I have been separated from the mother of my children for about a year. She took the children to live somewhere else, and that makes me feel very guilty.

We lived together for almost nine years and wanted to get married, but something always came up.

Since childhood I have visited pornographic websites, and I have brought that sexual immorality into our bedroom. Now I am trying to have a relationship with God, but I am sinking more and more each day under the guilt I feel for having destroyed my family. I don’t know how to be free of this feeling, which takes me back, over and over, to pornography.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for being honest about the problem that either led to your family leaving, or at least contributed to their leaving. We are sad that you no longer live with your children, but we hope that you are being faithful to have regular visitation with them. They need their father in their lives, so don’t let whatever guilt you have for having destroyed your family in the past affect your relationship with them in the present.

Your words make it sound like there is no hope of restoring your family. That may be true, but it is also possible that if you could break your destructive habits, the mother of your children might eventually decide that she could trust you enough to marry you.

Right now, you are obviously dominated by your guilt, and that is causing you to be depressed and feel hopeless. The depression will not let you see that there is hope for overcoming your habit of viewing pornography and for breaking the hold it has on your life.

What you may not understand is that you are actually addicted to pornography. That addiction is the result of habits that have caused chemical changes in your brain, which never stop reinforcing the habits. Unfortunately, it will be no less difficult to break your addiction than it is for drug addicts or alcoholics to break theirs. Simply deciding to stop, or praying that God will help you to stop, is not enough. In order to break the addiction, your brain has to learn new habits that will eventually replace the old habits. In Case number 7 we made various suggestions for how you can begin and proceed through this process. We also suggest that you read Cases 186 and 227 for even more ideas.

The good news is that God will take away the eternal consequences of your sin if you ask Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. But even though God wants to have a close relationship with you and is willing to forgive you, He almost never takes away the natural consequences of your sins. Those consequences serve the purpose of teaching you how to prevent the same problem in the future, and of motivating you to follow through on what you have learned.

The natural consequence of this sin is that you will have to put maximum effort into changing your brain chemicals. The process, like any reconstruction, will take time, but the end result will be well worth it.

We wish you the best,