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Actual Practical Catholic Advice for Quitting Porn: The Ultimate Guide

September  15th,  2020
Kari Hoeft
By Kari Hoeft read
Posted in Culture

Software filters, accountability partners, prayer . . . heard it all before and still struggling? You’re not alone. Let’s get as practical and real as possible – it’s time to leave porn behind, once and for all. Finally.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been frustrated with advice that’s just too lofty or flowery, vague, impractical, or simply not helpful. My hope is that this blog will be the exact opposite. Based on my own experience and the experience of others, my goal is to leave you with practical tools and a clear game plan for freedom at last! There’s a lot ahead, but if you really want this, stick with me to the end!

Lets do this.

The problem with a lot of the advice out there is that it solely focuses on the moments of temptation. That IS important, but to really get serious about quitting porn, we need to reverse the clock and focus on preparing ourselves in moments of strength.

What does that look like, you may ask?

1.    We have to learn to hate porn.

To hate the way it takes a beautiful, miraculous human being and exploits and diminishes them to a mere object for our pleasure and use. To hate the way it inverts our sexuality, a wonderfully-created gift from God, twisting it into a vehicle for greed, self-satisfaction, and instant gratification at another’s expense. To hate the way that it warps our brains’ ability to see the fullness of the human person and our heart’s ability to truly love.

Watching porn turns us into someone we don’t want to be, and we have to hate that. But instead of hating ourselves, a common response of a porn-addict, channel that hatred where it belongs – to the porn industry. (Not the people, but the industry!) Do this by reading studies on porn’s effects on the brain, on relationships, and on society. Do this by reading stories, painful as they may be, of those who have been on the inside of this abusive and manipulative industry. (See resources at the end)

It sounds strange, telling you to spend more time thinking about porn. But honestly, thinking about porn in its rightful, negative light will go much farther than attempting to push it out of our minds. Sexual thoughts will come, because our sexuality is good! Porn is just a distorted way to fulfill those good desires. So when those thoughts arise, let’s be prepared with an arsenal of information to fight back and reroute those beautiful desires away from the destructive outlet of porn.

2.    We have to know how temptation actually works.

No matter how deeply we come to hate porn, if we’re stuck in an addiction, that alone simply won’t be enough. The next step is to learn what’s actually taking place in our minds and bodies surrounding those inevitable moments of temptation. There’s actually more happening than you might think!

Dr. Kevin Skinner describes the process from an initial trigger to the point of giving in and looking at porn as an activation sequence. There are seven steps in this process:

1. Stimulus/Trigger

2. An Emotional Response

3. The First Thought

4. The Chemical Release

5. Body Language

6. The Battle

7. The Behavior

Matt Fradd (a smart, down-to-earth Australian dude I recommend you befriend in this battle!) made a video explaining this process in further detail – watch it here.

This process reveals that we have multiple chances to deny the initial temptation! It’s not instantly game over once a thought crosses our mind. However, the farther the process progresses, the harder it becomes to say no. Now let’s use this information to our advantage!

3.    We have to know thyself.

The earlier along in the porn activation sequence we say no, the better. This means we have some self-reflection to do. As uncomfortable as it may be, we have to spend intentional time thinking about how the sequence plays out in our own life. Ask yourself: What are my most common triggers? Where does it usually happen? What am I often doing right beforehand? Then, how do I typically respond? What have I done in moments when I’ve succeeded in saying no to temptation? In moments I’ve failed?

Based on these answers, we can now make a game plan. The goal is to avoid the circumstances surrounding our temptations as much as possible! This might mean saying goodbye to certain tv shows, social media accounts, or music playlists. It might mean spending less alone time in your bedroom. It might mean buying helpful books and changing the settings on your phone to cut off internet access after 9pm. The key is to truly examine our behavior, then set parameters and make lifestyle changes accordingly.

Yes, it’s going to require sacrifice. But can we expect any difference in our life without changing anything at all? It’s going to require inconvenience, too. But isn’t an addiction to pornography even more inconvenient?

Though one person’s plan will vary from the next, there’s one universal tip we can all benefit from – at the first sign of temptation, change your environment. And I mean right away. Stand up. Go into a different room. Surround yourself with people if at all possible. Call a friend. Do push-ups. Creating a distraction-plan that you can turn to in these moments, whatever that might mean for you, is absolutely crucial in this battle.

Alright, so we’ve committed to spending substantial time preparing ourselves in moments of strength. Is there anything else we can do? Of course! I’m glad you asked.

1.    No-tech bedroom. Buy an alarm clock. Study somewhere else. Just leave your tech as far from your room as possible! At the very least, never ever sit or lay on your bed with tech in hand.

2.    Sleep with a rosary in your hands. Not only because the rosary is awesomely powerful, but also because of the fact that, well, your hands will already be occupied by a holy rosary.

3.    Frequent the Eucharist. Keep praying. Ask Mother Mary and the Saints to intercede for you and journey with you. These things cannot be left aside!

4.    Have a regular Confessor. First of all, if you haven’t gone to confession for porn, do. If you fall after confessing, go back again to the same priest. Every time. This will dually serve as motivation for you, and allow the priest to know the particularities of your struggle in order to better guide and advise you. (Side note: whether or not you’ve fallen into the sin of porn, strive to go to confession frequently! Every two weeks is a good goal.)

5.    Accountability. The quickest path to failure is to keep this a secret. Tell a trusted friend your story and ask them to check up on you. Reach out to them when you’re struggling. Resist isolation. And yes, get accountability software, too.

6.    Have other hobbies! You won’t give in to porn if you’re doing other things! Whether it’s organized sports or your own personal pursuits (learning an instrument, pursuing an art form, working on cars, reading about your interests, etc.), keeping yourself busy will decrease the window of temptation and therefore increase your shot at victory. Get creative!

7.    Imagine the future. What do you desire for your future relationships? Imagine the painful possibility of still being addicted to porn once you start dating, once you’re married, once you have children, and so on. Perhaps this is already the case for you. If you can’t quit for your own sake, strive to quit for someone else’s.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that can beat desire is a greater desire. You have to want to beat porn more than you want to look at it! And if you want freedom, and I mean really want it, you have to put in the work. Do the research. Reflect on your life. Make a plan. Take what advice is useful to you and put it into practice. If you trip up (we all do), allow it to be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and be better prepared for next time. And most importantly,

Never. Give. Up.

This isn’t going to be easy. Yet treat each day not as a fight against impending failure, but as an opportunity to claim victory. Freedom is built one day at a time.

And no matter what, never let your guard down. No matter how long it’s been or how confident you feel, keep learning. Keep praying. Keep equipping yourself. No one is exempt. Yet no one is destined to fail, either. You were made for freedom. You were made for love. And what better day than today to start living like it?

YOU.

CAN.

DO.

THIS.

Resources:

Books:

The Porn Myth (Matt Fradd)

Fortify: The Fighter’s Guide to Overcoming Pornography Addiction (Fight the New Drug)

Delivered – True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity (Matt Fradd)

Uncompromising Purity: It’s Not Just a “Guy” Problem (Kelsey Skoch, Evertt Fritz)

Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery (Dr. Kevin Skinner)

Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction (Gary Wilson)

Victory Daily Tracker Booklet (Matt Fradd, Mark Hart)

Websites:

Fight the New Drug

Integrity Restored

Truth About Porn Research Archives

Videos:

The Culture Project

Brain Heart World Documentary Series

Fight the New Drug

Matt Fradd

Gary Wilson

Software Filters/Apps:

Fortify

Covenant Eyes

Podcasts:

Integrity Restored Archived Podcast

Consider Before Consuming

The Dark Side of the Porn Industry:

10 Myths About Pornography (video)

True Stories

Kari Hoeft
Kari Hoeft

About the Author

Kari Hoeft is a 2018 graduate of the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University with a BA in Liturgical Music and Theology. She grew up on a farm in Central Minnesota with her family of eight where she fell in love with playing piano, any and all sports, and ice cream. The invitation to live a life fully alive drew her to the Culture Project, and this is her first year as a missionary. "The Culture Project's message reached the depths of my heart and answered many of my life’s most profound questions, and I want other young men and women to experience that same awakening."


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