My addiction isn’t hurting anyone. It’s only pictures on a screen. It’s not like I’m cheating on my wife. There’s no way I could ever do that.
At least that’s what I told myself.
Right up until I had my first affair.
I never would have considered myself capable of being unfaithful to my wife. I loved her, found her attractive, and honestly wanted to be a Godly husband. I simply couldn’t fathom the thought of hurting her in that way.
So what happened? How did my addiction to pornography erupt out of the computer and evolve into multiple real-world affairs?
Looking back now, I can see two main issues that fueled my evolution from online to offline.
1) My Heart had Become Calloused
If you’ve ever learned to play the guitar, you have experienced what it means to become calloused. At first, your fingers are tender; pressing down on the strings is so uncomfortable that it hurts. Over time, though, if you continue to repeat the action of pressing your fingers against the strings, you develop hard calluses on the pressure areas. Once these calluses are present, you no longer feel the pressure.
The same process happens with your heart when you repeatedly justify your use of pornography. Each time you do this, your heart becomes a tiny bit more calloused. The guilt you used to feel while using porn gets quieter and quieter. Eventually, justifying it becomes so natural you reach a point where you no longer feel guilt at all. As C.S. Lewis stated in Mere Christianity:
When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that’s left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.
This is the reason very few men start off by looking at extremely explicit pornography. They usually begin with soft-core porn before progressing to the more hard-core. If you were to show content from a fetish site to a man who was just getting into porn, he would probably be shocked and appalled. Within a few years, though, if his sin is left unchecked, he might come to find that same content to be tame.
It doesn’t happen in one step. The excuses and allowances you make to justify your behavior slowly drag you in deeper and deeper over time. And because it happens so subtly, you rarely notice until it’s too late. My own addiction progressed from lingerie ads in the Sunday paper, to topless porn, to full nudity, to hard-core, to videos, to chat rooms, and eventually to full-on adultery. My teenage self would have found the adult version of me to be a shockingly immoral pervert. (Tweet This!)
In reality, I was still the same man. The only difference was, my heart had become hardened and calloused through years of justifying and making excuses for behavior I knew deep down was wrong.
2) I was Attempting to Meet a Real Need in a False Way
Whenever I felt the need to be loved, I hopped online and looked to porn to fulfill that desire. No matter how much porn promised to fulfill my heart’s legitimate needs though, it was all a lie. (Tweet This!) It was like drinking saltwater. Instead of quenching my thirst, it left me even more parched.
I could tell deep down that porn wasn’t satisfying my true needs, but instead of questioning if I was looking to the wrong solution, I decided I just needed better porn.
“These photos aren’t fulfilling my desires, perhaps some videos will.”
“I don’t feel loved and accepted after watching those videos, maybe I should see if a chat room will work better.”
And so on…
This is the inevitable outcome when you try to meet a real need with something that is not designed for that purpose. It will never work. You will be left with only two options: Admit you have chosen the wrong path, or continue wandering aimlessly until you become completely lost.
When I look back at these two realities I can see how they worked in tandem—like two pedals on a bicycle—to lead me deeper and deeper into behaviors I never would have imagined I was capable of.
In the same way, if you allow these issues to keep turning the pedals in your life, it may be only a matter of time before your addiction goes beyond the computer as well. (Tweet This!) If you find yourself on this path, please don’t fall for the lie that more will eventually satisfy you. Be honest with yourself, admit that porn is a dead-end road, and consider other options before you do something that will hurt more people than just you.
It’s never too late to turn around—even if your path has already taken you from online to offline.
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2 Reasons My Addiction Evolved From Fantasy by Stephen Kuhn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://xxxchurch.com.