How to Break the Stronghold of Porn

by | Apr 22, 2020 | Pornography, Uncategorized | 15 comments

How to Break the Stronghold of Porn

If you feel stuck in a porn addiction, how do you break that stronghold?

This month, in April, we’re talking about defeating porn every Monday–but there’s so much to say that I’m carrying that series over into other days of the week! We’ve looked at the effects of porn on your brain, your marriage and your sex life; we’ve looked at how big a problem porn actually is; we’ve looked at what porn recovery should look like.

I’ve written previously on three steps to stop a porn addiction, and today I want to break it down into one major step to break the stronghold. This is how we fight on the spiritual level when something has enslaved us–whether you’re a man addicted to porn or a woman addicted to porn. You feel like you can’t do anything about it. It keeps drawing you to it.

But how do we fight temptation towards porn–or towards temptation in general?

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

We don’t just try to do this in our own strength. We recognize that sometimes we are ensnared in a way that affects our spirit, and that affects the spiritual realm around us. And so we have to fight in that spiritual realm. And how do we do that? With weapons that have divine power to demolish strongholds.

And what are those weapons? Taking every thought captive and demolishing the arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against God.

That may sound high-faluting and confusing, but as I was writing this series, I came across a sermon by Greg Boyd that dealt with this beautifully, and I think he explains this perfectly.

He opens up by talking about the essential problem of temptation is how we choose to see the world. “Will we choose to see sin for the ugly thing that it is, or will we allow ourselves to be deceived and see it as something positive?” And then turns to an interaction he had had with a man who was addicted to porn and losing his marriage. (and the video should start at 34:35, but if it doesn’t, fast forward there and watch for about 6 minutes).

And here’s my transcription, which isn’t word for word, but which gives the gist of it:

[After the important preamble about how we handle temptation and how we see the world, Boyd turns specifically to temptation]:

I told him: “Think of the last time you watched porn. What was going on in your head right before you did it? What were you thinking? Because you were thinking about it in some way to make porn seem positive.”

He was thinking of images. They seem positive. They seem fun. They pull him along.

Does God see this as a positive thing?

No.

The truth is that this activity is ugly, damaging, and destroys people. It destroys marriages and relationships, and it harms people psychologically and in a lot of ways. It’s a gross, ugly thing. It’s part of the kingdom of darkness. It’s the same kingdom that sex traffics children. When you give energy to porn, you give energy to that kingdom.

I asked him, “Do you want to participate in that?”

He said no.

If that’s how God sees it, then you need to see it that way, too.

“Whatever images you had going into last night’s fall, you saw them as positive. Now see them as God sees them. As ugly. See it for what it really is.”

They prayed that he would see it that way, and he saw the same image, but this time it was disgusting. He saw this woman, and she was miserable, and chained up, and there were these rat creatures laughing as they were crawling on her.  And he was helping those creatures do that the night before.

Nothing about that picture would turn him on. Now he’s seeing things according to truth.

“The next time you feel this pull—and you will—make the choice to see it the way God sees it. Don’t be deceived. It’s ugly, gross, and damaging, and part of the kingdom of darkness.”

But I don’t want that guy thinking of all sex in that gross kind of way, because he’s married. So I said, “once you’ve done that, set it aside.” And I asked him, “what’s God’s purpose for sex?”

And he said, “to become one flesh with your wife.”

I said, “Good! So see that positively, because that will draw you towards her, and that’s the purpose of the whole thing.”

Ask God to represent the thing that you are struggling with and help you to see it as God sees it. It’s not good. It’s not positive. It’s evil, and it ensnares, and this is true whether it’s pornography or video games or social media or erotica or alcohol or cigarettes too much sugar that is killing your body.

Find freedom from porn!

Your marriage, and your thought life, do not need to be held captive to pornography.

There is freedom. 

Beat porn–together!

If Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then when we see things as Jesus does, we line up with Truth. That puts us on the side of Jesus. And with His strength, with His power and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can demolish those strongholds.

But we only demolish them inasmuch as we agree with Jesus about their very nature.

I love how Greg phrases the prayer that you can have for yourself when you are battling temptation in this sermon, and I invite you to listen to this, and pray about it yourself.

We can demolish strongholds. Porn does not have to have this power over you. May we see it for what it is. May we agree with how God sees it. And may we ask God to give us that picture, that we may never find it enticing again.

 

What do you think? Have you ever had to ask for God’s perspective on a sin area? What happened? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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15 Comments

  1. Doug

    The weeks of isolation must be starting to get to me, because I find I am pretty disagreeable lately.
    I don’t see anything wrong in this post. I really don’t. I agree with everything you stated.
    The thing is, it is incomplete. It doesn’t begin to cover the complexities of addiction recovery. I wish it was that easy. There would be no addiction. There wouldn’t even be any sin. Romans 7:15-24 speaks pretty clearly to the subject tho. It was a first person account of Paul describing that very thing.
    I do believe that we have to align our hearts with Christ, but I really doubt if you are going to find many people who are addicted to anything that are not already thoroughly convinced it is wrong, yet it continues. I wonder how you explain that within the context of this post. The husband hiding his porn use, deleting his internet history, he knows and is ashamed. The Pastor caught with a male prostitute under the influence of drugs, he knows and is ashamed. Knowing, and even tru conviction are only a starting point. I don’t think you can really start anywhere else, but it is still just a starting point.
    When I quit porn and decided my anger had to go, There was that deep conviction of all the damage and hurt I had caused. Ironicly, I never saw that hurt thru my wifes eyes, because only anger was reflected there. That had absolutely no effect on me. It was when I saw the hurt thru others eyes who described it as such, often in comments similar to what I read here, that I softened and I was truly broken, but again, that was only the beginning of a recovery that is ongoing today. I could say that from that moment I never looked at porn again, but it would be a lie. It has been 6 years now, and I can find myself very tempted on occasion, despite my conviction and my abhorrence. I can find myself in such dark places that I have a real fight on my hands, and that is when the real battle begins.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Doug, I am sorry that you’re having a rough time right now, and I know you’ve been valiantly fighting this for a long time.
      But I also don’t know why you have to criticize every article that I write, or why you’re intent to find something wrong with it. Obviously this is not the full story of recovery from porn; I wrote a 3000 word post on Monday that is much more comprehensive, that goes into all the different stages, including counseling, recovery groups, identifying triggers, identifying wounds, dealing with trauma, rebuilding trust, etc. etc.
      But this is also an important piece of the puzzle. Seeing things with Jesus’ eyes matters, and that’s why this post, in conjunction with yesterday’s about porn’s role in sex trafficking, can provide a piece that many people are missing. This is a big issue. It’s an important issue. And I will keep talking about it.
      Also, the issue is not that the husband feels ashamed. If you listen to the bit in the sermon, that’s not what Boyd is advocating at all. He’s saying that even if you do feel shame, you can still see porn as something that is positive, that will give you what you want. You need to ask Jesus to give you HIS picture of porn, which is negative. And this is part of doing battle in the spiritual realm.
      You can feel ashamed of doing something and still want to do that thing and still find positive things about that thing. Boyd is simply asking you to switch gears and ask not for more shame or for more conviction, but simply for Jesus’ eyes. I think that’s an excellent plan, that works not just with porn, but with any temptation, and it’s what we should be aiming for: to have the eyes of Jesus.

      Reply
      • Steve

        Shiela, Doug makes an important valid point here: “Ironicly, I never saw that hurt thru my wifes eyes, because only anger was reflected there. That had absolutely no effect on me. It was when I saw the hurt thru others eyes who described it as such, often in comments similar to what I read here, that I softened and I was truly broken”.
        My breakthrough was the same. It was reading the words of the testimonies that got through to me. The Bible states: “And they shall overcome by the blood of the lamb, and the word of their testimony.“ My wife and I had read your articles (and many others like it) and I would rationalize how it didn’t apply to me. But when we read the comments together, I could identify with the hurt, the suffering, the struggles, and the sincere desire to be set free among the commenters. Now today, I have 10 steps of my OWN to keep me free of the lies and deception I had held so strongly and believed.

        Reply
    • Madeline

      Doug, I know you read enough of this ministry’s writing to know Sheila has written a good deal on the topic of porn so OBVIOUSLY she isn’t saying this one piece is the end-all-be-all on the topic.
      I don’t understand why you read Sheila’s work considering you never leave a positive comment.

      Reply
      • Phil

        I was wondering the same

        Reply
    • Kent Dickerson

      Doug, I’m sorry you’re still struggling but you’ve taken an important step in over coming. I know what it’s like to be there. After this, I found I had to get real with someone on a weekly basis for a spiritual review — both good and bad. Then I got to the point I had not looked at porn in a couple of years but still struggled with lust every time I went to the gym and many other places, as well. Finally at the gym, through prayer, God revealed there is far more power in contemplating his holiness and his beauty than in focusing on my weakness. This brought real victory.

      Reply
      • Doug Hoyle

        I never said I was struggling with porn. I overcame porn, and it left me a wreck. I overcame porn because it was ‘the right thing to do” and because “it was hurting others.” It left me defenseless against those things that were killing me. That is my whole point. This whole exercises is a lie. If you can’t get clean for yourself, what are you fighting for? If your wounds don’t matter. then why should someone elses.
        I have left response after response that has been blocked, as I am fairly sure this one will be. I am dejected that my voice is not heard, but I will not be dissuaded.
        Until you deal with the heart of the addict, you are putting on a bandaid, and the wound gushes red. Until you quit talking about who might be wounded and start to talk about those who already have been, then you are saying nothing.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Here’s the thing, Doug. Being tramautized and being an addict does not give you the right to traumatize another person. I have shown nothing but compassion for men (and women) who are dealing with porn and trying to quit. I have talked in my post on Monday about how counseling can help get at the root issues and at the trauma. I have told men who are trying to quit and who are discouraged that they’ve made the first big step, and that’s wonderful, and they can keep going. I have told women whose husbands have confessed to porn use and who are trying to get better that they should have hope and hang in there, because I have seen so many marriages transformed. I am very, very harsh with men who do not think porn is bad. But I have major compassion on anyone who is trying to quit. I am not shaming anyone about porn use; I am saying that it is wrong, it is bad, but a whole lot of people use it, and you CAN get over it, and you do not have to be stuck there, which is a hopeful message.
          I think, Doug, that you are projecting your issues onto this blog. I understand that you are very wounded. I never said that this doesn’t matter. I have told you repeatedly that it does, and that I hope you have good trauma counseling.
          But even in your wounds, it is not okay to wound others. Porn wounds others. It wounds the spouse, but it also plays a huge role in sex trafficking, which wounds children.
          It is not wrong to talk about this.
          The fact that you constantly criticize this, I think, says more about where you are, and I do think you are projecting here, because nothing that I am saying is judgmental towards people who are wounded. We do not tell alcoholics, “it’s understandable that you’re an alcoholic, and you can continue to drink because of it.” We tell them, “I’m sorry you’re hurting, but this isn’t helping. This is making it worse. You need to stop so that real healing can take place.” It’s the same thing here. Telling people how to get help is not shaming them. It’s helping them.
          Doug, you have talked so much about how wounded you are because of what your wife did in aborting your baby. I honestly can’t imagine that pain. I can’t. But please stop seeing everything else that I write about through those lenses, when it’s actually a very different thing. Get yourself some real help. Talk to a trauma therapist who can help you move forward and stop letting this one thing define you, because it doesn’t have to. But I think focusing more on that, rather than finding fault with porn posts that don’t apply to your situation, may be more helpful.

          Reply
  2. in recovery

    Thank you for this. This is a good prayer. To be honest I often forget to pray that God should deliver me from this. I have heard so many talk about how its my actions that got me here and that I need to get myself out that I often think that God wont do a thing to get me out because its my own fault.
    I do pray about it sometimes and I have tried to get better to pray about it but I honestly mostly focus on me doing what I can because I sometimes dont know if God wants to do something. Or maybe I expect that one prayer should do what happened with this guy. It would be amazing if one prayer could do that to me. But maybe it takes more time for some.
    I will definitely start praying that God will change my way to see porn and sex. I havent done that.. Because its so easy to be drawn to this. Just today I have been very tempted. I was working and I started tp get stressed and thats a trigger. Some years ago I wouldnt have gotten that connection but now I do. I am trying to learn what triggers me. The hardest part is to learn new ways to deal with it. Specially when the anxiety and stress gets so strong so I physically can feel it in my chest. Porn used to be the thing that let that go and helped me relax and see things from another perspective. Learning to stop that has been a challenge but a challenge I am willing to take. I will have to pray and hope and trust that God wants to answer that prayer.
    But one of the hardest things to break is that satisfying feeling. I know this may sound horrible but just as this man, the thing that tempted him, the images easily becomes so tempting but in my case its the feeling. That strong longing for that satisfying feeling. I dont even mean sexually but its like a strong feeling of satisfaction. I am working on to learn to see that the satisfaction is a lie and that it only brings death. And thats what I need to remember to pray. That I wont any longer see that strong longing as something positive but something negative. And that is a challenge at times. I know there are so many good arguments against porn and I agree with them all and work on implement them in my life but when that strong longing after that feeling comes , all logic seems to leave my mind. And thats why I need to pray this prayer. To understand and see the evil behind it. I have to start believing that God really wants to help me.

    Reply
    • Phil

      Maybe if you think of that “satisfaction” as temporary that may help you. The satisfaction is a lie because you have to go back for more to get satisfied. If you think about that, the message is that you will never be satisfied. Thats the lie that is believed. Also dont forget that you also have a spiritual entity helping you on the negative side. You can bet the devil is egging you on as you watch porn and commit sin. To me this is why we cant recover alone. We must have God helping us. Often the God concept is difficult for many to grasp so they call it higher power. In this case Sheila calls us to look at Jesus which is even more awesome.

      Reply
  3. Nathan

    Like many addictions, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. Also you need to own it. You must admit that you watch it by your own choice. Nobody is forcing you to do so.
    Also, on the April 20 article, somebody asked “what if you can’t stop?”. This attitude must be defeated. It’s giving porn more power than it has. You CAN stop. Porn may be bigger than you at the moment, but it’s not bigger than God. Maybe you need help, accountability partners, etc., but saying “I can’t stop” is a defeatist self fulfilling prophecy

    Reply
  4. laycistercians

    PORN, a very strong stronghold, it keeps you enslaved, only JESUS can break the chains that bind!

    Reply
  5. Nathan

    > > You can feel ashamed of doing something and still want to do that thing and still find positive things about that thing.
    Totally agree. Humans are complicated creatures, and we often have mixed feelings about things.

    Reply
  6. Kent Dickerson

    Good post. This is one of the building blocks to overcoming. Getting real with someone regularly is another. Between these and speaking to men about it, porn became a thing of the past. Then God brought me to an even higher level of eliminating lust itself. He did this through prayer and greater focus on his nature.
    If interested you can read my story in my blog or in the book, Remade, a preacher finds victory over porn and complaint.

    Reply
  7. Sarah O

    Thanks for this article and thank you to all the men sharing and affirming.
    I hope this will be especially encouraging to those in recovery. Not only can you come to place where you can resist temptation, but you can come to a place where you stop experiencing the temptation. You can just be at peace without porn and lust in your life.

    Reply

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