Ask Rooted: How Does the Gospel Comfort and Guide My Student Who is Struggling with Porn?

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Russell Boone (Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond, OK) said:

For years, my natural tendency when counseling with students who confessed struggling with porn was to be their functional savior. For years, my first response (sometimes only response) was to make sure they installed accountability software on their device and have them call me anytime they were feeling tempted to look at porn so I could distract them from their temptation. There is no Gospel in that response. In fact, that is behavior modification without ever addressing the heart behind their sin.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that he deals with the heart and not merely behavior. Often, students run to pornography because of a deeper heart issue. Students may run to pornography to escape, to seek control, or to find acceptance. The reality is that the sexual sin always makes a promise that it cannot keep. This leaves students with the weight of guilt, shame, and condemnation after engaging in pornography.

The good news of the Gospel is that in Jesus Christ the promise of forgiveness endures for all eternity. The forgiveness of sin brings freedom from shame, guilt, and condemnation. The outworking of this forgiveness is that even amid sin, God looks upon his children and says, “I still love you”.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

Josh Hussung (Pastor of Youth and Families at Grace Community Church, Nashville, TN) said:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

The student battling porn can take comfort in this. Our good works don’t save us, and our failures can’t unsave us. God loves us as his children, not because of our ability to not sin, but because of the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. Students resting in this will feel empowered to fight sin out of love and gratitude, rather than weighed down by feeling that they have to earn their way into God’s favor.

Kendal Conner (Student Ministry Girls’ Associate at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond, OK) said:

The gospel comfort over any sin is its active ruling and redeeming power. For a student struggling with pornography, the gospel offers the same hope as it does for a student struggling with any sin – a hope of redemption from sin’s grasp and an ultimate victory over it. One of porn’s strongest holds is its addictive power. Yet, the comfort of the gospel is its reigning promise. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” While the world tells us to hide in shame because of our sin, the gospel tells us to share it through confessing it to others. Once we bring a sin to light, and allow the church to bare in it with us, God has promised His children mercy. Romans 6:13 says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” As the church, we have the beautiful opportunity to draw our hurting students back to the gospel truth that sin, even the sin of pornography, has no more dominion over them – not because of their strength, but because of God’s redeeming grace.

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