How Do I Get Free?

June 7, 2024

As a recovering sex addict of over 12 years, with over 30 prior years of addiction, I have dedicated my life to helping others get free from pornography and get healed from the real causes of the addiction.  My book “40 Days to Freedom: Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity” goes a long way to do just that. While I could sit back and make money as an expert on the topic by selling the book, God has put on my heart that my first commitment is to help others get free from the devastation of pornography, to help heal the underlying wounds, and help them heal their relationships so they can attempt to move on with life.  As part of my commitment to do just that, I have put some of the most helpful and critical parts of the book on the Road to Purity website for free. Below are these select segments/chapters from my book.  

For a more advanced and comprehensive program, check out our flagship course Restoring God’s Foundation

INTRODUCTION

A Path toward Freedom and Purity

You likely are reading this because you or someone you know is struggling with pornography use or other sexual activity or sexual addiction. You know that this program offers a path to freedom, but you may be wondering if its contents address the heart of your problem and could really make a difference for you. “Why is this program  different?” you want to know.

The process presented in this program works to gain lasting freedom from porn and sex addiction because it approaches the problem from multiple angles. As a Christian, a former addict, and a counselor, I have blended my knowledge, personal experience, professional experience, human design, and God together to create a process that will change your life. I believe that porn use is a huge spiritual problem and seriously damages your relationship with God and others—and that it enslaves the soul. I also believe that obtaining true freedom requires addressing the real-life, logical, and understandable facets of the problem as they relate to the human biology, the psychology, and the relational impact on your life. The process I present in these pages isn’t merely a “pray it away” technique, nor is it a host of “tools” to use to change behavior. Rather, the process is an intricate system that recognizes that humans were created for relationship and fellowship and that every one of us has experienced events in our life—usually from early childhood—that adversely affect our self-worth system. Additionally, our human bodies, in particular the brain, are designed a certain way, and when behaviors go against that natural design, our bodies become compromised. We need to correct our compromised internal system in order to achieve complete recovery. Each segment of this program complements our overall recovery process. While prayer is critically important to healing the roots of the self-worth system, it is woven throughout each of the segments and teachings and is a tool for reaching and healing the realproblem.

I believe that the truth of God’s presence in our soul and rules for how we should live clearly reveal themselves in our everyday life and our human design and our human existence. Understanding this design allows real life and spirituality to blend into one single existence as they are intended to do.

Living in this authentic way is a part of what it means to be free from our problematic or addictive use of porn and/or sex. Complete recovery includes making numerous changes:

  •  Changing habits and lifestyle patterns
  •  Altering the belief system that drives addiction and possibly attracted you to this behavior in the first place
  •  Correcting neural pathways in the brain
  •  Realizing that this behavior is out of control—and it is controlling you
  •  Recognizing that since the addiction is larger than you, you will need something more powerful than you to conquer the behavior 

About This Program

This program provides a foundational understanding of why porn is a problem, the biology of pornography use, the emotional bonds and roots of using, an understanding of how sexuality is authentically designed to work, and the spiritual dimension of pornography and sexuality. 

The process requires an understanding of my philosophies and reasoning behind the daily process. This site lays out these philosophies and reasoning. , I will frequently use the term “act out.” This term refers to any behavior that is undesirable or can lead to lustful experiences. That can include masturbation, looking at porn on an electronic device, browsing “racy” websites, visiting a massage parlor, hooking up with a prostitute, having an affair, watching sexually explicit movies, or even casually browsing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. As you work through the lessons in this guide, you will define and redefine what acting out is for you. 

My first challenge to you is to consider this thought: the urge to act out never “just happens.” There is ALWAYS a reason, a catalyst, a trigger. Take this statement as fact and keep it in your mind as we move forward.   

Additional note: This book heavily involves Christian theology and includes scripture and prayer, both in understanding our behavior and in moving forward on the path to freedom. Personally, I am a Catholic Christian so I will make Catholic references here and there, but I do not push the Catholic faith on you or claim that being Catholic is a requirement of salvation or freedom from addiction. With that said, non-Christians can still benefit from this book, as the theories and processes I describe deal with our broken humanness, healing that brokenness, and learning appropriate behavior. 

GETTING READY – PREPARING FOR CHANGE

Making a life change such as stopping use of a drug or an unhealthy behavior, whether it is a compulsion or addiction, is a significant undertaking and should be treated as such. Addictions, as we’ve already mentioned and will discuss further in chapter 8, “Your Brain on Porn,” are strongly linked to your brain chemistry.  Clearly, it’s called an addiction for a reason. 

As we prepare for change, it’s important to understand what purpose pornography use served for us on a deeper level. To begin with, we need to look at pornography as a “medication.” This medication serves an important purpose in your life. While it may not have started this way, pornography use became a coping mechanism, a way to deal with unpleasant life events and emotions, and in some cases it even served as a reward for handling difficult events. Pornography use can be looked at exactly the same way as alcohol abuse. While a person may not have initially used alcohol to cope with life difficulties, the benefits of masking emotions and problems quickly became a reason to drink, and for some, to drink in excess. Like alcohol, pornography overstimulates the dopamine receptors and pleasure reward centers of the brain. The added problem with pornography is that the desire for sex and personal intimacy are a core part of our existence as human beings. We are wired for it. Pornography simply distorts and perverts this natural aspect of our humanness and, in so doing, enslaves us into craving the false intimacy and lies offered by pornography rather than the authentic intimacy that God designed us for in healthy, loving relationships. We naturally crave sex and union with others, but we do not naturally crave alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or other drugs. 

The commitment to eliminate a medication, especially one that is relied upon as a coping mechanism, can not only be difficult but even raise intense feelings of fear, shame, desperation, and doubt. It can even trigger depression. All of these feelings and more are perfectly normal! 

Stop.

Take a deep breath.

Say a prayer.

You can do this!

You may feel such shame and embarrassment that you think God doesn’t love you or want anything to do with you. Or you may fear that your faith isn’t strong enough or you didn’t pray enough; otherwise God would have given you the strength to simply stop or at least taken away the temptation.

The fact is, God does love you. He loves you so intensely that He has put it on your heart to have the desire to turn away from this behavior and to invite Him into your life more intently and closely—to build a stronger relationship with Him. God has led you to this program to enable you to escape the bondage you are in and finally enjoy the freedom of His love. 

1 Corinthians 10:13(NRSVCE) No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

So frequently in this battle to become free of addiction, we feel it is too hard or is just not worth it. What’s even more defeating, and many times the core of our problem, is that we believe we are not worthy of love, especially the love of God. Listen to what Jesus tells us in  Matthew 11:28-30:Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Get it out of your head right now that YOU can manage this on your own or that if you just “try harder,” you can get it under control. Let yourself off the hook. Read and reread the previous Scripture passage. Jesus WILL give you rest and freedom if you let Him. 

I will admit that getting free from pornography or sex addiction can be extremely difficult and the effort may even seem futile at times.  I was a love, sex, and porn addict for well over 30 years.  I know personally the profound feelings of emptiness, unworthiness, and loneliness that are deeply rooted in this addiction. But I am writing this book to tell you another important truth: It does not have to be this way. I feel I have been personally called by Christ to tell you this as well as guide you to freedom. You ARE NOT ALONE! Pornography is the biggest addition ever to plague our world. It ties to the very roots of our human existence. In the pages to come, you will see how and why. The addiction is strong; please don’t attempt to fight it alone!

You CAN do this!I did it, and I’ve helped countless others do it!

Studies show that nearly 50 percent of men and 20 percent of women would anonymously say that they feel addicted to pornography. There are countless statistics like this listed on our RoadtoPurity.com website. 

You may have tried to beat this for a long time without success. We as humans frequently do what we don’t want to do and have a difficult time doing the right thing—this fact is actually revealed in Scripture. Paul stated this two thousand years ago and its truth was regarded as so important that it was included in the Bible!

Romans 7:15-24(NRSVCE) I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The feelings of shame, embarrassment, rejection, loneliness and countless other emotions that result from pornography and sex addiction are all lies. This is not what God wants for you. It doesn’t have to be like this! God has revealed this single truth to me personally and has put in my heart a mission to tell others this single truth. Freedom is possible!

Awareness that the addiction is larger than you and that something more powerful than you is needed to conquer the behavior is a very good sign—it means you are ready to change. 

Preparation

For the best chance of success, you need to be prepared and have a battle plan. The next several sections will help you prepare.

MOTIVATION DESIRE & SURRENDER

Motivation, desire, and surrender are three required components to make a change such as tackling addiction or compulsion. Let’s take a quick look at these components to change.

Overview

Motivation: This is the catalyst or reason you are considering stopping the use of pornography in your life.

Desire: Desire is what is in your heart—an inner drive or craving to be a better person, cleanse your soul, and have better relationships with your spouse, family, friends, and God. Without desire, the original motivation commonly fades. 

Surrender: All addictions have the same basic roots. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), various counseling theories, my personal experience, and my experience with other addicts support this fact. As such, we can learn from the history of AA. The first three steps of the AA twelve-step program are 1. We admitted we are powerless over (name the addiction) and our life has become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understood Him.  

In short, it’s “I can’t manage this; God can help me; God, I give my life to you to heal.”

These three components are the underlying nature of surrender—namely, surrendering to God. Surrendering to God is the key step in letting Him infuse grace into our lives so our deficiencies may be healed and freedom through Him realized. 

Going Deeper

Now, let’s explore these components in greater depth.

Motivation

What made you go from “I’m not convinced that looking a porn is a problem” to “I need to stop looking at porn”? The clinical term for this step is moving from pre-contemplation to contemplation. Something pushed you over the edge to propel you to move forward. What was it? Maybe you haven’t thought about it that much. However, looking at your reasons or motivation will help you establish a foundation and you’ll be less likely to waver as you begin the process. 

Let’s do an inventory of what may have led you to this point. Circle the statements you relate to and if there are any others, write them on a separate paper:

  • I’m hurting my spouse/family.I’ve lost my job over porn use at work.
  • I fear losing my job from porn use at work.
  • I’m worried I can’t stop.
  • This is not the person I want to be.
  • I don’t like feeling controlled by my desire to act out.
  • I am ashamed of my porn use.
  • I can’t control my sexual desires.
  • I can’t stop thinking about or looking for an opportunity to look at porn.
  • I’m always planning my next porn time.
  • Porn has become my primary entertainment.
  • Porn is my “go to” activity when I have a bad day.
  • I fear loss of heaven or my salvation.
  • I feel that God is angry at me.
  • I’m so ashamed that I can’t even pray anymore.
  • No one understands me.
  • I’m growing more and more disrespectful of women.
  • I am having violent or sexually abusive thoughts toward women.
  • I am experiencing erectile dysfunction.
  • I am becoming more and more isolated.
  • I am or am becoming depressed.
  • I don’t enjoy social interactions as much as I used to.

Desire and Surrender

It is a fact that you won’t truly change your behavior until you really want to change. You must want to stop looking at pornography more than you want to breathe. Let’s stop the denial and be honest with yourself: At some level, you probably don’t want to change. This behavior brings you pleasure, relief, escape, control, or other benefits. In effect, it’s a medication that deep down you don’t want to completely let go of. It’s kind of like what happens when you have a tooth pulled and the dentist prescribes a powerful painkiller. Even though you don’t use the entire prescription by the time the pain is gone, you hesitate to dispose of the remaining few pills. You want to keep them—just in case you “need” some in the future. Completely eliminating all access to porn from your life is very similar. Some part of you may want to maintain possible access in case you need it. That’s the reality;  you may not be completely ready to give it all up and surrender it right now. However, you wish you did desire just that. Honestly, deep inside, you say to yourself “I want to give it all up, I want to surrender all porn, but I just can’t quite let go.” I call this “desire the desire.” If you desire the desire to completely eliminate porn from your life, God can work with that. This is so critical that I have written a special prayer just for this and recommend that you say it every day.

Surrender Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I desire the desire to surrender my heart and entire being to you but I cannot do it. I fear the abandonment of losing control of who I am. I ask that you take what little space I can open to you, use it, and invade my heart, take it captive, and protect it from all evil. I beg for your help in my complete surrender to you. 

The basis of this prayer is acknowledging that you are weak and need God’s help. You are admitting that deep down you don’t want to give up what porn provides for you, BUT you are willing to ask and allow God to enter a part of your heart where He can do His work deep inside you so you can eventually be willing to give up this part of you. 

Motivation, desire, and surrender are not only a necessary part of recovering from any compulsive or addictive behavior but also a healthy way to look at any change you wish to make in your life. 

THE RIVER UNDER THE RIVER

River under what? 

You’re kidding, right? 

What’s this mean?

Recall in the introduction I made two key statements: 

1. While prayer is paramount and critical in recovery, the process I present is not merely a “pray it away” methodology. 

2. The urge to act out never just happens!”

Our behaviors, all of them, happen for a reason. They are a response to an outside stimulus and are chosen based on life experiences and beliefs. We are all, to a large extent, formed by social interactions, childhood events, and basic life experiences. It’s the nurture part behind nature versus nurture. Our parents, siblings, other family members, teachers, and so many more people and happenings shape our ideas, our emotional reactions, our impressions, and our beliefs about ourselves. In certain circumstances, these events and people (basic life) can begin to slowly compromise our self-worth system. Virtually 100 percent of the time the people who cause these harms are not intending to inflict pain and turmoil in our lives. Frequently, it’s simply people reacting out of their own flawed self-worth that influences someone else. These behaviors and their lasting effects are typically transparent to both parties at the time. Many of our behaviors are unconsciously designed to protect this fragile self-worth system. Feelings of insecurity, insignificance, incompetence, worthlessness, powerlessness, and so on are protected when we act out with anger, aggression, defiance, overachieving, underachieving, materialism, narcissism, withdrawal, self-mutilation, dishonesty, integrity issues, arrogance, fear, and anxiety just to name a few self-destructive behaviors. 

Every one of us (yes, including you) is a good person at the core. Our actions, beliefs, decisions, and responses to life around us may not be the perfect choice and frequently hurt those around us, sometimes intensely. But at the core, we are created by God and are good people. We are created in His image and therefore are perfect. Our choices and behaviors and even our self-image is what’s flawed. 

Our behaviors in everyday life make up what I call the river. The reasons we behave the way we do (habits, poor self-image, flawed beliefs, insecurities, and so on) are what drives this behavior – thus the “river underthe river.”  The key to success in your journey of recovery is revealing what is in your “river under the river.” 

Changing a behavior, particularly one that has become a compulsion or an addiction, requires a process of learning a new habit as well as revealing and healing the flawed internal beliefs and emotions that drive the behavior—the river under the river. Additionally, as you will learn in chapter 8, “Your Brain on Porn,” there is a biological component to your addictive behavior. We are going to work on all three components of changing behavior.

1. Help develop new coping mechanisms or habits.

2. Figure out why you do what you do.

3. Move toward rewiring your brain so the addictive behavior isn’t a simple “knee-jerk” reaction. 

Transforming Pain

Another perspective on the river under the river concept is looking at your underlying pain. Every human, without exception, has internal emotional pain. This includes pain developed over the course of our lives as a result of what I spoke of a few paragraphs ago. The behavior or way of reacting to this pain is in fact transmitting this pain. If we don’t transform this pain (in other words, heal it), we will transmit it to others. 

Examples

Many of the concepts I have been talking about in this chapter may be new to you. It’s perfectly normal, and even expected, that this information has been difficult to follow. Because it is critical and a cornerstone in recovery, as well as key in the daily work of the 40-day process, I will provide a few examples of how this “river under the river” theory reveals itself in real life. 

Example 1 

John grew up in a family where both parents worked. His parents provided everything John needed materially. He always had the best clothes, the newest model of bycicles, his own room, all the video games he wanted, and more. John’s mother, however, was an insecure person who focused nearly all her attention on her career, as she needed to achieve to feel worthy. As a result, she was self-focused and didn’t give John the loving affirmation he needed growing up. She was never mean or denied John his basic needs; she just wasn’t there in an intimate motherly manner. Although John wasn’t aware of it, this led him to feel rejected and unimportant or insignificant. He actually felt unworthy of being loved. John developed emotional walls to protect this inner pain of unworthiness and insignificance. As an adult, he had failed relationship after failed relationship, as he was unable to connect emotionally with women. John had an unconscious fear that they would ultimately reject him. Keep in mind that John had no awareness of this—he simply lived his life not understanding why he was unhappy. He longed for personal connection, and personal intimacy, but he was also intensely afraid of true intimacy for fear of it being taken away and rejected. Again, he was completely blind to this internal fear.  

At fourteen, one of John’s friends introduced him to pornography. It was his first exposure to sex, as his father had never had the traditional “sex talk” with him, nor had he had the opportunity to learn what healthy sexuality was about. Porn was exciting to John, and something inside him said, “This is what getting love looks like.” As his life progressed, John did not learn what authentic love and intimacy were, but porn became a regular experience for him. It fed him, though in an unhealthy and misguided way. It was all he knew. 

This porn habit followed John into his relationships. He was unable to connect with his partners emotionally because of his childhood experience and woundedness. He turned to porn in an unconscious attempt to find a connection—after all, relying on porn was safer because it would never reject him like a real woman likely would. However, viewing porn created an unrealistic idea of what sex should be like. In his mind’s eye, sex was an act that was void of true intimacy, the giving of one’s self, and authentic emotional connection. The result was a horrible sex experience for his partners who felt objectified and used rather than loved. The relationships ultimately failed. 

This same pattern occurred in relationship after relationship. The rejection and insignificance John felt as a child was repeated now as an adult but now abandonment was added to the pain. John ultimately felt extreme despair and became suicidal. 

Transmitting pain. 

John transmitted the pain of rejection and insignificance he felt in his childhood to the women in his relationships by not being able to be emotionally open to connect with them. His being emotionally unavailable to them caused them to feel rejected by him! In this way, he was transmitting his pain to his partners. This pain that allowed him to accept pornography as a representation of love also contributed to the pain of objectification he transmitted to his partners. John’s feelings of rejection and insignificance were the river under the river of his behavior of being emotionally unavailable to women as well as the behavior of reaching out to porn for intimacy (although this was false intimacy, it was a form of intimacy nonetheless). 

The lies of rejection and insignificance from John’s childhood must be transformed before John can have any real success with authentic relationships. If you don’t transform your pain, you will transmit it!

Example 2

Bob was an angry person. His anger was his way of protecting himself, a pattern of behavior resulting from many poor experiences and abuse from his father growing up. Bob frequently turned to pornography to experience a sense of connection as well as a release of inner stress caused by the constant anger. (Note that the connection he achieved from viewing porn was a false connection and thus for only a few minutes, the stress was released due to the surge of serotonin after ejaculation, both a process that induces the addiction cycle, as we’ll discuss further in chapter 8, “Your Brain on Porn.”) 

Here’s how Bob transmitted his pain. 

Bob was driving to work when another driver needed to make a quick lane change to exit. Bob perceived this action as a personal attack as if the other driver had no regard for him. This triggered intense anger and feelings of revenge within Bob. The anger was disproportionate to the situation, but it was fueled by Bob’s inner feelings of rejection and shame from his abusive father. As a youth, he felt disregarded, belittled, and dismissed as a person and now anytime someone ignored or rejected Bob, he felt intense anger. Anytime he experiences anger, it is compounded by the pain and woundedness he experienced from his father. Angry, Bob now sped off the next exit toward his usual stop at Starbucks. Bob was now in a foul mood. While placing his order, he snapped at Jennifer, the barista, making her feel incompetent. He was angry inside and was transmitting that anger to those around him. Barista Jennifer ultimately had a horrible day, experiencing feelings of rejection herself. 

As you can see, Bob has woundedness from his youth. This unhealed woundedness causes Bob to overreact to events in life that trigger the same deep feelings of rejection, belittlement, and dismissal. His reaction is typically anger. These feelings are triggered by seemingly minor life experiences like being disagreed with, a waitress making a mistake on his order, someone not listening to him, and, obviously, a driver cutting him off on the freeway. Bob has not transformed his pain (emotionally healed) and, therefore, transmits it frequently. This untransformed pain that causes Bob to behave the way he does is the river under the river.  The reaction of feeling incompetent that Jennifer, the barista, had is a ripple effect of Bob’s untransformed pain. This untransformed pain spreads to those around us. 

Example 3

Lisa grew up with a mother who was very critical. Lisa’s mother was much like Bob in the previous story, as her mother (Lisa’s grandmother) had belittled and rejected her daughter (Lisa’s mother). The constant criticism of Lisa’s mother made Lisa feel very insecure and unworthy. In Lisa’s case, this caused her to be a person who was always reaching out to friends and neighbors to offer help, almost in a compulsive way. Lisa was the type of person who always jumped in to help at parties. While it may seem like the criticism of Lisa’s mother led to a very admirable personality trait in Lisa, the deeper result was that Lisa was starving for acceptance and to be liked. Unfortunately, Lisa was a very unhappy person and felt deeply unworthy of anyone’s love. She had many medical problems stemming from intense anxiety and her constant seeking of approval. People who didn’t know Lisa well simply thought that she was a wonderful, giving person. Yet it was transparent to most that she was starving for the love and acceptance that she never received from her mother. 

Lisa’s story is much subtler than the previous two stories. It is an example of how untransformed pain can be transmitted to multiple generations. In fact, the pain that Lisa transmits is not harmful to the outside world but is certainly damaging to herself. 

Example 4

This last example I will share is subtler and is one of my personal behaviors. It developed later after I had learned to manage and heal from my main addiction to sex and pornography. At that point, I began to see that there were other behaviors in my life that were not necessarily harmful to others or even unethical, but nonetheless were behaviors that had hidden, underlying causes—the river under the river. 

I had a job that required me to spend a lot of time driving around scouting for products to sell online. Typically, I would eat fast food for lunch. It was quick and cheap. However, I noticed that at times, I would go to more expensive or “nicer” places to eat—something like Chili’s or Buffalo Wild Wings. These weren’t high-end restaurants, but much nicer than McDonald’s and a place to sit and chill for a bit. In my self-awareness search, I noticed that there was a pattern for this behavior. I chose a better place and allotted more time for lunch when I was having a bad day. Anything could trigger it—bad sales day for my business, an argument with my wife that morning, car problems, and so on. After I noticed this, I began to do one of the exercises that I will guide you through a bit later in the book, to discover why. I found that the days I wanted to splurge a bit were when I was experiencing feelings of incompetence, unworthiness, or insignificance or when I wasn’t in control of the day’s events. These feelings had once triggered a choice to act out in an unhealthy and destructive way, but now they were redirected so I made other choices. While those feelings still came up, my unconscious reaction was to intentionally choose something that I was in control of, that brought me pleasure, and that made me feel deserving—sort of a reward to convince me that I wasn’t that bad or unworthy. The exercise made me see that this simple decision to eat lunch at a nicer place was actually driven by something deeper. Since realizing this motivation, now every time I feel like I want something nice (food, things, etc.), I ask myself, “What’s behind the desire?” I find what’s driving the urge, address it (using methods I’ll show you later), and do my best to seek healing of the river under the river.  I must note that even though I was working through this process since the choice I was making was not harmful, destructive, or unethical, I may still choose the behavior. I may still eat at the nicer restaurant, but I do so fully realizing that the decision was driven by something; it was not a mere whim. 

I could list hundreds of other examples. Ultimately, you can see that most of our reactive and compulsive behaviors are a result of something unresolved deep inside—the river under the river.

In the 40-day exercises, you will be challenged to find the river under the river of your behaviors. First the obvious addictive behaviors and ultimately more subtle behaviors. 

Fear 

I need to make you aware of something that will be critical in this journey, something that can sabotage your very efforts for change if it is not addressed. 

Looking inside oneself is a very scary prospect. The reason you are struggling with this addiction, to begin with is that you are either unaware of the underlying causes or you are consciously or unconsciously choosing to avoid them. The exercises you will go through in the 40-day process will likely unearth some very unpleasant memories, feelings, and experiences. The prospect of knowing this can itself trigger fear and can trigger the urge to act out. It is perfectly normal to have thoughts like “This is going to be too hard—I can’t do it” or “I’ll do this at a later time, when I feel more ready when life slows down a bit.” These thoughts are not yours! Yes, that’s what I said: They are not yours! They are suggestions planted by the enemy, Satan. He does not want you to heal. Your woundedness that triggers your destructive behaviors are his playground and he uses those to contaminate your soul. I will give you some prayers later to help you separate those negative feelings and lies from you. 

Guilt and Shame

An important concept to understand is that guilt does NOT equal shame. They are very different concepts. 

“Guilt attaches to our behavior.”

A guilt statement is “I feel bad because I stole a tool from my neighbor’s garage.”

“Shame attaches to our very being, our beliefs about ourselves.”

A shame statement is “I am a bad person because I stole a tool from my neighbor’s garage.”

Guilt is recognizing sin, recognizing we did something inappropriate, unethical, or unlawful. A confession and request for forgiveness or reconciliation is a normal process for resolving guilt.

Shame looks to the outside world for happiness and validation because the inside is flawed and defective.

  • We look at porn because the images are fantasy and they validate us.
  • The intimacy we see (although false intimacy) validates us and makes us feel worthy.
  • The control we fantasize about in the scenes makes us feel powerful, valuable, and worthy and it hides the flawed view of ourselves. 

Shame is probably the largest influence on our behavior choices. Shame can also be referred to as spiritual bankruptcy. As you dig during this process, you will discover that many of your behaviors are largely motivated by shame. Take a look at the following statements. Note any that you relate to, even mildly.

I am a loser.

I am not a good person.

I am not lovable.

I am undesirable.

I am evil.

I am a pervert.

I am pathetic.

I am stupid.

I am a bad person.

I am worthless.

I am a monster.

I am repulsive.

I am shameful.

I am a terrible person.

I am despicable.

I am ugly.

I am a failure.

I am incompetent.

I am insignificant.

I don’t deserve love.

I am damaged goods.

I have to be perfect to deserve love.

I am wicked.

I do not deserve _______________.

I am ___________________.

I will tell you that no matter what you have done in your life, no matter what you have been told, all of these statements and more are a lie. They are not you. God did not create you to be this way. Your behavior may represent characteristics of these statements, but at the core this is not you. These statements ARE NOT your identity! This is fantastic news for you. Any statements that you may have circled or wrote in are merely behavior defects and can be changed. 

Remember this: As I will demonstrate in the section, “Understanding Sexuality,” you are made in the image of God. An image of love, mercy, and sacrifice. This is your identity. Even if your behavior doesn’t honor that identity (trust me, virtually no one fully honors that identity), that behavior does not alter your identity in God. 

Another way to look at these perceived imperfections is referred to as the “false self.” The false self is a lifelong self-image one develops that does not reflect this true identity that God has created. The shame statements that you circled in the above exercise are one way of defining your false self. 

Personal Reflection

Here is a personal discovery that revealed the lies of worthlessness and inadequacy that fueled my addiction:

God knows every hair on my head and knows what all my transgressions and sins were going to be before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:1-4, 1 John 4:19). He knew every sin I would commit, every person I would hurt, every time I would reject Him, every time I would knowingly turn my back on Him, and He created me anyway! He loves me anyway! I am that important to Him. Even with all the damage I have done, God still sees me as His beloved son (Col 3:12, 1 John 3:2, John 3:16, 1 Cor 3:16).  This is absolutely with 100 percent certainty true for you too. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “The most grievous sin is but a drop in the fiery furnace of God’s mercy.” When the realization of this fact hit me (it happened during prayer), it hit me so hard I instantly went to tears. I could feel His love pour over me at that instant. The overwhelming presence of His love was so powerful that I knew it was impossible to ever be withdrawn. I am good enough, I am worthy, I am significant, I am important, and that cannot be lost, ever!  This IS also true for you. No “Well, maybe …,” no “I’ll think about it.” YOU ARE WORTHY OF GOD’S LOVE!  Just plain fact—period!  

Take a moment right now, and close your eyes—even if for just 15 seconds. Imagine yourself with all of your sins and mistakes, no matter how many, all gone. See yourself as God sees you. See yourself wrapped in a blanket of His love and mercy. This is your true identity. 

SAVE THIS EXPERIENCE AS A POSSIBLE MEDITATION!

UNDERSTANDING INTIMACY

God created us with a desire to give and experience the wholeness of others. God did not intend for man to be alone. Humans have an insatiable desire to be connected in multiple ways with others. God “hardwired” us to be in common union with others, and most particularly a mate, a spouse.

Genesis 1:18 (NRSVCE) “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’”

Genesis 2:24 (NRSVCE) “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Physical sex is only part of that need. We inherently desire to be known and to know others. Uniquely, we desire to give of ourselves to others. 

In short, God wired us for intimacy.

But what is intimacy? In our society, most of us have learned that intimacy is sex, but in fact, sex is merely the “icing on the cake.” It’s the ultimate culmination of several other levels for those in a marital bond. True, authentic intimacy goes much deeper. We can experience authentic intimacy in all relationships—and it is healthy to do so. This includes our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, sports and recreational partners, and so on. 

God wired us to be interconnected; He wired us for intimacy. We are made in His image and we have a continual desire, or craving, to exist in this state of being. God hardwired us to be in common union with others and with Him.

Mankind is created in the image of God, created with a core foundation of love, mercy, and sacrifice.

1 John 4:8 (NRSVCE) “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NRSVCE) “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

Romans 5:8 (NRSVCE) “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

All of these require true, authentic intimacy.

Father, son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit: The three persons of the Blessed Trinity are the ultimate example of intimacy. They are bonded as the three persons of God; each separate person gives or empties themselves to each other to such an extent that they manifest as one God. Gift of self is the ultimate experience of intimacy.

As I said, intimacy is not just about sex. Various components of intimacy (or building blocks) can be achieved in any phase of life, even without being married.

Building Blocks of Intimacy

There are eight essential building blocks of intimacy.

1. Physical (nonsexual)

2. Proximal

3. Emotional

4. Intellectual

5. Professional

6. Recreational

7. Spiritual

8. Physical (sex)

 
Let’s look at them in a little more detail

1. Physical (nonsexual)

This can be a gentle touch, massage, neck or foot rub, a hug, holding hands, or placing an arm on someone’s shoulder. Basically, this is a form of loving presence without sexual advance or innuendo—and can even be a “man hug” between close friends.

2. Proximal

This is about being near to someone but not touching. It includes sitting next to a spouse or walking next to someone instead of in front or behind. Even sitting with a friend, listening intently as the person shares a life struggle, is a form of this aspect of intimacy.

3. Emotional

This is about sharing all feelings, both superficial and deep. What we feel about the other person, what is affecting our moods throughout the day or period of time, how we feel right now; fears, anxieties, compassion, empathy—all of these feelings and more are part of emotional intimacy.

4. Intellectual

This form of intimacy involves sharing what is going on in our heads, and what we are thinking about—personally, work, world affairs, and so on. We tell others about our thoughts of these events, our opinions, and solutions to problems; what are we processing in our heads; the “heady” stuff.

5. Professional

Sharing our work, our spouse’s work, professional desires, fears, and challenges occur with this type of intimacy. This is possible whether we are stay-at-home parents, corporate employees, or business owners. We open up about how we process this part of our lives.

6. Recreational

With recreational intimacy, we have fun together; this is about playtime.

7. Spiritual

We experience spiritual intimacy when we share our faith, beliefs, and philosophies; pray or read scripture together; attend church together; or discuss faith with children. In all of these ways, we are talking about how God is affecting or involved in our lives. We can be spiritually intimate with a range of people, including our spouses, friends, or members of our Bible study group.

8. Physical (sex)

This, of course, refers to sexual intimacy (in the sanctity of marriage).

Many of the building blocks of intimacy can be achieved in several areas of life outside of marriage.

Any stage of intimacy requires connecting with another person. Again, God did not intend for a man (or woman) to be alone.

When it comes to porn use or sex addiction, the bottom line is that we are seeking intimacy. All of the building blocks of intimacy involve some level of transparency—some level of sharing of oneself. But often, in the process of life, childhood events, and the world, we have been taught to seek false intimacy. False intimacy is something that we “get” not “share.” However, what’s ironic is that in the act of true intimacy, or giving or sharing of oneself, we end up in getting intimacy as well, thus, the connection God intended. This cannot be achieved from a screen. 

Consuming pornography is an “alone” experience. It does not involve any level of transparency with anyone—no intimacy. Video sex chats, phone sex, prostitutes, and so on all involve “using” another person for self-satisfaction. Yet this sexual satisfaction is what God designed for us to experience with a spouse, a divine partner, and ideally, we would achieve this satisfaction after the other building blocks have been experienced. Ever wonder why women always want to talk first? Intimacy! They crave the other blocks as well as sexual intimacy and in many cases more than that level of intimacy. They desire a connection with their spouse before engaging in the physical intimacy stage. They don’t just want the “icing”—they want the cake too! 

Personal noteIn reference to the cake and icing example for intimacy, I see the cake like brownies. If you have a really good brownie, you don’t even need icing. True intimacy is more fulfilling than sex. Additionally, when true, authentic intimacy is experienced, then the urge to give (not take) is at its peak and the “icing” is at its best. 

And you know what, guys? We want true intimacy too. It’s just that most of us don’t know it (I know I didn’t). Yes, God did wire men to be the leader, the conqueror, and the ones to build the family, societies, and so on. Society has taught us, though, that sexual conquest is the marker of our manhood. That is completely the opposite of who we authentically are. Conquering and taking a woman is just that, taking! There is no giving, no sharing, no transparency, no intimacy! This ultimately results in an emptiness that we can’t seem to fill—thus leading to more and more sexual conquest. We’re missing the intimacy and we don’t even recognize it.  

Women typically have affairs because they crave the deep relationship—the intimacy—and when they don’t get it in their marriage, they are starving and look elsewhere. Men have affairs because their wives don’t give them the sex they want. The man doesn’t feel fulfilled, but because of society’s teaching and hormones, he’s only looking for the icing. And even if he gets all the icing he wants, he is still missing the cake! Typically, if married women were experiencing all the other building blocks of intimacy, their sexual desires—their desire to bond—would be much greater. Both sides stray for seemingly different reasons, but it’s all really the same reason: intimacy. 

Think about it, when you look at porn, you truly, deep down, want the woman in the scene to want you, accept you, and choose you as you really are. YOU’RE SEEKING INTIMACY! But it’s never gonna happen this way. 

Authentic love = True intimacy

We can experience authentic love with God, our spouse, close friends, brothers (or sisters) in Christ, and so on. Essentially, there is a multitude of possibilities where we can be transparent and share our deepest feelings without judgment or ridicule.

False Intimacy

Really, false intimacy happens with more than just porn. It can also occur with alcohol, drugs, food, and even actions that seem positive like doing “good works.” Yes, even people pleasers can be seeking false intimacy if done for the wrong reasons.

With false intimacy, we seek something outside ourselves for fulfillment because we believe that inside we are flawed or defective. In a nutshell, false intimacy seeks to “take” to fulfill the need of acceptance, desire, and self-worth. It, in many cases, drives us to want “things”—things like nice cars, the best and newest electronic devices, or the best clothes. False intimacy is also at work at other times. For example, when our true needs are not met, the lure of false intimacy leads us to be open to the lies that more drastic behaviors will make us happy and, as a result, we turn to drugs, sex, alcohol, overeating, and other unhealthy or sinful activities. In reality, deep inside we are choosing false intimacy to escape our inadequate selves or to fill the emptiness we feel in our souls. We desire to escape ourselves because we are not happy or, for one reason or another, we do not love ourselves.

This exercise and behavior of seeking false intimacy always lead to emptiness, decreasing self-worth, and frequently addictive behaviors.

If we stop listening to the lies that drive us to false intimacy, we see that we are truly called to be intimate with God and His creation in true, authentic intimacy. Using the building blocks discussed above, we can begin to fulfill our true needs by sharing these parts of our lives with others. When we do this, we begin to connect and have compassion, empathy, and even mercy for others. And we receive it too!

God created us with a desire to give and experience the wholeness of others. God did not intend for man to be alone. Humans have an insatiable desire to be connected in multiple ways with others. God “hardwired” us to be in common union with others, and most particularly a mate, a spouse.

UNDERSTANDING SEXUALITY

A big part of becoming free of sinful sexual behavior is understanding what God’s plan for authentic sexuality is really about. I am not speaking of what is commonly thought of about sex—that it is for procreation only and that enjoying sex is wrong or impure. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The Old Testament of the Bible is full of sexual pleasure. Read the Song of Solomon for example. 

Authentic sexuality is about purity. It’s about being a gift of oneself rather than taking of, or using, another for our pleasure. Part of what we need to understand is how purity fits into sexuality. 

What Is Purity?

First, we must define what “purity” is and what it is not:

· Purity is not the denial of sex.

· Purity is not prudishness.

· Purity is not a belief that sex is wrong or bad, or that it is somehow unholy to enjoy sex.
And

· It is not a belief that sex is shameful.

Let’s define purity.

Here’s one dictionary’s definition of purity:

    “Freedom from that anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.” 

 Also, we can see from a Bible concordance a definition that:

“Purity is that which is designed by God and is free from contamination.”

By combining these concepts, we can define purity in this way:

“Something that is true or authentic to its original purpose or creation”

 or in a human behavioral perspective:

“Purity is being authentic to the purpose of God’s creation.”
 

So, then, how does being authentic to the purpose of God’s creation relate to sex?

Sex is so much more than just a physical act. For a proper perspective, we need to first understand who we are as humans. 

To begin with, we know we are created in the image of God. 

Genesis 1:27 (NRSVCE)“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them.”

But what does that really mean—obviously, God isn’t human, or is He? God is truly three parts in one person. It’s what Christians and Catholics refer to as the Holy Trinity: Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was God incarnate. He was both fully human and fully divine. 

How does the Bible reveal God?

God is love, mercy, and sacrifice. 

1 John 4:8 (NRSVCE) “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NRSVCE) “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

Romans 5:8 (NRSVCE) “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”

God created us as an overflowing extension of His love, and we, in His image, we are also overflowing in love, mercy, and sacrifice (except when Satan injects his pride and we become selfish and self-centered, hence the sexual sin I refer to).

We mirror the image of God as a man:

An extension of this image is the union of man and woman in the sanctity of marriage. 

Genesis 2:24 (NRSVCE) “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Man and woman are joined spiritually and physically as one. One flesh in the eyes of God. This union, with God, is a reflection of the Holy Trinity. 

Christopher West, an expert on sexuality and theology of the body, says,

“In the sanctity of marriage under God, sex is the wedding vows made flesh.”

This divine union, or sex, is the ultimate form of intimacy (although intimacy is not exclusively sex, as explained in the previous chapter).  In this union, if God wills it, we co-create life with God—that is, we create a child. This trio of mother, father, and child is an earthly reflection of the Holy Trinity.

Genesis 4:1 (NRSVCE) “Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.’”

​Mother, father, and child—in effect, three parts, one person (one family)—reflect the image of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is spiritual, but He creates us humans as sexual beings, of two sexes, to join, fully giving of ourselves, to co-create life and extend God’s image with His spirit at the center. God has in effect “stamped” on our bodies the design of union, male and female. This is a union that first encourages the physical experience of the divine holy union as one flesh, and then, if God desires, facilitates a co-creation of life.

Additionally, part of being a good spouse is to be loving and merciful and to show sacrifice to the other spouse as well as to the child. This means engaging in the non-physical building blocks of intimacy. All of this represents us being in the image of God, and thus authentic to our original creation—“purity.”

In fact, when in the sanctity of marriage, God encourages sex! 

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NRSVCE) “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.  For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

We see that as two made one flesh, man and woman are supposed to engage in sex.  Hey, God made it pleasurable for a reason!

BUT! Again, I stress that sex is not just a physical act; it is the culmination of all the building blocks of intimacy (refer to the previous chapter on intimacy). Being in the image of God, we are called to empty ourselves to the other so completely and to such an extent that we become transparent. Again, this is about intimacy.

God, out of infinite love, emptied Himself to the Son; and the Son, out of infinite love, emptied Himself to the Father so much that a third person manifested—the Holy Spirit—thus creating the Blessed Trinity. The infinite love that these spirit persons in God share is so strong that it overflowed, creating mankind.

As we see, purity has nothing to do with the absence of sex, but quite the opposite. In Christopher West’s words, it’s “the wedding vows made flesh,” It is embracing our authentic selves as created in the image of God.

Sex and the co-creation of life is the very fabric of our existence, and the very fabric of the universe, as God is all, and we—His creation, in purity, in the purpose of creation and the emptying oneself to our spouse of marital divine union—extend that universe. 

When you and your spouse empty yourselves, in all blocks of intimacy, you are transparent and vulnerable; you reveal your true inner self. This takes tremendous trust. This is true, authentic intimacy. This is being a gift of self. This intimacy, combined with physical sexual relations, completes the bond. This bond is proven by the biological brain chemistry that God designed us with (see the next chapter, “Your Brain on Porn).  To draw us closer together spiritually and emotionally, the physical act of sex releases dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and other natural endorphins that create a union and a bond that, when engaged in with a self-emptying purpose, result in the “two joined as one” sensation. God designed it this way. A beautiful visual of this wonderful expression of love is in the Bible, in the Song of Solomon.  

Contrast this with pornography.Pornography is the taking of another person, image or not, for one’s own pleasure.  This is a pure act of selfishness. There is no gift, no possibility of intimacy, and no possibility of life. A man should see a woman’s body as a work of art—to be admired and respected—not an object for his pleasure. 

God made sex pleasurable for a reason,

Proverbs 5:18-19(NRSVCE) 

“Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

May her breasts satisfy you at all times;

may you be intoxicated always by her love.”

Notice in scripture that when a man and woman are mentioned together in sexual context, the union is mentioned favorably and it is in the bounds of marriage. 

Sex in Marriage

Hebrews 13:4(NRSVCE) “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”

1 Cor 7:36(NRSVCE) “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry.”

And when sex is not within marriage, it’s clearly revealed as sin.

Sex Outside of Marriage

Matt 5:28(NRSVCE) “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

1 Cor 6:18-20 (NRSVCE) “Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple[a] of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

Hebrews 13:4(NRSVCE) “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”

Proverbs 6:32(NRSVCE) “But he who commits adultery has no sense;
he who does it destroys himself.”

1 Thess 4:3-5(NRSVCE)  “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to control your own body[a] in holiness and honor, 5 not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;”

Engaging in sex within the sanctity of marriage also improves emotional well-being, relieves stress, and involves a sacrifice and submission of both the man and woman. 

Purity, being authentic to the purpose of our creation, also makes a logical case against the engagement of homosexual behavior. Scripture clearly show that this act is sinful:

Leviticus 20:13 (NRSVCE) “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NRSVCE) “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Romans 1:26-28 (NRSVCE) “For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

This is not just God restricting us and telling us what to do without cause (as many in today’s society would tell you). The reason behind this is purely logical as well. A man and a man or a woman and a woman cannot take part in creation. There is never a possibility of life. Therefore, this union is not in the image of God. It can’t be; it’s biologically impossible. God didn’t create us this way; it’s not His plan. He created us male and female (Genesis 1:27).  I will agree that there are many factors and arguments that contribute to same-sex attractions, including but not limited to the environment, DNA, biological factors, and psychosocial experiences. But the fact remains, to act on these attractions is not part of God’s plan. Just as sex outside of marriage is not an acceptable choice of behavior according to God’s will for us in our humanity, to have these attractions is not a sin, but acting on them is. 

The bottom line is that sex is the foundation of the existence of mankind. Sex is good, sex is a gift from God, sex is our gift to our spouse, and sex is designed for the pleasurable physical union of divine partners and the expansion of the universe under God.

Think about it. Sex is the most addictive natural behavior we have. God wired our brain intentionally to crave it. He also wired us to crave a common union with another. This communion is designed for expression of His love and the extension of His existence. 

YOUR BRAIN ON PORN

To fully understand how porn negatively affects us, we need to first understand how we are engineered, biologically. Basically, we need to see how God created us.

How God Designed Us for Sex

God made sex pleasurable for a reason. Proof of this extends to the fact that He created us biologically to enjoy and even crave sex.  

Let’s take a look how our brains are designed. Our brain is wired in such a way that it wants to remember where our natural drives are satisfied. Our brain is designed to keep us alive and to also sustain humanity. If the body is thirsty, the brain’s job is to remember in vivid detail where water can be found; this is accomplished in the reward center or pleasure centers of the brain. 

There are several chemicals in the brain that accomplish learning, memory, pleasure, and relational bonding.  Here are a few of them: 

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Oxytocin
  • Vasopressin
  • Serotonin
  • Natural endorphins
  • Natural opiates

Let’s take a brief look at each one:

Dopamine: A neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.

Dopamine creates a neural pathway that links bodily need, an emotional need, or physical need to a source of satisfaction. Dopamine is the “want” mechanism in our desire. 

Norepinephrine: This naturally occurring chemical is responsible for alertness and focus; it is in effect the brain’s version of adrenaline.

Norepinephrine plays a key role during a normal sexual experience, especially with sexual arousal, and is part of the pleasure experience.

Oxytocin and Vasopressin: These two chemicals act to establish and bind our long-term memories; they bind us to another person in intimacy. In neurological professional circles, oxytocin is also nicknamed the “cuddle hormone.”

Endorphins and natural opiates: These chemicals create a “super high” or wave of pleasure at orgasm. This is the ecstasy or euphoric experience component, accounting for the “loss of self” sensation or the “two joined as one” experience. The body produces natural forms of opium, which creates this natural high.

Serotonin: After orgasm, massive amounts of serotonin are released, creating a state of extreme calm and relaxation. Additional bonding is established at this point. 

Again, God created us as sexual beings, with the desire to join with another person and expand God’s plan. We are “hardwired” for communion, intimate connection, and union with God. This desire for bonding and emotional connection is an innate craving in our human design. 

Our brains have mechanisms by which boundaries between self and other objects are observed. During sexual intercourse, especially at climax, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are simultaneously overloaded. The mind is overwhelmed by these two systems. The prefrontal cortex is also forced to operate at maximum capacity. Then the posterior superior parietal lobe is derived of sensory input. This all results in the boundary mechanisms beginning to fail and the sensory perception of “self” and “other” begins to blur, resulting in the “two as one” sensation—essentially a “transcendence of self.” 

This whole system that God designed creates a “bond” to your spouse. The repeated sexual experience with the same person (spouse) locks in the pleasure memory, along with the subsequent deep calm and peace sensation.

The science behind our sexual interaction reveals God’s design of “two shall become one.” The misuse of the marital bond designed by God is revealed in scripture as well. 

1 Corinthians 6:16 (NRSVC)“Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’”

Components of Sexual Behavior

This natural chemical and neurological design is then woven into our process of sexual attraction and sexual behavior. 

Let’s look at the components of sexual behavior. There are three basic components to sexual behavior:

  • Attraction
  • Attachment 
  • Romanticism

Attraction Phase

Attraction triggers these hormones and parts of the brain:

testosterone

caudate nucleus

ventral tagmental area (VTA)

Testosterone: a hormone that drives the sexual desires and performance.

Caudate nucleus: an area of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and social behavior.

Ventral tagmental area (VTA): an area that controls the dopamine system and reward center of the brain. The VTA is responsible for cognition and motivation. It is also responsible for intense emotions relating to fear, love, shame, ecstasy, and so on. 

Note: The VTA is also stimulated in drug addiction. 

Also note that in men, when an attractive woman is observed, this entire attraction phase sequence happens in less than one second. We’re wired this way—by God

Attachment Phase

After the attraction event, the attachment phase begins. 

In this phase, the brain releases oxytocin, vasopressin, more dopamine, and nucleus accumbens, chemicals that reinforce rewards. 

Nucleus accumbens also play a critical role in addictions. In this process, the brain releases “ΔFosB” (pronounced delta fos b). This is a chemical that creates a neural pathway to permanently record the pleasure event. (Note: This is the main factor in developing ALL addictions.)  

Romanticism Phase  

The third phase is romanticism or romantic love.  

Here we see the motivation system stimulated and then finally spiritual harmony occur. This phase seals the whole process both spiritually and biologically.

These types of love are based on the attachment and bonding phase in the biological process. This particular phase is probably the most critical to our human existence and self-worth systems. When a person consumes pornography, the romanticism phase is absent. This absence is devastating on our lives, as we see in porn and sex addiction. 

How Does This Chemistry Hurt Us When Pornography Enters the Picture?

What happens when we don’t obey the natural design of our bodies—namely, our brains? When we aren’t true to our original purpose of creation? It may be helpful to consider a few common examples of what happens when we don’t use our bodies as designed. One example is when people become obese or consume larger amounts of foods with high sugar content. In this case, type 2 diabetes is frequently experienced. Another example is Olympic gymnasts. The toll on their bodies because of excessive impact causes joint problems, early onset of arthritis, and other health problems for years to come. These are examples of our bodies reacting to being used in ways they were not intended. Misusing the body—that is, our brains—by consuming pornography yields a similar destructive result. 

When we lust, look at pornography, masturbate, and behave in other inappropriate ways, we are engaging in false stimulation and unnatural stimulation. Such acts, especially internet pornography, elevates dopamine levels in the brain for an abnormally long time. This creates an elevation that boosts pleasure centers to a level that becomes intensely addictive. 

Overstimulating the brain in this way creates a situation where the dopamine receptors are supercharged or overloaded. When this happens, they begin to shut down—triggering the desire for more stimulus in order to maintain the same dopamine levels. This supercharged state makes us feel good and the brain wants more of it. The problems is that with some of the dopamine receptors shutting down, it takes more and more to reach the same state of feeling “normal.” In effect, our pleasure center is set to an unnatural elevated level. This also creates a situation where even other experiences in life that once delivered pleasure begin to feel subdued or don’t create the same feelings of pleasure they once did, leading to depression, isolation, and mood changes. We need a higher level of dopamine to feel pleasure or, for that matter, to even feel normal. To achieve this, we need more stimulus—more porn, harder porn, riskier behavior, and, in some cases, even violent sexual behavior. Our compass for risk, moral judgement, and tolerance becomes clouded. Add in the fact that during sexual activity the oxytocin hormone is also introduced for bonding, but the brain has difficulty bonding to an inanimate object or image on the screen. (Note: Oxytocin, in neurological circles is also nicknamed the “cuddle drug” as it is instrumental in the relational bonding of two people during sex)

In essence, we create a “false bond” so we are left unsatisfied—compounding the need to repeat the behavior to attempt to feel satisfied. Further, our attachment system is left “stunted.” As discussed earlier, our self-worth system needs these attachment and romanticismsystems We attempt to seek pleasure through behavior that is designed for personal bonding, emotional connection, and self-worth, but instead we are left with a pleasure spike from the dopamine and other endorphins. And yet the entire process is destructively incomplete, leaving us to want or even “need” more of the experience to feel satisfied. In reality, we are unsatisfied and left still craving e to seek the insatiable need for peace and harmony as God created us to experience. We never achieve this harmony through pornography, thus fueling the addictive process. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction: A chronic and relapsing brain disease that is characterized by the compulsive seeking and use of a drug or behavior, despite negative or harmful consequences. 

Neural Pathways Rewritten

When we repeat the process I just described, our neural pathways are rewritten—rewritten from the God-designed state from which we were created. Repeating this behavior over and over creates deep paths in our brain, as if we were walking across grass repeatedly, turning it to dirt, then to a rut.

In most cases, we find that this euphoric experience of pornography and orgasm feels so good that we seek it for pure pleasure—just like some seek drugs or alcohol. It is so pleasurable, in fact, that we begin to substitute this pleasure as our outlet for all kinds of behavior and needs. It easily becomes our “medication” and escape from negative life events and even our reward for positive events. In most cases, we aren’t even aware that we are using pornography in this way. Since we consider sex to be a natural human experience and the porn experience is pleasurable, plus it doesn’t leave us “seemingly” mentally or physically inhibited afterward like drugs or alcohol, we are blind to the effects. 

Each time we seek pornography after  an unpleasant life experience, we deepen the neural pathway of desiring pornography as a medication to offset a negative life experience. Additionally, the experience of effectively using a person, particularly in fantasy, for your own pleasure trains your brain to use real-life people as objects for your pleasure. 

This pornography use creates a new neural pathway. Think of it like a freeway with multiple “on-ramps” within a short distance. The freeway itself is engaging in porn and each on-ramp can be viewed as a road taken to  search for a porn scenario or scene to act out. Also, engaging in real-life experiences, such as lusting after a woman you see, also creates an on-ramp.  Each experience of pornography engagement widens a particular on-ramp. And each time you experience a new fantasy flavor (a certain scenario in porn consumption), it creates another on-ramp.  This also happens each time you engage in a lusting experience in real life (like lusting after the barista at Starbucks). Repeating this process in effect creates multiple on-ramps to the neural pathway “super highway.”

Here’s what ultimately happens: When a trigger is experienced, such as seeing a young girl in tight jeans, your brain nearly “automatically” jumps to an “on-ramp”—that is, the dopamine begins to flow, sexual pleasure is craved, and the overwhelming desire to look at pornography is experienced. You are training your brain to go from a glance at a woman to “needing” pornography. These on-ramp triggers begin to also link to unpleasant life experiences, such as being criticized by your wife or being cut off on the freeway. Feelings of worthlessness, anger, and so on  rise; pleasurable escape is desired; and without realizing it, you turn to pornography for escape.

You not only used pornography as an escape, but you just created a new on-ramp to the porn neural pathway superhighway. So, next time, you feel the same way, your brain says, “I know how to deal with this unpleasantness and the feelings I am experiencing” and off to the computer you go. Maybe this feeling will come on when you are in the bathroom while on a break at work, maybe late at night when everyone else has gone to bed, or maybe even in a week from now…but it all plays a role in building the porn neural pathway superhighway. 

These on-ramps and resulting behaviors developed by the porn highway are, in reality, dysfunctions in brain circuits. This dysfunction results in a person pathologically pursuing neurological rewards. 

Now an important note: This phenomenon can happen with any activity, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, even exercise, and gossip. It can happen with any behavior that creates a “happy place.” Not all of these behaviors are bad, of course, which is a hint to how we go about healing from addiction—by rewiring our neural pathways for a positive effect.  

What we must realize is that our pathways are triggered by outside stimulus and events—any attractive woman, seductive TV commercial, negative feelings, a bad day at work, really anything that flags old feelings quickly and instantly drop us into the neural pathway rut. The only way to correct this is to write new neural pathways. Consistent engagement in the new healthy neural pathways takes advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity,allowing the old paths to fade. This is discussed further in chapter 11, “The 3-I’s.” of the 40 Days to Freedom book.

Chemically, Pornography Is Nearly Identical to Heroin Addiction

Can that be true? That seems like a stretch! Well according to several specialists in the neural science field, it is accurate. Here is a quote by Dr. Donald Hilton, a highly-respected neurosurgeon: “The underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction.” 

In addition to the chemical similarities, behavioral similarities between the two types of addiction are astoundingly similar. 

Look at where pornography and heroin addiction cross paths:

  • intensity of difficulty to stop
  • reduction of moral and personal judgment
  • depression and withdrawal from friends and family
  • creation of a “self-focused” attitude and personality traits 
  • chasing the “dragon” phenomenon

The resulting effects are damage to the frontal lobes in the brain. The reduction of dopamine production causes multiple physiological and biological side effects:

  • degeneration of frontal lobes
  • reduced willpower
  • inhibited moral compass
  • reduced concentration
  • increased anxiety
  • erectile dysfunction
  • depression
  • blurring of reality
  • inhibited ability to learn/decreased IQ

God designed sex to be powerful and to forge a long-lasting bond within us. Sex is the most powerful naturalexperience we can have.  The resulting bond with a spouse is supposed to be an experience of union that is a glimpse of the spiritual union with God. And when we pervert sex, abuse it, and do not follow God’s plan of our creation, we suffer in a big way. 

When sex is misused, it is incredibly addictive.  When the bonding isn’t there and the dopamine is repeatedly flooding the brain, the results are staggering. 

When bonding develops between two people, the pleasure centers of the brain are satisfied and the cycle is complete (for more on this, return to chapter 7, “Understanding Sexuality”). Without that sense of completion, the addictive cycle begins, and porn falls into the same category of other drugs.

The following is a summary of the research on the spike of dopamine in various experiences and drug consumption. Start with the baseline of zero of a healthy person without any type of stimulation. These numbers represent the spike in dopamine units when the listed item is experienced:

  • Sex: 100 units, then at orgasm + 200 units = 300 units for full sexual experience
  • Cocaine: – 250–300 units
  • Heroin: 200+ units
  • Food: 50–100 units
  • Nicotine: 50–100 units
  • Sharing yourself intimately with others (nonsexual, such as in a men’s group): 100 units
  • Out-of-body experience during meditation: 200–300 units
  • Meth: 1,200 units

As you can see, the full sexual experience, including orgasm, is as powerful in the brain as cocaine and heroin use. This is important to emphasize again: God designed us as sexual beings. We are “hardwired” to connect to another person, a spouse, not only sexually but in an intimate bond. The act of intimacy (nonsexual) results in a spike in dopamine (as illustrated above). And as discussed in the Section “Understanding Intimacy,” these acts of sharing oneself create a boost of pleasure as well as engage our God-designed connection with each other. 

We are wired for sex and bonding, not for using cocaine, heroin, and other addictive substances. As a result, the addictive properties of sex addiction are reported by scientists and world-renowned addiction professionals to be more difficult to break free from. Think of how much harder it would be to break free from a heroin addiction if God designed you to use it?  This is just the side effect of misusing God’s most powerful and life-giving “drug.”

How the Brain Impacts Recovery

You may not be surprised to find out that heavy porn addicts develop a chemical dependency. This dependency fuels the addiction even after education, inner healing, and limiting access to porn. Another interesting fact is that the brains of youths between the ages of 12 and 20 are dramatically more inclined to become addicted. The human brain at that age is incredibly neuroplasticity, making it more vulnerable to damage from the factors discussed above. Neural pathways are established dramatically more quickly in youths than in adults. 

The result however is that at any age, addiction is a chemical dependency. Without efforts to rewire neural pathways (and even then), physical withdrawal symptoms are likely. Common symptoms include increased anxiety and irritability, difficulty focusing, and, in advanced cases, increased heart rate and blood pressure, cold sweats, abdominal pain, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, nausea, depression, and feelings of profound loss or abandonment. 

Depending on how deeply your brain and physiology has been affected, these symptoms will vary. Most people will experience at least some on a mild level. You may even experience flashback symptoms if some traumatic event happens in your life and the brain instinctively wants to recall the old methods of dealing with the stressful event. I can tell you that I personally have experienced nearly all of these symptoms in my recovery … and I survived (with the help of prayer and a support group).

As a point of reference, the book Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery,by Dr. Kevin B. Skinner, lists the stages of pornography addiction: 

1. Mild exposure—once or twice a year, no effect on regular life

2. Pornography use does not indicate addiction—occasional looking at pornography with increased interest

3. Signs of trouble—person looks about once a month, usually tries to avoid, but occasionally urge gets so strong that cannot be controlled and person gives in

4. Individual notices increased sexual fantasies and attempts to control them, which results in stronger withdrawal symptoms

5. Pornography affecting day-to-day living with significant portion of the day spent thinking about pornography

6. Pornography dominates most of the person’s day-to-day life, affecting work, school, and personal relationships

7. Pornography and acting out consumes most of the individual’s time, leaving him feeling completely out of control

From a godly perspective, even stage 1 is a misuse of God’s design for us and could potentially be a sign of deeper issues. 

As we’ve discussed, overcoming porn addiction involves rewiring your neural pathways. This means creating a different neural pathway superhighway; creating new on-ramps that relate to the old triggers that currently lead to the porn neural highway (chapter 11 of the 40 Days to Freedom book, “The 3-I’s,” deals with this); and creating “off-ramps” from your existing neural porn highway.

Scripture Relating to Porn and Addiction 

(See appendix C in the book 40 Days to Freedom for an extensive list.)

Romans 8:13(NRSVCE)“for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20(NRSVCE) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

Psalm 101:3 (NKJV)“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.”

1 Corinthians 6:16 (NRSVC)“Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’”

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NRSVC) “Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

James 1:15 (NRSVC) “then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

This is a very brief overview of how humans are wired sexually, with God’s plan woven in. For more detail I recomended these books:

Wired for Intimacy by Willian Struthers

Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson

​ACCOUNTABILITY

Being accountable may be one of the most difficult, but necessary, building blocks of recovery for an addict of any type. For porn and sex addicts, accountability is critically important. 

Accountability is about not keeping your acting out, relapses, bouts with temptations, close calls, and even emotional distresses secret. Keeping these behaviors in the dark will not only kill your soul but damage you physically and psychologically. 

Asking for help is not weakness, it’s strength. True strength comes through humility and it is extremely humbling to ask for help in something as deeply rooted as porn addiction.

Physical and Biological Effects

An article in Forbesmagazine written by Gina Roberts-Grey,“Keeping Secrets Can Be Hazardous to Your Health,”states, “Neuroscientists now believe it’s biologically better for us to confess our secrets…. Holding on to them puts the brain in an awkward, compromised position…. When you choose to hold onto a secret, your brain’s orbital prefrontal cortex simulates in your mind just how bad sharing the secret will be, imagining all the possible negative outcomes.”

Keeping secrets causes your body to ramp up the production of stress hormones. This stress reveals itself in a variety of physical effects, including blood pressure, gastrointestinal tract disorders, memory problems, and even learning difficulties. 

The higher the stress, the more resulting anxiety and the more “fight or flight” behaviors are exhibited. Irritability, depression, defensiveness, and paranoid tendencies are common. 

Several studies show that progressive porn use shrinks the prefrontal cortex of the brain, resulting in impaired cognitive function with decreased ability y to focus, short-term memory loss, and thus reduced IQ and learning potential. 

It is worth repeating here what was presented in the previous section, “Your Brain on Porn.” Continued and progressive porn use can produce numerous negative effects: degeneration of frontal lobes, reduced willpower, inhibited moral compass, reduced concentration, increased anxiety, erectile dysfunction, depression, withdrawal from friends and family,blurring of reality, development of self-focus perspectives and attitude, and narcissism. 

This incredibly inward self-perspective can lead to self-induced feelings of abandonment and rejection, and magnify any pre-existing emotional distresses like those discussed in section, “River Under the River.” In extreme circumstances, this damage to the brain leads to distortion of the personality and decisions of personal self-destruction. 

Spiritual and Scriptural Effects

These biological and psychological findings are simply put by scripture: 

Romans 6:23(NRSVCE) “For the wages of sin is death …”

And more specific to our topic:

James 1:15(NRSVCE) “then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death”

Resolution

The act of pushing through adversity in life strengthens one’s character, builds resilience, and creates moral strength and purpose. The act of simply confessing your behavior, or even sharing your struggles with another person, has tremendous healing power. The act itself is a significant step in decreasing the biological, psychological, and spiritual effects discussed above. 

Again, this very notion is supported in scripture:

James 5:16(NRSVCE) “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

Confessing your sin to a pastor or priest is highly recommended, and for Catholics even required for absolution. As you can see from what I’ve presented above, this requirement of confession is much more than a “church rule.” As revealed in James 5:16, as well as in many scientific studies, confession is freeing and healing of not only the soul but of the body as well. 

Confessing to a priest or pastor is step one, but being part of an accountability or purity group on a regular basis is an almost mandatory part of the healing process. 

As a counselor, I always strongly encourage my clients to participate in a group. Whether in group counseling or a peer group such as Sexaholics Anonymous, the group dynamic is instrumental in recovery. 

Being accountable isn’t just about confession. Sharing your story and your struggles frees you of the secrets that bind you; plus, sharing your struggle also helps others. In a group, hearing others who share the same battle helps you gain perspective and allows you to see that you are not alone. Someone else truly understands you. 

Here is a story of how sharing in a group has healing power:

There was a group of several men who were Vietnam war POWs. When they returned from the war, they had a very difficult time adjusting to life at home and getting back to “normal.” The soldiers were distant from their families; they withdrew emotionally from family and any regular activity. They couldn’t hold jobs and many had severe depression. Significant amounts of counseling and help to get them to cope all failed. It wasn’t until several of the POWs were put together in a group and began to talk about their experiences that the healing began. In this group, they each shared their stories and began to see what it was like for others who walked in their shoes, and they saw that someone else really understood what they went through and what they felt. When this happened, remarkable healing took place.

Accountability groups aren’t just about sharing your struggles. Sharing victories is also part of recovery. Hearing the victories of others is empowering as well. 

Personal Reflection

After struggling with porn and sex addiction for over 35 years, I felt that no one understood me. It just wasn’t possible for anyone to know what I was going through. The self-loathing, the self-rejection, the loneliness (even though I was married for many years of it), the emptiness, and the hopelessness I felt truly had me in an emotional state that was very dangerous. It wasn’t until I was met with an ultimatum from my wife and a priest that I started attending an accountability group at a nearby church. I remember in that first meeting that the protocol when a new member attended that everyone gave a five-minute version of their story. Hearing their stories, I was moved to tears. I thought to myself, “These guys actually understand me; they get what I am going through!” Just knowing that I was not alone and essentially seeing that freedom was possible delivered a boost of hope that gave me the strength to move forward and face the difficulties that lie ahead. The healing and growth from years of these meetings is what led not only to my own freedom but to my motivation to help others through it as well. 

I feel the pain of those that battle this addiction, and my heart breaks as I see the bondage men and women are in, yet I know that freedom is possible. I know with all my heart and soul that it doesn’t have to be like this. Your life doesn’t have to be like this. It can change. But you cannot do it alone. 

Finding Accountability Partners

The thought of finding someone to share this type of personal struggle with can easily bring feelings of fear and anxiety. Here are some tips to get started. 

Where to look for partners

· Purity groups.Another huge benefit of being in an accountability or purity group is the instant group of people who share in your battle. Most groups offer a member list with contact information so you can call (or be called) a supportive person when things get tough (or ideally before they get too far). 

· Close friends.A close friend whom you can confide in is a good possibility. This person already knows a lot about you and your life history, and it’s highly likely that a close friend will accept your struggle. In some cases, you may find that your friend is also battling porn addiction. In these cases, sharing your story may inspire your friend to seek help. 

· Pastor.Most pastors will welcome requests to help someone with an addiction. There may even be a purity or accountability group in the church or one nearby that they can recommend. An added benefit is that many pastors have some counseling training as well. 

· Other resources. There are organizations that offer paid services for accountability or coaching. Puritycoaching.com is one. They have an accountability jump-start program.  

Not Recommended:

· Spouse.Your spouse is the very person you have caused significant trauma to by your behavior. While your spouse is likely very supportive of your recovery, discussing your battles directly with her will only cause her additional personal distress and pain. 

· Internet accountability groups. There are several internet accountability apps and groups available. This is NOT the same as using a porn filter or blocking software such as covenanteyes.com (which I highly recommend). No, I’m talking about apps where you log in daily and passively track your temptations, progress, and so on. Some even offer you the option to communicate with others via email or messaging in the app.  This may seem like a good option on the surface, but I see too many clients who get in trouble when they rely on their electronic devices as a tool in their battles. Often, they find themselves getting triggered from using the device, even though they are now using it for support—the problem is right in their hand. In my mind, it’s not much different from holding a purity group meeting in a strip club or an AA meeting in a bar! It’s simply not an ideal situation. But that is just my personal slant; many people support these apps. If you do choose to use one of these app’s, do so with caution. 

Picking a Partner

In looking for an accountability partner, also consider that you will likely be a partner to the other person as well. So, learning how to be a good accountability partner yourself will guide you in choosing someone to support you. 

Here are some tips on being a good partner:

  • Be compassionate.As you already know, this addiction is hard. Being compassionate and empathetic to someone is powerful. Being accepted and affirmed for the person they are is critical to the healing process. Remember, though, that compassion and affirmation are NOT the same as permissiveness. 
  • Be tough. Don’t let them get away with comments like “I just wanted to” or “I just couldn’t stop myself.” Ask what triggered them. What feelings were they experiencing in the hours or days prior to acting out? And if they didn’t have a fall, talk about what’s going on in their life. It’s entirely possible that their current stresses, if not discussed, may be a catalyst for a fall tomorrow. Take to heart chapter 5, “River Under the River,” when talking to your accountability partner. When you begin the 40-day process in this book, use it as a guide when talking to your partner—both in sharing your day and in asking them about theirs. 
  • Share victories.This is very important. No matter how small they seem, share your successes and encourage your partner to share his as well. If you only talk about battles and difficulties, you’ll likely feel depressed and defeated. By developing this practice, you will notice that over time your discussion of victories outweighs the discussions of falls and battles. Remember to praise your partner for achieving victories. 
  • Daily connection. Make a commitment to contact each other daily. Maybe even set a regular time. The more structured and consistent your communication, the more likelihood of success. 
  • Connect in person or by phone. Do not contact each other by email. It’s too passive and too easy. Talking directly to your partner will provide more interaction and the very act of the discussion empowers healing. 

Remember, accountability and sharing in a group is foundational in recovery. Do not try to do this alone. Of all the suggestions and steps I offer for recovery, this is the most important one

UNDERSTANDING BOUNDARIES

To make any change in life, a person needs to set boundaries. Becoming free from an addiction or compulsion is no exception. Defining these boundaries is key to succeeding with your change. Holding true to these boundaries may be the most difficult part of the process of this change. 

In many support and accountability groups I’ve been in, boundaries are viewed as the line you cross when you look and porn and/or masturbate. This is a dangerous perspective if you want to succeed in getting free from porn addiction. 

To help make my point, I will share a story I once heard (I forget where) about a princess who searching for a new bodyguard.

  • The princess is interviewing three different applicants for a new bodyguard position.  She asks each of them to tell her how close they could bring her to this cliff and still keep her safe.  The first applicant responds, “Oh princess, I am very strong and powerful. I could bring you within 10 feet of this cliff and keep you perfectly safe.”  The princess then asks the second candidate and he responds, “Oh princess, I am even more powerful than the first man. I can take you right to the very edge of the cliff and keep you completely safe.” Then she asks the third candidate and was surprised by his response: “Princess, you are much too valuable to me. I would never take you anywhere near that cliff. I would keep you at least 100 yards from it! You are precious and too important to take any risk whatsoever.”  The princess responds, “You are my new bodyguard.”

Let’s translate this story to the recovery of an addict.  Know that it is a fact that You areas important as the princess in the story. God created you and you areHis precious child.  Imagine the cliff—sexual temptation—is at the end of a 100-yard slope. Behaviors such as masturbating, going to massage parlors, having affairs, and visiting prostitutes are like falling off that cliff. Viewing porn brings you right to the edge of the cliff.  While carefully imagining this 100-yard slope, picture it slippery and the decline increases as you get closer to the edge, so the nearer you get to the edge, the harder it becomes to avoid falling over. 

The battles with lust and photography are very similar. As you begin sliding down the slope by engaging in fantasies, lusting after someone you saw, simply “looking” at provocative images on Pinterest, browsing the adult channel titles on cable, or other risky behaviors, you not only begin the path of temptation, but you trigger the brain chemistry of addiction. This chemistry wakes up pleasurable memories of acting out. A simple 30-second view of racy images on the internet start the dopamine flowing and very soon, you being to crave the sexual release. Images begin to flood your mind as past experiences are triggered in the brain and brought to the front of your mind. It’s a natural event in our human minds, but a simple “It’s not so bad” behavior can truly open up Pandora’s box. 

Boundaries are about discovering where your beginning of the slope is and what starts you down the path. Many boundaries will be discovered and put into place as your recovery progresses, and some are standards that you must adhere to right away. 

  • Side note: I have used the word “recovery” multiple times in this book. A key part of stopping this type of behavior is to first admit that engaging in porn is something that controls you, rather than something you are controlling it (hence the first step in a 12-step program: “Admitting that I am powerless over porn and it is ruining my life”). You need to see that you are an addict and that you need to be in recovery. It’s a perspective that will help you accept this process and the requirements you need to follow in running your life. Personally, when I was writing this book, I had been in recovery for 10 years. Whenever I do presentations or talk to people about my struggles, I always say that I am “recovering sex addict.” This perspective keeps us in a proper heightened sense of awareness about life events, our emotional reactions, and the temptations that we then face. 

Defining Boundaries

I define boundaries in two segments, primary and secondary.

Primary Boundaries

Primary boundaries are clearly actions of sin or being morally compromised. This includes actions like masturbating, having an affair, and having relations with a prostitute or massage therapist. I also place looking at pornography in the primary boundary category, although I know some who consider it a secondary boundary violation because it’s not an actual sexual act. I think for the true desire of recovery, it’s best to consider porn use a primary boundary action.

Secondary Boundaries

Secondary boundaries are a much bigger and more of a “gray” area. These are behaviors like engaging in fantasy, lusting after a person you see in day-to-day life, going to a strip club, engaging in an emotional affair with someone of the opposite sex (a relationship that is definitely more than a friendship, has an emotional connection, but has not gotten physical). An emotional affair (the word “affair” suggests that you are married and this relationship is with someone other than your spouse), should really be considered a primary boundary because it is very close to cheating. Ask most women and they would tell you they consider it cheating if their husband had an emotional affair with another woman. 

As you grow in your recovery, your list of secondary boundaries will grow. Secondary boundaries should include actions that are not so obvious but frequently lead to crossing primary boundaries. Secondary boundaries can include looking at email at night after everyone else has gone to bed, taking your electronic device in the bathroom, looking at the computer when the house is empty, watching movies or TV programs with sexual content, intentionally driving down streets with strip clubs or adult bookstores. The idea that some of these behaviors break boundaries may seem far-fetched to you, but if you honestly consider them, you will see that these activities include lust or simply create easy opportunities to cross primary boundaries. Honestly, stop and consider what percentage of the time you get on the computer after everyone has gone to bed, even with innocent intent, and ultimately end up looking at provocative sites or even viewing porn. If you get on the computer every night before bed and once every two weeks it leads to looking at porn, then it should be considered a secondary boundary and the behavior should stop.

Look at it this way. You’ve read chapter 8, “Your Brain on Porn,” so you know about neural pathways and how they work. If you looked at porn while surfing the net after everyone else in your family has gone to bed, then a pathway to sexual arousal has been started. If you have engaged in this scenario multiple times, then a path has been set. Once this path has been established, even though you sit at the computer for innocent purpose, your brain says, “Oh, everyone is in bed—opportunity is here. Remember last week the cool images we saw and how pleasurable it was? Just finish your email; then look at some sexy images on Pinterest or google sexy celebrities, and that’s good enough.” Then when browsing these “teasing” images, you go a little further, and further, and then find yourself acting out. “Oh, what’s one more time?” you say. … And your innocent time on the computer took you right to the location you are trying to avoid—your addiction. Trust me, it really does work this way. 

For visual effect, let’s look at these boundaries as distance in yards from the “cliff.” The slope to the cliff I spoke of starts 100 yards from the edge. The closer we get to the slope, the more the decline increases, making it harder to turn around and go back to the top. 

  • Falling off the cliff: Masturbation, prostitutes, massage parlors with sexual intent, affairs. 
  • 1 inch from the edge: Looking at actual porn (maybe even one of your feet are slipping off at this point).
  • 10 yards from the edge: Googling images of women with partial body parts exposed. (I won’t get graphic here, as I don’t want to trigger you, but you know what I am talking about.) Taking part in sexually explicit conversation via text, email, etc. Visiting a strip club. 
  • 20 yards from the edge: Browsing sexy celebrities, cheerleaders, or other images on websites. Browsing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Engaging in chat rooms. Previewing the titles and program descriptions of porn movies on cable TV or similar venues. Watching R-rated movies specifically because they have sexual content. 
  • 50 yards from the edge: Watching an R-rated movie that happens to have sexual content even though that wasn’t your primary motive for watching the movie (you need to be honest and self-aware here). Taking a second look at a woman’s body as she passes by. Flirting with the cashier or bank teller, etc. Searching for old girlfriends on Facebook. And, for some, watching violence on TV or movies (this can be stimulating and so needs to be limited).
  • 80 yards from the edge: Using the computer with innocent intent after everyone has gone to bed, when you are aware this behavior has led to acting out in the past. Taking your smartphone in the bathroom with you, even for innocent intent.  Watching TV after everyone else has gone to bed when you have “browsed” sexually explicit programs in the past. Suggestive, immoral, or crude TV, movies, radio, music, and so on. 
  • 100 yards from the edge—at the top of the hill looking down:  Intentionally picking the checkout line at the store with the prettiest girl; browsing the covers of Cosmo and similar magazines while in line at the grocery store. 

Setting these boundaries is part of the work you need to do. It needs to be clear that primary boundaries are the marks of “falling off the cliff” and “one inch from the edge” type behaviors.  Secondary boundaries are everything else. Part of the work you will be doing on an ongoing basis is asking the Holy Spirit to guide you on what needs to be defined for your boundaries. You don’t need to specify the “10 yard,” “50 yard,” etc. marks, but just know what starts, or what can start, the path and trigger false intimacy cravings and desires that are in actuality the neural pathways in your brain. 

If you choose to get the 40 Days to Freedom book, In the 40-day journal, you will be recording any violations of primary or secondary boundaries. 

  • Personal note: For perspective, I will share some of the secondary boundaries that I have set for myself. These include R-rated movies with ANY sexual content, as sexual content in such films is typically nudity. PG-13 movies with sexual themes or that have significant sexuality (examples: The Notebook, Titanic, Austin Powers movies). TV shows that feature dancing such as Dancing with the Stars (I find a lot of dance-type exhibitions arousing and stimulating, so I avoid them). I don’t keep my phone by my bed.    Habits: I review all PG-13 and higher rated movies for information on sexual content. When checking out at a store, I often go to cashiers who are men or women I don’t find attractive; I do this even if the line is longer. I avoid streets that have strip clubs, massage parlors, or adult bookstores if possible.  Even though I have been in recovery for 10 years, I still have covenant eyes on ALL my electronic devices and I still make contact at least once a week with an accountability partner or group—sometimes multiple times per week.  I don’t typically contact my accountability partners because of temptation, but more to discuss difficult life events and emotional experiences that I know, if not resolved, can leave me open to desiring forms of false intimacy and be triggers for desire to act out. (I treat this as a 200-yard boundary—solve the “reasons” to motivate acting out. Remember “The river under the river”? That’s where the real battle lies.)

Are You Ready?

Now, at this point, you are either completely on board or thinking that this is “way” overreacting. You need to be honest with yourself: Are you serious about changing your behavior? Are you serious about healing your life and your relationships? Healing your relationship with God? You may even think that you already have a great relationship with God. Think about this, would you go and openly tell your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend every time you looked at porn or lusted after the hot girl you saw at Home Depot? Likely not. You know that would hurt your loved one deeply, causing rejection, disrespect, and even feeling violated. Well, God already knows about these actions. You don’t need to tell Him. His heart breaks every time you engage in something that hurts your soul, because it pushes you farther from Him. And that’s nota great relationship. A great relationship looks quite different: It’s one where when your heart hurts or you are feeling the need for intimacy (as you now know, lust and porn is truly a form of crying out for intimacy), you turn to authentic intimacy with other genuine godly people or directly to God Himself rather than trying to achieve intimacy from things of this world.  THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF EVERYTHING WE ARE DOING IN THIS BOOK! HEARING YOUR HEARTS CRAVING FOR AUTHENTIC INTIMACY AND CHOOSING IT. 

Let’s support some of these theories with scripture. 

Watching movies/TV with sexual content?

Psalm 101:3 (KJV) “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.”

Proverbs 31:3 (NRSVCE)“Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings.”

When in situations of temptation, say to yourself:

“I will not give my power to that woman.”

Secondary Boundaries—Keeping the Princess Far from the Edge.

This is the choice to avoid suggestive, immoral, or crude TV, movies, radio, music, etc., as they lead to temptation and will trigger your neural pathways and dopamine craving, leading to intense desires to act out. 

Proverbs5:8 (NRSVCE) “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house”

Primary Boundaries—Acting Out

Matthew 5:27-28(NRSVCE)“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:13-15(NRSVCE)“The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!”

Romans 8:13(NRSVCE)“for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Choosing God, Choosing Authentic Intimacy, Instead of Lust and Porn

Romans 13:14(NRSVCE) “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

In the 40 days to Freedom book, the end of this chapter includes an excercise that guides you through creating your own boundaries and guides you how to put them in place. 

EXIT STRATEGIES

So, you have read each section carefully to this point. You understand the battle. You think you have a handle on it and are ready to go it alone. STOP! Do not do this alone! Do not think you have this under control! That is exactly where the enemy wants you. Make sure you have at least one accountability partner set up. Now it’s time to make plans for battle. Remember, you are at war! Treat it like one. 

What are you going to do the next time you are tempted? What happens when you are in the middle of surfing the net, alone in the house, and think, “What’s one more time?”

When these circumstances come up, and they will, it will feel like a huge magnet pulling you to your old behavior, a rut that is so deep you feel like it’s impossible to climb out of. This is what I call “in the battle.” In war, do you think that when the enemy attacks, the soldiers simply lie down and allow themselves to be killed? (Allowing yourself “just one more time” is in fact allowing your soul to be killed—just like a defenseless soldier.)No, they fight. They have planned defense strategies. AND THEY NEVER FIGHT ALONE! What’s more, the best armies have an offense. Imagine that!

One of your offenses is developing your secondary boundaries. It’s like a soldier simply not walking into enemy territory, even the edge of it! But sometimes, you suddenly find yourself face-to-face with the enemy. What do you do? These are your battle plans—your exit strategies. Below I will discuss some ideas and strategies. You ultimately need to develop your own strategies. Use my suggestions to start, and go on from there. 

Know this: Not one thing works for everyone and not one thing works all the time. You need to continually revise your battle plans and exit 

strategies.

Practice

Practice is needed to recognize the beginning triggers and events that suddenly lead to temptation. Don’t get discouraged,

“A fall is not failure, but an opportunity to look deeper and heal.”

Make one of these statements to yourself (out loud if possible):

Father I abandon myself to your hands—let your will be done.

Say the Surrender Prayer:

  • Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I desire the desire to surrender my heart and entire being to you but I cannot do it. I fear the abandonment of losing control of who I am. I ask that you take what little space I can open to you, use it, and invade my heart, take it captive, and protect it from all evil. I beg for your help in my complete surrender to you.

Say the Battle Prayer:

  • Lord Jesus Christ, I cannot fight this battle anymore. I’m done, I hand you the dragon to slay, I hand you the lizard of lust to slay, I hand you the battle and walk away; it’s yours. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. It’s not my battle anymore. 

Statement of authority in Jesus’ name:

  • Say, “Satan, this conversation is over!” or “In Jesus’ name, this conversation is over,”and then move on as the battle and temptation no longer exists. Say this statement as loud as appropriate in the environment you are in. Say it in a whisper if necessary. This statement is said with the understanding that Satan, the Devil, the enemy is aggressively challenging us to sin. Making an authoritative statement such as this is a way of denying his influence and authority. Making this statement will at least give you a few seconds of reprieve from the thoughts or desires at hand. You can then clearly take appropriate steps for acting on authentic intimacy choices. 

Say: “I will not give my power to that woman” 

When you begin to lust after a woman, she is in control. She has power over you. 

Recite the Seven Cornerstones of Commitment. 

  • Cornerstone 1: I pledge that I will stop looking at pornography, masturbating, flirting, having affairs, committing fornication, or communicating with any person in any way that can incite lust or potentially lead to ungodly relations.
  • Cornerstone 2: I pledge to pray or meditate for at least 10 minutes every day.
  • Cornerstone 3: I pledge to read at least one scripture verse every day.
  • Cornerstone 4: I pledge to say the following Surrender Prayer every day: “Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I desire the desire to surrender my heart and my entire being to you but I cannot do it, I fear the abandonment of losing control of who I am. I ask that you take what little space I can open to you, use it and invade my heart, take it captive and protect it from all evil. I beg for your help in my complete surrender to you.”
  • Cornerstone 5: I pledge to honestly look within myself and take responsibility for my actions and not blame anyone else for my behaviors.
  • Cornerstone 6: I pledge to give of myself selflessly in some way to someone every day.
  • Cornerstone 7: I pledge that if I am struggling with temptation that I will call someone to help me through the battle.

Recite Battle scriptures: 

Recite and memorize one or more of these scriptures; even make cards of these verses to carry with you.

  • Psalm51:10(NRSVCE) “Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and put a new and steadfast spirit within me”
  • Philippians2:4 (NRSVCE)“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13(NRSVCE) “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
  • Job 31:1(NRSVCE) “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?”
  • Romans 6:21(NRSVCE) “So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death.”
  • Ephesians 6:12-13 (NRSVCE)“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NRSVCE)“Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

There are over 100 more scriptures that you can use for the battle located in appendix “C” of the 40 Days to Freedom book. 

Contact your accountability partner: 

(Note: This is one of the true intimacy options.)

Have your accountability partner ask you about “what comes up” when a scenario happens. Any emotions? What are you really looking for? Intimacy? Affirmation? Self-value? … Then discuss with your accountability partner what in your past may be contributing to this need, why you are seeking it through false intimacy, and what true intimacy paths could you choose instead. 

Remember, the battle of two against Satan is powerful:

Ecclesiastes 4:12(NRSVCE) “and though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Also, in general, share goals with your accountability partners or close friends. The more transparent you can be, the more success you will have in your recovery. 

Praying for the Woman You Are Tempted to Lust After

When you catch yourself having sexual thoughts about someone, you are objectifying that person. Your brain is seeing that person as a “thing” that you can “take” and use for your own satisfaction.  You may already know in your heart that this is wrong, but your past history of actions and the inaccurate training of sexuality by this world has formed you to allow yourself to indulge in these lustful thoughts and objectifications. Even now that you know different, it is hard to “just stop it.” Praying for the woman who triggered this reaction is one edifying way of responding to this temptation.  

Here is a sample prayer in a situation where the woman is not dressed in a provocative manner, but just triggered you in some way (which you should also seek inside your heart to determine why). 

  • “Lord, I ask you to change my thoughts I am having about this woman to thoughts that are respectful, loving, and complimentary. I ask your forgiveness for my lust and objectification over this woman. Please help me to see her as you see her, to see her mind and her heart as the beautiful daughter of your creation. Amen.”

Here is a sample prayer in a situation where the woman is dressed in provocative manner.

  • “Lord, I ask you to change the thoughts I am having about this woman to thoughts that are respectful, loving, and complimentary. I ask your forgiveness for my lust and objectification over this woman. I also ask that you would reveal to her in some way that you see her as a beautiful child and that the manner in which she dresses does not respect her authentic God-given beauty, but instead represents to men that she is an object and does not deserve to be treated as the beautiful child of God that she is. Please inspire her to dress in the future in a way the reflects her humanness and beauty that you created her with.”

Praying this way will interrupt your objectification thoughts and begin to put women in the perspective of a “whole” people and as beautiful creations of God.  

Put Post-it Notes in Your Car or Around Your House

Write scripture verses, empowering statements, etc. on Post-it Notes and place them on bathroom mirrors, your computer screen, refrigerator, etc. 

  • Note: If you fear that doing this may seem like a way of confessing to your wife that you have a problem, then you may want to bring to prayer the reality that keeping this battle secret, especially in a relationship that is supposed to be transparent for ultimate intimacy, may actually be hindering your recovery. After all, even if you can’t completely come clean to your wife, simply stating that you have been feeling tempted lately and want to be proactive and be a better man of God would be positive received by almost any wife.  

Also, daily or even several times per day, create an automated reminder on your phone or computer. This is great to keep you focused. Maybe have three different verses/statements that come up at different times.

Practice Selflessness

As you now know, objectification of women is practicing being a “Gift to Self.” If you are being a “Gift of Self,” it is nearly impossible to practice selfishness. 

  • Mark 3:24(NRSVCE) “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
  • Matthew 12:26(NRSVCE) “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?”

To practice selflessness, do an act of kindness. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for the person you were objectifying. Just do something in general to change you focus to selflessness. Here are some examples:

  • Open the door for a stranger.
  • Anonymously pay for the coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks.
  • Smile and be intentionally kind to a person serving you (cashier, teller, barista, coworker, waitress).
  • Do a task around the house for your spouse without being asked. 
  • Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows or mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn.
  • Volunteer at the local mission.

Use the Rubber Band Technique

This is one way of retraining your brain and changing how to look at women. Place a rubber band on your wrist, and when you start to have sexually inappropriate thoughts, immediately snap the rubber band on the inside of your wrist. This will train your brain that fantasy = pain rather than fantasy = pleasure. Our brains will instinctively avoid pain and, eventually, fantasy or lustful thoughts will be instinctively avoided. Combine this with a “true intimacy” choice to complete the positive choice rewiring of your neural pathways.

Always Look Women in the Eyes 

When you look a woman in her eyes, you see a person, not an object. 

  • Job 31:1(NRSVCE) “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?”

Flee! 

  • Genesis 39:12(NRSVCE) “she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.”

Listen to Christian Music

Much of today’s secular music has lyrics that include lust, abuse our humanness, and train our thoughts to be directed to selfish choices. Christian music will redirect those thoughts and more properly align our perceptions to God. This is the selfless versus selfish mindset.

Do a Quick Meditation

If you have developed a meditation, take three to five seconds and go right to the center. See the images; recall the peace you have when in your meditation. This will not only redirect your thoughts and attention, it will also develop another “on-ramp” to your alternate healthy neural pathway, which you are developing to compete with the porn neural pathway. (Note: Don’t do this while driving!)

Evaluate Your Secondary Boundaries

When you find yourself needing to execute your escape strategy, ask yourself if you were you doing something that could have been avoided. Did this activity cross an existing boundary or could it become a new boundary that you should add to your list? Evaluate this every time you find yourself tempted. Here are some examples:

· Should I not drive down this street with the adult bookstore?

· Should I pick a different cashier line?

· Should I not browse adult movie titles?

· What true intimacy choice could I have chosen instead? (details of true intimacy is in chapter 11 of the 40 Days to Freedom book)

Always be aware, so you can revise your recovery plans. 

Evaluate Self

Each time you feel tempted, ask yourself, “What am I really looking for?” Know that sex isn’t the answer. Your brain and the beginning of the dopamine flow may desire a sexual release, but truthfully, inside, you are seeking something else. Are you needing something—emotional intimacy, perhaps? Are you trying to medicate an unpleasant event or emotion? Do the 3-I’s exercise!

Always strive to increase self-awareness.

Be Patient!

You know the old saying “practice make perfect”? Well, it’s true. We have covered enough material by now for you to know that the ultimate goal is to see true intimacy instead of false intimacy and to rewire your brain by developing new neural pathways. You have spent years of time and performed hundreds or even thousands of tasks that have developed the neural pathways that feed the porn neural superhighway. Merely reading this material will not suddenly eliminate your cravings for porn and propel you to choose healthy true intimacy. This takes time! I have said it before and I will say it again: BE PATIENT! This will not go away overnight! Studies show that for a porn addict, it takes six months of 100 percent sobriety to reset the pleasure centers of the brain. This means resetting the dopamine receptors back to the way you were created by God. “A factory reset” in computer terms for those techies out there.  Exercising your exit strategies, healing the reason you are medicating in the first place, and saying lots of prayer are all absolutely required to get through these six months to reset your brain. Depending on the level of your addiction and your emotional wounds, after reset, it can take up to two years to get your life completely back to normal. DO NOT expect to change tomorrow, but do expect to work and to fail from time to time. As I said earlier in this section:

  • “A fall is not failure, but an opportunity to look deeper and heal.” 

When you fall, don’t despair; use the experience as an opportunity to learn. God allows us to fall and make our mistakes from free will. What was your faulty will that caused you to fall?  The 40-day journal in the 40 Days to Freedom book will help you with this. 

Practice Fire Drills

I just reminded you that practice makes perfect. NFL football players don’t just get on the field and learn by playing. If they did, they would definitely lose and probably get seriously injured in the process. Same here. Every time you see a provocatively dressed woman, you know you shouldn’t lust, but you do. You might even go home and act out. You just lost this game because you were not in shape (emotionally) and physically (no exit strategy).  

Develop your exit strategy, ask your support person or accountability partner to drill you with scenarios where you play out what could happen during your addictive cycle. Practice these and refine your strategies. If something triggers you, you have your partner on the phone or with you to work thought it. 

Pray! Pray! Pray!

Prayer is actually the most important strategy. The battle scriptures and some of the statements to say out loud are excellent ways to engage prayer. I encourage you to actually have a conversation with Jesus. Talk to Him like He’s sitting in front of you. If you are Catholic, go to an adoration chapel—He’s right there in front of you!  

Even if you are frustrated or angry, yell at Him! Yes, I am serious—you can yell at God. He can take it. When you express your anger, you are showing Him your heart and your pain. He wants to see this so He can begin to heal it. No matter how mad you get at God, He will NEVER turn his back on you. (Please don’t do this in an adoration chapel, however. It’s disrespectful to the other people who are there.)

After you talk, yell, cry, whatever you are moved to do, be sure to end your time with several minutes of silence. Listen to your heart. He may speak to you or just bring peace over you. Some people hear Him through inspirations or thoughts, and some hear words in their heart. Most just experience a sense of peace after expressing their heart. After all, the word “peace” appears over 400 times in the Bible. It’s a pretty strong and common message.

No matter how far away you feel God is from you, know that in truth He is right by your side. Let me share an experience I had that made me realize this. 

  • It was a few years ago, and I was having a conversation with my son (who was sixteen at the time) about spirituality. (At that time, my son already had an exceptional understanding and relationship with God.) I was telling him that, due to my digressions (he was aware of my addiction and the family damages), that I felt I was so far from God that I could not reach Him; I was just too far gone and there was no hope. I related to the parable of the shepherd and his flock, where he lost one sheep and would search high and low until he found that sheep. So how much more would the Father search for us if we were lost?  I said to my son, “Sure, I understand the story, but this is if the lost person is in the next town here in Colorado a few miles away, but it’s like I’m in Australia! I’m just too far gone to be worth the search,” I said. My son replied, “Dad, you don’t get it. It’s like you’re playing baseball and you are in the outfield looking at the stands and saying to yourself that you are so lost that you can’t even see the game. Just turn around and the game is right there—you are already in it. Just turn around. Jesus is right behind you. He always has been. You can’t see Him because you have your back to Him.” My son’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized the truth that Jesus is and always has been right behind me, just waiting for me to turn around so He can take me in His arms. I was never lost in the first place; I just couldn’t see Him because my eyes were shut due to the blindness of my shame. But Jesus wanted to take my shame from me so I could be free to receive His immense love for me. This conversation with my son blasted away the lie that I was living—the lie that said I was not worthy of being found and loved by Jesus. In a mere few seconds, my life was changed. I suddenly knew that I could not hide behind the lie any longer. I was now face-to-face with my woundedness and had no choice but to move through it and begin to heal. Know this as fact: Jesus is right with you, no matter what you have done or previously believed. He is right there for waiting for you to let Him shower you with His immense love. 

Remind Yourself Why You Are Doing This—Why Sobriety Is Beneficial 

By working to break free from your sex and porn addiction, you can reap the following benefits:

  • Save your soul
  • Save your marriage or relationships
  • Heal past emotional woundedness
  • Stop losing time in the activity—potentially increasing your income as a result
  • Reduce or eliminate anxiety
  • Avoid developing or stop existing erectile dysfunction
  • Become better able to deal with adversity of any type
  • Regain clarity of self and clarity of life’s purpose
  • Reduce or eliminate depression
  • Regain passion in life
  • Avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Regain natural sexual energy
  • Reset pleasure centers to properly enjoy life
  • Live without shame
  • Prevent social isolation
  • Be more productive at work, home, and in society
  • Reset your natural IQ—and increase your learning potential 
  • Live a life of integrity and honesty

Stay Motivated

“The struggle is the sign of holiness. A Saint is a sinner that keeps trying” 

—St. Josemaria Escrivá

BONUS MATERIAL

Thank you for completing the Getting Free program on the Road to Purity website.  

As stated in the introduction and throughout the program, there is significant material that we still have to offer to help you in your recovery. First and foremost, a 40 day journal to help you identify strongholds, areas that need work and assistance in monitoring your progress. The 40 Days to Freedom; Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity contains multiple chapters and exercises that re not contained in the program on our website. Just a few items that are also in the 40 Days to Freedom book are: 

  • Exercises to help you develop boundaries
  • Exercises to help develop your own exit strategies
  • The 3-I’s – complete chapter on understanding the process of addiction, the battle and underlying battles
  • Why 40 Days is the key to success
  • Guide to creating goals specifically for you and your recovery
  • Over 100 scripture verses to aid in the battle
  • Meditation suggestions
  • Helpful Prayers
  • Daily scripture and meditation guides
  • Presentation on how forgiveness and how it may be the key to your recovery
  • How to implement fasting
  • and so much more….

SPECIAL OFFER $9 OFF 2 BOOK BUNDLE

Because we know how important recover from this addiction is, AND I personally have a commitment to help you get free from this bondage, I am offering you $9.00 of our full program in 2 books. Just go to our store and when you select the 2 book bundle of the 40 Days to Freedom: Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity AND the Companion Guide and Journal (680 total pages) and use the code: 40DAY-RTP at check out for an extra discount of $9.00 off your order. Also, all orders are FREE Shipping. 


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