Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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The Negative Effects Of Porn

CC photo courtesy of erik gould via Flickr
CC photo courtesy of erik gould via Flickr

I was 6 years old when I saw my first pornographic film. Some would wonder how a kid that age got anything pornographic in the 80s. Most people my age at that time usually found something in their parents’ bedroom. You’re very curious at that age, and anytime someone tells you “No, don’t go in here” or “Don’t do that,” it makes you want to do it more. One curiosity leads to the next. And although my parents didn’t consume it, my friend’s parents did.

I didn’t necessarily understand what was going on, but it got my attention, and I was drawn to it. It’s funny how you don’t have to work on lust, being selfish, prideful, angry, etc. It just all comes naturally.

I had no idea how those little things would rewire my brain for the worse. A novelist named Charles Reade one said, “Sow a thought, and you reap an act. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” That quote reminds me so much of this verse:

“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).

Porn was hard to come by before college, but it did come by. Sometimes I would find magazines in alleys, or behind convenience stores (I grew up in the ‘hood), or at houses that my mom would clean. She sometimes brought me along to help. She was trying to make a living; I was trying to get a kick. It was almost a guarantee it was in the house, unless the homeowners were believers. That’s not the case today. It’s so easily accessible that anyone with curiosity can look at it without everyone knowing.

In 2000 when I went to college, I had consistent access to a computer with high-speed Internet. During that time, file-sharing engines were very popular (remember Napster?). This proved to be one of the biggest tools to fuel my desire. As genres increased, so did my curiosity. And although I knew it was sinful to watch porn, I didn’t really see the dangers of it. To me it was an outlet until I got married, and after that I wouldn’t desire it anymore, right? But because I knew it was sinful, I didn’t want to do it, and I desired a girlfriend to keep me accountable. In my mind, if I knew I was in a committed relationship, I would feel too guilty to view it. That thinking showed a lot about my immaturity, and later in my life it also proved to be completely false.

So my usual routine would consist of getting on the computer, opening a file-sharing program, doing a search for “porn,” downloading all that was available and watching whatever downloaded first. Then I would feel guilty and promise myself and God that I would not do it again … and then do it again the next day. That sense of curiosity would always get to me, because when you do a blanket search for “porn,” you get all kinds of things. Regardless of what that video you downloaded was named, the content could be completely different. People constantly misnamed videos to bypass the filters.

I would put what I found into three categories: Annoying, Good Stuff and Shocking. Sometimes I’d get advertisements to websites or short teaser clips; those would be Annoying. The Good Stuff would be mainstream porn actors and genres like “barely legal” or anything with to do with “college co-eds.” The Shocking would be sadism & masochism, bondage, amputee and even bestiality.

But I did not know there was a fourth category. Something I did not even think of or have a term for. Something that would change me forever. Every once in a while, I would come across child pornography. My stomach was sick. This can’t be happening. I was saddened and beyond shocked. Anytime I came across these videos, I prayed and hoped that they were old videos and that the child in them had been rescued. I prayed and pleaded to God …

How could someone do this? Well, the reality is that I was part of the problem. You see, the “Good Stuff” I referred to earlier—the “college co-eds” or “barely legal” genres—these were on market because there was a demand for them. Any hunger you feed is going to grow, and the more people draw close to a boundary, they will push it.

It took a little bit of time, but my use of pornography slowly started to decline because I finally realized what God was saving me from. See, God doesn’t call things “sin” to keep us from having fun. He’s trying to protect us. But I still didn’t get the picture. My porn binging ended in 2005, but it didn’t solve the root of the issue; it just solved one symptom.

Freedom is not the absence of sin but the presence of Christ. I didn’t watch much porn after 2005, but I did manage to turn my porn addiction into sex addiction.

This article is a warning about the dangers of what you think might be harmless. I’ve heard men come to me and say that they don’t watch it that often, so it isn’t a problem. See, where I started wasn’t a problem either. Nor anything in between. But like I said before, any hunger you feed is only going to grow. And I know that my story is not unique to some of you.

I ended up getting discipled by a very solid group of men, and I also attended a 12-step program. I surrounded myself with people who would encourage me and keep me accountable. These tools gave the Lord time to work on my heart and rewire years of sinful gratification. I learned that you get out what you put in. I was very tired of where I was, and I desperately wanted freedom.

And that brings a smile to my face, because no matter how many times I fell short—with tears running down my face, asking God why I was feeling that way—He proved to be faithful. I understood how Paul felt in Romans 7:15 when he told how much he hated what he did. But I had faith that the Lord would eventually heal me. For years I believed. And it wasn’t until I opened my fist and gave up what I wanted Him to heal me from, that He came and rescued me. I wanted intimacy with God, and for that I had be to vulnerable to him. He didn’t make it easier for me; he just made me stronger.

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:17-18).

God rescued me from me.

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