It’s a question I hear often in the work I do with men recovering from unwanted sexual behaviors: “Is accountability software helpful or effective?” My answer, like most of the advice given in this field, is a nuanced one; yes it is, and no it isn’t. Let me explain.
For each man who is at the beginning of their journey in becoming porn free and learning to honor and not devour women, a few steps are vital. It’s crucial to participate in weekly therapy with a sexuality specialist, go to a regular support group where you are truly authentic with the depravity and the glory of your sexuality, and, finally, be free of porn use to begin to give your brain time to heal (check out yourbrainonporn.com) as you dive into the root causes of your sexual brokenness.
That last step–becoming porn free while you begin the healing process–is where this question of accountability software comes into play. I believe this software can be very helpful during those first few months of learning to outgrow your dependence on porn. Crutches are needed after you break an ankle; they provide a needed respite for your wound to heal. But what happens if you continue to use your crutches years after your injury? What if you didn’t do physical therapy to strengthen what was damaged? If you become overly dependent on crutches, your muscles begin to atrophy and the very thing that needs to grow stronger actually becomes weakened.
This is where accountability software falls short. At some point, you must address the pain beneath the porn. If you remain dependent on accountability software years into your recovery, are you actually free from porn? Do you have the strength to say no to the objectification of beauty on your own? How will you learn how to live differently? Will you enter your story of suffering and heal your core wounds? How will you know if you are a powerful man? How will you learn to respect yourself? The crutch of accountability software can actually tell us that we are weak, that we cannot have victory over this prison. Only powerful men and women can muster the strength to break free from such entrapment.
I encourage my clients to take full responsibility for their poor choices. If they want to objectify, use, and abuse women, then that is their choice and they should own it. If they want to cheat on their wives and live secretive, hidden lives, then I echo the great reformer, Martin Luther, by telling them to at least “sin boldly”. Fully own that you are a misogynist who loves to abuse women! At least then I can respect your integrity in owning your poor choices.
In contrast, most Christian men live “split lives”; parading as honorable Christian men while secretly degrading and objectifying others behind their computer screens. Continuing to use accountability software well into your healing process takes away your ability to own your sin fully. It just delays what will likely be an eventual relapse. This crutch of software keeps us from outgrowing porn, as we remain adolescents by not taking responsibility for our own behavior. I urge you, men: own your failure, begin to make peace with your story of sexuality, and continue to grow in strength to live fully in truth and become the men of integrity that you wish to be.