This is true for me personally. I don't like to talk about this any more than you probably do. It's awkward. It's putrid and repulsive. It's something I wish we didn't even have to struggle with. I know this is why the disconnect exists between how big an issue pornography is and how quiet our response is. I can understand this, but at the same time, not talking about porn because it is an awkward subject, I now realize, is a lame excuse. It's against my calling as a Christian, even, to not speak out. As it says in Ephesians 5:4,8-14:
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints . . . For you were once darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Since I have said that clearly, I want to say, humbly, that this is not an area I have been perfect in. I have had struggles as early as age 13 with purity online, and I have stumbled more than a few times. My failures have made me realize that I can't keep pure on my own. It is honestly an issue I believe no man can conquer on his own. The man after God's own heart, David, stumbled terribly. Who am I to think that I am better or more capable than him?
This realization has gradually led me to some firmly held ideas about how to beat this hidden giant of porn that I want to share with you. First off, we need to link arms with fellow brothers and fight this giant together. Secondly, we need to put every hindrance possible between us and pornography. Lastly and most importantly, our desire and passion for Christ needs to outweigh our sinful passions toward lust. I know these ideas sound simple, but I believe it's faithfully living them out that can bring victory—and by victory, I mean total and complete freedom from temptation online! I am absolutely convinced this hope is ours, men; I have experienced a taste of it myself!
My whole desire in this post is to urge men to take pornography seriously, and to explore together these ideas for beating it. My hope is that by breaking the ice about this awkward topic through this post, conversations among men will be started that will lead to both increased awareness and renewed resolve to beat this giant back out of the gates of our churches, families, and hearts.
It all starts, I believe, by throwing off this whole idea of a lone ranger approach to our sexual purity. If you look at every account of a man stumbling into sexual sin in the Bible, he did so because he was alone. The young man walked by the harlot's house alone in Proverbs 7. David was alone on that rooftop when he saw Bathsheba bathing. The most despicable, extreme example of sexual sin is found in 2 Samuel 13 when Amnon sent out everyone from his presence so he could be alone with Tamar. Men, it is so clear: terrible things happen when we are alone.
A huge strategy for sexual purity, then, is to extremely limit what is called our "private lives". Be around people who know you. Don't find yourself alone, especially with time to kill, as much as possible. There will be times, of course, where it is impossible not to be alone, but this doesn't mean you can't still be accountable with how you are using that time. For instance, I spend hours studying in a quite room by myself, but I spend a lot of that time screen sharing with other online students so we stay accountable and on task.
Speaking of accountability, I've also realized the great benefit of having a real live accountability partner. This is not as daunting as it sounds, I assure you! Find a dear friend and brother in Christ you can trust with your secrets and be honest about your struggles with him. You'll be shocked to find that he struggles with the same issues too and wants to be free of them like you do! Seriously, this isn't that hard if we are willing to humble ourselves and be honest. It shouldn't be weird to admit that you are a real, live functioning adult male with God-given sexual desires living in a fallen world. The trade off of having someone to help build you up and sharpen you in your battle for purity far outweighs the awkward conversations you will have to have! And not to mention, avoiding having to have those awkward conversations is a great bonus motivator to remain sexually pure.
This leads into my second thought about putting as many barriers between ourselves and porn as possible. We should take this seriously, to the point of actively inconveniencing or even handicapping ourselves if that is what is necessary to avoid lust! Sound extreme? Don't blame me! It's our Lord Jesus who says in Mathew 5:27-30:
If our Lord takes lust this seriously, we should follow suit. It may mean something as extreme as not having internet at our homes or data on our phones if that is what it takes! In our day and age, that would definitely be like losing our right arm. Needless to say, we need to put as many barriers in place as possible till we stop stumbling online. An easy place to start is accountability software on all your devices and someone willing to partner with you in getting the software reports of your online activity. It may also mean no devices make it to your bed room. It may mean destroying every movie you have with a scene in it that makes you stumble. Do whatever it takes, men! I urge you. It was as if Jesus was figuratively comparing lust to gangrene. The decay and suffering it causes needs to be cut off to restore us to health! Even if that cutting off is painful and seriously debilitating, it is the only way to truly live.
Lastly but most importantly, our struggle for purity will only succeed if done for the soul purpose of glorifying God! Of this I am certain. When I try to stay pure only to prove my righteousness to man, I fail every time. How much better to be so committed to the Lord that to stumble in pornography would be heartbreaking solely because it would grieve the God who died for us! We can't fight fire with fire on this one. Battling pornography in our own flesh will lead only to failure. We need to live out our new nature as children of God, deeply committed to abiding and growing in our relationship to Him. I won't post it here, but I strongly recommend Galatians 5:16-25 as a key passage to understanding how we can deny sin as Christians. It begins and ends with walking by the Spirit!
I want to sum up this post with a simple but powerful verse. It demonstrates perfectly all the thoughts I have just shared and bundles them into one simple game plan. May we all be faithful to find other men who call upon the Lord from a pure heart to hold each other accountable to. May we all actively flee lust no matter how much it inconveniences us. And above all else, may we be faithful to walk by the spirit and produce good fruit such as righteousness, faith, love, and peace! This hidden giant of pornography will starve itself out if it can't gorge itself on our lustful thoughts or desires. I am experiencing victory from this giant as I find more and more ways to distance myself from his reach. Will you come run with me? There is a way of escape for us where this giant can't reach. It's found in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ! Come with me, man of God. Let's flee and starve this giant together!
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22