Challenges, Sex & Intimacy

How Do I Know if I Have a Pornography Problem?

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There used to be a clearer line between the appropriate and inappropriate. But today, movies, TV shows, music, social media accounts, video games, billboards, magazines— many of them contain inappropriate, sexually-stimulating material.

To be clear: Since the Fall in Genesis 3, every human culture has distorted God’s pure and holy intention for human sexuality. What’s perhaps unique to our culture is just how pervasive, accessible, and private sexually explicit material is.

All of this can muddy the waters and make it difficult to discern when there’s a problem. So how can you know if you have a pornography problem?

What is pornography?

Let’s start by defining pornography:

Pornography is any printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings (Jenkins, 2021).

By this definition, pornography is essentially “in the eye of the beholder.” It’s any printed or visual material used for sexual arousal.

The industry makes a distinction between soft and hard pornography, but the bottom line is that pornography is pornography. What’s critical is how it affects the heart and mind— and the degree of hold it has on your life.

Take a few minutes to complete the following self-assessment. Your responses will provide valuable insight into your habits and help you identify the direction you want to take with your life.

“Somewhat agreeing” or “agreeing” to any of these statements should give you insight to areas of concern. 

It’s easy to justify that because you only use “soft” pornography, your behavior isn’t so bad. Resist that lie and call it out for what it is. Don’t minimize or trivialize the effects that either soft or hard pornography has on your life.

Using pornography ultimately distorts your view of God, His design for sex, and hardens your heart. 

Healthy sexuality vs. pornography

Healthy sexuality is based on love, respect, and honesty. It’s about sharing in a relationship that is built on trust and genuine love of the whole person. Sexual intercourse is an expression of this love.

Pornography, however, is entirely self-centered. It’s based on lust instead of love, fantasy instead of reality, and gratification instead of giving. 

No matter how socially acceptable your behavior may or may not be— pornography addiction is a unique and real addiction. It takes hold of your inner sexual identity and requires a miracle of grace to find freedom.

Hope for the hopeless

Finding freedom from pornography requires a change of heart with deep, genuine, honest repentance. But God is for you in Christ, friend. He wants your freedom more than you do. God wants you to grow in your relationship with Him and develop a healthy, pure sexuality and real, satisfying relationships. 

There is hope.  Ask God for forgiveness for your lustful thoughts and actions. You can change— but not on your own. Only through a relationship with Christ, reading the Bible and honest Christian accountability can you overcome this problem or addiction. While this brief article focused on identifying a problem, you can check out my book Conquering Pornography for more specific, helpful tools in finding freedom. The Freedom Fight is another great organization with real help for those who want to be free from pornography— many of their resources are free.

Growing in holiness— finding freedom from pornography— will bring peace, healthier self-esteem, and a relationship with Christ that is more open and fruitful. Your relationship with your spouse, your children, and others will benefit as well— and that’s an understatement.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?

Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?

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