You Can Conquer Addiction to Lust

The Cord of St. Joseph
The Cord of St. Joseph

I hate the word pornography. It’s vile.

Everything associated with it is vile. Sometimes at work I hear my colleagues (who are predominantly male) joke around about “porn” or “porn stars,” quips which always draw knowing laughs…except from me. Laughing about pornography is like laughing about heroin. There’s nothing funny about something that enslaves people to sin and causes pain to them and their loved ones.

But I am here to tell you something wonderful today: you can overcome addiction to pornography. I can honestly tell you this because I have done so, and I was once as addicted as any man.

This post includes just a handful of the ideas and strategies for conquering porn addiction that I include in my Catholics Conquer Porn Addiction video course.

The Battle Does Not End This Side of Heaven

Before I share more with you, I should qualify what I just said by adding that I still face temptations to lust on a regular basis.

It’s just that now I have the virtue to overcome the temptation and choose chastity over lust. But I am conscious of my own weakness and know that if I toy with temptation, it could overcome me again and cause me to fall to sin, so I am always vigilant. Some saints in the Church were given special graces by God to not even be tempted to lust–St. Joseph and St. Thomas come to mind–but most of us have not been given such extraordinary measures and must be prepared daily to face temptation.

There was no one day when I realized I had overcome habitual lust and sexual addiction. It doesn’t work that way. Instead, I kept fighting the battle, availing myself of everything I could to help me live chastely: I put pictures of Our Lady around my computer, went to daily Mass and adoration whenever I could, studied the Theology of the Body, did accountability groups with close friends of mine, wore the Cord of St. Joseph, prayed novenas to St. Maria Goretti and St. Therese, and went to Confession after I fell to temptation.

Some people say this or that measure “doesn’t work,” but different things work for different people. I say, take the shotgun approach: use everything you can and find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to try something that could help.

One verse that gave me great encouragement during my struggle to overcome pornography addiction was 1 Cor. 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

How reassuring to know that, even when temptation felt beyond my power to overcome, God promises to give the grace to overcome it. I only have to accept that grace.

Secret to Success: Keep Fighting the Battle

It took me years of praying, attending Mass, and receiving the sacraments to overcome my addiction. The fact is that lustful vice was deeply ingrained, an evil habit that had worn itself into my heart like a rut in the road. I had to work and pray hard on the opposite virtue of chastity to form a good habit in myself, one that would make it possible for me to avoid falling into the rut of vice again. Though it took a long time, that eventually happened, by the grace of God, and the feeling of being free from the slavery to sin was indescribable. No longer was I controlled by twisted desires, but instead I was under the aegis of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of power, of love, and of self-mastery.

For those of you who are still struggling with this sin, know that I sympathize. I know how hopeless it can feel, like you will never overcome it. But you can. Because God is faithful. The one critical component to victory is simply to not give up, no matter how many times you fall. Ask God for forgiveness, and try again. And again, and again, as long as it takes. Even when you “know” that you will fall again, get up and do your best, with His help. He knows us, knows our weakness, and also knows that through this fight, we will become the manly saints that He created us to be.

Take then next step to conquering porn addiction by enrolling in my short, powerful video course to arm you with the weapons you need to gain the victory over this vice.

6 thoughts on “You Can Conquer Addiction to Lust”

    1. Hi Yeoman,

      It is a a simple rope or cord with some knots tied in it that you wear around your waist, under your clothes. You get it blessed by a priest with a specific prayer he says, and it is an aid to purity. I googled and didn’t see anyone selling them, but you can make your own too and then find a priest to bless it.

  1. Angelic Warfare is a great co fraternity to enroll in if you struggle with this addiction. You receive both the cord and a medal of St. Thomas to wear, along with daily prayers.

  2. May God bless you Devin!

    I have been Catholic now for about 2 1/2 years after a two year study of the Catechism, many other books (including the fathers), EWTN radio and T.V.

    I think, at minimum, most men have had a few impure thoughts.

    Becoming Catholic has enabled me to keep impure thoughts at a minimum. The fear of God’s judgement in the true church, the teachings in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition on mortal sin, going to confession and wanting to be faithful to my wife.

    My Priest and I were talking about a good way to control it (and there are many good ideas including prayer and confession) and he stated that one good way was to not take a second look.

    A person can even use gimmicks, whatever works. Here are a few that help me: 1. Don’t take a second look, if possible. This is a fantastic concept. 2. Scare yourself into asking, is this pretty girl that you could potentially lust for worth going to hell for? 3. You can look and admire a pretty girl, but quickly move on to other thoughts (the football or basketball game as an example) before lustful thoughts get into your mind. 4. You see a beautiful woman, showing too much, quickly view her as a big, hairy ape! 5. I find confessing lust to a Priest embarrassing, so, that helps keep me from lust. 6. You see a beautiful lady walking by in the mall, or a cheerleader at a Suns game or Cardinal game, look down or look the other way.

    Of course, we all can fall into a lustful thought (especially today), run to confession. That is the best remedy that Jesus has given us!

  3. Based on the article and the comments, all the guides are good, and some will be more productive than others, but there are some very powerful ones, possibly the most powerful ones (beside a perfect Confession and Communion), that are missing thus far. And I say this because of my own struggles in past years, how I overcame them, what I experienced the ‘split-second’ that I was freed, and how it has worked with other people whom I have helped out of habitual mortal sin (spiritual direction).

    The most powerful weapon against temptation of this, or any type is to TURN it around into a blessing. This means that the diabolical temptation attempt from the evil entity that is harassing us (easily becomes diabolical obsession or even oppression) can be swiftly turned on its head by PRAYING for the person for whom the temptation is formed. The beauty of this is that instead of INVESTING our energy in a struggle against the sin and temptation, we gently move our attention into PRAYING for that person. We ask the Holy Spirit, with ALL OUR HEARTS to bless that person and bestow upon that person all the graces he/she needs to live a life according to the Lord’s Will.

    If the case is of someone that is ‘showing’ way too much and we believe it to be a sin against modesty, then the proper action is similar to the previous one, but there is the additional request to the Lord of asking forgiveness for that person’s sin(s). In other words, the people that could become a source of temptation for us, we turn it around into an opportunity of blessing by following the recommendation of 1 John 5:16.

    How often do you think Satan is going to keep that ol’ game of temptation, before he moves into a different strategy? Not long, because every time he fails by it becoming a prayer/blessing, instead of a moment to sin. Hence, we must be attentive because he will try or start using another one of our weaknesses to catch us and drive us into sinning.

    This, I have found, to be the most powerful and direct approach to dealing with the ‘moment of temptation’. Let’s not forget that, as Devin mentioned, we must prepare ourselves on a daily basis for the battle against Satan. The prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help has some very interesting and poignant words about this; at the moment of temptation, we fail to turn to her.

    The other thing, which I have found to be EXTREMELY powerful, and was not mentioned anywhere, and it is so ‘unmanly’, is to BEG. I literally mean BEG with all that that word entails. A true beggar is someone who is totally dependent on someone else’s mercy, charity, and generosity. The person who is struggling with habitual mortal sin, has a few things to work on, and this is my recommendation:

    1. He/she needs to pray for the Grace for the True Desire for total freedom from that sin. All good things come from the Lord, and even this desire is truly a grace from Him; the foundation for freedom.

    2. He/she needs to become a beggar before the Lord and get down on his/her knees and BEG the Lord to free him/her from the enslavement of that sin. If the desire and commitment is powerful enough, there will be plenty of tears coming down one’s face. This second step, can lead a person into a state of ‘perfect’ Humility before the Lord, which always provides an antidote to Satan’s hold on the soul. This is a parallel behavior that we embrace, which resembles the personages in those scriptural passages of the persistent widow and the judge (Luke 18:1-8), the centurion and his servant (Mat 8:5-13), or the persistent Greek woman who humiliated herself publicly out of love for her daughter (Mark 7:25-30).

    It is important to realize that Mother Mary is synonym with Humility and she is the complete opposite of Satan. As St Augustine, St John Chrysostom, and a multitude of other saints attest to, the greatest virtue one can practice is Humility, Humility, Humility.

    From true Humility, every thing else grows since, only then, God can dwell completely and freely in our hearts and souls.

    So, along with the most powerful weapons, the Sacraments, we also have a multitude of sacramental, as Devin listed some, and I just added some tried and tested ‘tools’ to the perfect antidote for overcoming ANY temptation, be it sexual, anger, etc.

  4. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength.”

    A few years ago, I met with my family at home to go to a restaurant a few blocks away to enjoy a dinner. As I had had a tough day at work, it bothered me that I was having a hard time to enjoy the special family dinner and they started picking up my sour mood, as much as I tried to repress it.

    Based on what I had seen done by characters on films, I then ordered a stiff drink to “take off the edge”. Now, I do not drink spirits; my favorite drinks are German beers and Chianti wine. Yet, to my surprise, the stiff drink was working and, as I sipped it a few times, I could feel my mood improving and the worries of the workday receding. Moments later it dawned on me that I might as well get addicted to this, not without a tiny dose of horror. Thanks to this horror, I shunned such escape whenever I found myself wearied or worried by my work. As spirits are not my thing and, after a few years, even consuming moderately my favorite beers and wine started to give me headaches, it was not difficult for me to stick to this plan.

    Looking back at this event with the eyes of faith and the light of grace, I came to understand how hopelessly weak I am before spirits, especially if depressed for whatever reason. So weak in fact that God, in His goodness and knowing quite well that I would not be able to resist the temptation of inebriation, has never allowed me to be tempted this way.

    God has, however, allowed me to be tempted in other ways. But I now know that He only allowed them because I am strong enough to resist them, especially if strengthened further by His grace, which He never denies and even hastens it at the request of His Mother and Queen.

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