Jeff, 51, Tennessee, USA
My porn addiction began when I was 15. Porn was all over my workplace — break areas, restrooms, literally everywhere. You see, growing up, I was taught that access to the Gospel was reserved for priests. A personal relationship with Jesus was not only out of the question…it was considered unnecessary. So long as I was baptised and confessed to a priest, I was good. So, I looked at porn guilt-free.
Little did I know, these images were slowly rewiring my brain, eroding my ability to share and experience real intimacy. The enemy was winning a battle that I didn’t even know I was in — I was in serious trouble.
Like a lamb being led to slaughter, I was dragged to my own spiritual death. I graduated from porn to massage parlors, to phone sex, to prostitutes. Hindered by my inability to experience and value genuine intimacy, I had a number of extramarital affairs, resulting in multiple failed marriages. I was not only self-destructive; I hurt others.
Though I found myself unable to stop, I felt immense shame after every act. In my mind, this shame confirmed the lie that I wasn’t worthy of intimacy; to comfort myself, I sought sexual pleasure. It was a vicious cycle. The root, of course, was spiritual. I was totally and completely lost, but I had no idea.
Then, one day at the bar, I found myself discussing the Bible with my girlfriend Bonnie. I was saying that it was merely a collection of stories. I mean…Noah’s Ark? Please. When I said this, Bonnie burst into tears. She insisted that the Bible was the inerrant word of God. We were in a full-fledged fight. She went home, I went home, and that was that.
A week passed, but the conversation was still on my mind. Curious, I texted Bonnie: “I’m willing to learn if you will teach me.” I later learned that she’d decided that our night at the bar would be our last night together; she said that she was so shocked by my text, she almost fell off her chair. She excitedly invited me to read Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life with her, chapter by chapter, like a book club. I agreed.
Two of the book’s messages rattled me: 1) your life and purpose are not about you and 2) you are not defined by your sin. It was like being hit with a 2×4 right between my eyes. All of the misunderstandings and half truths I’d been taught in my childhood church were replaced with the truths of Scripture. I learned that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus…that I could read the Bible on my own, without the Catholic Church’s interpretation. My mind was blown.
As I began growing in knowledge, things began to shift. Finally, one morning in the shower, I broke down in tears. Overwhelmed by my own sinfulness and need for Christ, I fell to my knees and begged God to forgive me. When I stood up, everything was different. I was different.
My entire world changed. I was still tempted, and still am to this day, but I wasn’t battling it on my own anymore. Jesus equipped me with the weapons needed to resist sin — because He defeated sin for me 2000 years ago! Porn destroys families, relationships, and people; I know this because it nearly destroyed me. But by God’s grace, I am free. As for Bonnie, she is now my wife. I am so thankful that she defended her faith back then, because her words planted a seed in me — and that seed sprouted into a miraculous life change.
Though I regret my past, I can see that God is using it for good. Because of my own struggles, I’m able to teach my teenage sons about the dangers and long-term effects of pornography. And despite my guilt, I know that because of Jesus, I have been washed clean: “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
No matter your sins and shortcomings, know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re loved by the Lord — so loved that He died for you!