It’s been a few years since I quit porn, and I’ve written and podcasted tons about porn addiction. I still get random emails and an assortment of friends who ask me for help to quit. I used to reply eagerly, get in their mess, ask them tough questions, keep them accountable, and keep track of sobriety.
But I had the feeling that most of these dudes were just using me to feel better about their failures and I gave them permission to stay addicted. I handed them a clean conscience and a delayed adolescence. I pampered men into whining first-world blame-shifting boys: and it was really my fault.
Inadvertently, I became an enabling cheerleader, a co-conspiring accomplice to their crimes.
I got jaded. I started thinking it was helpless. And while I still press in to help, I wave a flag upfront: If you’re not serious about quitting, you’re wasting our time.
This probably sounds mean. But I’ve learned that if you keep saying “Jesus loves you” over and over and over again, it gets old. It gets abused. Not because the love of God is inadequate or incomplete, but because our definition of it is so lazy and lacking.
We easily distort God’s love as some kind of loophole for any kind of behavior, and I’ve seen it used as a get-out-of-jail-free card too many times. Some of your favorite Christian bloggers and pastors are actually a-holes because they treat grace like a cheap dress. It makes me sick, but really just sad. They’re the people that Apostle Paul talks about while sobbing, those who live as “enemies of the cross of Christ.”
If you keep saying “God has grace for me” while you stay the same, you have not even begun to understand the implications of the cross. It’s still just abstract doctrine. You couldn’t possibly have met the man who carried the cross up a hill to die for you. You need more grace then, and not less.
I’m saying all this not because I love you less: but because I love you more.
I know it’s mostly subconscious: almost no one wants to abuse God’s love. But if you do not define God’s love as a relentless, furious, soul-shattering power that rescues you from death, then you’re left with a tiny two-inch keychain-god who fits in your pocket and can be tossed at your convenience.
So if you ask me or anyone else for help to break your addiction, I exhort you: Please do not ask for help unless you are serious to quit and move forward. Everyone is willing to help you: but you have to want it for yourself more than we do. This isn’t some kind of prerequisite. I will love you anyway, and so does He. But no one can make you want to quit. God gave you the gift of free will to choose.
If you’re not serious about it, then go find out why it’s so bad. Go meet some porn addicts who have destroyed their marriages, families, careers, and their own bodies. Find them. Meet the porn addicts who now suffer from ED, have gone bankrupt, and destroyed the lives of young women. And when you hear enough horror stories, maybe then you’ll really want to quit. Maybe then you’ll see the depth of God’s love, who loves us even in our worst depravity.
This probably sounds harsh right now. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? That we’re not willing to hear the truth about ourselves. That we’re so entitled to positive thinking and self-esteem that we can’t confront the ugliness inside. That often times we only ask for help with all the benefits of help, but none of the change. That we’re willing to be honest, but not do the hard work of leaving sin behind. That we like all the nice parts of Jesus, but we skip all the difficult things he said.
It’s also easy to forget that the Christian life is not just about running from sin, but running to Him. That means if you quit porn today, you suddenly have 15-30 hours that just opened up every week. What will you do? Because God didn’t merely forgive you, but He gave you a mission. He made you for something. The spiritual walk isn’t just sin-avoidance, but walking intentionally into God’s purposes. Lust is not the problem: but a lack of direction.
Jesus does love you. He also said it’s better to get into Heaven with no eyes and no hands then you get into Hell with both. We can abuse God’s love without ever changing, because His love is inexhaustible: but why would we even want to? Why settle for a halfway grace? God is offering a glorious life of freedom ahead. I’ve tasted that freedom and I can’t go back anymore. I wouldn’t trade that joy now for anything. I hope you’re desperate enough to find that joy, and that you really mean it.