Quitting Porn for Good Begins with Confession

by Ted Shimer | April 5, 2021

The road to freedom from porn is often long and difficult. Men and women who struggle with porn from every walk of life describe powerful urges that draw them back to behaviors they wish they’d left behind and make them feel foolish, ashamed and defeated. The good news for believers on this journey? We have a secret weapon: confession.

That doesn’t mean you need to head to the confessional booth or even necessarily involve church leaders of any kind. But our faith is filled with examples of the power that comes with being authentically vulnerable in community. This guide discusses how to safely, authentically share about your journey with porn — and it starts with being honest with yourself.

Staying Honest with Yourself

Getting honest with ourselves is more difficult than it sounds. Our hearts look for ways to justify the habits that satisfy our fleshly desires. If you’ve struggled with porn for long, you may know what that sounds like: “I’m not hurting anyone else.” “I don’t watch porn that much.” “I could quit tomorrow.” It’s impossible to start the healing process when we’re telling ourselves we’re not sick.

Staying honest with ourselves isn’t easy, either. While we’re learning to “die to ourselves,” we notice our hearts are stubborn and come face-to-face with temptation over and over again. Most people relapse on this journey. And it’s easier to listen to those old justifications than confront feelings of failure. But you’re not a failure. The journey toward freedom isn’t about performance. It’s about growing in Christ. To do that, you must commit to staying honest with yourself, and being honest with someone else is an incredibly helpful practice.

ConfessionGetting Honest with Someone Else

If you’ve started down the path toward freedom and have been able to admit the extent of your problem to yourself, that’s something to celebrate. Now, it’s time to let someone else in.

We weren’t made to do life alone. That’s true for the good and beautiful parts of life and the hard and ugly parts. God designed us to be in relationships where we are fully seen and known, by Him and by other people. When we’re able to be honest and vulnerable with another person, we find freedom and acceptance are closer at hand.

Barriers to True Recovery

When we’re struggling with quitting porn, it’s hard to imagine being fully accepted and loved. It’s hard to imagine sharing our struggles with another person and their response being love and grace. We carry so many fears and lies that keep us from letting others in.

Rejection

We play out the worst case scenario. We imagine telling someone that we struggle with watching porn and their feelings mirroring our own feelings on our worst days: Disappointment, shame, disgust. For some, it’s easy to imagine losing relationships altogether.

Embarrassment

We tell ourselves that if we come clean about this struggle with another person, their perception of us will never be the same. That even our good qualities will no longer shine through. That this confession will give them reason not to respect us or trust us ever again.

Exposure

If someone else knows, it’s harder to lie to ourselves, and it becomes more difficult to fall back on denial, minimization and justification. When we let someone else in, we take what seems to be an internal problem and make it external, something we can never hide again.

While these are real fears, they’re also lies, amplifying potential momentary discomfort to hide the truth. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Confession leads to healing. Sharing our struggles and our sins with another person is the next step toward breaking free and staying free. Speaking aloud the things we are most ashamed of actually releases some of the power they hold over us, creating space for Christ to move in our lives in powerful ways.

Who Do I Tell?

It’s important to pray and consider who you share this journey with. It doesn’t have to be someone who has any experience with porn. It can be a mentor, a pastor or a friend. It simply needs to be a person you trust to carry this information with grace and kindness, a person who can pray for you and walk with you. A person who believes in you, who sees you through the eyes of Christ, who wants health and wholeness for you.

What Do I Say?

You don’t need to write a script, and you should certainly speak from the heart, but do take some time to pray before you talk with that person you trust. Ask God to lead you, to give you the courage to say everything you need to say, and to give the person you’re talking to wisdom. Setting up the conversation should be simple: “I need to share something with you, to get something off my chest. Can we meet this week?”

When you’re in the conversation, communicate until you feel like you’ve been honest. This looks different for everyone, but it’s important for everyone to share the things causing the most shame and guilt. For some people, simply saying something like, “I’ve been struggling with porn for a long time, I’m finding it difficult to quit and I could use some prayer,” might be all that’s needed. Others won’t feel the relief and freedom that comes with confession until they’ve said something more or something more specific.

You don’t have to say everything all at once, but remember that when you have said everything you need to say, the healing will start.

Second Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” While these moments of confession can feel like weakness, Jesus promises that this is the very place where His power is made perfect. Facing our shortcomings and admitting our weaknesses allows Jesus’ power to fully rest on us. We won’t know the full extent of Jesus’ healing and redemption until we’re willing to confess that we can’t do it on our own — that we need His help and the help of others along the way.

What Do I Ask For?

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). This is the goal of your conversation: to invite someone else in on your journey. To walk in the light and experience fellowship. To ask for prayer and encouragement. To choose not to do this alone.

When Do I Tell My Spouse?

Your spouse doesn’t need to be the first person you tell. In fact, it may be incredibly important for your spouse that you are stable in your recovery before you bring the problem to him or her. Recovery isn’t an easy journey. When you invite your spouse along too early, relapses can make it a brutal rollercoaster ride. This can erode trust and diminish your chances of seeing redemption in your relationship. Consider telling your spouse after you’ve established a foundation of sobriety and can approach healing from a place of stability and hopefulness. Part of our guidance in The Freedom Fight program shows you specific steps in making this disclosure.

Hiding the Truth in Your Heart

It’s far too easy to let lies keep us from the freedom that Christ has for us. When we struggle with porn addiction, it’s easy to believe that our sin defines us, that we are unworthy of God’s love. None of this is true.

This addiction does not define you.

This addiction does not define your worth. Jesus does.

And while that may be hard to believe right now, this is the journey you are embarking on: realizing all that you are in Christ — holy, blameless, a new creation, a child of God, more than a conqueror, with victory over sin and access to all of who God is.

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” As we hide God’s truth in our hearts, we learn to live out of our heavenly identities. And as we live more fully in the light, darkness and sin and shame have less and less power over us. You can do this.

Join The Freedom Fight

Truth, fellowship, clinging to Scripture — these things will help any believer deal with a porn habit, and if you’re walking that way now, you’re on a good path.

You need a method, too. The journey toward freedom is long. You will need encouragement and accountability at every turn and the principles and truths to cross every valley. Don’t attempt this path alone. Tell someone you trust about your journey soon. And consider sharing your plan to use the Freedom Fight with him or her, too.

The Freedom Fight has a proven program based on clinical research and biblical wisdom. We’ve walked with thousands of men and women who had the courage to seek change and are now living in freedom. In fact, our program is funded in large part by people who have found freedom and wanted to pay it forward. Signing up is free, private and secure. We want to walk with you, too. We’ll provide you with the truth and tools you need to quit porn for good.

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Published: April 5, 2021  |   Quitting
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