Your Spouse (if applicable)

We know.  We know.  Your spouse might flip out if you confessed this sin.  After all, we learned about the wreckage that porn causes to relationships (see Step 1).  Yet, it is imperative that your spouse understands what you are doing so she (or he) can support you on this journey.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you take this essential step (note: although written from the point of view of a husband telling a wife, it could equally apply to a female user telling her husband if the genders are reversed):

  • First, expect it to be hard.  Hearing that your spouse is finding sexual pleasure from someone else is devastating, and rightfully so.  It is sin and sin does real damage.  So, don’t expect her to be incredibly grateful for your confession.  She will be eventually, but not yet.  Allow her to be angry, disappointed, silent, confused, and damaged.
  • Second, explain why you are telling her now.  Admit you have a desire to change, to love her like Jesus loves his church, but you haven’t been able to change on your own.  You need help from her, from your pastor, from a counselor, and from gracious friends.  Say, “Honey, I haven’t been loving you as Jesus loves you and I want to change that.  I want to make you feel loved, cherished, valuable, and secure.  I need lots of help to do that, especially yours.”  Most spouses will appreciate your desire to love them in a deeper way.
  • Third, don’t blame her.  Your sex life is not the problem.  Your sin is the problem.  You may or may not have a fulfilling life of godly intimacy with your spouse, but that is never an excuse for sin.  Ever.  While a pastor or counselor will be able to help your sex life, never use that struggle as the reason for your virtual infidelity.  Confess it.  Repent of it.  Ask for her forgiveness.
  • Fourth, explain that this isn’t about her.  She will rightly wonder, “Why am I not good enough?  What didn’t I give him that he did this?”  Explain that sexual addiction is illogical and stupid, as all sin is.  Tell her she is beautiful and you love her (expect her not to believe it in the moment) and, like Paul in Romans 7, you hate what you’ve done to her, to your body, to God, and to others.  This is your battle with sin, not an expression of your dissatisfaction with her.
  • Fifth, think big picture, not tiny details.  Tell her you’ve been looking at pornography, but don’t take her to the sites you’ve been visiting.  It is unnecessary and those images will only do greater damage to your relationship.
  • Finally, explain your path to recovery.  Tell her about your desire to get help from a pastor, a counselor, and a gracious friend.  Show her the info you’ve gathered and take her on a tour of this website!  A path and a plan give hope to hurting people.  Show her your path, including your “battle plan” (see Step 5) and give her hope for a better future for your marriage.

A Counselor

We know.  We know.  Counselors are for “other people”, people with “real” problems.  However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Trained counselors are one of God’s many gifts to the church.  They have often been given special insights and talents from God to help confused, struggling, and addicted people.  While many people shy away from counselors for various reasons (the stigma, the distance, the cost, etc.), many addicts have found a counselor a key to recovery.

In addition, many people struggle with pornography due to greater issues from their past.  Sexual trauma, molestation, rape, abuse, a strict home, and an intimacy-less marriage often fuel sexual struggles.  A counselor will be able to work through those issues with the wisdom of God’s Word and rebuild a healthy foundation of sexuality according to God’s design.

So, where do you go?  Check out our list of professional, Christian, experienced and qualified counselors.  Thankfully, many of these men and women can use secure interactive video to counsel from a distance via the internet (how about that for using Satan’s tool against him?).

Concerned about cost?  While counseling is not a “value-menu” item, it is a worthy investment.  Just imagine—would you be willing to trade the last few years of your addiction-filled life for a few hundred dollars?  We thought so.  Now invest a few hundred to change the next years of your life!  (Some churches can get discounted rates with local counselors.  Don’t be afraid to ask your pastor.)

A Gracious Friend

Hopefully, you have at least one friend who truly cares about you and wants what is best for you.  While he (or she) may not know about this part of your life, he does love you enough to pray for you each day.  Perhaps this is someone you see at a softball league or around church or a close colleague at your job.

As you choose this friend, look for three qualities:  (1) Gracious.  The power for Christian living comes from grace, not the law (God’s do’s and don’ts).  Make sure your friend understands this dynamic and that guilt-trips are not God’s chosen tool for motivating a changed life.  (2) Trustworthy.  Does this friend have a reputation for talking about others when they’re not around?  Then, beware.  If, however, he respects the reputations of his friends, you are one step closer.  (3)  Same sex.  It is extremely unwise to choose a female accountability partner if you are a male struggling with sexual addiction.  The Devil will work his pointed tail off to use that vulnerability to create moments of temptation.  Therefore, choose someone of your same sex.

We know.  We know.  Admitting this to a close friend is also a petrifying thought.  But if our experience is any indicator, then your confession of this sin will most likely be met with, “Really?  Me, too.”

Your Pastor

We know.  We know.  Admitting the darkest, most depraved part of your life to a “man of cloth” is a petrifying thought.  But don’t be deceived by the stereotype.  A good Christian pastor will not be surprised by your sin (after all, he believes in the presence of the sinful nature in himself and all of his people) and he will be well equipped to help you get back to God’s grace (see Step 2).  Trust us, your pastor has heard more stories of addiction and sexual sin than he can count and he would love to be able to encourage you, forgive you in Jesus’ name, and equip you with a personal plan to live a life of purity.  He will not shame you or make you sit in the guilt of your confession.  Rather, he will lead you back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus where you will find stunning forgiveness and power for your spiritual journey.

Don’t have a pastor?  Check out the church locator to find a Bible-based, grace-focused pastor near you.