Sister, Don’t Fight Pornography Alone – Fernie Cosgrove

My finger hovered over the screen, scrolling. I knew I shouldn’t be here, but I still succumbed to the temptation. I selected a video and graphic images appeared. Just like that, the cycle began: temptation, fight, defeat, shame, repeat.

I’d like to say this struggle came on suddenly, but it didn’t. For months, my mind flirted with the idea: I imagined what it would be like and rationalized that if so many people did it, it couldn’t be that bad. As I watched shows on Netflix with graphic scenes, my eyes lingered and my hands were slow to skip ahead. This flirting came at a cost.

The guilt and shame consumed me within: How could I have done this? How did I let myself fall this far? The images assaulted my memories, and the temptation consumed my mind. The condemnation isolated me, and in the secret fight, I became more vulnerable to temptation.

From the beginning, the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin. But even when I tried to resist, I continued to give in to temptation. I couldn’t fight this on my own, so I picked up the phone and dialed a friend.

You’re Not Alone

Although shame tells us we’re alone as women in this fight against pornography, statistics show that men aren’t the only ones viewing pornography. Research by Fight the New Drug showed that by the end of 2021, 35 percent of pornography viewers were women. In addition, Covenant Eyes reported that 15 percent of Christian women say they watch pornography at least once a month, and the numbers are rising with each passing year.

Pornography is a real temptation for women. And it’s likely that we either struggle with this temptation ourselves or we know a woman who does. So how can we fight against the seduction of pornography?

1. Tell someone.

Pornography thrives on secrecy, but its grip loosens when the temptation is brought to light. Share your struggle with a trusted sister in Christ, and ask her to keep you accountable through prayer and check-ins.

Pornography thrives on secrecy, but its grip loosens when the temptation is brought to light.

This first step is intimidating, but it’s absolutely necessary to confess our sin. We don’t have to walk in our struggle alone; the Lord designed his church as a means through which he brings healing to our hearts and minds as we engage in the mutual confession of sin (James 5:16).

Check-ins can be done in multiple ways, but one I’ve found helpful is choosing a silly emoji (e.g., a turtle) and texting it during times I’m experiencing temptation. This simple method discretely lets your accountability partner know you’re struggling in the moment and gives her the opportunity to call you, pray for you, or encourage you.

2. Pray and meditate on the Word of God.

In a moment of temptation as you struggle to resist watching pornography, look to the Lord for help and strength through prayer and meditating on the Word of God.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Did you read that? “No temptation” includes your struggle with pornography. In moments of temptation, come to the Lord in prayer, confessing your struggle and your need for his sufficient grace.

Actively turn your mind from the temptation by meditating on God’s Word. Sexual arousal can distort your ability to think clearly. But meditating on the Word of God helps ground your thoughts, emotions, and sensations in truth as you think about that which is good, just, lovely, pure, honorable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).

3. Prepare for the when not the if.

Many of us don’t want to believe our struggle with pornography will be ongoing, and we think that if we experience temptation again, we won’t succumb to it. But this perspective sets us up for failure. We need to prepare to resist temptation when it happens, not if it happens.

We need to prepare to resist temptation when it happens, not if it happens.

For example, identify the times of the day when you struggle with temptation the most. Plan ways to focus your mind on other things (read a book, memorize a Bible verse, call a friend, etc.).

It’s also wise to set boundaries for your phone and other technology. This may look like adding explicit content restrictions on your phone and internet and having someone else set a password you don’t know so you can’t remove these restrictions. Consider leaving your phone, laptop, and other technology outside of your bedroom.

Finally, remember the Lord’s grace is sufficient in your weakness, and when you fail, the blood of Christ covers your stain and your shame. Come in repentance before the throne of grace where Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for you. He is our High Priest and mediator (Rom. 8:34; 2 Cor. 12:9).

Share the Fight

As I called my friend and prepared to share my struggle with pornography, my heart pounded and I feared hearing disappointment in her voice. But as I confessed my sin and brought this secret fight to light, my friend responded with love. She reminded me of the mercy found in Christ and how he accomplished the forgiveness of my sins on the cross. She committed to praying for me and checking in.

Although the journey is far from over, the Lord is renewing my heart and mind. He is making me holy like he is holy, and the Holy Spirit continues to sustain me in my weakness. Praise be to God that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)!

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