Porn: How to break free

This month, our pastor has been taking us through topics on sexuality, pornography and sexual brokenness. The last two sermons focused porn and lust, as well as the tools for how to break free from this addiction.

Pastor Peter shared with us the statistics on pornography. Stats like 88% of men have struggled or currently struggle with a porn addiction, that 17% of women also struggle, and that 50% of men think there are no ramifications to consuming porn. (see more here and here)

It was really that last statistic that Pastor Peter said bothered him the most, because it’s 100% not true. Porn ruins people’s lives in a variety of ways. As you already know from other posts of mine, a good portion of the porn videos, photos and other media is created by people who force or coerce girls, boys and women–meaning that by consuming porn, you are also supporting sex slavery and exploitation.

But there are obviously a ton of other reasons why porn consumption is unhealthy, including ones that are completely scientific, with no religious or political agenda attached to them. You can find a whole organization dedicated to revealing the reality of porn (a non-political or religious based group) here: http://fightthenewdrug.org/

Why are so many addicted to porn?

Did you know that viewing porn or thinking about someone sexually releases a hormone in the brain as addictive as heroin? Like any drug addicted person, porn is an addiction that takes over the lives of its consumer.

Porn is often used to numb another part of a person’s life. Perhaps they feel alone, uncomfortable in their own skin, are struggling with past abuse or trauma, are afraid or feel like they have no control over their lives, desire to be desirable and wanted. Often, it is an escape from reality and that escape can become incredibly addicting.

Once you start becoming addicted, then like any other addiction, you must increase your dosage or the potency to get the same releasing effect you desire. This is why porn is incredibly dangerous.

For example, today, I heard from a police officer who fights against juvenile sex trafficking in our city. He said that 99% of the guys who buy these girls started out as porn consumers, and when the screen was no longer enough for them, they eventually went to a strip club, and then from that paid for a service from a prostitute.

The cycle increases, spiraling out of control.

However, I want to carefully balance between two potential extremes: 1) if porn is an addiction, than it’s just a sickness and everyone is just victim with no responsibility, and 2) people choose porn, so they should just stop choosing it because it’s all their fault and they can stop at any time.

First of all, yes, there is often a choice that comes with porn consumption. There is something incredibly enticing about forbidden things that make them attractive. In fact, from a Christian perspective, the Bible even recognizes this as a reality:

“So when the woman saw that the tree ….was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired…” – Genesis 3:6

It’s the oldest trick in Satan’s book. Tempt people into believing that God is holding out something on them, and that if they’d just take a taste, they can experience real happiness.

But just like the rest of the story where Adam and Eve experience the pain of having chosen to break trust with God, research shows that porn consumption only leads to decreased sexual satisfaction and loneliness (click here).

I say all of this to encourage people to see it as a two pronged issue. Yes, most people do choose to consume porn at first, but eventually, it becomes addicting and their control over their choices waiver. They need help and they need healing to be able to break free from the cycle.

Can you break free?

This begs the question then, can you actually break free from porn?

The answer is Yes! There are many approaches to breaking this cycle (see some here). Today, I just want to focus on the ones Pastor Peter mentioned to our congregation.

1) The Focus Principle: Whatever you focus on, that will increase your response and desire for it. This is part of the reason addictions happen in the first place. If you focus on something long enough, you become addicted to it and need it. The same is true for breaking addiction. God gave us the ability to change our brain patterns. If you focus on the Word of God, making yourself do it out of choice first, eventually your desires will follow your focus. In my opinion, Love has the same idea. I choose to love my husband, and the more I focus on loving him, the more I emotionally desire him.

2) Community: Just like Alcoholic’s Anonymous, porn addiction breaks easier when the consumer is in community. There is power in confessing what you are going through to another person (James 5:16) that makes that thing become powerless. Accountability and openness are incredibly helpful to breaking any addiction.

3) Identify your ritual: Most often, something triggers your desire to consume porn. Maybe it’s a fight with your spouse, a movie you watch, you’re tired and worn out from a long day at work. Just like any other addiction, it’s helpful to think of the HALT acronym: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to handle our stress in a healthy way, so we come up with unhealthy substitutes. Come up with a strategy to make sure you reduce these situations so that you can also avoid your triggers. Also, identify the deeper issue you may be using porn to escape from.

4) Watch your media input: Unfortunately, a huge amount of movies, music and media are produced by porn addicts. Many of these will have elements in them that may trigger your own addiction habits. As a Christian, Psalm 101:3 suggests that we, “refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” Create guard rails and realize your triggers so that you can avoid them. Do research before consuming a piece of media.

There are more resources available at Pastor Peter’s blog on how to break free from a porn addiction here: http://www.peterhaas.org/?p=1489

If you are a Christian, hold tight to this promise:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

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