The harm that porn brings to lives.

Why should anyone choose to give up pornography? Isn't it just harmless adult fun? I'd suggest the following reasons why that's not the case.

Firstly, pornography is entertainment which uses people merely as sexual objects to satisfy other people's lust! It puts priority on sexual excitement rather that love. When sex is an obsession people value others only for their physical appearance and sexual performance. They ignore those qualities that really matter in relationships which give a true sense of worth. Good things, like gentleness, kindness and trust, are overlooked, and only the body and sexiness of the other person matters.

Secondly, pornography stifles conscience! This leads to promiscuity (which increases the risk of catching and spreading sexual disease, despite precautions) but can also lead to rape, abuse of children, and general sexual aggression. In many reports of people who are arrested for violent sexual crimes it often emerges that porn played a big part.

For a married person pornography can bring false expectations into the relationship. It won’t be long before the partner who's into porn may find married sex less exciting than the artificial fantasies acted in porn productions. It can lead to them wanting their spouse to do things in lovemaking that they are uncomfortable with. The marriage will be under stress. Most husbands will try to keep their passion for porn secret from their wife, which is a betrayal of her trust. It's as if he is having an affair in his mind! 

It's destructive to unmarried people too. Because ongoing exposure stifles conscience, the person may become involved in more extreme activities and end up doing things which leave bitter regrets. When past porn involvement is carried into a subsequent steady relationship it can have a very negative impact. Some people even rush into relationships more from a craving for sex than a motive of love. If the sexual side of the relationship should then become affected by tiredness, routine, or illness, there may be nothing else to hold it together.

Lastly, while some say that many people in the porn industry 'enjoy their work', there are as many, if not more, who've resorted to drugs and alcohol to blot out feelings of shame and despair. We'll never know what cruel treatment some have experienced, or how many were forced into performing sexual acts. Many will be discarded along the way and only have emptiness left. Some may later meet someone they fall truly in love with and have children, but be deeply scarred and ashamed because of the life they previously led.

These are just some of the reasons why I'd say that pornography is both harmful and wrong, and that people are far better off without it in their life.

Be honest to yourself, even if it hurts.

Breaking the habit of any harmful addiction begins by recognizing, and admitting, that what you are doing is wrong, and that your life is in trouble! As long as anyone hooked on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex, pretends they’re ok, and denies they have a problem, they won’t face up to the damage their actions are causing to themselves, and to others as well.

A person needs to see that pornography is selfish, shameful, and serious. They must give up all arguments they've used to excuse or justify their behaviour. Even the feeling of being 'too helpless to break the habit' is no reason to justify keeping on! The choice must be made between the lasting joy of a clear conscience, or the passing moments of pleasure that pornography provides. It may be a choice they have to keep making each and every day.

Look at the wider picture.

Anyone who wants to break the hold of pornography must accept that their deep desire for sex is not due to some physical necessity, such as hunger or thirst, but to the way they’ve grown to think about sex over the years.

As we grow from childhood to adulthood we begin to like certain things, and we focus on those which give us the most pleasure. Whether it’s the taste of good food, the adrenaline rush of sporting activity, the joy of a good book, or feelings of sexual arousal, it becomes what we want more of. Our first experience may be at a very young age. Those who supply pornography prey on people who’ve become 'focused on sex'.

Someone who’s attracted to porn may say that they're 'just trying to meet a natural need'. But sex isn't the same as natural needs like hunger and thirst. We will die if we are deprived of food and water, but no-one has ever died from being deprived of sex! The truth is that what they call 'my need for sex' has been developed by themselves over the years by making sexual experience such a big thing in their life! They made sexual thrills their priority, and repeated involvement developed it into a habit, even to becoming an addiction.

Breaking the habit of turning to porn involves starting to think differently about the role of sex, and to start focusing on life’s real priorities.

Think seriously of what porn can lead to.

Motivation is important for anything that anyone hopes to achieve in life! Whether it’s losing weight or wanting to be a first class musician, people need something to help them press on when they feel like giving up. A strong motivation for breaking pornography’s hold is to think seriously about where it can end up. There’s a real danger that sexual desires will grow stronger and stronger and lead to acts of increasing depravity.

Sex is exciting to those who make it a priority so they crave more! People stash magazines or keep pictures on computer so they can look at them again and again. It’s quite likely that they’ll increasingly want something that gives more satisfaction! What began with ‘just looking’ can grow into desires for physical contact. Some will resort to masturbation, which only stimulates the cycle, while others may turn to prostitutes, live sex shows, or having affairs. The process won’t happen overnight. Years may go by of only going ‘so far’. But the danger is real that they’ll be tempted to venture further. One indecent act can lead to another and, bit by bit, resistance crumbles. The aweful day could come when they find themselves doing things they never imagined they’d ever do! It’s due to this frightening process that some end up in the terrible situation of exploiting even children.

So a strong motivation to make every effort to break any addiction to sex is to think seriously about what the future may hold, and how bitterly sad and destructive it could all end up - for yourself as well as for others!

Someone once said: "Sin will take you farther than you want to go - keep you longer than you want to stay - and cost you more than you want to pay." That's sadly true of pornography!

Take urgent action to cut off porn's source.

Anyone wanting to break free from porn must take swift action to eliminate whatever it is that fans the flames of their passion! That means getting rid of stockpiled pictures and blocking all pornographic websites from all devices.

It also means avoiding places where they know they’ll be tempted. These include venues where porn is easily available, or where others can be met who are looking for the same ‘entertainment’.

It may mean cancelling cable TV - certainly not watching ‘adult channels’. It means ending contact with anyone you were involved with in pursuing sexual escapades . . . even closest friends!

Just as oxygen feeds a fire which destroys a house and kills the occupants, so the above activities feed the desire for more sexual exploits and take one further down the road of addiction and self-destruction.

Your first attempts at ending such associations may be difficult. You may think it impossible to avoid certain people and places. But those who persevere will find that by shutting out whatever it is that stimulates and feeds their craving, so their desire for porn will become less dominating in their daily thinking. Just as the on-going chasing after porn led to it becoming a habit, so a daily on-going rejection of the people and places that fed those desires will become easier too. Saying no to porn will become a regular part of you lifestyle and conscience will be the winner.

Slay the internet dragon!

Whether you’ve gone as far as sexual acts, or are still at the stage of 'just looking', the temptations of the internet will be one of the most difficult issues for anyone with a porn problem to deal with. With just a click it’s possible to enter a world of voyeurism and download pornography of any description. What makes it more enslaving is that it’s available at any time, and can be watched in secret.

There’s also a danger of self-deception. You may think if you’re 'just looking’ and ‘not touching' that you're not hurting anyone. But you need to ask, and answer, a big question. The question is: "Do I really want to be free from the degrading stuff on internet, or am I going to keep living a lie by hiding from others what I spend so much time doing?" The answer you give to this simple question is crucial to whether you’ll be willing to take some basic steps to help slay the internet dragon that’s destroying you and your morals.

1. Set your computer filters, and install programs, to block porn sites from being accessed. There are programs available which make you accountable to a trusted friend as to what you download. 

2. If you use desktop, set it up, where possible, where other people can easily walk by while you’re using it, and try to not spend time alone on the computer. If you use laptop, tablet or iPhone, don't spend hours on them and try to use them only when people are nearby.

3. For those who are married, especially if you have children, put a picture of your loved ones near to your computer as a reminder that these are the people you are letting down when you go down the road of pornographic voyeurism.

4. Ask yourself too how you’d feel if it were your own daughter, son, sister or brother that was involved in the pornographic scenes you see on the screen. Keep in mind that the scenes you use for 'entertainment’ involve real people with real families too! Yes, some of them may do porn voluntarily, but many were caught up in porn through unhappy circumstances. What if it was someone you loved that was abused?

I know these are basic suggestions - but they are a few positive steps that can help if you are serious about ending the tyranny of the internet over your life. At the end of the day, if the internet has you hooked, it would be better to get rid of all IT gadgets rather than be dragged deeper into depravity. 

Fill the gap that's left when you leave porn.

One of the hardest things about stopping anything that was a big part of one’s life is the gap that will be left behind! Whether it’s going on diet, and missing those ‘in between snacks’, or a smoker not knowing what to do with their fingers when they’ve stopped smoking, there will be a gap that needs to be filled. Saying ‘no more’ to something that had so filled your thoughts and occupied so much of your time is bound to leave an empty space. But if you realize that the strongest pressure for pornography doesn't come from a vital physical need of your body, but comes from your thought life, then you will understand that a big part of overcoming that pressure is to fill your mind and life with new interests. It may be starting a new hobby, or joining a place like a Gym or social club and making new friends.

Pornography is a dirty thief. It’s neither intellectual nor beneficial. It robs you of both time and money in its treadmill of pursuing lust. There are many other things you could do with your time and money that have more satisfying results and provide pleasures that leave no regrets. It really is worth the effort to find new interests that carry no guilt and shame and can be openly shared and enjoyed with others.

Do I tell my partner about my porn?

A common question in pornography addiction is: "Should I tell my partner about my involvement if I'm trying to break the habit?" It's a tough question and my answer may be scary!

I'm not a 'professional counsellor' but I suggest that, in most cases, your partner should know what's been going on in your life. In fact, it's essential if you've done things that may have put their health at risk from sexually transmitted diseases.

Trust is fundamental to any meaningful relationship. Even if your involvement with porn hasn't led to physical sex outside your relationship, it's still what someone called 'an affair of the mind'! You've been unfaithful in your heart; the best way forward is to seek forgiveness.

Let’s not be under any illusions. Owning up to porn involvement may make them want to end the relationship! That can be very painful - even expensive! But what's the alternative? To pretend nothing happened? To hope they never find out from someone else? On the other hand, owning up could be the best thing you do to save the relationship. They may have been secretly blaming themselves for problems they knew existed between the two of you. They may also love you far more than you realize and, after the initial shock has passed, want to reach out to support you in your desire to break the habit and rebuild a faithful and loving relationship.

A lot depends on whether you try and excuse your use of porn, or accept full responsibility for what you've done. When it's obvious someone truly regrets the hurt they've caused and is deeply sorry for the pain they’ve caused, it's a little easier to forgive and start afresh. Yes, it may be the toughest step you'll ever take in your life - but it could be the biggest step you ever take towards recovery.

By the way, when someone learns of a spouse's involvement in pornography they might also need someone to talk to! If you or they have no-one nearby to turn to you're welcome to contact me either by email at chrisripon@hotmail.co.uk or, phone, at +44 7967 377182. My name’s Chris and it would be a privilege to offer any confidential help I can.

Is 'soft core' porn still ok ?

It’s possible that someone trying to break their involvement with pornography might find themselves being led back to it because of so called 'soft core' porn on the internet or in movies. Even most music videos these days are extremely erotic. There's also been a huge change in what is shown in commercials and 'family' programs'. And what 'just one small drink' can do to an alcoholic, so 'one small exposure to eroticism' can do to someone struggling with sexual obsession. It stirs up familiar desires.

The 'remedy' isn't easy. If you find that the music videos, adverts and movies on TV, stir up your desire for pornography then it’s better to turn the TV off when those sort of programs hit the airwaves. That might seem drastic but it’s no different from an alcoholic who chooses to stay away from pubs altogether rather than be lured back into booze. You'll need to choose what you watch more carefully. You may also want to look at other options of entertainment such as books or a new hobby. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is life after TV and the Internet! If these things are what trigger your appetite for pornography you’ll be much better off keeping away from them completely.

Masturbation and porn?

Many people regard masturbation as normal and natural. That's probably the view of most authors and psychiatrists. But, without even going into a moral argument on the subject, I’d say that masturbation isn't a solution for someone struggling with pornography. I’d even suggest that his or her openness to pornography might well owe a lot to having been introduced to masturbation at an early age, possibly even by someone older than they were.

Rather than giving sexual relief, masturbation is more likely to keep infatuation with sex at the top of the person’s agenda. It stimulates sexual desires and keeps the sexual pot on the boil! It’s an act that reinforces the myth that a person can’t live a happy life without a sexual experience in one form or another. If you’re serious about breaking free from porn, don’t look to masturbation as a substitute.

Will religion help me escape from porn?

My answer would be, no, religion won’t help to escape the snare of pornography and an infatuation with sex.

Sadly, one reads too often of even priests and vicars who have been guilty of sexual misconduct. This has been true of people from other religions as well. In the early days of Christianity one of its leaders said that trying to keep religious rules about "not touching certain things" looked impressive, but didn't really get to the heart of the problem! He also said that "celebrating holy days, asceticism, and harsh treatment of one’s body" was a do-it-yourself religion which lacked the power to restrain sensual desires.

The issue here is that, if someone turns to religion for a remedy to a problem in life, there’s always the danger that their religiousness is merely a crutch. They’re not looking for God because God deserves their admiration and love, but because they want a way out of their problem, and to look respectable in the eyes of others! Just as we hear of some religious people who may get tangled in sexual sin, so we also hear of people who’ve never bothered about God all their life suddenly praying for help when they are facing serious trouble.

This doesn't mean that God can't or won't help a person who does cry out to Him when they realize their life is in a mess! The Bible teaches that God is very kind and full of mercy. It may also surprise you to hear that pornography is not the worst wrong people can do! The Bible says the greatest wrong we do is when we suppress the truth we instinctively know about God, and refuse to give Him honour, or to thank Him for His kindness, and for having given us life in the first place! When anyone starts to realize that the biggest reason for the mess they are in is because they’ve being turning their backs on God, then the possibility of change becomes very real! The happy man or woman is the one who sees that it’s not 'religion' they need in their life, but a real relationship with God, who they've been ignoring.

The problem of lust, like selfishness and pride, is just one of the many results of keeping God out of one's life. Therefore the remedy is not only to turn from pornography, but to repent of all the wrong we are doing, and to turn wholeheartedly to God for forgiveness, and to be reconciled to Him. If you'd like to consider that option please click on the tab called CROSSROADS.

For anyone reading this who has already believed on Jesus Christ as Saviour, but who has become trapped in porn, please click on the tab FOR CHRISTIANS.