Failure to Confront Sin
“I’ve read many of the stories on this site, and it is unbelievable how encouraging it is to know that I am not the only person in the world who deals with these issues. However, let me share my story with those around me, so that perhaps they will know that there IS an answer.”
Like many of those whose stories I’ve read, I, too, was raised in a strong Christian home. Sadly, though, my dad refused to confront me about the SIN that was involved when he found me reading a pornographic magazine. Just in case there are any parents that read this—be it parents of small children or parents of teens—please take it from someone who has been there: DON’T BE AFRAID OR EMBARRASSED TO CONFRONT YOUR CHILDREN WITH WHAT’S WRONG ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY!
I wish so badly now that my father had simply stood his ground and told me at that young age how wrong pornography is, and why I shouldn’t be looking at it, but he blew it off, saying, “Just don’t bring it into the house” or “Well, at least I know you’re normal” or “I’d rather you want to look at that than want to look at other men”. Please don’t use cop-out statements like that. My dad is a minister, yet to this day, he doesn’t know how tormented my life has been because I was made to feel that lust and masturbation are just perfectly normal.
Like so many other Christian youth, I was taught that pre-marital sex is wrong (and it is), yet believe it or not, I was made to believe that masturbation was a completely normal way of dealing with the desires a young man has to deal with. I would’ve been scared to death to attempt sex before marriage, yet I was very “handsy” as a high-schooler, and the girls I dealt with enjoyed it. None of them would date me, of course; they were all scared of “date rape” (I found this out a year after I’d graduated) but were perfectly fine with the occasional pawing in the school library. This only added fuel to the fire that I struggled with at night, by myself, and, of course, masturbation became almost a nightly routine.
Masturbation is never satisfied. As a teenager, I was satisfied with thoughts of those girls I’d pawed around on, and sufficed myself with simple thoughts of sex with them.
But masturbation is never satisfied. Those thoughts, over the years, became more obscene, and with maturity, and a place of my own, thoughts gave way to pornographic magazines and even darker thoughts.
Masturbation is NEVER satisfied. At one time, I had been convinced that “everyone did it”, and that it was a normal function, a single man’s way of dealing with loneliness and sexual build-up. Gradually, however, my self-esteem became less, I felt more dirty and worthless, and wanted more than ever to free myself of the shackles that had clamped themselves onto my mind. Ironically, I was never told that masturbation is wrong, but when I began my Christian life, suddenly I knew. No one had to tell me…I just felt dirty, as though I had not defiled only myself, but I had defiled GOD’s temple.
I married the first time at age 19. By this time, I had been engaging in pornography, nightly fantasies, and daily—sometimes several times per day—masturbation for at least 6 years. My wedding night was a joke. I couldn’t perform; I didn’t know how.
My bride was a virgin, and of course, she thought it was her fault, that she was undesirable, or that she “wasn’t doing something right”. In truth, her fear and inhibition did complicate matters, but if I’d not been polluted with so many fantasies about what “real sex” was going to be like, I truly believe that night, although awkward, could probably have been a wonderful experience for both of us. Instead, because she didn’t have a clue as to how to satisfy what I wanted (the same desires that had been satisfied nightly for years), I was disappointed, frustrated, and we didn’t consummate the marriage that night. Indeed, it was some three months before we DID finally have sex, and I was overwhelmingly disappointed. No, it wasn’t her; it was the fantasies in my head that had done the damage.
In the army it got worse. I had free rein to all the pornography that I wanted. I never dealt with the prostitutes that frequent military bases, because (1) I was too scared of diseases, and (2) I could satisfy my darkest fantasies, no matter how lurid, in the privacy of my room. My spiritual self-worth deteriorated, although I continued to attend church and put on a bold front.
You see, I’m a minister.
Not just a youth minister, not just a choir director/music minister, not just a Sunday School teacher, although in no way do I mean to put down those positions. But much more, I’m a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I stood behind pulpits around the nation (traveling from one region to another while in the military), and proclaimed the truth and power of God’s Word, about how He is able to deliver from ANY bondage; then I would go home—alone—and yield to those same temptations. Granted, the Spirit had helped me often times, and I was growing stronger at resisting pornography, but I still fell, and far too often.
And each time I yielded to the lust of the flesh, be it pornography, or just masturbation--with my own imagination providing the images--Satan would immediately whisper that I was unworthy, that GOD would never use me again, that there was no way I could continue to preach with such filth in my heart. I thank GOD that each time Satan came around with his hateful, destructive lies, GOD was there to remind me of the truth.
But masturbation is never satisfied. I was a divorcee by this time, and although I still struggled with pornography from time to time, it had become dull to me, uninteresting. The thoughts and fantasies that I could conjure up were so much more exciting, powerful, and they served what I wanted. My fantasies grew more obscene, my darkest secret lusts grew more vile, and my walk with GOD suffered greatly. Now it was not just masturbation, although that was still the primary source of my sexual gratification.
Now—as a divorced man, and experienced in how to trigger the right responses in a woman—I was dating, and using my seductive strengths to overwhelm girlfriends who were innocent. I never had, and never have, had intercourse outside the realms of marriage, but I know—and regret horribly—that I corrupted several young ladies without ever having intercourse with them. I took their emotional virginity without taking the physical. They were left scarred, probably more deeply than if it had been consensual sex.
The lady who is now my wife has been the most wonderful partner that any man could ever ask for. For the first years of our marriage, I continued to struggle with masturbation. This was primarily because of our launch into the Internet, and what glossy magazines from the corner store had never been able to show, I could finally download and see in the privacy of my own home. This is the primary reason that Internet pornography has such a stranglehold on countless Christians; no longer is there the fear of being seen coming out of the store with a magazine. Now, we can simply lock the doors, pull the drapes, and feast our eyes on the most deviant acts/images our demented hearts can imagine. Yes, even more than my twisted thoughts had ever entertained.
When I was introduced to the Internet, and discovered what was available, I became an addict. I would spend hours online (and pardon me if this is TOO graphic) to the point where I would make my own body sore with desire, before I would finally yield to the lust, and again perform the vile act with my own flesh. Normally, I would break down and cry—often even during the act itself—because I hated myself so deeply. I hated the fact that I could control others, but couldn’t control myself. I could stand in a pulpit and harp about how alcohol and tobacco controls people, but refused to mention pornography or fornication, because I knew inside that I was having to struggle with it myself.
Our sex life was/is wonderful. This lady has become my very best and closest friend. She did so before we ever married, actually, so our wedding night THIS time was indeed a beautiful occasion. However, I wasn’t home free…not after 15 years of living with this demonic torment. When sex ended too soon, or I wasn’t fully satisfied, or the occasional time I would have an erotic dream, or the times that I would fall prey to Internet pornography, I would masturbate. However, not only had it become a spiritual shame for me; now I was not only being unfaithful to Christ, but I was being unfaithful to my beloved. My desire was to her, and when I would gratify my own flesh, I knew inside how torn she would be should she ever discover.
It was several years into the marriage before I finally got the nerve up to tell her, and it took a severe depression to do that. I had slipped into such a low state of self-worthlessness, my emotions were so distraught, my self-esteem was so low, and finally in a moment of utter despair, I revealed all to her. I wet our comforter with my tears, literally soaked it, as I poured everything out to her. She was, of course, immediately stunned, and her immediate reaction was to blame herself. However, after my confession, I had to turn around and convince her that SHE was NOT the problem. The problem was within ME.
It was, to say the least, an extremely emotional time, a very traumatic time, in our marriage, but she listened to me, she TRIED to understand me, and most importantly, she refused to leave me there in the gutter. She convinced me of my worth not only to her, but to GOD. My stature as a preacher of His Word was too important to allow it to be polluted with pornography and masturbation. These were things I’d known all along, but hearing them come from someone who loved me and cared about me, someone who I felt I’d betrayed, was the boost that I needed.
Most importantly, GOD supported me. He has been the most incredible support and friend and Father and Saviour that anyone could ever know. You see, the way this destroys us spiritually is by attacking our idea of how much we’re worth to Him. Ironically, I will be preaching a message soon on the topic of Forgetting. We cannot allow our past to destroy our future. It is by the Grace of our Lord Jesus that I have been able to not only fight, but YES…to OVERCOME…this weakness, this enemy, this sickness, this SIN. Realizing our own helplessness to defeat such a powerful foe causes us to look for help; I found help in my wife, and more importantly, I found help in Christ. I realized that I might be a sinner, when I sin, but that doesn’t stop Him from loving me. He died for me when I was a sinner; how much more would He give to have me as His child? It is realizing that I am helpless without Him that causes me to look to Him for strength.
I no longer struggle with pornography, bookstand-type or Internet. On the rare occasion that I see more than I ought, I call on the name of Jesus, and move on as quickly as I can click a link on a web page. The desire for self-gratification still tries to sneak in from time to time, but I remind myself that this body is the temple of GOD, and I cannot allow fornication to defile His House.
There IS hope, there IS deliverance. I know. “I once was lost, but now am found…”