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 who is addicted to pornography, check out Part 1 or Part 3.
If you are not sure if you have a pornography addiction, explore the StruggleFinder questionnaire.
Pornography offers a temporary escape, but ultimately makes your circumstances worse. While it is readily accessible and fleetingly pleasurable, it is also incredibly costly to your marriage and walk with Jesus. 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 needs to change. Thankfully, there is hope.
Confession, accountability, and community are all incredible gifts that help in the fight against pornography. More than anything, you’ll find victory as you grow in your relationship with the Lord. Surrendering your life (and your pornography addiction) to Jesus needs to be the first step.
Healing from pornography and finding freedom is not 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:
- Confessing – The first step towards healing is admitting you have a problem and need a Savior. Confession is your responsibility. Don't wait until you are asked about it or exposed (Proverbs 28:13). 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).
- Praying – Be honest with God about your fight. He knows the details of your struggle and sees your most vile thoughts, but still loves you. Every day, diligently 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 of all the ways you’ve accessed 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 you should lose if you continue to look at porn. Think honestly about what should be cut out of your life if you continue in your sin.
- 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 radically, consistently, patiently, and lovingly pursuing your spouse. This might take a long time and will require help and encouragement from others. You will likely need to rebuild trust first through faithful living, purity over time, and consistent efforts to delight in your spouse in healthy ways. Ultimately, your spouse is not responsible for your sin, but he or she will play a role in helping you overcome it.
- Following Jesus – This is the most important step. After removing pornography, you must fill the void it leaves in your life by falling more in love with Jesus through prayer, Bible reading, and communion with other believers. When you are tempted or feel worthless or ashamed, remember that God loves you and wants all of you. He is pursuing you even in the midst of your temptation and failures. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
This process may seem simple, but if you follow it faithfully, you will find healing and growth. God can redeem all of your mess. 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 alongside you.
Remember that loving your spouse well requires 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.