So, you told your wife that you don’t want her to feel alone. That you want her to talk to someone so that she can get advice to help her heal. Great! I did the same thing with Britt. I felt like I was being pretty generous. I wasn’t asking her to keep my dirty little secret. I certainly didn’t want to stand in the way of her getting help. I only had one stipulation. “I think you need to talk to someone. Just, ya know… I don’t really want you to spread it around just anywhere.” Be careful who you tell. Sound familiar?
Here’s what happened. Britt did talk to someone. She prayed for months before deciding who to talk to (and in the meantime felt completely alone). She very carefully chose a couple she trusted to give godly advice. And, lo and behold, they gave some of the absolute best advice you can give the wife of a porn addict: Bring it to the light.
That… wasn’t what they were supposed to tell her.
Second thing they told her: He doesn’t get to make the rules.
That DEFINITELY wasn’t what they were supposed to tell her.
I remember Britt telling me one day, “I’d like you to talk to so-and-so.”
I shrugged her off. “I don’t really know him. I’d rather talk to someone I know better.”
For the first time in our marriage, she looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not asking. You’re talking to him this afternoon.”
I was MAD. You gotta be kidding me! Here I’d been so generous as to tell her she could talk to whoever she wanted and she chose the ONE couple who would give her the stupidest advice?! They’re not even real counselors! (Turns out, they had experienced advice that ended up saving our marriage, but I certainly didn’t see it that way at the time.)
Through conversations with that mentor, I slowly came to understand what I was doing by asking my wife to “be careful who you tell.” I was still pridefully trying to protect my own image and I was placing an unfair burden on Britt to help me do so.
When you tell your wife that she can talk to anyone and yet you are not open about your own sin, you are adding extra pressure to your already burdened wife. If you are married to a godly woman, she is going to be extremely hesitant to talk about your sin even if you tell her she can, unless you talk about it first. Your wife loves you. She wants to protect you from criticism and gossip. If you’re a preacher, she has insecurities about you losing your job if she happens to tell the wrong person. She does not want to be the one to bring it up! It’s embarrassing for her to talk about in the first place, and more so because she knows that you don’t really want her to talk about it. Sure, you know she needs to talk to someone and you’re going to “let” her, but she also knows that you are not comfortable with other people knowing. So, she probably won’t tell anyone the whole story and won’t get the real help she needs. You may think you are freeing her, but you are isolating her and removing her from the strength of her Christian family as a whole. You are emphasizing that she must keep up the facade in front of everyone except one or two women. That limitation on who she can tell will eventually lead to resentment and harm your relationship further.
When you’re open about your struggles, often people will come to you and say, “We struggled with the same thing in our marriage. We made it through. If you ever want to talk, we’re here.” But when you are trying to keep it quiet, how is your wife supposed to find the people who have been there without letting people know what’s going on? Is she supposed to just go through the church asking, “Just curious, has your husband ever struggled with porn? Just asking. No reason.”?
Your wife needs to talk with women who can empathize. But it’s hard to find those women if we’re a secretive church that won’t share our struggles.
If you want your wife to find a select few people who will give her the best advice, I’ve got news for you: You’re not going to be happy about what they tell her. If the person she chooses to tell really understands addiction, they’re going to tell her the same things this couple told Britt. “He doesn’t get to make the rules, and he needs to bring it out into the open.”
God says the same thing. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
Listen. You cannot get out of addiction on your own terms. It’s going to take exposure and surrender, and that includes surrendering your image. Let it go. Don’t make your wife cover for you. Don’t make her carry this secret burden. (And, YES, as long as she’s only allowed to tell certain people, it is still secret sin!) You’re making her walk around with this awkward lie about who you are and how she is doing. It might be convenient for you, but it’s crushing her.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your wife is to lift the burden of secrecy from her shoulders. It’s not fair to ask your wife to be the one to reveal your sin. YOU talk to people. YOU make it public. YOU stop making your wife feel like she has to hold everything together on her own. Stop making her sit in the church pew acting like nothing is wrong. Stop making her be the one to reveal your sin. Stop trying to maintain control. Build her trust back by being open not just with her but with other people.
Your wife is not going to feel free to talk just because you told her she can. She’s going to feel free to talk when you talk freely.
Stay on the beaten road,
Last week was heavy. Last week I talked with over 20 women whose lives have been forever altered by pornography. I talked with wives who have recently discovered their husbands have been viewing porn. I talked with daughters who have discovered porn on their fathers’ devices. I talked with women who have become addicted to porn themselves through the encouragement of their husbands.
And today, I am soul-piercingly tired.
After talking with yet another woman who found porn on her husband’s phone, I had to take a break to process. What emerged was this open letter I am sharing with you in an effort to describe exactly what I see when I sit down with your wives. This is not about one specific couple. You would be surprised how consistently similar the stories are. These are the common threads I see in nearly every conversation with a wife who discovers her husband has been looking at porn.
I just wanted you to know.
Last week your wife wrote me a brief message. That’s usually how these conversations begin. Something along the lines of, “I never thought I would be writing this, but I just found page after page of pornography on my husband’s phone. I am devastated.” After receiving a similar message from your wife, I offered to meet with her. She hesitantly agreed. She wasn’t sure how you would feel about it. She didn’t know if it was okay to talk about what you’ve done. She wanted to make sure I know that she loves you and that you really are a good man and a good father. That she just doesn’t know what she did to drive you to this. Or why she wasn’t enough.
When I met with her, I could see the shock and hopelessness in her eyes. She was trembling. She couldn’t speak. “Hey, sweet friend,” I said. “Can you tell me what’s going on?” Through broken sobs she poured out the story of how she knew you had struggled with porn before you got married, but that you had told her you’d gotten clean. She never doubted you. You would occasionally talk with a select few people about your history with porn, but it was always in the past tense. It was always, “I struggled with porn in college.” Never, “I struggled with porn yesterday.” You even had an accountability partner, someone your wife trusted to let her know if you ever started looking at porn again. Come to find out, you’d been looking at porn for years and your accountability partner never even bothered to check the emailed reports. Just sent them straight to the trash without ever even opening them. She’s pretty furious with that guy, too, by the way.
Your wife described finding horrible images. Images that are now seared in her memory. Images that play over and over and over in her nightmares every night. She can’t look at you without seeing what you’ve done. She can’t pass another woman without wondering what you’re thinking about her. She can’t look in the mirror without seeing all her flaws and blaming herself for not being enough to keep you from “needing” to look at porn.
Your wife doesn’t see how your marriage can ever recover from this. She wants a divorce. But she doesn’t want a divorce. She wants to punch you. But she wants to protect you. She wants to curl up in your arms. But she can’t stand your touch. She wants to run to you, but how do you run to the man who obliterated your trust?
The woman you vowed to care for in sickness and in health is physically ill because of your sin. Her stomach hurts constantly. Her head pounds. She can’t sleep. She’s anxious and depressed. She feels so awful physically and mentally that she can’t think clearly enough to make basic decisions throughout the day. She feels trapped because she can’t make you quit and you won’t let her help you quit. She feels like she has to keep your dirty little secret. She feels overwhelmed, exhausted, torn down. This is killing her. I’ve repeated, “This is not your fault. This is not your fault. This is not your fault” a hundred times today. She can’t hear me.
You know the worst part for her? It’s the lies. It’s that she had to discover it herself instead of you telling her. She would a thousand times over prefer you to fess up rather than lie to her face. Because to lust is a sin, but it’s the lies that make it impossible for her to know if anything about you or your marriage is real. If you lied about pornography, what else are you lying about? How often were you lying when you told her you love her? Have you been lying about money? Other relationships? Are you telling the truth now about how deep this sin goes, or are you still holding back? She would have been hurt had you told her the first time you looked at porn. But it’s the lies that destroyed her.
When I talked to her, she alternated between sobs and intense anger. I told her she has every right to be angry. She said she doesn’t trust anything you say or do. I told her she doesn’t have to. She said you don’t want to give up your Smartphone or your open access to internet. I told her you don’t get to be the one to decide that. The addict doesn’t get to set the rules for recovery.
Today, I am heartsick and weary. I’m not the one who should be holding your wife’s hand right now. That’s your job. I shouldn’t be sitting here with her while she sobs over how you have destroyed everything she believed about your marriage. I shouldn’t have to be the one trying to convince her that it was nothing she did that made you sin. That she is enough. That she is precious and loved and beautiful and worthy.
Your wife and I talked for a long time today. I told her God can make all things new. I told her to stay in the Word, to turn to her church family, and to keep holding onto hope. I told her that she can heal, and that you absolutely can change.
I know you’re pretty mad about some of the other stuff I told your wife. Some of the steps I advised. I can take that most days. But today, I’m tired. I’m not tired of supporting your wife. I’m tired of your sin and emotional abuse making it necessary for someone to spend hours trying to convince your wife that she is not crazy. That this is you, not her. I’m tired of getting messages from men berating me for daring to suggest to their wives that you have to take actual steps to get out of an actual addiction. This work is heavy. It gets up close and personal with the dark and the ugly. And sometimes… Sometimes it’s almost too much. But I’m not about to quit just because you didn’t.
I just thought you should know.
Building off my last post, I want to address the same idea of public repentance, but from a slightly different perspective. This one’s for those who are counseling people caught up in addiction…
If I could scream one thing from the rooftop and be heard by counselors, mentors, friends, and family members of men or women addicted to porn it would be this:
STOP TELLING PORN ADDICTS NOT TO PUBLICLY AND SPECIFICALLY REPENT OF THEIR SIN!!!!!
It wouldn’t seem like this would be something that needs to be said. But, believe it or not, some of the most common advice that porn addicts (especially preachers) receive is the same advice I received myself a decade ago:
“Don’t tell anyone that you’ve struggled with porn.”
“It’s a private sin. Repent of it privately. If you do it publicly, you’ll lose your influence.”
“When working with men, you should advise against pornography in a general, not personal, way. You shouldn’t tell them that you struggle with it, too. You’ll completely lose their respect.”
“It will ruin your ministry.”
“You’ll never preach again.”
I listened to that advice for years. I listened when they said confessing my own struggle with porn would ruin my preaching “career.” I actually listened when they told me that it would make Christ look bad if I talked about how much He’s forgiven me! So I kept my mouth shut and became an ineffectual minister, unable to communicate the riches of God’s grace because I was afraid of how it would make me look.
But you know what? That’s some of the absolute worst, garbage advice you can offer someone struggling to get out of porn. Firstly, it puts the focus on self instead of on Christ where it belongs. It’s an effort to protect the image of the preacher, brother, father, friend who is caught in the bondage of sin. What are we doing telling people to save their pride?! When someone is getting out of sin, there is NO PLACE for self!
Secondly, it is a rare person who gets out of pornography on their own without publicly bringing their sin out into the open. When we tell people to keep their porn addiction a secret, we’re tying the bonds of sin a little tighter around that person. We’re isolating them. We’re harming their chances of getting out. It’s not the ones who keep quiet who are winning. The ones who are getting out of porn and staying out of porn are the ones who aren’t afraid to publicly confess how Christ has freed them from sin.
“But you’ll lose your ministry.”
Whose ministry is it, anyway? It’s not my ministry. It’s the Lord’s. How am I going to ruin HIS ministry by proclaiming how I’ve been forgiven and cleansed by HIS blood? People, that is the whole point!! That’s the Gospel! We are hindering the ministry of the Gospel when we encourage people to keep their pasts to themselves. When we tell people to keep their sin quiet, we make a struggling brother or sister bear their sin burden alone. And that was never God’s idea or plan. What is our ministry except to proclaim how Christ saved us from eternity in Hell and to share how others can access this same saving grace?
“Specifically talking about your own sin will turn people away from Christ.”
Will it? How many people do you know who were drawn to Christ because they looked at Christians and thought, “I want to be perfect just like that person”? Do we think it is our pristine image that saves people? We’ve lost the meaning of the Gospel.
Is God interested in protecting the image of His servants? Interesting how the Scriptures are full of examples of people being redeemed from specific sins. David the adulterer, Paul the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, Jacob the liar. Why are the pasts of these great men and women laid bare? Is it not to show that God takes flawed humans, cleanses them, and uses them for His glory? How are we furthering the ministry of Christ by pretending that we are already made perfect without Him?
Not only did Paul openly talk about his own struggles with sin, but he didn’t shy away from pointing out that others had been saved from horrendous sins as well.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”1 Corinthians 6:11
Paul clearly laid out there that the church is full of people who used to be drunkards, thieves, idolaters, and more. His point is this: You were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God! That is our ministry.
One preacher I talked with recently was told by a counselor, “You don’t want the local church to know about this sin. I know how the congregations around here are. They will talk, and they will tear your ministry to shreds.” That brother continued to struggle on his own until he ultimately decided that it didn’t matter what the church did to him, he needed to bring his sin to the light. Maybe they would fire him. Maybe they would destroy his reputation. But what they did with the information was up to them. For the sake of his own soul, he needed to publicly repent and ask for their prayers.
I understand this advice was given out of concern for a brother. I understand that the people giving this advice have often seen the church react poorly to repentant sinners. But the way to change the culture of a church that gossips and tears each other to shreds is NOT to encourage people to keep their struggles to themselves. The way to change the culture is to be open about our own sin and to refrain from gossiping about others!
Never once does God tell us to keep our sins a secret. It’s the exact opposite:
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”Proverbs 28:13
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”James 5:16
Here is the sad irony. It’s fear that encourages people to keep their sin quiet, but the reality is, this fear that we’ve spread is often misplaced. I’ve found that most of the time, these counselors are wrong. I’ve found that when I bring my sin to the church, I am not condemned. I am loved. I am prayed for. I am lifted up before the throne of God. I am encouraged. I am helped. I am forgiven. And I’ve seen that same thing happen when others confess their sins. Sure, there will always be those who gossip and devour others. I’ve received some nasty responses to my work with The Beaten Road. But that’s not the character of the majority in the Body of Christ.
That preacher friend of mine decided not to follow the advice his counselor gave him, and instead bravely went forward to ask the church to pray for him as he took steps to get out of a long-term addiction to pornography. It may surprise some to know that his congregation did not throw stones at him. They didn’t even fire him. They wrapped their arms around him and his family and they showed him the love of Christ. That is what most will experience when they ask the church for help.
When we tell people that it’s “unwise” to publicly confess our sins, we are the ones who are being unwise and who are getting in the way of the ministry of the Gospel. Don’t hinder the work of God by encouraging people to struggle in darkness alone.
Stay on the Beaten Road, Friends!
I have a friend I haven’t seen in close to a decade. Ten years ago, this person was young, vibrant, happy, and faithful to the Lord. When I saw this person again I didn’t even recognize them. Ten years filled with drugs, alcohol, despair, and drifting from God had physically and mentally morphed them into a dark, hollow, angry individual. Someone who seemed to have aged more than twenty years in just ten. A completely different person in every way from the friend I once knew. Sin does that to a person.
Thanks be to God, sin is not the only thing that changes a man. I recently saw the same thing happen in reverse. I was sitting with a brother caught up in addiction. We’ll call him Logan. Slumped shoulders, hollow eyes, and defeat covered his entire being. He had been battling pornography for years and just could not seem to rise above it. Satan still held him firmly in his grasp. Logan was broken in a bad way, but not yet willing to let go of the very thing that was killing his soul: Pride. He was bitter, angry, passing the blame to others. While he stated that he wanted to break free from porn, his actions communicated that he was unwilling to do what it would take to truly repent. It would require humbling himself and, like most of us, he struggled against that idea.
During this meeting, Logan received several texts of encouragement from brothers in Christ. With each text, I saw the wall being chipped away from Logan’s heart. By the time the last text came through, Logan was in tears and willing to take steps to make a real change. Through urging from his wife and other counselors, Logan decided to lay his sin before his local church and ask for prayers.
When I saw Logan a couple days after he went forward, he was a completely new man! He was laughing, smiling, speaking in positive terms about the future. He and his wife sat close together, holding hands and filled with hope. Logan was peaceful. Forgiven. Strong. He had his joy of salvation restored! I have never seen such a marked difference in a man from one week to the next. God had truly done a great work in Logan’s life.
There were several things in play that helped Logan. One, he was tired of his sin. He’d fought on his own and he was showing a desire to do some things differently. He still had some distance to go but he wanted to get there! Similar to how we see the Philippian jailer asking Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”, Logan longed to know what it would take to break free from porn.
Two, he had multiple Christians reaching out to him showing their love and concern. They didn’t know what he was fighting, but they had paid enough attention and had enough care to notice and reach out at a crucial time. We need to pay attention to our brothers and sisters so we can know when things are not right and when they need that extra dose of encouragement. He also had good counsel from those who loved God and loved Logan enough to tell him the hard stuff he didn’t necessarily want to hear.
Three, Logan had a loving wife who was praying for him, begging him to repent, and grieving with him. Christ assures us of the great influence of a godly wife (1 Peter 3:1-2), and Logan’s wife was the singular greatest human influence that led Logan back to God. All three of these things gave Logan the fortitude to be different this time; to step up and make the needed changes to walk away from sin.
Those who know me or much of any of my material know that I push openness. This is one of the big reasons. It sets us free from sin’s secret dungeon. Public repentance forces out the pride that keeps us chained in darkness, separated from God’s grace. When Logan was open with his church family about his sin, he released that pride. As a result, he no longer had to carry the burden of his sin alone. He was immediately surrounded by love and support from brothers and sisters. Without pride in the way, God created a clean heart in Logan (Psalm 51:10).
Repentance and humility go hand in hand, and it changes a man. When we try to keep sin covered up we are trying to beat Satan at his game. If we will play with God’s game pieces – humility and open repentance – we will enjoy the victory over Satan.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Stay on the Beaten Road!
Joshua P. Richardson
You can now find “The Other Side of the Storm: Recovering from Your Husband’s Porn Addiction” on Amazon!
“This Can Be Beautiful When Brittany Richardson discovered her husband had been hiding a pornography addiction, she was ready to kill him. But she discovered hope, and in The Other Side of the Storm, she offers that same hope to women who find themselves in the same nightmare she was in.
You will be helped as she shows: why your husband viewed porn and how to help your husband recover from it, what multi-billion dollar industries are trying to do to your marriage, and most importantly how to recover from the betrayal and come out on the other side with a stronger, more fulfilled marriage.
With counsel from God’s word, stories from other women in the same situation, and her own research, Brittany has crafted a book that needed to be written, and one that needs to be read by all women who are married or want to be.
You owe it to yourself to read this book.”
~ Cobb Publishing
We are now taking pre-orders for our book The Other Side of the Storm: Recovering from Your Husband’s Porn Addiction! From November 30 through December 4, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your copy for $10.99 plus shipping (Regular price: $14.99).
“One day you can be grateful for the pain you are now enduring. Eventually the rain will stop beating and the raging wind will die down. You can then look back at this refining fire and see the splendor of what God creates from the ashes. Hold on. The beauty may not be immediately obvious, but it is there even in the worst situation. It is in your faith, courage, endurance, forgiveness, and commitment to your husband. It is in the rich mercy of our Savior. And it is in the hope Christ has given us that sin can be beaten.
In time you will notice the sun is shining again. The birds are chirping their chorus of praise once more. The grass is even greener now.
Don’t you love the beauty that follows a storm?”
Excerpt from “The Other Side of the Storm” by Brittany Richardson (with Joshua Richardson)
“Don’t come home,” Marie texted Isaac. She had received an odd email that afternoon – an invitation to a chat room. Hoping it was spam, Marie decided to take a quick look at the search history on her husband’s tablet, just to ease her mind. What she found made her head pound. Her world seemed to fall apart before her eyes as she scrolled page after page of sickening images. In their 10 years of marriage, Marie had never once entertained thoughts of infidelity. But now, as she browsed Isaac’s bookmarked sites, she calculated the best way to show her husband what it felt like to be cheated on. Her own thought appalled her. And yet…
Does Marie’s reaction surprise you? Probably not. Shock regularly brings to mind thoughts which would ordinarily be far out of character. Depression, rage, anxiety, a desire for revenge, and even suicidal thoughts are not uncommon reactions to a revelation of betrayal in marriage. Whatever your initial reaction to discovering your husband’s porn use, I can assure you it was not unique. There is nothing you felt in that moment that has not been felt by hundreds of other women in similar situations.
It is normal to feel:
Betrayed – You have been betrayed.
Angry – Your husband has committed a sin against you and against God.
Depressed – Your husband has destroyed your faith in your marriage.
Overwhelmed – You’re facing a crisis that will not suddenly disappear.
Feeling stressed, daunted, humiliated, and confused is to be expected as you process this crisis. Porn use is a violation of trust, and trust is one of the most basic foundations of your relationship. Take away trust, and the construct of your entire marriage starts to crumble. The cascade of emotions you are experiencing is a response to the disintegration of that trust. It’s called “Betrayal Trauma.”
Excerpt from “The Other Side of the Storm: Recovering from Your Husband’s Porn Addiction” by Brittany and Joshua Richardson
From the Back Cover:
“When Brittany Richardson discovered her husband had been hiding a pornography addition, she was ready to kill him. But she discovered hope, and in The Other Side of the Storm, she offers that same hope to women who find themselves in the same nightmare she was in.
You will be helped as she shows: possible reasons your husband viewed porn and how to help your husband recover from it, what multi-billion dollar industries are trying to do to your marriage and, most importantly, how to recover from the betrayal and come out on the other side with a stronger, more fulfilled, marriage.
With counsel from God’s word, stories from other women in the same situation, and her own research, Brittany has crafted a book that needed to be written, and one that needs to be read by all women who are married or want to be.
You owe it to yourself to read this book.”
Pornography destroys hearts, homes, and souls. It is such common issue that it is now a major factor in over 56% of divorces in the U.S. But what does God have to say about pornography and divorce? Join Brittany over at The Christ-Centered Home for an in-depth Bible study on the question “Is Pornography Cause for Divorce?“
Betrayal from someone emotionally close to you often causes psychological trauma. The emotional damage can manifest itself as depression, anxiety, rage, and an inability to cope with daily life. If you struggle with these symptoms after discovering your husband’s porn addiction, you are not alone. There is hope and there is help for healing!
You don’t want to do it. You just want it to be done. You’re kinda like me. I’d really like to play an instrument, but I just never actually learned. Why? Because I want to know how to play. I don’t want to learn how to play. I want to be good at it RIGHT NOW. But I don’t want to actually do what it would take to become a musician.
We’re like that with pornography sometimes. We want to “be quit”. But we don’t want to do what it takes to quit. It’s hard! And just like learning to play an instrument, you mess up sometimes. But, when learning to play music, you don’t just say “Oh, no! I can’t play like Tchaikovsky on my first day! I guess I’ll quit.” You figure out where you went wrong, and you correct your mistakes.
Sometimes I imagine how cool it would be to just sit down and play like a concert pianist. You know how much good that thought does me? Nada. I can’t even play Chopsticks. For that matter, I don’t even know what Chopsticks sounds like….
I think we could probably all agree, with my history of piano playing and piano dreaming, I will never be a concert pianist. Why do we think we’re going to be any different with pornography if we’re not actually going to DO anything about it?
You say you don’t want to look. You say you don’t want to go back to it. But you never DO anything about it. It’s like those James talked about – those who said they had faith but didn’t do anything with it. But James said, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Don’t just tell me you want to quit pornography. Show me you’re going to do what it takes to never go back.
When there is something we want to accomplish, we make some type of plan to accomplish it. If we want to quit pornography, we need to make a plan. If I continue my path of only dreaming about playing an instrument, tomorrow I will still only be the guy who can’t play Chopsticks. If you continue “wanting to not look at pornography” but don’t do anything different than what you’ve been doing, then tomorrow you will still be the guy who “doesn’t want to look at pornography”… but still does. You will still be the active addict.
What’s the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.” If you keep falling into pornography but refuse to change anything about your daily habits, then nothing is going to change! Can you imagine Thomas Edison sitting in his workshop making the exact same failed lightbulb 3,980 times and expecting a different outcome on his 3,981st time without changing a single thing? Insanity, right?
Maybe you had a plan. You tried. You failed. Now what? Figure out where your plan broke down. Where was the weak point? What happened just before you gave in? You have to become a self-analyst. Don’t just look at the 20 minutes beforehand, look at what got you headed in that direction to begin with. Look at your history. What’s the commonality that leads up to your fall again and again? It might not even be something sinful. But it’s something that is part of your habit cycle. Study yourself. Figure out where you are stumbling and either remove it or figure out how to change your response.
Be willing to do the hard stuff. Don’t just be extreme. Be ridiculous. Do the stuff that is going to make people look at you and straight up laugh at your desperate measures. Let them laugh. You ARE desperate.
Obviously, you must remove your sources of pornography. But don’t just remove the source where you access porn. You also have to remove the sources that feed your desire, whether they are inherently sinful or not. What’s your trigger? Be honest with yourself (something we’re not particularly good at when we’re stuck in an addiction).
It’s common in warfare to surround the enemy and cut off supplies. You can force a city to surrender without ever firing a shot if you remove its access to food and water. What feeds your addiction? If there is something in your life that is not necessarily pornographic but is triggering a desire to look at porn, get rid of it! Whether it is movies, a relationship, the mall… whatever it is that triggers your desire to look at porn, stay far from it.
If you’re not willing to change what is currently keeping you stuck in the cycle of pornography addiction, then you don’t want to quit. You just want to want to quit. Look, I’m admitting I’ll never be a pianist because I’m not willing to do what it takes to become one. I just think it would be cool. I’m not actually willing to give up the time, energy, and money it would take to learn how to play. But not being a pianist is not going to keep me out of Heaven. Loving my computer more than I love God, on the other hand, will.
Now that you realize it’s going to cost more than you originally thought, do you still want to quit? Or do you just think it would be cool? It’s time to actively want to quit pornography. Buy that flip phone. Cancel the internet service. Keep your computer at a friend’s house. Change jobs. Whatever it takes.
Finally, if you want to quit, you have to be broken. We need to fall on the Rock and allow Him to break us that He may remake us into a pure and holy vessel for His glory (Matthew 21:44). Too often we will not do what it takes because we are afraid of the outcome. “What will happen if I . . .” We need to trust Christ and allow Him to break us and piece us back together in His image. Because bigger than our desire to be free from addiction is HIS desire to free us from sin. What He asks you to do, He will make it possible for you to do.
And HE wants you to quit.
Stay on the beaten road, friends.