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I quit porn. Here's how you can too

With more than 50 per cent of practicing Christians admitting to viewing porn monthly, including 30 per cent of leaders, porn is rife in our churches. Having battled with a porn addiction himself, pastor Jack Skett shares practical advice on how to beat it

When I was a child, I used to love the TV show How to. Each episode would focus on different skills or tasks and break them down to show you how they could be done. One that sticks in my mind was ‘How to do an ollie on a skateboard.’ I learned a lot from that, including that skateboarding was not for me!

Sadly, there are some things in life that don’t have a simple ‘How To’ solution. In my role as a pastor, people often ask me what advice I would give to a Christian who is struggling with porn addiction. This is one of those things with no simple solution, but I do have a few words of advice, borne out of personal experience, which I hope will go some way to helping anyone battling this issue.

Get as close as you can to Jesus

In my own struggles with porn, one of the things that made things harder was my unwillingness to tell anyone about what I was going through. I firmly believed that if I did, nobody would ever see me the same way again. And I extended that belief onto Jesus. I didn’t feel worthy of coming near to him, because what I was doing seemed to be so shameful. This was in spite of what I knew about him from the Bible, which was that he knew everything about me already and loved me anyway.

If you’re struggling with porn, it’s likely that you’ll feel the same way I did. It might feel like there is a distance between you and God but, if your experience is anything like mine, that distance is of your own making. 

I was the one who distanced myself from God because I felt that I was unworthy of his forgiveness. The truth is that I was right - I was completely unworthy - and so are you. But that’s the entire point of the gospel! All of us are sinful and therefore unworthy to come before God, but Jesus has made us worthy by sacrificing himself on the cross. That sacrifice allows us direct access to God, and in his presence we find mercy and grace when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16).

It is true that our sinful actions can separate us from God. That’s why repentance is so important. Repentance is about more than just saying sorry; it’s a decision to change the way we are living. When we repent, we are saying: ‘God, I’m sorry for living my way. I’m choosing now to live your way. Please help me.’

RT Kendall talks about closing the gap between sin and repentance. Our natural impulse is to distance ourselves from God because of our guilt, but it’s precisely because we’re feeling guilty that we should approach him. If you’re struggling with porn, start by getting as close as you can to Jesus.

Accountability only works to the level you’re willing to be held ‘accountable’.

Talk to someone you can trust

Accountability is key to gaining freedom from any kind of addiction. Yet it can be hard to establish a genuine accountability relationship because a very deep level of trust is required. 

If you can find someone who you can trust - firstly, to not judge you when you tell them what’s going on, and secondly to hold you accountable in a loving way - it could be a game changer. But it’s important to say that such an intimate, supportive relationship in this area should not be developed with a member of the opposite sex.

Beginning an accountability relationship will be difficult, and maintaining it may be harder. Being open and honest can be hard, but accountability only works to the level you’re willing to be held ‘accountable’. If you ask someone to be your accountability partner, you need to give them access to every part of your life.

When it comes to dealing with porn, ask them to install accountability software on your electronic devices, or to call you to ask you if you’ve been looking at things you shouldn’t. Do whatever it takes! You also need to give them permission to say what you need to hear - including things you may not want to hear. If this person is really trustworthy, they’ll do all of this in a loving way, without judging you, because they want to point you to Jesus and help you to be free.

When I was struggling with porn, I did not have anyone to support me like this and it would certainly have helped. It’s not that there weren’t any candidates, but I just didn’t know that accountability partners were a thing. But they are - so talk to someone you can trust.

Porn offers a shallow, false intimacy that disappears in a moment.

Final thoughts

These are just two pieces of advice that will hopefully help you start on the process of gaining freedom from porn addiction. My book A better kind of intimacy gives more detail on these, as well as other pieces of advice and my own story. It also shares important questions people supporting one another in this area can discuss and pray through to help facilitate accountability relationships.

Ultimately, however, its purpose is to show that there is a better way of living than looking to porn for fulfilment. Porn offers a shallow, false intimacy that disappears in a moment. By contrast, Jesus offers lasting intimacy with your creator and life to the full. Which would you rather have?

Jack Skett is married to Annie and is an assistant pastor at Elim Church Selly Oak in Birmingham, with a particular focus on evangelism and social media. He blogs at jackskett.co.uk, addressing contemporary issues from a gospel perspective. His book, A better kind of intimacy: the price of porn and how to overcome it is published by Instant Apostle.

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