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Confessions of a Christian Porn Addict

September 8, 2021

Pornography is a cruel mistress that arrives at your lowest, sings her song and then leaves you in further emptiness. However, there is some light in the tunnel. Throughout the course of my addiction, there have been three things that I have learned about God and myself among the web pages of loneliness and lust: porn is not a disease but a symptom, God is not surprised nor disgusted by you, and your struggle is a testimony to others. So how is this going to play out? I will first give my testimony thus far, for it is an ever-developing plot. Afterwards I will explore my points a little more so we can all move on with our days. 

A quick disclaimer: this is all based off my own personal experience. Every one of you is so “beautifully and wonderfully made” (we’ll revisit that statement later), as are your life experiences. Therefore, our stories and approaches are unique. My intentions for writing this are to offer the comfort that if you are fighting a porn addiction, you are not alone. Beyond that, my brothers and sisters, you are all loved and cherished beyond what you can comprehend. So, without further ado, lets jump in.

How I Got Here

I grew up in a Christian household where we went to church every Sunday, ate dinner together every night, and by most accounts demonstrated a happy family dynamic. Everything changed when the porn monster attacked (catch the Last Airbender reference… yes, I am THAT nerd). I couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 when my brother and I googled pictures of a woman’s breasts. We didn’t understand what we saw, but it sparked a dangerous curiosity. When my childhood friend showed it to us again during a sleepover, ‘twas the final nail in the coffin and set me on the course that carried me to where I am.

When I was about 15, I met my first love. Through that relationship, the conviction grew so much that she was the first person, aside from my brother and friends (the latter of which encouraged it), that I confessed to. Through tears and pain, the accumulation of guilt overflowed during that late night phone call. What followed was a period of three months of hard-fought abstinence. However, after giving in just one time, the reign of victory came toppling down. 

From then on until college, I would go through cycles of being clean for a series of weeks and then not so clean. After I came back from a dismal battle with lust over a Thanksgiving Break, I spoke with my mentor, and we set up accountability software on my phone. To my surprise, porn had seemed eradicated. Between being incredibly busy and having no access to it, I thought I was free. Masturbation hadn’t decreased very much, but with porn out of the picture, the illusion of freedom was strong. For the year remaining until I left to join the US Navy, I had managed to find ways to watch on my PlayStation 4 every so often until I bit the bullet and asked my parents to block the web browser. 

Now in the present day, I have been at my current duty station for seven months and still find ways to get around the accountability software on my phone. It takes me about 5-10 minutes to get to where I can watch porn, so all of that “you will lose motivation” BS is, well, BS. Having been so far unable to bring about a change via “behavior modification,” accountability partners, etc., counseling and therapy have been opening doors to a new level of understanding and explanations for what I have been facing.

Before I go into what I have learned, I believe that I must put in a note for the loved ones, spouses, significant others, and family members who are supporting a porn addict. Shaming them, guilting them, chastising them, berating them, cutting them off, and any other reaction along those lines does. Not. Help. In fact, it will have the opposite effect and may well increase the prevalence of porn in their life. As we will get in to shortly, porn use is often an attempt to cover up pain caused by isolation, sensing a lack of purpose, feeling like a failure, or even coping with unaddressed trauma from early stages of life. While this does not mean that you should not hold them to a standard and keep them accountable, but encouragement and love should be the main course of action.

Okay, now that my lecture is over, lets get into my points. To recap what they are, porn is a symptom of something deeper, God is not disgusted by you, and your struggle is a testimony to others.

1. Porn is a symptom of something deeper

On the surface, porn addiction seems like a problem on its own. But when someone starts throwing up violently with blood, do we give them an Alka-Seltzer and hope everything gets better? First, I hope your answer wasn’t yes. Second, no, you take them to the doctor to find out what the heck is causing it and address that. Porn addiction is the same thing. Does it indicate deep pain all the time? No, but it could point to a feeling of inadequacy, futility, absence of something, being overwhelmed… The list goes on. Identifying some of the root causes requires some oh-so-terrifying self-reflection (cue thunderbolts and scary music) and a willingness to listen and confront what you find.

How does all of this play out? I will use myself as an example. Through therapy (which I would highly recommend), we have pinpointed isolation and feeling unworthy of love as key motivators for my battle. Because of this, I would hide away and shut myself off from even the potential of love and seek gratification and worth from porn. Its availability, affordability and anonymity (3 As of addiction) called out like a siren, offering to my broken heart what it felt it lacked the most. In many cases, unless the underlying pain is addressed, no accountability software or meetings will fully bring healing that you need. Jay Stringer, in his book Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing, refers to these tools as “barriers to keep the waters of sexual content from drowning you as you seek to rebuild the foundations of your life,” (p. 129). Healing comes from addressing the source, not the symptom.

2. God is not disgusted (or surprised) by you

This is a big one. Everyone who has watched porn and acknowledged its power knows the feeling afterwards where they think, “there’s no way God could love me if I do this. I’m just too gross.” Wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to turn your attention to Psalm 139. If I’m ever asked to speak somewhere, ninety percent of my message will come from here. I will be using the ESV for anyone who cares.

King David comes out swinging. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” (v. 1). You are no mystery to Him. A few verses later, that gets taken a step further when David writes, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13). Do you know what that means? When He made you, He knew well in advance what you would be facing. The next few verses hammer this home, and if you have not read the Psalm in its entirety, I would strongly recommend it. God finds the sin disgusting and repulsive, not you. There is a difference.

One question I believe some might be asking is, why? Why would God not only allow me to endure this, but include it in his plan for my life? I believe there are a couple reasons. The first is because it allows God to demonstrate His power and strengthen our reliance on Him (2 Cor. 12:9). Without challenges, we either forget that we need Him or actively believe that we are fine on our own. Second, God uses our struggles to build perseverance or steadfastness (James 1:3). Just like getting in shape requires discipline and consistent effort, so too does fighting back against lust and its grip on our hearts.

3. Your struggle is a testimony to others

I am an open guy. If you ask me what is going on, you had best believe I will give you an answer. It might not have full details, but if there is something happening then I will share. I am a firm proponent of openness and vulnerability (within reason of course). When I meet a new brother, my mission is to create and develop a relationship and environment where they feel safe, heard and seen. More importantly, I want to give them space to vent and feel like they can say what they are going through and be confident that someone is listening. How do I do that? By being vulnerable with them. I need to set the example that I want others to follow.

So many friendships of mine have been impacted by the simple statement, “I struggle with porn.” I cannot tell you the number of times I have said that and every guy around the table shuts their eyes and starts to nod slowly in understanding, leading to fantastic and healing conversations. Why? Because it shows that you are not alone. You know how powerful it is when there is someone else, even just one person, who knows what you are going through. It is literally life changing. Do you need to have been victorious? No. Do you need to provide the answers? No. Just by saying, “we are both in this together” is often all you need. “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, I would love for everyone to remember that they are saved, they are redeemed, and they are not alone. Christ suffered every temptation that we did, so He knows. Can you believe that? The very one who created you knew what it meant to fight temptation, and he carried every click on a porn site on the cross and was lifted up so that you may be free. You have been made clean, so walk as one who is loved and cherished. Acts 10:15 says, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Some of you might have a problem with how I use that verse, but I think the message still applies. Your robes have been made white. 

And lastly, do not give up. Attack impurity with the strength of the One who provides you with it. There is some scripture that has been useful to me that I would like to share, because ultimately the best words are words from the Lord.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart

2 Timothy 2:22

In my translation, get out of bed if that is where you are weak. Leave the house if the computer or phone are calling to you. Remove your hand from the blazing fire.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it

1 Corinthians 10:13

God is faithful, God is faithful, God is faithful. If there is one thing you gain from this, let it be the knowledge that God is faithful. 

Now, Christians, go forth and do great things in the love of Christ, the only one who knows you and what you are going through, and loves you more than anyone. I believe in your ability to overcome this, and I am proud of your effort to do so. God bless.

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