If you’ve ever brought up your struggle to get free from porn in Christian circles, there’s a very strong chance the solution you were given was to get accountable. Accountability seems to be the church’s default answer to the problem of porn—but it is only a part of the solution, and it must be done in a healthy ways. Let’s be honest—many attempts at accountability are legalistic, fear-based, and bear little fruit. But let’s be careful not throw the baby out with the bath water, as the saying goes. Instead, let’s explore what it looks like to incorporate the help of others in your freedom journey in ways that are both healthy and helpful.
Make no mistake about it—bringing your struggles into the light and working them out in the context of trusted friends who can provide wise counsel is a helpful part of getting free. It is a fool’s errand to try to get free and fight your battles on your own. It is similarly foolish to hide your sin and keep it secret. If you have any doubt of either of these claims, just read the following verses from Proverbs:
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, ESV)
“So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.” (Proverbs 24:6, NLT)
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)
“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. (Proverbs 28:13, NASB)
Living honestly and openly with some trusted people and asking for counsel is just what wise people do. It positions you to start winning the battles you face so you can take steps toward lasting transformation. It requires humility to admit that the way you are doing things isn’t working, and to enlist the help of those in your life who are stronger in the areas where you are weak. They will be able to encourage you, help you sort out the issues of your heart, and stand with you when you are facing temptation to help you overcome it.
Furthermore, entrusting your struggles and weaknesses to others allows you to experience the mercy and kindness of God through them. As long as you are keeping secrets and not allowing people to see what’s really going on in your life, you will find it incredibly difficult to experience love—which, as we’ve covered extensively, an inability to receive love will only drive you further into your struggles. In order to feel genuinely loved, you must first risk being known—which requires vulnerability and no small amount of courage to allow people to see your messiness. If you hide your sin from everyone, you will feel that people are merely loving the image you portray to them, but not the real you. Shame is broken by bringing things into the light. As we’ve said previously, you cannot hide and heal at the same time.
So with those important considerations in mind, we can safely conclude that involving a few others in your freedom journey is an important element. It’s just not meant to be the only solution to stubborn sin—and we should seek to do it in a healthy way. Many attempts at living in “accountability” are essentially no more than implementing a system of regular check ups accompanied by confession, where the one with a sin struggle must admit their temptations and failings to their accountability partner. This can quickly become fear and shame based. It may motivate you for a time to avoid sinning so you don’t have to face the discomfort and awkwardness of confessing it, but it rarely deals with the core issues of your heart. In many cases, it is little more than a system designed to keep you from doing something you secretly want rather than a system designed to address deeper issues and help you live from your new heart.
Does accountability have a place in getting free? The answer is that it depends on how you define it. If by accountability, you mean a fear-based system of scheduled but reluctant confession that merely focuses on the external without addressing the core of your brokenness, it is unlikely to be successful. But if by accountability, you mean learning to live openly and honestly with trusted friends who will remind you of your God-given identity, extend the mercy and grace of God to you when you fail, and give you strategies to live according to the new heart God has placed in you, then it can be a powerful ally.
Remember, getting free is not about learning to abstain from something you secretly want. That’s like arm-wrestling yourself. It doesn’t work. Remember the words of Jesus—a house divided against itself cannot stand. Rather, freedom is about learning to live according to your new desires. Your sinful nature was crucified with Christ, and when God raised you from the dead and gave you new life, He also imparted His nature to you. More than that, He gave you His Spirit, cleansed you of your past sins, and empowered you by His grace to walk in the life He intends for you. That’s the foundation for living a free, fulfilling life.
Surround yourself with people who constantly remind you of who God created you to be, who contend for you to come fully alive, and who will stand with you against whatever seeks to destroy you. Wherever you can find people like this, whether it be with a trusted counselor, a pastor, or perhaps a few mature friend, go all in. It can prove instrumental in your journey to freedom.
For a more in depth reading on what healthy accountability looks like, read this.
Day 24 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read Colossians chapter 1 and 2. Take notes of what it says about who you are in Christ.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 5–7 minutes per question.
- Be honest with yourself here—what is your current desire for porn (or whatever sin you struggle with)? Do you still want it in any way? Do you feel you are in a civil war, trying to avoid it while a part of you still secretly wants it? Or are you allowing God to transform your desires from the inside out?
- What would it look like to involve others in your freedom journey in a way that is helpful and healthy? What are some practical steps you can take this week to share your struggle with others who will encourage you and spur you on toward the life God intends for you?
Prayer — Father, I want to experience your love, and that means I must allow myself to be fully known by you. Help me to come out of hiding and shame into the light. I know nothing is hidden from you—but at times, I feel I do not bring all of myself to you. Help me to be with you fully, to allow you into the places that I feel are dark and dirty. Bring light into those places, and let your love wash over me where I feel the most unlovable. Then surround me with people I can share my struggles with and find help where I need it. I long to please you. In my heart of hearts, I do not want to sin and hurt both myself and others. Thank you that you have given me your nature and that the deepest parts of me long to live in the life you offer. Help me to surround myself with people who want the best for me and remind me of who you say I am. Amen.