Today marks 29 months since the last time I actively watched pornography.
I’ve never committed to 29 months of anything. Aside from being alive, it is my longest running accomplishment.
Throughout the duration these 29 months I’ve fought, lusted, coveted, stumbled, fallen, cried, almost given up, gotten back up, and continued the fight only to fall again. In that regard, it doesn’t seem like much of anything to be proud of.
I believed I was on my own during the months leading up to this arduous journey. I considered myself to be the only man who struggled with an overwhelming desire to watch porn. No one else in my world talked about it. I kept it all inside – my fears, desires, and shame – unknowingly concealing a loaded weapon. A weapon I repeatedly pulled the trigger on unintentionally hurting those around me – particularly women – as they got caught in the crossfire of me trying to figure myself out. I didn’t know how to have real relationships. Everything I knew about sex and beauty had been built upon a lie that looked good and was easy to believe.
A lie that said, “Watching pornography was okay, harmless, and this is what beautiful women look like.”
I did not make the decision to eliminate the integration of pornography from my life so I could write about it and share my story. I never wanted to write about it. I never wanted to speak about it, or be known as a guy who writes about it. I do not want my past glorified in any way. I hate pornography. I hate the lie it sells, and the wake of subtle yet violent destruction it leaves behind.
I thank God for the sudden crop of articles about the harmful affects of pornography popping up over the last few years because it’s about time we realized we are not alone in this struggle. Yet while the intentions of these articles are noble and full of truth, they are not the entire solution to the problem.
I’ve learned too quickly that no one wants to talk face-to-face about the shame they feel deep down inside because they know, know, that something isn’t right. We watch the most intimate, vulnerable act on the planet meant to be shared between only two people, corrupting the very sacredness of sex as we voyeuristically observe from the safety of our home. So we isolate ourselves, and keep the problem inside because no one in our community is talking about the shame they feel.
I thought I didn’t need anyone. I thought the solutions to stop were simple.
I just needed a girlfriend. I just needed to get married. I just needed to have sex.
But the statement, “If I was in a relationship or having sex, I wouldn’t need pornography,” is a lie.
I am married now. And as a married man almost three years sober from using pornography, I still think about it. It’s still at my fingertips every time I sit down at the computer. It’s in the movies every time I go to the theater. It’s all over every mall I shop at, and in every magazine I read.
The reason I don’t go through with it? Contentment. I can watch it any time I want to. But I don’t need it. I’m getting along just fine without it.
Masturbation is procrastination in it’s most tangible and volatile form. And I hate procrastinating.
If you can’t stop yourself as a single person from watching pornography when you sit at your computer, you won’t be able to stop yourself when you’re married either.
Watching pornography and masturbating on its simplest terms gets you addicted to being addicted. Your brain floods with dopamine every time you watch and get off. It’s a natural, God-given drug designed to help us remember every time we experience something new or novel. Dopamine is the same chemical in our brain accessed during an orgasm that drugs like meth and heroine access to make us feel good.
Just like drugs, putting a porn addict in front of a computer is like putting a drug addict in a crack house. I was trying to kick pornography while living alone in an apartment with a computer. I threw my computer off the roof of my apartment building when I realized I couldn’t stop with that machine seemingly mocking me around every corner of my home.
Using pornography is rarely about using pornography. It’s always about something else. For sex provides immediate power and gratification. It smothers anxiety and tension. Sex validates us, and makes us feel loved. And while these things may make us feel good and worthy at the time, they only empty us faster than we can be filled. Which keeps us going back again and again. Because it’s the fastest, easiest way to seek gratification when we are discontent and lonely.
Pornography THRIVES on loneliness.
A multi-billion dollar industry that depends on the exploitation of your loneliness.
A loneliness that doesn’t disappear with marriage or sex.
Loneliness disappears with contentment.
Contentment with who you are.
Contentment with who God created you to be.
Pornography is resistance.
The resistance against contentment.
Resistance stops us from living the lives we were meant to live.
And you cannot know who God created you to be if Resistance has you distracted and defeated. You cannot find who God created you to be if you are not out living life, building relationships, and investing into community. A community that loves you for you. A community that is built upon unconditional love. Human beings were not built to be alone. The punishment of solitary confinement is scientifically said to be one of the most vicious and cruel forms of punishment that can be inflicted upon man.
Take artists for example. Artists thrive in community when they have other like-minded individuals to talk to and brainstorm with. Marathon runners, triathletes, and Crossfit gym communities all succeed and see results because they stick together, work together, and encourage each other.
Some of the greatest artists in our history thought the secret to their success was loneliness. But guys like Kerouac, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Hemingway, and countless others suffered early deaths from drinking too much, cut off their ears, and killed themselves. Thinking you can kick pornography on your own is just as mad.
Unfortunately, this type of community barely exists for those who struggle and believe they are alone. It seems everyone today has experience with pornography, but we are all still too ashamed to talk. We are afraid of it. This type of community should exist within our churches. But church often carries the stigma of using fear tactics of guilt, intimacy with the opposite sex, and sin rather than community to combat pornography.
If you fear sex and pornography, they will conquer you.
Consider this blog a starting point. This post will not stop you from using pornography. Sending an email to me or a friend is just the beginning, and encouraged, but it’s not the solution. No one is going to simply hand you a magic cure or a 12 step program. There is no easy way out. Myself and others can only make you aware of the destructive nature of pornography. You have to do the hard work.
What we need are men and women prepared to stand up and declare without fear that pornography has affected their lives in one way or another, and they are not strong enough to combat it on their own. The moment we do this, fear begins to die and community is born.
Are you going to fight the battle and overcome Resistance, or simply remain a casualty? The fight begins with seeking who you are. And you are so much more than a man or woman who struggles with pornography.
Copyright November 2011 || Make It MAD