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Breaking Free From Porn: A 5 Step Battleplan!

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November 13, 2013 by mattfradd


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If you or someone you love struggles with pornography, it’s my hope that this article will be of help to you as you seek to be free, and seek to be healed.

I will suggest five approaches that are proven to help those who want to be free from pornography.

These five approaches constitute a battleplan which, in my experience, is essential (notice I didn’t say simply helpful) for anyone wishing to be free of pornography.

I often have people writing me, saying that they simply can’t break free of this stuff. While I can sympathize with their pain—I’ve been there myself—I always point them to this battleplan. If they respond with excuses as to why they can’t do one of the approaches, I tell them that I don’t have time to help people who aren’t serious about recovery.

So, are you serious about recovery? Are you willing to do whatever it takes? If so, read on. If not, click here.

Before We Begin

Before we look at these five steps, however, I think it’s important to dispel a myth about purity that many people believe: that it’s a destination. In reality, purity is not so much a destination as it is a daily choice. If you are thinking of purity as a state you’ll arrive at after such and such a time, or once you get your prayer life in order, you will almost certainly remain frustrated and discouraged.

Why? Because even after we have come to the Lord we are still left with a fallen human nature and “must still combat the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil” (CCC 978). Sexual purity involves self-mastery, which is a “long and exacting work [that] one can never consider. . .acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life” (CCC 2342).

That said, the following steps are crucial and, in my humble opinion, indispensable to anyone who is serious about overcoming his porn problem.

1. Prayer

The importance of prayer may seem so obvious, perhaps even trite, that you might think it isn’t worth mentioning. But guess what? When we stop mentioning it, we stop doing it. Many people—perhaps even you—often complain that they just don’t have the time to pray, or can just manage to rattle off an Our Father before bedtime.

Lack of time is a lame excuse, though, for we always find time for that which we love.

Despite our busy schedules we usually find time for TV, Facebook, waiting in line for coffee… and sin. So from now on, don’t say, “I don’t have time to pray.” Be honest and say, “I don’t have the love to pray.”

And then tell our Lord that. Tell him “I don’t have love,” in a similar way to how our Lady told Jesus at the wedding of Cana “they have no wine” (Jn. 2:3). She didn’t make demands of Jesus, she simply stated a fact, trusting that he would act. We should do likewise.

Allow me to suggest three methods of prayer which have been of great help to myself, followed by a short prayer for purity that was written by St. Thomas Aquinas:

The Rosary

To recite the Rosary,” wrote Pope John Paul II, “is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.” To commit to praying the rosary, perhaps even daily, is to commit to spending fifteen to twenty minutes in quiet contemplation. Often those who use pornography habitually say they experience an inner disquiet that can make contemplation seem almost impossible. The rosary is a practical and beautiful way to reverse that problem, to begin quieting our minds and our passions.

Some people dismiss the rosary as too simple, a prayer for blue-haired church ladies. Though it’s true that the Rosary is a humble prayer, this is by no means a defect. Consider the humble offering of the young boy who volunteered five barley loaves to our Lord (John. 6:9). That two was a simple offering, but its result was magnificent! In the same way, when we offer the five decades of the rosary through the hands of our Blessed Mother to Jesus, what can he not do?

The famous words of one bishop, Hugh Doyle, are appropriate here: “No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the rosary.”

Scripture

The Word of God is, as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” Memorizing Scripture verses that pertain to purity can be of great help in moments of temptation. Here are over twenty Scripture verses for you to look up:

Purity Temptation Sexual Sin Mercy Spritual
Warfare
Matt 5:8 Jas 1:14-15 Sir 23:18 Mk 2:17 1 Pet 5:8-9
1 Tim 4:12 1 Cor 10:13 1 Thes 4:3-8 Ps 51:1-2 Eph 6:10-17
Phil 4:8 2 Tim 2:22 Mk 9:47 Heb 8:12 John 10:10
Ps 24:3-4 Ps 101:3-4 Ps 51:1-2 Ps 103:12 Rom 12:2
Sir 7:36 Ps 119:9

Fasting

In the battle of the flesh, fasting can also be a powerful way to pray. You could say that prayer without fasting is like boxing with one hand tied behind your back, and that fasting without prayer is, well, dieting. To achieve purity both are needed. “If you are able to fast,” writes St. Francis de Sales, “you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit.”

The vice that often leads to sexual sin is a lack of self-mastery. Fasting from legitimate pleasures, even small ones, builds up that virtue within us. When I get a plate of hot fries I may choose to deny myself salt. When I pour myself a cup of coffee I may choose to deny myself cream or sugar. The regular habit of denying us good things gives us the inner strength to avoid bad ones. Put it this way: If we can’t say no to a cookie or another slice of pizza, how will we ever say no to the temptation to look at pornography?

2. Become Accountable

Accountability means allowing another person to remind you of who you are and who you desire to be. It means being transparent with a trusted friend or mentor about your struggles so that he can offer encouragement and support. It’s an ongoing reminder that no sin is private; that even our hidden choices can have disastrous consequences.

I have never met anyone who was able to break free from porn without accountability. No recovering porn user can be an island! We need each other. If you’re a Catholic then one obvious and necessary way to be accountable is to find a good confessor and stick to him. Don’t “priest hop” because you’re ashamed of confessing the sin again so soon. The priest is not there to judge you but to love you. Confessing to the same priest will be an opportunity to humble yourself while honestly facing the severity of your problem.

One very practical—and in my opinion essential—tool for online accountability is accountability software called Covenant Eyes. Instead of just blocking certain websites (although it has that function also), it monitors all the sites that you visit and then sends a report to your accountability partner (it even monitors the websites behind the advertisements on the site you’re visiting). Online accountability changes your web-surfing mentality: Rather than wondering how you could get around a filter to visit some forbidden-fruit website, you will know that you could visit the website, but that you will be held accountable for it.

When you think about it, isn’t this how the heavenly Father acts towards us? He could block” us from turning our backs on him and from the pain our sins bring, but he does not. Rather he teaches us right from wrong, and implores us to do what’s right (while giving us the grace necessary to do it). He does not censor our every thought and action because he desires us to grow up to be responsible moral agents: sons and daughters who freely choose what is good.

Covenant Eyes seems to have thought of all the loopholes porn users will think of ahead of time. For example, if you delete your account, view porn and then reinstall your account, your accountability partner will be notified. If the temptation to view porn at any moment threatens to overwhelm you, there is also a “panic button” you can click. Your Internet will be completely disabled; the only way to get it back is to contact the folks at Covenant Eyes.

For a free 30 day trial, use the promo code “pureinheart.”

In my next article we will look at three more approaches to freedom from pornography.

Prayer for Purity by St. Thomas Aquinas

Dear Jesus, I know that every perfect gift, and especially that of chastity, depends on the power of your providence. Without you a mere creature can do nothing. Therefore, I beg you to defend by your grace the chastity and purity of my body and soul. And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything that could stain my chastity and purity, blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers, that I may advance with a pure heart in your love and service, offering myself on the most pure altar of your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.

3. Counseling

Sometimes the struggle for purity needs professional help, and there are plenty of good Christian counselors out there who are willing and waiting to give it. Sometimes people—men especially—can think that admitting they need counseling is something to be ashamed about. It is not. What would be shameful is realizing at the end of your life how much you and your loved ones suffered because you were too proud to seek healing.

How do you know if you may need counseling? Here are five questions to ask yourself. Answering yes to any of them could mean that you would benefit from professional counseling:

1. Do you have a preoccupation with pornography?

2. Have you had repeated unsuccessful attempts to control or stop viewing pornography?

3. Do you use pornography as a reward for hard work, and/or a way to escape problems or negative emotions?

4. Are you risking the loss of a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of the use of pornography?

5. Have you been thinking that you might need counseling because of your pornography use?

For more information, visit Integrity Restored, run by clinical psychotherapist Peter Kleponis. Dr. Kleponis is a Catholic who specializes in helping those struggling to be free of pornography.

4. Educate Yourself

In the battle against pornography, it’s important that we not only feed our souls, but our minds. Educating yourself on the destructive nature of pornography will help convince you to break free from it. Here’s what the Catechism has to say about it:

Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.”

Here are some resources that will help you unpack why pornography is so harmful and destructive:

Books

Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women who turned from Porn to Purity by Matt Fradd.

Recovery from porn is possible, and this book proves it. Delivered contains ten stories of men and women who found freedom after having been ensnared by pornography.

Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers.

Dr. Struthers, a neuroscientist and researcher, explains in fascinating detail the devastating neurological effects of porn use and how they can be reversed.

The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach by Peter C. Kleponis.

Here Dr. Kleponis offers a Catholic approach to fighting porn both in our personal lives and in our culture.

Websites

The Porn Effect is dedicated to exposing the harmful effects of pornography.

Beggars Daughter provides helpful tools, advice and support to women struggling with sexual sin such as pornography and masturbation.

Chastity Project is the most comprehensive site on the web resource for promoting the virtue of chastity.

Articles

Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs & Changes Your Brain by Donal L. Hilton Jr.

Neurosurgeon Donald L. Hilton explains the addictive effects pornography has on the human brain.

Parenting the Porn Generation by Matt Fradd

In this article I explain the grim reality that confronts our children today and offer practical tips about how to parent them wisely on the Internet.

Five Myths About Porn by former porn performer April Garris

Former porn actress April Garris exposes five myths that are commonly believed about the porn industry.

Audio Products

Taking Down Goliath by Matt Fradd

In this audio presentation I share my own story of recovery and suggest five strategies (more detailed than the ones presented here) to get porn out of your life.

The Ugly Truth: Two Former Insiders Expose the Reality Behind the Porn Industry In this audio presentation I conduct two interviews: the first with a former porn actress and the second is with a former Playboy producer. The Ugly Truth is a difficult but edifying listen, and a sobering answer to porn’s lies.

Porn Detox:  by Jason Evert

This CD (also available on iTunes and Amazon MP3) provides great tips to help men conquer their daily temptations with lust, with special emphasis on breaking free from pornography.

5. Patient Perseverance

Finally, be patient with yourself. Remember that the wounds you have received didn’t come about overnight, and the healing won’t take place overnight also. It takes time, perseverance, and determination.

“Have patience with all things,” urges St. Francis de Sales, “but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”

Several years ago, as I stood in line for the sacrament of confession, about to confess for the umpteenth time a sin I couldn’t seem to quit, I began to fear that God’s mercy was running out. I didn’t doubt that God would pardon a person who turned to him after a life of the most heinous sins imaginable. What I did doubt was that he would continue to forgive me. How many times have I said, “I will never do this again,” only to return to that sin like a dog to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22).

At that moment, by God’s grace no doubt, I was reminded of the incident in the gospel of Matthew when Peter approached our Lord with a question:

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22).

Now what our Lord did not mean was that Peter was to forgive his brother 490 times and then no more. No, rather, “seventy times seven” signified perfection and consistency. It then occurred to me, if God’s forgiveness is not like that—perfect and consistent—then Jesus was commanding Peter to act in a way that was contrary to the nature of God.

The truth is, God is infinite in all of his attributes. In fearing that God’s mercy was slowly evaporating, I was unintentionally making God in my image. If you have ever been tempted to doubt God’s mercy as I did, or if you’re tempted to do that now, please ingrain the following words from St. Claude de la Colombiere into your brain:

“I glorify You in making known how good you are towards sinners, and that your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon… It is in vain that your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in your mercy.”

Regardless of where you have been or what you have done, be at peace. The same God who forgave Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, David the adulterer, and Peter the denier will forgive you also. All you have to do is seek that forgiveness with a contrite heart.

The only sin God won’t forgive is the one you will not ask forgiveness for.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhoezUUFgi4

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13 thoughts on “Breaking Free From Porn: A 5 Step Battleplan!

  1. […] In my last article we looked at two important approaches to heal from pornography: prayer and accountability. […]

    • Scott says:

      I appreciate the scripture references but there is one I am using that is quite powerful, though it is not on your list. Psalm 101:3
      “I will walk with integrity of hear within my house
      I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.”
      Thanks so much for this aid to leaving porn forever. I am fasting today and it does help tremendously. As does relying on Our Blessed Mother.

  2. Kevin says:

    You mention confession briefly, but its important. It is a surgery on the soul from the Divine Physician! Go every week if you’re having problems. You may get some funny looks (“You went last week, why do you need to go again o.O?” type questions) from those who know your schedule, but this is part of turning away from sin. The graces you will get from turning your will towards Jesus in the confessional are very powerful in overcoming any sin or temptation.

  3. Chris says:

    We as men need to live by truth, and if you are addicted to pornography I would suggest you look up on youtube videos that show the truth of pornography. How women are treated as slaves. Yeah they are getting paid, but when they have to use that money to buy drugs and alcohol to bring back some false sanity to thier lives what good is the money. Ill gotten gains are never blessed. Stand up men and stop abusing and start protecting God’s precious daughters.

  4. vincent de silva says:

    Thank you very much for this helpful instruction
    People have to be told in a elegant way and you have done it
    God bless you and family Matt-
    Vincent

  5. […] World – Jason Liske, Asc Mt Crml Are You Scared of the Synod? – Julie Rodrigues, Ignitum Today Breaking Free From Porn: A 5 Step Battleplan! – Matt Fradd The Altar of Success – Melanie Jean Juneau, Catholic Stand Vatican II on Atheism: […]

  6. Jimmy says:

    Free porn sites advertise for camgirl sites. These models are often from 3rd world countries where it is tough for single moms to make a living. The models isolate from friends and family because they are embarrassed. Disturbed addicted clients abuse them verbally. When I tell them that God Loves them, they often break down and cry. These girls are chained as well. Satan wants us addicted and isolated. The girls are more likely to admit they have a problem than us proud males. We are all in the same mess. I am trying to pray my way out of it and will be purchasing a case of Matt’s book. Look forward to advice of where and how to distribute them without making people any less comfortable than is necessary. Just signed up for covenant eyes.

  7. cp sho says:

    Try this also:
    St. Raphael the Archangel,
    Glorious prince of the heavenly court
    Illustrious by your gifts of wisdom and grace
    Guide of travelers by land, sea and (air)
    Consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners
    I entreat you to please help me in all needs and in all trials of this life as you once assisted young Tobias in his life’s journey.
    And since you are the physician of God, I humbly pray, please heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of every ill that afflicts it, if this favor is for my greater good.
    I ask especially for angelic purity that i may be made fit to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit.
    Amen

  8. DGE says:

    Good article. May I also suggest that, if the reader has a serious problem with porn, and lives in a metropolitan area, that he (or she) consider joining a 12-step recovery group such as Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Many years ago I, too struggled with porn and found the support and encouragement of such a group invaluable. Their approach is much the same as Alcoholics Anonymous (12 Steps/12 Traditions). This is not to the exclusion of the important efforts Matt has recommended here (prayer, fasting, etc.).

  9. […] Do you struggle with porn? Are you finally ready to be free? […]

  10. […] month I wrote two articles which constituted a 5 Step Battle Plan (Part 1, and Part […]

  11. […] Looking for a 5 Step Battle plan to combat porn use? Click here! […]

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