MY STRUGGLE WITH PORNOGRAPHY by Roger Jones
When an older boy from my neighborhood coerced my friend and me into his van, I remember feeling excited. He had a dirty magazine, and we were interested to see what was inside it. It was exciting! It was scary too. I knew what I was seeing was wrong, but it brought a rush of feelings and reactions in my body that I hadn’t felt as intensely before. I had never felt so exhilarated and so dirty at the same time. I was about ten years old.
This older boy had darker intentions than just a desire to show us the pictures of the women in his magazine. He began joking with us about he would like to see us pose like the pictures in the magazine. It was subtle at first, but he became more direct in his efforts before too long.
It was time for my friend to be driven home, and my dad was out looking for us. The older boy gave us the chance to leave. My friend left, but I chose to stay. I wasn’t ready for the intense feelings I was experiencing to end. Together with the pornographic imagery and the sexual tension, the male attention I was receiving felt really good. He continued to make efforts to get me to take off my clothes.
I began to get scared. He would not let me go at this point. I plead with him to let me out of the van, but he began to use that as a bargaining tool. “I’ll let you go, if you take off your clothes and pose like this picture,” he said. Eventually, I said the thing that brought him out of his trance and back to reality. “If you let me go, I won’t tell anyone!” At this, he got scared and let me go. Fortunately, he never tried to touch me. I did not keep my word to him and promptly told my mom about the situation the second I got home. She promptly marched down the street and gave this boy an earful! (Go Mom!)
I escaped physically unharmed that day, but this experience set the stage for years of addiction to sexual fantasy and pornography. Over time, I turned to these things more and more to ease my anxiety, frustrations, and pain. I felt so much shame and guilt about my choices, but I didn’t have an understanding of how to deal with my feelings in an appropriate and healthy way.
I was living two lives. I was the good Christian boy, active in church and part of the worship team. Everyone who knew me knew about my faith and thought I was the “goody, goody” kid who did no wrong. In my mind and in my private moments, I was leading a very different life. Lust, fantasy, and masturbation were my constant friends. I was constantly seeking out sexual images in movies or in stolen glances through magazines in the local bookstore. When I was in college, I finally became old enough to purchase pornography. This only furthered my addiction and began a weekly cycle of using porn to feed my fantasies.
I didn’t understand at the time how I was shaping my understanding of men, women, sex, and my own beliefs about who I was as a man and a child of God.
My ongoing usage of pornography had instilled an extremely warped view of the world around me. I viewed everyone through the filter of my sexually addicted mind. “I wonder what he/she looks like without clothes on?” or “I’d like to see those two having sex.” These thoughts were with me constantly.
My own self esteem and self image worsened throughout this time as well. I could never measure up to the men in the porn I watched. They had perfect bodies. I didn’t have six-pack abs, large biceps, or any of the “other” extraordinary features they possessed. The women I saw in porn were just as “over the top” as the men. I could never please a woman sexually the way the men in these movies did. The women were treated like objects to be used by men. I was unable to envision myself dominating a woman in this way. Because of the negative way I viewed myself, it was much easier for me to imagine being used by the men in a sexually degrading way.
My relationship with God became mostly about confession of sin. Most of the time, I felt so ashamed that I didn’t think I could approach Him. I felt my sin was too dark and too bad for God to love me. When I couldn’t take the pain any longer, I would cry out in desperation to Him. Every prayer began the same way, “God, please forgive me for looking at pornography and masturbating…” I didn’t have energy or focus to worship God, because I was worshipping His creations, not Him.
I came to Where Grace Abounds for help in 1995. It was so refreshing to be in an environment where I could talk openly about my struggle with pornography. It has not been an easy journey. I wish I could say here that pornography is no longer a temptation and that I left it behind, never looking back. The reality is that after 10+ years of harboring a secret life and addiction, the steps out of that life have been difficult at times. I have had successes and failures along the way.
One of the most important things I’ve learned through my struggle with pornography is that God rarely “zaps” us and instantly delivers us from temptation. There are some who claim this has happened to them, and perhaps they are telling the truth. I prayed for years for an instant healing, and I placed all of my hope in that possibility. Now I know why God hasn’t swooped in and rescued me in that way. At a root level, my struggles and temptations indicate a legitimate need for connection. Through the things which I was exposed to at an early age and the choices I made in the years following, I was seeking an illegitimate avenue of meeting these true, God-given needs for relationship. If God simply removed my desire for pornography, He would also be removing something core that He created in each of us: our need for other people.
I was so relieved to learn that I did not have to be perfect to be loved by God. Struggling with sexual sin does not disqualify me from being in relationship with Christ. He died for all of my sins, including pornography, fantasy, and lust. He died for your sins too!