I think I had my very first glimpse of pornographic images when I was about 9 or 10. I was with my childhood buddies who lived across the street from me in my Chicago-area hometown, Arlington Heights. Their mother raised them alone, being a divorcee with, for lack of a better word, an “odd” ex-husband. Though long divorced (probably for apparent reasons), their dad had left a briefcase full of old Playboy magazines in their garage. One of the things that still baffles me today is the fact that he would encourage his two sons to rifle through them at leisure. I think he had some twisted delusion that seeing naked women in compromising sexual positions was somehow a healthy and laudable pastime for preteen boys. I hadn’t known this about them previously, and though I had known them for a couple of years, I was surprised when they showed me their stash.
Now, I grew up in a very conservative (and large – 7 kids) Christian family. My dad was a Lutheran pastor for many years and I was sheltered pretty well from a lot of the worst that this world has to offer in movies and television. I am grateful for their conscientiousness all those years with my spiritual and physical well-being, but I still wasn’t prepared for the images I saw.
I knew that naked women=bad, and “sex???” INAPPROPRIATE! But I think the problem was that my parents never expected the danger of pornography to be so near at such a young age. I wasn’t taught what to expect and how to avoid it. I hadn’t yet had “the [sex] talk” with my dad. Heck, it wasn’t until probably a year later that my parents convinced the school system to let me out of sex ed, so they could teach me themselves. So when I saw the contents of that briefcase, they never knew it happened. (This is why I need to stress that we parents need to be on the offensive toward outside influences when our sons and daughters are growing up. Be actively involved in their lives!). While my parents could have done more, had they known, they were not to blame for what happened, or the sin that hijacked my life for probably 13 more years.
That day was a turning point in my life, when Pandora’s proverbial box of sexual highs poured forth its contents with an insatiable flow. I think most people don’t realize that, chemically speaking, your body is high when you’re aroused by pornography. Your inhibitions are suppressed and you are capable of anything. I don’t think I will ever forget the rush of adrenaline and endorphins in my body. A chemical surge like that within an excited little body can potentially be as addictive as cocaine.
That same year I found out my dad had hidden a sin of his own from us. For years he had been dealing with an on again, off again, porn struggle of his own. He came clean one night to me after my mom found out. I was devastated and literally had the sin scared out of me. I never imagined my dad could do such a thing and lie about it for so many years. He told me of his own struggle, but that he had overcome it and would strive to be open about it (thank Jesus he is still clean to this day – he never had it as bad as I did). I knew he loved me and wanted the best for me. I told him a little about my own problem and that I didn’t want to continue sinning and hiding it like that. God bless my dad for listening to me and encouraging me; he really is one of my heroes to this day, but by that point I was already in deeper than I would admit.
It was a while before I fell again, but I did. I eventually began sneaking around looking for department store underwear ads and sexy Spanish telenovelas on tv, whatever I could find to stimulate myself. Then I discovered masturbation. I think that’s probably the point I became truly addicted.
For years through middle school and high school I kept it hidden, here and there getting caught and admitting it only to fall again. I never truly wanted to stop. I knew God hated it, and I had a real love for Jesus, but I could never completely give it up. Regret and self-loathing would leave their marks on me every time I failed, and in the moments after masturbation I would promise myself, “I am never doing this again.” I know the Holy Spirit was trying to convict me, but I never fully gave it up to him. Instead I pushed him away. I didn’t even recognize that I was addicted. No one was being hurt by it but me, right? God knew, but He’d eventually break me free. So I thought.
I always had a good idea of the woman I would want to marry. I had the blessing (if you could call it that) of seeing my older brothers date girls and make mistakes, and to see the heartache it could cause. Their example often of what not to do in frivolous relationships prompted me to make a decision in high school to wait until I found a girl that I could imagine myself marrying. I prayed that the Lord would give me strength to carry out that desire and bless me with the right woman when the time came. I did not expect her to come so soon.
Enter the love of my life, Airielle. The only girl I ever dated and the one God chose that I should marry. I don’t know why He did it, but He spared me many painful years of searching for the right woman. I’m honestly in awe of God’s goodness in this particular mercy. Airielle was the angel in the midst of the battle for my sexual and spiritual well-being. Little did she know, I was dragging her into a fight she could not comprehend.
We dated (we often referred to it as “courting”) after a year-long friendship in our sophomore/junior years of high school. The majority of the 2 years we had as a couple were actually spent far apart – my parents moved us to my long-lost birthplace: Minnesota. Dad had been given an opportunity to direct a missions organization based in the Twin Cities, which was a great relief to him after a 4 year stint in California shepherding a very difficult church. It was in CA where I first befriended, then wooed, and subsequently left behind the woman I would marry.
We visited each other often, saving enough for a plane ticket every couple of months to be together. Our love blossomed those 2 years, but my sin remained hidden from her for at least half that time. I had plans to marry her, and I convinced myself that once we could be together forever and united sexually, my porn “issue” would go away. I don’t know where I got that idea, but IT WAS FAR FROM THE TRUTH. Instead, I allowed my lust for sexual gratification to be pulled into our dating relationship. To this day I thank Jesus for our long-distance relationship; it was probably the distance that saved our love in many ways. Phone calls and instant messaging don’t allow for much physical exchange, so our physical relationship was confined to those short periods of time together. I praise the Lord that we never had sex, but we sure kissed a lot. I never even asked her the first time I kissed her, and instead I led her into a physical relationship that too often did not glorify God. She later told me she had wanted to save her first kisses for engagement, or possibly even marriage. I had burdened her with guilt and dragged her down to my level. I exposed her to a highly temptation-ridden physicality that stemmed from my lustful thought life.
Things only got worse when Airielle first discovered my pornographic secret; she was absolutely devastated. How could I hide something like this from her and allow its poison to infect our relationship? I had tried and tried to muster the courage to confess to her my sin many times before, but I erroneously thought it better to be free first and then explain it (BAD MISTAKE TO MAKE, GUYS! I PLEAD YOU TO COME CLEAN FROM THE START.). I can’t imagine what went through her mind when she opened up my laptop history and found site after site of sexual content. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she gave me up right then and there, but she felt like the Lord told her to stick it out. After all, I had assured her that I was done. We had worked through the shocking pain through tears and forgiveness and I was on the road to recovery. As much as I wanted to believe it, though, my heart was not yet changed.
Time passed and I finally proposed to her. We were in love and I was on cloud 9, preparing for our life ahead! We dealt with my hidden sin a couple more times, each time I came clean after some prodding by her, and I finally got some counseling from a pastor at our church. This helped me immensely in our preparation for marriage, and Airielle was incredibly supportive. I have to say this was probably the first step in my long journey to where I am today. Where I used to live in ignorance of pornography’s effect on others, I began to learn how much it hurt my future wife and our relationship. Getting outside help and spiritual counseling helped me begin to see that it was very much a heart issue, and not just a self-control issue. We began together to take steps to remove temptation from my life.
I remained clean for probably the first few months of our marriage. I saw this as an incredible accomplishment and a step forward. But then came the lies. I had asked my wife to keep our computer password-protected so that I would have a barrier to potential weakness. This helped to “cut off the hand” that caused me to sin, and proved to be a practical solution – but I did not recognize that beyond my heart, I still had a self-control issue. I was ignorant of the addiction that remained a part of me, lurking beneath the surface of my obedience, waiting to take control of my life once again. I allowed illicit little thoughts to trickle their way into my mind. One by one those thoughts eventually made control over my wandering eyes difficult. Finally one day I figured out how to access our computer, and I fell into one of the deepest pits of sin and deceit I had ever been in. I hid it all from her for nearly a year – slyly covering it up while I allowed myself to fall time and again, driving a huge unseen wedge between us. I sinned. I lied. I continued in sin. I lied again. Not only that, but the stuff I was viewing just got raunchier and more shocking. I finally collapsed under the sheer weight of my lies soon after my first daughter was born. I confessed everything to her at some ungodly hour one night, through a volley of tears. I felt we had almost been crushed and defeated by this. She considered very seriously leaving me, but through God’s grace held on to what we had left of our battered marriage. I love her so much.
Over the next couple years I got outside help again and again after I’d fail, never completely breaking the cycle of lies, guilt, admitting, and moving on. Every time Airielle believed me telling her that I was improving and I even believed myself. I think this is a cycle even alcohol addicts and crack addicts experience. The Lord began to give Airielle amazing spiritual insight. She began to recognize when I was hiding something from her, without getting any cues from me. She could feel the weight and separation caused by porn and my lies. I could no longer hide anything without (I’m sure of this) the Holy Spirit alerting her of it. No matter how hard I tried, though, my motivation to change was still of a human kind. I wanted to please my best friend and it was not a godly reason to change. My life should have been for His glory and it still wasn’t. I took her so close to divorcing me, which would have been biblically justified, and it is only by the grace of God that she didn’t. I had stripped the joy from our marriage and removed the happy sparkle from her eyes, leaving her only an emotionally numb shell of her former self. That was the worst thing of all. If I would have known how much I would have hurt her with my addiction I don’t know that I would have married her. I mean that. She is my best friend and I wish I could have spared her all those years of hurt. I know now it was all in God’s plan. It is all to show His glory through victory in me.
Miraculously, through a remarkable series of revelations I was given through my pastor and a couple of my friends, I came to grips with what I never fully realized. I was an absolute addict, chemically addicted to a sin that would cause me to alienate and betray those I loved the most. I could not break the habit alone, and no matter how much I believed that my heart wanted to change, my flesh was too weak. Aside from coming to grips with sexual addiction, I was also given the insight that I was holding on to a poisonous little lie which was giving the enemy a very strong foothold: I hadn’t fully believed I could be free! I held on to what I thought was the inevitability of failure in this area of my life. I thought I would eventually fall again, someday, no matter how far I fled from pornography. God’s word needed to root deep down into me to begin to work the lies out. I needed to accept the seriousness of the problem and be completely honest about everything, with my wife and with my Heavenly Father. Over the last two years God has shown me a way out of a deep pit. I am not a failure, but I couldn’t do it standing with one foot on truth and the other on deception. I was at a place where I needed to decide to go with both feet into God’s Truth and trust Him to strengthen me in my weak areas.
Today, God is bringing healing to our marriage. Day by day I am coming back to where God wanted me to be as a father and husband, and I love him so much more deeply for it! I will admit I have stumbled along my path over the last couple years, but today God has brought me to a point of freedom where I thought I’d never be. I remain a humble work in progress, but I daily ask Him to shape me and use me how he wants for His glory. My wife once again trusts me as I remain completely open with her on a daily basis. She is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.
I pray that my tale will be a cautionary tale to any of you who haven’t experienced it like I have. Maybe my story can shed some light on the distructive forces of pornography and the vice it so often becomes. More than anything I hope that my testimony shows the faithfulness of our Lord to rescue us from anything, even to rescue you.
Pornographic sin is rooted in lies. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM LIKE I DID.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. —http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Eph/5/5
Sin thrives in darkness and ignorance – drag its demonic butt out into the light and allow what’s hidden to be exposed!
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” — http://www.bible.is/ENGESV/Eph/5/6
God’s Word is the ultimate source of Light and Truth that can draw you out of the deepest mire. GOD ALWAYS GIVES US A WAY OUT. Jesus Christ and His promises are stronger than any sin and can save even the worst of us, even those who seem to have lost everything. He did it with me, He can do it with you.
I want this site to be a place of discussion, where we can share our weaknesses, stories, testimonies, prayer requests, and questions with one another. Please, if you feel the Lord tugging you to join me, leave comments and contact me. This sin affects more of us than we know. It’s something I never realized and I wish I knew growing up. Let’s build one another up “as iron sharpens iron.”
All thanks be to God for redeeming me!
And thank you for reading, I want to hear back from you!