Defeat Lust & Pornography Is It Possible to Break Free From Porn?
Defeat Lust & Pornography 3 minute read

Is It Possible to Break Free From Porn?

Last Updated: May 13, 2021

Many people ask me—usually at the end of one of my presentations about the effects of pornography—if it’s truly possible to be free from porn. They feel they’ve tried everything and are beginning to despair. They’re beginning to think that, while it might be possible for some people to break free from porn, it’s not possible for them.

I know that freedom from porn is possible, and I know this for two reasons:

  1. I, and many people I know who have begun to find freedom from porn, have been exactly where you’re at and have felt the same way you feel now.
  2. As a Christian, I know that, no matter how entrenched in porn you are, God’s grace is bigger, and that He is able to do more than we can ever hope or imagine.

Before we engage in practical steps, we need to keep in mind these three important truths in order to even begin battling porn addiction effectively.

  1. You should think about sex.
  2. Freedom is one day at a time.
  3. You should struggle with the temptation to look at porn.

1. You should think about sex.

Australian author Frank Sheed wrote that modern man practically never thinks about sex. He might dream about it, joke about it, write songs about it—but he doesn’t think about it.

What is the nature of sex? What is its purpose?

Sex wasn’t invented by Playboy, Cosmo, or 50 Shades of Stupid. It was warped and distorted by these things.

If we want to know whose idea sex was we only need to look to the very first commandment in the Bible from God to humanity. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the face of the earth” (Genesis 1:28). And as Dr. Peter Kreeft notes, “I do not think that he meant, ‘I need you to grow pineapples and invent calculators.’” No. Sex is a good thing, a sacred thing. And so is sexual desire.

Christianity is not about the annihilation of sexual desire. It’s about the reorientation of it for the sake of love. Many people get confused because they think that strong sexual desire is the same thing as lust. It’s not. Sexual desire is a God-given gift that should propel us to make a gift of ourselves to another, according to the demands of chastity and prudence. Lust, on the other hand, doesn’t propel us to give, it compels us to take.

Love says, “This is my body given up for you.”

Lust says the opposite: “This is your body taken by me.”

2. Freedom is one day at a time.

If you view freedom from porn as a destination, you’ll almost certainly remain disappointed. This is because freedom is not so much a destination we reach as it is a daily decision we make. Freedom is one day at a time.

Your goal today is not, “Okay, I’ll never look at porn again!” Instead, it’s, “Today I resolve to be the person God made me to be, and one thing that means is this: today I will not get sucked into lust and pornography.”

As Jesus said: don’t worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Real freedom is a lifetime of todays: moment-by-moment choices.

3. You should struggle with the temptation to look at porn.

Many Christians I encounter seem to think that the word “struggle” is synonymous with “give into.” We hear people say, “I’ve been struggling with porn,” and we assume they mean “I’ve been giving into porn”—and that is what they mean. But struggle doesn’t mean “give into,” in fact, it means the opposite. It means “to contend with an adversary or opposing force.”

So now we understand that, I hope you won’t be offended when I say, “If you are tempted to view pornography, I hope you struggle with it, since the only other alternative is to just give in.”

Recognize this: when we struggle, when we “contend with an adversary or opposing force,” we grow stronger. When we struggle with pornography we grow in virtue. It’s not just the virtue of purity we grow in, we grow in other virtues as well: moral courage, patience, temperance, humility, and self-mastery.

If you struggle with pornography, recognize that you have an opportunity—an opportunity to tap into a massive outpouring of God’s grace.

  1. JP

    Hi everyone

    I am in South Africa which I guess is fare behind the States. I am also a Christian and yes I struggle with Porn and lust. If I look around me and compares South Africa with twenty years ago I can see a huge difference in morality. Many many people get divorced and things look realy bad. Not only is Porn a struggle here but also Facebook and Social Media in General. Even WhatsApp has its stake as families rather spend time on their phones as with their families. I also experience the struggle but the Holy Spirit is busy with me. Porn and lust has never satisfied me but rather left me in a state of feeling down and dirty. Getting in touch with the Lord and experiencing His presence on the other hand leaves me in total satisfaction. So, although imperfect I can truly agree with what is said here…. That seek Jesus Christ and leave all this other rubbish behind. I cannot judge as I am guilty as charged but I know my redeemer lives. I feel motivated to stand against porn and lust. Thank you for a great post. God bless.

  2. Thomas Mealey

    Have to remember God’s intentions for sex inside marriage. Thanks for the reminders.

  3. Dan

    I’m someone who has struggled (in the negative sense) with porn for more than 25 years, ever since I was 16 and asked my father to please get rid of his stash of magazines (it didn’t help, as I later amassed a stash that dwarfed his own). The ease with which I can find porn on the internet, in an semi-anonymous and inexpensive way, has made viewing porn a daily, or at least weekly, thing.

    I have been to counselors during this time, and even counselors with a “christian” background have said, “so, what’s wrong with it?” It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I found one who took Matthew 5:28 seriously, that I started seeing what giving into porn has been doing to my brain (by chemically rewarding the choices I have been seeking to avoid). When I saw this 40-Day Challenge, I recognized this as the next step in my increasing freedom from what has now become a societal (even in faith circles) “boys will be boys” attitude, giving up on the thought that men (and women) can seek and successfully attain purity from the thought-demons that society wants us to give into.

    Thank you for making this Challenge available. I am looking forward to learning lots, and achieving more.

    • You’re welcome! Glad you’re enjoying it!

  4. What a wonderful article that hits at the core of the issues.

    Also impressive is that even though there are differences in opinion on porn as commented above everyone has…so far…been cordial and respective. Pleasant surprise on such a hard topic.

  5. Hmmm

    I refuse to believe looking at a naked woman is some awful sin. Actually, last week, it was reported that people identifying as not being religious has eclipsed those believing in individual religions. Why is that? Because people see the nonsense. Let me give you clear example. Christians say that marriage should be between a man and a woman. One man and one woman. Yet, that is not what the bible said. In fact, let me go down the list of appropriate marriages in the bible:

    One man and his sister.
    One man and his dead brother’s wife.
    One man and one woman and her servants.
    One man and his rape victim.
    One man and many women.
    One man and 700 women and 300 concubines.
    One man and one woman and her slaves.
    One soldier and his virgin prisoner.

    So, someone out there is lying about what is appropriate. It is either modern day Christians or the Bible. So pardon me if I think looking a naked woman is evil. Actually, it is quite frustrating. You want to believe in God and Jesus, yet, hypocritical, self-righteous Christians make it impossible, then those very same Christian deny the blatant contradictions in the bible.

    Christ needs to come back because everyone is getting it wrong — especially his followers in America.

    • Lisa Eldred

      One of the common misunderstandings of the Bible is that it’s always prescriptive, when in reality, significant portions of it are descriptive. They’re relating history, not giving examples for us to live by. In the cases where it *is* prescriptive, cultural context helps significantly. For example, when Absalom raped his half-sister Tamar, she begged him to marry her afterward, in accordance to the Levitical law that commands rapists to marry their victims. While this seems cruel to us now, at the time, a woman’s future was tied to her ability to have legitimate children. If she was known to have been raped, then at the time no other man would have touched her with a 10′ pole. She would have effectively been cut off from society. So by making rapists care for their victims, it meant that the women would still have a place in society. Plus, it was telling rapists that “If you like it, then we’ll make you put a ring on it,” encouraging them to pursue marriage instead of rape in the first place. Fortunately, the cultural stigma against rape victims is much less, so they no longer need the social protection of lawful marriage, and we can instead focus on punishing rapists with jail time as they deserve.

      Beyond that, even if you reject the concept of sin, there are still significant health outcomes to watching pornography. For example, the Reddit NoFap group exists because those men discovered that erectile dysfunction went away when they stopped watching porn.

    • Troy

      Hey brother, I just wanted to say I read your comment- and I think there are a lot of people that are asking and saying the same things. So, I thought I might help and give you a reply from a Christian. – all of those examples of marriage that you mentioned that are clearly wrong are not ordained from God, as a matter of fact God never ordains any of those situations. Whenever something such as a man marrying his rape victim occurred, he usually was stoned to death, killed some other way or the marriage in rare situations were mans way of “fixing” the situation. This was never Gods approval though, and the fact that David did it doesn’t make it right either, but because we now have christ, we no longer have an excuse for such behavior as Jesus set it right when He came to die for our sins. A lot of evil happened before Christ and God was patient with them because Je knew that they were hopeless without Him because of sin, and so after death they waited for Christ to fix it straight. But now that we have Jesus we no longer have excuse because of the abundant grace, so we are held to a higher stranded then our ancestors. So to answer your question- Lust is wrong. It ruins thoughts and images, ideas and morals in our heads. And as far as your proof. Well, I am your proof- I am recovering from these problems as I walk with Christ. I hope you realize how much he loves you and that you can be changed for the better too brother.

    • Mike Brown

      Go never condoned the examples above and in fact many received terrible consequences for their “sin” because your list above deals with sin. The Bible includes reality…what sinful men and women did and then it also shows the consequences of that sin. When David sinned his baby died and then his son Absolon hated him to the point that he tried to kill him and even slept with all of his concubines for revenge and to humiliate his father. There is a price to pay for all sin and especially sexual sin which is the ONLY sin that you are actually sinning against your own body. Why do you think the little blue pill is on the rise (no pun inteded?)? Most likely due to sexual sin so if you want to keep it up and healthy, stay away from sin. Jesus said if you look at a woman to lust after her you have committed adultery (which by the way is one of the commandments). So every time you’re committing adultery against your wife of future wife. Think about it…are you going to obey Jesus and look away (or better yet…don’t look at all!) or continue to let Satan have control over your mind. Paul warns that the secually immoral WILL not enter the kingdom of God. This is more serious than most Christians think.

    • Reynardt

      Hmmm. Exactly which Bible are you reading? Looks like the wrong Bible to me.
      Don!t qoute single lines from the Bible. Read the whole scripture and understand the contaxt of what was written and in the time it was written.

  6. Leah

    I took an online class bible based to help free me from temptation from porn. It didn’t work. It angers me bc nothing I tried worked & I lost my family bc of it.

    • Kay Bruner

      Hi Leah. I’m so sorry for the pain and loss you’ve suffered, and I know it’s disappointing when you’ve tried to break free and haven’t succeeded yet. I want to encourage you to get back up and keep trying. The Bible isn’t a magic wand, and if someone sold you on that idea, I’m sorry. We usually find that recovery comes over time through a combination of lifestyle changes, accountability, supportive relationships, education, and spiritual growth. It takes time and persistence to overcome a long-standing habit, but people do it all the time, and you can too! Here’s an article about the differences between failure and success in overcoming a porn habit. Have a look and let me know what you think. Kay

    • This site is so helpfull may God bless you for rescuing souls of sons and daughters of God from porn addiction,infact porn is so addictive. it requires God’s grace to abstain.I hope one day we will have a generation safe from porn

    • Hanavi

      Some online class wont do the trick, the battle against porn is a battle between you and your desire for God. Your faith in Christ, when we are tempted to watch porn, we have a choice and so God is put inbthe balance and so is porn. When the decision is made of watching porn you are choosing that over God, 100% choosing it over Christ. I have been guilty of this also in times gone. And ive known great freedom also, its been many years since you wrote this and I hope you see this. You want freedom, turn to Christ, and love him with all your heart. Don’t give me the i did this and that, i know what happens when we waste hours upon hours on vain Worley things, our phones, t.v and so on. When temptation comes we arent prepared. Give your time to God, walk in his grace.

  7. JS

    So exactly why is looking a pretty women in porn wrong? How is it any different than looking at any other woman in society? At Ohio State University, they tracked sexual thoughts using ‘clickers’. They gave these to 283 college students, divided into three groups, and asked them to press and record each time they thought about sex, or food, or sleep. Using this method they found that the average man in their study had 19 thoughts about sex a day. This was more than the women in their study – who had about 10 thoughts a day. However, the men also had more thoughts about food and sleep, suggesting perhaps that men are more prone to indulgent impulses in general. Or they are more likely to decide to count any vague feeling as a thought. Or some combination of both.

    Furthermore, love at first sight actually implies eye contact for 8.2 seconds. Men typically held eye contact with women they found attractive for that duration of time, while an indication of a less attractive women involved eye contact of 4.5 seconds or less. However, women did not provide as strong of a distinction with eye contact in terms of attractiveness. A decision as to whether a person is ‘dating’ material is made within 5 minutes given the following two brain processes:
    Physical attractiveness- the ventromedial prefrontal cortex determines whether a person is considered attractive
    Compatibility- the medial prefrontal cortex determines whether or not a person was considered suitable for dating
    Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/love-at-first-sight-instant-attraction-brain-region_n_2087843.html

    Bottom line, you are trying to fight biology. A biology God created. I mean really. The research on attraction is quite extensive.

    • Hey JS,

      Fascinating research, I agree.

      I think you might be confusing attraction with lust, however.

    • Scott

      JS, you may be confusing fighting against compared to walking in self control (your Bottom line). So, if you’re married and you make eye contact with your neighbors wife, or the girl at the grocery store for 8.2 seconds, do you now leave your wife, as you’ve now found your new biological love?

      It’s all about self control of a God given biology, sexual desire He has given us. Let alone I really wouldn’t take to much stock from anything that comes from the Huffington Post website, they are truly liberally biased, and will find any “research” to bolster their liberal philosophy and bent.

  8. Joel

    I just want to say thanks. That was very simple, truthful, and insightful.

  9. “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” I sometimes think this applies to America’s version of Christianity. Oddly, when you look at fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam …. both are puritanical. If people stopped worry about what others do in their own bedrooms and lives, this world would be a much better place. Here is also the reality — everything we make taboo ends up thriving. Everything. From drugs to sex. It ends up thriving. Why? At some point, people get tired of the guilt. Tired of being called a sinner. They get so tired. Angry and begin to question. Then they eventually say screw it and stop caring. You are going to be a sinner anyhow. If it isn’t sinning from lust it will be some other sin. It gets so crazy that even if you live a near perfect life — they throw original sin at you.

    Also, you know why porn will never go away and people will never break free? Women use sex throughout most of their lives. Sex is leverage for women. No one hold women accountable for porn. Never ever. Here is the cold reality. If women didn’t take off their clothes in front of a camera — there would be no porn. Go out to the net. There are billions upon billions of images don by tens of millions of women. Start addressing that then you have a shot. But we wont. We never hold women accountable for anything therefore we only address one side of an equation and that never leads to a problem being solved. Never.

    • The term “puritanism” is a strange one to me, especially when you actually read the writings of Puritans (not just how they are characterized in literature written a century or two after they all lived). It is sad such a devoted, passionate group of people are characterized as such frigid individuals—even if there were a handful that were a little prudish.

      But I digress…

      As far as fundamentalists caring too much what others do in their own bedrooms, I agree we can’t change the world through shrewd moralism. Here at Covenant Eyes we try to take a different approach. First, we try to write to the very individuals who are bringing their bedroom lives to us: men and women who feel ensnared by porn, the spouses and children caught in the crossfire of ugly addictions, the counselors and pastors who are seeking to help. Second, we try to write in such a way as to bring about heart-change in individuals, to introduce them to the One who can transform not just their sex drive or their habits, but their very identity. Not sure if you think we do a good job of that, but if not, I’d love to know how you think we can improve.

      But please understand: You are simply wrong that no one holds women accountable for porn. We have scores of women who use our software for their own protection and accountability—and scored of articles, videos, and podcasts for women who struggle. We have spoken with many different former porn actresses who are seeking to help current porn stars to see the depravity of the industry. We talk to many wives and mothers who are seeking to make genuine changes in their own households. Perhaps you are just making over-generalizations for emotional effect, but I really want to hear why you think you can make such sweeping statements about all womankind.

    • Rick

      You have the law of supply and demand backwards. Women take off their clothes in front of a camera because there is a demand for porn. If there was no demand, the supply side would die out.

    • Kay Bruner

      I recently heard a man say, “If men were removed from the earth, how many brothels would remain?” Good food for thought, and a sad commentary on how toxic masculinity impacts both sexes.

    • Mark

      As far as mainstream media goes you have small point. But most porn (85%) is made by trafficked individuals -slaves- who would much rather not.

    • Daddypants

      Puritanism isn’t the goal here. The struggle with porn isn’t about waging war with women on the internet, it’s about bringing our own bodies into willing submission to God.
      As Matt’s first point details, the idea is not freedom from sex, it’s freedom to think about sex in a good and healthy way.

    • Mike Brown

      Sounds like you have an anger issue against women. Of course women participate in this but have you ever considered many of these women have been molested by uncles, fathers, etc. and they have no self respect of value? If you have a daughter, would you want her to participate in this? Think about that…every time you take a peak at this trash you are looking at some man’s daughter. If you respect women, it should make it more difficult for you to continue feeding on this trash. Walk away from it…sure, it will be a challenge and you may need to get help but you can resolve not to give into lust on a daily or hourly basis. Guys like you are obviously angry at women for your own downfall and it is a downfall because it will slowly take away your soul, you’ll stop respecting women (even your wife or girlfriend) and you’ll become cold and heartless but there is freedom…if you want it. Sadly, it sounds like you don’t want it. This is why Jesus said adultery is looking at a woman in a lustful way. So guys, every time you look at this trash you’re committing adultery against your wife, girlfriend or future wife/girlfriend. Get help if you want out…if you don’t, we’ve warned you. Satan has come to destroy and he’s destroying many marriages and relationships over what….? Trash! Hope you reconsider your anger/hatred towards women and realize most women have self respect and would never be in that industry. The ones who have usually regret their decision, leave the industry, commit suicide, die young, etc. Sure, there are some women as “bad” as men…meaning they’ve also allowed lust to warp their minds but most have gotten trapped in an evil industry due to low self esteem, being belittled or damaged by men. Cheers and hope you consider some of this before you rage/blame women for your weakness.

  10. Karl

    Matt, I do not think I have read any of your material until now. As I discovered/admitted over 4 years ago, I am addicted to lust and this article addresses the very root cause of the mess that porn continues to propagate in our society. It is a day by day struggle in which victory one day at a time is so much better than the losing that same battle on a daily basis. The Grace that covers our sins is certainly greater than those wrong-hearted/headed desires. Thank you for your clear, concise and encouraging words.

    • Help me stop porn plc

    • Moriah Dufrin

      Hi Alex,

      Asking for help to overcome is no easy thing, so I commend you for having the courage to do so! I want to encourage you to first, pray. Ask God for the strength and perseverance to walk the road to recovery, because it won’t be easy! I would also highly recommend that you turn to a friend, relative, mentor, etc.—someone who can walk alongside you, pray for you, and keep you accountable. They can also help you use Covenant Eyes, which will keep you accountable to what you do on your devices.

      Please remember that even though overcoming porn can seem impossible, it IS possible! Do not give up the fight!
      I am praying for you!
      Moriah

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