When Should You Stop Battling Porn?

Sometimes my aha moments come when I’m in conversation with someone about godly sexuality. Recently, I was discussing with a friend men’s struggle against visual temptation, easily found these days in rampant pornography that you must intentionally avoid, and I said something like this:

Maybe we’ve talked too much about porn being a struggle. A man can think that it’s okay to struggle for the rest of his life, that it’s just part of being male to fight against porn but never really win.

When Should You Stop Battling Porn? via @HotHolyHumorousAs a writer, I’m well aware of the power of words. While I don’t like honing in on one particular word rather than taking a person’s message as a whole, sometimes our word choice can convey an erroneous message. Or rather it’s truth, but not the whole truth.

With book titles like Every Man’s Battle and my own statement in a recent post that men often struggle in this area, maybe we’ve unwittingly conveyed the message that it’s okay to simply battle the pull of porn for the rest of your life. As such, you expect some wins and some losses, some advances and some retreats, some good days and some bad days. Maybe that’s all you’re truly aiming for.

But the subtitle of Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker’s popular Every Man book is “Every Man’s Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.” Did you see that? Winning the War!

And I’m fully convinced that, in Christ, we can have victory.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies” (Psalm 60:2).

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:3-5).

Of course, fighting against intense temptation is a hard road. It is a battle, but it’s a battle that can lead to true victory.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me” (Psalm 129:2).

Here’s the reality: I struggled in my promiscuous past and took on plenty of sexual baggage. I was an easy target for Satan and didn’t anticipate that I could ever be good enough to satisfy God. I battled, but deep down in my heart, I didn’t expect victory.

When I finally fell in humility before God and begged for His victorious hand to lift me up, that’s when the real battle began. That’s when I was no longer fighting with an ice pick but a sword. Did Satan get in some jabs? Oh yeah, he did. I still struggled, but I could see progress.

I was no longer having some wins and some losses, but more wins and fewer losses. And my wins became more frequent and my losses less frequent, until one day I realized that the things that used to be a temptation . . . simply weren’t anymore. That old life held no appeal for me.

Porn was not my issue, but it’s the issue many men and some women are dealing with today. Please struggle against it, but with God’s covering and with hope that someday you’ll stop battling porn. Because you will have won.

I’m not discounting the belief that an addict is always in recovery. I get that. You have to remember your history, as Paul often did, and make conscious decisions to guard against that temptation rising against you again. But I also believe this verse:

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Don’t wallow in the belief that this is something that will always be a struggle, even giving yourself an “out” for bad behavior. Expect more of yourself and of God! Strap on your armor and get to fighting. Fight harder and smarter.

You don’t need to struggle alone. Invite God into your battle. Be honest with your spouse. Find mentors, counselors, confidants, and friends who will fight with you. Seek resources that will keep you on the right path and help you get back on the path if you stray. Believe in the possibility of victory.

So when should you stop battling porn? Not until, with God’s glorious help, you’ve won.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

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I recently learned about an online small group ministry hosted by the XXXChurch, a Christian-based porn recovery ministry. If porn is your struggle, you might check out X3Groups. They also host groups specifically for pastors and for spouses.

19 thoughts on “When Should You Stop Battling Porn?

  1. MA

    AMEN!! Absolutely right on. A much needed post that so few people ever talk about. “Win over porn?!” “Are you kidding me?” “There’s no such thing as winning.” The messages can be discouraging. There IS victory in Christ, there IS hope, God’s ways DO work. With God, nothing is impossible. My husband has been putting up such a tremendous fight. He’s doing all the possibly can to kick this struggle to the curb and constantly hearing the bad, dark, struggling, side with no winning or victory heard of is so difficult. I expect him to win and I won’t let him “pass” with anything less than Gods plan for victorious living. God is bigger than his struggle. God is able to save completely. And together, by God’s grace, we are fighting to win.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this! I agree wholeheartedly. My husband struggled with porn for almost 2 decades before he was able to claim victory. Realizing he didn’t need to struggle endlessly, and that God does want righteousness to win, was a huge turning point for him. Of course, some days are still more difficult than others, but it’s more like a small uprising than WW2.

    Reply
  3. Dr. Mike Hattabaugh

    Good change perception in your thoughts! I agree – victims are powerless. When we are empowered, we have the belief we can win, not just struggle. I might struggle with something the rest of my life, but today I can win against the dragon!
    We should all spend more time being positive about what we face!

    Reply
  4. Melanie

    This could possibly be one of your best posts yet, J. There is a terrible attitude in the church that once a porn addict, always a porn addict. I should know. My husband hid it from me for 10 years, and began confessing almost five years ago. The computer had stopped 4 years before confession but the ‘issue’ had carried on with other imagery etc. I am sad to say our marriage has not survived this. We still live in the same house for the sake of our children but have never been able to overcome the extensive damage, and we co-exist. I had found something on the computer 10 years before confession and for all that time, was lied to and abused that I would not believe it was only once. That I had an over-active imagination etc etc.

    We thought we were doing the right thing by involving a few select people at our church following my husband’s confession. I’m sad to say their comments and input only served to put more nails in the coffin. “You do know all guys lust aye. It’s just what guys do” “All men lust and if they say they don’t they’re lying” “It’s not possible for your husband to ever give up porn. He’s going to be in and out of this for the rest of his life” “Even if he doesn’t have access to a computer, he doesn’t need one with all the images in his head”. They also said to my husband when he said he’d been set free “Pride comes before a fall. You are going to fall into porn again.” They suggested a counsellor who said all the same things and told me I’d just have to accept I’d married a porn addict and try and make the most of it but that he would always be into pornography. I’m not saying these people are totally to blame. I’m saying that their comments took away all hope we had in us and finished off our marriage entirely. Words are so powerful and these ones came from Elders and people in leadership.

    One more thing I’d add, is that I saw J’s post about men struggling with lust and how Christian men struggle not to give into temptation but non Christians just give in. I wouldn’t always say that is true as I do know of non-Christian men who honour their spouses with purity.

    Blessings

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thank you for speaking up. I personally know husbands who’ve experienced victory, so it’s particular sad how discouraging the comments you received were.

      And I didn’t mean all godly men struggle — some really don’t. But of those who have looked porn, it’s the godly ones who feel that tension, not the secular who really don’t see it in moral terms. Thanks again for your comment!

      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. My husband struggled with pornography as a preteen through mid twenties, and caved once last summer after 4 years of freedom. I have had a difficult time getting connected with an older woman willing to discuss this issue, which has made we wonder if this ever gets any easier (I’m 25, husband is 29). We also attended a marriage retreat last year, and I was surprised to hear the topic discussed during the guys only portion was pornography… Mind you, we were the only young couple there, everyone else was over 50.

    All that to say, I’ve been feeling hopeless with all of this, so I very much appreciated today’s post. Thank you for boldly sharing your wisdom.

    Reply
    1. Tom

      I truly feel for guys in their 20s; I’m in my early 40s, and I remember the days when you could browse the internet without stumbling into porn at every turn. Today it’s practically impossible unless you purposefully put roadblocks in place. For men who grew up with vast amounts of free porn immediately available on the internet, it’s a completely different ballgame.

      Props to your husband for kicking the habit, despite the setback; no matter what anyone says, porn can easily turn into an addiction just as insidious as drugs or alcohol.

      Reply
  6. Matt

    This is a great read. My view on porn and how I communicate the challenge to my 2 boys and 2 girls has evolved. I grew up in a home where ‘ porn was the devil and if you look at it you are a terrible person, Christian and man.’ My parents divorced and ‘porn’ was to blame as one of the reasons.

    To avoid writing a novel on the topic nobody will make it through, I’ll try to keep it short. Early on in my marriage (currently 15 years) I gave into the temptation of clicking on porn sites. Some of those clicks were driven by pure selfishness, some of them were influenced by being rejected by my wife, who had energy for FarmVille and Candy Crush but no energy for our marriage.

    As we both have grown in humility and our journey with God, our communication improved. She was able to understand the dark place I go to battle when she rejects me in favor of Facebook/other things. I had an awakening that ‘porn is not reality.’ It’s a joke. My wife exposing all of her flaws in the bedroom (and somehow getting it done with all of mine) Is the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s the greatest gift God gives us as humans to enjoy.

    Can’t tell you the last time I clicked on a site I should not have. Porn is a joke. I hope I can help my kids understand the value of God’s design for sex in marriage and not spend any time in the rat hole of porn. If they do, it’s not hopeless. God is a redeemer.

    Reply
  7. Mike

    I did not start looking at porn until two years ago when I found and started reading several Christian marriage bloggers. The encouragement for Christian couples was to spice up their marriage. The writers told us we should do things I had never heard of or experienced. So, I started to research: sex furniture, positions, anal, oral, shibari, bondage, found the urban dictionary, etc. Frankly I felt shocked, disgusted, at first, but then it changed to curiosity, fascination, wonderment, and “How do they do THAT?”, “should Christians do THAT?.” Anyway, I sort of got hooked. I don’t know that I am addicted yet, but I feel a strong pull toward viewing it. My wife does not know, and would be shocked if she found out. It would change our sex life I am sure.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I have always encouraged biblical sources for “spicing it up,” but unfortunately there are Christian bloggers who go further with this notion than I believe is healthy. Sure, try out sexual positions, learn how to do oral, invest in more romance…but that doesn’t give us license for selfish, kinky sex acts. Please stay away from sites that introduce you to something that doesn’t improve intimacy, but rather stokes an unhealthy imagination. Your wife is enough, and ultimately the Bible, you, and your wife are the best sources for what will make your marriage bed sing. You can cut this off right now. Saying a prayer for you.

      Reply
    2. Surviving

      Secrets should never be in a marriage – we found that out the hard way. If you wouldn’t do anything in front of your spouse, then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think you need a conversation with your wife. I know when the truth came out here, it was devastating to the whole family. Don’t let it go that far!

      Reply
  8. Hilton

    We know we are going to be tested! So why not study (the scriptures) and prepare ourselves (through prayer) to PASS the TEST?

    Well done, J!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m not the best resource for answering that question. Please contact some of the great resources out there for men. Talk to a pastor, counselor, or mentor; look into the XXX Church resource or X3 Groups; install accountability software on your computer/phone; etc. Get specific help from other Christians who have overcome, and I think they can help you through.

      Reply
  9. Paul Byerly

    I absolutely hate the AA thinking of one a porn addict always a porn addict. Men do get free, they do get past the struggle. I have, and I have talked to other men who have. It’s rare, but that may well be because we don’t teach it correctly!

    Reply
  10. Jim

    As a Christian Man who is a 30 year “sex addict” who is in his 7th month of sobriety, I think most people don’t realize how prevalent porn addiction / sex addiction really is. Per some surveys, there are over 30 million Americans addicted to pornography. For me, it started when I was 16 as a coping mechanism from my negative feelings and as a result to some things that happened to me as a boy. Not an excuse for my behavior, but understanding the ROOT source of why I turned to that “escape” has been the key to helping me know how to healthily handle sexual stimulus and maintain my sobriety.

    I think people need to understand that the brain chemicals make this addiction just as powerful as a alcohol, gambling, food, and drugs; so I think spouses need to have compassion for the addicted spouse as this is truly a powerful, shameful, and hidden addiction. From my recovery experience, and the extensive reading I have done, I believe long term sobriety is achieved by participating in a “12 step” recovery program and also with individual therapy to understand the “root” of the problem. Especially with a pornography / sex addiction, confessing the problem/behaviors to others is the KEY to achieving sobriety as per the experts in the field, doing it yourself / white knuckling it is rarely successful (<1% and I tried it several times). If you or someone you loves is addicted, first read Patrick Carnes book Out of the Shadows and get involved in a Sex Addiction (SA) group in your city. It is scary to go the first time, but that is the 1st step to sobriety is admitting you have a problem.

    Lastly, being the husband of a spouse who was a sexual REFUSER, has been devastating to me physiologically and further fueled my addiction. I'm sure there is plenty of blame on my part, and ultimately I AM responsible for my actions. However, my hope for wives is that they understand that most men long to be respected by their wife and have physical/sexual intimacy. I had neither, my wife refused to acknowledge that she needs to change (I'm doing major changes), so I am getting a divorce because my long term sobriety can't survive in a relationship that is caustic and has not physical/sexual intimacy for me.

    Lastly, I feel my sobriety has led to a connection with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit that I have never experienced before. We have a God of love and forgiveness and people can be redeemed.

    Reply

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