One Christian gay guy’s thoughts and experiences along this whirlwind journey called life.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
My Fight Against Pornography
The first time I ever looked at pornography was when I was twelve years old. I had went to the theater with a friend of mine and halfway through the movie he nudged me and asked me to accompany him to the restroom. When we got there we were alone, and he proceeded to pull out a Hustler magazine from under his sweater. He told me he had found it in his father's closet and quickly began showing me some of the pictures of naked girls inside. That was how pornography entered my life—through a friend.
From that moment on, I would be consumed with a pornography addiction for another ten years. I realized Hustler didn't exactly have what I wanted to see, and so it wasn't long until I began secretly looking up gay porn on the internet while my parents were away. I'd wait for times when they were away or asleep at night and then I'd get online and look up one picture after another. There were days when I remember doing absolutely nothing but look up porn. And I remember times when I would anxiously look forward to getting home just so I could take a look. I'm sickened now by the thought of how much time I've wasted in my life doing all that. I was a slave to it.
It was pornography that led to my brother finding out I liked other men. While I was at work one day, he decided to snoop through my bedroom and he came across a couple of videos I had. Neither one was marked in any way to indicate what they were, but having them hid, I suppose he put two and two together as to what they must be. He put one of them on and immediately saw two men having sex with each other. He acted funny around me for about a month before finally telling me what he'd seen. At that point, he had moved into his own place and wasn't wanting anything to do with me. It was when I stopped by his place one evening after work that he told me.
I didn't want my little brother knowing I was gay. In fact, I'd always hated the thought of him finding out. So, when he told me he knew, I was devastated to say to the least. And I was even more devastated when he told me some of the hard truths of the matter; that I was living in sin, acting and believing in things that I shouldn't. But the worst of it was that he didn't want to be around me anymore.
After a period of grieving due to my exposed sins, I realized my brother was right. I didn't need to be looking at that stuff. I threw away those two videos and most of the magazines I had, and I tried my best not to look at any of it online. But I also realized I was addicted to it. It's been said that pornography can be a drug, and that's certainly true. I used it that way. I'd look at those other men having sex, and I'd visualize I was either one of them or a further participant. I did that in order to feel closer to other men and accepted—to feel better about myself, in some strange way. I don't know how many men I've had sex with that way. It's more than I can remember. But looking back, I see how true Jesus' words are about those who lust with the eye, committing adultery in the heart. I might not have physically been there, but I might as well have been. The effect was the same. None of that ever truly made me feel better or more accepted. It only made me feel dirty and guilt-ridden, and ashamed. And it made me feel even more distanced from other men, and God.
Over the last two and half years, I've not only been trying to give up pornography, but homosexuality as well. I've never found any true happiness by engaging in any of that sort of thing. And believing those things to be sinful in nature, I want to resist giving into them because I know they are against God, and what God wants for me. Nothing good could ever come from those things.
Having said that, I have to admit that at times I do still give in. I struggle with myself not to give into pornography, lust, creating sexual fantasies, masturbation, and this annoying fixation of wanting to just give up this fight and go out and find myself a boyfriend and to just be gay. I know none of these things are good. However, in moments of weakness, I find myself giving into them. I don't give into them like I used to. In fact, I can see very clearly where in the last couple of years I have managed to gradually wean myself away from them. In the case of pornography, I initially only threw away about half of what I had. Then a few months later (about a year ago), I added XXXchurch, an online accountability program, to my computer. That's helped me dramatically in resisting online pornography. And only a few months ago, I threw away what magazines or pictures I still had left. I went from looking at the stuff on almost a daily basis, to now-a-day only looking at it maybe once every other month, if that. At least that's how it's been the last year or so, and I hope I'll eventually reach a point of not ever looking at it.
I've been questioned about the level of hatred I have for the stuff, and I'll admit that it's probably not enough. But I do hate it. I hate the thought of what sort of lives those other guys must be living, and their lack of humility in allowing the whole world to view them that way. I hate the thought that those guys, more than likely, are just like me in so many ways. They've probably went through some of the exact same pains and grief and struggling in their lives as I have. And to see them living out a lie, that homosexual sex will somehow bring them some sort of happiness, saddens me beyond belief.
In my last post, I mentioned the regret I felt about looking at pornography last Friday night. Yes, I hated the way it made me feel afterwards. It made me feel dirty and ashamed. But I also hated the fact that I'd given into something and supported something that's ruining so many people's lives. I hated that I'd disobeyed God like I did. I hated the fact that the whole time I was looking at it, God was gently calling me away from it through a song I've been listening to lately, and yet I ignored His call. I hate that, by giving in, I only managed to set myself back even further from the goal I wish to achieve. To be free!
Jay mentioned about praying for those people in the pornography as a means of deterring myself from looking at it. It was in doing that that I've been able to reduce so drastically the amount of time I spend looking at pornography. In the last year, I don't know if I've even looked at any of it a total of ten times, but any number of times is too many. Usually, when tempted to look, I think back to one particular guy—a thin, weak looking, young man—whose image has pretty much been burned into the back of my mind, and I pray for him. I pray that he's no longer involved in any of that, and that he's found God, living right, and is happy. I've even cried for him a few times. I've wanted to reach out and to help him. And yet I'll never be able to. I'll never know if my prayers have helped him. At least not in this life. And I realize that it's people like me who give that industry the money which allowed him to be bought into that. I think about all that, and whatever desire to look at pornography I've felt goes right out the window. I no longer see those guys as sexual objects. I see them as REAL people with REAL problems and REAL struggles, and I feel sorry for them. And I feel sorrow for their families as well.
In my last post, I posed the question “So why do I keep turning to other things” instead of God? I know why I did the other night. I was feeling frustrated, stressed, tired, and lonely, and all that had basically built up for over a week to the point where that was all that was on my mind. And I just no longer cared about resisting. I just wanted to feel something good for a change. So, I turned to pornography and masturbation. And, naturally, that did absolutely nothing to help me with my problems. It only left me feeling more frustrated than I did. When I turned to those things, it was only because I'd allowed so many things to weigh me down that I'd pushed God to the back of my mind. As I said before, I should have been turning to Christ concerning everything that's been going on lately, and instead, I was ignoring Him and turning to old ways. I temporarily forgot all I had learned the last couple of years and resorted back to what used to work--to what physically feels good. I'm not trying to justify what I did, only to try to explain why I think I did it.
One of you mentioned you thought I was being a little hard on myself. Maybe I was. Now I say that, because we all fall from time to time. Not one of us is perfect, and in moments of weakness it's real easy sometimes to slip up. It's important to remember that and not just fall to pieces when that happens. God still loves you and forgives you even if you do give in to temptation.
I think about the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Romans, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
What Paul was saying is that no body's perfect. We are all tempted by something, and sometimes we give in to those thing, even if we don't want to. That's why I keep on turning to other things. It's in the sinfulness of the flesh that I am constantly battling. The desire to please God verses the desire to please myself. The other night, I allowed my flesh to take over. I wanted to please myself, and so I gave in to something I hate. I did that which I did not want to do.
In Jeff Konrad's book, “You Don't Have to Be Gay”, he uses an acronym to help people better learn when they might fall. That acronym is H.A.L.T., which stands for “Are you hungry, are you angry, are you lonely, are you tired?” It is in these feelings that people are most likely to give up their fights and give into their temptations. In learning how to recognize these feelings when they come upon you, a person can work to counter these things and be on their guard. The other night, I was both lonely and tired. I suppose I was a little angry about a few things as well. And rather than recognizing these things and turning to God for help, I decided to wallow in self-pity and depression and take an easy, temporary, way out. That's why I looked at that pornography.
Now, to talk about the effects of pornography. I know it's polluted my mind. It's caused me to envy and lust after other men. I've held these above average looking guys up on a pedestal and downgraded the very body God gave me. I've told myself I could never measure up to or be as good as them. That I'm not good-looking. In truth, I don't really think I'm that bad off. However, I am still awfully self-conscious about my looks sometimes. It's damaged my self-esteem. And in looking at those other guys having sex, that has made me want to have sex as well. It's tempted me to not only look, but go out and do. It's made me feel dirty and ashamed and distanced from God. And it's saddened me. I'm saddened to think about how much of my life I've wasted on it. I'm saddened by the secrecy of looking at it. I'm saddened by the thought that, by looking at it, I've supported it, and therefore allowed it to continue on in the world. I've helped other people sin, by looking at it, and that bothers me greatly. I'm mournful for those men, and women, who get sucked in and involved in that industry.
I know if I could go back in time, to when my friend first introduced me to pornography, I would tell him “No thanks” and I'd never again take another look at it. But since I can't go back, all I can do is pray for forgiveness and do absolutely everything I can to resist and to fight the temptations to look at it. If any of you are struggling with pornography, please do everything you can to give it up too. Throw away all of it you have. Stay out of the adult bookstores and the like. Find an accountability partner. Add the XXXchurch program onto your computer. Even better, add on the SafeEyes internet filter. Whatever you do, just get away from it as much as you can. Turn to Jesus and live to please Him rather than yourself. Because that's where only true happiness lies. It's not found in pornography.