Even though I am a Christian, when talking to men who masturbate and watch porn, I will not tell them to stop because God is mad at them. I will tell them to stop because masturbating and watching porn is for losers. If you’re married, why are you setting a real flesh and blood woman aside for your hand and a video screen? And if you’re single, why don’t you get married?
Anyway, here’s 8 steps (in no particular order) a man can follow to get off porn….
- The man must admit the problem and become aware of the patterns of the addictive habit. He must be honest with himself and with God. No hiding. When does he usually look at porn? How often? What triggers the desire? What thoughts run through his mind just prior to viewing porn? He must identify and define his addiction. He must know his enemy.
- Pray, fast, and pray some more. I’ve known several men, and I have my own personal experience with this, with various different addictions — smoking, drugs, porn, drinking — who, after struggling for years, suddenly knew one day that their addiction was gone. And it is somewhat of a mystery. “Why now? Why have I been struggling for so long, and why now am I suddenly free?” Obviously there is a spiritual battle going on, and we can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes — perhaps there are angels fighting demons, perhaps something else — but through prayer we participate in the battle. Prayer calls down the power of God against our enemies. The man must not quit his spiritual warfare when things are difficult, but rather, “Rejoice evermore. Pray with out ceasing. In every thing give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Run. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to flee sexual immorality. There is no shame in fleeing an enemy the man can not possibly defeat all on his own. The man must flee the enemy and later fight the enemy from higher ground (in the prayer closet and in worship). In fleeing temptation, the man resists temptation, and in resisting temptation, the devil flees from him (James 4:7).
- Remove items of temptation. Maybe he needs to turn his computer around so that others can see what’s on the screen, or get out of the office and work in a more public space. Maybe he shouldn’t be alone for too long periods of time. He needs to keep his hands busy doing better things in his free time and when he might be alone — build a workshop, learn to weld, do some woodworking, learn an instrument, read more, write more, etc.
- He needs to tell others of his problem. Tell a counsellor, the pastor, his wife, his friends, his brother, and who ever else can help him. Sin thrives in the darkness but dies in the light. Hopefully he attends a church in which it is safe for him to confess his sin without being condemned. If not, he needs to find a biblical church.
- If he begins to look at porn, but does not follow through to climax, he needs to know that he can and should stop himself in the process. Just because he has begun doesn’t mean it is a lost cause to stop.
- If he does fall, he needs to have, what John Piper calls, gutsy guilt. “I [Piper] call it that because the believer admits that he has done wrong and that God is dealing roughly with him. But even in a condition of darkness and discipline, he will not surrender his hold on the truth that God is on his side.”* No hiding in the bushes when God comes asking where he is. He goes to God, admits what he has done, and submits to God’s discipline. This is the quickest path to restoration. The words of Micah 7:8-9 should be memorized by the man who falls into porn use: Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Psalm 51 fits well here also.
- The man needs to set up a structure in his life so that he can actively replace the bad habits with the new ones. He needs to order his ways before the LORD. This is where he can get help from a Christian counsellor who will give him homework assignments designed to create new patterns of habit. Counsellor and counselee can work together to list all the bad habits in the man’s life which lead to porn and what can be done to replace those habits with godly habits.
Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson
Fidelity: What it Means to Be a One-Woman Man by Douglas Wilson