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5 Tips for Helping Your Christian Brother with His Porn Problem

Pornography is everywhere.

While practicing Christians are less likely to view porn than others, porn use is widespread among Christian men. A 2014 survey revealed that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of Christian men (and more than half of born-again Christian men) view porn at least monthly.
  • Single Christian men look at porn more frequently than married Christian men, but over half of the latter view it at least monthly.
  • About one in five Christian men feels that he is or may be addicted to porn.

Even a majority of pastors admit that they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past. One who struggled in the past is Mike Hatch, host of the Empowered Manhood podcast.

Leading a Double Life

When he was a teen, Hatch started using porn as an “escape” when times got tough. That pattern continued into adulthood, and he led what he considered a double life: on staff at a church and in a Christian ministry but indulging his “sinful desires” when he was on his own.

He was reluctant to tell anyone about his problem because that might bring shame not only on himself but also on his family, which included a famous father and a grandfather with an impeccable reputation. So Hatch kept silent. He tried to fix the problem on his own but failed.

Then his fiancée caught him viewing porn, and Hatch’s secret was out.

“On the one hand, I was completely exposed and ashamed,” he recalls. “Simultaneously, I experienced the covering of God’s grace and unconditional love.”

Rather than casting him aside, men at Hatch’s church came to his aid. “I found the support that I needed,” he says. Part of that support came through a men’s ministry called CLC, where a group of men met every week to “do life together.”

“It was the first time I saw men in a group setting sharing openly and vulnerably,” Hatch continues. “That provided safety for me to open up and share. And it helped release the grip that my addiction to porn had on my life.”

Like the men at Hatch’s church, you can play a key role in helping your Christian brother with his porn problem. Here are five guidelines for your effort.

1. Recognize the Stakes

It is becoming increasingly common to treat porn use not with concern but with shrugged shoulders.

While older Americans view porn as bad for society, younger Americans view porn in neutral or even positive terms. Only a small minority of porn users feel any guilt about viewing it; many justify it as harmless and safer than “real” sex. When speaking about porn with friends, 95 percent of young adults report that the conversations have a neutral, accepting, or even encouraging tone.

Christians who ignore the ill effects of porn use are playing with fire, says Jeremy Shelton, author of UNMUZZLED: Escaping Sexual Sin – Satan’s Grip on Men. “The number one downfall of men in the Bible was sexual sin,” he states. “Some Christians think that they can absorb the things of the world and still walk the narrow path. The Word of God tells us that’s not true.” If you feed your spirit garbage, then you will produce bad fruit, he concludes.

When a man quits porn, he reaps not just spiritual benefits but physical benefits. Viewing porn gives a man dopamine and testosterone hits, which leads him to crave more porn. Repeated porn usage changes neurological pathways in his brain, which results in more unhealthy cravings. Kicking porn reduces sexual dysfunction, improves sleep, and increases energy. It also brings mental and emotional benefits, such as increased confidence and reduced depression and anxiety.

Quitting porn leads to the healing of a man’s relationships, especially his relationship with his wife, which invariably has been damaged – directly or indirectly – by his porn use. One survey of the wives of porn users found that 70 percent experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after discovering their husband’s porn problem. Single men find that, after they give up porn, they form better relationships with women.

2. Be Approachable

When a Christian man decides to kick his porn habit, he is likely to undertake the effort on his own. Any stumbles will feel like failures, deepening his guilt and possibly undercutting his resolve to continue fighting the battle.

What he needs is help from other Christian men. But he may be reluctant to approach such men because he:

  • Has few friends who are Christians
  • Has little experience with open conversations with other Christian men
  • Fears that other Christian men will be judgmental and condemning

A good way to help a man overcome these perceived barriers is to be approachable. Express a genuine interest in the lives of the men around you. Go beyond small talk without prying. Most importantly, make it clear that you are imperfect, just like everyone else.

Ideally, your approachability will lead a man with a porn problem to seek an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with you. At that point, you need to ensure that you . . .

3. Keep It Confidential

Without complete confidentiality, your effort could have disastrous consequences.

“If a man is going to share something personal, then he needs a place where he feels completely secure, like a spiritual Humvee,” says David Dusek, founder of Rough Cut Men Ministries. “The windows are bulletproof. It's soundproofed. It’s off the grid, and everything stays there.”

Prayer gossip, he continues, is the nightmare of a man with a porn problem. “Joe tells you. You tell a good friend. He tells his wife. She tells her women’s group. Next thing you know, Joe walks into church, and everybody's looking at him.”

But if you can be trusted to keep things confidential, men will begin to open up to you. “A man reaches a point where he has to confess something or it will overwhelm him,” says Dusek. “Some of the most powerful times I've had with someone have started with the statement, ‘You know, I've never told anybody else this.’

“Until you reach that point, you're just playing with pancakes at church, and that's not what God has ever intended for us. He wants us engaged.”

4. Point Him to God

If you’re looking for resources to help your Christian brother overcome his porn problem, then you’ve got plenty from which to choose. “There are hundreds of books and tens of thousands of sermons on how to get free from pornography,” says Shelton. “It’s almost crazy how much material is out there.”

According to Shelton, most of these resources focus on tactics and techniques. What they are missing is a recognition that true freedom from porn comes only through the supernatural power of God.

What a man may need most from God is healing. Porn use often stems from a wound suffered by a man years earlier. . . a wound that the man may not even remember.

While the man wants an instant cure to his porn problem, God wants to heal the man holistically, and complete healing may take months or even years. God seeks to draw the man closer to Him so that He can provide complete restoration. A strong, ongoing relationship with God will sustain the man through any tough times he will face in the future.

Through the ups and downs of your Christian brother’s recovery, point him to God regularly.

5. Offer Accountability

Another thing that you should offer regularly is accountability. Ask your Christian friend, directly, how he is doing with porn. If he admits that he slipped up, then work with him to identify why that happened and how he can prevent such a mistake in the future. Take every success and failure to God in prayer together.

Be sure to have your friend hold you accountable in an area where you struggle, too. After all:

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Lorenzo Antonucc 


Chris Bolinger is the author of three men’s devotionals – 52 Weeks of Strength for MenDaily Strength for Men, and Fuerzas para Cada Día para el Hombre – and the co-host of the Empowered Manhood podcast. He splits his time between northeast Ohio and southwest Florida. Against the advice of medical professionals, he remains a die-hard fan of Cleveland pro sports teams. Find him at mensdevotionals.com

 

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