On laptop late at night

Four Years After Porn Addiction…What I’ve Learned About Hope And Healing

Aug 11, 2017 by Frank Powell
Frank Powell

Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. He plays golf occasionally. He drinks coffee often. You can find more of his content at http://blog.baysideonline.com/

Porn has staked its claim in our culture, and no demographic is immune. For years, I was a statistic, caught in the clutches of addiction. I’m one of the lucky ones, however. I got caught.

Four years ago this month, I walked in the door from an afternoon run to find Tiffani crying. She had my computer open and stumbled across my browsing history. It was littered with porn.

The days and weeks that followed were as close to hell as I can imagine. Tiffani debated whether she should leave. She had every right to. I lied to her for years, going to great lengths to conceal my secret, from the world, yes, but especially from my wife. I also worked at a church at the time. And I knew what would happen if they found out, I would most certainly be “relieved of my duties.” Unfortunately, in most settings, even in most church settings, the culture is not conducive for something like confessing a porn addiction.

I suspect many pastors, probably a few who read this post, are battling a porn addiction and WANT healing. But the stakes are too high. When members of our church come clean about addiction, we celebrate their courage. If a pastor does the same thing, the response is a bit different. And, look, I get it. The standard is different for leaders. I got that. But the standard is also different for the community of God’s people. I don’t have any good answers. I leave that for the someone else. I just handle the ranting.

But this is more than some flippant rant. You see, several months after my wife uncovered my addiction, I wrote a blog about it. For the first time, the whole world knew. I was terrified. I peed my pants a little. I shared, though, because I wanted to give people hope.

The messages poured in, almost immediately. And they haven’t stopped. To this day, some four years later, I still receive at least one email or Facebook message a week.

I’ve probably received four or five hundred in total, many of them from pastors. Tiffani has probably received a few hundred messages as well. She also wrote about porn, but she did so from her perspective, that of an addict’s spouse.

This porn addiction thing is for real, and I think the church must create space for confession and healing.

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When you’re addicted to porn, the world is hauntingly small. You pass by people all the time. You engage people in conversation. But you’re living in different worlds. That’s how you feel, at least. A great chasm separates you from everyone else, and in your neck of the woods, the voices of shame heavy the air like a muggy July day in the south.

In reality, your world has many inhabitants. “No one else struggles with this” might be Satan’s most clever tactic. That’s why I share now, to remind you’re not alone. To give you hope. You can overcome. You’re not exiled from the land of hope and healing.

Porn, like all evil, has no power over those who follow Jesus.

I’m no longer shackled to the chains of addiction. And although porn is forever part of my story, porn no longer writes the narrative. I do. This means I can speak about my addiction in the context of freedom and redemption and healing.

For years, this wasn’t true. My addiction called the shots.

But God took those chapters – the ones I wished at first tried to conceal and then tried to remove – and he redeemed them. Nothing is lost or wasted with our Father. He takes the dirtiest, darkest, most shameful of moments and baptizes them in his love and grace.

My story has become my testimony. This isn’t any of my doing, of course. The blood of the Lamb, our Savior, makes this happen. Testimonies are red-lettered stories, words re-framed by the Word.

While Christ alone can change our story, the choice remains ours. Will he allow him in? Will we give him our brokenness and shame? Will we come to him with a willing heart?

When I talk with people in the clutches of addiction, they often ask me when I knew I was no longer addicted. Was there a moment? Was I free after being porn-free for a period of weeks or months?

My response starts here. The temptation to watch porn will never go away, not as long as the Evil One prowls around. Even Jesus faced temptation. The difference, however between being tempted and being addicted is your response. When you’re free, you can choose your response. When you’re addicted, you have no control. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about watching porn or buying clothes.

Four years ago, when the temptation to watch porn knocked, I answered. Period. Today, when temptation knocks, the choice to answer is mine.

The choice was always mine. It’s always yours too. But you must lay your ego aside, and in humility, allow the Spirit to call the shots.

Don’t mistake this for trying harder or putting more effort. For years, I tried to overcome porn with effort. I often made vows with myself (and God).

“This is it. No more porn. Ever. I promise.”

I broke every one.

When people approach me for help, the inevitable question is “What did you do overcome your porn addiction?”

Here’s what it took. My wife discovering porn on my computer. My marriage nearly falling apart. Three months of intense counseling. And when I say counseling, I don’t mean coffee shop confessions with your homeboy. I mean scheduled meetings with a professional counselor who specializes in sexual addiction. I also bought a lock box, and every night before Tiffani went to bed I locked all my electronics in the box and gave it to her.

Now, I’m not saying your life needs to crumble before change can commence. I am saying your ego doesn’t easily or naturally do humility. And I am also saying humility is the foundation for change.

Freedom always costs something. There are no quick fixes, easy solutions, or “get out of addiction free” cards. That ain’t how it works, Slappy.

I know your name’s not Slappy. Just stay with me.

Another thing about freedom? You always find it in community. God leads communities into freedom, not individuals, lest your head swells up and explodes. That would be bad.

People of the cross share life, we do life together. This burden is not yours to bear alone.   

All of this probably sounds overwhelming. You’ve been struggling to keep your head above addiction’s water for years. To think about battling this thing for six months or a year, that’s daunting, yes. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about tomorrow. You overcome addiction the same way you overcome any kind of evil, day-by-day. All Christian living is right now living.

Don’t set three-month, six-month goals. Your only goal is to answer the question, “What is God asking me to do right now?” Don’t allow your mind to travel past today. It will try. When it does, bring it back home, to the present. Through the Spirit, you have exactly what you need to overcome right now.

I pray you find freedom. No, I pray the Spirit reminds you that freedom is already yours in Christ.

Grace and peace, friends.    

This article was written by Frank Powell and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here


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