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How can I stop looking at porn? Sex is tough but porn can be harder to get away from. Any advice?

Response to texted question on dating from May 12.

Tough one. If I had a nice tidy answer to this one, I’d be a millionaire.

In terms of the questions that were texted to us in our series at the INN, it seems that no one was seeking to justify porn as a good thing or even neutral. There seems to be a common understanding of the twistedness of porn (btw…that’s what the Greek word means, “twisted”), at least by the folks that attend the INN. Given that, let me see if I might offer some life-giving advice.

First, to the degree that it is possible, I encourage you to take captive the thought by the power that is found simply in the name of Jesus. Per a book by Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, I would encourage you to call upon the power of the resurrection when you discover the overwhelming desire toward porn, masturbation and premarital sex by simply saying a prayer that may sound like, “In the name of Jesus, I take captive that thought.” If we desire to overcome a draw toward porn and the like, I believe we must believe that God is with us and wants to be with us and has the power to help us in that struggle.

Second, and similar, remembering that you are forgiven and that this sin (or any other) does not have to define you. The grace of God does. God gets the final and decisive word on our identity and that is a word of grace, mercy and love. Too often, I see people get bogged down in the shame of the struggle of pornography and it paralyzes them in their ability to interact in other relationships, in ministry, in faith and simply life in general. Don’t let the enemy have this victory. We don’t surrender to our sickness, we celebrate our healer.

Now, I know that those first two may sound kind of trite, but, because this is such a complex issue, it is a place to start that opens us to the reality of God’s grace in our lives.

Third, bring it into the light. Confess to a community. The more we can keep this from being our dirty little secret, the better the opportunity to experience Christ’s power in the struggle. The longer this stays in the dark, the more potential there is for one to be convinced that this is not a problem. I’m very confident in saying that when you confess with a person or group that you trust, that loves you, you will most likely hear, “you are not alone.” Allow your community to support you. This brings honesty to the equation: to yourself and to your community. Most likely, your community will be blessed (and perhaps relieved) by that honesty.

Fourth, create a plan. Often going “cold turkey” from porn doesn’t work. One strategy is that you seek to corral it and put boundaries around it. I might sound like a bit of a heretic here, but I’m confident of what I’m pointing to. Here is what I’m getting at: If you are looking at porn every day and seeking to stop, why don’t you pick one day in the next week that you don’t look at porn. Then maybe the next week do two days. You get the direction I’m headed. The idea is to eliminate it completely from your life. Here’s the catch: I think this plan only works if you are sharing this with community. People need to support you and hold you accountable in it. Make a pact with your small group. Agree to call each other when you are tempted. Commit to praying for each other as you engage the struggle.

Finally, take extreme measures. Get a filter on your computer (see XXXchurch.com for resources) or eliminate it all together. Jesus exaggerates this point in the Sermon on the Mount when he asks listeners to consider their right hand. “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.” (Mt. 5:30) Whatever it is that is leading us away from Christ, we should seek to purge and remove. This is at the heart of Christian spirituality, dying to ourselves and seeking union with the living, loving, gracious God that is eager to be with us in Jesus Christ.

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