How I Overcame My Porn Addiction

  • by Brett Butcher with Hope Forrester

I saw hard-core pornography for the first time around first or second grade.

The effects it had on my life were similar to those of abuse. I was reintroduced to porn at a bookstore as a middle-schooler. Those were hard years for me and porn felt like relief— something good in the midst of something bad. I was hooked.

I came to Christ at a young age and grew up in church, but there was always a dark side to me. I began feeling guilty in high school, but learned it was better not to talk about it. I thought I needed to figure it out on my own, just Jesus and me.

Maybe you’ve fought a similar battle. Maybe you’re fighting one now, or know someone who is. You’re not alone.

When I was 21, I attended Bible school in Austria and later entered full-time Christian ministry. I brought my pornography addiction with me. I lived two lives and my shame started to grow. I didn’t understand why I was powerless over this sexual darkness, so I hid this life at whatever cost.

I took a year away from ministry to focus on restoration. It was a great year, but it didn’t help with my addiction. I attended counseling, but it didn’t help with my addiction.

I believed Jesus wanted to transform me, but could not understand why He wouldn’t heal this area. I decided either I was broken beyond repair or that maybe God wasn’t real. I was in despair, completely hopeless. I had tried everything and stopped believing I could be free.

A chance encounter with Ted Roberts, founder of Pure Desire Ministries, resulted in my wife and me beginning his counseling and recovery program. I had finally met a Christian man who could make sense of what was happening in my life. Ted and his wife navigated us through sexual addiction counseling integrated with a biblical worldview.

I learned that at the core of sexual bondage there’s often an intimacy wound. Now when I struggle, I understand why and have resources to help. My intimacy wounds are healing and I’m learning how to trust my wife and the Lord with all of me.

I can now say I’ve had three years of solid sobriety with no acting out. I’m taking what I learned from Ted and teaching others because this topic is something people are desperate to hear.

So, what’s the solution?

Everyone seems to want a book, and there are some good books. But you can’t read or pray your way out of this. You were likely wounded in a relationship and that’s where you’ll find healing. In the context of safe community groups, you must focus on four areas:

  1. Confront denial. You can go to a group and talk about struggles with work or alcohol, but when you say you struggle with sexual issues it clears the room. There’s so much shame around this topic. We feel the need to hide our sexual struggles, so we learn to hide from and deceive even ourselves. Commit to honesty at all costs.

  2. Understand the nature of the battle. There’s more knowledge on how the brain works now than ever before. Sexual addiction isn’t just a moral problem; it’s also a brain problem. We’re not merely making a poor moral choice when we choose to indulge in sexual sin. A powerful chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine, or the “gotta have it” molecule, is released in our brains when we view porn or act out sexually.

    We may develop a brain problem with moral implications that can’t be healed by moral solutions alone. We can’t just read our Bibles more, pray more or attend more small groups. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds and we must find healing for our wounds.

    Where is healing found?

  3. Access the wound that makes you return to unhealthy addiction. We live in a broken, fallen world. You can grow up in a perfect family with tons of support and still get hurt. Some people can process their pain relationally with others, but many of us can’t do that. We don’t know how. We find ways to numb our pain, and that can become addiction.

    Ultimately, you must go on the exploratory journey of your own life and ask, Where have I been wounded, and how do those wounds affect me today? Abuse, divorce, high school? If we don’t identify these wounds, we’ll end up treating the symptoms rather than the root problems. You must go on the journey of your own story with safe people. Discover where you’ve been wounded, and allow yourself to process that pain. Then you can find healing.

  4. Practice preventative accountability. If you don’t know how to do accountability well, you’ll find yourself in relapse over and over again. You fail, you confess and pray. You fail, you confess and pray. Eventually, you stop being so transparent because it’s simply not helping. Begin to look at the circumstances around you and identify stressors, such as marriage, work or finances. Look for the triggers, and then choose to stay in the pain and process it with others rather than trying to numb it with porn or other addictions.

    Be watchful when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (H.A.L.T). Talk with your accountability group about what you desire when you are in these states. Process ways you can respond better together. Be relational with your pain. The biblical idea of “weeping with those who weep” and “rejoicing with those who rejoice” is a learned skill for many of us, it takes practice. Let others into your pain, celebrations, joy – live life in color with close friends rather than just keeping things on the surface.

There is hope. You can find lasting freedom. But you won’t find it alone, just you and Jesus. Breaking isolation and learning to ask for help – that’s where trust is built and freedom is found.

This journey is difficult, but I’m now walking with integrity and purity, and you can, too.

The first step in this journey is we must trust the only One who can conquer sin— Christ. Have you made the decision to trust Christ as your Lord and Savior? Learn how here.

Do you struggle with temptations like lust or pornography? If so:

  1. Find a local Pure Desire or Living in Freedom Everyday support group.

  2. Helpful resources include:
What’s your story? Did you become a Christian through any ministry of Cru? If so, tell us more at stories@cru.org.