Believe it or not, even Christians are struggling with pornography. Pastors are not immune either. Women are increasingly becoming addicted to pornography at an alarming rate. What can be done to overcome such a stronghold? What weapons can we employ to fight this mind-numbing addiction?
The Internet and Pornography
With the coming of the Internet, its popularity has been soaring, but so too has been a scourge of the worst kind; pornography. Everyday, there are new porn websites that go up. Just how systemic is the problem of Internet pornography? According to the very reliable statistics of Family Safe Media (familysafemedia.com/pornography):
Every second – 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
Every second – 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
Every 39 minutes – a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
Another alarming fact is that over 42% of all Internet users are connecting to pornography on over 4.2 million pornographic websites. Governments are helpless in shutting these down because for every one that is shut down there are 20 more that take its place. If there was a disease with such an alarming growth rate and the problem was so widespread among the world’s population, this would be on every network television station in every nation of the world. In reality, it is worse than any disease epidemic because we are powerless to stop it and there is no inoculation against it.
The High Cost of Pornography
Not only is pornography wrecking marriages and single men and women’s lives, it is also ruining them financially. How? Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. That is over $180,000 every hour. This adds up to well over four million dollars every single day. Worldwide, the total cost is over $97 billion dollars annually. These are dollars that feed the sin of pornography and enables it to churn out more garbage of the mind. It’s like feeding a dragon that is devouring millions of people through their minds. This is truly one of the biggest revenue makers in the world; bigger than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, EarthLink, and Netflix combined! This is money taken out of the mouth of family’s bank accounts, money taken out of business revenues, out of world revenues, and literally, money out of the mouth’s of children.
Christians Are Not Immune
Sadly, 47% of all Christians say that they have major problems with pornography. Even among the discipleship group of the Promise Keepers, 53% of these men viewed pornography in the last week! An April 6th, 2007 CNN poll revealed that over 70% of Christian men and over 20% of Christian women are already addicted to some sort of Internet pornography. In the year 2000, Christianity Today completed a shocking survey that revealed 33% of the clergy (pastors and priests) admitted that they had visited a sexually explicit Internet website in the past week. Fifty-three percent of the clergy had visited pornographic websites several times in the past year. In a survey of pastors by the National Coalition in Seattle, a full 98% had been exposed to porn while 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website.
We can see from all of the above statistics that this is a true epidemic and it is growing at an alarming rate and it is not just a problem for those outside of the church. Given the fact that Jesus said that “that anyone who looks at a woman [or a man if a woman is looking] lustfully has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his [or her] heart.” (Matt 5:28). Pornography is still sexual sin, even if the physical act is not involved.
Overcoming Pornography Addiction
Now that the problem of pornography has been identified and that it’s not just a problem with the guy next door, we can turn to solutions for those who know someone or who are themselves addicted to this sin of the mind. One of the pastors that I know of and who is a close friend of mine has had a lifetime battle with pornography. Not only that, this godly man has had problems with looking at women with lust in his heart. Mind you that he is happily married and has a wonderful family. He has confided in me privately and asked me to pray for him so one way to help is to ask someone that you know well and trust completely to pray for you or to pray for someone that you know has a pornography addiction. Out of the 6 close pastor friends that I have, 3 of them have regular problems with pornography. All of these men need accountability partners and all but one of them has one. One of these men confides in me and contacts me when he is struggling with this. We often hold each other up in prayer for different things but there are more solutions available besides prayer for the person battling the addiction of pornography.
Strategies for Overcoming Pornography Addiction
A web filter is a great way to screen out potential Internet websites that contain pornography. And one of my friends has let me set the password and I have promised him that I would not reveal it to him no matter what he tells me. I have to customarily add some websites to his “safe” list so that he can browse certain sites that are non-pornographic because the web filter is highly word sensitive to websites and sometimes blocks even harmless websites due to unknown images. This is a small price to pay though for having the protection that he so desperately needs. In some extreme cases, I have recommended that the Internet be accessible only in the living room where his family is. My daughter has a computer but it’s in the living room so that we can easily monitor it when she is on it. Her primary use of it is for homework but of course she is allowed to spend some free time browsing for things that she enjoys reading about.
Jesus once said that “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt 5:30). Jesus did not mean this literally as He was speaking in hyperbole. The principle is that if a person has tried everything and just can not stop browsing the Internet for pornography websites, they should just take out the Internet. This sounds drastic but when problems are so devastating, the measures should be severe if necessary. Another solution would be to have a password protected computer and the pornography addict can only access the computer in the living room when family is present. There are also so highly effective Internet Filters available on the market. One of the best and least expensive is from the website and non-profit organization, Family Fellowship (familyfellowship.com).
Confess Your Sins
The Bible tells us that we are to confess our sins to one another. James 5:16 has two things that are very important for all Christians…who by the way are also all sinners! It says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.“ James says two things here: Confess your sins to one another and then pray for each other so that “you may be healed.“ It seems that confessing to other believers and then praying for one another is conditional for us to ”be healed.“ Even though I am a pastor, I continue to confess to my church when and where I fall short and before I became their pastor, I told them every single thing that I did before I was ordained. I thought, surely they would not want me after I confessed my past history. I told them and I am telling you that I was a drug addict, a drug dealer, a thief, and I ended up in prison. After I told the church that this is what I did several years ago, they actually felt better about me becoming their pastor, much to my surprise. And for me, it was like the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders. I felt free…I felt joyful and indeed, there is something joyous about being completely transparent in front of others. They also let their guards down and everyone feels all the better after we confess to one another our faults and sins. Ironically, God often uses the disqualified so that He may be glorified.
The pornography addict needs to take the first step that the drug addicts or alcoholic must take. Admit that they are addicted. Friends and family must realize that the addict will often lie just to be able to access the Internet just as drug addict or alcoholic lies to drink or take drugs. They will make all kinds of excuses but there must be a zero-tolerance policy established if the addict is to recover. They first have to tell someone or there will be no hope of ever overcoming this stronghold of the mind. You can surround your self with friends who will pray for you, even if it’s an “unspoken need” but until you admit this addiction to someone, you will have precious little chance to overcome it. That is the first thing that they will tell you at an AA meeting. Step one: Admit it. Prayer and support from others is vital if the porn addict ever hopes to recover. We can not overcome by ourselves but by prayer and the Bible teaches that we can do all things through Christ Who will strengthen us (Philippians 4:13).
Other ways are to spend less time alone, change your routines, and identify triggers that make you want to go to the Internet to browse pornography. Also realize what was said earlier…that pornography is a sexual sin, even if the physical act is not involved, and if you are married, it is the same thing as committing adultery to God (Matt 5:28) and we all know how God feels about that. How would your spouse feel about it?
There are also Christian or faith-based pornography support groups in many cities. Even those that are not faith-based can be very helpful. There is actually some comfort taken in the fact that there are a lot of others who are battling this same addiction. Will power and avoidance can sometimes make it worse. You need people to surround you who have a similar addiction and prayer warriors from a faith-based group or your church. And there is something that is freeing when you tell others about this addiction. You might be surprised about how good it feels to actually confess this to someone and they might surprise you too by telling you that they also struggle with this addiction. Don’t keep it a secret. Get it out and let others know. Who cares if you are embarrassed…isn’t it worth it to try to escape from this deadly disease of the mind?
Don’t spend a lot of time alone on the Internet and resist the urge to get up in the middle of the night when everyone’s asleep. When you get this urge, call your accountability partner, wake your spouse, call a friend, read your Bible, look at yourself in the mirror or just fall on your knees and ask God for help. Other strategies are just go outside and go for a walk, ride your bike, go to the gym, do some gardening, look at family photos, take a shower…anything! Pray and then pray some more. Above all, make sure that you get a password protected Internet Filter and give it to a friend that you know will not betray you and give you the password. There is hope for those who want to overcome their addiction to pornography.
Please, if you are a porn addict, get help, tell others, pray, confess your sin, get a filter, and ask Jesus for His power. He will not forsake you and not leave you alone. Have faith in God for Him to deliver you. He is a Strong Tower for those who are weak and “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 1:8). This is “so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ“ (Phil 1:8). Then you, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6).
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