If you’ve come to this page to get rid of your pornography problem – our key message to you is don’t do this alone.
Fixing a porn problem is near impossible to do on your own, as there’s probably a lot more going on than just a bad habit. It’s common for people who’ve been trying for a long time to stop, only to find the unwanted behaviour keeps repeating. Can you have long-lasting change? Can you really find release from the slavery of ‘pornography addiction’?
The scientific research on successfully stopping problematic pornography use is quite limited. This is unsurprising, considering the recent evolution of the internet, technology, and widespread pornography, not to mention the difficulties in accessing subjects for clinical studies. However, there is mounting evidence that dealing with ‘porn addiction’ is like dealing with similar behavioural or substance addictions, and therefore similar treatments can apply.
We endorse the following 7 steps as a concrete process for eliminating pornography from your life:
7 Step Recovery Process
Some people believe that using porn is not really a problem. We completely disagree with this – pornography harms you, your relationships, society, and your spiritual health. The research consistently supports this. There is no place or time when pornography is acceptable to God, and thus we should not tolerate it either. When we let pornography be present in our lives, our actions and indifference make us complicit in all those harms to other people. This is not Christian love.
Compulsive pornography use is related to real biological mechanisms. We know that:
- The main control mechanism of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – is compromised in compulsive users.
- Self-control is powerfully eroded because of the brain’s reduced control over the limbic system (the part that governs our raw, carnal desires and behaviours).
- You actually need external help because you no longer can help yourself.
- The brain is also plastic, meaning it can change over time, giving you the opportunity to heal, change and establish better life habits.
If you remain in denial about the problem, you will not find change. If you don’t accept the broader problems caused by pornography, nor that you do not have control over the situation, you simply will continue perpetuating your behaviours, at the cost of many other people.
Repentance and confession
Using pornography is ultimately sinful. It not only is a dishonouring way to use God's gift of sexuality, but is fundamentally selfish and unloving. In the process of gaining temporary personal pleasure, many other people, who are often vulnerable, are exploited. Your use of pornography harms other people. The first response should always be repentance. The wonderful promise of the Christian faith is that God can and will forgive sin (1 John 1:9).
Have you told anyone porn is a problem for you? This can be very liberating, as declaring pornography as an enemy gives you a target to attack, and a reason to act. Also, the bible encourages Christians to confess their sins to others in the church (James 5:16), which makes sense since the deceit and hypocrisy involved in porn use will invariably affect others in the church family. Talk to someone you feel safe with, like a pastor, counsellor, or trusted friend.
Using pornography to masturbate is not an arbitrary action like drinking an occasional decaf coffee. There are always going to be other emotional and relational motivations unique to your situation that are causing you to depend on pornography. Ask yourself:
- Why do I I so easily suspend my conscience about fulfilling deep moral commitments once the compulsion to use porn is there?
- Is it normal to masturbate over the images of nameless people (who may or may not have terrible vulnerabilities, with personal stories of abuse, neglect, desperation and risk)?
- Is it normal to make fundamental vows like ‘forsaking all others’, only to seek sexual fulfilment from anyone but the person I married?
- Why do I so easily lose empathy for vulnerable people?
- Why don’t I feel guilty about breaking commitments?
- Why don’t I care about fighting the social immorality that is pornography?
Generally speaking there are other issues behind compulsive pornography use. They may include:
- tiredness and stress
- an unhappy marriage
- low self-esteem
- grief and loss
- deep hurts from the past
- a tendency towards escapism and fantasy.
Each person’s story is unique, and usually we lack the self-awareness to make an objective assessment. Spending time with a professional counsellor is highly recommended because they are experienced at helping unravel one’s identity and history, and are skilful at crafting a personal pathway forward for a long-lasting solution against porn addiction.
Many of us feel ashamed about using pornography, and fear how finding out about our habit would hurt the people we care about – our spouses, parents, children, friends, or congregation members. The idea that we have moral or behavioural weaknesses can be humiliating, and to be perceived as being ‘perverted’ seems too hard to face. This is why it’s vital that you have a safe place to discuss your pornography problem.
Take the first steps of disclosing to someone who can be trusted – like a counsellor, or your pastor.
Why should you see a counsellor? Good counsellors are powerful resources for change, as they:
- identify why you have problematic behaviours, feelings, and attitudes
- provide a safe haven for private, sensitive, and embarrassing conversations about sexuality, including issues like compulsive masturbation
- help you develop targeted game-plans specific to your own situation. Your ‘story’ is probably similar to many others they have seen, however these professionals are also skilled at tailoring strategies as they learn about your personal story.
We provide a list of local counsellors in Sydney, and we encourage Christian counsellors who share the same world view.
Once you commit to a pathway to recovery and resistance, you’ll need accountability supports around you. Accountability supports:
- help you avoid relapsing
- keep you focussed on your goals
- establish long-term habits where you can confidently live porn-free.
Accountability supports take a few different forms, but the main ones are:
- People – your support partners. These may include pastors, friends, church-peers, your counsellor, or even people from online communities.
- Accountability software
- some common software include www.x3watch.com, www.covenanteyes.com . This recent review is worth a read.
- External routers like KoalaSafe are easy to use, especially for a family with multiple devices. This item creates a second internet network in your house which you can use to have individual access settings for different users.
Some helpful website resources which you may use in your accountability strategy include:
This step is best done with a support person or counsellor. Once you’ve identified the deeper reasons for why you are drawn to porn, and get help dealing with those issues, you can starve your porn habit of the oxygen that gives it life.
You will have a number of triggers – times, places, and emotions that activate your craving for pornography—a common one is staying up late at night with a computer.
Understanding these patterns (including any deeper emotional and relational aspects), helps you make strategies to eliminate those triggers that lead you to porn. If you share this information with your accountability partners, they can help you avoid your patterns.
Once you’ve committed to change, surrounded yourself with good supports and accountability, and become aware of your viewing habits and their underlying causes, the next step is to produce a comprehensive plan for long-term change and management. People lapse, especially early on – but take heart. As your longing for wholesome living aligns with stronger self-control and a lifestyle of good management, you will find liberation from pornography.
If you can, read the final section titled 'The brain can change' in the Porn harms the user web-page. The positive news from science research is that the brain is plastic, and has the capacity to change. Given time, effort, support and patience, you will find lasting change.