In my last article we looked at two important approaches to heal from pornography: prayer and accountability. In this article we will look at three more.
Sometimes the struggle for purity needs professional help, and there are plenty of good Christian counselors out there who are willing and waiting to give it. Sometimes people—men especially—can think that admitting they need counseling is something to be ashamed about. It is not. What would be shameful is realizing at the end of your life how much you and your loved ones suffered because you were too proud to seek healing.
How do you know if you may need counseling? Here are five questions to ask yourself. Answering yes to any of them could mean that you would benefit from professional counseling:
1. Do you have a preoccupation with pornography?
2. Have you had repeated unsuccessful attempts to control or stop viewing pornography?
3. Do you use pornography as a reward for hard work, and/or a way to escape problems or negative emotions?
4. Are you risking the loss of a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of the use of pornography?
5. Have you been thinking that you might need counseling because of your pornography use?
For more information, visit Integrity Restored, run by clinical psychotherapist Peter Kleponis. Dr. Kleponis is a Catholic who specializes in helping those struggling to be free of pornography.
4. Educate Yourself
In the battle against pornography, it’s important that we not only feed our souls, but our minds. Educating yourself on the destructive nature of pornography will help convince you to break free from it. Here’s what the Catechism has to say about it:
“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.”
Here are some resources that will help you unpack why pornography is so harmful and destructive:
Recovery from porn is possible, and this book proves it. Delivered contains ten stories of men and women who found freedom after having been ensnared by pornography.
Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers.
Dr. Struthers, a neuroscientist and researcher, explains in fascinating detail the devastating neurological effects of porn use and how they can be reversed.
The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach by Peter C. Kleponis.
Here Dr. Kleponis offers a Catholic approach to fighting porn both in our personal lives and in our culture.
The Porn Effect is dedicated to exposing the harmful effects of pornography.
Beggars Daughter provides helpful tools, advice and support to women struggling with sexual sin such as pornography and masturbation.
Chastity Project is the most comprehensive site on the web resource for promoting the virtue of chastity.
Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs & Changes Your Brain by Donal L. Hilton Jr.
Neurosurgeon Donald L. Hilton explains the addictive effects pornography has on the human brain.
Parenting the Porn Generation by Matt Fradd
In this article I explain the grim reality that confronts our children today and offer practical tips about how to parent them wisely on the Internet.
Five Myths About Porn by former porn performer April Garris
Former porn actress April Garris exposes five myths that are commonly believed about the porn industry.
Taking Down Goliath by Matt Fradd
In this audio presentation I share my own story of recovery and suggest five strategies (more detailed than the ones presented here) to get porn out of your life.
The Ugly Truth: Two Former Insiders Expose the Reality Behind the Porn Industry In this audio presentation I conduct two interviews: the first with a former porn actress and the second is with a former Playboy producer. The Ugly Truth is a difficult but edifying listen, and a sobering answer to porn’s lies.
Porn Detox: by Jason Evert
5. Patient Perseverance
Finally, be patient with yourself. Remember that the wounds you have received didn’t come about overnight, and the healing won’t take place overnight also. It takes time, perseverance, and determination.
“Have patience with all things,” urges St. Francis de Sales, “but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”
Several years ago, as I stood in line for the sacrament of confession, about to confess for the umpteenth time a sin I couldn’t seem to quit, I began to fear that God’s mercy was running out. I didn’t doubt that God would pardon a person who turned to him after a life of the most heinous sins imaginable. What I did doubt was that he would continue to forgive me. How many times have I said, “I will never do this again,” only to return to that sin like a dog to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22).
At that moment, by God’s grace no doubt, I was reminded of the incident in the gospel of Matthew when Peter approached our Lord with a question:
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22).
Now what our Lord did not mean was that Peter was to forgive his brother 490 times and then no more. No, rather, “seventy times seven” signified perfection and consistency. It then occurred to me, if God’s forgiveness is not like that—perfect and consistent—then Jesus was commanding Peter to act in a way that was contrary to the nature of God.
The truth is, God is infinite in all of his attributes. In fearing that God’s mercy was slowly evaporating, I was unintentionally making God in my image. If you have ever been tempted to doubt God’s mercy as I did, or if you’re tempted to do that now, please ingrain the following words from St. Claude de la Colombiere into your brain:
“I glorify You in making known how good you are towards sinners, and that your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon… It is in vain that your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in your mercy.”
Regardless of where you have been or what you have done, be at peace. The same God who forgave Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, David the adulterer, and Peter the denier will forgive you also. All you have to do is seek that forgiveness with a contrite heart. The only sin God won’t forgive is the one you will not ask forgiveness for.
Matt Fradd works for Covenant Eyes, and is the author of the new book Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women who Turned from Porn to Purity. He is also the founder of The Porn Effect (www.theporneffect.com) a site dedicated to exposing the reality behind the fantasy of porn and offering help to those who seeking to sexual freedom.