For most of us, something sexual like porn came into our lives unexpectedly and before we knew it, we were changed by it. For many, porn use has become a compulsive or addictive struggle. Though we can quickly delete porn history from a device, it’s impossible to erase its effects on a life.

God created us as sexual beings who are naturally impacted by sexual things. Porn, sexual abuse, sexual touch, and even lingerie ads can be arousing to children and adults. These encounters change us.

Statistics on the average age of first exposure to porn are varied. Many professionals say most children today see it long before puberty. You probably saw it as a child or teen, and you probably weren’t prepared for the feelings that followed. Early sexual experiences can leave us struggling with a toxic combination of shame, fear, doubt, confusion, and probably some level of pleasure or interest.

If porn is something that came into your life and gradually became a compulsive behavior, there’s hope for you. The fact that you’ve read this far reveals your desire for something better. Porn doesn’t help you become the man or woman you really want to be. It is used by the enemy to draw souls away from relationship with a holy God who loves us and has more for us.

I had no idea that my best friend struggled with porn until the night he confessed and told me how God set him free. Greg and I had just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. He had tried to give up porn countless times. Often he would succeed, even for months or years, but then he would slip again, and the darkness would descend.

Sexual sin is bondage of the worst kind. It isolates and casts a shadow over our good, God-given sexuality. Sexual sin can bring a momentary high, yet quickly send one crashing onto the rocks below. Shame, guilt, fear, and frustration come bleeding out. “Why can’t I change??” 

Porn addiction is actually a chemical addiction. When a person uses a drug like cocaine, encounters something sexual, or experiences something pleasurable, dopamine is released in the brain. This pleasure chemical is designed by God to draw couples together sexually in marriage. The brain releases other chemicals during sex that bond someone with the object of a sexual encounter: couples bond with each other and porn users bond with images. Repeated porn use can cause impotence, and porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is becoming increasingly widespread. Over time a man’s arousal patterns become dependent on porn and short circuit his ability to become aroused by a real-life partner.¹ Thankfully, with time, intentionality, and abstinence from porn, the brain can regenerate and PIED can usually be reversed.

Would you like to be free from the bondage of porn or sexual sin? You can be. A detox is needed, along with a new plan. Here are some good next steps:

1. Realize your true worth and identity in Christ. Christ came for sinners. Through His death and resurrection, we are offered a place at His table, in His family, fully righteous because of what He has done. If you’ve surrendered your life to Christ, you now have His Spirit living within you and you are fully equipped to live in integrity and truth. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

2. Expose sin to the light. Confess your sin to God and to another person, someone more mature in the faith. Confession restores your relationship with God. Learn what true repentance looks like as you turn away from sin to face Jesus. He will give you courage to move forward as He leads you. (James 5:16 and 1 John 1:9)

3. Be real and accountable. Set up a daily call with a close friend, someone who will call you up to your holy status as a child of God as well. Someone who loves you too much to let you stay in sin. Someone who will encourage you as you strive to become the person you really want to be and remind you of what you really desire: intimacy with God. (James 5:16-19)

4. Protect all your family’s devices. It makes good sense to protect your family from porn with accountability software and filters. We recommend Covenant Eyes, which will protect all your family’s devices for a low monthly fee. (Proverbs 2:11)

5. Pray fervently for those you’ve hurt: a spouse, adult children, or a fiance. Ask God how to begin restoring those relationships and walking in greater authenticity so you can love better. Be humble. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

6. Seek the wisdom of others. Check out TrueNorthBe Brokenas well as Covenant Eyes for books, articles, apps, and other resources. Or consider getting help from a Christian counselor. (Proverbs 12:15)

7. Pray for God’s timing to confess to a loved one. My husband trusted God for His timing, confessing to me a few months after he gave up porn. He had been praying for me, knowing the revelation would hurt me deeply, and I believe God used those prayers to prepare me. His remorse and repentant heart spoke volumes to me. He was humble and took full responsibility for his sin. It wasn’t easy, but we determined to face the enemy together and not let him destroy our marriage. I would be honored to talk with a spouse who has just learned of a betrayal through porn. Email me at annek@truenorthfp.org. (James 5:16 and John 10:10)

8. NEVER give up. The road to recovery is long, with twists, setbacks, and new struggles and temptations. But it is worth it. You cannot do this alone. God will renew your heart and mind, and He will use others in your journey. Let others in. Healing happens best in community. (James 1:2-4 and Hebrews 11:6)

9. Enjoy your newfound freedom! It was for freedom that Christ set us free! Live the life you were created to live, full of integrity and free of shame, condemnation, and fear. (Galatians 5:1 and Luke 4:18)

My husband and I are enjoying deeper intimacy than we ever imagined through this journey into greater authenticity. Greg’s blog posts will encourage you as well. Here’s a link to the first one, Revealing the Heart.

If porn is part of your story, determine that with God’s help it will become history. So honored to be on this journey with you! Keep going and know that we are praying for you!

Anne

Anne Kerr, Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project

TrueNorth is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization committed to promoting sexual honesty and purity. Your financial partnership will mean true freedom for many. To give a tax-deductible donation, click here. Thank you! To subscribe to our newsletter and blog, click here.

¹Matt Fradd, “Does Porn Cause Erectile Dysfunction?” Covenant Eyes, February 27, 2015.

Photo credit: Thomas Lefebvre