Why Struggling With Porn Is A Good Thing

Whenever I’m interviewed on the topic of pornography, my interviewer usually begins by reminding the audience of what a ginormous problem pornography is. He then lists some (questionable) statistics on the size of the industry; recounts how this many men and that many women are addicted to it, and essentially, how the entire culture is going to hell in a hand basket.

Now all of this, I think, is true (My friend, Patrick Coffin, often asks, “Where are we going and why are we in this basket?”), but It’s also true that our Lord Jesus Christ has said, “take courage; I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33).

As we battle the culture of death, we cannot forget this.

STRUGGLING WITH PORN CAN = GROWTH IN HOLINESS

In today’s post, I’d like to remind us (or perhaps inform you) that despite how discouraging things may seem, struggling with pornography can be a beautiful and productive means of becoming holy, of becoming a saint.

DEFINING ‘STRUGGLE’

Many Christians I encounter, seem to think that the word “struggle” is synonymous with “give into.” We hear people say, “I’ve been struggling with porn,” and we assume they mean “I’ve been giving into porn,” and that’s what they do mean. But struggle doesn’t mean “give into,” in fact, it means the opposite; it means “to contend with an adversary or opposing force.”

Since this is the definition of struggle, if you are tempted to view pornography, I hope you won’t take offense when I say, I hope you struggle with porn! Obviously, we should not seek it out in order to struggle against it, but when a person experiences such temptations, he or she can actually gain merit by resisting them.

GROWTH IN VIRTUE

When we struggle, when we “contend with an adversary or opposing force,” we grow stronger. This is true with our struggle with pornography. When we struggle with pornography we grow in virtue. But it’s not just the virtue of purity we grow in, but many others besides. Let’s look at five in no particular order:

1. PATIENCE

Though pornography offers a quick fix to our momentary affliction or pain, by struggling with it, we grow in the virtue of patience; we learn to endure hardship manfully.

2. SELF-MASTERY

The man who struggles with pornography gains mastery over himself. As the Catechism puts it, “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.”

3. HUMILITY

Struggling with pornography is a constant reminder of how weak, and of how in need of him, we are. St. Paul spoke about having a “thorn in the flesh,” though it’s unclear what this thorn represented, he tells us that it was to keep him humble: “To keep me from being too elated a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated” (2 Cor. 12:7).

4. COURAGE

Courage does not mean that one is not afraid (if one were not afraid, courage would not be required), rather it means choosing to do what is right in spite of fear, or pain, or uncertainty. And indeed, standing up against one’s own fallen desires, when (what feels like) the entire world is telling you to give in, takes courage!

5. TEMPERANCE:

“Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.”
If a man or woman is struggling with pornography, then he is certainly growing in this virtue. And if he can learn to say no to sexual sin, then he’ll certainly become stronger in saying no to less tempting pleasures, legitimate or not. “[Temperence] ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable.”

So there you have it. Struggling against pornography can be a beautiful and effective means of growing in sanctity.

I know how easy it is to get depressed when we consider how quickly our culture appears to be sliding into utter decay, but we ned to remember that Scripture promises that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). We need to recognize and remind each other that  we have here not just a struggle, but an opportunity  to tap into a massive outpouring of God’s grace.

Think about it. Every person, every Christian, every saint who lived before the internet lacked one opportunity that we have: to choose Christ by rejecting, day after day, this uniquely modern and anonymous sin of porn.

So struggle on brothers and sisters, and remind yourselves often of our Blessed Lord’s words: “take courage; I have conquered the world!” (Jn. 16:33).

_______________________________

m-fraddMatt 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 PurityHe 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.

7 Comments

  1. Wow! I believe we as Catholics can’t really ever look at any sin as good, but this struggle is so great that it’s so hard to get away from. This article has inspired me to try harder. I always heard that God doesn’t count our sins, but counts the times we’ve tried not to sin, and in this I have hope. I pray that porn will be exposed and people come to see the true evil of it and can turn away from it. Thank you so much for all you do for your fight against evil. God bless you!

    By Chrissy | 3 years ago Reply
  2. I loved this article! I have been recently finding more and more of my male friends are addicted to pornography, or to be precise, I have started noticing. Some are unaware that I know, others have told me. I am realizing that it is now no longer a question of who has looked at pornography, but who is not addicted. It is breaking my heart to see friends who were given porn or stumbled across it when they were children (relatives thinking it was funny to give nephews/sons etc. their first magazine for example). Then when they realize as they are older that they are addicted and that what they have been doing for years is bad… they are riddled with guilt, secretive, or just plain give up the struggle believing it is hopeless because their first, second, third attempt to quit failed.

    Today I found out yet another friend, a potential boyfriend actually, is addicted to porn. I felt the impact. I have been praying seriously about my future spouse for the past 6 years, and now finally I have realized what I must pray for above all else is purity for my future spouse.

    I would love to see more feedback or an article on how women can prepare themselves for the battlefield to help their friends, boyfriends and future husbands out of this mire. I began researching today, looking for prayers to add to what I am already praying for my future spouse (wherever he is) because I want to pray for my friends who are struggling with porn as well as my future spouse. I only found a few blogs/websites that talked about praying for friends, plenty for praying for your spouse, and… ZERO for praying for preserving/strengthening/helping/saving a FUTURE spouse from the dangers and temptations of pornography.

    I read a wonderful book, written by non-Catholic Christians, called Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His. It was very inspirational about how to pray in these matters, but I needed more on the prayers about purity. I read it after Finding Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul.

    Between these two books, I’ve found what I really need to do to prepare myself, and to pray for God to prepare my future husband. But now I have also realized, that even God-loving Christian/Catholic men are struggling with porn addiction. They are trying, often in secret, or sometimes they give up and/or wait for somebody else to fix them. I have guys love that I wear a chastity ring and treat me with the utmost respect… but they certainly don’t date me (some because they don’t believe they are good enough because of porn and/or lack of commitment on their part to chastity) and they certainly don’t respect the women they date, don’t treat with pure love, and ultimately break up with. They are wanting and waiting to be fixed instead of finding God’s strength inside themselves to struggle, to battle.

    I would like to know for women how we can start helping men (even if they haven’t told us but we have figured it out… not so hard, you can tell by what they or their friends post on facebook or the pics they like on Instagram that show up on the Activity feed) and some concrete things to start praying about. Also some concrete ways to communicate with people who are hiding their addictions. I am finding that most have kept this a great burden and secret for many years and it is hard to help them when they won’t open up. Most who believe they are doing wrong are afraid to tell people. Many women have been taught to either be okay with porn or that it is normal to freak out. I would much rather be told in honesty by a guy that he is struggling than to catch him looking at porn by accident. Women need to be told some ways to handle their hurt and insecurities without denying them, in the case if they are told by their boyfriend/spouse that there is a porn issue. We need to learn that this is a huge possibility and some guidelines for responding and dealing with the hurt we will experience.

    I hope there are more ladies out there who are preparing for the spiritual battle. I hope that I have some more spiritual sisters who are all beginning to pray about this issue.

    By Mary | 3 years ago Reply
    • I struggle with porn. Thank you Mary for praying for us men going through this struggle. It can be quickly justified as being a guy thing but that’s just not the truth. I want to keep sex sacred between me and my future wife. Its a gift from God and I want to stop wasting it. I just need help with the days that I give in to it, I pray to Jesus to give me strength to get through it.

      By Marius | 3 years ago Reply
      • You are well on your way..you have a repentant heart.a sign of being cured from this monster..if you didnt have the desire to stop that would be another thing..

        By On your way | 3 years ago Reply
    • Thank you for your comment. Its encouraging to know that there are pure, devoted women out there who are doing all they can to support those who are struggling, like I am.

      You are setting a wonderful example by doing all you can to become a woman of God in preparation for a holy union with a man of God one day, and you inspire me to make of myself the kind of man that my future spouse, children and my God can be proud of.

      Thank you for the encouragement and example, keep being a light to us all (:

      By Nathan | 3 years ago Reply
  3. I’ve been struggling with things such as porn for a long time. This Lent I finally felt like I’ve reached a point where I won’t give in anymore. I decided enough was enough and I wasn’t going to let it be part of my life anymore.

    Now my struggle is exactly as you describe, but I know I’ve grown in Holiness because of it. I rediscovered the beauty of the Rosary. It became my nightly prayer a few weeks ago because it was (and still is) the best weapon at my disposal.

    I added a time of personal prayer to my Rosary devotion, allowing me to OFFER the Rosary rather than simply PRAY the Rosary. This change in attitude has helped me grow even closer to God. I truly recognize Him as the source of my strength, and offer prayers of thanksgiving for the trials I have overcome while also praying for strength for those ahead.

    By the Grace of God, I have persevered. “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)

    By Bryan | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Thank you. This article has reminded me about the significance of my struggle. I will not be faint but i will come out victorious because greater is He who is in me than who is in the world.

    By Tafadzwa Mswati | 3 years ago Reply

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