Freedom From Pornography: a book review

Heath Lambert says he did not write Finally Free to address the dangers of pornography–how it poisons relationships, isolates individuals and victimizes those in the industry. There are other books on the market which discuss this at length. Many people who struggle with pornography know the problems associated with it but still live in bondage. Leath wrote Finally Free to proclaim that real freedom is possible through grace through Jesus Christ.

Leath is the executive director of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselor (NANC). Nouthetic counseling uses biblical principles as its fundamental basis for its apprach.  Leath applies the Bible to the problem of porn first by sharing the way grace enables us to live free from this sin and secondly, he presents eight  measures to ensure that we live out that freedom. These include:

  • Using the sorrow for our sins (not just regret at getting caught!).
  • Accountability.
  • Radical measures (i.e. getting rid of TV, credit cards, internet, etc).
  • Confession.
  • utilizing your relationship with your spouse (or singleness) to fight porn.
  • Growing in humility.
  • Cultivating a dynamic relationship with Jesus

Grace is foundational to this list and Lambert points us continually to the cross.  Jesus died for you because of this (and other sins). Jesus came to set you free. In Christ, we who were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) have been set free!

I think that Lambert has many great, practical things to say. Real freedom from pornography is possible in Christ! I  appreciate that he doesn’t assume every struggler with pornography is male. In his opening chapter on grace he writes, “I know dozens of people (men and women) who struggle with pornography. Each was introduced to pornography in a different way. (17)”  One problem I have with a lot of Christian books dealing with pornography, is that they assume it is an exclusively male sin.  This compounds the isolation and shame of female strugglers.  I loved that Lambert was conscious enough of this to offer his pastoral counsel to both men and women. Unfortunately after the first page, all the examples focus on male struggle (these are mostly anecdotes drawn from Lambert’s own counseling ministry), but the intention is there.

I also think that the advice in this book is sound and applicable not only to the sin of pornography, but other vices as well. Gamblers, drug addicts and perfectionists can apply the principles in this book to their own problems. The specific topic of this book is pornography, but because Lambert roots his approach to counseling in biblical counsel, he is necessarily applying biblical principles to a specific twenty-first century context.  These principles can just as easily can be applied to other sins, and help Christians strive towards greater freedom and holiness. 

I commend this book. I think it is one of the better books on helping Christians gain freedom from pornography. There are places I want to nuance what Lambert says. For example, he tends to talk about pornography in terms of lust and adultery (which it is), but he says little about the desire for relationship and connection which both drives strugglers to pornography and causes them to feel profound shame and isolation.  I also do not share his general suspicion of psychology which drives the Nouthetic Counseling approach. I  do agree that much of the psychological literature is written from a secular and materialist bias, and that the fundamental problem humans face is Sin.  So my view is probably closer to Lambert’s than most psychology. Yet I also appreciate some psychological insights and think that it would complement this book well.

I give this book four stars and recommend it for those who are struggling with pornography, those who are ministering to others,  and other strugglers. I believe if you put these principles into practice, taking care that you are rooted in an experience of God’s grace, you will experience freedom in Christ.

Thank you to Zondervan and Cross Focused Reviews for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

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