Women and Pornography

Three Mindsets that Keep You From Freedom

Has anyone ever told you to “get out of your head?”

I am an INTJ and an Enneagram 4w5 so being in my head is basically my absolute favorite place to be. I will think myself into all sorts of trouble. It can be a great asset when planning ahead for things, but it tends to be a weakness in many areas.

We often talk about how our mind is a battlefield. If you do or have struggled with lust, fantasy, or pornography, you’ve heard this. You’ve heard that you have to win this war in your mind. Some people talk about learning to “change the channel” when inappropriate thoughts or images are recalled. Others talk about learning to “think on these things” as explained in Proverbs.

But let’s talk about a different area of the battle in the mind for a minute.

I’m not talking about taking pot shots at porn images like this is some arcade game. That’s the obvious battle. We need to start digging deeper and getting at more fundamental core mindsets and beliefs. If you are convinced you’re never going to win, for instance, you can take pot shots all day long and it’s not going to make a difference.

Over the past decade of sharing my story and speaking on this topic, I’ve heard so many stories from other women. I get emails from women in the middle of their struggle and I’ve noticed for many, pornography isn’t the real problem. The real problem is a mindset that isn’t focused on truth to begin with.

If freedom and healing are found by combatting the lies of pornography with truth but you aren’t combatting other lies with truth, you aren’t going to be free.

In other words, there are mindsets you can have that have nothing to do with pornography but they will keep you trapped in it nonetheless. Like being inside a pinball machine, you’ll ricochet back and forth between the lies of pornography to other lies. Pornography isn’t the chain holding you down, it’s everything else going on in your mind.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” {ESV}

There are two Greek words I want to point out. The first is the word translated “transform.” It is literally the root word for metamorphosis. We most commonly recognize this as the process that caterpillars go through to become butterflies. It’s a complete transformation.

The caterpillar doesn’t emerge with simply a new set of wings. It emerges an entirely new creation. In fact, part of metamorphosis involves the caterpillar’s body tissue being digested. The old caterpillar essentially dies. It ceases to exist and a new creature is formed.

The second word is the word translated “renewal.” This word means “renovation.” Think of when a house is renovated. You don’t just throw on a coat of paint and buy new curtains and call it a renovation. No. Renovations involve ripping down walls, tearing up floors, replacing cabinets, redoing plumbing, etc. They are extensive. Things are fundamentally different once a renovation is complete.

So the message here is that this transformation we are called to goes so much deeper than “stop thinking about pornography.”

That’s just slapping a new coat of paint on the walls or taping wings on a caterpillar. There is a massive renovation that is supposed to happen in our minds. It’s not just “my old way of thinking minus pornography.” It is an entirely new way of thinking about everything, not just pornography.

If you’re not sure what that means or what it looks like, here are three common mindsets that could be sabotaging your journey of freedom.

God is sick of me

The most common lie I see from Christian women who struggle with pornography is this one: “God is sick of me.” God is sick of me failing. God is sick of this struggle. God is sick of my hypocrisy. He’s disgusted. He doesn’t want anything to do with me. He’s disappointed. He’s frustrated. I’ve stopped praying because I know He isn’t listening, etc.

Here’s my challenge to you. Please, I welcome you to find a verse that backs up this claim about God’s character. I’ll wait.

Did you find one?

No. Of course you didn’t. Because there isn’t one.

Does God hate sin? Yes. But every last one of us is sinners. Every last one. If it’s not pornography, then it’s anger, envy, greed, pride, or some other sin that wears us down.

If you look at the Biblical narrative, there are so many examples that speak to God drawing near to us- all sinners. Jesus has been often called a friend of sinners, because guess who He was seen with! He fraternized with the “riff raff.”

We get this image of God as this impatient, temperamental, easily-frustrated perfect entity who expects nothing less of perfection from us and is poised to beat the tar out of us and walk away when we fail. We picture Him as a master who expects us to get things right the first time, get our acts together, and stop bothering Him. We’re a nuisance. An inconvenience. An annoyance.

And that’s not God. Unfortunately, for some of us, that’s a standard set by our earthly parents, but it is most certainly not God’s standard.

The danger with this mindset is it drives us from God.

If I think God is sick of me, then I don’t understand grace. I don’t understand His love or His forgiveness. Frankly, I don’t understand God, and if I don’t understand Him and am not actively trying to draw near to Him, I’m not going to experience healing.

That’s how you know this is a lie. Truth draws us toward freedom and healing. Truth restores. Anything that steals, kills, and destroys isn’t of God. If it’s pushing you away from God, it’s not from Him.

This isn’t my fault

If you caught my Facebook live with Crystal Renaud during the SHE Virtual Summit in October, you know that Crystal and I both touched on this during our conversation. It can be so very easy to blame other people for the struggle you are facing.

The uncle who molested you. The dad who left. The brother whose porn you found. The parents who left their porn DVD in the laptop. The pastor who doesn’t get it. The counselor who didn’t help. The accountability partner who didn’t do her job. The list goes on.

We like pointing fingers at other people because we don’t like taking responsibility. It is easier for us to be angry at others than it is for us to do the hard work of healing in our own lives. Introspection is uncomfortable, even for a introspective introvert like me!

Is sexual abuse wrong? Absolutely. Is abandonment evil? Yes. Do people hurt other people, disappoint other people, mess up? Yes.

And in some cases, there is very real damage done by other people’s choices. Part of your journey of freedom needs to be finding healing from that damage. But you cannot do that if you’re still blaming them for the choices you’re making now.

Know that I care when I say this: None of them are opening up the browser.

None of those people are forcing you to make the choices you are making now and as long as you keep blaming them, you will not heal and you will not find freedom.

It’s a hard message to hear and I get that. For years, I blamed everyone I could. If my dad hadn’t left. If my family hadn’t been so dysfunctional. If my church had just talked about sex. In fact, when I first started this blog, I often blamed the church. I felt the church dropped the ball.

I struggled with so much shame because of the church. And that part is true. The teachings of the church did perpetuate a narrative of shame. However, the church never made me call my mom to lie about why I needed to get on the internet. I did that. All me.

This can be a really hard truth for us to square with because we feel like “someone has to pay.” Blaming someone for our actions now is almost a way of making sure they’re never off the hook. Look what you made me do! Except they didn’t.

So the truth that combats this lie is a reframing of a narrative. If you have been wounded by someone, let down by someone, etc, it is ok to acknowledge that pain but you have to do that while still accepting responsibility for your own actions.

In my life, it might have looked like this: “Yes, my dad left, and that was wrong. His choices hurt me and some of that damage is absolutely irreversible. I am choosing to cope with that pain by turning to pornography.”

Do you see it? There’s a difference between saying, “My dad left and that’s why I’m struggling with porn” and “My dad hurt me and I’m choosing porn as a way to cope.” One blames my dad for my current struggle and leaves me helpless to do anything. The other puts responsibility where it belongs and sets me free to change what I can. I can’t undo his choices, but I absolutely can address how I cope with the pain those choices left behind.

Read: Why Doesn’t God Stop Me From Watching Porn?

I’m never going to be free

Another thing I see often is feeling permanently defeated. An email might say, “I’ve tried x, y, z and nothing worked. I give up. I’m never going to be able to be free from this.”

If blaming others makes us feel helpless, this lie makes us feel hopeless.

What’s the point? I’ve tried everything. I’ll get free for a little bit and then fall right back in. Something is wrong with me. I’m never going to get out of it. I want to stop, but there’s no use.

This lie has shame written all over it.

It looks at God’s offer of freedom and says, “Pffft, that’s for everyone but me.” And that’s simply not true.

Whatever is driving you to pornography can absolutely be changed. Whether it’s learning how to cope with trauma, or a high sex drive, or just years of use, all of it can be addressed, healed, changed, and you can find freedom.

This is the lie we believe when we’re frustrated because the fight is bigger than we wanted it to be.

This is the lie we believe when we realize that the road to freedom means giving up some things we love.

It’s how we give up without saying, “I give up.” It’s a way to blame it on circumstances outside of our control.

It’s just the way I am. It’s not that big of a deal. I can’t do that.

This lie would honestly be better phrased, “I give up.” But we don’t put it that way because then it’s our choice.

Do you want to know why the things you’ve tried before might not be working? It could be because they’re the wrong strategy for you. It could be because you didn’t stick with them long enough, but if I may be frank yet again, it’s more than likely because in your heart of hearts you really don’t want it that badly.

I say that because I’ve been there.

For instance, you realize you need to give up your phone. You know that would be a huge leap forward in your fight of freedom. But it’s your phone! You can’t give up your phone!! That’s stupid. Other people use their phones and have no issue. No. There has to be a different way. Forget that. You’re not giving up your phone. And when you keep coming back to your phone to watch your favorite videos, you just tell yourself, “I’ll never be free.”

Because you’re choosing not to do the work.

I understand that the road to freedom isn’t always comfortable. I wish that there were some magic one-two-three formula that just fixed everything, but we’re talking about breaking habits, dependencies, and rewiring your brain. We’re talking about renovating a heart and a mind, and that doesn’t happen in a day. It happens in time.

And in part of that time, you’re going to feel a little empty, bare, and exposed. You’re going to feel like that caterpillar turned to mush or a home that is completely gutted. This is not a pleasant process nor is it an easy one.

The question you have to answer is whether the end result is truly worth it to you. Is it worth taking responsibility? Is freedom worth giving up some comforts temporarily? Is the change worth the sacrifice?

Is freedom worth combatting the deeper lies that might be coursing around in your brain? Is freedom worth facing and working through the pain others caused you and owning your role in your struggle? Is freedom worth whatever you might need to give up?

Let me tell you that the answer is absolutely yes.

And you should start here, with these mindsets, because these lies will keep you from freedom every time.