A few years ago a preacher I love preached a sermon called “As Now, So Then”. It’s been several years, but the sermon has still stuck with me. Here is the paraphrased point of his 30 or so minute sermon:
We often look toward the future thinking that everything is going to be different once we’re older. We assume that we’ll be better Christians, better Bible students, better people, just because some time has passed, but that’s not the case. We will be then, what we are now and that means that if we want to be someone better in the future, we have to start being that better person today.
The preacher was dealing directly with our spirituality that day, but this principle is one that can, and should, be carried into every area of our lives. The more Chris and I talk to younger guys about their struggles with pornography the more we hear this idea that marriage will help them overcome their addiction. That’s a lie. The idea that marriage suddenly rids someone of a porn habit they’ve culminated over several years just isn’t true. Overcoming porn addiction takes work, but before we talk about that let’s look at some of the problems that come with the “I’ll stop looking at porn once I’m married” line of thinking.
The Problems with “I’ll Stop Looking at Porn Once I’m Married”
It assumes that change happens with time. To be sure, change does happen with time. As you grow from an infant to an adult you experience all kinds of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual changes. Change does happen over time, but just because time has passed doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to be capable of something you weren’t before.
We may change physically over time, but we won’t develop muscles unless we lift weights.
We may change spiritually over time, but we won’t become good Bible students unless we study.
We may be legally allowed to drive once we hit 16, but we won’t know how to drive unless we’ve learned.
In a similar fashion, we may get married and be in a real relationship with someone of the opposite sex, but we won’t suddenly stop having feelings of lust and desires for others unless we work at it. We’ll discuss this work below, but before we get there we need to look at another problem.
It assumes that marriage can compete with your current porn habit. Its late night and you’re alone. You fire up your computer knowing that pleasure is just a few clicks away. It’s available at any moment. With a few clicks you can view images of a woman or multiple women if you’d like. You can spend the next hour clicking around searching for the ones that fit your particular interest that evening. You’re finished looking when you decide you’re done. You close the computer and walk away, knowing that you can do this again whenever you feel like it.
To think that marriage will make this problem stop is ludicrous. Marriage can’t compete with that.
Marriage is a commitment to one person, porn says “take your pick”.
Marriage requires hard-work, porn needs wi-fi.
Marriage involves a living, breathing person you have to communicate with and relate to, porn is sexual gratification on demand.
Do you see the problem here? Marriage and porn couldn’t be any more different. Again, we can’t expect a wedding ring to transform a sex-on-demand lifestyle we’ve culminated. It takes work to be porn-free in a marriage and that work must start now.
The Process of Becoming Porn Free Before Marriage: Failure and Pursuit
Books, seminars and other literature geared at getting others out of pornography addiction have been saying these things for years: bounce your eyes, install a web blocker, pray, get an accountability partner, etc. All of these are solid pieces of advice and stem from a similar place: activity. If we want to overcome our addiction to pornography we have to actively pursue a lifestyle that’s free from pornography.
Here’s something we need to understand along with this, you will fail every now and again. Failure is a part of life and this is true especially for the person trying to quit any addiction. Think back to the first time you were learning to drive, were you as good then as you are now? Probably not. You made mistakes, wrong turns, had tickets handed to you, and maybe even wrecked once or twice. But now, what kind of driver are you? The mistakes you made as a young driver helped you develop into the driver you are today.
We are not guaranteeing that by being active that you’ll never want to look at porn when you get married, in fact, you will probably slip up. One of my friends this quote from his coach on his Twitter feed:
“I don’t expect perfection, just the pursuit of it.”
The Bible says it this way: “as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). We won’t ever be perfectly holy in our actions and next God expects us to, at the very least, strive for it. When we sit back and wait for the future to magically change us we’re ignoring God’s command to “be holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). Holiness in our conduct requires action on our part. We have to work towards it. You’ve got to pray, get an accountability partner, install web blockers and bounce your eyes. You have to actively seek to be porn free now as a single person if you ever want to be porn free as a married person. Will you mess up along the way? Absolutely! You’re life however, is not defined by mistakes, but by your ability to grow from them.
We become porn free when we make the effort to become porn free. We don’t suddenly know how to drive a car when we turn 16 and we don’t suddenly stop looking at pornography just because there is a ring on our finger. Don’t wait for marriage to try and stop your porn addiction, work on stopping it now.