My struggle with pornography started when I was about 11 years old. My family was visiting friends and we children were sent to play in the basement. While down there I came across an open box sitting in plain sight, filled with pornography magazines. Curiosity got the better of me and I took a look. I was so shocked by what I saw that the room seemed to spin. My senses were overwhelmed and I put the magazine down quickly, trying to calm my beating heart. I knew it was wrong to look but I went back to it and ripped out a page with the intention to show it to my friends.
That week I took that picture to school like it was the forbidden fruit. There was something dreadful yet exciting about it. When I showed it to my friends, grade fivers, they laughed and said their dad's had boxes filled with it too. They started bringing in pages and we would trade them as if they were baseball cards. Later in grade 7 this became something worse as a student started bringing in entire magazines to sell. At the age of 13 I was hooked on something that I should never have had access to.
My mistake was in not talking to my dad when I found it in his friend's basement. Right away I knew it was something dark and secretive and I made a conscience decision to keep it in that place in my life. It was not an easy subject to broach with parents at that time but it was a bragging thing with friends, for a while at least. But after a while it soon became so secretive it was not even talked about among friends. Circumstances were such in my family that between moving and going into Junior High I lost most of my friends. Having very few friends and not a lot of males in my life meant that I did not have a lot of guidance. But, to be perfectly honest here, I did not try to seek out any guidance either.
I just praise the Lord that God did not leave me in that place and that he had a plan to set me free. I praise him that his love became the greatest force in my life. I am so very grateful that he did not leave me in that dark and ugly place to rot until my death. I am thankful that he loved me enough to pursue me, to claim me, to transform me, to pull me up out of the muck and mire, to set me upon the Rock.
Pornography is a wicked and deceptive thing that eats away at the hearts of men. It distorts and disturbs. It sends tentacles down deep and refuses to let go. It burns images and thoughts into the mind that are impossible to let go of. It can't be dealt with on our own and we do not have the power to break its attraction and hold over us. It is a secretive thing that is done in the solitude of darkness and the only way to begin fighting back is to be honest and to drag it out into the revealing light of God.
The encouraging thing is that nothing is impossible with Jesus. He came to set us free from everything that would keep us enslaved. For some people it is addictive behaviours, whether it be alcohol, drugs, pornography, cutting, gambling or any of the others. Freedom is possible because Jesus promised and then made it possible. When we accept him we are made as a new creation with all the old falling away and we are given a new nature and character. Our heart is made new as is our mind. The shackles, the bindings, those tentacles are all cut away and made powerless over us. We are no longer a slave to sin:
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)
A word of caution here though. Just because we are no longer slaves to it does not mean that we will not choose to participate in it. If we desire to we can easily turn back to sin. It is our desire that we must now be careful of because our great desire should be to love Jesus with our entire being but we can easily allow it to become something else. This is where men need to support one another, to be honest with each other, to stop worrying about reputations and consider the devastating impact of sin.
Men need to step forward as mentors and participants in young men's lives. They should be watching for the warning signs and be there as a friend to help them from ruining themselves. These are things that most boys will not talk about and would rather keep in the dark. We need to seek them out, to be honest with them, and help them avoid what has become a sickness on the Internet. With a few key strokes a man can access a great list of things to watch, all for free, all available for our young men. We need accountability as men in a big way and it doesn't matter if we are 11 years old or 111, we need each other. We need to raise or children in such a way that they understand that we are not trying to control them but instead to keep them accountable, and we should show them how we are also accountable to someone.
The Church has become very weak and I believe a lot has to do with the hidden sins of the darkness. These things steal our spiritual authority and power. They leave us weak and vulnerable. They leave us filled with guilt and dependent on something that is not Jesus Christ. We must start being honest about these things, set up some accountability, receive forgiveness, clean the slate and start over again. Don't let the enemy have the victory here. He has oppressed and enslaved too many of our men with this stuff. It is not harmless and it will not be kept in the dark for long. Jesus warned us that we cannot have two masters over us:
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Matthew 6:22-24)
The Word promises us that whatever has been done in the darkness will be exposed in the light. It is better to deal with it now than to be embarrassed in front of Jesus. If we are children of the light we can have nothing to do with the things of the darkness. In the power and authority of Jesus Christ let us rise up, throw these things off of us and work together for his glory and the freedom of others from this slavery of sin. Come on men, take your place!