In the battle against porn addiction, Tim Challies persuasively argues that there is one secret weapon many men never take advantage of; that is, a mentoring relationship that will provide accountability and encouragement to continue fighting the fight. As I promised a couple days ago, I want to revisit the counsel given in Tim’s book, Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys who are Sick of Porn. As he wraps up this little book with a chapter entitled Detox for Your Soul, he focuses on the soul-work necessary for a life of holiness. He writes:
“Before concluding, I want to add one more factor to the mix. This has got to be the most unused secret weapon in the church today, and all the more ironic because this “weapon” is an extremely tangible gift from God, a gift presented specifically to help us all grow in holiness.
If you truly want to overcome pornography, talk to your pastor.
Consider all the resources the church has produced to battle lust and pornography. Consider the hidden-in-plain-sight fact that everyone knows sexual temptation is a huge issue, for nearly every male, for at least part of his life. Why then do we overlook a principal gift from God designed to help us grow in sanctification? Why do we neglect the wisdom and insight of men who are called and gifted to shepherd God’s flock?”
Be Willing to Ask for Help
Remember that the power of secret sin lies in its secrecy. For sin to be defeated, you must bring it into the light. Challies, writes, “Be willing to go ask for help. Set aside your pride and shame, and humble yourself. Don’t let the fact that pornography and masturbation are hidden sins delude you into thinking they are uncommon sins. The male struggle against sexual temptation is essentially universal. Do you think maybe your pastor will respond by saying, “I’m just shocked. You’re the last person I thought would ever have this struggle.” Trust me, that won’t happen. Instead, I can almost guarantee he will empathize with you and be both willing and eager to help you fight and win.”
Don’t Seek Help from a Peer
Some men make the mistake of seeking help from a friend, someone who is more of a peer than a man with spiritual maturity and authority to help. Worse yet is when the one who needs help seeks “help” from a fellow brother who is struggling with the same sin. While you will find empathy and understanding there, you will not find the help you really need. Challies writes, “In all likelihood, you’re going to need help. So cross that bridge, and make a commitment to seek help from your pastor. The local church is the ideal context for battling this kind of sin. There you will find the authority and the support to help you fight and, ultimately, to help you win. I know some people don’t have easy access to their pastors. In that case, find a trusted, mature, Christian man (make sure he meets all those qualifications!) to whom you can talk. You are not likely to have much success if you meet with a peer, someone your own age or younger. Go to a Christian man whom you love and respect and tell him what you are dealing with. It will be humbling and humiliating in all the right ways.”
The Danger of Accountability Relationships
Over the years, I’ve seen accountability work for some men while being totally ineffective for others. The key is understanding its purpose and limits. No outside pressure can or should even attempt to replace the inner soul-work that is required to successfully pursue righteousness. Challies writes, “Let me offer a warning about accountability relationships. Although I am convinced that in many cases they can be very helpful, they also present a subtle danger. It is possible that we can come to fear an accountability partner more than we fear the Lord. Fear of God can take a back seat to fear of man as our desire to honor God is overshadowed by our desire to have only good things to report at our next accountability meeting. I’m not even talking about the temptation to lie at the meeting. I’m talking about what goes in your heart as you fight against sexual temptation. One day you’re fighting for God’s glory, and the next you’re fighting to avoid shame before man.”
The Value of Mutual Support
Finally, you need to remember that sanctification is a group activity. That’s one of the reasons for the local church. God knows you cannot fight this battle alone and win. You need others who also care about holiness and the fear of God. Challies writes, “We should want to grow in sanctification, not to impress others or reduce personal discomfort, but to honor God increasingly in all things. Writing of the value of mutual support within a local church community, Paul Tripp says, “The purpose of the relationship is not to catch the other person doing wrong, but to motivate and encourage him or her to do what is right. We minister to one another knowing that while the law is able to reveal sin, only grace can deliver us from it!” Find a person who is motivated, not to catch you in your sin, but to encourage you, pray for you, and rebuke you if necessary. In other words, find yourself a true mentor.”
A personal accountability relationship is not a silver bullet for winning the fight against porn. You need to be part of a member of a solid, biblical church which holds the Scriptures high and lovingly helps its members pursue holiness in the fear of the Lord. If you don’t have a church, and need help finding one, feel free to contact me via the “Contact” tab above and I will recommend a few trustworthy websites with church search options.
- Help for MEN: He’s Struggling with Pornography (also in Kindle format)
- Help for WOMEN: She’s Struggling with Pornography (also in Kindle format)
- Help for PARENTS: My Kids Are Viewing Pornography (also in Kindle format)