This article is Part 2 in a 3-Part series on Pornography and Marriage. For more on what pornography is destructive or how to love a spouse addicted to pornography, check out Part 1 or Part 3.
Pornography promises you a temporary escape, but ultimately makes your circumstances worse. While it is readily accessible, it is also incredibly costly to your marriage and walk with Jesus. Its temporary pleasures and the allure of anonymity may seem like “benefits”, but pornography takes far more from you than it can ever give.
Pornography demolishes intimacy and wounds the marital relationship. If you are addicted to pornography and want a flourishing marriage, something is going to need to change. Thankfully, there is hope.
Confession, accountability, and community are all incredible gifts that help in the fight against pornography. More than anything, the battle with pornography will be won as you grow in your relationship with the Lord. If you are not surrendering your life (and your addiction to pornography) to Jesus, that needs to be the first step.
Healing from pornography and finding freedom is not going to be easy. It likely won’t happen overnight. But it will be worth it.
So, what exactly does this process look like?
How to Heal from Pornography:
- Confession – The first step towards healing is admitting you have a problem and are in need of a Savior. Keep in mind that confession needs to be your responsibility. Don't wait until you are asked about it or exposed. After confessing your sin to the Lord, confess fully and immediately to other believers. This will help the healing process begin (James 5:16) Ask your community to hold you accountable and ask you the difficult questions. If you are on the receiving end of confession, listen, pray, and help them with their recovery (this is discussed in more detail in Part 3).
- Prayer – Be honest with God about your fight. He knows the details of your struggle and sees your most vile thoughts. Yet, amazingly, he loves you still. Every day, be diligent to ask for God’s help in overcoming the temptations of pornography (Romans 8:5-11). When you feel yourself pulled towards pornography, call upon the Lord.
- Removing Access – Consistently confessing your sin without any actual repentance is futile. You need to completely cut off access and turn toward righteousness. Make a list all the ways in which you’ve gained access to pornography. Work to remove all these avenues. You should be willing to do anything to get well (Matthew 5:27-29). Here are some examples:
- If you struggle at the convenience store, do not go in the store.
- If the television causes you to stumble, get rid of it.
- If the internet causes you to stumble, remove access to it.
- If you access porn on your phone, find a phone without internet access.
- If you get around accountability software, then get rid of the device altogether.
- Assigning Consequences – Determine in advance what will happen the next time you look at pornography. Consider who should be involved in your process of confession and repentance and ask them to hold you accountable. Determine what privileges should you lose if continue to look at porn. Think honestly about what should be cut out of your life if you continue in your sin. What are you asking your spouse to do if you continue to look at porn?
- Pursuing Your Spouse – You have one, and only one, legitimate outlet for sexual release: your spouse. That’s why your plan of recovery needs to include radical, consistent, patient, and loving pursuit of your spouse. Know that this might take a long time and will require the help and encouragement of others. You will likely need to rebuild trust first. Ultimately, your spouse is not responsible for your sin, but will play a role in helping overcome it.
- Following Jesus – This is the most important step to recovering from pornography. After removing pornography, you will need to fill the void it has left in your life. Fill that void with prayer, Bible reading, and communion with other believers. When you are tempted to feel worthless or ashamed, remember that God loves you and wants all of you. He is pursuing you even in the midst of your sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
This process may seem simple, but if attempted genuinely and faithfully, there will be healing and growth. God is able to take all of your mess and redeem it. Even if pornography has severely hurt your marriage, it is never too late. Confess your sin and turn to Jesus. Ask people you trust to come along side you.
Remember that loving your spouse well is going to require sacrifice and service. When you fail, ask for forgiveness and pray for help. Your marriage will be healthier as a result.
In the next article, we discuss what to do if your spouse is looking at pornography.