We got rid of the TV – which was, on occasion, a source of temptation. So that made things better. And I gave my wife the administrators password for the computer and limited my own access. This made things better. The more powerful stuff was out of my reach. But it didn’t remove the compulsion. And I could always find something that would bypass the parental controls and find something to look at.
I even became quite adept at it, I am ashamed to say.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
I took this scripture very seriously. I tried to cleanse my home of all sources of temptation. I can win the battle ‘out there’, but in my home my guard is down. Therefore I want nothing in my home that would be a trap.
This was, however, like other things, something that helped but did not get to the root of the issue. I wasn’t free.
Thought you might like to see this
I was well aware that you can expend sexual energy by throwing yourself into Christian service – or some other way of expending energy. I think there is a term for it – sublimation, is it? Diversion?
I threw myself into my work – or my responsibilities as a dad, or serving at church, or doing projects around the house….
No doubt it has enabled me to stay out of my addiction for longer than it would have. And yet it simply didn’t work all the time. Some weeks I would simply be drained through giving out too much. And after ‘giving out’ to others, I would sometimes look in the wrong places to fill the emptiness inside. In the long run it did not really get rid of the problem.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
My wife asked me – ‘Do you pray about it?’. Yes. Yes I do! I prayed, fasted, cried out to God many times. ‘Here I am again, Lord. How can you possibly keep accepting me?’. ‘What am I to do?’. I suppose that ultimately that prayer was answered in that He gave me some guidance to what worked. Yet my prayer was a long standing one spanning many years.
As well as personal prayer, I sometimes asked trusted friends to pray for me, especially when the problem was more severe. This helped – but only temporarily. It got to the point where I was getting embarrassed bringing the subject up again, feeling I had let others down as well as myself, so I would stop talking about it for long periods.
The Lord didn’t appear to answer me for many years. But I never gave up. There are a few other weaknesses which God has helped me to overcome, even though I thought I never would. This kept me going on this one. I knew there was an answer. I just hadn’t found it yet.
Get to know the Bible!
I got to know the Bible reasonably well. I read passages most days, sometimes studying things quite deeply. I read through the whole Bible every few years.
‘I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.’ Psalm 119:11. That’s a good one, and it’s true as well. Knowing the scriptures and thinking scripturally definitely helps with our Christian walk, and it made me strong on a daily basis.
Letting God’s word minister to me cured me of depression. In my early life I used to get depressed periodically. This continued after I committed my life to Christ. Nothing seemed to help. But then I began to meditate on what the Bible said about me, especially parts of the New Testament.
Galatians 2:20 was helpful – ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’
Romans 6 as well. ‘We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?’
I read some of Colin Urquhart’s books – ‘In Christ Jesus’ was particularly helpful. As my knowledge of what the Lord said about me developed, I rose out of my depressions. I can truthfully say, I have not been depressed since the age of around 20/21 – that’s well over 20 years.
I give God all the glory for this. But this did not enable me to overcome this occasional lapse into pornography. I still fell into this, especially when I was tired.
I tried scaring myself with Hebrews 10:26; ‘If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.’
Nevertheless, and worryingly, the compulsion was greater at times than the fear.
What was I to do?
I prayed as I drove. “Lord, this feels like my last chance. So much is at stake here. I’m either so wicked and hard-hearted that I simply can’t live the Christian life, or this is a new start for me. Please do whatever You need to do.”
This was the level of despair I had reached. Husband, father, qualified professional, sometime Christian leader, sometime successful preacher, sometime evangelist… and periodic porn addict for over 30 years. Only now I could see no future. If I really do anything brave for God again, I know it’ll come back. I’m not strong enough.
My real fear was that I was so wicked, that I just could not repent. I had sinned in this area so much that I was somehow past redemption. Am I an incurable addict? This was, to me, my last throw of the dice. I couldn’t think of anything else I could do after this.
I use the word addict on purpose. It was an occasional thing. Every few weeks I would lapse. And nothing I had tried seemed to solve it. It was definitely an addiction though – a compulsion rather than a mere temptation. I’m going to list what didn’t work. Then I’ll tell you what surprisingly did.
I am no basket case. I have been a Christian for many years. I have preached and taught a lot, been in church leadership and I am a husband and father. But I had an embarrassing vice. Maybe you have too. This is simply written to encourage whoever may read it.