Discipling people struggling with pornography
These are pages taken from our ‘Good News For Real Life’ booklet. They contain short introductions to some common pastoral struggles. Think of them as conversation-starters to help us begin to understand and respond to complex issues. Not as experts but as brothers and sisters in Christ — pointing one another to Jesus with words of hope and grace.
In other words: to walk together as those with good news for real life
WHAT IS PORNOGRAPHY?
Pornography is sexually explicit material that is watched by others for pleasure. Pornography use can include looking at explicit pictures, sexting, watching free videos or subscribing to sites that offer films and the opportunity to discuss their content. Pornographic material may depict heterosexual or homosexual sex – some pornography may include adults, children or animals being harmed.
WHY DO PEOPLE USE PORNOGRAPHY?
It is common to use pornography – many men and women use it on a regular basis, some become addicted and watch it several times a day – but few people admit to having a problem in this area. Many begin in their teens, they think it will help them find out what sex is like. Others use it because they feel lonely and the excitement it brings helps them to feel alive. Still others use it because they are in a difficult relationship and they think it will help release sexual tension. Some use it to help them relax at the end of a stressful day. A few use it because they have been abused and watching it helps them feel more in control of their sexual experiences. For all, it has big consequences.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF PORNOGRAPHY?
Pornography distorts sex in profound ways. It removes sex from God’s plan for marriage and makes it something to be experienced outside of a committed relationship. Watching pornography involves getting sexual pleasure from people who we do not know – some of whom may have been the victims of human trafficking – it encourages us to treat other people as objects rather than precious individuals. Many of the scenarios seen in pornographic films are very painful and far from pleasurable but, as we view them, we train our bodies to expect that kind of behaviour in order to achieve arousal – this can make it more difficult to enjoy sex with a spouse. It also tricks us into thinking that comfort, love and pleasure are to be found online rather than in a loving and holy relationship with Jesus.
HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE WHO IS USING PORNOGRAPHY?
Help them to know they are not alone. Many people – including Christians – struggle
Help them to see that God accepts sexual sinners (John 4)
Help them to say sorry for their pornography use (Psalm 51) and accept forgiveness
Help them to see that God is sovereign over the difficulties of life (Mark 1–8)
Help them to see that God is the best place to find comfort (Psalm 71)
Help them work out when they are most likely to use pornography (keep a diary)
Help them to see that change is possible – they are not trapped (Ephesians 4)
Help them remember that the Spirit has equipped them for holiness
Help them to long to treat themselves and others as precious people in the image of God (Genesis 2) and to battle the temptation to watch pornography (Ephesians 6)
Help them to be accountable (eg putting accountability software on their computer)
Help them to remember that one day life will be perfect (Revelation 21–22)
Purity is Possible by Helen Thorne (The Good Book Company) – for women
Captured by a Better Vision by Tim Chester (IVP) – for men