Without further ado (because this is how I blog)…
If you really want to quit looking at pornography here are a few things that helped me quit and have continued to help me stay quit:
A brother (our premarital counselor who has now passed to his reward) once pointed out to me that pornography is all about fantasy. I was running away from hard things in life to a fantasy world where I didn’t have to deal with it. He told me to stop running and simply “Turn and face it!”
This has become one of my personal mantras ever since. I’ve realized that, most of the time, I turned to pornography when I really needed to do something else, and if I would just turn to what I should be doing and tackle it, the temptation to mess with pornography was much more conquerable.
Before this mantra became part of my life, I would often try to distract myself from pornography by playing video games, hiking, etc. But then when I got back to trying to work I still had the same undesired project in front of me and regularly would fall into temptation at that point.
Recognize when you’re running from stress to pornography and instead turn and face the issue.
When I finally started letting people know where I honestly was right then, things started to get a whole lot easier! There were a few people I had told that I struggled with pornography, but I painted it in a way that made it sound like I was beating it and was just tempted by it once in a while. Once I actually was honest about how involved I really was right then and how recently I had spent how much time looking at pornography, I was much better equipped to stop. We get so caught up with not letting people know about this particular sin that it leads to so many OTHER sins. If we would just let people know, it would remove the “need” to cover up with more lies and deceit.
When I told Brittany about my pornography use we pretty well stopped watching movies. I stopped playing video games, didn’t use the internet for anything but email, and no longer had access to the internet on my phone. Brittany had to be in the room and able to see the screen for me to use internet, and even then I avoided it as much as possible.
I realize this doesn’t exactly work the same for many single guys, but finding a way to limit your use by getting internet out of your house and off your phone and only accessing it at one point (the library, a trusted friend’s house, etc.) might be a good place to start.
Don’t give me one of those lines about how you need it for this, or that, or your job, yada yada yada. Are you serious about saving your soul and getting out of pornography? Then ditch the phone, ditch the internet, ditch the TV, and stay out of the theater!
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
Cut off the source of temptation!
Find someone you can contact whenever you are tempted to view pornography. Find someone with whom you are close but not equal; someone you can look up to and explain to them what you are fighting and how you need help. Be open about your addiction to pornography. Promise this person that if you ever look at it again you will tell them, and set consequences in place that they will help you follow through with.
It’s really hard to find someone like this because it needs to be someone with whom you are close but not too close, but also someone trustworthy and respectable. But you can find this person and they are worth finding!
When and if you choose to return to the modern digital age after a detox period, cover every device you use with accountability software. Not because you are a terrible person who can never be trusted again, but because you are a righteous person who understands he has weaknesses and needs to carefully guard against them. By this point you should know as well as anyone, you can’t always be trusted with some things.
Maybe you have stopped using before and fell again. Maybe you’ve already tried some of the practices I laid out above. Try again. You can still quit for the last time. I don’t know how many times I quit for varying amounts of time before I quit six years ago. But that was the last time I’m ever quitting because I’m not ever using again. You too can quit and never have to quit again!
Keep on the beaten road! If you have some methods you’ve used that work, please share them in the comments. We want to add as many resources for people as possible.
I had a topic in mind to write about this week, but after reading an article on porn and sexual abuse I decided to point you to that information instead.
It’s about porn and our kids.
Porn use greatly increases the likelihood of violent behavior – particularly sexual assault – and it often starts at a young age. To highlight this fact, Ted Bundy (an infamous serial killer of the ’70s) enlightened the world with a startling observation during his interview with Dr. James Dobson the evening before his execution. He said:
“I’m no social scientist… but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography – deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers….There is no way in the world that killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents and correct the pain. But there are lots of other kids playing in streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today.”
Young people are being influenced to commit atrocious acts due in part to what we allow them to be exposed to in the media today. Children are built to imitate that which they see. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a child who views porn often acts out what he or she sees. But what might surprise you is that one of the largest groups of sexual predators today are children themselves.
In her article “Sexual Assault Expert Warns of Heartbreaking Trend Among Children,” Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Heidi Olson warns:
“The biggest age range of perpetrators that I see in my hospital are children. In fact, for the third year in a row, our biggest age range of people committing sexual assaults are children ages 11-15 years old.”
We hear more and more about how sexual abuse is often perpetrated by trusted adults and how we need to be careful about who we leave our kids with. But our culture has a bigger problem than watching out for creepy adults. Porn is destroying our kids, who are then turning around and abusing other kids! And, because those who have been abused are more likely to abuse… the cycle will continue.
I get asked often why I talk so freely about pornography. We need to talk about pornography because it is literally EVERYWHERE, and it is taking people down darker roads than most can imagine. Our young people are seeing it. Not only are they seeing it, but they’re acting on it. It’s our job to prepare our kids for how to handle pornography when (not “if”) they see it, and how to speak out if someone – anyone, no matter the age or relationship – violates them.
Read the rest of Ms. Olson’s article and find tips on protecting your kids HERE
 “Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy’s Final Interview.” Focus on the Family. www.focusonthefamily.com/media/social-issues/fatal-adiction-ted-bundys-final-interview (accessed September 25, 2018).
Does your wife really need to know about your battle with porn?
[Spoiler: YES! Here are a few tips on making the confession]
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).
If you’re quitting porn and you’re smart, one of the first things you’ll do is get rid of internet access through your phone. While there are filters, restrictions, and accountability software available to help control internet usage on your phone, that’s usually not enough for a recovering addict. Get smart. Get rid of the portal of access completely.
Unfortunately, that’s not so easy anymore. If you’ve decided to quit porn you may already realize that getting smart means getting rid of your Smartphone. In fact, you may have already paid a visit to your local Walmart to pick up an old-school flip phone only to be discouraged by the fact that nearly every phone out there these days INCLUDING flip phones comes equipped with WiFi. Even if you don’t pay for data on these cheapo phones, you can still access a good bit of filth through the WiFi capability.
So, what are your options?
Below are the 6 phones we found that are WiFi free. As long as you aren’t paying for data, these phones will not connect to the internet at all. Disclaimer: We did our best to research these thoroughly, but be sure to double-check before purchasing. Sometimes a model will be WiFi free when sold by one carrier but the same model will be outfitted with WiFi by another carrier. It also depends on if the phone is the U.S. version, or a version made for another country. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro was released without internet access in South Korea, but the U.S. version has WiFi. So, if you’re buying off Ebay or some such, be sure to confirm whether that specific device is WiFi free.
This is the phone I have. Pros: It’s a simple sliding phone with a Qwerty keyboard and zero internet access. It’s got talk, text, and your basic tools such as an alarm, calculator, and poor quality camera. You can buy it on Amazon for around $60.
Cons: It only works with Verizon and it is 2G, which means it will be useless by the end of the year. Verizon is phasing out both their 2G and 3G, so I don’t recommend this phone unless you just need something right now and can figure out a better option later.
Pros: The Jitterbug Flip is designed as a basic phone for seniors. Yep, you wanna be like the old people, ’cause they’re less likely to wanna look at porn. Talk and text, the Jitterbug Flip is available for about $80 from Amazon. Be sure you’re getting the Flip and not the Smart, which does have WiFi.
Cons: You can only use this phone on the Jitterbug plan using GreatCall, which operates on the Verizon network. Not a huge deal, but that may not be the carrier you want. Their unlimited talk and text plan looks like it’s around $50 a month.
Pros: The newer models are 3G, so it should last for at least a little while (though everyone is phasing out 3G in the next couple of years). On Amazon for $55, the Nokia 3310 is your basic phone with talk and text and a couple of tools. It’s exceptionally small, fitting easily into your pocket. The battery is notably long-lasting, which is nice. AND, it comes with the legendary Snake game, so you won’t even miss your Smartphone.
Cons: It only works with AT&T (though some claim it works with T-Mobile, the coverage is terrible). No Qwerty keyboard.
Pros: Basic 3G flip phone. Available on Amazon for $55.
Cons: Only works with AT&T. It’s a flip phone so there is obviously no Qwerty keyboard.
Pros: This 3G phone can be used with Twigby, Sprint, or Boost, so that gives you more options for network providers. Slides out for a Qwerty keyboard.
Cons: Much more expensive than most of the other options, the Kyocera Verve is on Amazon for $180.
Pros: This is a pretty slick looking phone. It is the ONLY non-WiFi option we found that is 4G. It’s being marketed as “the phone that actually respects you,” encouraging people to leave their Smartphones behind and spend more quality time with loved ones. While the original Light Phone made voice calls only, the Light Phone 2 has added an alarm clock and text messaging (with Qwerty). Will be supported by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. I say “will be” because…
Cons: It’s not actually out yet. It’s being launched by an entrepreneurial team and funded by the crowdfunding campaign site Indiegogo. Right now you can pre-order and be one of the first to receive a Light Phone 2, with an estimated delivery date of April 2019.
The other downside is the price tag. The pre-order price is $300 (or two for $500). Once it is released, the price will be shoot up to $400 for one, or two for $800.
The selling point for the Light Phone 2 is that it’s 4G. So, while the price is extremely high compared to other basic phones without WiFi, it’s the only phone we could find that will function in the years to come due to the shutdown of the 2G/3G networks. With the likelihood of all the other WiFi free options being inoperable in the next year or two, it may be worth jumping in on the pre-order price. If you’re interested, you can pre-order your Light Phone 2 at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/light-phone-2#/
Have a non-WiFi phone that I didn’t cover? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Introducing our podcast series. This is our first time ever doing anything like this so… be patient with us. It’ll get better with time, we promise! haha
Welcome to The Beaten Road blog! I want to start this blog with some blunt truths because I want you to know from the beginning that this is a place to come for information that is real and usable. I’m not much of a frosting kind of guy, I tend to lay it out and let you sort through it for what you can use.
First, I understand (though I did not at first) that everyone is different. My experiences are not carbon copies of yours. My temptations, triggers, and lies were mine, not everyone else’s. That said, as I write you may feel I am accusing you of all my shortcomings and you may also fear your spouse will believe things of you that aren’t true because of what I’ve said is true of me. There will be many things that I dealt with that you never have, but I also believe you will run across things that, as I describe them, you may recognize for the first time in yourself. So, reader discretion is advised!
Second, my qualifications for speaking on this subject are only this. I am a Christian who has found freedom in Christ from the bondage of Satan. I spent 14 years addicted to pornography before finding the courage to quit for good. Through the help of my wife, counsel from others, research into the science of addiction, and circumstances that I can only attribute to God’s grace, I have been clean for nearly 6 years now. In all honesty, that’s not that long, and I recognize that fact. I am not writing as one who has it all together, or as one who no longer struggles with temptation. I am writing as one man who went from living for porn to finding satisfaction in Christ I never thought possible. I want to share some of the ways I finally broke my addiction, not because I have some proven formula that will work for every man, but because I know that it is possible to be free, and I want you to know that, too.
It is possible to be forgiven.
It is possible to never seek porn again.
It is possible to rebuild your marriage and for your wife to heal from the damage you have inflicted.
But it’s going to take blood, sweat, and tears.
It’s going to demand the blood of the Savior, the sweat of your conscience, and the tears of a humbled and contrite heart.
It’s not as simple as saying that you’re not going to look at porn anymore. Staying clean is going to take gut wrenching honesty, embarrassing moments, and safeguards that you probably currently think are plain stupid. It takes living a counter-cultural lifestyle and being willing to look like a fool in front of others.
In other words, it is going to take the death of your pride.
One of the biggest things that keeps people addicted pornography is PRIDE! “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look…” (Proverbs 6:16-17a). God hates our human pride. It is an abomination to Him. Why? Because it keeps us from Him!
It is fascinating that when I was looking at pornography, I was completely self-loathing. I tried so many times to stop and couldn’t. I hated myself for my continual weakness and the destruction I saw in my life because I COULD NOT STOP! Yet that whole time one of the things that held me in Satan’s grip was my pride! I couldn’t let people know the truth. I had told some about my pornography use but always in a past tense. Something I might still struggle with (if I was close enough to them to admit that) but still something past. Most people didn’t know I had any issue at all. My pride would not let me be honest.
Without honesty you will never leave pornography’s grasp.
Spend your nights in empty prayer, try every trick you can find online, install all kinds of restrictions and filters, but without being honest with yourself, God, your spouse, and everyone around you, you will never be free. Honesty only comes with a great big helping of humility. Brokenness. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psalm 51:17).” Pride does not live in a broken and contrite heart. I was afraid what people would think. I was afraid people would treat me differently. I was fearful of hurting people who trusted me. I was fearful of doing more damage than I had already. But as long as I allowed fear and pride to dictate my actions, I was going to make things worse. I was not getting out of my sin. I was not living for Christ. I was living for self and my version of God. You must find the pride in your life, the impulse to self-protect, and replace it with a broken and contrite heart that is driven to live in righteousness before God.
Stay on the beaten road, friends.
This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in May 2018.
In our family devotional, we recently came to the uncomfortable account of David and Bathsheba. No problem, I thought, we can handle this. My littles will tell you without missing a beat that God’s ideal for marriage is, “one man and one woman for life.” Teaching them that David broke this ideal would be fairly straightforward. So I thought.
It turns out that I underestimated how difficult this passage would be to explain to our children. Not because it involves teaching preschoolers about adultery, but because it opened their eyes to a terrible truth.
You see, David is Monkey2’s Bible hero. He gets his middle name from three great Davids – David Richardson (Joshua’s father), David Motl (who is like a second father to me), and King David. For several weeks now, JD has listened intently as we read through accounts of David’s faith and victories. What little boy isn’t inspired by the young shepherd who conquered a giant with just a sling and the strength of his God? My second monkey has been awestruck and deeply impressed, proudly proclaiming each night, “His name is David, just like ME!”
When we came to the passage where David takes another man’s wife, our young children listened with rapt attention. It wasn’t difficult to explain what happened. They understood that a covenant had just been broken. Well, that was easy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t prepared for the question that followed.
“Is that the same David who killed Goliath?”
JD’s face fell.
It couldn’t be. Not David. Not his hero.
I watched as it dawned on my little boy that even great men fall. I wanted to weep. In that moment, King David’s sin with Bathsheba broke my heart because I saw the effect it had on my son. It baffled and confused him. It distressed him that David – his great hero of faith – could make such a sinful choice.
Do you know what that’s like? Have you ever watched a spiritual hero fall from their pedestal? I have. I’m sure you have, too. You’ve seen great preachers fall into error, giants of faith fall away. You’ve heard reports of men and women you regarded as blameless who have fallen into sexual sin.
“No, surely not so-and-so. Please don’t let it be true.”
It hurts. It’s discouraging. It’s infuriating. When someone you’ve held up as an example of righteous living makes a sinful decision, it can make you question your own faith and commitment to Jesus. In times like these we need to remember that we’re not the only ones watching. Our kids are listening, waiting to hear our reaction.
There are two things I was reminded of during our discussion with JD. One: Sin has consequences beyond our imagination. Scandals (especially in the Church) reach further than we can possibly see. Even centuries later, David’s sin is still painful. It still affects the hearts and minds of thousands of people. In light of that, we need to understand the seriousness of our own choices. Every one of us is setting an example for someone else in our lives. We may not be in a public role like David, but people are still looking to us. Our actions are either leading them toward God or away from Him. The ripple effect can last for years.
Second: Jesus. Precious Jesus. I think for the first time it really hit JD that Jesus is the only one without sin. Isn’t that exactly what we want our children to understand? That’s the hope on which to focus. What an opportunity to remind our children that, although no one is perfect, Jesus offers cleansing for all. When David was repentant, God was able to restore a beautiful relationship with him. He offers the same to each of us.
When someone sins, do you obsess about it for days? “I can’t BELIEVE he did that!” “What’s wrong with them, anyway?” “I’m never going to trust her again!” Or do you display grace and pray for repentance? Christ is able to redeem! Drive that point home, every time.
With sorrow I watched JD realize David’s imperfection. But, oh, the joy of pointing him to God’s forgiveness! That is truly the best part of parenting, getting to share the love, grace, and mercy of God with my children. Watching JD slowly transfer his greatest admiration from men to Christ is unspeakably sweet.
Just as Joshua spent the rest of devotional teaching our children, we know that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is no one who is righteous on their own (Romans 3:10). And sometimes, great men fall.
I want my kids to admire the characters of the Bible as well as modern day leaders of faith, but I want them to realize that they are just human – just like us. I want them to think of Paul and Peter, Daniel and Ruth (and Jody and Evelyn Apple) as people to imitate, but I want them to know that they were (are) real people in real need of a Savior, and that our greatest hero is Jesus.
When great men fall, Jesus stands. He is ready to forgive and receive even the lowest among us. He is willing to be the strength that you lack, if only you’ll let Him.
Will you let Christ be your Hero?
This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in October 2018.
When I was a teenager (not so very long ago), the epidemic of Internet pornography was just beginning to be recognized. By the time I got married, most of my peers knew that the majority of guys our age had a problem with porn. We might not have understood the impact it would have on our future marriages, but we were somewhat prepared for the likelihood of marrying a man with a history of porn use.
Our parents were not as aware of the problem. They didn’t understand how easily erotic material could be accessed, or how quickly curiosity leads to addiction. Studies were not yet out on the addictive nature of porn or the compounding issue of screen addiction. We didn’t have the science on how early exposure traumatizes the brain and damages emotional development. Often times, the first conversation parents had with their boys about pornography took place only after they discovered inappropriate material on their computers.
It wasn’t that parents were neglectful. They just didn’t know. With all the education out there today, I see Christian parents being proactive; taking precautions like installing filtering software, becoming more tech savvy so they are aware of danger zones, and beginning the conversation with their boys from a very young age. I hear more talk about how to end porn addiction, and more discussions on preparing our daughters to address the issue of pornography in relationships before committing themselves to a man for life. That is wonderful!
But while we are busy protecting our boys, Satan is busy at work. In our zeal to protect the hearts and minds of our young men, let’s not overlook a rapidly growing issue among our youth: Female porn addiction.
Pornography is not just a “man’s problem.” Our girls are at risk, too. In Covenant Eye’s 2018 edition of “Porn Stats,” you can read how:
But that’s just the data on exposure. What about intentional viewing?
Note that most of these statistics were put together ten years ago. These are growing trends. More young women are viewing pornography at younger ages than ever before. We have got to start talking to our girls about their vulnerability to porn addiction and how to protect themselves. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your daughters to live in our culture of porn:
1. Realize that girls are visual too. While it’s true that guys are in general more visually stimulated than women, there are thousands of girls who are just as “visual.” I have friends who are made to feel as if something is wrong with them because they are easily aroused by visual stimulation. Women can be aroused by images just like men, and they can become just as addicted to that rush of dopamine. Visual stimulation can also be a learned behavior. Our culture of porn is teaching our girls how to be visually aroused even when they would not naturally be so. Don’t spread the myth that only guys are visual. Talk to your girls about guarding their eyes.
2. Be aware of pornography in all forms. Pornography is, “Art with obscene or unchaste treatment or subjects,” (Webster’s). Or, “The presentation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, films, or other media solely to cause sexual excitement” (Britannica’s Encyclopedia). Material that is marketed as “porn” is not the only danger. It is packaged with a variety of labels, and is abundant in mainstream media. Think of the latest PG-13 blockbusters. Just because your daughter is over the age of 13 does not mean she (or you) should be viewing the pornographic scenes found in most PG-13 movies. But pornography is more than just pictures or films. Women tend to prefer erotic stories over graphic images, and these are just as wrong as any other form of porn. Recognize the danger of “romance novels” and don’t accept the excuse that she “just skips over that part” (yeah, I used that line as a teen). Be aware of the books your girls are reading, and talk to them about the inappropriate physical reactions words on a page can arouse.
3. Protect your girls as much as your boys. Install accountability software on all devices. Limit screen time. Put restrictions on where your daughters are allowed to use electronics (be especially wary of sleepovers and unsupervised library visits, and don’t allow electronics to be used after you’ve gone to bed). Insist on access to all passwords and online accounts. Check these regularly. Talk to your girls about the dangers of pornography. Teach them to come to you any time they stumble across inappropriate material.
4. Have an open communication policy. One of the main reasons people get hooked on porn is curiosity. Boy, girl, adult, or child, we are curious creatures by nature. If girls have unanswered questions about sexuality, they will do their own research. What starts out as mere curiosity can turn into addiction very quickly. Talk to your girls from an early age about physical development (including boys vs. girls), sexual desires, and purity of mind as well as body. Gain your daughters’ trust by communicating with them about all areas of life. Teach them that you are a safe place to learn about sensitive topics, and encourage them to come to you with any and all questions. If you have already given them a foundation of appropriate information, your daughters are less likely to search for answers from the world.
5. Talk to your daughters about how to handle their sexual urges. Girls have sexual desires, just like boys. It’s hard to be a single young woman with no legitimate outlet for those desires. Pornography offers an alluring way to “express sexuality.” Teach your daughters the righteous way of handling arousal.
6. Teach your daughters about the beauty of the physical relationship within marriage. In our efforts to protect our girls against sex before marriage and other forms of immorality, sometimes we send the message that sex is bad or that girls aren’t supposed to enjoy the physical side of marriage. Make sure your girls know that sex is a beautiful gift from God for both the husband and the wife. Both were intended to enjoy sex equally. Teach your daughters that they don’t need pornography or other “enhancements” the world offers. Talk to your daughters about how they have the power to train their minds to only be aroused by sinful material, and if they indulge in doing so they will lose a glorious part of pure sex within marriage.
These are just a few ways to prepare your daughters to face our culture of porn. Teach your children – both sons and daughters – to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). We live in a world that seeks to devour our girls, turning them into slaves of sexual immorality as both the giver and receiver of illicit behavior. Don’t be naïve. Educate yourself and educate your girls on how to avoid a lifetime of bondage to sexual sin.
If you are a woman struggling with porn addiction, you are not alone! Reach out for help. You are always welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in September 2018.
I recently posted the following to my personal Facebook page:
“Husbands, one of the most healing things you can do for your wife following a confession of porn use is to encourage her to be open with others about your struggle. She needs your support to seek the help she deserves; to know that you are okay with her talking with whomever she trusts to share her burden. Don’t let your shame imprison your wife.”
I received a few messages from concerned friends asking me if sharing my husband’s struggle with pornography on such a public platform as social media is, in fact, shaming him. Their questions took me a bit by surprise. Joshua and I are both very open about our experience with porn, and I tend to assume that since we talk about it so much most of our friends know our story and know that neither of us mind talking about it. But, of course, not everyone does know. I hate the thought of people thinking that I would ever intentionally shame my husband, so I want to clarify that anything I ever have or ever will post about pornography or our personal experience is 100% supported by my husband. He reads everything I write and approves of everything I post.
I’ve been asked before why I am so open and blunt about our story. I think it makes people uncomfortable and nervous that I’m going to destroy my husband’s reputation. Joshua doesn’t use Facebook, so I realize that a lot of our long-distance friends only see me posting and might worry that I’ve lost all sense of discretion by sharing details of our marriage struggles.
Here’s the thing. Joshua is not concerned about his reputation. He’s concerned about the reputation of Christ. Shame no longer enslaves him because Christ has broken those chains. He glories in the fact that he is now free in Christ, and he wants to share how he found that freedom with as many people as possible. If shouting our story from the rooftop would bring hope to just one person struggling in a marriage damaged by porn, Joshua would gladly do so. I adore that about him.
The post I shared was part of a project Joshua and I have been working on together. Without context, I can see how some might think it was a [not so passive] aggressive way of shaming Joshua. That was not at all my intent. My point was, rather, that Joshua has always encouraged me to be open about our story, and it is one of the greatest things he ever did to help me heal.
We’re open about porn because:
Porn is a serious problem, and it doesn’t stop at the doors of the Church. There are thousands of people struggling in shame and secrecy. Keeping quiet about our journey helps no one. Isn’t that what we’re here for? To share how God brought us out of bondage to sin and redeemed us as His own? “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). That is why we share our story. Because it’s really a story about Christ.
If you are one of those struggling as a result of an addiction to pornography, please know that we are here to listen and help in any way we can. We’ve been there, and we get it. For more of our story, watch for our upcoming book “Beaten: Recovering from Your Husband’s Porn addiction.”
This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in August 2015
Before Joshua and I officially started courting, he told me that he had been involved in pornography. He wanted to make that clear before I committed to a relationship with him so that I knew exactly who he was and who he had previously been. He told me how sorry he was for his actions and the way his past would affect our future, and he asked me to forgive him. His complete honesty and humility impressed me.
Joshua’s confession came as no surprise. Perhaps I was a little jaded, but at least I wasn’t naïve. Few men escape childhood and adolescence unscarred by pornography’s claws, and I knew that no matter who I married the likelihood of my future husband having a history of porn use was extremely high. Even so, I was not as aware of the effects of pornography as I would like to have been. I knew it would affect our marriage, but I didn’t know how much. Here are five things about pornography that I wish I could go back and tell my unmarried self:
1. I wish I had known how a premarital history of pornography use affects marriage.
Even before Joshua started using porn again after we were married, the knowledge that he had struggled with it in the past affected our relationship. I was insecure, always wondering if/when he would start using porn again. I struggled to trust him in other areas. We had a hard time communicating well about pornography, which affected our ability to communicate about other topics.
A history of premarital porn use does not mean that it will continue into marriage, but it does mean that you will have to deal with the consequences it brings into your relationship. Getting premarital counseling specifically on this topic helps tremendously in dealing with the aftermath. You can have a beautiful marriage despite a history of pornography. God is merciful and forgiving. But there ARE consequences of sin, and it will affect your marriage no matter how long ago the addiction was. The past is not simply “the past.” It shapes who you are now.
2. I wish I had known that I am not enough.
Marriage is not a cure for sin. You cannot “fix” someone by marrying them. I knew I couldn’t change Joshua, but pornography was something in his past. I wasn’t trying to FIX him, but I did have this vague notion that I could KEEP him fixed if I was a good enough wife. I thought that by being available to meet my husband’s needs at all times I could keep him from being tempted to look at other women.
Having a legitimate way to fulfill sexual desires does not eliminate the temptation to look at porn. Why? Because it’s not about sex. People do not view pornography just because they have no outlet for their sexual desires. I thought that if I was enough, my husband wouldn’t struggle. And, therefore, because Joshua DID end up struggling, it meant that I wasn’t enough. Enough of a wife. Enough of a woman. Enough of anything.
The truth is, I WASN’T enough. You can never be “enough” to keep someone else from sin. Keeping my husband from looking at other women is not my job; it’s something only Joshua can do. Sex is not the answer to a porn addiction. A healthy sex life can make it easier to resist, but it will not eliminate temptation.
3. I wish I had known that we needed to set up accountability BEFORE there was a problem.
About a year into our marriage we installed Covenant Eyes on our computers. We should have done that much sooner. We should also have set up other safeguards. I wish we had been more selective in the movies we watched. I wish I had known how dangerous a cell phone with unlimited, unfiltered data could be. I wish I had insisted on an accountability partner for Joshua before he fell back into using porn. I wish we’d had regular discussions about how he was doing and how he was handling temptations. I wish we had taken preventative steps before pornography became an issue within our marriage.
Having safeguards in place does not mean that you do not trust your husband. It doesn’t mean that you think your son is looking at porn. It doesn’t mean that you are suspicious of anyone who uses a computer. It means that you are educated enough to know that there is material out there that can destroy lives and you are realistic enough to know that nobody is above temptation.
4. I wish I had known that pornography is a legal drug.
Before marriage, I had absolutely no idea what pornography does to the mind. I am no scientist and do not pretend to understand the complexities of the brain, but from the research I have done I have learned that pornography can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. When one views pornography a chemical called dopamine is released which literally rewires the brain, creating new pathways and establishing a felt need for the substance. This is the same chemical process that happens when one uses cocaine. The dopamine release caused by viewing porn is addictive. It makes you want to go back for more. And it makes you want increasingly more hard core porn because your brain needs larger and larger doses to receive the same high. I knew that pornography was hard to break free from. I had no idea that it was as serious a battle as fighting a drug addiction. It needs to be handled as such.
5. I wish I had known the right questions to ask.
When Joshua first told me that he had battled a porn addiction, I didn’t say much. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answers. I thought the past was the past and there was no need to dwell on his mistakes. But asking questions would have helped me better understand his struggle and where he was at in his battle against pornography.
Before we started courting I should have asked:
a. When was the last time you viewed pornography?
If I had asked this one question, it would have changed things. It would have changed my plans for beginning our courtship just then. It would have changed the way I dealt with the effects of Joshua’s porn use. It would have changed how we began our marriage. The answer would have been painful, but it was one I should have known. Ask the uncomfortable questions.
b. What safeguards do you have in place to ensure that you do not fall back into viewing pornography?
A mental resolution is rarely (if ever) enough to break the cycle of pornography addiction. Covenant Eyes or something similar helps keep your family safe and helps give you peace of mind. Ideally, safeguards will be in place before there is a problem.
c. Who is holding you accountable and helping you stay pure?
Having someone to talk to who understands the struggle and who will ask the hard questions is important. I should have asked Joshua who else knew about his struggle and who was helping him stay pure. Several people knew and had helped him in the past, but I was the only one actively holding him accountable during our courtship and early days of marriage. That was a mistake.
Joshua did not intentionally keep this information from me. Neither one of us thought to bring these things up. But if we had it to do over, we would have talked about the uncomfortable topics more.
Pornography is evil. It has the potential to destroy lives. But it doesn’t have to. Like any other sin, a porn addiction can be overcome. If your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband has a history of pornography use, help him get help. The problem does not just disappear. Let’s help our men fight this battle to the end.
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:22.