Send Network Blog

Counseling Tools: Porn

Matt Rogers08.20.15

Porn wreaks havoc on every church. Some people cower in shame and fear, hoping that they can hide their secret forever. Others genuinely want to change, they just don’t know how. Still others have tried to change, only to fall into the cycle of sin and regret yet again.

Before long every pastor will face the moment when someone walks into his office or pulls up a chair at the coffee shop and says, “We have to talk. Porn is ruining my life. I need help.”

What do you say? How do you offer hope and help that goes beyond, “Well, get an accountability partner and I’ll pray for you”? The answers we give in these conversations can serve to save individuals poised on the brink of destruction. So, what should we give?

Give Them A Picture of the Grace of God

In these moments, it is easy to run and grab a tool from our behavior-modification toolbox. The answers might include getting an accountability partner, signing up for web filtering, or avoiding traveling alone. These solutions, while vital and important, may cause us to lose sight of the ultimate basis for life transformation.

We should first speak of the abundant grace of a benevolent God who shows steadfast love to His children, despite the heinous nature of their rebellion (Rom 5:8–10).

Grace serves as a salve to soothe the gaping wounds caused by sin and provides a context for true healing to begin.

Give Them A Sense of Their Identity Before God

Porn causes people to forget their identity. Guilt and despair can easily convince believers that they have inalterably tarnished their worth before God. Thus, people are prone to sulk in self-condemnation and lose hope that change is possible. In these moments we remind them that, in God’s eyes, they are a child of God, a saint, a beloved recipient of God’s redemptive work (Eph 1:1). Because God’s people are “bought with a price,” according to Paul they should, “honor God with their bodies" (1 Cor 6:20).

Give Them A Sense of the Consequences of Their Actions

These first two affirmations need not mean that we should coddle sin or treat it lightly. Porn is not harmless. It has dastardly affects on those invested in the industry, the marriages fractured by sin, the children of those caught in the web of deceit, and the churches rendered impotent by the secret sin of their members. We must remind those we love that all sin, not just porn, has a natural trajectory–from lust, to sinful action, to death (James 1:15). People need to hear that porn kills everything it touches.

Give Them A Role in the Mission of God

Porn festers in the lives of those who lack a meaningful mission. Idle time and a lack of purpose are a toxic combination for those, who spend hours dabbling between Netflix, Sportscenter, Youtube videos, social media, and porn. In its place, we can invite people to a meaningful participation in the body of Christ and aid them in finding the purpose for which they were created (Matt 28:18–20).

Give Them Meaningful Connections to the Church

God’s church is to be a family of burden-bearing relationships (Gal 6:2). Once the sin of pornography is brought into the light, we should work to connect them to individuals who can walk alongside of them in the fight to lay aside sin. Defeating pornography is a long process. Change rarely happens overnight. We should expect seasons of growth followed by periods of regression.

People need brothers and sisters in the church to walk this road with them.

Give Them Habits to Connect Them to God

Porn is intimately connected to the habits around which a person’s life is built. They have often developed a wide array of habits that foster their sinful actions. Godly counsel aids others in re-forming godly habits that can train the heart to love the things of God (1 Thess 5:19). We can offer support in spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, prayer, and fasting, which are the God-given means of our sanctification. These disciplines can serve as a natural counterpart to practices such as accountability and internet security.

What a gift pastors and church leaders have when someone brings their sin out of the darkness and into the light and asks for our help. May we be the types of leaders who offer more than sound byte platitudes or superficial principles. Let’s offer the hope of the gospel as the fuel for lasting change – both for them and for us.

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