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I was once addicted to pornography. From my earliest exposure, at about six-years old, to my early 30s, pornography lied to me. These lies skewed my view of God and my view of sexuality, and ultimately contributed to a divorce. Eventually, God healed me from my addiction. Before that, however, I wandered into a far off country where porn lied to me a lot.

I want to talk in blunt terms about four subtle lies pornography told me.

Lie #1: My use of pornography doesn’t hurt anyone.

When I was 15, I started keeping my own collection of pornographic materials stashed in my bedroom. Occasional, incidental exposure to magazines like Playboy or Penthouse turned into ready access and heavy use. I thought, “If I keep it secret, how does it hurt anyone else?” Yet, holes appeared in my logic from the outset. First, I had no legitimate way to obtain porn; I stole it from my friends’ fathers, who had thought they’d hidden it well enough. Next, I didn’t connect my illicit possession of porn with how I’d first been exposed at just six-years old: I had stumbled upon it in a place it had been hidden. Sure enough, my younger brothers found my stash while poking around in my room. God’s word warns, one way or another, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23b ESV). I believed the lie that no one would be hurt by my secret use of porn; yet, I had stolen it in the first place, and then some little boys dear to my heart got exposed to it. 

The consequences of this particular lie would haunt me over nearly two decades.

Lie #2: Using porn does not affect my relationship with God.

The greatest casualty of all was an aggrieved Holy Spirit. An important piece of my personal testimony is that after being raised in a Christian home, I wandered away from the Lord for a very long season—from about the age 19 into my early 30s. Pornography played a part in my decision to turn away from God and to do my own thing. One of the things I wanted to do was use porn. Leaving home, I set aside worship, put my Bible on the shelf, and gave little more than lip-service to God. Over time, I began to doubt the truth of God’s word, that ancient question ringing in my mind, “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1b ESV). In my view, my secret pleasure in porn didn’t hurt anyone, so how could it be a sin? Reasoning like this muted the Spirit’s voice in my life. Thankfully, God later used extreme circumstances to bring me to the end of my pride and turn my heart back to him.

Lie #3: Using pornography doesn’t hurt my marriage.

I carried pornography into marriage. To my amazement, my fiance said it didn’t bother her, and indeed, she never did complain about it—not even during the divorce. Thus enabled, I still did my best to keep my no-longer-secret porn out of her sight. Since my wife knew about it, I thought porn couldn’t hurt the marriage.

Of course, I was wrong.

God designed sexual intimacy to be the exclusive physical, emotional, and spiritual union between a husband and a wife (Genesis 2:24). As a habitual porn user, I fixated on the physical facet of that equation, downplaying or ignoring the emotional and the spiritual. I wanted what I saw and read about in porn, but the fantasy didn’t resemble true sexuality. I became convinced that something was missing in the relationship. Stewing, I began to amass baseless grievances against my wife about our sexual relationship.

I also reasoned that pornography gave me another outlet for sexual expression. Essentially, I was saying to her, “You’re not quite enough for me.” Ironically, I rationalized that porn kept me away from adultery, because it satisfied the “desire for variety.” I did not recognize that using pornography inherently involved staring at images of real women with “lustful intent”—fantasizing and masturbating. Jesus defined this as adultery (Matthew 5: 27-28). The horror of this realization wouldn’t hit me until well into the divorce process, and it played a part in my eventual redemption from pornography.

But first, I had to contend with one more lie.

Lie #4: I don’t need to stop using pornography.

I used to minimize my porn problem by reasoning that I only had a small stack of magazines and two or three videos. Thankfully, internet porn never really caught on with me. But, for the hold it had on me, that small stack might as well have been a mountain. One time, I tried to get rid of it. But, within a few days, I started collecting it again. It didn’t hurt anything, after all (Lie #1 again). Looking back, I know that I could not have stopped using porn on my own.

Ultimately, it took a miracle.

The Truth set me free.

When my wife of seven years left me to raise our two children by myself, the emotional and financial crises of divorce and single-parenthood brought me to total spiritual meltdown. Having grown-up in a Christian home, I knew where I had to go: back to God. I started attending church and joined a small group. In the exigencies of my life, I made no effort to deal with pornography.

But, God surprised me.

One Sunday, after church, an out-of-the-blue conviction struck me that a renewed life in Christ and pornography were incompatible. Realizing that I had been over my head in sexual sin throughout the marriage, conviction forced me to confess my sin and lay down any claim to victim-hood. Right then, I bagged up that mountain of magazines, and those two or three videos, and threw it all away.

That was about 15 years ago. God gave me grace to do what I could never do before and to never go back. Not only that, so fully did God free me, that when I married again a few years later, I brought none of Lie #3 into the new relationship. To me, this was a true miracle. When I am tempted, I remember this miracle and the repentance it empowered, and I am victorious.

If you are struggling to find freedom from pornography, consider enlisting a Christian counselor to guide you to freedom. Everyone’s story is different, but one thing is true for anyone trapped by pornography, the grace of Jesus Christ is more than sufficient to set us free from the lies porn tell us.

 

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