For the past two weeks, I’ve shared some insights about the dangers of pornography (Part 1) and what Christians can generally do about it (Part 2). In this last installment, I want to give some specific advice for specific groups of people. These tips are not exhaustive, rather they are starting points for how to react to and what to do if/when you face it.

 

ADVICE FOR PARENTS

Moms and Dads, don’t be ignorant of what’s going on under your roof. Take every step possible to protect your kids and teens. My advice: filter your internet. Don’t just assume that you’ll always be the watchdog who knows everything. Create the expectation that screen time is done in the open and not behind closed doors. Know what apps they’re using. Above all, talk to your kids. Foster the kind of home where they turn to you. Model modesty and holiness in your own viewing habits.

If you discover that your son or daughter has been viewing porn (or they confess): don’t freak out! Don’t overreact. How you respond can either drive them deeper into guilt or deeper into grace. Instead of lecturing, try pleading. Pray with them. Study the Bible together. Set up clear house rules to help them. Dads – be sure to check-in on your future men regularly and help them avoid this seductive trap.

 

ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Maybe you’re a teenager or pre-teen and you’ve already seen inappropriate pictures or videos. Maybe you clicked on something by accident. Maybe you were curious to see what a friend was talking about. Maybe you sought it out on purpose.

No matter what exposed you to it, my number one tip is this: talk to your parents. Don’t hide it. Don’t ignore it. I know it’s going to be hard to do – like, really, really hard. But, in the end, you will be glad that you did. If you need help approaching mom and dad, talk to a youth leader that you trust who can join you. God has a wonderful plan for you and your sexuality – and pursuing purity will glorify Him the most now and benefit you the most down the road.

 

ADVICE FOR THE SINGLE PERSON

If pornography has been a part of your life, rest assured, you’re not alone. You’re not beyond God’s grace. You’re not a freak. But you do need to become a warrior intent on killing this sin. Set up your own technology safeguards. Share your struggles with an older same-gendered Christian and invite his or her input.

As I said before, part of the power of porn is that it trains you to objective people. Like heat-seeking missiles, young men’s eyes quickly learn to zero-in on female body parts instead of seeing women as whole persons. Guys, if porn has been a problem, you need to cultivate healthy relationships with the opposite sex. See women as fellow image-bearers. Become part of a godly small group (like a Sunday

School class) where you can interact with others in an appropriate way. As 1 Timothy 5:2 says,

“Young men…treat younger women like sisters, with all purity.”

 

ADVICE FOR THE ENGAGED PERSON

In my experience, female fiancés underestimate how much pornography has likely been part of their mate’s life. And too many male fiancés overestimate how much marriage will “fix the problem.” Both groups need to be more realistic.

Ladies, there is over a 90% chance that your fiancé has been exposed to porn (and a good chance that it has been a habit at some point.) Guys, there is a 30% chance that your fiancé has done the same. That exposure will inevitably play a role in your intimacy for years to come.

If you haven’t already, ask your fiancé directly about these issues. Don’t be shocked if it’s worse than you think. (Though you might have reason to be concerned if you’re just now finding out about it.) Proactively share about your own experiences.  Hide nothing. Together, talk with whomever is doing your premarital counseling and get some specific advice. At this point, it may be his battle (or her battle), but once you say “I do” it is a war that you will need to fight together. Be honest. Be open. Be ready.

 

ADVICE FOR THE MARRIED PERSON

The three hottest topics in every marriage are: 1) money, 2) sex, and 3) communication. And #1 and #2 go back to #3. Even for couples who’ve been married for decades, it can be difficult to talk plainly and openly about intimacy. It’s critical that you do – especially if pornography is anywhere in the mix.

Allow me to be blunt: pornography has no place in a married Christian couple’s life – even if it’s viewed together. The hottest magazines on the newsstands will tell women, “It’s ok to watch since you’re learning together.” God adamantly disagrees. If your spouse is suggesting it, refuse, speak up, and if necessary, get help.

If you discover (or if your spouse confesses to) private pornography use, you need to be prepared with how you’ll respond. You will feel betrayed, lied to, and cheated on (and rightly so). Any justification given by your spouse (i.e. “Well, if you were more sexually available, I wouldn’t have to…”) is nonsense. They are acting sinfully, and you did nothing to deserve this. Sort through your emotions, anger, confusion, and fears. Pray. Talk to someone you trust.

Assuming they are sorry, give your spouse room to confess. Ask as many questions as you want answered. Share how you feel. Insist that they listen. Verbalize forgiveness. Pray together. Resolve to fight as a couple and get discipleship help (or counseling) if it feels overwhelming and you’re not sure what to do. If they are stubborn or unrepentant, pray for them, talk to them, and seek pastoral wisdom.

Pornography use promotes solo sexuality. Remember: God has made it clear that your body is not yours. 1 Cor 7:4 says,

“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does…also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another (of sex)…so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Plan to renew your intimacy together. Take drastic steps, if necessary, to remove temptation. Watch out for each other. Your spouse should be your #1 partner for accountability, confession, and help.

If pornography has left you with sinful memories and emotions, you need to work at rewiring your brain and heart. Renew your attention and affections for your spouse. Think of them. Serve them. Prioritize them. Stop thinking of you; start thinking of them.

Why? The mark of a mature, godly marriage is not romance but selflessness.