C’mon. The covers of trashy romance novels are ridiculous. I think they are designed to make you ashamed of reading them anywhere but in total secrecy. No man’s abs are that chiseled. I don’t think dresses even have bodices on them any more — so bodice-rippers are definitely old-fashioned!

If you want to stop reading erotica and feel like you don’t even know where to begin, don’t lose hope. Here are a few steps that you can take towards freedom.

#1. Get rid of your collection! Throw away or burn your books or short stories, and delete your links. Don’t buy any more. I know it’s just as pervasive as photographic pornography, but the main difference, as I see it, is this: You have to seek out “good” erotica. I don’t actually think there is such a thing as “good erotica,” but what I mean by that is erotica that uniquely appeals to you, with language that unlocks the complicated and highly individualized device that your arousal is locked up with. Erotica paints a portrait of itself as something “classier” than the porn that men are looking at. It’s not. It’s just as disgusting, damaging, and addicting. And by establishing a pattern of relying on the written word to get aroused, you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment in your marriage (should you be lucky enough to be blessed with a spouse in the midst of feeding an active addiction).

#2. Tell someone! I hadn’t struggled with the desire to read romance novels for many years, but I told someone that I used to, and she was very supportive in helping me get real freedom. There are other accountability resources you can use that will safeguard your computer and tattle on you. If you need that, don’t wait another day!

#3. Get reprogrammed! By reading erotica, you’ve probably developed a highly idealized, selfish vision of what sex is like. Since it’s mostly written for women, the male figures will often cater to the female protagonist’s every whim. Real life isn’t like that! It’s about self-sacrifice from both parties for the good of the relationship. You need to get a realistic picture of what a godly marriage and chaste courtship or dating should look like, and the best way that I’ve found to do that is by reading stuff that’s NOT erotica. The primary source is the Bible, which is full of a ton of unique love stories, the greatest of which is the one that God writes to us, his bride. Another great book is “Passion and Purity” by Elizabeth Elliott. I just finished this a few days ago and was blown away by the depth of Elizabeth and Jim Elliott’s love, self-control, and devotion to God. And their letters to and from each other are very passionate. Read the book and see what real love and real longing look like — not that formulaic trash that you get from romance novels. If you still find that you need a fictional romantic story to read, try one of the Christian romance novels. I know, I know. It seems like an oxymoron, but it actually really helped me to read “Redeeming Love,” which is Francine Rivers’s retelling of the love story between Gomer and Hosea. It reset something in my brain, because she knows what she’s doing, as a former trashy romance-novel-author-turned-Christian! If that’s a little too tacky for you, there’s always classic literature by Jane Austen and George Eliot. The purity and courtship rituals of 1800’s England will give you all the romance your heart craves without any of the smut that it doesn’t need.  

#4. Pray! This is the most important step, obviously! People who read erotica are looking for an escape from the pain of real relationships. Rather than choosing erotica, choose to hide your heart in the Bible and build it up. Come before God and confess your brokenness. Invite Him in to restore your pure heart and mind. The love story that God wants to write for you is so much sexier than anything in one of those awful paperbacks.