Accountability, For Men

Fight Sexual Addiction Like a Man

“We need to stop treating pornography like a fly at the picnic and start treating it like a viper in the bedroom.”

Men, it’s time we live with character, courage, and conviction that are unshakeable. It’s time to live without secrets, in complete transparency. The most taboo area of secrecy for husbands is sexual addiction – i.e. pornography addiction. As men, we cannot afford to falter in our sexual purity.

Here are some facts, my story, and a few ways to fight sexual addiction head on.

If you’re a man struggling with pornography addiction, fight hard and don’t fight alone. Bravery, wisdom, and the grace of God in this area will secure your freedom and lead you down the path toward healthy marriage.

The cold facts

Sexual addiction statistics in America are shocking. Here are a few:

  • 70% of men aged 18-24 view porn each month
  • 25% of all sites on the web are pornographic – that’s 24.5 million websites
  • 25% of all web searches are porn related
  • 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic
  • Sundays are peak traffic days for pornographic sites
  • Porn is a $4.9 Billion industry

Pornography is an plague in every sense of the word. If left unchecked, we can become infected – and the infection will surely kill a healthy marriage. You can also review the infographic included at the end of this post.

Speaking of transparency… here’s my story

Let me start by being transparent myself. This is a longer post, so please buckle up and stick with me.

As a kid, I stumbled across my fair share of explicit content. Movies had nudity and sex scenes, neighborhood streets were littered with pornographic magazines, and adolescent friends were obliged to share their porn stashes. I was definitely exposed to porn at a young age – I’d say somewhere around 13 years old.

Despite my early exposure, lack of regular access meant I had little chance to get truly addicted. I was born in 1983, so in 1996 (when I was 13) the web wasn’t really mainstream; ready access to pornographic content was much more cumbersome.

In college, that changed. I spent 2001 – 2003 as a bachelor in Seattle at the University of Washington. In that time the internet matured and the porn industry was quickly blazing a trail. Through ignorance and good friends to hang out with, I managed to keep clear of the porn cliff.

I didn’t really struggle with pornography until after we were married. During the first three years of our marriage, we didn’t have internet because A) it was expensive, and B) I knew it would allow easier access to explicit content. I didn’t want or need any extra temptation so we agreed to forego the convenience.

For this reason, I visited some friends’ apartment regularly to borrow their internet, sometimes alone when they were gone for work or school (I had a key, and they were fine with it).

Blindsided

One afternoon, I went to my friends’ apartment to do some research for school. I began to type a web address and the browser auto-completed my typed URL with pornographic website addresses. One of the roommates at the apartment had been surfing those sites and the browser remembered. In a moment of weakness and unaccountability, curiosity won and I clicked the URL.

This began my off and on struggle with pornography addiction. For years, I would fight the battle alone – never disclosing to Selena what I was struggling with. How could I tell her?

My struggle was infrequent, but I knew this was an area where any failure – even small ones – could have devastating results for me and Selena. Except I didn’t know how or where to find freedom.

Fighting the battle alone

The only defense I had against this drug was my meager self-control and no at-home internet. The church we went to never truly addressed this issue – and the relationships I had there were pretty superficial. Speakers would talk about it, but all around me people were still failing in this area.

Despite being very involved at church, my co-leaders and I were too busy pushing programs and filling volunteer rosters. We didn’t have a culture of accountability, or even one of righteousness. I had no male mentorship, no strong accountability. I didn’t have a genuine sense of what it meant to follow Jesus and be the husband/man he was calling me to be.

I was entrenched in battle, surrounded on all sides, and running out of ammo.

Fast forward 4 years

I continued to struggle. Years went by and I was still fighting alone – winning sometimes, failing others. We had since left the church we were at and started attending another church with a very strong accountability culture. True accountability was foreign to me – and frankly, it took some getting used to. The mentality was (and still is) “Open doors, open windows, lights on“. This meant that men should live transparently, with nothing tucked away or shielded from the light.

I went on business trips often, driving throughout Washington state – spending nights in hotels with abundant and free internet. Knowing myself, and knowing the situation, I asked my closest friends for accountability.

I would let them know when I was leaving on a trip and ask them to “ask me the difficult questions” when I returned. It worked, when they asked. Other times, if I failed I would avoid their phone calls or hope they wouldn’t even dial me. If they did ask me, I would respond with a filtered, sheepish confession so we could hopefully gloss over it and move on.

Still, I struggled. Then we moved to California.

The power of real accountability

Things shifted when I got asked by our Washington church to help plant a satellite church in Palm Desert, California. My friend Shawn was slated to be the campus pastor, and I was asked to be the worship pastor. Shawn is like no other friend I’ve ever had. He genuinely cares for me enough to ask the awkward, shameful questions because he understands the toll that sin can take if left unchecked.

And since we were embarking in ministry together, we quickly began tearing down walls.

The power of transparency

Shawn lovingly showed me what male accountability looks like. He always asks the tough questions, and we deal with issues head on. We both installed X3Watch (free) on our laptops for accountability and configured it to send the reports to each other and our spouses (my report went to Selena and Shawn, and Shawn’s went to Cheryl and me).

This led to utter transparency with Selena – and now she also asks the tough questions. This accountability extended to other disciplines like Bible reading and prayer!

True change starts in the heart

This combination of discipleship, accountability, Bible reading, and prayer has led to a renewed heart and mind. And a renewed heart has helped me keep a singular focus of seeking Jesus. When you’re eyes are fixed on him, he helps you. And with Christ’s help, you’ve got a exponentially greater chance for victory.

For the past two years these accountability measures have been in place, and victory is the norm. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be fighting the battle side-by-side with Selena and Shawn.

Fight Sexual Addiction Like a Man

As husbands, we hold our brides’ hearts in our hands. It’s our job to lead them, love them, and protect them at any cost. You are the caretaker of her heart. We must provide stability in a world where sexuality is skewed and distorted beyond recognition. Fight the fight, and fight to win. And the only way to fight to win is with Jesus.

Here are some ways to start your fight:

  1. Change and freedom start in the heart: renew your mind, renew your view of women.
    Jesus is the only way to renew anything – so go to Him regularly. Seek Jesus like your life depends on it, because it does. Read the Bible. Read books. Listen to podcasts.
  2. Ask your wife to hold you accountable
    Wives should feel the freedom to ask their husband how he is doing in this area, and he should always answer truthfully. Schedule some time to present your struggle, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. She will thank you for being honest and including her in the fight.
  3. Ask a friend, leader, or mentor to hold you accountable
    Close friends/mentors should ask regularly and diligently. This takes discipline and a good “work out partner”. Make sure you both show up ready for real growth. If you don’t have anyone, get into a church body that values discipleship and start some new relationships with Godly men.
  4. Use accountability software
    It’s an effective last line of defense when temptation arrives. I recommend X3Watch – it’s free and effective.
  5. See the sin for what it is
    Don’t water down what pornography is and what it does. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that facilitates all types of sex-trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation of slaves and children. Also, don’t trick yourself into thinking it’s not affecting your marriage.

Start today

If you’re struggling with sexual addiction, God is calling you to be free from it. If you don’t know where to start, say this prayer and get ready for God to mold you and refine you.

Father, I need your grace and forgiveness; I can’t be righteous apart from you. Forgive me of my sins, and make me clean. Help me live a life that is sexually pure, and help me guard my heart and eyes from pornography. Mold me into the man you’ve called me to be, and help me be the husband my wife needs. Please give me strength and endurance to obey you, and give me grace to make the right decisions.

I trust that if you prayed that prayer, you’re on the path to freedom.


Infographic

(Source)

stats-why-we-must-fight-sexual-addiction

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  • Nathan K.

    Great stuff Ryan! Thanks for being open to share your story of struggle and victory in Christ with pornography.

    • Thanks Nathan. It’s definitely not easy being transparent sometimes, but I guess there’s not much to lose! If one guy/girl/couple is helped then it’s worth it… :)

  • Danny

    Thanks for this Ryan. I value your level of transparency on this blog so much and also having you in my life to mentor me to be a strong man even if we don’t spend a Ton of time together.

    • Much love, Danny! We need to fix the “don’t spend a ton of time together” thing. You’re an awesome dude!

      • Danny

        whenever your down im down. haha Now that I have all this free time without my job…

  • Mark A Johnston

    Thanks for having the guts to step up and share such a difficult subject straight from the heart with reckless abandon, knowing God would use your story for bigger things. Very impressive, my friend, and equally as challenging.

    • Thanks, Mark! God is bigger than our failures, and when we’re broken, he spills out.

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  • Dylan Grant

    From the age of 13 to 16 I was addicted to pornography. I’m 18 now and giving up pornography was the greatest thing that ever happened to me and all the evidence I need of the grace of God in my life. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for liberating me from such vileness. It is incredibly brave and noble of you to write this article, and a righteous man like yourself gives me much hope for the world. Keep on striving for sexual purity, brother – because I am too, and by the grace of God we shall become purer and purer!

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  • Alone

    It’s too late for my marriage a porn addiction turned into strip clubs that turned into an affair. I’m devastated. I never thought he could do this to me and the kids.

  • dwufhwiehf

    you don’t sound like a man at all when i read this article…this is too god fearing to reach the large majority of porn addicted people I feel

  • Dominic

    Unfortunately, for some, these methods aren’t enough.

    For myself, I was exposed to sex at a very young age (think early childhood toddler years young) and so began my sexual compulsion and obsession. It’s more than a problem with pornagraphy, it’s a problem with lust, and if you’re truly an addict, you are powerless over lust.

    For me, I joined a twelve step program to help me break free of the bonds of lust. What it means now is that where others can tollerate and enjoy lust, I cannot. It turns out this isn’t so bad though because I HAVE to live out my sexuality as God would have me live.

    This means I can’t have lust in any form, no masturbation, ever, no fantasy, no pornography, no sex of any kind, other than with the spouse.

    12 step recovery is the best thing that has ever happened to me this far, and it also is immensely helpful with building a solid spiritual life.

    10/10 would recommend 12 step recovery if you struggle with sexual obsession or compulsion.

  • Donald M

    I just came across your post. I started watching porn at age 12 and I am still struggling with trying to get away from it. I allowed my relationship with my creator to disappear and i stopped going to spiritual meetings because of it. very time I go to pick-up God’s word to read, I feel really ashamed and I end up not reading. I have other problems that came with porn. I stare at women often. I get angry very quickly. I stay in my apartment and try not to talk to people. I have just rescently been trying to renew my efforts to get away from these terrible things. I Thank You for your blog. It gives me a little more motivation to not give up trying to get away from these things.