Apr

30

2013

Dane Hays|12:01 AM CT

Slaying Porn Through Christ: A Testimony of Hope

When a dear friend asked me to write an article about my journey to sustained victory over pornography, I must admit I didn't want to do it. Excuses filled my head. What will people think about me? What would I say about such a complicated issue? But at the forefront of my mind was simply this thought: Am I even victorious enough to write such an article? My so-called victory, after all, has been sloppy. Desires didn't magically disappear. The temptation to succumb has, at times, felt inordinate. But I can honestly look back and bear witness that God's grace is training me to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:11-12).

When I think about my journey, the path has been marked by months of prayer, meditation, conversations with God and others, and some despair along the way. If you're currently struggling between the desire to please God or to please self, take it from someone who has been in your shoes: God is faithful to forgive and to give grace to help you. As I look back, here are two threads of thinking that run through the entire process.

Remember the Gospel

The first thread comes at the risk of sounding cliché, but I couldn't be more serious: remember the breadth and magnitude of the gospel. For years my struggle with pornography was merely an annoying habit I wanted to fix, like biting my nails or saying "um" when speaking. But it kept me from being an effective leader in the church, and it kept me from being normal. I needed a fresh vision of what I was actually doing: I was grieving the Holy Spirit and participating in the very things that stored up wrath against me before I was in Christ (Eph. 4:30; Rom. 2:5). When the Lord brought a season of gospel renewal to my life, I came to understand that my sin was far more serious than I knew.

Thankfully, when the Lord brings gospel renewal he doesn't just show us how bad we are—he shows us how incredible he is. His mercies, his attributes, and his gospel became to me far sweeter than I'd ever imagined. Hour by hour I reminded myself that just as Christ's death called me to die, his resurrection called me to new life. I often stumbled and clawed my way back to these deep pools of water. When I sat down to pray, I felt like a child just learning to utter his first words. But I didn't give up. If you're struggling with pornography, fight to remember the life-changing truth of the gospel. Let that truth drive you moment by moment to confession and repentance. Practice it often. Don't be like the rich young ruler who wanted an easy formula for eternal life. Be instead like the woman who wept at Jesus' feet because she knew her sin was great but knew her Savior was better.

Remember Common Grace

The second thread of thinking flows from the first: remember the common grace gifts God has given us to fight pornography. Without the first thread, the second would be legalism; without the second, however, the first would be impractical. In order for gospel fruit to grow, I had to put myself in an environment where the fruit wouldn't be scorched before it could blossom. That meant I had to flee temptation by cutting off access to it. I had to use computer software, accountability partners, and daily reminders that I'd disqualify myself from ministry if I persisted in this sin. Even more, I had to visualize my wife's face each time I confessed it wasn't going well.

Because of our necessary and helpful focus on heart idolatry, we can be afraid of putting "eye-gouging" measures into our lives to fight sin. Computer software can't change my heart, we think. And that's true. But we should recognize these practical safeguards as common grace gifts from God to help us in our fight against our heart's idols. The path to sustained victory in my life is filled with earthly motivations. I didn't want to hurt anyone by derailing my life with pornography. I urge you to think about the same things. If the look of brokenness on your wife's face or an uncomfortable conversation with an accountability partner motivates you to resist porn, rejoice. Then, remember the gospel.

There are many helpful materials available on the subject of lust and pornography. You can read about the effects pornography has on the brain, or you can read about the "sin behind the sin" of control or ungodly pleasure. All of this information is vital to digest and understand. But let's never forget the most important thing to consult when thinking about these issues—God's own words:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:12-14)

May the grace of God remind us of who we are and who he is in our fight against sin—and may that grace also empower to obey in moments of intense temptation. He is faithful.

Dane Hays is a biblical counseling student at Southern Seminary. He and his wife serve in various ministries of Crossing Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Categories: Christian Living
  • Amy

    Dane, thank you so much for your willingness to be vulnerable and write an article on this. I hope to read more from you!

    I'm not sure if you intend to ever write more on this subject, but if you do, I would definitely find it helpful to learn how your wife encouraged, supported, and challenged you in this time (if you were married at the time). I know there are many believing wives (myself among them) who know their husband struggles with this temptation and want to help and encourage as much as possible.

  • http://gospelmuse.wordpress.com Matthew Morizio

    Thanks for sharing your journey, brother. I pray God's grace, found in the Gospel alone, will continue effectual.

    C.S. Lewis stated: "Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, ‘You must do this. I can’t.’ Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, ‘Have I reached that moment?’.... When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, ‘Hullo! I’m growing up.’ It is often only when he looks back that he realises what has happened and recognises it as what people call ‘growing up’." (Mere Christianity)

    C. S. Lewis also said, "If you seek heaven you will get earth thrown in; if you seek this earth you will miss both heaven and earth."

    Biblical change: 2Cor3:18

  • http://jdfrezza.wordpress.com Joel Frezza

    Thank you for sharing this. I have found this article to be powerful in my struggle with porn in my marriage. His mercy is new and fresh every morning and we are wise to use it to slay ourselves. Endurance through hardship and action through temptation are keys in this. But all good gifts come from Christ, Himself. God bless.

  • Michael

    "You can read about the effects pornography has on the brain, or you can read about the "sin behind the sin" of control or ungodly pleasure."

    what are some good resources on this? Specifically the latter

  • Joshua Whetstine

    Well said!

  • http://www.covenanteyes.com/?promocode=standsolid Jonathan

    I like what Dane said about common grace. I think the connection between special and common grace is an important distinction to make. God gives both to help in our fight against temptation.

    For those of you looking for a good pornography blocking, filtering, and accountability software, try using Covenant Eyes. Use promo code "standsolid" to get the first month free. God bless you guys in your fight against pornography!

  • Steve B.

    "Oh God of 2cd chances and new beginnings...Here am I again."

    Thanks for some very practical help Dane. And thank God that despite our sin, we have a Savior who sympathizes with our weakness...(Hb.4:15)

  • Anonymous

    I am currently dealing with this right now, so thank you for this timely article. I feel god has led me to this to get some more resources on how to stop this. Please keep me in your prayers.

    • Kenneth

      Dear Anonymous,

      I highly recommend a free software filter, it is very effective against this stuff. You can download it from here: http://www1.k9webprotection.com. I had my wife put it on all our computers and she sets it up with a password that only she knows. I've been married almost 3 years, and I've been doing very well in this area since the filters were installed. Remember it's called "K9 Web Protection".

      God Bless!

      Kenneth

  • Scott

    I appreciate your insightful article, Dane. You are spot on. By God's grace, I have been free from porn for for almost 2 months. I began the "Setting Captives Free" study in early March -- it has provided strong Biblical teaching to help me understand the principles that your article briefly touched on. For those who are struggling, I recommend the study: http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/courses/way-of-purity. Ultimately, the point of our desire for purity must be to bring glory to God!

  • Robert Wille

    Dane - The fact that your victory has been "sloppy" makes you an ideal brother to walk with. I have several brothers just like you, helping me stay accountable. May God richly bless your ministry. If that includes writing, it will be blessing for all of us.

  • http://laurensettle.wordpress.com Lauren

    Hey Dane,

    I just wanted to say how encouraging I found your post! And I agree with Robert Willie's post-- the fact that you are not "clean-break" victorious will even be used by God to help other people. (Who wants to seek out accountability from someone who made an easy, one-day-clean-break from a lifetime struggle? Not me!). We really do have to rewire our brains, with God's help and our Christian brothers & sisters, and that takes a long time. And although I have not personally struggled with porn (not anything to brag about, though, that's by God's grace), I know many men (and women--perhaps not as acknowledged in the Church yet) who do, and other women like myself still can relate to the addiction cycle of sexual sin for which this post still very much applies.

    God bless you and keep you!

  • http://andrewtlocke.wordpress.com andrewtlocke

    As a recovering sex addict who used pornography for years and who has now been sober for almost 5 years, I can give a hearty "AMEN!" to what Dayne has written here.

    A gigantic key to unlocking victory in this area of my life was in understanding the reasons I used pornography. Most men have not paused to give adequate attention to the question "Why?". This was the first major stepping step in my recovery and it changed everything. Understanding why I made "the golden haired woman" an idol in my life was priceless in my struggle. I would encourage any man who even struggles only periodically to read the book "Pure Desire" by Ted Roberts. Not only is it an intensely practical book, it assists men in looking the mirror.

    Also, finding an accountability group of men who are battling this together was a big piece to my recovery. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them, from my perspective, is that a man needs to feel the long consequence of sin. Recovery is a process. Shorter for some, longer for others, but it is a process nonetheless. A recovery group is essential for measuring one's steps, reality checks, and creating a different set of "healthy habits" that, over time, replace the unhealthy ones that a typical man has worked long and hard to establish. Call them deprogramming and reprogramming groups, if you like.

    "It's not like you've struggled against sin to the point of shedding blood, [like Jesus did...]" ~Hebrews 12:4 (modified)

    ~a

  • Anonymous

    From a wife of someone who has struggled with pornography and sexual addiction, I would beg anyone fighting this battle to look into the LifeSTAR program http://lifestarnetwork.org/about_lifestar.html The program isn't faith based but most individuals I've attended with are of faith. They offer support for men and women.

    Also, there is a lot of shame wrapped up in this fight. We found that the book 'Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw' was extremely helpful.

    Best to you all.

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  • DIANA

    THANK YOU!

  • DM

    I know most people will never reply to this because of shame - but even if just a handful of people reply, PLEASE know that MANY more besides that were touched. ANd not just men, but women too! You don't know how much you've helped here just sharing your testimony. You struck the exact chords that go on inside those of us who have had this problem and hate it, and want to get away from it - then you brought up verses we'd probably never thought of that way. You have helped tremendously in just stepping on on faith and honesty and boldness, to make a difference in others who are too ashamed to ask for help. Thank you so much and God bless you for writing this, and God bless Kirk Camerson for sharing it through email. I have been touched and my mind strengthened and heart pierced by the Word and healed by God's loving forgiveness.

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