Book: Porn Free Author: Gardner, Brian
Reviewer: Mike Novotny
Review Date: January, 2014

While always good intentioned, many ministries, books, and articles designed to help Christians escape the trap of pornography are simply spiritually-packaged self-help sermons.  “Porn is bad,” they say, “so stop looking at it!”

This is not one of those books.

Like a breath of fresh gospel air, Brian Gardner has written a book about porn that is primarily not about your obedience, but about the unconditional love of God.  Gardner, a teacher and pastoral counselor from Columbus, certainly does offer helpful advice about battling pornography in Porn Free, but his most helpful thoughts are not his good advice, but God’s good news.

Thankfully, his book is filled with it.

Both personally and as a member of Conquerors through Christ, I thanked God for a Christian voice like Gardner’s that sees the need to make the gospel primary and to stress the necessity of public confession of porn use.  What we continue to preach at CtC (“Jesus forgives impurity!  Now, go tell someone you need help!”) was reflected and applauded by Gardner on page after page.

Gardner’s work begins with a vulnerable confession:  “I tried to stop, but the power to do so seemed out of my reach.  When I tried to approach God about my problem, I felt guilt and shame.  I would promise to do better and fail within days, or hours, or even minutes…I decided I could stop on my own, without telling anyone.  I would stop—tomorrow,” (p.ix).

By God’s mercy, Gardner came to see his need for help, God’s ridiculously relentless grace, and the power of bringing the darkest part of his life into the light.

Yet, far from being a personal memoir, Gardner writes helpfully, engagingly, quotes experts widely and always comes back to the gospel.  My highlighter ended up a few shades duller by the end of the book.  Some of my favorite quotes included:

– “One thing that everyone agrees on in dealing with sexual sin is the importance of confession.” P.xiii

-“Porn turns women into objects to be consumed.  Like a bucket of fried chicken, a woman is nothing more than breasts, legs, and thighs.” P.22

-“With around a half billion pages, it’s easier to find porn on the Web than a good deal on a set of tires.” P.42

-“Idols always deliver something…The problem is that it’s never enough.” P.51

-Beware of inherent legalism:  “If I stay away from porn, God will be happy with me.” P.60

-“Personally, I have never seen anyone recover from sexual addiction that remained in silence.” P.132

– “Whenever we find a call from the New Testament to obey God and his law of love, it is based on the finish work of Christ on our behalf, motivated by the love of Jesus, empowered by the Spirit.” P.106

These and many more powerful thoughts make Brian Gardner’s Porn Free the best book I have yet to read on the subject.  Besides a few comments about the potential of forgiveness (instead of the accomplished work of Christ) and the necessity of inviting Jesus into one’s heart (instead of faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit), I would recommend that anyone struggling with porn or desiring to help those with porn read this book.