As a Student Pastor I’m frequently meeting with students about their struggle with purity, whether that be a result of something their viewing online or because of crossing a line physically with another person. In addition to meeting with students, I’m asked by parents about resources for leading their sons and daughters through the difficult terrain of sexual purity during adolescence.
And although these conversations can revolve around any number of issues related to sexual purity, pornography continues to be the largest topic of discussion (statistics suggests that average age of a first exposure to porn is 11 and that 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites). For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be some of the most helpful material related to the issue of pornography.
Closing the Window by Tim Chester (Best for Immediate Porn Free Living)
This books provides the most helpful framework for how to overcome pornography. After opening with reasons to give up porn, Chester frames the book around five steps to fight the war against pornography:
- Abhorrence of Porn
- Adoration of God
- Assurance of Grace
- Avoidance of Temptation
- Accountability to Others
“The reality is that often we dislike the shame and the consequences of sin, but we still like the sin itself. We dislike the shame of porn, but in reality we still want to view it… The Bible talks about the pleasures of sin. They’re temporary. They’re dangerous. They’re empty pleasures, compared with the glory of God.” (p. 15)
Finally Free by Heath Lambert (Best for Sustained Porn Free Living)
Lambert’s book begins like many other books about living without pornography, namely with reasons to give up porn. The unique element of Lambert’s book is the emphasis on using Spirit-controlled characteristics to continue living porn free. These characteristics include humility, service and gratitude. This book could easily be the best overall book for someone looking to be victorious in their struggle.
“The great danger in your struggle is that you will devote all of your energy to thinking true and awful things about pornography and spend no time dwelling on the true and wonderful things about Jesus.” (p. 28)
You Can Change by Tim Chester (Best for Understanding Christian Growth)
It’s rare that a book on Christian growth combines such gospel insight and practical application. Unlike other books on growth that are grounded in moralism, You Can Change springs forth from a proper understanding of our fallenness, God’s glory, and the wonderful news that God works through the gospel. Although the book is meant to be a catalyst for all types of change, the books principles can be applied easily to struggles with lust and pornography.
“Jesus is the perfect person, the true image of God, the glory of the Father. And God’s agenda for change is for us to become like Jesus.” (p. 14)
Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris (Best Overview of Lust/ Sexuality)
Harris stresses the good gift of sex, a healthy perspective of sexuality, and the grace of God. From here, he emphasizes the need for purity in this issue. Although not as practical as other books, Harris does provide practical steps to pursue purity, including accountability, the reading of God’s Word, creating an intentional plan to fight temptation, etc.
“Sexual purity is clearly something only God can bring about in your life and mine. God’s standard of not even a hint quickly brings me to the end of my own ability and effort. It reminds me that God’s standard is so much higher than the standards I place for myself that only the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection can provide the right power and the right motive needed to change me.” (p. 27)
Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers (Best for Understanding the Neuroscience of Porn)
This unique read provides an overview of the development (or lack thereof) of the brain because of pornography. The battle against pornography needs to take into account the reality that inappropriate sexual images affect us physically and intellectually. Change is a change of behavior and thinking.
“As men fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on these images, ages, the exposure to them creates neural pathways. Like a path is created in the woods with each successive hiker, so do the neural paths set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed. The neural circuitry anchors this process solidly in the brain. With each lingering stare, pornography deepens a Grand Canyon-like gorge in the brain through which images of women are destined to flow. This extends to women that they have not seen naked or engaging in sexual acts as well. All women become potential porn stars in the minds of these men. They have unknowingly created a neurological logical circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image.” (Kindle location: 807-812)
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Alberry (Best Related to Homosexuality)
Written by a pastor who has struggled with same-sex attraction in the past, Is God Anti-Gay? speaks biblically and graciously about issue about same-sex attraction and how to counsel with those who may be struggling in this area.
“But there is a caution: having made it easy for someone to talk about their sexual struggles, we must not then make the mistake of always talking to them about it. They may need to be asked about how things are going from time to time, but to make this the main or only thing you talk about with them can be problematic. It may reinforce the false idea that this is who they really are, and it may actually overlook other issues that they may need to talk about more. Sexuality may not be their greatest battle.” (Kindle location: 738-742)
Mobicip – Parental Controls