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Defeat Lust & Pornography 4 minute read

Can you really be free from porn?

Last Updated: February 29, 2024

Each year, I find myself reflecting on a question I get asked often as a former sex addict and now sex addiction recovery mentor:

“Can you really be free from porn?”

It’s a valid question. After all, it seems that there are far more people these days who struggle with porn and habitual sexual sin than there are former addicts like myself who are living in freedom. That should be no surprise to anyone given the sex-saturated culture we live in today, right?

So what’s the answer? Is lasting freedom really possible, or is it just a pipe dream?

Absolutely! In fact, as Christ-followers, freedom is our destiny.

Scripture tells us that it’s for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). But that same passage also goes on to warn us to stand firm and don’t submit yourself again to a yoke of slavery. After all, we are prone to wander.

So there are some things you need to know before starting out or continuing on your journey to freedom. To help illustrate these key points, I’d first like to share my story with you.

A False Sense of Freedom

For most of my life, I never thought of myself as a person living in bondage. From the time I was first exposed to porn at age 11, I spent more time pursuing porn and sex than I did avoiding it.

While it started off as a “shiny new object” that grabbed my attention, my relationship with pornography and all things sexual changed often over time. It reshaped my core beliefs and objectified my view of myself and others along the way.

As for my relationship with God, I decided not to involve Him in that part of my life. As far as I was concerned, I was already living in freedom–sexual freedom–and on my own terms.

Even as a husband and father living a double-life, I was convinced I was winning and didn’t need the services of a savior. After all, I reasoned, Jesus played His part in my life long ago, giving me eternal salvation when I trusted him with my life and invited Him into my heart.

Trouble in Paradise

The wheels started coming off of the cart for me in the early 90’s when the tech company I worked for introduced us to the internet. Not long after that, I discovered Internet Porn 1.0 and my carefully orchestrated life started to come undone.

This very adult version of a “shiny new object” was just too hard for me to resist. So I didn’t. I surrendered my life to it and let it take me wherever the wind blew. Voyeurism. Exhibitionism. Group sex. Every category imaginable, and many I couldn’t even imagine, right there at my fingertips.

That’s when the real problems started to surface. Withdrawal and isolation from my family and friends. Declining performance at work. Obsessive, compulsive pursuit of all things sexual. Before I knew it, I lost my freedom and became an addict.

Pretty soon, just looking at porn didn’t do it for me like it once did. The edge was gone. I needed more. So I started pursuing porn with skin on, and before I knew it, I got myself involved in an extramarital affair.

Hitting Rock Bottom

It wasn’t until two years after I lost my family and marriage of 15 years, most of my close friends, and even my job, that I finally hit rock bottom.

I felt hopeless and depressed and had been having suicidal thoughts when I took it one step further and started planning out the act that would end my pain forever, or so I thought.

As I started thinking about what to write on a suicide note to my boys, I collapsed in the middle of my apartment’s living room, overcome with grief and fear and shock and shame all at once.

That’s when I cried out “God, help me!” And much to my surprise, God answered me. Not in an audible voice per se, but with words He imprinted on my heart:

“Michael, I’m right here. I never left you. You left me.”

6 Steps I Took on the Way to Lasting Freedom

From that point forward, I started pursuing freedom from my unwanted sexual behaviors by surrendering my entire life to God. No more secrets, no more lies.

Some of the key steps I took at this point in my journey included:

  • Seeking help from a licensed Christian counselor who was trained as a sex addiction specialist and was also a recovering sex addict himself
  • Meeting weekly with a sexual addiction recovery group who used recovery curriculum
  • Attending a local church service every Sunday (I had stopped going years earlier)
  • Reading and studying the Bible regularly
  • Praying and pursuing a connection with God every day
  • Finally, I started using Covenant Eyes and recruited several people to be allies in my recovery

Ever since I started taking my recovery seriously (I spent two years “faking” my recovery and it cost me my marriage and family, and almost my life), my life and my relationships started to improve.

Over time, others close to me–including my ex-wife and two boys–began noticing and commenting on how much I’d changed for the better. Of course, I never took credit for that, and still don’t. The credit and all of the glory deservedly go to God.

He’s the one who led me to freedom, usually through the work of other leaders and mentors He brought into my life at different critical times. And He’s still at work sifting me and refining me into the likeness and character of Christ.

I married a wonderful woman named Christine. This December, we will be celebrating our 12th year of marriage. We serve together in BraveHearts, where I’m in my 18th year of full-time ministry leading people to freedom in Christ from habitual sexual sin. Together, we’re living a redemptive life and love teaching others how to use their redemption story for God’s glory.

7 Key Lessons I Learned on the Road from Recovery to Redemption

I’ve been on this journey from recovery to living a redemptive life for 22 years now. Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about living in freedom and leading others:

  • Only the Truth (found in the person of Jesus Christ) can make you free.
  • Most people don’t want to face the truth about themselves. It requires courage and humility. For that reason, don’t be surprised when you face opposition from some friends and family.
  • You can’t lead others to freedom if you’re not free yourself. This is why former sex addicts and partners who’ve experienced significant recovery and healing make great mentors. It’s also why most peer-based accountability and support groups remain stuck.
  • Freedom is never free, doesn’t come easily, and requires hard work to maintain.
  • The journey to freedom requires motivation, endurance, and self-discipline. It also requires patience and commitment. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • The journey to freedom also requires resilience and a willingness to change and adjust course when necessary. The pathway is dynamic and can change at any time.
  • The journey to freedom is a team sport. It’s never wise to try to go it alone. At the very least, you will need an experienced guide to lead the way (mentor). Peer-level support helps, too.
  1. Yaacov

    I admire your site and hope many will find freedim.
    However,
    The steps seem confusing
    The material is confusing
    I am not sure it is easily applicable for most people.
    1 Feel free to delete this message if it goes against your directives for the site. I will not be offended.
    A possible alternative way.

    1. First step to freedom: You need 2 weeks to go over the question if you really want to be free. I imagine it’s a given, but think that through for 2 weeks, ( even if you are viewing porn, masturbating over it, meeting prostitutes, whatever. Do you really really want to stop?
    2.Bring your sexual behaviour to Jesus Christ, whether you are in a period of freedom, feeling tempted or about to view and masturbate over a clip.
    Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ can do this, simply in the way that they feel comfortable.
    It doesn’t matter if they are Protestant, catholic, reformed, baptist, evangelical, whatever.
    ANYONE who believes in Jesus Christ can do this. ( I am no gentle lamb and if anyone starts mentioning that some in these groups aren’t true believers they will have me to deal with… ) .
    This has to be done for about a month. As I said , whatever situation, free, tempted , about to jerk off to porn, whatever…spend a little time before, just in the presence of Jesus in the way you feel comfortable. And no-one. NO-ONE, tell me any petson who puts their trust in Jesus isn’t a true believer!! ( whether they do tongues or not, have guitar or organ worship, listen to Billy Graham or the Pope…You will have me to face!!).
    All those stupid distinctions get in the way of true freefom. Just Jesus.
    Just before you ” do” porn , give that moment to Jesus…no conditions ( you probably will masturbate at first, but then….you’ll see).
    Step 3. To post in 28 days…..

  2. OS

    Thanks a lot for your story.
    I’ve been down this road, falling and rising in repeated motion. I recently ran back to God as I lost my relationship, I was loosing myself and I know I can’t bear to have another partner until I’m delivered from this. To God be the glory, I’m on my way to recovery. Although it’s only been 10 days, but I’ve been experiencing God’s faithfulness, joy in my heart and peace.
    I’m on the 21 days STRIVE program and with the help of God and my new found Allies, coupled with daily time with God’s word and prayers, I will be free permanently. (AMEN)
    I’d really love to access the covenant eyes filter too but I can’t afford that yet..
    Anyways, thanks for the post.

    PS: Having an accountability partner seems to be working for me..

  3. Michael

    Thanks a lot Michael for your inspiring story.
    All the best for Now

    God bless
    Michael

  4. Michael McCarthy

    terrific story! i just started on Strive this week. Good to see there is a real light at the end!

  5. Terry A. Quadnau, Jr.

    This is a great article. In looking at the six steps taken I can clearly see where I am missing it. I only have access to two of the steps. Bible study and prayer. I have no church home and none of the Christians I’ve reached out to will help. I have no funds for a Christian counselor or porn blockers. I have no access to group support. Honestly, I feel totally hopeless. I know that perhaps prayer and study alone should be enough. But they haven’t been. And if they were, the others wouldn’t be necessary.

    • Moriah Dufrin

      Hi Terry,

      If you are unable to afford porn blockers, please contact our Customer Service department and share your need with them! At Covenant Eyes, we want everyone to be free from porn, regardless of financial status.

      877.479.1119 within US
      989.720.8000 outside US

      Blessings,
      Moriah

  6. Michael Jami

    Hi
    my name is Michael from Nairobi, Kenya,I just read this blog right after I fell into a porn viewing session and was so ashamed of myself. The article really spoke to me and I really don’t want to get the point that Michael got to.
    I’ve been married to a beautiful very supportive wife for 3 years now and I desperately love her so much and want to be faithful to her both physically and visually(what I willingly look at).
    Am a medical student and currently cant afford covenant eyes app. Is there a free online support group or app that I can use. In Kenya pornography problem is really still under the carpet despite many affected men so support groups are not available.

    I have done the 40 day covenant eyes challenge and I follow up the blogs too.
    Any kind of help will be appreciated

    • Moriah Dufrin

      Hi Michael!

      If you are struggling financially but would still like to use our Screen Accountability software, we may be able to help!
      Call our Customer Service Support team and they will be able to talk to you about your need.
      877.479.1119 within US
      989.720.8000 outside US

      Blessings!
      Moriah

  7. Michael Robinson

    I’m considering even though I’m married a sex fast of one whole cycle. I don’t want to do this, but my wife feels objectified and I cannot think of any other way to combat that. Covenant Eyes keeps me out of trouble on my smart phone, but it doesn’t work on Linux. I am a computer scientist and have a Linux system at home that I use most of the time as my primary computer. I can put Covenant Eyes on the Mac or get rid of it, but lately my major trouble area is my Linux system. I use opendns, but that isn’t perfect. I use squidguard, but because not all legitimate sites work from behind a proxy I cannot do transparent proxying. My wife holds the key to my Debian based server, a Yubikey. When is Covenant Eyes going to work on Linux computers?

    • Moriah Dufrin

      Michael,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have a timeline set for Linux yet. But, you will most certainly know when we do! I am sorry that we cannot cover it at this time.

      Blessings,
      Moriah

  8. Mark

    Can you explain a little bit about what you mean by “faking recovery” for two years? I’ve been trying to recover but sometimes I feel like it may not be genuine because I keep falling back into sin

    • Moriah Dufrin

      Hi Mark,

      I believe that the author in this post is referring to “faking recovery,” as not being 100% committed to overcoming porn. If there is not the desire in one’s heart to truly change, recovery will be difficult.

      In regards to your own recovery, I would encourage you to find an individual friend or group who you can hold yourself accountable to. Many times, this can be found in a church setting! I would also encourage you to use Covenant Eyes as another form of holding yourself accountable to what you are viewing online. It is truly an incredible tool.

      Blessings!
      Moriah

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