Six Steps to Stop Viewing Pornography 32

Fr Jason Smith LC

One of the joys of my priesthood has been witnessing how God’s grace is stronger than any vice or addiction.

Given the large number of people struggling today with Internet porn, I thought it would be helpful to offer some of the tips I often give as a spiritual director to help people overcome it.

This is by no means meant to be a thorough treatment of the subject; it’s only a guide to get started.

Step #1: humble yourself.

Recognizing a problem is the first step to overcoming it, but that’s not the kind of humility I’m thinking of here. Most people who struggle with viewing pornography know they have a problem. The humility I’m thinking of is to ask someone you respect and love for help. Once the problem is brought into the light it is much easier to overcome.

Step #2: have someone hold you accountable in your Internet use.

There are two excellent software services—Covenant Eyes and X3watch—that help monitor how the Internet is used and send a report to an accountability partner you have previously selected, such as a friend, parent, or mentor. Knowing someone sees your internet history minimizes the strength of temptation significantly.

Step #3: fill the gap with something praiseworthy.

After you give something up you need to replace it with something better. Philippians 4:8 can be applied as a useful guide here:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

A good question to ask is, “What honorable, just, praiseworthy thing will I do instead?”

Step #4: undertake real spiritual combat

Pornography is demonic, the twisting of God’s gift of sex and sexuality.  Continuous use of it is an open window through which demons can enter one’s life. If this has happened the steps listed above are simply not enough to overcome it. Spiritual combat is also necessary.

“Spiritual combat” is another element of life which needs to be taught anew and proposed once more to all Christians today. It is a secret and interior art, an invisible struggle in which (we) engage every day against the temptations, the evil suggestions that the demon tries to plant in (our) hearts. (John Paul II, 25 May 2002)

I recommend keeping Holy Water near the computer, having recourse to the St Michael the Archangel prayer, and above all asking a priest to say a prayer of deliverance over you.  To our modern world this may sound superstitious, but I have personally witnessed its effectiveness, and am convinced many struggles against pornography fall short because this has not been done.

Steps five and six are necessary parts of spiritual combat too.

Step #5 the Sacrament of Reconciliation

In Confession not only do we receive God’s forgiveness but also strength to continue on in the battle. Find a good priest who is both kind and demanding and go as frequently as needed. Don’t get discouraged if you continue to fall; our Lord gave us this Sacrament precisely because he knows we are weak.

Step #6: the Rosary

Anyone who prays the Rosary daily will begin to make significant progress in the fight for purity and in their own prayer life too.

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32 comments

  1. This is awesome, padre! It is such a difficult battle, and one that’s tough to face without a real battle plan! But it’s definitely a battle worth fighting!

  2. Hi,

    Very good guide. I would also add a software that can filtrate your web sites like K9 from BlueCoat. It helped me tremendously.

  3. Thanks padre for this awesome reflexion. These thoughts are so true and not only we do expirience this with the internet but in our daily journey as well. What I mean is that many boys and girls forget what they truly are. I think that info online, pornography, is just a means of “evangelization” that the devil uses in the same way we, fighters of God, use to establish His kingdom, right. Well said, it becomes a super waste of time and is like a drug that becomes a adiction if not treated. We, as young people, have to think of our future, as well. How is my wife or husband gonna look at me knowing that I am thinking all the time on that blondy or super guy I just saw in the net? Do I think of my future partner or of the present one? Do you think this is normal? Well, Once you reflect on these questions you’ll see that you deserve much more than just wasting your precious time with useless stuff. How stupid we can be! Wasting time when we could be studying, reading, makind some healthy money, chatting with friends, going out with your parents, playing sports, etc. Make your life usefull and not just a waste of time and of your soul!!!!

  4. Thank you for your comments. They are inspiring and helpful. It reminds me of two quotes from the Youcat: “Everything that makes a sexual encounter easy hastens at the same time its plunge into irrelevance” and “since love cannot be sold it is invariably killed by money.” God bless.

  5. Wonderful advice, Father Jason. Being honest with my wife was very much one of the first keys to overcoming the addiction. The Theology of the Body was critical to the intellectual conviction to reach the stage where the will was ready to change as well.

  6. Thank you Fr Jason for this article…a very needed one. I am a psychotherapist in the Atlanta area and see pornography destroying lives and marriages. Right now I run a Catholic therapy group for the wives of men addicted to pornography, Your suggested steps to overcome are good but I wish that doing your six steps would “cure” the addiction of pornography. I would strongly encourage you to encourage those who are struggling with a porn addiction to also seek out professional help as well as to attend 12 step programs such as SA. God bless you in all you do.

  7. Thank you Patti for your post and I wholeheartedly agree. In retrospect I should have included this, and I am glad you have added it to the thread. Not everyone needs professional help, but many do, as it helps to among other things, to disentangle the confusion porn brings regarding love and sexuality, addresses the triggers in one’s life, helps to heal and understand the wounds porn has caused as well as the deeper symptoms that may have led someone to the addiction in the first place. Regarding SA, I know it is a powerful means of accountability and support, and I would like to invite anyone who would like to leave a testimony here about how it has helped them. I wish I had a list of solid psychologists and therapists to recommend accross the country to complete this post, but I don’t. God bless your important ministry! 

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. Thank you Fr Jason. You are right on. For those who are interested in finding a Catholic therapist in the US, you can go to catholictherapists.com to start your search. In order to be listed, you have to meet certain criteria of being Catholic (as well as pay a sizable amount each year). With that said, I would also make sure that the therapist is familiar with pornography addiction. In Atlanta, we have holyfamilycounselingcenter.com. Gerry Crete runs a men’s group for those who struggle with pornography and other sexual addictions and I run a group for the wives.

    • Excellent post, thank you. Sometimes I think we take this for granted, but parents need to be keen on educating protecting their children, no matter how young, in this area. I have met no small number who came from “excellent families” that got into porn at 10 or 11 years of age. This is a helpful resource in that respect. Prayers.

  9. Hi Fr. Jason,
    I have a question. This article talks about the problem when it is out of control. But how does it start? How harmful is it to watch a Victoria’s secret magazine? All the publicity on spectacular posters on the highways? I have a 12 year old and want to have all the weapons to protect his soul.
    Thanks for all you do.
    God bless,
    Claudia

  10. Claudia, Thank you for your questions: they are very important. I think you will find today’s post on how to keep your kids safe from internet porn helpful. I also would like to answer your questions in one of the upcoming Saturday articles since I think they are what a lot of parents are wondering and should be developed more than within the limits of the reply box. God bless!

  11. Hello Father:
    I have been reading your articles on porn and you are incredibly insightful on the subject. As a former gay porn star, I know a little about that world and your admonishments that porn is demonic is spot-on, although I rarely hear this opinion coming out of the Catholic world. Therefore, I got really excited when I found your web-site. You are truly saying something that needs to be said; and heard. During my time in porn, I became demonically possessed, and it was only through the intervention of Our Lord, through a wonderful Catholic priest, that I was finally freed from this scourge. Thank you Father. Joseph. You can learn more about me at my blog: josephsciambra.com

  12. Joseph, thank you for your inspiring testimony of God’s grace in your life. I thank you as well for taking up the pen to write on the subject; I imagine it must not be easy to do so, yet some of the most powerful witnesses to our Lord are those who have gone from slavery to freedom and “the utter fullness of God”. You are right, more priests should know and understand deliverance: really it is exercising the power of the priesthood over evil, and as you have witnessed first hand in your life, Christ has indeed given his closest followers authority over unclean spirits. May the good work God has begun in you continue. Count on my prayers. Fr Jason LC

  13. I don’t know where I would be without Mary and my daily meditation to her through the holy rosary. Porn and all of its distribution channels are, indeed, demonic and the feeling I used to have in engaging in these activites was distrubed shallowness and sorrow, and yet I could not resist, pulled into it like a feeble drug addict. I pray for the conversion of souls from this brutal lifestyle. Thank you, Father Jason, for your wonderful piece on how to get Catholics to eradicate this evil from our consciousness.

  14. You are most welcome. It is an ongoing battle for so many. The distribution chanels you mention have made the internet into a modern day Corinth. Yet we can take heart knowing that where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.

  15. This is such a great post!!!!! I am going to re-blog. I love your step 1! You are correct that many of us who have addictions already know we have a problem. Explaining humility in the way you have is spot on. Asking for help. Bringing it into the light. This post should be required reading for all priests to guide them in the confessional. As a mother of two middle school boys I worry a lot about Internet porn corrupting their minds and hearts. Thank you for the software resources.

    • Thank you for your kind words and for re-blogging this post. This little article gets a consistent number of hits per day, which brings me hope, as anything we can do, even if small, to counter Internet porn, is well worth the effort. Prayers and best wishes, Fr Jason LC

  16. Much needed post especially in these days and times. Thanks for sharing it. I know there is someone who needs it! God Bless, SR

  17. Reblogged this on catholicboyrichard and commented:
    RICHARD’S THOUGHTS–On this 4th Sunday of Lent, most of us heard about the Prodigal Son today in Mass or other liturgy. Timing of this article is thus “just right” for the boost we need in holiness, and it may not be pornography for you, but perhaps habitual anger, or even eating. The six steps listed here can still apply. Be the younger son!!! Overcome by the blood of the Lamb of God.

  18. I used to think this was an addiction that was simply too strong to break. Repeat attempts and endless confessions and the feeling that this was just too ingrained. Somehow, daily visits to Adoration changed everything. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it first hand. But it was as if The Lord said, “enough, now I’ll take this from you.” It was that sudden and complete. I am actually terrified that this is only temporary, but for now it is a true wonder.

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