Christianity Didn’t Save Me

If you could ask 12-year-old me what the absolute worst possible thing was, I would have said ‘pornography’.

Let me set the stage: the year is 2006. I’m a month shy of 13. Within the last two years I have discovered first, masturbation, and second, pornography. I have a prolific circle of ‘online’ acquaintances, some Christian, some not. I have no other friends, and in the family and social settings where I am involved I feel overlooked and unseen. I don’t know what the word ‘depression’ means yet–but I am; I question the value of my life. I know something is wrong. I have a feeling in my gut that it has something to do with my new-discovered habits that I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe. The only word that I know is ‘lust’, and lust is bad.

Some of my family used to attend an event called ‘Worship Fest’, a weekend of live Christian music and ‘messages’. Pardon the Christianese. It happened most years, sometime in August. I–a 12-year-old with barely the vocabulary to describe what was happening in my body–spent an entire weekend begging God that if he could just help me stop… you know the line. I remember feeling a feint hope coming home, but mostly just exhausted expectation that nothing was going to change for me. Remember how I said I didn’t know what depression was? I heard Joyce Meyers use that word sometime in the remainder of that same year, and I said ‘That couldn’t be what I have…could it..?’

I did. And it got much worse.

2006 was monumental for me. I learned that God wouldn’t help me. I learned what depression was. The following year I learned some of the vocabulary words that I was lacking, namely, ‘masturbation.’ And I became more–and more–depressed, because I couldn’t get out of what I called a rut. I actually believed that what I was going through was an act of the devil allowed by God to somehow maintain my humility. I actually believed that. And I spoke it to others as truth.

My dad got me a book called ‘Every Man’s Battle’. It was an insightful book. I got both sequels. I don’t recommend it; it didn’t save me. I started an online course–and restarted–and restarted; because you have to be honest to your accountability partner, and they make you start over every time you ‘slip up’. I don’t even mention its name; it didn’t save me, it left me even more hopeless. And when I went to a movie night out and someone put on a steamy rom-com after I had been ‘clean’ cold turkey for a month? It ended me.

I got married. I won’t mention any more to the purposes of this post. I don’t recommend it; it didn’t save me. I grew up, became a well-respected and admired leader in my Church circles. Christianity didn’t save me. But I did stumble partially on the truth when I stopped trying to stop and let myself be.

I’m writing this because there is no other Christian out there who will tell you that Christ will not save you from pornography. I don’t believe there is a Christian out there who will tell you that pornography is not a moral, ethical dilemma to be solved by increased devotion to religion. I don’t believe there is a Christian out there who will tell you that you can stop and not want it again–that there is a satisfaction and an end outside of Christianity for that ugly L-word.

Because I’m here telling you that I’ve reached Christianity’s elusive freedom, and I don’t wrestle with continued craving. From the age of 11 to the age of 26 I craved pornography almost every day of my life. And I’m here telling you that I don’t any more. I’m here, I’ve made it, and I’m going to tell you what few Christians would have ever told me: pornography isn’t the problem.

“Sure,” you say, “I know that; I am the problem.” False. I have over 15 horrible self-defeating years behind me to emphatically tell you that no, you are not the problem, your sexuality is not even the problem. In fact, there is nothing wrong with you.

Sexuality and intimacy are complex. The problem with Christianity is it isn’t prepared to deal with these complexities, and neither are most Christians. I say Christianity didn’t save me because I had to go to ‘secular’ sources to learn that my sexuality is okay–good even. Or that Christianity had silently taught me that I had to suppress my sexuality until marriage (which, by the way, is the reason you are struggling with pornography and masturbation so much: you can’t suppress your sexuality, and you shouldn’t). Here’s how it might happen: you hit puberty, and start experiencing these new changes and feelings; your body starts responding to things in a whole new way. Maybe by this time you’ve already stumbled on something pornographic, but it doesn’t really matter because you’ll be drawn by a deep curiosity in that direction anyway. Maybe you’ve also discovered that you can elicit some very pleasurable sensations by touching yourself, too. If you’ve been brought up in a Christian community you’ll probably already know that this curiosity is “wrong” and that anything of a sexual nature is for marriage only–but this isn’t sex…is it? You may feel gross and shameful especially if you’re a young person who’s looked at pornography, thought it was completely disgusting but for some reason couldn’t stop going back. You might spend some doubtful months or years wondering if what you’re doing is wrong, or you might already know. You try to stop, to control it, but you can’t, and the harder you try, the harder it becomes. No one has much to say to you about it, no way to help you, even after you come out as a self-diagnosed sex addict. The expectation for you is that you just stop doing it. ‘Rely on Jesus,’ some might say, ‘He will satisfy you.’

What Christianity and, I think many people at large, have misunderstood is that addiction is often a symptom only. We want to call it a disease and treat the symptom, but it comes from deeper roots. I began to understand this when my draw toward porn shifted toward people on live cam. They didn’t even have to be doing anything, it was canned intimacy. But also it is a symptom of the fact that at 12 I was begging God to help me suppress my own sexuality–a very real, fundamental part of who I am. You can’t suppress sexuality, it is too powerful, too prevalent in your being. Instead it will crop up in uncontrollable urges–addictions (and these will not stop at just action against your own body but will go on to ripple out to others as you grow and reach positions of power)–because your sexuality wants to be known by you. I didn’t learn this from Christianity, I learned it from psychology–a study Christianity I think often gives too little credit to. You need to integrate. This is the last time I will say it because my focus is not simply on what Christianity has done wrong or failed to do, but Christianity has spent so long veering away and avoiding sexuality and keeping it behind closed doors that it doesn’t know how to help a 12-year-old boy integrate his blossoming sexuality; the answer is ‘suppress’ and ‘repress’. And honestly I don’t think this problem stops at Christianity, because I look around at a culture that is so detached from its sexuality.

I wish I had time to say it all. It would take a book; maybe one day I will write it. But for now I want to speak to that 12-year-old who is now 17–18–23– and is still living defeated by their sexuality: let go. You are not gross or disgusting. You’re not a monster, but you are doing monstrous things to your development right now. The reality is your sexuality is not defeating you, you are defeating yourself. You have to accept your sexuality, because if you don’t you will never be free of this burden. Your sexuality is complex but it is not the all-powerful force for evil you may have been made to believe; it is beautiful, it is powerful, it is a doorway to an intimacy you will never know with another person if you do not stop trying to block it off. Instead you will know shame, guilt, disgust and self-loathing. It’s okay if you don’t believe pornography or masturbation are morally right, but you can’t keep repressing your body’s only known way of sexual expression and expect it to be okay, or to learn how to be sexually healthy and complete. You need to let go of the stigma you keep supporting so that you can meet and accept yourself as a sexual being with legitimate sexual needs to be met.

The problem is, there aren’t a lot of answers, especially within Christianity–yet. We are blazing a trail here for our younger generations, for our children–I’ll be damned if my sons and daughters grow up believing their sexuality is a sin. But I know that there are answers, I know there are ways to address the complexities of sexuality because I’ve done it. And those of you who know me personally might say ‘Well of course you have, but you’re in a sexual relationship.’ Yes, I am. But I was married before and it didn’t save me, remember? It isn’t as simple as just getting married, or just getting to have sex finally, because I was married, and I had sex, and I still needed porn and masturbation and girls on live cams because I did not know how to meet my own sexuality and intimacy needs even in marriage and sex. My unhealthy marriage was absolutely a factor–or rather, my inability to meet my own sexuality and intimacy needs were a huge factor in my unhealthy marriage; a relationship–even a good one–will not take the onus off of you to know yourself and know how to meet your deep inner needs, and because you are dealing now with the deep inner needs of two people instead of just yourself, the symptom will grow to your relationship. I’m telling you, you have to deal with your sexuality as a good and highly critical–and huge–part of who you are. Meet yourself.

There are a lot of things in my past history I used to care about that I don’t carry forward anymore–a lot of fights and arguments that I championed. Most of them don’t matter any more. But this one? This one I’m not quitting on because it’s personal to me to see peers toting the typical Christian lines about sexuality that I used to, and knowing that their picture is only a small portion. I wish I’d known back then what I do now, it would have changed my life. Let’s talk about it. Please let’s talk about it, let’s dare to reconsider and reshape the way we think about sexuality, for the sake of our wholeness, for the sake of our relationships, and for the sake of our children.

The Untold

I was eleven–or ten-going-on.

I remember certain details of the day clearly; I remember that it was probably the last time I ever cut the legs off my jeans (because that’s just what you did when your knees wore out).

I wonder if my older siblings remember; most of the family was out for the evening somewhere and the rest of us sat down to watch Along Came Polly. I was eleven–or ten-going-on, and the question was briefly queried as to whether I should be watching such a movie with them, but without any action taken. It seems silly now, it was a strictly PG-13 all-under-the-covers rom-com, but it was the first sex scene I’d ever seen.

And it caused something to stir within me.

After the movie that night, I wanted more than anything to explore this mystery, to know it and be known by it. Being the imaginative and artistic young soul, I sallied several attempts to fill in the blanks on paper, to capture the essence somehow of the longing I was experiencing. I had no inkling of what was taking place–what I could make take place–in my body, but I was keen to explore it. My sexuality had awoken.

I’d only ever heard the term pornography used once. Upon asking what pornography was, I was told that it was pictures of people naked. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to have their picture taken naked, nor why it would be at all interesting to have a ‘porn stash’ under your mattress, as the initial joke insinuated. But as my curiosity and desire grew, and after a misspelled web address faced me with a page with a link entitled simply ‘Pornography’, one quiet evening I decided to finally uncover the mystery for myself.

I was surprised–and disgusted–by what I saw. To the credit of my own innocence I did not understand intellectually that looking at pornography might be wrong–even though I might have jumped at the slightest noise anywhere in the rest of the house–it was simply a matter of discovery and understanding for me. But pornography was too great a substance, an overload to my shrouded understanding. I felt dirty, and deep gui lt, or shame. I don’t recall what brought me back after that initial click, but this isn’t really about pornography.

At first it was innocent enough; I figured out how to reproduce what I had first experienced, and continued to do so regularly. And then doubts began to filter in; what if this is wrong? How could it be? But in my mind I decided that what I termed ‘simulated sex,’ was at least borderline. What if I am sinning? At my age and level of understanding, sexuality was nowhere near being on the sin-spectrum taught in Sabbath-school class, but I still began to beg and plead with God to forgive me every time, assuring him even with tears at times that I was sorry, and that it would be the last time.

And so I began to banish and demonise my sexuality. I built the belief around me that I had to find the off-switch and turn it off until I was older, married and ready to be sexual; then I could turn it on, and everything would be fine because I would be married. 

If you’ve followed my writing for long, you know the rest of the story: I wrote my first testimony outlining my ‘lust problem’  and depression in the spring of 2007 when I was twelve and had fought to repress my sexuality for over a year. I became spiritual–and it was a genuine, albeit immature spirituality–to further fight my ‘lust’ and growing depression. I remember going to a conference in 2006 and vowing to God there, ‘I’m never going to give in to my lust again.’ Of course I failed my expectations. One day I found the recounting of Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12 and I adopted it as my own struggle against my sexuality–this is just a messenger of Satan, something to keep me lowly and humble, to let God be strong for me.

I want to tell you how wrong I was.

I want to tell you that I mourn the day I began to think that my sexuality was unacceptable. I want to tell you that because I repressed my sexuality, and in combination with desensitising myself with a regular porn habit, when I did get married and figured I was in the free and clear finally, I didn’t find sex exciting, or good, or intimate because by then I had buried my sexuality so deeply that I didn’t know how to get it back, and the shame I felt in my sexuality kept me from wanting it back.

But I want to tell you something even more important: I’ve come to the understanding that because I repressed my sexuality, my sexuality acted out. Because I outlawed all sexual expression, my sexual expression became uncontrollable. My sexuality is and always has been an integral part of me, because I am a human, created to be a sexual being. I thought it was all about being pure and not doing anything deemed by the church and society as gross, unacceptable and sinful, but in pursuit of purity I disowned part of me. I’ve never been fully able to wrap my brain around the wording Jesus whispered to me years ago saying, ‘It’s not about your purity, son, it’s about Mine,’ but they burn in my mind now with the understanding that growing up whole was more important than any person’s idea about purity. am his purity, there is nothing so foolish as for me to think I could have tarnished his image by sexual expression.

Pornography is another story, but as I said; this isn’t really about pornography. It began as purely biological curiosity for me, but became simply another device by which my ever-constricted sexuality dared to be known by me. I have always been your friend. 

I mourn the intrigue I taught myself to distrust; I mourn the discovering I never allowed myself to take properly, and the mess that came of trying to disown Myself. I mourn not being able to experience the wonder of sexuality after repressing my sensitivities and blaming it on pornographic saturation. I mourn the years spent believing myself a monster, and the countless nights in moral and ethical despair; it’s no wonder to me now, understanding just what I was doing to myself, why I was deeply depressed. I mourn never knowing boyhood sexuality as a wonderful and beautiful thing to be celebrated and explored.

And now you know the story as it has never been known before. I did not know it myself until just recently when a dam somewhere way back in my subconscious broke and it all came flooding out with an all-but-forgotten memory of the first sex scene I ever saw. My sexuality is no longer a problem. Pornography is no longer a moral issue but an intimacy issue. I now understand why not fighting my sexuality’s pornographic outlet actually helped me to need it less, and why trying to stop was actually a hopeless attempt to thwart the Genuine Me, my own Beloved. I now understand–albeit only a little more than before–Myself.

But My Flesh Still Lives [When You Know Your Heart is New]

I’ve been having a difficult time with this one. Because it means admitting something that I’ve been fairly transparent about in the past, and honestly it’s a little difficult to talk about it still being a “thing” – it’s not easy, it feels like I’ll put my reputation and my responsibilities on the line to say, I’m much, much less than the porcelain facade of perfection. Or maybe I’m being over dramatic and presumptuous about how people already see me – maybe I’m just sounding more like a broken record than a broken human.

But I’m talking today, of course, about pornography.

See, I read an article the other day about Selena Gomez’ speech at the AMA’s and one of the author’s conclusions was,

“Gomez has been open about her Christian faith and desire to follow Christ. She regularly attends branches of Hillsong Church and she recently wrote and performed a worship song titled “Nobody” at one of her concerts in the spring. That doesn’t mean she’s a role model or a perfect example, but it does mean she’s in the same spot as all of us–broken and in need of a Savior.”

And no offense to FaithIt, but first of all there is no perfect example this side of Jesus Christ, and second of all if Selena Gomez is the same as all of us and still can’t be a role model, who the hell can? Where are these superstar Christians that you’re looking up to and expecting to provide a perfect role model example?

But it’s this stigma that says ‘imperfect people can’t be role models’, etc., and the knowledge that this is such a ubiquitous sentiment in Christianity today–‘ I’m sorry, you aren’t perfect enough for us today, come back when God changes you ‘

So with enough beating around the bush to get all three birds… I’m not completely free yet. There are still fingers of this 10+ year inner conflict hanging on to me… I’m still an addict.

I guess part of this comes from a video I watched recently from a Youtuber by the name of Katie Gregoire titled “5 Steps to ACTUALLY Battle Pornography” in which Katie gives some pretty good advice about practically going ‘cold turkey’. And part of me goes “Yeah, good advice!” and another part of me goes, “But that doesn’t nearly cut it,” because you can cut off a habit but you can’t cut off a desire until something more powerful than yourself changes your mind–or maybe that’s just my experience.

But there’s been a question in the back of my mind for a long time and that is, ‘If I have a new heart, when do I start to actually see a difference?‘ and ‘Why do I keep doing things I don’t want to do?’

I’ve come to this point in my life where I know my heart is changed–I know my heart is changed–and it’s tired of doing what it hates to do, but there is still a ‘law at work’ in my body, a law of rebellion and addiction and filth, it’s just as automatic as it has always been. But my heart is changed and my mind is renewed in Father’s love and every part of me longs for Father–

–But my body is still addicted.

And this is when things become clearer to me about living a new-covenant life; greater is He that is in me than [me] that is in the world (1 John 4) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? —Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7) and so I have a new heart; I know that now more than ever because my heart isn’t in the game and even my body doesn’t respond the same way to pornography; it’s going through the motions because that’s how it gets something–something, but what? Almost nothing anymore. The high is never like the first high – it gets lower and lower. But my heart is fixating more and more on the Most High and when that happens, all the other highs start to lose their flavor. And it happened in a very sudden and sinking moment when I realized, My body isn’t even engaging in this anymore,’ and ‘What am I doing?’

I didn’t really know what Paul meant when he said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” or “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?(emphasis mine)

So no, FaithIt, I’m no roll model.

But I’ll try and be a little more direct about what I’m trying to get across here. My desires have changed, even more fully to be Holy Spirit’s desires–my body is just a little slow to follow, and I can feel the drag on it.

And that brings me to another full stop because I realized something: Father will change me in his own time, not mine. But he is faithful, and disbelieving that he will finish the work he started in me, is doubt in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Am I still a proponent of trying to quit? Sure. There are strategies and tactics and it’s fair to say everyone should do what they can – the Bible says flee from sexual immorality. But there’s something that has to happen in this body before the process is fully complete and it’s not going to happen until Father says ‘Okay, let’s take care of that thorn in your flesh.’ Are you striving? Stop. Paul strove, he begged God (2 Corinthians 12) and God told him ‘No.’ And there’s only one reason that makes any sense to me why God would turn Paul down about his struggle: because God knows how much bigger He is than post-cross problems, and He’s not finished with me yet – I’d be content at that to wait even until eternity begins.

But what till then? Only this: ‘My grace is sufficient for you; My power is made perfect in weakness.’

Restored By Grace [Pornography, Part 2]

“My Grace is sufficient for you–“

Early on as I realized just how deeply I’d become entrenched in pornography and masturbation I stumbled across Paul’s story of his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12 and I instantly connected.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

-2 Cor 12:7-10

I’d grown up in church but so much of the Bible was completely new to me at this time, even though I’d read the entire New Testament out of what I thought was fervor but really was only an attempt to one-up my church peers. That’s another story. When I stumbled over this encounter of Paul’s it blew me away almost as much as reading Galatians for the first time (wait a minute, he can’t really mean we aren’t saved based on what we do!?). But I took it to heart and I held on to it, even though I couldn’t grasp how I could possibly be strong in my weakest moments; I felt like the most disgusting person in the entire universe of existence in those moments.

Eventually I began to look for resources to help me, even though I was loathe to. All the stigma surrounding my addiction actually warded me off of looking for help because I felt that no one really had my solution or knew what I actually needed. But it started with a short little quiz I found on xxxChurch that would tell me if I had a sexual addiction or not. My results came back positive, of course–not that the results mattered in the end, I already knew I was hooked. But the affirmation was somehow almost a comfort because my issue was now valid and legitimate.

Years later I finally signed up for a course called The Way of Purity from Setting Captives Free at the prompting of a friend I’d grown considerably close to at that time. There were daily lessons that would take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour for me to complete, and at the end there were questions which would be forwarded on to the volunteer accountability partner the program assigned me. Grounded on replacing my addiction with a fulfilling relationship with God, I found the course was almost exactly what I’d been searching for, and I experienced considerable breakthrough during the time I spent with it.

However, I never completed the course. When the questions came at the end there would be one that would ask if you’d fed on the Word and in prayer since the previous lesson, then there would be a couple that would ask if you’d looked at pornography since the previous lesson. If you had, your accountability partner would reset you to day one and you’d have to start the course over again. I did well for a while; the course and my accountability challenged me to actively put up barriers between myself and any source of pornography. It was from one of these lessons that I finally was convinced to start using an internet filter called K9 Web Protection–because it was free and I couldn’t be convinced to spend money to help myself. But then I slipped up and it was back to day one. I made another attempt at it, failing again. I was ashamed every time, but I was also tired of taking the same first lessons over and over, the material was getting boring and I just wanted to keep going–I thought if I could just keep going instead of starting over all the time I could achieve complete freedom by the end. So I lied on my lessons when I had a little slip, and I gradually let myself go.

I ended up admitting what I was doing and repented to my accountability partners. I dropped out of the course with a shame that became bitterness as I blamed my failure on the repetitiveness of the course and being made to start over even though I’d pleaded with my accountability partner to let me keep going. It was an unfortunate ending to what was essentially a solid resource.

I went back to trying on my own. I phased in and out of believing that I could just ignore it and let it fade away. But it got so bad that I was experiencing demonic dreams and presences while I was away from home for a house-sitting job and it culminated to a point that I had to let my parents back in on what was going on.

They gave me a book called Every Young Man’s Battle by Fred Stoeker and Steven Arterburn, and I literally devoured it. It was primarily Fred’s story of sexual addiction, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore after all these years; these guys knew exactly what I was dealing with, and showed me how to fight. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and purchased both the sequels, Tactics by Stoeker and Arterburn, and Hero, written by Stoeker and his son Jasen. Even more than Every Young Man’s Battle, Tactics gave practical game-plans to being an over-comer, and Hero showed me the legacy I could create for my family. But as great and as encouraging as those books were, I still struggled.

Some time in the middle of all this I had an encounter that I didn’t grasp at the time, but still is changing me today. I had just slipped up and God spoke to me, much like he had to Paul about his thorn. He told me,

“It’s not about your purity…it’s about Mine.”

And I got it, but I couldn’t believe it. “You mean, it doesn’t matter that I’m dirty, it just matters that you’re clean?” it agreed fundamentally with what I knew was true about God’s love and grace, but it was too good–and it didn’t fix me.

But I get it now, I’ve learned a lot since then. The bottom line is, it’s not about me, or what I do. It’s about God’s grace for me. The New Covenant is all about finding our sufficiency in Christ–he is everything I am not. He wasn’t telling me that my sin was okay because he was perfect, He was telling me that because of His grace, I could dwell in his purity, and mine wouldn’t matter anymore because His is so much better, anyway.

The struggle is still real. But the more I focus on it instead of Jesus, the stronger it becomes in my life. And what I’ve learned–what I knew a long time ago but could never put into words–is that I don’t have to try to stop. I’ll fail every time. But when you look at Jesus, everything else disappears, and when you become rooted and grounded in Him, He becomes the only thing that captivates you. So here’s my answer from one sex addict to another–and what I believe to be true of any addiction: stop trying so hard. The more energy and attention you give it, the more energy it will take from you to fight back. You’re focusing on the wrong thing; your addiction is just a side-affect of your deeper heart issues, and only Jesus can heal those. That’s where your answer lies. That’s where this generation’s answer lies, in the grace and love of the person of Jesus. It’s not about your effort, your perfection or your purity, it’s about His. His grace is sufficient for you.

Not What You Think [Pornography, Part 1]

I’m coming out.

Yes, again. I’ve done this a few times already, probably the most momentous being that time in like 2007 when I wrote a blog post about my pornography addiction and depression and shared it with my parents for the first time. Yeah, that was pretty scary.

I’ve been considering the matter of this particular post for some time now as I’ve watched the issue of pornography being raised to a new level across the internet recently–or maybe it’s just who I follow, but either way, it’s been made a little more prevalent in my corner of the internet, and I’ve decided it’s time to share my struggle. Again.

I grew up in a good–albeit as humanly messy as any other–Christian home. I know, that’s the stereotypical way to start this out, but it’s true, and I was happy. And then one day something switched in my brain. It was like I just woke up one morning and it dawned on me; I didn’t really have any friends. That was the beginning of my descent into a dark depression. Not long after that I had an equally memorable introduction to pornography, and it quickly became the drug I could not get nearly enough of to fill my recently devoid existence.

I was either 10 or 11 and to be honest I’d only heard the word ‘pornography’ once before from a ‘joke’ of sorts between two of my older siblings. Upon asking for an explanation of the word, I got an answer that totally perplexed me, but I passed it off. “After all,” said my innocent pre-teen mind to itself, “Who’d want to look at pictures of people naked, anyway? That’s gross.” And I still thought so upon seeing those first few images–but I couldn’t look away.

And that was just the beginning; those first years were so innocent compared to later years as I entrenched myself deeper and deeper. I had questioned at first whether what I was doing was even wrong; no one had ever bothered to tell me anything about my sexuality, and certainly nobody talked about it in church! But my guilt and the discomfort I felt convicted me without influence from anyone else.

After the initial depression which lasted no more than a couple years thanks alone to the providence of God, I sought help. I had already come out to my parents as well as to trusted friends, and I began to look for practical measures. I wanted to be able to just stop and never go back, and many resources took that approach with grace, but I knew behind it all that wasn’t a realistic goal, and when I began actively trying to stop, the struggle became a hundred times more real.

The truth is, the struggle is still real, and has been all throughout my teen years. And to those who would say that pornography and masturbation are completely healthy and have no negative affects–many of who are ‘professionals’–You’re wrong. For me, you’re wrong. I’ve been damaged beyond human repair by this addiction, and without the grace of Jesus I can only imagine how many more problems I could have right now because of it. I once confronted someone who did indeed identify as a mental health professional and who claimed pornography was completely fine – by her response (yes, a woman with a ‘professional’ opinion on a man’s experience) I realized she–and possibly a majority of the professional world–are totally oblivious to the struggles of men in an over-sexualized culture that insists porn is okay despite every person, relationship, marriage and family that ever faced down pornography and lost.

I have a very deeply grounded opinion and belief on this issue, and I feel totally justified.

The truth is, I’ve seen the affects of pornography first-hand, albeit very subtly. My mind has been conditioned to only see one thing, and at some points this conditioning became so strong that I couldn’t even look at women without immediate images flashing into my mind. It was at those points I felt the most monstrous and disgusting. I had a nearly constant fear at one point that one day I might act on my impulses and do something regrettable. But the most prevalent effect, now that I’ve been married for nearly two years, is that the struggle is still real to choose the real thing over a synthetic copy. The funny thing is, I thought my sexuality was out of control and that my drive would come out strongly in marriage. But I recently came to realize thanks to a brilliant teaching from Mark Gungor, I never really knew what sex was, and I can’t make myself desire the real thing with my own wife because I’ve been on a counterfeit supplement for too long.

I don’t really know where to go from here without encroaching on my idea for the next post, but I’ll leave you with this: pornography is absolutely a relevant issue. People need to talk about it. Families need to talk about it. The Church needs to talk about it. Young men, and young women, need to hear us talk about it, and know it as the entrapping deception it is. Porn is the new drug.

P.S.: What do you think of my blog’s new look? Let me know in the comments below!