Slaying the Dragon: How to Counsel Porn Addicts with Grace

Case Study: Let’s say your friend, whose name we will call Erik, admits to you his need for help in the area of porn addiction. He discovered it on a trip out of town when some of his friends showed it to him on their phones. Since then, Erik has frequently looked at pornography.

The problem got worse when he went to college and had no internet restrictions on his laptop computer. A few days ago, Erik felt convicted by God that as a Christian he must begin to deal aggressively with this sin. He even told his dad about the problem. His dad doesn’t know what to do and they have decided to seek counseling from you. What would you do? 

Erik has admitted his need for counseling because of his struggle with pornography. My first goal would be to reassure Erik that he made the right decision to seek help. By confessing his sin to dad and a counselor, he has followed James 5:16. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Now Erik is able to put off his sin nature and put on the righteousness of Christ since others will keep him accountable. 

After gathering data about Erik, my first advice for him would be to memorize Scripture pertinent to his struggle. Because people often feel powerless to overcome porn addiction, Erik should know this is a lie from Satan. The Scripture teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

As Erik memorizes this reference, which is a sword that fights against sin, the Bible will prepare him to win this battle. For example, if Erik is on the computer and no one is around, he may be tempted to go to a bad website. However, it’s no longer his fear of being caught that drives him. The Word of God will convict him now since he knows there is “a way of escape.” The fear of being caught is not a strong enough motivating factor for repentance. It has to be your conscience condemning you and godly sorrow that leads to true change in a person’s heart.  

Another important tool Erik should use to overcome his battle against pornography is the concept of “putting off” and “putting on.” Jay Adams calls this dehabituation—habits to put off, and rehabituation—habits to put on. Breaking a habit is a two-sided problem that requires the process of replacing our bad habits with good habits.[1] That’s why the Apostle Paul said “not to conform to this pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:1).”

A porn addict has several habits. To hide his addiction, he may lie about where he is going so he can quickly sin while no one is watching. After he is done, he may cover up his sin by deleting browsing history. So not only does the “lust” need to be dealt with, but the sin of lying is an issue. A verse that may help Erik to put on a good habit is truth rather than falsehood. Psalm 52:3 states, “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.” Erik will now need to be honest with people or God will convict him. 

In the life of a porn addict, Erik may have went from curiosity to experimentation, and from experimentation to obsession. He may be preoccupied with thinking about porn all the time and looks forward to having temporarily relief when he performs this lustful action. Erik now has to “put off” the habit of idolatry. An idol is anything that gives you ultimate fulfillment or satisfaction apart from God. It becomes a false savior. What most porn addicts find out is this momentary satisfaction leads to guilt and shame. In order to put off idolatry, Erik needs to put on worshipping the one true God. Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Because Erik has been exposed to multiple pictures and videos of sexual immorality that degrade women, He will need to put off how he views and treats women. No longer should Erik be flirting with women or having dirty thoughts. Instead, he needs to rewire his brain through the grace of Jesus Christ to look at women as God’s holy creation, not objects of sexual worship. Erik should “put on” this verse in his mind: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Lastly, Erik needs to know that pornography is not just a sexual addiction. Pornography causes people to lie to cover up their sin. Porn treats women with disrespect. It’s degrading to them. Porn addicts worship and serve the god of pleasure and fornication rather than the God of the Bible. Porn is a big issue. It destroys marriages and friendships.

If you or someone you know is struggling with this sin, get them help. It’s not too late. The good news is that Jesus Christ can help you overcome this sin. He can also heal you from the scars of shame and guilt left behind from many years of this addiction. Pray and ask God to help you now. If you have anything else that you think would help Erik overcome this problem, please feel free to comment below. 

            

 


[1] Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, p.188-189.

3 comments

  1. There are a number of things that may be helpful for someone like “Erik.” The number of anonymous fellowships, based around similar principles, traditions and steps to those of AA, are growing, and engagement with any of these groups may prove to be a valuable source of accountability and healing. Also, the work of xxxchurch is particularly notable, and their accountability software and internet filters in the form of “X3Watch” are very valuable.

    1. Thanks for sharing, broken inside. You are correct. Accountability is an important factor in overcoming the addiction and I believe those resources you mentioned are helpful for people.

  2. Have you ever dealt with pornography addiction? As one who has overcome, and has talked to others about this issue, I find that often what is the breaking point is not determination, but rather perception. It is possible to go from porn addiction to some other idolatrous addiction, even a “spiritual” addiction. Whatever it is that we put in place of the addiction, even if it is reading the Bible and prayer, it can be dealt with in a manner that these things become a new addiction of sorts, our minds forming the ideology that these things, whether church, prayer, reading the Bible, or gathering with the saints, is the means of freedom instead of Jesus Christ.
    I guess what I’m saying is that my advise wouldn’t be to show him all the places he is falling short and telling him to memorize Scripture in its place, but to reveal to him the bigger picture behind what he is reading. It has been time and again through hearing God’s voice say, “You don’t have to live like this, but even if you do, I still love you” that has broken the power of sin (in my experience).

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