Google+

How to Cleanse Your Mind of Porn Images

31

January 9, 2014 by mattfradd


858

Someone recently wrote to me asking how he could “cleanse his mind” from the many pornographic images he had chosen to look at over the years.

This is a question I get frequently, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to address it.

I first stumbled upon pornography at the age of eight (hear more of my story here). It was at a relatives house; I was playing out the back and had wandered into his garage. I opened up a cool-looking wooden trunk in the corner, started rummaging around and, there it was; a centerfold of a naked woman.

I can remember nothing else about that day, but I can still (vaguely) recall that image; I even remember the background was purple. Weird.

Alright. That was twenty two years ago.

What Can Be Done?

What are we to do with these images that still exist deep within our subconscious, that reemerge at the strangest and even most inappropriate times?

Here’s what I did…and do. It’s something that was recommended to me many years back by Jason Evert in his audio set Pure of Heart (I strongly recommend it).

Several years ago, while living in Ireland, I walked into a chapel, got on my knees before a statue of the Blessed Mother and spiritually adopted every woman I had ever seen and objectified in pornography.

This did not require me conjuring up the images one by one and, as it were, handing them over the Blessed Mother. That, it seems to me, would’ve been imprudent to say the least. Instead, I prayed something like the following:

Blessed Mother, I surrender to you every woman I have ever seen and objectified in pornography. I give them to you. Guide them, protect them, lead them to your son.

Don’t Just Pray Against, Pray For The Temptation

Now, whenever I remember an image (which, I should say is rare), I don’t just pray against the temptation, I pray for the temptation. That is, I surrender this woman, who I have spiritually adopted, into the care of Mary Immaculate and pray for her.

I now see these sorts of temptations as a wonderful opportunity for intercessory prayer! If these temptations are coming from the Devil, then praying for these women isn’t going to please him and may, I suspect, even disincentivize him from sending them!

Even when I am not tempted, I often pray for these women. When I pray the rosary, I might say, “Mary, I give you those victims of the porn industry that I have spiritually adopted.”

So the next time you are reminded of an image you’ve seen in the past, you might pray something like the following:

Dear Jesus, I give you this woman; this victim of the pornography industry. Help her to know you. Help her to be happy. I give you her family, her children, if she has any, and her soul. Protect and heal her from the wounds she has received. And may I, dear Jesus, never think about this woman as a thing to be used, but as a person to be loved. Hail Mary . . .

Join The Conversation

What are some ways you have found helpful?

delivered banner-1

31 thoughts on “How to Cleanse Your Mind of Porn Images

  1. This is and excellent piece. God bless you. Amen.

  2. Thank you! God bless you! I pray others take heed! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

  3. Catholic tradition is also rich with ancient meditation techniques designed to either empty the mind of imagery (I.e. apophatic practices like centering prayer and contemplation) or to fill it with sacred imagery (I.e. cataphatic practices like the rosary, the daily office, or lectionary divina). Another key step in weaning the self from a compulsion is adopting a practice that you can come back to each day, I fact several times a day. The daily office (aka the Liturgy of the Hours) offers anyone a way to make each part of the day sacred through prayers unique to each hour, prayed everywhere in the world by clergy and laity alike. I’d recommend it to anyone trying to sanctify the mind.

  4. Okwudiba Paul says:

    remain blessed

  5. […] Rose, Catholic Sistas Scripture Matters, Only Science Disproves Science – S Evangelho How to Cleanse Your Mind of Porn Images – Matt Fradd “Obamacare” and Abortion – Russell Shaw, CWReport How To Be A […]

  6. natespherd says:

    I have found not only praying for the women but also for my own sexuality to be purified to be the greatest help. When an image comes to mind instead of trying to suppress or cut it off, I offer it up by thanking God for sexual desire which is a good thing and a gift. I ask that he purifies my desires that they may be what he created them to be. I believe the problem is not our sexuality or our desires, but that they have been twisted and made impure. Come Holy Spirit living in Mary, raise is up into the men and women we were created to be.

    • quixote2030 says:

      Amen, it is so powerful for a twisted sexuality view to be replaced by a life giving sexuality grounded in God’s purposes. Over time, holding to this positive image will be transformative in a way that simply fighting against the negative cannot. I think this is part of what St. Paul was referring to as he spoke of the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).

      • wilson oliver says:

        Can you be more specific about which part of sex and pleasure you perceive to be in conflict with God’s purposes, please?

      • Chris Byrum says:

        I think perhaps you misunderstood me. I don’t think sex and pleasure are in conflict with God’s purposes. It is clear that God intended sex to be pleasurable, and furthermore uniting and life producing. The problems are introduced when sex is wrenched from that context and pleasure is united with lust instead of life, and it becomes a means unto itself. Pornography accomplishes this evil effectively and efficiently. The woman (or man) in the pornographic image is there only to serve the user’s sexual pleasure, and her body, instead of being a source of life, is broken down into parts and objectified. This denies the human being who is the object of lust any dignity or inherent human worth, and begins to destroy the ability of the user to love others, especially a spouse, as God intended. This is only the beginning of the evils of pornography and a twisted sexuality.

        I was agreeing with @natespherd, because I understood him to be raising up the power of a positive image of sexuality that is conformed to God’s purposes. In other words, when sex is in its proper life giving context it is a great good and a gift from God. Furthermore it is a part of the sacrament of marriage which is sacred and a vessel of the grace of God. Sex in this context is not only life producing in the sense that it can produce children, but it is life affirming spiritually.

        When I referred to St. Paul encouraging the Roman church to be transformed by the renewing of their minds I understand him to be talking about conforming the mind to God’s universal truths and realities. For example, sex is more than a biological act. It has an inherent and universally true purpose, meaning, and context that extends from God. When our minds grasp these universal truths they are more powerful than the lies that strip life and humanity of the worth God imbued them with. I think @natespherd hit the nail on the head because not only do we need to resist sin, but we also need to renew our minds by taking hold of the universal truths of God. Hopefully that clarifies what I meant.

  7. Chris Byrum says:

    Matt, this is wonderful counsel. I have found in the past that trying to force the image out of my mind while trying to pray against the temptation only seemed to give the temptation added power. I still do pray for the Lord’s protection for my mind, heart, and spirit as part of my regular prayer (which He has answered!). However, these days, in the moment when an image comes unbidden into my mind, I accept the fact that years of addiction has left me with scars. This is to be expected, but these scars will heal and fade. I don’t hold on to the image, but rather acknowledge the fact like seeing a leaf in a river floating by and away. Then engaging in intercessory prayer like those that you have described is incredibly helpful, and it gives no foothold for the Devil in that moment. I kind of look at it like this: instead of making prayer a weapon to bludgeon temptation with, prayer is my defense that wraps me and fills me with God’s love.

    As a side note, the scars really do fade. It has only been a little over three years for me since God finally helped me break free of pornography, and I have been practicing a similar approach to that which Matt describes for two of those years. In that time, slowly but surely the images have come less often, with less intensity, and less vividness. I still have scars but God is healing them slowly, and remaking my mind just as St. Paul promised He would. Last, I would urge all the men and women out there struggling with against lust to remember that the battle with lust generally begins well before the moment of falling down. Practicing self control in what you interact with and engage your mind with is very important. If you allow your mind to play around with sexual fantasy your body will follow suit and put you in a mortal struggle very quickly. So practice self control as a spiritual discipline for the Lord, and when the stray thought pops in take it captive through humility and reliance on God and His grace through intercessory prayer.

    Thanks Matt as always for your great posts, encouraging positivity, and dedication to this subject.

  8. johnson oliver says:

    I have a question… what would be your opinion of a married couple doing this for erotic stimulation?

    • Barry says:

      Wrong road, Johnson. You’re filling your minds with lust and supporting an industry that uses porn actors and actresses while destroying their lives. And what happens when “ordinary” porn no longer turns you on. What do you seek next?

  9. Bob T. says:

    I am a non-Catholic but Christian who likes to observe and discuss the Catholic perspective. I respect the history of your Church and its recent embrace of intellectualism vis-a-vis science and, in particular, evolution, and also P. Francis’ supposed rejection of “trickle down economics”… But, as an observer, I find it sometimes difficult to understand the niche in which sexual pleasure is appropriate between two people who love each other. I am resistant to the notion that sexuality must be so coarsely categorized. Isn’t sexuality meant to be enjoyed?

    • LadyLawStudent says:

      Some very short points: 1. Yes, Catholics firmly believe that sex is to be enjoyed between two people who love each other. 2. In fact, Catholics believe that sex is so important, so special, so intimate, such a precious gift from God, that it can only really be enjoyed between two people who love each other enough to make a life-time commitment to love, honor, and cherish each other until one or both dies.

      Catholics believe this because they believe that sex exists to strengthen the bond between two people in order to form a family unit. There is now science which backs up the notion that sex does in fact create a bond between partners — women release oxytocin during sex, men release vasopressin. The chemical mechanisms are different, but the effect in both cases is to promote social and affectionate bonding between the individual and his/her sexual partner.

      Applying the points discussed above, we can see that 1. Neither pornography nor masturbation is sex between two people who love each other, so, logically, Catholics believe that that kind of sexual gratification is an improper way to enjoy sex and bad for the soul. Likewise, 2. pre-marital sex or extra-marital sex is not sex between two people who love each so much that they’ve gotten married, so, again, logically, Catholics believe that that kind of sexual gratification is an improper way to enjoy sex and bad for the soul. In short, we think you’re not getting ENOUGH enjoyment out of your sex life, you’re probably settling for less, and you should be focused on the prize of having hot married sex.

      Even if those short points fail to persuade you that Catholics are correct, I hope it at least briefly sketches what Catholics believe and the logic and rationales behind it.

      Most people’s reaction to those teachings is, “Well, that’s a very high standard! Most people are going to fall short of it!” That’s probably true. Jesus preached a lot of high moral standards that people fall short of all the time. Jesus’ disciples complained, “Lord, that is a hard teaching!” yet Jesus didn’t back down from giving hard-teachings. We’re called to be as close to perfect as we can be, and regarding everything else, to pray for strength to be good and moral and kind, and to ask God to forgive us when we are not.

      • LadyLawStudent says:

        P.S. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think what I outlined above is more or less consistent also with what most Protestant churches and even what most of Judaism teaches about sex and marriage. There some, but not a lot of, disagreement among Christians and Jews about what God wants our sex lives to like.

    • Chris Byrum says:

      Yes, sex is meant to be enjoyed. That being said, my opinion as a former protestant Christian, is that the problem with the protestant/evangelical Christian understand of sex is that it is not placed in the context that God intended. Many protestants would affirm that sex should only occur within the bounds of marriage between a husband and wife, and it is meant to be enjoyed within those constraints. They do not acknowledge that Christ “raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament” (CCC 1660). This may not seem like a big deal, but if you read the Catechism it places marriage in a fuller context than protestant Christianity does. As a sacrament marriage (and sex within that) consists of the visible, tangible experiences we see and feel, but also conforms to the invisible realities of God and confers grace.

      When you rip sex out of that sacred setting and strip it down you end up with the movement that exists within protestant evangelical circles now that over-emphasizes physical sexual pleasure as a component of marriage. Mark Driscoll is a prominent example of a major protestant pastor who represented a degraded view of sex in his sermons. I know that there are plenty of protestant Christians who have rejected his views, but I wonder if they have a fully developed positive view of sex within marriage. It is not enough to only sense that a certain view is wrong. If we don’t have a strong positive view we are always vulnerable to falling into an improper one.

      That is my two cents. Sex is meant to be enjoyed, but I would encourage you to spend time studying the Church’s teaching on marriage so that you can have a strong, deep, and full understanding of the sacrament of which it is a part.

    • With respect, the Catholic Church’s embrace of intellectualism re science and its openness to Darwinian evolution are not ‘recent’. The medieval Church was a hotbed of scientific research and progress. It is arguable that the scientific method at least partly arose in Europe through the influence of the Church’s theology of creation and the synthesis of faith and reason by Thomas Aquinas and others. Also, the Church has never uttered a word against Darwin’s writings. I appreciate your openness to the Catholic perspective – just good to have a more accurate historical picture of it!

  10. Jay says:

    For me the biggest deal was fasting along with my prayer.

    • Charlie says:

      Thanks so much for this piece. A wonderful and practicable counsel. May God bless you for this.

    • sinner says:

      Amen to that, prayer and fasting will open the door so God can change your life, but if you need immediate results, a silent hour in an adoration chapel is the way to go…

  11. Bob says:

    Dear Matt,

    God bless you for your advice.

    Thanks a lot.

    Bob

  12. Anon for this says:

    St Francis de Sales recommends something sort of similar, basically, that one should immediately summon to mind a vivid mental image of Jesus crucified and there kiss His wounded feet. Like you, he states that the devil hates this so much that if one is consistent in this response, the temptations will cease.

    • Anon for this says:

      I should have named the actual source, which is the book _Introduction to the Devout Life_ by St Francis de Sales. (It can be downloaded as a free ebook. I won’t post a link in case that is not allowed, but the website is Christian Classics Ethereal Library – run by Protestants, but has quite a few different Catholic classics available.)

      Now that I am rereading the passage, the saint recommends this recourse for all temptations, not just temptations against purity, stating “…this way of dealing with temptation is so offensive to the Evil One, that, finding he does but provoke souls to an increased love of God by his assaults, he discontinues them.”

  13. Bill Foley says:

    St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church, gives the following advice regarding temptations: “Call on Jesus and Mary until the temptation is gone.”
    The great spiritual master, Dom Eugene Boylan, in his classic This Tremendous Lover, writes that spiritual reading is as important as mental prayer for the contemporary Catholic. A rigorous regimen of such reading provides fuel for prayer and fills the mind with good thoughts and images which help to crowd out the bad ones.

  14. fmshyanguya says:

    Act of Charity | Handbook of Prayers – Rev. James Socias, Publisher
    O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you [and as you have loved me/us]. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. [May they forgive me. Please forgive me!]

    cf Litany of Humility (Cardinal Merry del Val) from the same Handbook above
    … [May they love you more than I, provided I love you as I should,…]

    may whatever good they do and suffering they endure, heal their sins, help them to grow in holiness, and may you reward them with eternal life (cf Roman Rite, Sacrament of Reconciliation)

    PSALM 51 (v 50) Miserere: one for self and one for them, daily.

    Another Act of Contrition (Cf PSALM 119 (v 118): 136)
    My eyes shed stream of tears because us men do not keep your law.

  15. Jay says:

    Dear Matt

    God bless you for the wonderful work you are doing.

  16. irisvipperman says:

    Bless you for the work you do, Matt! I’m sharing this.

    ~ Country Girl’s Daybook
    Recently posted: on blushing –> http://bit.ly/1a3gxLU

  17. Mike says:

    A very wise priest taught me to use the Trinitarian formula to rid my mind of these images.
    “Heavenly Father in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ send down the Holy Spirit to empty my mind of these images and keep them away so I may see every woman as a wonderful creation of God.”
    A wonderful post and most important topic.

  18. Ben says:

    Thank you for the advice. I will try it.

    Also, I have found that everytime I start to conjure up these images I make myself think of the Crucifixion. No action, just a snapshot and I just keep replacing any other images in my head with that image until it is gone. Because I do this everytime I believe it forms the mental habit so that I no longer conjure impure images but immediately bring up the Crucifix.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Don't miss a post - enter your email address below.

Join 3,132 other followers

New Book!

Free E-Book!

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 892,124 Visits
%d bloggers like this: