Freedom from Porn: Part 1 – Foundations

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to porn, you know all too well how quickly and firmly it can latch hold of your life. Finding freedom begins by unraveling the source from which it derives its power. As you begin seeing the underlying mechanisms involved in porn, it’s easier to understand why it pulls people into addiction so effectively. This realization can help you see through porn’s ploy and break free from its power.

One of the lesser understood consequences of porn is its spiritual impact. When you succumb to porn’s temptation, you open a doorway of spiritual access to the enemy and give him permission into your life. This is the spiritual principle Jesus revealed in John 5:14, “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.'” Jesus makes it clear that a decision to sin gives the enemy permission to steal from us. You might think the enemy will stay confined to this one area of your life but he doesn’t play fair. When he finds his way in one area, he will exploit that opportunity in every way he can. As such, porn can be an access point for the enemy to wreak havoc across areas of your life. When it comes time to close such doors, the inhabitant is unwilling to vacate the premises. It is far easier to open a spiritual door than it is to close one.

Like any form of addiction, porn’s euphoric thrill always ends in guilt, shame, accusation, isolation, self-disgust, and at times, even, self-hatred. The resulting loss in self-esteem and self-worth leaves you baffled as to how you fell into the same old familiar trap once again. Porn’s addictive power is connected to how closely it mimics God’s intended design for humanity in 5 key areas. When you see the needs it tries to satisfy contrasted with how those needs are truly fulfilled in God, you get a better sense of why the porn addiction pattern keeps playing out.

When you look to the conclusion of God’s purposes for humanity in scripture, you discover the Son of God residing over a new heaven and new earth with a remnant of humanity ruling and reigning by His side. This is the ultimate expression of who you were created to be. You were made to know God personally and intimately. Woven within your spiritual DNA is a set of needs that can only be satisfied in your relationship with Him. Although the ultimate expression will be met until you are with Him face-to-face, the journey into a life-giving relationship begins here and now.

1. Your Need for Intimacy and Relationships

God put within you a deep need to know and to be known. It is the pinnacle experience of life. God placed that need so deeply because it is so central to your purpose. You were made to know and to be known because God wants to know you and you Him. One thing is essential in making that possible – mutual vulnerability. For two beings to know one another, both must let down their self-protective guards and make themselves knowable. This includes exposing their weak and broken places. Being known is risky business. It makes you vulnerable to the other person. When it goes wrong, it can leave traumatic wounds. When it goes well, it can be a defining life-giving experience.

God extends the invitation to know Him and to be known by Him, but the choice is yours as to how you respond. If you do not allow God to know you, He will not violate your free will? In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus reveals that many entrants into heaven will approach Him thinking they are best buds only to hear Him respond that He NEVER KNEW them. If you don’t make yourself knowable to God, He will let you be unknown to Him. I can think of no greater tragic life outcome than this.

If you tear down your self-defense mechanisms toward Him and make yourself knowable, God will do all the relational heavy lifting. As you bring your brokenness into contact with His life-giving goodness, you will be changed, ever so slightly, moment-by-moment, into His image and likeness. Your messed-up parts begin to come into correct order and alignment as you connect with God’s nature. As the only Source of Life, God fashioned you to spend eternity knowing Him and being known by Him. This is who you are meant to be above everything else!

Now, as in all things, the enemy has an imitation to offer. He makes a subtle invitation into the dark, seedy alternate-reality of porn. “If intimacy is what you want, have I got something for you,” he whispers. Porn certainly touches your need for intimacy. What’s more, it does so by offering you a safer alternative to real intimacy. “Why take the risks of being rejected and hurt by making yourself exposed and vulnerable?”, the enemy whispers, “I have a safer way.” He adds, “You’ve been hurt too many times putting yourself out there, it’s time to play it safe.” Here is his big selling point with porn, “I can offer you all the intimacy you could possibly want without any of the usual risks of intimacy.”

Porn’s offering affords you the ability to remain hidden, safe, and secret while everyone else takes all the risks. It is an entirely one-sided form of an intimacy-substitute. It suggests you can do all the taking without having to do any of the giving. But intimacy by its very nature is a mutual exchange. Porn tries to sell you a safe, distance-based version of intimacy; but, it is nothing more than a well-orchestrated illusion of smoke and mirrors.

Porn portrays a false narrative of a beautiful woman desiring to give herself to you in a no-risk scenario. In reality, on the other side of that lens is a woman so desperate for money or fame that the enemy has convinced her to lay herself bare on the altar of shame-filled exploitation. Worse yet, many are victims of abuse and trafficking whose lives have been literally taken hostage and ravaged by darkness.

The entire porn supply chain from producers, actors, and consumers is selling their bodies and souls into bondage in a high-risk wicked meat-market that devours every life it touches. The porn industry is a broad highway into which the enemy plunders God’s children into the basest form of animal existence. And whether you realize it or not, even if you don’t pay for porn, every click and view funnels money and power into this demonic ecosystem. 

Porn is entirely devoid of the framework and boundaries necessary to build healthy thriving relationships. The enemy wants to convince you that you don’t have what it takes to build deeply meaningful relationships. He suggests that while others can enjoy healthy forms of relationship, you need to settle for what you can get. Pull the blanket up over your head and hide from real relationships while gazing through the peephole of porn to get your intimacy needs met. As you give in to the enemy’s lies, you see porn as a place of safety in the midst of an unsafe world. Its value proposition is founded upon layer after layer of interconnected lies and exploitation.

What’s more, the porn lifestyle is self-perpetuating. The more you live in the fantasy world of porn, the more it breaks down your ability to look a woman in the eyes and connect with her in a pure, healthy, and meaningful way. But, there is hope. Porn’s power is nothing compared to the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to redeem, heal, and restore you. Jesus completed all the redemptive work for you on Calvary’s cross but you still have to put in the effort to walk out that healing process. You cannot do this alone either. The only way out of the isolating lifestyle of porn is to break the isolation cycle and make yourself known and vulnerable.

Prayer: “God, I repent for using porn to hide and play it safe. I confess that I have tried to get my needs for intimacy and relationships met through porn. I want more than it has to offer. I am tired of going around and around this mountain of shame-filled addiction. I am stuck and I don’t know how to break free apart from Your help. I’ve gotten in over my head and I don’t know how to get out. Please help me! Cleanse and purifying me. Take my cold hard heart and give me a pure tender heart in its place. I want to break down all of the walls and barriers that I’ve put up to keep You and others out. I make myself fully available and known to You.”

2. Your Need for Love and Acceptance

A closely related need is for love and acceptance. Think of this need like a house cat that is constantly nudging at you trying to get your attention. You can try to ignore it but it is only a matter of time before it gets its way. Some triggering event such as loneliness, pain, or boredom pushes you to pet this need. Then, you instinctively run toward something safe and comforting. That can be something life-giving like a conversation with a close friend or something detrimental like porn.

God gave you this need because He has an infinite supply of unconditional love and measureless acceptance to give you. In fact, He is the only one capable of filling this reservoir entirely full. Nonetheless, God has surrounded you with many people who are meant to regularly make deposits into our love and acceptance tank. Despite all these healthy options, the enemy is ever looking for opportunities to remind you that he has some alternatives that will get your heart pounding and awaken dormant desires within your flesh.

It is helpful to use the language of life and death instead of right and wrong in this context. Certainly, there is a right and wrong involved, but those labels carry so much baggage they can muddy your decision-making process. Your choice to get your need met for love and acceptance will lead you toward greater life or death, and it is easier to tell whether your choices are producing life or death.

Porn offers to meet this need by inviting you into a fantasy realm where everything you could possibly desire is made freely available to you. You do not have to bring anything to the engagement except your lust-filled appetite (and possibly your credit card). No matter who you are, no expectations are placed upon you (at least initially). You can even be anonymous. It seems to offer the perfect world in which you can have everything you want without cost.

Porn invites you into a façade where you can live out a self-centric fantasy with you at the center of the world and everyone brings you their most secret offerings for your consumption. This exaggerated description reveals a potential hidden dynamic at play within the porn ecosystem. In this highly-dysfunctional alternate reality, you get to be a god. Your fleshly appetite controls and shapes reality. Even King Solomon with his 300 wives and 700 concubines has nothing on you. Your harem extends beyond the virtual horizon without number. This opens a doorway to idolatry where you are placed at the center of worship. This can have lasting spiritual ramifications that are not immediately apparent.

Naturally, the real world doesn’t work this way. In reality, love and acceptance are the results of people engaging in a mutually invested and respected relationship. This is the only context in which love and acceptance will naturally grow. In the real world, you get out of a relationship what you put into it. Porn’s fantasy is entirely disconnected from a healthy lifestyle in real life. The deeper you go into porn and the longer your stay, the more difficulty you have building balanced, healthy relationships.

God invites you to come to the Source of Life as the ultimate fulfillment of your need for love and acceptance. As you build a solid foundation of a relationship with Him, He will also help you build safe strong relationships with others who will genuinely love and accept you for who you really are and what you need from healthy relationships.

Prayer: “God, I repent for trying to get my needs met for intimacy and communion through porn. I realize that it is an imitation of what I really want. I want to address my needs in healthy ways without compromises or defilement. Cleanse and purifying me of my past sins. Restore to me a tender heart toward You once again. I want to break down all of the walls and barriers that I have put up to keep You out. I make myself available to You fully. Bring me into a lifestyle of sustained intimacy with You on a daily basis. I repent for turning to other things that can never meet my needs as only You can do.”

3. Your Need to Uncover Mysteries

Whether you have gotten in touch with it or not, deep within you lies a desire to search out and uncover mysteries. That desire was put there for an important reason. God wants you to know Him, and that is quite the undertaking. That process of unveiling God will take forever, literally. Even eternity is insufficient for a finite being to fully uncover all the deep hidden mysteries of the eternal, uncreated God. But what a delightful endeavor it will be trying. You were made to climb that infinite mountain range forever.

This is why the four living beings that surround God’s throne continually worship Him in ceaseless awe and wonder. Periodically, a new pathway of revelation is uncovered as they eternally ascend the mountain of God’s glory. As God unveils a new part of Himself, all the inhabitants of His throne room fall on their faces to declare His holiness (Rev 4:6-11). Yet, this process of searching out the deep mysteries of God is not reserved for heaven. This is why God reveals, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Prov 25:2 NASB) There is a glory that is known only through the process of uncovering the treasures God has hidden for you. His written word is packed full of treasures never before discovered — just waiting for someone like you to dig them out.

You get glimpses of this need when solving riddles, puzzles, games, or murder mysteries. At times, you feel your heart being tugged at when you see provocative images that beckon you onto a journey of exploration into the illicit realm. Porn offers you the ability to go on a search and unveil one mystery after another. You uncover what appears to be a treasure and it satisfies for a moment until you lose interest and are off again in search of the next thrilling find. These fading treasures are comprised of flesh, bone, and blood vessels. Since they can only satisfy the flesh for a moment, they have no hope of satisfying your thirsty soul and your eternal spirit.

There is only one treasure capable of holding your interest forever. You will never reach a point at which you have seen the same thing before and lose interest in the search. However deep, wide, or high you search out His riches, there are still countless others awaiting discovery. God wants you to join Him on an endless journey of exploring the endless expanses of His goodness. When you are tempted to turn to porn to address your need to uncover hidden secrets and mysteries, upgrade your target to the One who can truly satisfy the desires of your spirit and soul.

Prayer: “God, I realize that I was made for knowing You. I sense You inviting me on a journey of searching out the treasures of who You are. I repent for settling for so little satisfaction with porn. I want the more that You have to offer. Help lift my head so I see You and fix my gaze upon the infinite treasure that is you. Be my source of hope and the desire of my heart.”

4. Your Need to Gaze Upon Beauty

You are attracted to beauty. You find it fascinating. When you see something profoundly beautiful, like a breath-taking sunset, it stops you in your tracks. It’s hard to take your eyes off of something so stunning in appearance. It can be hard to define beauty but you know it when you see it. It leaves you feeling wanting for a response that is adequate and proportionate to the effect it has had on you.

Although none of us have seen God, we know He is beautiful. As you imagine the heavenly scenes described in scripture, you can’t help but think that the most beautiful thing in this setting is the person of God. Those who have read my book Visions of Heaven, know that I have had multiple heavenly visions where I had the pleasure of beholding such magnificent things (although I never got to see God’s face). In the very first one was when I was a child, I got to see a sapphire-colored pavement that was the foundation upon which heaven was built. I still recall saying to myself in that experience, “how could a person see such living colors and ever be the same again?” My life was forever changed by experiencing simply the colors of heaven’s foundation. What impact will you experience when you behold His face? Surely, each time you see Him, you will be forever changed by the very act of beholding Him.

God’s beauty is multi-dimensional like a deep and broad mountain range covered with high majestic peaks. You could gaze upon the beauty of His faithfulness at one peak and then move over to the beauty of His glory and majesty. You could continue down that line of mountains from one aspect of His majesty after another throughout eternity. If you were to stand on the highest peak of that mountain range and look in every direction, you would see that it extends beyond the horizons of eternity. This is how much of His beauty and goodness you were made to spend eternity exploring.

God put within you both the capacity and the desire to thrive in the high atmosphere. In fact, God says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9a) God challenges you that whatever you can imagine as the most glorious life in eternity, God has you beat. He is inviting you into an eternal dwelling where His goodness will blow your mind and leave you in speechless awe and wonder.

Porn, on the other hand, offers you a cheap thinly-veiled substitute. It invites you to gaze upon skin-deep beauty and tries to convince you that this is all you need to be deeply moved and fully satisfied. You can see an ocean of exposed women (and men) in a fantasy reality where all the world is yours for a brief moment of secret pleasure in exchange for a sustained lifestyle of guilt, shame, and accusation in the real world. After each moment of failure, you step away with the realization that once again you have sold your inheritance for a bowl of beans.

God invites you to come up higher and experience who you were fashioned to be as an eternal spiritual being created in the image and likeness of Almighty God. He invites you to taste of His goodness and to gaze in wonder upon His beauty in a way that will really satisfy the longings of your heart.

Prayer“God, I confess that I have sinned before You. I have done wickedness in Your sight. I have sold my birthright for a bowl of beans. I have fed my lusts instead of my spirit. I want to change. I don’t ever want to go back. But, I am weak and I cannot succeed without Your strength being applied to my life. Come and lift me out of the miry pit. Cleanse and purity me. Restore to me the joy of my salvation.”

5. Your Need to Worship

Last, and certainly not least, you were made to worship. It’s not a matter of whether you will worship but what you worship. Worship is the process of celebrating what you value and cherish. As you worship, you narrow your gaze, engage your subject of worship, and give yourself wholeheartedly in adoration and exaltation. When this process is applied to porn, the focus of worship is on the celebration of the female and male forms. This is one of the basest forms of idolatry. Instead of worshipping the One who thought up and created male, female, and sex, the created celebrates and worships that which is created.

One of the foundational principles of worship is that you become more like what you worship. As you set your gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, His goodness and holiness impact you. You cannot remain unchanged from being in His presence. As you stand before Him, His presence causes a personal transformation in you. You were created in His image and likeness and the more you worship Him, the more of Him gets baked into your being and character. Worship facilitates a process of personal metamorphosis so that the worshipper becomes more like the subject of their worship.

When this principle is applied to porn, as you look at porn, you become more like those you are watching. As you watch them selling their bodies into sin, you assume the same posture. You engage your body in the process of being like them. You idolize them and then you mimic them. You bring the experience you are watching into your own home and body. Sin is being replicated through them into you. In the end, you also sell your body into sin. You end up looking more like those you engaged in the act of porn.

Summary

In summary, when the lure of porn comes knocking at your door in the tempting hour, take a moment to contemplate what it is that you really want and need. Will porn truly satisfy your needs or is the beckoning need pointing you to the Author of Life? What is it that you need at that moment to thrive as the person created in the image and likeness of God Most High? Is porn your source of life or is the Lord? Will you fall for porn’s lie that you don’t have what it takes to function in healthy relationships and that you need to settle for porn where you can play it safe and hide out while watching others experience intimacy from afar? In whom will you put your faith and trust? The onramps to porn are plastered across media every moment of every day. Yet, there is a voice calling out from your inner being that beckons you to ascend the mountains of God’s goodness. It calls out for you to come up higher and get a better perspective from a vantage point of majestic heights.

Prayer

“Thank You Lord for bringing this revelation and understanding to me. Help bake these principles into the core of my being so that I am empowered to make more informed decisions that are aligned with my purpose and identity as Your beloved child. Please go before me and disrupt the schemes of the enemy. Expose his tactic is to distract and defile me. I declare that my heart’s desire is to walk in purity and holiness before you all the days of my life. I cannot do that apart from You and so I ask You to help me fulfill these desires for my walk to be undefined and pure. Let Your faithfulness be with me and help me walk this process out. Allow the character of Christ to be more fully formed in me through this process. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.”

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