What Does God Say to Porn Addicts?
Porn is highly addictive and ruins people’s lives. How can you or a friend find freedom from porn addiction? Listen to what God says to porn addiction.
Three thousand years ago, King Solomon stood at the window of his palace at dusk, looking down on the dusty streets of Jerusalem. From his birds-eye view he observed a young man wandering near the well-known street corner—her corner. There she stood, dressed to kill, lips dripping with promises of pleasure. Solomon could overhear her smooth words, her brazen seduction, and he watched as the young fool followed her inside.
With penetrating insight, Solomon then picked up his quill and wrote Proverbs chapter 7, dissecting this man’s lust like a skillful surgeon.
To a man like myself who spent many years hooked on pornography, the relevance and value of this chapter of Scripture cannot be overstated. What makes women like this so attractive to men like me is not just how they look; it is the false promises they state with their words and body language.
At the risk of sounding crass, this woman’s seductive speech reads like an ancient porn script. She knows exactly how to sell him the fantasy he wants. Her words play to this man’s idolatrous desire for escape, his sense of entitlement, his ego, his desire for intimacy, and his craving for the forbidden.
Not much has changed in 3,000 years except the delivery method of her seduction. In Solomon’s day, we found her on the street corner. Today, we find her online.
But Solomon doesn’t leave the reader high and dry. The reason he tells the story so vividly is so we can remember it the next time we find ourselves passing by her street. Solomon offers us four words of wisdom.
1. Think Soberly About the Consequences
Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death (Proverbs 7:27).
Solomon here is playing on words: the man thinks he is going to her bedchamber, but really it is a chamber leading to the grave. This harlot runs a halfway house to hell.
Here Solomon is using vivid language to describe the final consequences of lust. We could form a line of people many miles long who could give one testimony after another about how lust started small but led to more costly decisions. “Many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26).
If we are to keep our heads on straight in the moment of temptation, we have to consider what we will lose if we start down the dark path of sexual sin. When the woman beckons to us from the other side of the screen, we need to have the sound of the “mighty throng” of her victims ringing in our ears.
2. Repent of Pursuing the Tempting Paths
Do not stray into her paths (Proverbs 7:25).
Christian musician Rich Mullins said for several years he found that it was too tempting to not watch the porn movies in hotel rooms, so he made a personal commitment to never travel alone. One night in Amsterdam, famous for its Red Light District, he was in his hotel at night, waiting to hear his friend start snoring so he could be sure he was asleep. He thought, “Maybe it would just be fun to take a walk and be tempted.” He never heard his friend snore that night, and in the early morning hours he finally gave up out of sheer exhaustion.
Let’s be clear: it is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to seek out temptation. Wisdom does not say, “How close can I get to the edge.” Wisdom is grounded in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10) and the very hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13). If we want to be free from habitual sexual sin, we have to repent of our desire to flirt with sin. “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
In addiction circles this is called “SUDs”: Seemingly Unimportant Decisions—the justifications we tell ourselves to walk close to the edge. “I’m just going to check my e-mail,” or “I’m just going to see who’s online,” or “I’m just checking Facebook.” Deep down, part of us actually hopes to encounter the temptation.
If we are going to break free from the power of habitual lust, we must repent of treating lightly something God despises. We must close all on-ramps to pornography, knowing that to deliberately use the on-ramp, even if you don’t see porn, is itself sinful.
3. Pay Attention to Your Heart
Let not your heart turn aside to her ways (Proverbs 7:25).
The heart walks down the path of temptation long before the feet do.
The “heart” is mentioned over 70 times in the book of Proverbs. It is a word that refers to the seat of our appetites, our knowledge, our emotions, anxieties, joys, furies, grudges, passions, plans, motives, inclinations, and choices. The heart is our whole inner person. Above all else, we should guard our inner life, because it is the wellspring of all we say and do (Proverbs 4:23).
What does it mean to guard your heart? For starters, it simply means to notice, training our minds to recognize when the lures of lust start to pull at us. The sooner we notice, the easier it is to turn the ship around.
Second, it means to deliberately cultivate virtues in our hearts that run contrary to the allure of porn. John Owen says this is what it means to walk in the Spirit. The Spirit implants new holy impulses into our hearts, and we keep in step with the Spirit by the “cherishing of a principle of grace that stands in direct opposition” to the sin we hate:
- Instead of seeking porn as a refuge, make God your refuge (Psalm 91:2).
- Instead of looking to the quick fix of lustful masturbation, cultivate a deep thirst for the Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13).
- Instead of the illusory respect offered by pixels on the screen, seek the glory that comes from the only God (John 5:44).
- Instead of the safe intimacy of solo sex, cultivate genuine intimacy with God and others, knowing God uses every relationship in our lives—even our risky ones—to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).
4. Walk with the Wise
The book of Proverbs is an address from father to son. The words “My son” add a personal touch to the whole book. Proverbs is not just a classroom textbook. It is an extension of Solomon himself to those he loves.
Solomon writes this way because he knows wisdom isn’t merely taught. It’s caught. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise.” God’s path of maturity in the Christian life is the path of discipleship.
In Proverbs 20:5 Solomon begins saying, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water…” Many times you have no idea what your real motives are, what’s lurking deep within you. Our hearts are like deep water. We cannot see to the bottom. But Solomon finishes the proverb, “…but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Find “men of understanding” to guide you—wise friends and mentors who can walk alongside you and help you see what you are unable or unwilling to see about yourself. Find those who can probe beneath the surface, men who are learning how to apply the gospel to your specific weaknesses, men who can’t be fooled by your pretenses and love you in spite of them.
I’m reminded of the scene in Rocky V when Rocky is in a street fight with Tommy Gunn. Tommy is merciless, delivering blow after blow, nearly knocking him out. As Rocky is trying to sum up the will to fight back, his mind flashes with scenes of his previous challenges in the boxing ring—the moments when he thought all was lost. Suddenly, in a flashback, he hears the echo of his former trainer, Mickey Goldmill. With a fierce but fatherly crassness, Mickey yells, “Now get up! One more round. I didn’t hear no bell! Get up, because Mickey loves you.”
In my experience working with men and women ensnared by pornography, too few of them have the echo of a fatherly voice in their minds, a voice that imparts to them a strength not their own. To the sexually enslaved, this is the kind of relationship we need: someone who is willing to say to us, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
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What biblical wisdom principles do you glean from this passage in Proverbs 7?
This article (4 Strategies from Proverbs for Breaking the Grip of Porn) on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.
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Pornography can be described as visual images, writing, or speech that is used for the purpose of arousing lustful sexual desires. The term derives from two Greek words: porne (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”). Pornographic material comes not only in various media but in varying degrees of “taste,” from titillating photos and writings to the most grotesquely immoral and perverted materials.
Pornography is both a symptom and a cause of the widespread immorality and corruption of modern society. It reaches people of all age levels through a multibillion-dollar industry including movies, books and magazines, videos for home use or for viewing in hotel rooms, and phone messages available to children as well as adults. The subject matter of these pornographic media include every imaginable perversion: homosexuality, rape, incest, sadism, bestiality, bisexuality, and the sexual exploitation of children.
The Real Problem with Pornography:
It Is Deceptive.
The vivid descriptions and the airbrushed photos and movies of naked women and men are a fantasy. Pornography purposely diverts sex from its intended meaning; it does not enhance natural sexual appetites or satisfaction, but rather desensitizes them. It is often an attempt by the user to heal wounds caused by loneliness, rejection, isolation, and the pain of being unable to measure up to expectations.
It Is Corrupting.
Pornography leads inevitably to lust, which warps an individual’s perception of self and sexuality. Respect and self-esteem plunge while guilt escalates. Normal marital relationships often dissolve through disinterest or conflict. For some users, pornography leads to deviant sexual behavior and sex crimes.
It Leads to Addiction.
What begins as a simple incursion into the fantasy world of sex can lead to obsession. As in drugs and alcohol, prolonged and uncontrolled use will have a degenerative and progressive effect on the mind and morals of the user. One’s goals become reduced to sexual gratification by whatever means. The user becomes dependent upon increasingly racy material to satisfy mental and physical demands.
It Is Spiritually Deadening.
Pornography desensitizes and corrupts moral and spiritual values; pornography and spirituality cannot coexist: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17).
Lust alienates from God.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. . . . Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. . . . Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 13, 18).
Lust must be avoided.
“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12).
“Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Lust ends in spiritual death.
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15).
1. Commend the person for seeking help in matters beyond his or her control. Express your willingness to encourage and help as you can.
2. Because pornography is mainly a spiritual and moral problem, the inquirer must seek deliverance from personal sins and immoral sexual behaviors:
A. If the person is not a Christian, invite him or her to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD. Explain that involvement in lust through pornography is often an attempt on the part of the user to solve his or her problems of loneliness, isolation, pain, or guilt. It is an attempt to play God, creating his or her own world through fantasy. Jesus bore our sins and our sorrows. We must cast all our anxieties and cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7).
B. It is surprising to discover just how many Christians, including pastors and leaders, are involved in some phase of pornography and its consequences. Providing help and healing for your inquirer will depend on the type of addiction and the level of involvement. The person may have been agonizing over the addiction for years. Assure the person of our sympathy and desire to encourage and be of help. We do not sit in judgment and will prayerfully suggest a possible procedure.
3. The individual must accept the full weight of the problem:
A. Frankly face the truth of addiction to lust through pornography.
B. Boldly confront the problem with the Lord’s help—without denial, rationalizations, or minimizing.
C. Take responsibility for immediate action. This means to stop feeding the addiction:
(1) Destroy all pornographic materials.
(2) Immediately stop visits to all places of temptation, such as pornographic movies, adult bookstores, or video rental stores.
(3) Sever any relationships that have encouraged the addiction.
4. Begin a serious effort to build or rebuild a godly life. Full and ultimate freedom and restoration will demand a sincere commitment to seeking God:
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2).
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13) (see also Mark 9:29; Philippians 3:7–17).
Godliness can be found as one submits to Christ’s lordship through the disciplines of:
(1) Daily confession of all known sin (1 John 1:7, 9). Until truly experiencing deliverance from the lust and addiction to pornography, special attention should be given to confession (Psalm 51; Mark 7:20–22; 1 John 1:7).
(2) Daily renunciation of conformity to the world in all its forms (Romans 12:2; 6:13–14).
(3) Cultivation of an intimate relationship with Christ (John 10:10; 15:5–7; Ephesians 3:14–19; Philippians 3:10–14).
(4) A daily offering up of one’s body as a “living sacrifice” to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
(5) Worship and praise in prayer (John 4:23–24; Philippians 3:3; Revelation 4:8–11).
(6) Thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6–7; Colossians 4:2).
(7) Supplication or petition (Philippians 4:6–7; Hebrews 4:16).
B. The Word of God:
In a battle to gain renewal and transformation of the mind, one must commit oneself to the reading, study, and memorization of the Bible (Romans 8:7; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:3–6).
C. Dependence on the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
D. Seeking fellowship with God (Philippians 3:10–14).
5. Establish fellowship links with spiritually minded Christians, which will mean:
A. Becoming actively involved in a Christ-centered church.
B. Burning bridges or links to the past—the surrender of all previous relationships and the cultivation of new ones.
6. Set up a network of accountability, making oneself subject to a mature Christian (not always a pastor) or group of Christians to whom the person can report on a regular basis so that spiritual progress may be monitored. Interfacing with such a person or group will supply encouragement and spiritual guidance. NOTE: It is at this point that spiritual pride, renewed denial, and rationalization are likely to be a problem.
7. It might be advisable to recommend that your inquirer seek the professional help of a Christian psychologist or psychiatrist who follows biblical principles of counseling. The addiction to lust and pornography may have its roots in the pain of a wounded childhood or dysfunctional family. Amore in-depth treatment may be indicated in order to rebuild communication and relationships with a spouse or family.
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996