It’s possible to quit porn now. Like right now.
I know this might seem unrelated, but I’m a parent. You know what I’ve realized? It’s never too late to make it right with your kids. Whatever you’re doing that’s not quite right, you can quit now. You might have been too harsh, yelled, over corrected, whatever. But you don’t have to hold your ground just because you said they were staying in their room for the rest of the week! You can walk right back into their room, lovingly explain some more realistic consequences, admit your mistake, and make it right. Admitting our mistakes, even in the middle of making them, is one way we put the God’s power on display. Quitting porn can be a little bit like that. Let me explain.
From about age 13 to 19 I fought every day not to look at porn. Some days I won. Too many days I didn’t. On the days I didn’t, it would go something like this. Wow, that beautiful person in that strategically placed ad on this totally harmless website looks really, really beautiful. Then, teenage, shoot, any age hormones and emotions kick in and they’re like “Yeah, yeah, she looks really nice.” Whether you’re male or female, and whether it’s online or not, you might have a similar trigger. So far, no foul.
It’s what happens next that’s the problem, right? If you’ve ever been addicted to anything (you probably have) you know what I’m talking about. The problem is the second, then third glance at the ad, then the click, then the next click, and the next. Maybe you turn on an incognito browser or start the wrong Google search. Here’s what I think. I think at some point you hear a voice that says, “I don’t want do this again. I want to quit porn now.” I think that’s the Holy Spirit living inside you—or at least your better judgment. But maybe you keep looking and sometimes you respond with, “Whelp, it’s too late to quit porn now.” That’s not true. It’s never too late to stop looking at porn, even if you’re looking at it right now!
Here’s the thing, I’m in my 30s now, with an incredible marriage, and four silly, healthy, God-seeking little kiddos. I still fight not to look at porn, or any wrong thing, but now I’m winning every day. It’s been more than a decade since I looked at porn. At some point I stopped clicking, but how? Listen, I’m not about to try to act like I know the one thing you need to kick your porn habit. But here’s what I do know. A huge part of quitting porn is a little bit like being a good parent. You have to know it’s never too late to make it right. It’s never too late to stop clicking and quit porn now. Just because you looked at the wrong thing too many times doesn’t mean you might as well give in and look again. If you want to quit porn or overcome your sexual addiction, it’s the next click, tap, swipe right, whatever, that you need to skip. Stop in your tracks, and make it right. Also, here’s a really helpful guide for making new, healthy habits.
If you’re trying to stop looking at porn, can I say some things directly to you? Here are five of the most helpful realizations I had about quitting porn now.
- I realized it’s never too late. Even if you clicked seven times, you don’t have to click eight. Every time you notice yourself going further than you know you should go, stop right then. It’s not too late to go back to where you were. This is grace. Each time this happens, ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to stop sooner next time. But don’t just wait ‘til next time. Practice discovering your triggers and making them obey Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). Soon, you’ll be stopping before you start. Because, there’s always a way out.
- I realized I wasn’t alone. Your shame wants you to think you are the one person with an outlandish, abnormal, desire for sex. That way you’ll keep this to yourself. Don’t believe it for a second. Punch your shame in the face. It’s not true. At all. I was a Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, high school chaplain, pastor’s kid who felt the same way. Then, I found out that 64% of Christian men and 33% of Christian women admit they use porn. Keyword: admit.
- I realized I needed to tell people face to face. Tell someone you trust who’s overcome your struggle. Ask them to keep you accountable. Tell a few people who are strong in this area. Ask people how they quit. Ask for help. Consider counseling. If you’re married, tell your spouse, but not just your spouse. Confession leads to healing (James 5:16).
- I realized I could thank God for beauty. When you see beauty, thank God for it. This is not permission to keep looking. Stop looking and say a prayer something like this. “Wow, God. You made humans really well. I pray You’d bless this person. They’re someone’s daughter, son, sister, brother, wife, or husband. And more importantly, they’re Your son or daughter. Help me to honor Your children. Amen.”
- I realized I needed some tools. Quitting your porn addiction, or fighting any addiction, is like tearing down a house and building a new one in its place. Would you want to live in that house if it were built without the right, tested, powerful tools? Get some accountability software like Covenant Eyes or X3watch. Download ad-blockers. Turn on safe search. Delete certain apps from your phone. If you’re a man, read books like Fight, Wild at Heart, and Every Man’s Battle. If you’re a woman, read books like Captivating and Every Woman’s Battle.
You are not alone, and stopping your porn habit starts right now. But, it doesn’t stop the next time you tap, look, swipe, or click. That’s another opportunity to keep quitting porn, right then. I’m praying you keep quitting and keep winning!
… let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT