How would you counsel the guy struggling against porn?

Many men (and a growing number of women) are ensnared, can’t get free, and deceived into thinking they will stop…eventually…later…

The men and women I have in mind, though, aren’t a statistic. They are real people. They are desperate to break free, yet despondent to once again find themselves in the pit. The statistics don’t tell the battle that they’ve fought, only the defeats they have suffered. The battle is real. It is daily. And most would give just about anything to be set free from it.

Many (most? all?) caught within its grip cannot recognize just how deceitful sin is — that pornography is a promised endless supply of women that will never fully satisfy their flesh. As the Bible says “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes” (Proverbs 27:20). They are caught in the grip of just one more, just one more, just one more.

In medical terms, triage is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition. That is a situation I often find myself in. As a pastor, I routinely meet with men fighting the allure of pornography. What makes it tough is that the deceitfulness of sin causes us to think we’re doing better than we are.

There are well-worn rationalizations and excuses that I hear often.

    • I’ll quit later.
    • It’s not out of control. I could stop if I wanted.
    • It’s not that big a deal.
    • I’m not hurting anyone.
    • Why do I need to stop now? I’m not married. How does this have anything to do with a wife I likely haven’t even met yet?
    • When I do get married, I’ll be able to have sex with my spouse and this problem will take care of itself.

As I’ve stated before, though, I’m less concerned about what is happening in the statistics of the world out there and more interested in what can be done right here.

How might you counsel the struggling person who is telling themselves, “I’ll quit tomorrow”?


  1. If they were sitting in a chair opposite you, what would you say to them? What would be your counsel in steps they should be taking?
  2. Specifically, what could or should be said to the one thinking that this problem will get taken away with marriage?
Your comments are always invited and appreciated!
Posted on by Cor in FAITH

9 Responses to How would you counsel the guy struggling against porn?

  1. Dave Nelson

    Hi Cor, great topic.

    I think you need to tell them that their desires won’t automatically change just because they went through a ceremony at church. Put it back on them – ask them if they stopped checking out other women once they got a girlfriend. Just because they now live with a woman who can meet some of their sexual needs doesn’t mean she’ll be able to meet them all of the time exactly how he wants them to be met.

    Which really brings it to the crux of the matter, which is: pornography warps and distorts a person’s idea of what sex is about. For a man, it leads him to believe that a woman is nothing more than a collection of sexual body parts that are ready, willing and able to satisfy his physical desires whenever, wherever and however he wants them met. Note how everything is focused on the man. Real sex is so much more than that – it’s a intimate, giving connection between two vulnerable people – two real people with hopes, dreams, desires and fears, who are committing themselves to each other.

    Anyway, it’s often hard to convince someone that pornography is wrong, especially since our culture now endorses it as harmless fun. But for the Christian, I think at least 2 key points to show the lie in this are 1. it distorts a beautiful gift God has given and 2. well over 90% of the women in pornographic films are victims of sexual abuse – they’re there because they were told (literally or through the actions of others) that their only worth is in their body. Do you – as a Christian – want to be involved in re-victimizing that person for whom Christ died, reinforcing the message in their mind that their only worth is in their body?

    P.S. Great post, great topic, but at least some of the stats on the page you linked to are suspect. Microsoft collects over $70B alone, which is definitely more than $13B, so that stat at least is way out of date, at best.

    • Cor

      Dave, well stated! I couldn’t agree more with the points you bring up. In the business, we would say, “Preach!”

      Re: stats. This inforgraphic I got from Ed Stetzer who is a guru statistician with Lifeway Research. Such research is beyond my ability. He utilized this infographic on a recent series of blog posts called The Pornification of American Culture summer 2011. It looks like the statistics he used were from summer 2010. Anyways, Dave, point taken. Though the comparisons to some of the other companies may be dubious. I think we can agree that the problem has, at best, stagnated or, even more likely, gotten worse in the last 2 years.

      • Dave Nelson

        Re: stats: Yep, I agree with you – sadly, the problem only seems to be getting worse, and the numbers are terrible, whatever they exactly are.

  2. Stan O

    Another great topic Cor. Jesus said where your heart is that is where you’ll find your treasure. We have to fight (literally to the death) to make Christ our surpassing treasure! And Christ being our treasure is the only filter that will work. Looking forward to reading other responses.

  3. Jason

    I know a lot of members of Hope are very scientifically minded so maybe a little bit of research and hard statistics could help some men come to terms with the negative effects of porn. Here is a great website that looks at the effects of porn on your brain.

    • Cor

      Thanks so much for this, Jason!

  4. Guy Chmieleski

    Great post Cor!

    Tough question… precisely because the men (and women) you’re talking about often don’t want to hear the answer(s).

    They do, but they don’t.

    Pornography quickly becomes an addiction… and needs to be treated as such. Too often people look to their own will power (and maybe the prayerful support of a few people they’re willing to let in on their “secret”)hoping that it will be enough. And that’s why they often wind up back in the pit.

    A change in their relationship status may temporarily provide enough motivation to try “extra hard,” but like all addictions, it will soon draw them back in.

    The pain and damage (that seems so “harmless” to so much of our culture) is made painfully obvious when some is “caught” by their significant other… or when they fail to find fulfillment in their betrothed, because of the elaborate fantasies they’ve constructed in their minds.

    I would ask the man (or woman) if they would be willing to post their viewing activity online? or share it with friends and family members? Because the truth is that we don’t keep secret those things that are OK, or appropriate, or no big deal.

    Sure, the culture has normalized it… but you don’t (yet… and hopefully we never will) see people where shirts that say “I’m addicted to porn” like a badge of honor. The fact is there’s nothing honorable about it.

    In working with college students I tend to ask them about the kind of relationship they hope to have someday — with the man or woman of their dreams… And then I ask them about how they’re “preparing” themselves NOW to make sure that they’re ready for that relationship.

    I know down here in TN we have a resource for men battling this demon (among others) known as The Sampson Society ( I think there approach is very similar to AA for alcoholics… and is the kind of thing that should be a lot more prevalent in our church culture today.

    I think most people who struggle with pornography hope that God will simply deliver them from their entanglement… but I think God desires to journey with them towards healing, recovery and redemption.

    And sadly, too many people are unwilling to go on that painful, but redemptive, journey.

    • Cor

      Brother! Thanks for posting. I really appreciate your comment about, “ask them about the kind of relationship they hope to have someday — with the man or woman of their dreams… And then I ask them about how they’re “preparing” themselves NOW to make sure that they’re ready for that relationship.” That is SO crucial for dudes who want to be married some day to embrace.

      • Guy Chmieleski

        You bet Cor!

        And I think the only thing I’d add would be that recovery and redemption will necessitate an ongoing partnership and commitment on the part of the individual, a community that can help with accountability and prayerful encouragement, and Jesus — to do the work that only He can do.

        Good stuff brother!

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