As I was biking to work this morning (and by “work” I mean the coffee shop where this Thriving Marriage magic happens) I was listening to the excellent Pray As You Go app. Today’s Bible passage was the story of King Herod beheading John the Baptist after his daughter danced seductively for him and his friends.
What struck me was that Herod was initially confused but intrigued by John the Baptist’s message. He was listening. Considering. Debating a possible move toward God. So what happened?
In a word? Lust.
Herod’s unwise promise to his daughter came in the height of lustful passion. This lust disrupted the spiritual sensitivity that was growing in his life and led him down a destructive path. And that’s exactly what lust does to us today.
A recent study found that 1 in 3 women look at pornography at least once a week. For men it’s 1 in 2. And while the statistics are lower for evangelical Christians, they’re not that much lower. Pornography is an epidemic that is only getting worse, and as the Bible shows repeatedly this sort of lustfulness isolates us from God and from our spouse. Pornography is the choice to find the physical and psychological feeling of sexual connection without experiencing true intimacy.
People who regularly consume pornography report lower sexual satisfaction in their marriages, more isolation, and have higher chances of divorce. I’m not saying all this to shame you – I know very well what it’s like to be caught in pornography’s snare and it’s something I still have to battle off in my life to this day. I’m writing this to say that if you are struggling with a pornography addiction, there is hope and there is help. Here are three quick recommendations on how to find freedom from pornography.
Get honest with God
The most insidious thing pornography does is alienate us from God’s presence. Oftentimes we just shut out our struggle during prayer or a church service and pretend it isn’t there. But 1. God already knows and 2. Still invited you into his family as an adopted child. You are washed and cleaned and Jesus’s righteousness is imparted on to you. God is with you and for you. Be honest with him. Come with a repentant heart and confess and receive the forgiveness that’s there for the asking.
Get honest with friends
The most important step I ever took in moving toward freedom from pornography was joining a support group of other Christian men struggling with addiction. Hopefully your church offers something like this, but if it doesn’t start praying God would bring you a group of same-gendered peers you can candidly discuss your struggle with. I want to be clear about something, you will never find freedom on your own. Never. It doesn’t work that way. I know the idea of sharing in a group is scary – every week I had to talk myself into attending – but it was also a turning point in my path toward freedom from porn.
Get honest with your spouse
This one is tough and needs to be approached wisely. I would encourage you talking to a pastor, friend, or counselor before taking this step. For a long time I tried to keep my wife at a distance from my addiction, but I have come to believe that since pornography fundamentally affects our marriages, our spouses (at some point) have to be part of the solution.
The best thing I did for my marriage was buy a filter I installed on every internet-capable device I own. It’s not that expensive, it’s fairly easy to install, and every two weeks my wife gets an email that lists any questionable sites I visited (I imagine some of the Google searches I did for this article will show up!). While my pornography addiction was hurtful for her to hear about, inviting her to be a part of the struggle with me has validated her role as my partner, empowered her to hold me accountable, and shown her I’m serious about protecting our marriage.
Pornography is an intimacy killer, but the good news is God is fighting for your marriage.
With his help, you can do this. I know you can.