Frequently Asked Questions answered
Satan continues to steal souls and drive people to the depths of shame using the false promises of pleasure through pornography. You can help fight against his lies with the love of Christ.
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This depends on a whole host of issues, so you’ll want to see a pastor for more specific advice. If you aren’t married, then no. You don’t HAVE to stay in that relationship. If you are married, then maybe. Did they cross the “flesh line” and physically cheat? Are they battling this sin with repentance and the gospel? Are they sorry for the sin and trying to love you – or have you been deserted by them, immersed in marriage-wrecking porn? There are too many variables to answer such a vital question simply. Once again, please see your pastor to help you through this painful time.
Even one lingering view is sin, of course, and sin needs to be confronted regardless. Addiction is defined various ways, but for our purposes, if the answer to any of the following questions is yes, you likely have a serious problem with this sin:
- Have you told yourself numerous times, “This is the last time I’ll do this,” and failed to stay away? (lack of control)
- Do you find yourself having the urge to view when you are under stress or as a way to feel good? (craving)
- Do you view in spite of what might happen if you get caught? (lack of fear of consequences)
- Are you frustrated by a sense of being powerless against this sin at times? (compulsion)
We also recommend you check out the FAQ about whether addiction is sin or disease.
NO. According to studies or surveys compiled by Covenant Eyes:
Among general public:
“Today, 68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once every week. Another 17% of men and another 30% of women use porn 1-2 times per month. This means for 85% of young men and nearly half of young women, watching porn is at least a monthly activity.”
“50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women say they are addicted to pornography.”
Among workers called into ministry:
“51% of pastors say Internet pornography is a possible temptation.”
You do not have to lie, but neither should you be the one to share his problems. Take 30 minutes and write out some potential, hypothetical responses for different social situations. This way, you’ll be prepared if questions come up and avoid saying more than you intend to share. You may even want to practice these responses when you are alone.
Here are some samples:
- “We are having some difficulties right now.”
- “We have some issues to work through, so we’re separated for a while – until things are settled.”
- “We are seeking help as we work through some things.”
- You can even be very vague: “It’s hard, but we’re working.”
No one has the right to pressure you to say more than you are comfortable with at the time. Listen to your friend’s responses, and if you feel comfortable you can share more, but only when you are ready. Be aware that a group dynamic is different from a personal conversation.
Remember that anything that is contrary to God’s Word and will is sin, whether it is our thoughts, our words or our deeds. Jesus warns us: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Our Savior also warned in his sermon on the mount: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Viewing pornography is heart sexual immorality (for single people) and heart adultery (for married people)—sins against God. The child of God will want to escape and avoid the sin of pornography. They can and will do this by remembering that God has cleansed them from all of their sins which empowers them to “leave their life of sin.”
Porn and sex addiction take place when a person has taken him/herself out of the context of right and wrong, losing control and the power of choice. It includes lust, in any form, and sex in any form, including sex with oneself.
Conquerors through Christ recommends Covenant Eyes’ screen accountability software. Parental control content blockers are a good start, but Christian accountability is extremely important in every struggle too. Covenant Eyes helps provide enable that accountability.
Pornography objectifies people and creates unrealistic expectations for sex that are completely void of the intimacy God intends. Pornography can be very addictive. Pornography encourages the abuse of women. The harm of pornography on your child extends beyond a guilty conscience and a damaged understanding of God’s design for sex. Pornography harms self-image and leads to lack of confidence and low self-worth.
First of all, even when it feels like you are, you are never alone – Christ is always with you. He promises to never leave or forsake you. Next, find a counselor to talk with, preferably one who is familiar with sex/porn addiction. Use the internet to find one (Conquerors through Christ has a list of trusted counselors.) Find a supportive group in which to participate, such as COSA, Heart to Heart Partners, or even ALANON. Groups like these help you understand that you are not alone in the struggle of living with an addict.
A few basic ideas are crucial for you right now:
- Personal repentance: Make sure to consistently confess your own sin against God and against him. That will keep your heart tender and your spirit compassionate.
- Prayer: God changes things through prayer. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other,” James said, “so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Don’t underestimate the power of a prayer in Jesus’ name. Pray for the heart. Pray for eyes to be opened to the goodness of God that led our Father to label lust as demonic and destructive. Pray for your ability to forgive and love just as Jesus loves you.
- Community: You need mature Christian friends to help you through this. You don’t need “friends” who pounce and just get angry just to make you feel better. You do need friends who love the addict, love their soul, love your marriage, and will be honest with you both. The Proverbs say, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses,” so turn to friends who will be honest with you for the sake of your marriage and your spiritual health.
This is a hard one. Be as open and fair as possible, and work to make a judgment based on analysis of all actions. Is there a change? Has help been sought? Is there a sponsor of some kind? These resources encourage honesty.
You feel hurt. You feel damaged. Therefore, step 1 looks inward: you need to take real, personal care of yourself. You should seriously consider finding a counselor to help you through this tough stage. Whether or not you choose to connect with a counselor, there are good resources available. Conquerors through Christ is constantly producing new resources to encourage, equip, and inspire you. COSA (Codependents of Sexual Addiction) is a support program for spouses. If there is a chapter near you, you may want to start attending. These resources will give you a safe place to begin your recovery.
On a very basic level, forgiveness is the answer. Keeping a record of wrongs, throwing his sin in his face, punishing him with a lack of love/respect because of his sin will quickly detonate any hope you have a beautiful, God-exalting relationship. “Forgive one another just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32) On a deeper level, you probably need the help of a mature Christian friend, a qualified counselor, and/or a pastor who loves you both and can guide you with God’s Word.
“Feelings” are fickle because they come and go. We must ALWAYS go back to the cross, day in and day out, and there confess our sins and believe they are forgiven because God has said they are. There we can be confident in being pure again because God promises it is so. He assures us that we are washed “clean” in the blood of his Son shed on the cross for us. Remember God’s promise to you through Jeremiah in 31:34: “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” Remember what God promises in Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Other promises of God for us to remember are found in Isaiah 65:3, John 15:3, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 9:14 and 1 John 1:7.
No one can tell you how long the anger will last. It may be weeks or months, and hopefully not longer. There will be times throughout the first year – maybe even into the second – when anger will return when a phrase, a smell, a person, or a sound trigger the painful memories. If you find yourself constantly angry, if it is disrupting life and the peace in your heart, seek professional counsel.
This depends on you. You have 4 options:
- Do nothing, know nothing and go on as if life is just fine. (It won’t stay that way.)
- Know every detail of everything. This can be dangerous because detail can get in the way of forgiveness.
- Know the “types” of things your partner has done.
- Know the basic actions – watched porn, went to a sex shop, had an affair, visited a prostitute – so you know how to protect your marriage.
- Simply know they are addicted to porn or sex and try to move forward.
Talk to your friend about it. Tell the person why you suspect he or she might be viewing porn and make it clear you are concerned and want to help. Tell the person that he or she is forgiven through Christ. Recommend this website. Offer to be an accountability partner. Offer to help the person find the right people that can help him or her (pastors, Christian counselors, etc). Pray for your friend often.
Do not minimize or rationalize the sin. (If the person is in denial, help him or her understand how serious the sin is.) On the other hand, do not condemn the person. Do not act as if the sin is unforgiveable or worse than all other sins that God detests (pride, selfishness, etc.).
First of all, we are so sorry for your pain. And no, this is not your fault. What your husband has been doing is wrong, but you did not cause him to sin. We are all responsible for our own actions.
Because of the deep emotional wound this sin causes, you will likely need spiritual and professional help (pastor, Christian counselor) overcoming your hurt. Similarly, your husband will need help overcoming his sin. If your husband is willing to get the help he needs, praise God. Encourage him to follow through. Though it may seem impossible at the moment, at some point, we pray by God’s grace you can forgive your husband and be part of the help he needs. Your support and loving accountability can play key roles is his eventual victory over this sin.
If your husband out of fear or denial is not ready to get help, pray for him. Show him this web site. Seek help for yourself and request the prayers of your pastor or Christian counselor for him.
First of all, our hearts go out to you. Stumbling upon a betrayal of trust and fidelity is a painful experience, so we are praying for you and your husband.
What should you do? The first step would be to gently and firmly confront him. Galatians 6 says, “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” You caught your husband in his sin. Now, it’s time to restore him.
As you prepare for that conversation, pray for humility despite your hurt. Pray for a stubborn belief that his feelings in the moment are not as important as his future with you (and God!). Yes, he will probably not react perfectly, but God allowed you to find his stash for a reason. God wants to save your husband from the porn that will kill so many of the things he loves.
If he repents and apologizes to you and to God, forgive him. Tell him about the Jesus who died to save sexual sinners. Love him despite his sin, just like Jesus loves you despite yours. Continue to show him respect and kindness, even though he doesn’t deserve it.
If he doesn’t repent, pray for him and refuse to drop the issue. His soul is too valuable to do anything less.
As far as telling others, that is really a judgment call. I wouldn’t call the pastor, his best friend, or a counselor just because you found his porn. Instead, I would encourage him to take that step himself. Help him to see the value of a band of brothers to help him in the struggle. You can use CtC’s videos/resources to encourage him to do just that.
If he minimizes it and blows you off, tell him you need to get others involved. Show him 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 and insist that his soul is too important to you and you won’t let his pride be the cause of his condemnation. I hope it doesn’t get to this point, but what matters most is his eternity.
Blessings on your upcoming conversation. May the Holy Spirit guide you and give you the right words at the right time!
YES – Absolutely. Thank God if you are not addicted…but get help NOW before you are. Many do not even realize they have passed the point of addiciton. The scary thing about porn is that it attacks your brain and changes the way you think and act. The “thrill” you get from watching porn becomes ingrained in the brain and makes you always want more. Counselors tell us that because of the easy availability and frequency of use, this is one of the hardest addictions to break. Like other highly addicitive substances, porn viewing has other highly damaging consequences, such as:
- You eventually need more and stronger “porn drugs”. Your craving most often will lead to desiring more extreme or deviant kinds of pornography.
- Men who watch porn (even though they may are not be “addicted”) can even have erectile dysfunction problems because of the effects of porn on their brain. This can cause problems in marriages—both current and future.
Please talk to your pastor or a good Christian counselor about getting help before you do become addicted.
You know what you need to know to offer the person forgiveness. Do that as you would for any sin. But because of the nature of this addiction, it is highly recommended that you refer him or her to a good Christian counselor who specializes in porn addiction. This will offer the person the best chance for recovery from the addiction. But you will likely still need to be the primary individual there to help your member with day-to-day spiritual doubts and struggles.
You don’t need to compete. Remember that addiction is not the same as reality. This addiction has less to do with you, who you are, what you look like, or what you’re willing to do and more to do with an activity that leads to a feeling – the pursuit of guilty pleasure. Addicts always seek another high. Understanding this will free you to be yourself, and you are a 3-dimensional person who cares. The models in porn can’t compete with that.
If you mean fantasizing (dreaming) about engaging in sex with someone you’re not married to, then those thoughts would dishonor marriage and God (Hebrews 13:4). This is not who God made you to be. God calls all people to believe in his Son as their Savior. When the Holy Spirit creates that saving faith in your heart, you become a temple of the Holy Spirit, which will compel you to honor God with their whole being—mind, soul and body. So yes, it is sin – but it is also a sin Jesus paid the price to forgive.
Let’s broaden the concept: if this addiction were alcohol, gambling, or drugs and you hadn’t known until now, would you also feel your marriage was a lie? Addiction controls addicts – they build up a tolerance and dive in further so they can feel satisfied again. Can an addict still love and feel love for family? Yes, they can. We strongly advise that you seek counsel using Conquerors through Christ’s resources and get help in personal recovery before you make any final decision on your marriage.
I am sorry for the heart-breaking news you received from your boyfriend. It is never easy to hear that someone you like “likes” to look at other women in a sexual way.
Let me offer one comment to your statement and two answers to your questions:
Your boyfriend says he likes to look at porn. Does that mean he is admitting/confessing that his sinful nature is drawn to it (like hundreds of millions/billions of people)? Or does that he mean he likes it and plans to keep looking at it with no regard for you, for God, or for the clear passages of Scripture about porn (Eph. 5, 1 Cor. 6, Mt. 5, etc.)?
My answer to your questions is nearly entirely based on his attitude towards his sin.
Will he stop when you get married? I don’t know. We at CtC know conquering habitual porn use is not easy, but it is possible. With a constant reliance on God’s love for sexual sinners and a constant willingness to confess sexual sin to others (friends, pastors, counselors, significant others, etc.), there is incredible hope that porn will become part of his past.
But make no mistake–Getting married, having sex, etc. will not “cure” his problem. Sin is stubborn and porn will not go down without a fight. (That’s why I mentioned above that his desire to fight this sin is so crucial.)
What if he doesn’t stop? If he has no plans to stop, I would caution you against marrying him. A man who vows to love you but plans to despise you through his porn use knows nothing about Christian love and will break your heart with his digital harem.
If, however, he hates his sin, loves Jesus, and wants to love you with pure eyes and a sexuality that belongs only to your marriage, then the choice is up to you. You have idols, too, and he has to wrestle with the same question–Is he ready to love someone who will sin against him? Are you ready to walk with him on this long journey that leads to heaven, even if it means he battles porn for years, if not decades of your marriage?
I can’t tell you what to do (nor is that my place). I can, however, tell you that a man who loves God, hates sin, and wants to go to war against porn is a great man with a great Spirit within him. Those are the ones you might not want to let go of.
Any porn use is too much. Porn always leads to exploration down dangerous avenues. Even if a person were able to avoid becoming addicted, watching porn leaves marriage behind and replaces it with lusting after another in his heart and mind.
Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.
- Pray. Tell God about what you have been doing. It shouldn’t be all that hard, after all, He already knows. He’s just waiting for you to come to him so he can tell you that he he loves you and has forgiven you.
- Watch our videos and explore the web site— they summarize the steps to follow to get porn out of your life.
- Take the hardest step—tell someone—your pastor, a trusted friend, your spouse, or a Christian counselor. This is an sin we can almost guarantee you will not be able to “fix” on your own. You will need help. But the good news is there IS help available. But you must seek it out. Satan will seek to keep you isolated and weak. Don’t let him.
- Seek ongoing support in the form of counseling and accountability. This is a battle and Satan will not let his grip on you go without a treamendous struggle.
- Thank God for the victories and cry for mercy for any failures along the way.
The distinction regarding pornography use – is it a sin or an addiction? …and if it is an addiction, is it a disease like appendicitis that we have no control over? – has been argued about for some time. The same arguement exists regarding alcohol use.
Pastor James Berger in John Cook’s book, Conquerors Through Christ, answered the question regarding sin or disease regarding alcohol abuse/addiction by saying that alcohol abuse/addiction is both sin and disease. One does not become diseased with alcohol addiction without the sin of abusing alcohol in some way. He called the person addicted to alcohol a person caught in a sin. “Caught in a sin” is his key phrase.
An alcoholic does not become addicted to alcohol without bending the elbow to get the drink to his or her mouth. One does not become addicted to pornography without using it. If you search the Bible carefully you will note that drunkenness is the sin, not the glass of wine that we drink or the beer that we sip. Lust is the sin, not the nude picture or the act of intercourse between husband and wife. God gave us sex as a blessing. God gave us alcohol as a blessing. It is when we abuse either that we sin.
We abuse God’s blessing of sex upon a man and a woman in marriage with lustful desires for anyone not our spouse. We abuse God’s gift of sex with adultery and fornication. Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Addiction is the continual and habitual use of something that is sinful or the abuse of something that is given by God as a blessing in such a way that it becomes a powerful, controlling force in our lives. An addiction is something physiological in the brain that compels us to keep on doing that which we, as Christians, know is displeasing to God. When that happens the addiction rules our lives, not our God. We are caught in the sin of abusing the thing to which we are addicted.
According to some scientific studies, the brain activity and pleasure intensity is the same for both:
- The person sinning in lust as he or she views porn
- The person addicted to the pleasure provided by crack cocaine
It does not take long for the brain to crave the pleasure of crack cocaine or the pleasure of lust and porn use. When the brain begins to demand that it be pleasured, the pathways of the brain change. When this change happens, the addiction happens. The lust and the abuse come first. The sin is there with the lust and the abuse. The word, “addiction,” describes being “caught in the sin.” It is not only a sinful feeling and a spiritually sinful abuse of a blessing from God, it has also become a physical corruption in the brain.
An addicted person will always be an addict for his or her whole life. But when the addict stops the sin – the abuse and misuse of sex with lust or porn – then our God of love has blessed him or her again. No person caught in a sin gets set free without Christ. Jesus Christ is the power that is greater than any chains of sin or addiction. Repentance is being sorry for sin, trusting in God’s forgiveness, and turning away from that sin. There are fruits to repentance. The cravings and the desire may still be there for the addicted person. But the continued misuse of God’s blessings is no longer there. Sinful lust no longer controls the person, but is banished when it enters the mind. By God’s grace in Christ there is forgiveness. A sanctified Christian life in recovery is being lived with the help of God.
In God there is victory! In our Triune God we are more than conquerors.
No, you should not. Your role is to be something different than their police officer, parent, or guard rail. They need someone who understands addiction; someone who has been there and is working recovery. It is also beneficial if the encourager/accountability partner is the same gender.
Porn kills. Porn is killing your intimacy, your trust, and your joy in being with your husband sexually. Is your husband sorry for his sin? Is he battling porn? Is he a struggling sinner or is he accepting this intimacy-murdering sin as something normal for guys to do? Is he kind and compassionate to you or is he defensive and demanding sexually?
Let’s assume that your husband is crushed by his sin and is generally loving towards you. If he’s not, I might recommend a different approach, so please read the following with that assumption in mind.
First, you would be surprised how men and women view porn differently. Lust and love are two different things, though women tend to view them as the same. A male porn addict is typically not in love – marital love – with the object of his lust. At the same time, men fail to realize that their lustful addiction makes women question their beauty and worth.
Second, it is vital for you to understand your own place in this situation. Try not to speak to him from a place of “perfection,” but with the compassionate heart of a person who understands how valuable forgiveness is.
Finally, and this is the hardest point to address, punishing your husband by denying him godly intimacy is rarely wise because it is one-sided – it is not adding to your relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to keep being intimate, though. Sitting down with him, talking through a resolution, and setting aside a time of no sex can have value, but it should be mutual – the two of you are together in this battle. (If there are other issues of coercion, abuse, pressure, etc. in your marriage, please seek immediate help/professional counseling.) 1 Corinthians 7 reminds us that serving each other sexually helps protect our spouses from sexual sin. Your husband must relearn what it means to pursue you and take care of you in an intimate context. You can help him avoid the temptation to pursue sexual gratification from porn by being clear and honest about your sexual desires and by caring for his.
Be somewhat careful about opening up. We recommend that you do not to open up to all your friends and family. Some will be supportive, some will struggle to understand – and some may be very critical of you or your spouse. Speak with a counselor. Find a support group like COSA, AL-ANON or S-ANON. It would be better to keep quiet than to speak with a friend who will be critical or non supportive of you.
In a case like this, addiction has likely replaced relationship. Porn’s advantage (and lie) is that it is always new and different. Your addicted spouse needs to admit that they are addicted before any progress can be made.
You may be surprised to know that sex within marriage doesn’t cure pornography addiction. Those who entered marriage with a porn problem soon find that they still have a porn problem! Therefore, don’t allow the Devil to deceive into thinking this will fix itself if you get married. The time to act is now both for your own sake and the sake of your future spouse, if you do get married in the future. Finally, remember that the God who created you as a sexual being is able to sustain and strengthen you for purity, even if that means a life of celibacy like the Apostle Paul or Jesus himself.
Do not overreact. This was going to happen eventually. Nothing is ruined. And your child is normal. It’s not shocking that this is happening, it’s shocking that you didn’t know about it. Now that you do know about it, you can have a conversation about it with your child. Let them know that sex is good, but pornography is not. Let them know what your plan will be going forward. Consider putting a content blocker on the devices your child uses. Let them know they are forgiven and loved.
Your job is your recovery. You cannot Recover for someone else. Pestering or pressuring someone to Recover will not work. Cooperation and teamwork are valuable because they give responsibility to all parties involved.
For your personal recovery, focus on your vocations. Be the family member, church member, and member of society that God made you to be.
Conquerors through Christ has produced a Parent Support System to assist and equip parents in teaching their children about God’s gift and design of sexuality. Conquerors through Christ also has Middle School Lessons and a High School Curriculum available.
Probably every age is a fine age to talk to your child about sexuality in age-appropriate ways. Talk to your two-year-old about privacy and differences between boys and girls. As they develop, you can continue teaching them about their body and later about the temptations and threats that exist in the world and can harm our bodies. Sex education is a process, not an event. You are not looking for a time to have one big awkward conversation. You are looking for many opportunities throughout your child’s life to advance the process of teaching them of God’s blessings and intentions for them and their bodies.
You did nothing wrong. You probably were a good wife. It is an addiction, not a response. He was looking for the feeling he gets from the pursuit and the guilty pleasure. He is always looking for another fix, another high, just like a drug addict. As long as he is in the addiction, no one will be “good enough”.
Not necessarily. While there are many available qualified counselors, not all of them specialize in sexual sins. To be honest – many secular counselors may not even see porn viewing, adultery, or living together outside of marriage as wrong. In addition, some Christian counselors under-emphasize the motivational role provided by the gospel good news which is vital for this struggle. On our web site we provide a list of counselors who specialize in the area of sexual sins and understand the powerful motivation provided by Jesus (For Christ’s love us… 2 Cor 5:14).
These are wonderful questions for all of us to consider, not just those who are struggling with the killer we call porn. Without being too simplistic, this question can be answered with one word: Jesus. Psalm 73:25 says, “Earth has nothing I desire but you.” The Psalmist is pointing us to God alone for the answer to our greatest desires. Paul agrees in Ephesians 1 when he tells us that every spiritual blessing is found “in Christ.”
What does that mean practically? It means truly knowing Jesus and realizing what he’s giving you right here and right now. Once the Holy Spirit starts to open your eyes, you will find immense joy even as you deal with the painful situations of this sin-filled world. For example…You have a perfect spouse in Jesus. Jesus is the one who laid down his life for his bride, the Church (all believers). You have one who pursues you, calls you beautiful, and truly keeps his vows to you. You are pure in Jesus. Jesus washed you of your sin (1 Cor. 6) and made you holy in God’s sight (Col. 1). You couldn’t be better looking or more spotless than you are right now (!!!) in Jesus. You have an eternity of joyful days in Jesus. Paul said in Romans 8 that the tears of this world are not even worth comparing to what’s waiting for us at Jesus’ side. You have purpose in Jesus. Even if porn ruined your dreams for life, Jesus still has good works lined up for you to do (Eph. 2). Who knows? Maybe God will use the pain porn caused to help you do good to many others.
We could go on and on. You asked where to start and my answer is–Jesus. Dig down deep into his promises and put down some deep gospel roots. That is what you’ll need to be blessed and rejoice despite the dark days porn brings.
While professional counseling is rarely on the “value menu”, consider this—The progression of your porn problem will cost you immensely more than any counselor will charge. If you lose your marriage, your job, your reputation, or your faith, you will lose something much more valuable than a few hundred dollars. Think of it in reverse—If you could pay a few hundred dollars and relive the last few years of your life without the wreckage of porn, would you? Of course! So, don’t let a week’s paycheck get in the way of your path to years of future victory over this sin.
If CtC Resources assist you in your efforts to Resist, Reject, or Recover from porn use, please help us continue to create them. Your gift would be a tremendous blessing to our ministry.