for truth resistance would take us off our course right now. Suffice to say that even Jesus acknowledged that if the truth is viewed as a seed and the readiness to receive it as soil, not all hearts will receive it. As accountability partners, we must model and message the truth that will set others free. However, only God can do the work of preparing the soil of their heart to receive it. 

Step 4: Endurance-Training

Let’s imagine together that we’ve taken steps one, two, and three. We meet consistently for a few weeks, and we see progress. The other person is taking things seriously, and the truth is transforming them. They have left porn far behind.

Let’s all smile as we consider a scenario like that, especially if you are a veteran of accountability relationships and know how they often work! That’s why we must keep the fourth step in view.

Going Forwards and Backwards

Transformation and spiritual growth never follow a straight line forward. Unexpected twists and turns always appear on the road of life. Accountability relationships need endurance training. Both partners need to be very alert to the inevitable starts and stops. If we forget this aspect of recovery, discouragement can easily set in. That’s also true of others in the equation—like spouses.

Consider a marriage racked by pornography abuse. Even when the husband is on the path to victory, chances are his wife is only just beginning to deal with what has taken place. The husband naively imagines that since he is doing so well, everything will get back to “normal” soon. He doesn’t realize the work of rebuilding the marriage has hardly begun (see step 5).

Learning From Mistakes

We commonly see seasons of victory end with sudden moments of moral failure. With pornography use especially, the triggers and situations that led to addiction usually have a deep hold. The old temptations resurface—even after months of success.

We should understand this as one of the steps of accountability. Endurance means we do not give up when we fall down. It may actually become harder to get up than it was in the past—especially when the hopes and expectations of a spouse or church have been impacted. However, training prepares the way and can reduce (if not eliminate) the fall-out.

Step 5: Relational-Rebuilding

The fifth step ties in closely with the fourth. In the daily grind of endurance training, broken relationships are rebuilt. At Covenant Eyes, we devote considerable space to this step because it plays such a big part in recovery. In many ways, it is like step one (the trust-building).

Holding to the Path

The reason for that is obvious: relationships are built on trust. When pornography or sexual abuse has invaded a marriage, it has also destroyed the trust. Even beyond broken marriages, there is often damage to be rebuilt in other relationships. As a counselor, I focus especially on clergy care and have dealt with many pastors and missionaries involved in moral failure. The path forward is long and hard. Not only do they have their own issues to deal with, but their marriages and families are also devastated, and often their ministries as well.

0 comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Editor's Picks

Image of Ashley Jameson.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Insights About Women and Pornography From Ashley Jameson

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A woman on a podcast.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Dr. Lina Abujamra’s Thoughts on Sex and Shame

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A youth pastor speaking to a group.

Help Others Restore Integrity

“The Youth Pastor Did What?!” Talking About Porn in Church

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

7 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

6 minute read

Read Post

Related in Help Others Restore Integrity

Image of Ashley Jameson.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Insights About Women and Pornography From Ashley Jameson

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire…

Ashley Jameson is the Associate Director of Women’s Groups for Pure Desire Ministries. Not only is she an expert in the field of sex addiction, but she has her own powerful story of overcoming addiction.…

3 minute read

0 comments

A woman on a podcast.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Dr. Lina Abujamra’s Thoughts on Sex and Shame

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of…

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric E.R. doctor. She’s now the founder of Living with Power Ministries. She’s a popular Bible teacher, podcaster, and conference speaker. She’s also the author of several books. She provides medical…

4 minute read

0 comments

A youth pastor speaking to a group.

Help Others Restore Integrity

“The Youth Pastor Did What?!” Talking About Porn in Church

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid…

Growing up, I was fortunate to have pastors who were not afraid to mention the word “porn” or address the issue of sexual integrity head-on. This led to a safe environment in which I was…

3 minute read

0 comments

A woman looking for resources in the library.

Help Others Restore Integrity

The Best Porn Addiction Resources in 2024

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want…

When you tackle a problem as serious as porn addiction, you want to make sure you have the best resources available. Thankfully, it’s no longer difficult to find plenty of offline and online help. Still,…

7 minute read

0 comments

Image of Pastor Matt Chandler.

Help Others Restore Integrity

Matt Chandler on Accountability and Stepping Away From Ministry

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor…

The Covenant Eyes Podcast team recently sat down with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church and president of Acts 29. They talked with Pastor Matt about his recent leave of absence from ministry, what…

4 minute read

0 comments

A nativity scene.

Help Others Restore Integrity

5 Holiday Messages for Your Parish Bulletin

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making…

We all have our holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree, making cookies, setting up our crèche scene, or hosting festive gatherings, our celebrating is a welcome time! But gift buying, family gatherings, and extra cooking…

6 minute read

0 comments