My story starts as a 12 year old boy. It actually starts earlier, at maybe 8 years old when I started to be bullied because I was fat. That took its toll on my life over the next 4 or so years. However while riding bikes behind the local mini-mart I discovered what many other boys had come to discover: discarded pornographic magazines. You can imagine the overwhelming feeling of sexual gratification a young boy on the verge of hormonal explosion was feeling at that moment.
This was back in the mid-1970s. So often I found myself back in the trash heap looking for new exciting images of naked women. Kind of symbolic don’t you think? One at that age is not truly aware of all that is happening to him. There are these feelings that course through you and it's a mix of, "I shouldn't be doing this," and "This is incredible!"
Being raised in a Christian home, I knew that it was not right to see this type of imagery. Fortunately for me it was a crap-shoot. There may or may not be magazines back where we rode our bikes so I didn't have a regular diet of this, still the imagery was in my mind and I began to fall into sexual sin due to self-gratification. That's after I found out that you could do that kind of thing with your body.
Over the years, due to my low self-worth from bullying and the sexual side of things (that was sometimes enhanced because school chums knew where their dads hid a stack of girly magazines) I began to get involved with girls in the dating scene. I would become physically involved as a teenager - mostly heavy petting and touching places I shouldn't. I objectified the female body right from the start. Most of the time after dates and making out I would go home and relieve myself of the sexual tension.
Back in the early 1980s a sex flick came out in public theaters and I went to see it. I was probably 16 or 17 and can't believe I made it in but I did. Also with the advent of cable TV and the sexual revolution increasing into the media, channels like Playboy could be seen if you paid for it but also if you tricked your cable access box into staying on that channel by flipping back and forth on the remote. The jamming of the signal wasn't that great and I discovered how to get a few minutes of sheer viewing pleasure by doing this. I guess other men had figured that out too since you can't do such archaic type things anymore in this digital age.
Then came the VCR player! TADA!!!!
Now older guys my parent's age were no longer stockpiling magazines but adult erotic films. And in their ignorance thought they hid them well in their clothes closet. Well a friend of mine from high school introduced me to this new media. That was it. If there was ever a moment in time where I could've backed out and stopped going down the road of addiction that would've been it but I did not. I chose to go full steam ahead.
After that it was not just adult films but phone sex where I would accrue multi-hundred dollar phone bills and have to lie my way out of it claiming I was talking to friends long distance. I would then, because I worked a part time job, offer to pay for the phone bills.
Then I joined the Army. I was stationed after all my training in Germany. That was the proverbial frying pan into the fire. On almost every corner there were houses of ill repute. A number of buildings in the downtown area of where I was stationed had little booths to watch porn movies. American movies dubbed in German with subtitles but did we really need them? Like the plot was even relevant? I spent the next two and a half years immersing myself in all that was porn. I saw it all, or so I thought.
In 1986 I came home. I had spent the last 2 years of my life quite often drunk and constantly self-gratifying. I once again started dating and those relationships quickly became physical - this time objectifying women, wanting them to perform for me like the ladies on the silver screen. It worked for a while until they wanted to get married.
Then a door opened for me. Full time ministry in 1993. My life had been a series of ups and downs. Wanting desperately to live for Jesus yet wanting desperately to feel the pleasure of sex. It was a horrific roller coaster ride. The shame, the secrecy, the isolation, the regret...It was emotionally and mentally draining.
Eventually I did marry in 1995 at the ripe old age of 30. Problem solved! I found the perfect girl, beautiful, pure, innocent, godly, talented, sweet, caring and kind. Surely being in full time ministry and married to such a woman should clear things up for me. Well, somewhere in there came the INTERNET! It pulled me right back in. I continued to objectify my wife and demand certain sexual favors from her. I always felt dirty after sex and now I know why. It didn't compute back then.
The year 2000 arrived. We survived the Y2K crisis but I bottomed out. I shan't go into reasons why but suffice it to say that all of the issues of my life decided to converge at one time and like a bomb dropped over Hiroshima it just dropped on top of me. I had been in full time ministry for almost 8 years at this time. I was married, had one child who was not even a year old and ended up having an affair. I lost everything - ministry, family, friends. After taking the first part of 2001 to try and find myself, find the source of it all, I simply decided it was too much to bear. Nothing made sense. I couldn’t find one aspect of my life that I could latch onto and make work. I tried to make my marriage work but I was too far gone. We ended up conceiving and having another child but still it felt more like the world closing in on me than it felt like some divine answer to make me stay. The irony of it all is that I was simply mad at God. Mad at Him for not having a safe childhood and not feeling worth anything. I was mad that because I felt that way I couldn’t find real love or give real love. And when you can’t go to Him for answers where else are you going to turn?
I spent the next 3 years just angry. Kind of lashing out. Started messing with booze again and getting drunk a lot. Self-medicating they call it. I ended up staying with the woman with whom I had the affair. Moved in with her but still I was so empty. We continued to be sexually active but all the while I was wondering if I should go back to my wife. I was fragmented in so many ways. Deep inside there was this desire to do what was right but I offered God a list of demands as to how He should do it. It’s like running in place as fast as you can to get away from everything but then you find you’re just exhausted and you haven’t gone anywhere. I ended up signing the divorce papers in June of 2004.
Later that year, I woke up and felt that “I missed God.” I wanted to be with Him again, serve Him again but had no idea how on earth that would happen. The woman I was with felt the same way but both of us had been a part of the church establishment where there were so many things we hated. We hated the show, the hype, the lack of real relationship, lack of discipleship, loving and serving people. Another point of irony was that when we were at the same church together we would talk about how we longed to see the church return to what Jesus had commissioned it to be. We were both so burnt out by the time we met and we seemed to be the only people listening to each other. Suddenly we entered into something so unrighteous by talking about that which was righteous and one of the deepest desires of both of our hearts. NOTE: This is a warning for people in full time ministry getting close to people and entering into a very gray area and not accepting accountability. The enemy loves this stuff because he knows how beautiful it is when people get so deep spiritually with each other, especially people of the opposite sex. It is such a trap and one needs to heed the danger signs in their heart as well as listen to others when they try and warn you.
Going back to church was the last thing we wanted to do. But we did. We wanted to reestablish a foundation for our lives again. The one we did have was demolished to dust.
We found a cool place, got connected, got married but still I found myself drawn to pornography, especially with the ease of the internet. It was the back and forth type of addiction and sin. You would think you were free, you would think you had finally beaten it then something would trigger in your brain and you’d be right back at it again and again and again. My life was still very restless in trying to help raise my kids - kids who I had deserted - and I was trying to make sense of their lives as well as mine. Not a day goes by that I don’t live with regret for my decision. Sometimes I just end up crying for a while because of how many lives I hurt in the process.
I continued to be involved with pornography up until 2011 when I had a spiritual wake up call. Some amazing opportunities were presenting themselves to me. A church environment was forming that seemed to be right along the lines of what my current wife and I had spoken about a decade earlier - an environment of real love, service, reaching out to others, building community, spiritual accountability, discipleship. I heard God tell me, “You have longed for this your whole life. Even in the midst of your sin you have always wanted what I wanted and a way to serve that purpose on earth. It is here but you cannot have it if you continue to give into your sexual sin.” What a horrible feeling. It wasn’t judgmental, it wasn’t harsh, it was like a father telling his son, “You don’t get to go to the amusement park if you’re going to continue to act that way.” Right then and there I felt I had to let it go. It wasn’t just an issue of loving God more than my sin. It was matter of loving God and hating my sin.
For 35 years, roughly, I was bound by this sin. I was completely addicted to pornography and sexual perversion. It was the only way I could feel good, even if for a moment in time. It covered the pain but then added to it. Because of the internet I began to give myself to a whole new genre of pornography. I won’t rehearse it here but I can honestly say to you that this side of hell, I cannot imagine what I have not seen as far as what is available in this industry. It is horrid. It reeks of hell. And now it is slowly becoming normal in our society and it feels like the task is too great to even try and rescue people from it. My prayer is that people simply come out from the shadows and shame and regardless of what anybody says, regardless of the consequences they may face as a result of coming clean; they will find the love of a true and perfect Father who will love them back to health. You will never find freedom from pornography and sexual sin until you completely abandon your life to Jesus Christ. You must go to the purest source of what real love is and what sexuality was designed for in the first place. I now understand what so many have come to know - a loving Father, not just the big judge in the sky waiting to throw the book at you when you mess up.
I still struggle with the thoughts. I’ve not visited any pornographic sites but the mind games continue. After 35 years I’ve easily cemented pathways in my brain that I will have to continue to jackhammer day in and day out. You cannot find freedom from this addiction with Jesus Christ. It won’t happen. You have to realize he is the only person strong enough to rescue from this sin; in fact He did when He died on the Cross and rose again. It is possible to live completely free of this and allow Him to rebuild your life again. You are never too far gone. Take my hand, join me in this fight let’s walk it out together.