Can I Break an Addiction to Pornography?
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God wants us to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and to experience His victory in every area of our lives. Tragically, sin and addiction can quickly rob us of the joy and freedom we should enjoy through Christ Jesus.
Sin has been around since Satan convinced Adam and Eve that they needed something outside of God’s will, but it is increasingly evident in our culture today. Behavior that used to be considered shameful is now flaunted. Recently, there has been an astronomical rise in the amount of pornography which is readily available over the Internet, on television, and in other media. Consequently, more people are exposed to it – and more are hooked. Although Christians may think they should be immune to pornography’s attraction, increasing numbers of believers are falling prey to its powerful lure and becoming addicted.
If you feel trapped in an endless cycle of lust, guilt, and broken promises, God wants to set you free! Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and might have it abundantly” (, NRSV). The Bible promises that the power of sin is broken by Christ as we surrender to Him (see ).
As you read, may you discover how much God wants to forgive you, deliver you, and give you the abundant life that He has promised to all who follow Him.
(This content was formerly a booklet sent out by CBN to help people in their quest to overcome porn addiction and have the victorious life available to them through faith in Jesus Christ.)
Testimony: Free After 40 Years
Outwardly, Phil and Bobi Naukam looked like a happy couple. With others, Phil seemed kind and friendly, but alone with Bobi and their three children, he was sarcastic, abusive, and full of rage. The underlying reason: his 40-year addiction to pornography since age 13. As a young man, Phil served in the military, where porn was considered macho. He recalls that when he married Bobi, “I didn’t know what marriage was about. Playboy taught me about relationships and intimacy.” Bobi thought the problem was solved when she told him to get rid of those magazines – but secretly, he remained heavily addicted for 33 years of their marriage. Keeping such a big secret from those closest to him caused Phil to become increasingly withdrawn and emotionally absent from the family.
Bobi says that The 700 Club was her mainstay during those turbulent years. When she had nowhere else to turn, she called The 700 Club Prayer Center for help. “Whenever I had a crisis, I would call,” she says. “Our daughter had seven surgeries, including a cancer diagnosis before age 15. Phil didn’t go with me for the surgeries. When I was in the hospital waiting room, I’d call CBN’s toll-free prayer line. Sometimes they would call me, and I would give them 27 requests! They were my mentors.”
Although he never committed physical adultery, Phil admits, “I had lots of emotional affairs.” He was unwilling to deal with their problems through marriage counseling, and the couple separated. Only then did Phil finally confess his addiction to Bobi – but was still unwilling to give it up.
During their seven-year separation, Bobi came alone to a conference at CBN, where her heart was stirred by renewed faith in Jesus Christ. She recalls, “The question God answered that weekend for me was that I would make it – joyfully – no matter what happened with Phil. If my marriage was never healed, I could go forward with Christ.” When Pat Robertson asked for testimonies, she sensed God prompting her to share her new-found hope. In front of the gathering, Bobi revealed the pain in her marriage caused by Phil’s addiction to porn, saying, “My only hope is that Jesus is my husband, and He’s in control, so I can obey Him without fear.” As Pat prayed for her, she felt God’s power. Later, Bobi tried to sneak away from the conference, embarrassed that everyone now knew her dark and shameful secret. However, she found herself surrounded by other women – who thanked her and confided that their husbands, too, struggled with pornography!
Soon after, Phil finally recognized what a terrible toll this “harmless” activity was taking on himself, his wife, his children, and his relationship with the Lord. He cried out to God: “I don’t want to be like this. Help me get out!” His prayer was answered through a Christian ministry to porn addicts, where he found a deeper relationship with Christ and learned the importance of yielding to God and being transparent with others. After the decades it took to reach a breaking point and finally be ready to surrender to God, Phil achieved a total victory over his lifelong obsession in just a matter of weeks.
In 2002, Phil and Bobi renewed their wedding vows, and today they minister to others who want to break their addiction to porn. Bobi eventually made a return trip to CBN – this time, with Phil. She introduced her husband, saying joyfully, “I brought my miracle with me!”
Phil and Bobi have found true freedom in Christ – and you can, too!
A Growing Epidemic
A Christian may think he or she is the only believer in town struggling with porn. Unfortunately, that’s far from true. Addiction to pornography is rapidly becoming an epidemic throughout our society and even in the Church.
The main reason: widespread accessibility. What used to be available only in a city’s red-light district is now in plain view on the covers of sexy magazines at convenience stores … in Hollywood films, TV shows and commercials … on life-size posters at the mall and larger-than-life billboards along the highway … in suggestive lingerie ads in the Sunday newspaper … and on millions of web sites.
Years ago, people had to take a risk to visit an “adult bookstore” – after all, they might be seen by someone they knew! But with the Internet, people can now inflame and indulge their sexual appetites with erotic material at any time, in any neighborhood, in the total privacy of their living rooms.
Although pornography is more common among men, many women are also becoming hooked – not so much by visual imagery, but by the emotional intimacy available through Internet chat rooms.
People often hope that their desire for porn will diminish when they get married or grow older, but the emotional and physiological factors can be continuing problems.
What's The Harm?
Many people deny or rationalize their use of porn, saying: “It’s only entertainment! What’s the harm in looking at pictures? God created beautiful bodies, and I enjoy seeing them. After all, looking doesn’t hurt anybody!”
The truth is, looking at pornographic images erodes healthy relationships and can easily become a pathway to adultery and other serious problems. Sexual intercourse within marriage draws a couple together physically, emotionally, and spiritually as they desire to please one another; it can also produce the gift of children. In contrast, self-stimulation and sexual gratification for its own sake is simply to fulfill one’s own lust.
Men who ogle photos of idealized, airbrushed glamour girls in sexy positions probably will not find satisfaction with their real-life wives. A woman who discovers her husband using porn feels betrayed. Even if he has been physically faithful to her, it’s terribly hurtful to realize that he has been having emotional affairs with other women. Conversely, a man would feel betrayed to discover his wife having sexually explicit conversations with other men on the Internet.
Adolescent girls and young women are also negatively influenced by our culture’s overemphasis on sexy, “perfect” bodies. Many struggle with anorexia or bulimia – or even desire plastic surgery – so they can emulate an unrealistic, “ideal” female figure.
Another side-effect of the porn epidemic is evident in the workplace, where growing numbers of employees use their computers for porn – essentially stealing time and productivity from their employers. Some are so hooked that they continue looking at porn on company time even after being warned that this will result in losing their jobs.
Tragically, a casual interest in so-called “soft-core” porn can develop into an insatiable thirst for hard-core porn, leading some addicts into strip clubs, massage parlors, voyeurism, child pornography, and pedophilia.
Some people feel so hopelessly trapped that they think there is no way out. One man told CBN that he almost committed suicide because of his lifelong addiction to pornography. He said, “I was flawed to the point where there was nothing that could be done about me. And so the only alternative was to end my life.” Fortunately, he realized he was wrong – and that there is hope.
Respected counselors who work with child molesters, voyeurs, sadomasochists, and rapists say that pornography is usually a significant factor in these behaviors. Shortly before his execution, serial killer Ted Bundy invited Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family to interview him on death row. Bundy urgently wanted to warn people about the terrible dangers of porn. A report about the interview is featured on the web site, Family.org.
“I was a normal person,” Bundy said. “I had good friends. I led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and destructive segment that I kept very secret and close to myself.” And so an addicting behavior that began at age 13 when he found dirty magazines in a dumpster culminated in the brutal murders of 28 innocent women and girls.
While Ted Bundy represents the extreme, “Jeff” is more typical. He and his lovely wife live in a nice suburban home with their kids and are active at church. But Jeff never felt accepted by his father and used porn to soothe the hurt. This eventually led to squandering money on prostitutes. When his wife discovered his infidelity, she was shocked to learn that they were heavily in debt, his job could be in jeopardy, and he needed to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. After intensive work and Christian counseling, Jeff was delivered from his addicting actions and their marriage was saved – but even so, it was a long time before Jeff regained his wife’s trust.
Yes, porn has a price – and it can cost you everything.
Quiz: Are You Hooked?
If you’re wondering whether you’re hooked on porn, answer the following questions honestly:
1. Do your family or friends say you spend too much time on the Internet?
2. (Particularly for women:) Do you find your greatest source of emotional intimacy in Internet chat rooms?
3. Do you stare at or flirt with people other than your spouse, or fantasize about people such as actors or actresses, lingerie models, joggers on the beach, etc.?
4. Do you regularly look at pornographic magazines, movies, or websites?
5. Do you masturbate while doing any of the above?
6. Do your sexual fantasies and activities draw you away from your spouse, your family, and God?
7. Do you lie about your activities or hide them from your family?
8. Do your sexual fantasies and activities cause you shame or depression?
9. Have you had phone sex or an extramarital affair, or visited prostitutes, strip clubs, or massage parlors?
10. Have you vowed to stop, only to give in the next time temptation arises?
Saying “Yes” to any questions, especially numbers 3 through 10, may indicate that pornography has some power over your life. But take courage! With God’s help, you can win a resounding victory over sexual temptation!
The Heart Of The Problem
Within each person, God has placed a fundamental need for intimacy. We see this clearly in creation, when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (). This desire for emotional intimacy is normally filled through healthy relationships with one’s parents, siblings, friends, and spouse. For various reasons, however, some people struggle to connect with others and have difficulty developing close relationships. When people feel empty on the inside, this emotional vacuum can be easily filled with a counterfeit intimacy – selfish sexual gratification. True intimacy satisfies this God-given need, but fantasies and masturbation leave people feeling empty, worthless, and trapped in a vicious cycle. The more they use pornography, the more it separates them from others and hinders their ability to develop healthy relationships. The more alone they feel, the greater their desire for intimacy, and the more they are driven to fill the void with pornography. Freedom comes by dealing with the heart – the deepest inner-core of our being.
Jesus emphasized the importance of the inner life by saying, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, … [and] adultery” (). Also, Paul wrote: “You must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” ( b-19).
What The Bible Says About Pornography
Although God’s Word doesn’t specifically mention pornography, it most definitely addresses the issues of inappropriate sexual arousal and promiscuousness. The Ten Commandments say, “You shall not commit adultery” and “You shall not covet … your neighbor’s wife” (). But Jesus set an even higher standard – clearly warning about the destructiveness of “just looking.” He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” ( ). Jesus was using a figure of speech to say that we should take drastic action – to do whatever it takes – to stop sinning. Obviously, that means not looking with a lustful eye.
Similarly, Proverbs cautions us not to underestimate the tremendous power of visual enticement. “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for … the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” ().
Also,b-15 tell us: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!”
The passage continues with a very interesting directive. God’s Word often commands us to “stand firm” in battle. But when it comes to sexual temptation, the Bible says to run away – fast! “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (vs. 18-20).
God wants us to live up to a higher standard than the world’s, with Jesus as our role model. We are not to live like people in the world, nor should we try to get away with as much as we can without actually breaking His laws. The world says, “What’s wrong with Playboy?” Butsays, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” A marriage bed cannot be pure if one of the partners is fantasizing about another person. And whether we are single or married, the Bible exhorts us, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” ( ).
Galatians 5 lists many pitfalls, beginning with sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery. It concludes by giving us a clear choice: “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. ... Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (vs. 21b-25).
Are you ready to choose God’s pathway to spiritual victory?
Ten Steps To Freedom In Christ
Once you make a decision to turn away from sin, there are a number of important things you must do to achieve lasting triumph over temptation and addicting actions.
1. Turn To Jesus!
People struggling with sin may think, “I’ll turn to God after I clean up my act, but I’m not good enough to come to Him yet.” Here’s the plain truth: you can never clean yourself up enough for God – but He will do it for you!tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Jesus loves you and paid for every single one of your sins by His death on the cross.
When you truly repent of your sins and give God your whole life – broken and messy as it may be – He gladly accepts you as His child and gives you a new life. The Bible says, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” ().
This describes a new life in God! You take off the old self and are made new by Jesus Christ. You give Him your sinful nature, and He gives you His righteousness and holiness. You give Him your weakness, and He gives you His power.
“Jesus, I confess that I have sinned again and again. I feel trapped in addicting habits, but I am reaching out to you in hope and faith. Thank You for dying on the cross for me. Please forgive me and grant me a new start today. I give myself to You and invite You to be Lord of my life. Thank You for saving me from the power of sin and death. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me Your power, wisdom and grace so that I can obey You and walk according to Your ways every moment of every day. Amen.”
In, God promises to forgive all our sins if we are honest with Him about our failings. Look at King David. The Bible spares no detail about how this great hero of God's chosen people, failed miserably when he was tempted sexually (see :25). When David should have been on the battlefield with his men, he lingered in Jerusalem and happened to see a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop. Now, that accidental glimpse was not sin. But he allowed his eyes to linger, and that led to lust, which in turn led to adultery, lies, betrayal, and murder.
David fell into the pattern of sin described in: “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Yet David found forgiveness and mercy when he finally stopped pretending that nothing was wrong and humbly repented. Read through his heartfelt prayer in Psalm 51, and consider making it your own:
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
We can also be encouraged by Paul’s example. Although he was a great evangelist and wrote much of the New Testament, Paul struggled with something he called “a thorn in the flesh.” After pleading with the Lord to remove it, Paul received an answer that gives us hope for any situation or temptation we may face: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul commented, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” ().
Praise God – we are weak, but He is strong! We may fail, but He will give us a new start every time we humbly come to Him!
2. Spend Time With God Daily
It’s absolutely essential that we look to God for strength and wisdom each day. Spend time reading, studying and meditating on the Scriptures daily. Start with the passages listed in this booklet. The Word of God is your spiritual armor, and you dare not enter the battle without it!
Daily prayer is also necessary for victory.instructs us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
Learn to cry out to God quickly when confronted by trials, temptation, and a desire to yield to addicting behavior. When Peter was sinking in the waves, he prayed one of the shortest prayers in the Bible – “Lord, save me!” – and was immediately rescued by the Lord (see).
Prayerfully reflect on the names of God, which reveal His wonderful character, such as Father, Strong Deliverer, Redeemer, Master, Savior, Mighty God, Helper, Light of the World, Faithful and True, Friend of Sinners, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Give yourself entirely to God daily.b-2a says, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Rest assured: God will deliver you from sinful habits and addicting behavior if you fully trust Him and do not doubt Him or depend on your own thinking. Sometimes this happens instantaneously, but other times He wants us to walk into victory one small step at a time. This walk of faith is described in: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
3. Choose Your Allies
Although we certainly must go directly to God, confess our sin, and receive forgiveness, there are times that we really need the Body of Christ. Many who have been freed from pornography say they could not win the battle alone. Consider choosing a trusted ally or two to help you gain the victory over addicting habits. Jesus said, “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them” ().
Going to church on Sunday morning is great, but honest one-on-one relationships are also very effective. As long as people hide a dark secret, it can have power over them. But when that secret is shared with a trusted counselor, its power can be broken!says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Of course, it’s critically important to find the right person – such as a pastor, counselor, elder, or a very mature Christian friend. It’s best if men meet with men and women meet with women. A good mentor demonstrates God’s love, mercy and truth while able to ask hard questions, hold a person accountable, and rejoice with each success. Above all, this person must be totally trustworthy and never repeat confidences without a person’s permission.
Some people find a great deal of help in overcoming addicting behavior by attending Christian accountability groups that offer confidentiality.b says, “Many advisers make victory sure.” Some of the ministries listed at the end of this booklet have small group meetings.
4. Count The Consequences
“Jerry” is a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian who is happily married to a beautiful, caring woman. He’s a good dad to his children, a model schoolteacher, well-regarded in the community, and a respected leader in his church. Nevertheless, Jerry struggled long and hard with an addiction to porn – even after counseling sessions with his pastor. But one day, his accountability group asked him to look into the future and describe where his addiction to porn would lead. Thoughtfully, he replied, “Ultimately, I would lose my wife, my family, my home, my job, and my ministry.” After taking a long, hard look at the consequences, Jerry decided that pornography simply wasn’t worth it – and that helped set him free.
Take time to carefully examine your life and think about what is most precious to you. Then ask yourself, Am I really willing to risk it all?
5. Identify Your Triggers
It’s important to identify exactly what situations trigger you to stumble and fall into addicting activities – such as walking past a magazine rack at the gas station, driving through a certain part of town, staying in a hotel during a business trip, opening the Sunday paper with the lingerie ads, logging on to the Internet, etc. Once you know your weak points, you must be very methodical about avoiding these situations. For example, if you are tempted to watch pornographic movies on cable TV while away on business trips, ask the hotel to disconnect or remove your television before you enter your room. Another good defense is to call a mentor or accountability partner. That person can agree with you in prayer and speak the truth of God’s Word, breaking the power of that temptation.
If you’re married, you may want to enlist your spouse in helping you avoid certain triggers. One man asked his wife to remove all the lingerie sale fliers from the Sunday paper before bringing it into the house. Another man asked his wife to change the password on their computer so he could never log on without her knowledge.
The acronym “HALT” may be helpful, reminding you not to get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Realize that you are more vulnerable to addicting behavior during these times, then HALT – immediately stop what you are doing to pray, read your Bible, and/or call someone for prayer. Of course, you may always call The 700 Club Prayer Center at (800) 759-0700 for prayer and encouragement, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
7. Dig Out The Roots
Another way to gain victory in the future is to examine your past. If you have never forgiven certain people for hurting you, take time to do it right now! Lack of forgiveness hinders the flow of God’s power in our lives. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” ().
Sometimes, Christians like to move forward without looking back – but if hurts from the past are preventing wholeness today, it may be helpful to deal with these wounds through prayerful Christian counseling. Truth comes through the Spirit of Christ – and assays, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Also, the books listed at the end of this pamphlet are excellent resources for individual study.
8. Take Authority Over Your Eyes
Every Man’s Battle, by Arterburn, Stoeker and Yorkey, contains practical hints about how to win over sexual temptation. The authors suggest developing the habit of immediately “bouncing your eyes” away from anything that tempts you. If you’re watching a great football game on TV and a sexy beer commercial comes on – zap it with your remote instantly! If you’re at work and notice that a co-worker’s blouse is too low or her skirt is too high, turn away immediately – or look her squarely in the eyes, and nowhere else. Just as you developed a habit of impure thoughts, you can now develop a habit of purity, with God’s help.
9. Grow In God's Word
This teaching is full of powerful Scripture verses to help you grow in spiritual strength and maturity. Take time to look them up and underline them in your Bible, and memorize the ones that are most helpful to you personally. Here are some additional passages to study:
10. Pray Continually
Prayer is our lifeline to the Savior, who can rescue us from every trial, temptation and addiction. The Bible says, “Pray continually” (). You may wish to be guided by this wonderful prayer that Jesus gave His disciples in :
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” [Spend time praising God for His love, wisdom and power, and for all that He has done for you.]
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” [Ask God to fulfill His marvelous purposes in your life, in the lives of your loved ones, and others].
“Give us today our daily bread.” [Pray that you will trust Him to give you the strength you need for every situation you may encounter today. Lift up any other needs you or your family may have.]
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” [Confess any sins you have committed and forgive anyone who has sinned against you.]
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” [Ask God to help you obey as He leads you away from the road that leads to evil and destruction and guides you in the paths of righteousness. Spend time listening to His voice speaking in your heart, giving you encouragement, admonition, or instructions. Commit all that you say and do today unto Him.] Amen!
May God bless you as you trust Him each day for strength, wisdom, and victory.
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