How to Say No To the Online Siren’s Song
I’ve recently confided in my wife that I have a problem with viewing Internet pornography. While it was hard for me to say and hard for her to hear, we aren’t sure where to go from here. What can both she and I do to help me overcome this bad habit?
We’re convinced that there is no more widespread destructive force in Christian marriages than online pornography. The anonymity and the ease, combined with our fallen nature, make this a deeply insidious problem. Like any addiction, it has the potential to bring on despondency, to make you feel as though you are powerless to become free from the bondage of sexual sin.
Despair, though, is just another tool of Satan. Freedom is possible, as are all things in Christ, who strengthens us. You have taken an important first step by being honest with your wife. Accountability is a necessary first and ongoing step to freedom and purity.
Before we get into some more practical tips, the first thing you absolutely must do is make yourself accountable to the Lord. Get to confession and receive the grace that will empower you to sin no more. As difficult and humiliating as it may seem, choose one trustworthy priest to whom you can make regular confessions and from whom you can seek spiritual counsel. This kind of accountability will be freeing and will go far toward keeping you chaste. None of us can break an addiction on our own and, by keeping in close communion with one another, we can call each other on to holiness.
On a practical level, as with any area of sin in our lives, it is far easier to avoid sin if we avoid the near occasion of it. For Internet pornography, you need to seriously evaluate the role of technology in your life. Men are particularly susceptible to being “seduced” by the latest developments in technology, and are quick to confuse wants with needs. To paraphrase Scripture: If the wireless network is causing you to sin, cut it off. Keep Internet access limited to one computer in the house — a computer that stays put in a very public area. Make sure you have the latest and best spam and adware filters to keep objectionable content from seeking you out. If you can’t trust yourself with the passwords to override the filter, ask your wife to be the keeper of the password.
Avoid being alone during those idle times when viewing pornography online is most possible.
For instance, don’t stay awake long after your wife and kids are in bed. By going to bed at the same time as your wife, you can eliminate one more source of temptation.
This can be an insistent habit. You probably won’t be able to break it on your own. But if you invite God into every corner of your heart and mind, you will be amazed at his ability to set you free.
The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the
Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.