I grew up in a Christian home. My father was a youth pastor. I don’t remember a day I didn’t have a concept of who God was. Even though it was a Christian home, it was not a spiritual home. We did not talk about spiritual things, or any other serious subject matter. Everything was kept quiet. I learned to remain quiet and hidden.
Sometime around the age of seven, my older sister sexually abused me. Soon after this, I was exposed to graphic sexuality when home alone, watching TV. This abuse and trauma, coupled with the inability to speak freely, set me up to fight the Goliath of sexual sin… armed with nothing.
Just like every other addict, I used my drug to deal with pain. I now understand that it doesn’t really matter what your drug is, but it does matter what your pain is.
My parents loved me. I knew this was true; however, they didn’t demonstrate their love for me. Instead, they used ‘hands-off’ as a parenting technique with me. When my sister was playing sports, singing in choir, or performing with her clarinet, I was sitting in the stands. Mom and Dad weren’t paying attention to me. They didn’t ask me what I wanted. In my little subconscious mind, I learned that I didn’t matter. I was ashamed and embarrassed to ask for what I wanted and needed. I was afraid of being told “no” or being ridiculed. I just put my head down and trudged forward in pain.
Sex let me escape this pain. Sex made me feel good. In 4th grade I started masturbating. I fantasized about having sex with girls in my class, even going as far as drawing pornographic pictures of them. At night with the light turned off in my room (so I couldn’t be easily seen), I would open up my window curtains and expose myself to those passing by our home on the sidewalk. Things only got worse in 6th grade when we got a computer and internet access. The sexual images were fairly tame at first. I searched for and found pictures of girls in bikinis, but my addiction wasn’t satisfied. Soon I was viewing graphic pornography.
Things escalated when I discovered chat rooms. After my family had all gone to bed, I would have online sexual conversations. These experiences gave me an extreme sense of shame and at the same time, an intense high. I knew my behavior was wrong, but I didn’t have a safe person to talk to. I wanted to stop but without knowing how, I kept going back.
During my sophomore year of high school, I had a girlfriend. I wasn’t stupid. I knew there could be serious consequences, but like in many teenage relationships, one thing lead to another and we were engaging in sexual activities regularly. I didn’t understand that I was using this sexual relationship to medicate pain. It made me feel desired. It made me feel like I mattered. I tried to end the sex in our relationship. She kept pushing it, so I just gave in. I wanted it to end, but I was too afraid to say something.
In college, I found safe people I could talk to about my sexual sin. The problem was they didn’t have the cure. We used the “try harder” method. We were all naive and unaware that recovery from our addictions required more than just confession and prayer.
Several years later, I was married and had two little girls. My wife and I had been struggling financially for years, and I was looking at pornography almost daily. I constantly felt like a worthless failure, worthless to the point of suicidal thoughts. One day after marriage counseling, my wife asked if I struggled with pornography. I had always lied about this before. I was frustrated with hiding, so I finally confessed. That moment of truth set off a chain reaction that would bring me more peace and understanding than I ever dreamed possible. My confession brought me to 423 Men, and I am certain Jesus led me there. Even as a little boy, I considered myself worthless, but Jesus never did. He engineered circumstances and prompted people to reach out to me. Eventually I was led to 423 Men, a community that helped me discover the roots of my pain.
I’ve learned a lot in my four years in 423 Communities. Most importantly, I’ve learned the striking truth of love. God, who created the cosmos in all his endless glory, looks down upon you and me and says, “You’re worth everything to me.”
Would you like to join a group of men, women, or young people fighting against pornography and the spirit of porneia? Join a 423 Communities group today.