Give Up Porn for Lent

I know, I know, I’ve been writing about porn and purity a lot lately.

But there’s a good reason—It’s a HUGE problem. 

When 64% of Christian men admit to watching porn at least monthly, and at least 21% of youth pastors admit to being addicted, there’s no point in pretending it isn’t happening. As my good friend Matt Fradd is wont to say, “Why do we preach to the choir about porn? Because the choir is looking at porn!” It may be unpleasant to talk about, but it is altogether necessary.

So if you are one of the many men who struggles with pornography, I want to issue a challenge to you: Give up porn for Lent. There is no better time to conquer this sin once and for all than this focused season of purification and conversion leading up to Easter.

 

Why give it up?

When a sin has been a part of your life for a long time, it is easy to justify its presence. We make excuses or tell ourselves we’ll give it up someday, but not yet. The fact it is a mortal sin is reason enough to fight porn, but if that’s not sufficient for your, here are three more reasons to give up porn today.

  1. It hurts real women – One of the chief seductions of porn is that it feels so harmless at the moment. We rationalize by telling ourselves that we aren’t really hurting anyone, and that everything we see is consensual. The problem is, that isn’t true. Many women who’ve left the industry tell heartbreaking stories of abuse, drug addiction, coercion, trafficking, and more. The porn industry is a horrible place that destroys women and then discards them. When you look at porn, you are contributing to the misery and degradation of countless women. How does that make you feel?
  2. It rewires your brain – Neuroscience is revealing that our brains are not unchanging, but are rather plastic. That means that our brains can be trained and shaped by repeated actions. And guess what? Repeated viewing of porn rewires your brain, and not in a good way. If you want to be an overgrown manchild with a smaller, more infantile brain, go ahead, watch porn. But if you want to be a real man, a man who has control and can make mature choices, you’d better give up porn.
  3. It gets worse – The problem with addictions is that they are almost impossible to compartmentalize or control. Once you are addicted, it always gets worse. That’s just the way our brains work. So perhaps you start out looking at stuff that’s relatively tame. But before you know it, it won’t get you excited anymore. You’ll need something racier and more extreme. And then you’ll be looking at acts so horrible you never could have imagined them, all because that’s what you need to get aroused. Do you really want to end up like Jared?

There’s so much more that could be said, but put simply, porn ruins lives and relationships. People have lost their jobs, their spouses, and even their lives, because of porn. Don’t be a slave. Give it up.

Three Weapons for Breaking Free

I hope you want to be free of porn. Deep down, you must want to or you’ll never make it. If you are sick of porn’s presence in your life, here are three powerful tools that can help you break free.

  1. Accountability – One of the most foolish things we can do in our struggle against porn is refuse to be accountable. Sure, it is embarrassing to tell someone else about your struggle, but it is also healthy and freeing and immensely helpful. In fact, I would argue that it is impossible to really break free from porn unless you are accountable to someone else. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to stay accountable is accountability software. When you know someone else is going to see exactly what sites you visit, it provides a lot of motivation to stay clean. Click here to sign up for Covenant Eyes, the leading accountability software out there. Even better, for the entirety of Lent, you’ll get a free 60 day trial of Covenant Eyes. Just use the code “lentchallenge” when you download the software.
  2. The Blue Label Challenge – Speaking of motivation, sometimes we need a little pain to stay motivated. That’s where the Blue Label Challenge comes in. It’s a simple contest between friends: You challenge a buddy to stay clean from porn, and if they fail, they buy you something expensive enough to hurt. And vice versa–if you fail to stay away from porn, you have to buy your buddy something too. For some people, being out $50 could be enough motivation to stay clean. For others, maybe it’s a Blue Label bottle of Scotch that costs hundreds of dollars. The point is, you have the motivating threat of a serious expenditure hanging over your head the next time you’re tempted to look at porn. It’s a great reminder that porn costs—in the short term and the long term. So what are you waiting for? Take the challenge.
  3. Retrain Your Brain – As I mentioned earlier, neuroscience is proving that our brains are trainable. Through repeated actions, we can teach ourselves to act in a certain way. The good news is, several groups have harnessed this new discovery to help fight porn. Catholic Apologist Devin Rose has a multi-week Catholic course helping men conquer porn. Reclaim Sexual Health offers a neuroscience and faith based program. And finally, the Fortify Program takes a completely secular approach to beating porn. All of these tools can help rewire your brain in a positive, porn-free way.

You Can Do It

For 20 centuries, Lent has been a time of fasting, penance, and prayer. It is a time of rooting out sins and practicing virtues. There is no better time to fight porn intensely than this holy season of conversion.

But whatever you do, don’t believe the lie that you are trapped forever. It isn’t true. Despair is the enemy. Reject it. By God’s grace, you can be free of porn. This Lent, make a commitment to beat this sin once and for all. Focus all your energy on that goal, and use all the weapons at your disposal.

Finally, entrust yourself wholly to our Lord Jesus Christ who is able to help you. Call out to him like the blind beggar in the Gospels, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” and never forget that he can heal you and save you.

You can beat porn. And there’s no better time than Lent to begin. Ready, set, fight!

PS: For the next three days, get Matt Fradd’s book “Restored: True Stories of Love and Trust after Porn” that shows that porn can be beaten!

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at The Catholic Gentleman.

By

Sam Guzman is an author and editor of The Catholic Gentleman whose work has appeared in several publications. He resides in Wisconsin with his wife and two small boys where he is also the Communications Director for Pro-Life Wisconsin.

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