How To Break Free From Porn

What would you do if 60 of your friends - over one weekend - told you they had cancer?

That's how I feel today as I stare at the 62 emails I've received since last Thursday when I talked about pastors and porn. Every single note - almost all from men who are pastors or part of a church staff - asking for help before it was too late. 

And I want to help each of them and others who will find this post - fellow strugglers and others who care about someone who is using porn. So here's my best crack at how to break free from porn. Apologies in advance for the alliteration :-)

If you want to break free from porn, you need:

1. Comfort 

Shame fuels porn. 'If you knew me, you would walk out on me.'

You need to know - to hear over and over - that there really is a God. And that God knows the real you. And this real God who knows the real you really does love you with a wildly reckless love called grace.

So go to the place where shame is shattered by the mercies of God. Devour the Scriptures; I find the Gospels and the Psalms to be particularly rich when you hit rock bottom.

Listen to sermons. Memorize and meditate on the Scriptures. Prioritize texts that emphasize the character and work of God on your behalf.

And put a few books on the nightstand that press these realities deeper into your soul. Here are five books that I find particular helpful when you're struggling:

2. Clarity

If you have not done so already, take this free assessment. It will give you an objective look at the nature of your struggle. Not everyone who uses porn is an addict, but some are. It's worth the time to answer a few questions to find out where you are.

3. Counsel 

Make an appointment with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) in your area. They will know how to read the results of your assessment and help you take the next steps toward recovery. If you don't have a CSAT near you, let me know and I can get you connected to someone. 

4. Courage 

At some point, you're going to have to come clean about the details of what you have done. Tell your counselor everything. If no one else knows about your struggle, share your story with the person you trust the most. If you have been caught, press through the shame and don't stop at the tip of the iceberg. 

5. Community 

You need help if you are going to recover everything good about your life and build an even better life going forward. If you are married, your greatest potential ally is your spouse. It may take time to repair and rebuild that relationship through the valley of honesty, but trust me that the prize is worth the price.

Outside of your marriage, the relationships you will find most helpful in recovery are some combination of group therapy, small groups, and friendships with other men.

It's helpful to be around others who know your struggle (group therapy), as well as around groups where the agenda is not directly related to sexuality. And I cannot overstate the importance of cultivating an intense love for other men. The fact that a statement like that could be construed as anything other than an invitation to friendship shows just how upside down our relationships.

Do The Next Right Thing

Go take the Sex Addiction Screening Test (SAST). It's free, and you're not obligated to do anything with the information. Oh, and I know that this doesn't seem very gospel-centered. But if you thought you might have cancer, wouldn't you go to a doctor and get a diagnosis?

The SAST is your diagnosis. Get informed. Then apply the gospel in all its depth to the contours of your struggle.

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