4 Steps to Overcoming the Porn Use Guilt Cycle

Over many years I have had men write me and ask “If watching porn and masturbating are right before God, then why do I have this rushing feeling of guilt that comes over me each time after I masturbate after looking at porn?”

What these men are referring to is what I call the Porn Use Guilt Cycle as shown in the image above. A man gets hungry for porn, then he gives into that hunger, watches it and finally masturbates to it finishing with his orgasm and ejaculation.  Many Christian men feel a rush of guilt that overcomes them after their orgasm is complete.  Then then have great feelings of shame and remorse and they engage in a great deal of self-condemnation.  Finally, they confess their “sin” of watching porn and masturbating and sometimes make great promises to never do it again.  

Some men beg and plead with God for hours that he will take this temptation from them.  A lot of single young men fool themselves into thinking this hunger for porn will go away once they get married only to find out not long after they are married that the hunger has not disappeared.

And before we continue, I want to draw your attention to my use of the word “hunger” in regard to male porn use.   I could have used the word “tempted”, but tempted would imply an automatic connotation of wrong behavior.  Hunger is the more accurate word to use here because that is exactly what it is.  God has placed in man, a hunger for sex and also a related hunger for the beauty of a variety of different women because God made men naturally polygynous.  And it is because of this polygynous nature, that a man can very much love his wife, but also be aroused to sexual hunger by other women.

For a much larger discussion on man’s God given polygynous nature see my series on polygamy at BiblicalSexology.com.

Now let’s turn to how most Christians would view this porn use guilt cycle.

Most Christian teachers today would say that the guilt Christian men feel after watching porn and masturbating is the conviction of true sin by the Holy Spirit. But I have shown clear Scriptural proof in my article “Debunking 10 Common Christian Arguments Against Porn” that watching porn and masturbating are not sins in the Bible.

So why do Christian men feel guilty for watching porn and masturbating if these actions are not sinful?  The answer is that they have been culturally conditioned to feel guilty.

But the Bible tells us that we can neither trust our culture or our feelings to determine right from wrong.  In Romans 12:2 the Bible states “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.  And in Jeremiah 17:9 we read “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”. 

This means we must unlearn any cultural morals we have been taught that contradict with the Word of God.  It also means reconditioning our feelings to be in sync with the Word of God.

And on the subject of cultural conditioning.  We must realize that when we speak of cultural conditioning, we are not just talking about American culture such as what we learn in public schools, TV or in our music.  For most people, the strongest source of their cultural conditioning was their parents followed closely by the local church they attended.  We have to recognize that sometimes the conditioning of our parents or church in certain areas was wrong.

And now we can talk about how you can break out of the porn use guilt cycle.

4 Steps to Overcoming the Porn Use Guilt Cycle

Below are several steps you can take to undo the cultural conditioning that causes you to feel guilty after watching porn and masturbating.

Step #1 – Trust in God, Not Your Feelings

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

Do not trust your feelings! Trust in God.

Step #2 – Let God’s Word Change Your Feelings

“I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end”

Psalm 119:112 (KJV)

This applies to all areas of our life, not just this issue of watching porn and masturbating.  Each day and with each decision we make we have a choice.  We can let our feelings lead us in our decisions or we can let God lead both our feelings and our decisions.

Step #3 – Review the Arguments and Scriptures Dealing with Porn and Masturbation

“Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”

Proverbs 23:12 (KJV)

Continually review the Scriptural arguments that I lay out in my articles “Debunking 10 Common Christian Arguments Against Porn” and “How does watching porn and masturbating glorify God?”.   Meditate on in those Scripture passages each time feelings of guilt come over you.

Step #4 – Recognize That God and His Word Are Greater Than Your Feelings

“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”

1 John 3:19-21 (KJV)

This is the final step to overcoming the lingering guilt you may still be experiencing after watching porn and masturbating even with the new knowledge that these actions are not wrong.    God and his Word are greater than our feelings! And over time as we continually incline our hearts toward what his Word actually says and undo our culturally conditioned response of guilt about porn and masturbation, the feelings of guilt will subside until one day they are totally gone. And then in that day when our feelings no longer condemn us, we can have total confidence before God.

But we must remember this is a process. For some men it only takes days or weeks for them to overcome their cultural conditioning in regard to porn and masturbation.  For others it takes many months. 

Sadly, I have seen some men that simply cannot overcome their culturally conditioned guilt in regard to porn use and masturbation.  So, they remain in the porn use guilt cycle that we mentioned at the beginning of this article for the rest of their lives.  Many men have claimed to have broken this cycle in their lives but few actually have.  They may go for longer stints of time without looking at porn, but eventually they give into the hunger and repeat the cycle of guilt. 

 I pray that you will have the faith to break that cycle and trust in what God’s Word actually says about lust, porn and masturbation as opposed to what our church culture today teaches.

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