”I think we need to talk”

”What I don’t want to do, that I do”- I can identify with this verse all too well. As a youth group leader, I came across really well to many people and at the same time, for ten years, I had been consuming porn, sometimes until late in the night. Through this addiction I not only hurt my girlfriend very badly at the time but I was also in despair because I knew that what I was doing didn’t please God.

I was only about eight or nine years old when I found a hardcore porn magazine infront of a paper bin. I didn’t know anything about sexual things or pornography, and what I saw turned my stomach. At the same time I was fascinated by what I was seeing. My second encounter with pornography came when I was twelve years old in the form of a strip-poker PC card game. Through TV, porn magazines and internet I figured out sexual things for myself. I felt that sex on my own only brought a huge emptiness in my heart. Again and again I asked God for forgiveness. Even though in these times I often experienced grace, unending patience and his deep love for me, I kept on doing it.

I fought hard with my feelings of guilt.

Even so, I wouldn’t have labeled myself a pornography addict at this time. It was only much later that I admitted that I really was a porno addict and was driven. I looked for ”material” to satisfy my hunger. Once I got into a paper container to look for porn magazines in spite of the fact that there were over 2.000 other people living in this complex. I ascertained that there was not one copy of Playboy or the like in there and in the meantime nothing was too embarrassing for me.

Being a youth leader I could not tell anyone of my porn problem and certainly not the youth. I felt as a christian as if I lived a double life. I often asked myself whether God could use this handicapped person. Even my parents did not know about my nightly consumption of pornography because our TV and computer were in the basement. I was often stuck there until 2 or 3am. I moved around like a thief in shops, grabbing a CD from the erotic section at the last moment and hurrying home in the hope that no-one had seen me. The inevitable eventually happened and another youth leader and his wife almost caught me on one of my porn-tours. I was ”clean” for a longer time.

Change came when my girlfriend caught me, whilst I was on a murky internet page. I switched off the computer as quickly as I could and disappeared into the next ”mouse hole”- a cupboard with sliding doors- for biological reasons. My wife says at seminars that I sat in there ”a picture of misery” – ”Phil, I think we have to talk!” she said to me as I sat there dying a thousand deaths. The next question for me was how to finally get out of this awful porn mess

On the same day I went on my knees before God and my girlfriend and promised never again to have anything to do with pornography. Of course this promise is not a patent recipe. It was the right thing for me at the time though and since then I have been free. There were other factors involved, though, that helped me to bring my addiction to an end. I realised how much I had hurt Karina and that things could not continue like this. At the same time I was caught when I was at the end of my rope and did not want to go on in this way. I think we are often not at this point and leave a back door open saying: – ”A bit of porn – doesn’t hurt anyone!”

Since then God has encouraged me to clean up my thought life because even the thought of an affair or a naked woman is dangerous. Jesus speaks of spiritual adultery. Two things have really helped me; the first has been my best friend and the second is my wife – two people to whom I am accountable and to whom I can always talk about my state.

80% of porn-power is broken when people start to talk and share their thoughts with someone else. I have also installed protective software on my computer that informs my accountability partners which websites I have visited.

It is clear to me that I am unable to keep ”clean” on my own. I have learnt not to be afraid of my next failure and not to get tense with the subject of sex. When I see a billboard with a picture of a naked woman on it, I don’t panic as I used to do. I register what I have seen but don’t study it and go on my way. I have learnt to talk to God about my sexuality and to name things as they are and beg him to fill the vacuum in my heart. It was important for me to find out where I was vulnerable. I am vulnerable when I am lonely, afraid or tired. My wife and I make a habit of going to bed at the same time. That man who watched porn until the early hours of the morning no longer exists. Others might find that boredom, unresolved emotions, adventure, a lack of loving fellowship or a crisis is feeding ground for porn.

Pornography is only a cheap copy of the plans God thought out for sexuality: it leaves you empty, whereas God made the complete man including his sexuality.

Since God placed the subject of ”Ways out of pornography” on my heart, I have become part of a team that wants to help people to ”stop”. My goal is that christians, churches, fellowships, married couples, house and bible groups start to talk about ways out of pornography. We have also started teams of self-help groups. I am so glad that God pulled me out of the garbage that I was in and that he was patient and gave me a lot of love.  I have finally got rid of that deficient person and I am experiencing the wonderful freedom of sexuality that God planned for us. Of course there are times when I am tempted and in which I have to bring things into the light before they fester.

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