7 Keys to Breaking the Bondage of Pornography

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Over 50 percent of men in the church struggle with porn.

One of my elders at church taught a class Sunday on pornography. He was vulnerable and honest about his own serious struggle with pornography after being exposed to it at a very young age through sexual deviancy among the adults in his home. I found his lesson relevant to men who've struggled with pornography, women who've struggled with pornography, men who haven't struggled with pornography and women who haven't struggled with pornography. Since that probably covers all the readers here, I thought I would share the progression of his thoughts.

1. Pornography is sin. Despite the near mainstream acceptance of pornography in many cultures (certainly here in Seattle), we need a biblical framework for understanding the issue. 

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 
See also 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 and Galatians 5:19-21.

2. However, don't elevate the sin above what it is—simply sin. Adam, the elder teaching this lesson, shared how in a moment of deep angst over his use of pornography yet again, he was confronted by another elder at our church. Did he have the same angst when he yelled at his wife? When he was angry with his children? The elder exhorted him to not minimize the sin, but also not to allow it a place of importance above other sins. In a twisted way (because we often do twist such things), elevating the sin of pornography can make fighting the struggle a legalistic idol and source of pride for those who struggle less than others. 

Romans 1:29-32 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

3. Hate the sin, and speak truth with patience and grace to yourself and others with overcoming the struggle. Paul's words in Romans 7 don't excuse our sin, but it does explain our sin. 

Romans 7:15-8:1 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Adam shared his story of his wife's response to him when he first confessed his use of pornography to her. He waited until late in the evening to tell her. Then he got up off the bed to leave the room in shame. She asked him where he was going, and he told her he figured she didn't want to be around him right now. She said, "Why would I want that? I love you!" Adam recounted with tears how her words ministered grace to him that kept him walking his struggle with pornography in the light.

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In contrast, he knew another man who told him his wife's response was along the lines that if she ever caught him using pornography again, she would immediately divorce him. This further pushed this man into isolation and shame when he needed to admit his sin and walk in the light with his wife. Adam pointed out how his own wife's gracious response helped him walk in the light and confess his sin, which has been key to moving forward in his struggle successfully. 

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