Question:

Hi,

I'm Catholic, and we have a thing called Lent, which are the forty days before Easter, where we give something up. I'm wondering if I should give up my phone because it's the reason I look at porn and that. But I was thinking that I should give something else up, then give up porn in my mind and anytime I am tempted to look at porn, I would think about not doing it because of Lent.  I know porn is bad and I have been trying to give it up for a long time, but because of Lent I would think about not breaking that rule of looking at porn and help myself stop. I just really don't feel like giving up my phone, but I want your opinion on it.


Answer:

The problem is that Lent is a man-made season. It isn't found in the Bible. Like other man-made rules, it sounds good, but ultimately it doesn't accomplish what you desire. "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23).

So, let's look at this from a biblical perspective. As you already know, pornography is wrong. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). People think it is more significant that they stop a sin because they promised God to stop, but this very view is wrong. Sin should stop because God said it is wrong, not because I promised. To say that I promise to do what I should already be doing is to put me in control -- deciding for myself what I want to do or not do. Being a Christian is about submitting to Christ and doing as He commands because I know it is for my good.

While it seems that giving up pornography is hard, it still is within your abilities. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). If you think about it for a moment, pornography requires you to do something (look it up). It should be easier to not do something. The difficulty is controlling your desires so that you are in control instead of your desires.

Sometimes it takes dramatic steps to wrest control over yourself. The phone isn't the cause of your sin. The sin is in you looking for pornography. But you can make it more difficult for yourself. For example, if you tend to look at pornography at night, then turn off your phone and store it in a different room from where you sleep. This makes it more of an effort on your part to sin. Even better, store your phone at night in your parents' room. Also install an Internet filter on your phone, such as K-9 Web Protection, or on your router, such as OpenDNS, or both. None of this will stop you from looking at pornography if you are determined, but each places a roadblock at allows you a chance to stop and think before sinning.

Another thing that helps some people is to treat computers and phones as tools and not entertainment gadgets. Use them only when you have a purpose, such as calling someone or getting work done, but don't pull them out when you are bored and have nothing else to do. For those times, find something productive to do -- get useful hobbies to do when you are bored.