Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tim Chester's recent book, Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free, (InterVarsity Press, 2010).

Pornography is all over the Internet. Even when people aren’t looking for porn, they can still encounter it unexpectedly because it’s so prevalent online. Many people in our culture give into porn’s temptations and experience pain as a result, and Christians aren’t immune to the problem. In fact, statistics show that about one in three Christians – men and women alike – reports being addicted to pornography.

If you’re one of them, you may feel as if you simply can’t give up your porn habit. But you can, with God’s help, because God’s grace is always greater than your sin. Here’s how you can click away from Internet porn, for good:

Consider some reasons for giving up porn. You may get temporary pleasure from porn, but the pleasurable feelings will always fade. Then you can see the reality of how porn harms your life. Porn wrecks your view of sex because it presents sex in ways that don’t reflect how real people make love. Porn wrecks your view of people, causing you to see them as objects to consume rather than as sisters and brothers in Christ to love and serve. Porn is a sin against your spouse if you’re married. Porn enslaves you to an addiction, causing you to lust after more and more, but never giving you lasting fulfillment. Porn wastes your time, energy, and money. Porn use supports an industry that abuses people. Porn weakens your character and your relationship with God, drawing you deeper and deeper into sin.

Notice what triggers your porn use. Pay attention to what’s going on in your life when you turn to porn. Are you dealing with stress, fatigue, boredom, loneliness, rejection, or some other issue? What does porn seem to provide for you: an escape, a reward, or a way to feel powerful or loved?

Replace porn’s hollow promises with God’s real promises. Face the reality that porn is a symptom of unbelief and idolatry, because by using porn you’re desiring sex more than you want a right relationship with God. Compare what porn offers to what God offers you. Porn makes you feel accepted and appreciated, since the people in it appear to do whatever you want to fulfill your fantasies. But God offers real love that gives you true acceptance and appreciation – unconditionally and for free. Porn seems to provide a safe alternative to intimacy, with people showing you what’s normally private. But God will bless you with real, loving relationships when you take the risks necessary to develop them. Porn may give you a temporary sense of refuge. But God alone can give you the lasting peace you need. Porn promises to reward you but disappoints when pleasurable feelings go away. God, however, is the source of all joy. Porn may make you think you’re getting revenge on someone for not giving you the sex you want. But God wants to free you from being enslaved to a desire for sex and help you find something greater: the joy of knowing Him. Choose to embrace God’s true promises instead of porn’s false promises.

Confess and repent. Confess the sin of your porn use to God, and repent from it by turning away from a focus on yourself and toward a focus on worshiping God. Realize that by doing so, you’re not denying yourself pleasure – you’re fighting the temporary pleasure of porn with the lasting and greater pleasure of a right relationship with God that will bring you joy.

Replace a vicious cycle with a virtuous cycle. Pray for God to help you replace your desire for porn with a stronger desire to be holy. Stop fueling the vicious cycle of porn addiction by refusing to give into the temptation to use porn, and keep in mind that every time you resist temptation, you weaken its power over you. Begin a virtuous cycle of sexual purity by filling your mind with thoughts about God rather than porn, which you can do by making spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and prayer a habit.

Cope with your porn triggers in healthier ways. Now that you’ve already identified what triggers you to turn to porn and have committed to breaking your porn habit, it’s time to respond to your porn triggers with other activities that can help you rather than harming you. If you’ve been using porn when you’re stressed or tired, arrange your schedule so you can get more sleep and rest. If you’ve been using porn for a physical release, start to exercise regularly instead. If you’ve been turning to porn to deal with boredom, add some healthy adventure to your life, such as by working on a service project, traveling to a place you’d like to explore, or taking a class to learn a new skill.

Enlist others to support you and hold you accountable. Meet regularly with some fellow Christians you trust for support and accountability while you’re healing from your porn habit and trying to establish healthy habits. Honestly confess the ways you’ve been struggling, and set goals to grow closer to God in specific ways.

Look beyond the ugliness of porn to see the beauty of a holy life. Ask God to give you a vision of what He wants your life to look like, and use that knowledge to motivate you to resist sin like porn use that can mess up God’s great plans for you. Read the Bible often to keep God’s visions of beauty, sex, marriage, and singleness in mind. Remember that God values inner beauty more than outer beauty, He created sex as a good way for married couples to unite in covenant love, and singleness is just as much of a gift from God as marriage because it offers unique opportunities to grow and serve. Choose to reject the false glory that porn tempts you with and instead embrace holiness to reflect more of God’s real glory. Keep in mind that you’re not really what porn may try to make you think you are – an animal, a pervert, an addict, a victim, or a fool – but you truly are a beloved person who God made in His image, who can reflect His glory in the world.

Adapted from Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free, copyright 2010 by Tim Chester. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com
Tim Chester is involved in The Crowded House, a church-planting initiative in Sheffield, England. He is the author of Awakening to a World of Need, The Promise of Salvation and The Message of Prayer.

Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor.  You can visit her website at:http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.

Publication date: April 3, 2011