I Didn’t Want to Keep Looking

by Brian McGinness on November 8th, 2010 in Students

Here is an article found in Christianity Today. This is a very true description as to what happens and is usually the way many of us have come to be introduced to pornography.

The remains of the campfire were cold. And the labels on the bottles of Bud were bleached white by days in the sun. Whoever had camped out in the woods near my house was long gone. My friend and I picked through the debris they’d left behind. An abandoned hip-hop CD. A few empty baggies and bottles. And a magazine.

The cover was weathered and unrecognizable. I poked it open with a stick, scared of what critters might be calling it home now. Its dewy, wet pages flopped open. I saw a woman. And I saw her naked breasts.

Since I was only 7, I ran. I mean, girls had cooties. They were gross. They were things we chased at recess, but didn’t know what to do if we ever caught one. But I still remember that image. I was excited by it, but scared of it at the same time. I didn’t understand it and I knew I shouldn’t be seeing it.

And I knew I wanted more.

A few years later I got my chance. This time I didn’t run away. I was 13. I was at my friend Tyler’s* house. Tyler was my only friend with internet access. Almost every day, we played computer games for hours.

But one day we clicked on what we thought was a game to download, and our lives changed. It wasn’t a game, but a video. At first, we laughed as we saw the blurry, slow-moving image of a woman. We laughed nervously as if to say, “That’s so stupid. Turn it off.” But we didn’t turn it off. We watched it. Then I went home.

But Tyler went looking for more and showed me what he found. I didn’t run away this time. I didn’t want to keep looking. But I did. I was caught.

Eventually, looking at nudity online together grew uncomfortable and boring. So Tyler and I took our passion for porn solo. Tyler kept downloading anything he could find, progressing from topless women to sex photos to hardcore videos. Meanwhile, I bounced between feeling guilty and wanting to see more. Some days I was strong. Other days, I was like a lustful porn addict looking for a fix. I never purchased or downloaded porn, though. I was a church kid in a small town who could be recognized and ratted on. And I had no computer at home. Instead, I stole porn.

I searched my friends’ houses in hopes their dad had a hidden stash of Playboys somewhere. When that didn’t work, I stole porn magazines from convenience store shelves. Not many. Just three or four over a couple of years. But I savored them.

I imagined one page at a time coming to life. It’s embarrassing to say, but these women made me feel loved. My eyes would feast on their skin and it made me feel like a man. For just one moment, I felt wanted. I felt pleasure.

I felt close to someone, and it never bothered me that she wasn’t real. She was to me.

But those moments of fulfillment did pass. Always. The pleasure faded. And in its wake I fought pounding waves of regret and guilt. I felt a million miles from good, a billion light years from God. I’d often think back to how I saw that first picture of a naked woman. I had used a stick to keep it away from me. I felt like God had the stick in his hand now, poking at me from a distance, trying not to get any of me on him.

I knew this wasn’t true. I knew I was a Christian. And I knew God saw me as perfect and loveable as he saw his very own Son. I knew all this. Grace. Love. Forgiveness.

But I didn’t feel it. And I grew more and more depressed and frustrated with myself. I’d promise myself over and over that I wouldn’t mess up again, only to repeat my mistakes.

Tyler wasn’t any better. He eventually found it impossible to believe in a God who’d keep him from looking at porn. With God out of the picture, Tyler convinced himself porn was just about pleasure. And how could pleasure hurt anyone? Once he decided pornography wasn’t evil, he embraced it. He subscribed to Playboy and bought their videos.

Seeing what happened to Tyler was a wake-up call. I knew I was headed down the same path. So I got help. One day, I was hanging out with a close friend who was a strong believer. Out of nowhere, I told him everything. My voice shaking, I confessed that if I could look at pornography for free, knowing I wouldn’t be found out or feel guilty, I would. I asked him for help. We prayed together.

And then—to my surprise—my friend told me he had the same problem. Turns out most of my friends did. We went to an older Christian in our church and asked him to meet with us every week and help us. This man had no great wisdom we lacked, no secret to fighting the drawing power of naked women. But what he did was listen, give us wise advice and pray. He became a caring mentor to all of us. The first thing he showed us was that we weren’t the only ones with these problems. We weren’t freaks. We weren’t alone anymore.

As I met with my new accountability group, I saw my life had to change. And a lot of those changes and lessons still apply to my life today. Lesson one: run away. “Flee!” our mentor often said. “Alcoholics shouldn’t live across the street from a liquor store.” To me, that means I can’t walk alone into the magazine section of a store. Or use a computer alone without internet filters.

I have to limit the opportunities for temptation. I have to put space between me and porn. I can’t have some catalogs in my house. I don’t let myself watch TV alone. Even with filters on my internet service, I don’t go online if no one else is home. These restrictions annoy me sometimes. But they help me flee.

The second thing I learned was to ask myself the question: How can I increase my desire for God and smother my desire to lust? Someone once told me that there are two dogs in my heart’s backyard. One dog always craves pleasure, sin and selfishness. The other dog craves justice, mercy, peace and obedience to God. When I wake up every day, I choose which dog gets fed. The one I feed grows until the other dog can’t even be seen.

I need to feed the right dog. I do that by having honest relationships with Christian guys. I have one friend in particular I check in with daily. We talk honestly about sex and sin and the junk that tempts us. Together we figure out how to be better men. We gripe. We pray. We confess. We teach.

I also feed the right dog by reading the Bible and studying it with other people. And I don’t just read it, but I write down what I’ve learned and what I’ll do or think differently because of it. I spend time in silence asking God to speak to me. I pray, worship, serve other people.

On most days, the good dog outweighs the bad one. That mongrel is so scrawny now that I hardly notice him. But he surprises me every once in a while. Out of nowhere he’ll bark at me, and I’ll find myself pulled in the wrong direction. He’s the loudest when I’m not careful about avoiding temptation. So I flee. I get up and leave.

And I pray: “God, help me do what’s right today. And help Tyler, too. Save us both from pornography and make us closer to perfect. Make us love you more than ourselves and surround us with people who remind us that you love us even when we mess up. Surround us with friends and a church that feed the holy side of us and teach us how to starve the addicted side of us. Kill the bad dog. Feed the good one. Amen.”

From Christianity Today Article

by: Shaun Groves

Back

Resources

Latest Blog Posts


×