Scott Kedersha Marriage

A few days ago a friend posed this question: How do you handle temptation when you want to look at pornography? After almost a decade in ministry working with singles, engaged couples and married couples, I know this question comes up all the time. While some of the counsel I provide below (brainstormed by some good friends) applies to any temptation we might face, this post is geared towards pornography and masturbation temptations.

Porn has played a major part in my life since I was in elementary school. I wrote a series of posts on pornography a few months back. You can find all three parts here: (How Porn Nearly Ruined My Life, How to NOT Allow Porn to Ruin Your Life, and Stuff I Like Saturdays: I Hate Porn Edition (resources)).

In this 3-part series I want to spend some time on how to handle the temptation to look at porn. Part 1 and Part 2 will focus on handling temptation to look at pornography, Part 3 will address sexual temptation and purity for engaged and dating couples.

While there are many ways you can battle the temptation to look at porn, here is a list of 12 ways to help you in the midst of your temptations:

1. Ask for accountability in advance. When I am struggling, it helps to text some friends so that they can pray for me, reach out to me and hold me accountable. I know they’re going to ask me how I did in the face of temptation. For example, when I travel, I text the guys in my community and remind them I am going to be alone in a hotel room. I want them to ask me how I did and to pray for me while I am gone. If you’re married, this helps share the burden and lets your wife know that you value and love her.

2. Listen to worship music. One of my friends said this well: “It’s hard to sin while listening to worship music!”. Pop in some Shane and Shane and sing rather than give in to your sexual temptation. By the way, Shane and Shane, Psalms, Volume 2 is amazing!!

3. The obvious one: Pray. In the midst of temptation, ask God to help you to not give in to your fleshly desires. Ask Him to help you walk by the Spirit instead of walking by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-23). Pray something like this: “God: I want to choose you instead of my sin. My body wants this pleasure right now, but I know it’s not worth it. Will you please help me, right now. I know you love me. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Please help me. I am not strong on my own. I can’t. You can.”

4. Remember, If you a follower of Christ, you are not destined to sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” If you are a new creation, the old man is gone. He doesn’t own you anymore. You are no longer controlled by your flesh. The Holy Spirit now rules your life and a new Master controls your actions. Don’t believe the lie that you can’t change and can’t say no. You don’t have to give in to your temptation.

5. Speaking of lies… Replace lies with truth. One of my heroes of the faith has a list of lies he sometimes tells himself (i.e. you’re no good, everyone is better than you) coupled with biblical truth to fight those lies. When the old tapes play, he responds to the lies with scripture. Do the same, in advance, with your pornography struggle. You might tell yourself things like: “It’s no big deal. It could be worse. I could be having an affair.” Instead of justifying and giving in to your sin, you might read Psalm 51:1-4 so that you can be reminded of the truth of your sin. When you think you can’t avoid the temptations of pornography, you can read/recite verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and 1 Corinthians 10:13.

6. Vocalize/talk out loud. I know this one sounds strange, but it works. Maybe it has something to do with just hearing the words out loud instead of just in your head. Tell yourself it won’t be worth it. Remind yourself how dumb it would be to give in to your temptation. Tell yourself you know this won’t lead to life. The short term satisfaction that comes from looking at porn and masturbating won’t be worth the guilt and shame that will come on the other side of your transgression.
OK… that’s probably enough for now. 6 ways to battle the temptation to look at porn. Come back for Part 2 as I share 6 more ways to fight temptation. In addition, in the next post I will share what to do if you give in to your temptation and fall sexually.

Your Turn:

  1. Do you invite others in/accountability in your struggle with pornography? If not, then why not
  2. From the list above, which one of the 6 ways listed can you immediately implement to help you battle temptation?