I guess every tragedy has to start somehow, and mine started the day I randomly flipped through that magazine. Looking back, I suppose far worse things could have happened as a result of my poor choices. At the dawn of the internet, while I was still living with my parents, the fear of my parents finding out what I had could have been looking at on the computer kept from seeking out porn online. Fortunately, I wasn’t savvy enough to cover my tracks for quite some time. But, there were still those lenient censorship laws. I spent many a late night waiting for an erotic film to be shown. If nothing was broadcast to my liking I inevitably settled for the phone sex advertisements. I never called, but the girls were pretty - most of the time.
Unfortunately, this was the part of my life that I kept well hidden for many years. Apparently my parents were oblivious. I suppose it wouldn’t be entirely fair to blame them. They were raising a boy in a foreign culture and in a world in which parents weren’t very well educated in regards to the dangers of the internet. But, either way, the damage was done. Most people knew me as an introverted Christian kid from America. In many respects I appeared to be a good Christian boy to most folks. In high school I was very outspoken about my Christian beliefs, especially in the ethics classes I took, which provided plenty of opportunities for discussions about morality. Some of the guys called me the “Jesus Freak”. It wasn’t meant to be a compliment.
What is even more significant than the fact that my parents were oblivious to the secret part of myself that I kept tucked away, was that I was totally ignorant to the fact that I was setting myself up for a world of hurt. I had my first girlfriend when I was sixteen. We were both decent Christian kids, so we agreed that sex before marriage wasn’t an option. But, then there was the first kiss, the first French kiss, the first time making out. Soon enough I wasn’t particular interested in talking with her, I just wanted to experience the high I experienced from making out with her. And so the emotional intimacy quickly died, she lost interest, broke up with me, and that was that. I was devastated. I had been holding on to the idealistic notion that the first girl I dated would be the girl I married. As I reflect on that experience, I’m glad that she broke the relationship off. If she hadn’t I would have almost certainly pushed for intercourse eventually, regardless of how often I reassured myself that we wouldn’t cross that line. It was quite obvious that I had very little self-control.
Skip forward about 3 years. I now had my first great depression behind me. I had experienced severe emotional pain much of which was tied to being rejected and consequently feeling inadequate and insecure. There was much more to it than that, but that was a significant portion of my first emotional breakdown. I was now living with my parents in the United States. For some time I thought pornography was just a relic from my past. Unfortunately, that wasn‘t at all the case. As hard as I tried I eventually came back to it. After the fact I almost always said that it had been the last time. I even prayed that it would be. But, part of me still had my fingers crossed when I prayed that.
Then I met my future wife. I was honest with her about my past. At the time I thought it was in the past. She loved me anyway. Little did each of us know how much I would test her love. Physically we were both virgins when we got married, but mentally, and emotionally I was anything but pure. When we finally did get married, lo and behold, sex didn’t turn out to be like it was in the movies. As it turned out sex could sometimes be awkward, and take a lot of work and communication. My wife didn’t always know exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it, and neither was she always eager to give it to me. But, the women in the pictures and videos were. They say that anything worth having requires hard work to achieve. As it turns out the same thing is true of sexual intimacy. Sure, pornography always provided me with a quick and easy escape from my emotional pain, but afterwards it just irritated the gaping, festering wound in my heart.
Sex was the fix for everything, whether it was with my wife, or some fantasy girl. Bored? Sex. Lonely? Sex. Angry? Sex. Tired? Sex. Sad? Sex. Happy? Sex. You get the idea. I was an addict. I felt shame for looking at porn. The shame perpetuated my loneliness and depression. So, I medicated those feelings with more porn. And round and round I went. It was sick. My desires became more and more deviant. I needed more and more. Even though there were often weeks and months between acting out, and I always prayed it would be the last time, it never was. I went to counseling again. I took pills for depression again. I got worse and worse again. This time it would get worse than ever. I felt no love for my wife. I just wanted to be married to some perfect woman that only existed in my deluded mind. Our marriage was falling apart and it was my fault. I wanted to die. The only thing that kept me alive was the fear of hell. I didn’t know if suicide would get you placed in the express lane for the lake of fire, but I wasn’t willing to gamble on that one.
However, I did get close to death once. I’m not entirely sure whether I was really trying to kill myself, or whether I was just crying out for help. But, for the reasons already given I tend to go with the latter. So, I harmed myself just enough to get me placed in a psychiatric ward, but not enough to get me six feet under. It was the loneliest, most agonizing 3 weeks of my life. I still wanted to die, but I feared that after death even greater pain would be waiting that I could never escape. My wife stayed at home alone for 3 weeks. Crying out to God, dying inside, weeping, caving in. I did that to her. I have to live with that. I hurt her severely. No one has loved me through so much pain as she as, other than Jesus Christ, Himself.
It was far from over after I got out. I thought about death more at that time than before I was admitted. I went through an intensive 6 week program for sexual addiction and depression. It kept me alive by giving me a place to be when all I wanted was to be dead. I have no excuses - no one to point a finger at. “Guard your eyes”, my mother said. But, I didn’t listen and people got hurt. I wish that had been the end of it. I wish I had come to my senses and left the old man lying dead in a ditch. But instead I invited him back from time to time, just as I always had. Dogs return to their vomit. Apparently, addicts do, too. Then one day it hit me: This is psychotic. I cried out to God that it would be the last time. I prayed everyday that God would not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from evil. And He did, and He has, and He is. Though the intensity of the prayer has waned, I still very regularly ask God to keep me from that filth. It’s pure poison for the soul. Oh God, how I wish I had understood how vile it was, but I was a fool and I received the due penalty for my sin. The wages of sin is death. My body could have died, and my heart and soul did. but praise God, My savior makes all things new!
I am the man who stands in the temple beating his chest saying: “God have mercy on me, a sinner!” God did not have to save me from myself. He didn’t have to give me grace upon grace upon grace. He didn’t have to die so that I could live despite the vile, despicable things I did. My wife had every reason to throw in the towel. In a sense, I was having multiple affairs with women I had never even met, in pictures and on websites. Somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s sister. Somebody’s mother. Somebody’s wife. Sick. Sick. Sick. Sin destroys and does so very efficiently.
I owe everything to God. I owe a lifetime of love and faithfulness to my wife. I owe every person a debt of love, mercy, and grace. That is what was given to me. That is what I am expected to give to others as well. Heaven forbid I turn around and refuse to forgive others their debts after all that was forgiven on my account. I pray that God will help me to offer up myself to Him. The old man must stay dead. I couldn’t bear for him to come around again. By the grace of God I will continue to be renewed my the transforming of my mind so that not only that aspect of my life will be new, but that God would shine His Light in every dark crevice of my soul and weed out every last remnant of wickedness and narcissism, so that I would be wholly His and wholly faithful as a husband to my wife.
Dear God, let it be so!
This post was written by Anonymous