3 Lies Porn Tells You

One man's experience through his addiction—and what brought him through the other side.

Three years into our marriage, my wife, Trisha, woke up in the middle of the night and realized I wasn’t in bed. She walked out into the living room and as soon as she looked at the TV, I quickly changed the channel.

She began to question me about what I was watching, why I wasn’t in bed, and why I would immediately change the channel. Then came the repeated question: Do you struggle with lust and pornography? The more she asked the more intense the conversation became.

So I denied everything. I told her I was just channel surfing. I argued with her about what she saw. I convinced her that I didn’t struggle with porn or lust. She had nothing to worry about. I was lying.

For the amount of people who struggle with this, we don’t talk about it near enough.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that night was the first of many opportunities I had over the first 10 years of our marriage to be honest about my porn addiction. I was a pastor and pastors don’t struggle with lust or porn. At least, no other pastor I knew struggled with it, I felt all alone.

The truth was, I wasn’t alone. I had friends I could have talked to. I had accountability partners I lied to. I had other pastors I blew off when asked about sexual sins and struggles.

In my mind, my intentions were good—I was trying to protect my marriage. The reality is, porn was telling me lies and I was buying right into them.

For the amount of people who struggle with this, we don’t talk about it near enough. We don’t talk about it in our families. We don’t talk about it in our churches. We think avoiding it will make it go away. Statistically speaking, over 50 percent of the men reading this post have had exposure to pornography recently. And it’s not just a “man’s problem,” either. About 30 percent of porn users online are women. It isn’t going away.

Here are the three lies porn told me and will tell you as well.

1. That was the last time.

No matter how many times you’ve looked at pornography, that was your last time. Because you truly believe it is your last time buying the magazine, going to the web site, downloading that movie—you don’t need to confess it, because it was the last time. Until tomorrow or next week or next month. It is the last time—until the next time. If porn can convince you that “this time is the last time,” you’ll never tell anyone.

2. You can stop anytime you want.

You know what pornography has done to other marriages, to other friends, to other families, to other church leaders…but you aren’t really “addicted” to pornography. You can stop anytime you want. Besides it doesn’t have the same effect on you that it does on other people. It won’t hurt your life, your marriage, your kids, your church, your ministry like it has other people. You are in control of porn, it doesn’t control you.

Freedom costs something upfront, but not as much as bondage costs over time.

3. Confessing your struggle will cost you too much.

Porn wants you to live in secret. Porn causes us to weigh the cost of confessing against the cost of hiding and convinces us that hiding will be less painful. You think you are helping yourself and your marriage by hiding your porn addiction. Your wife—or husband—won’t understand. Your marriage won’t recover. Your credibility won’t be able to be rebuilt. 

Something I’ve learned the hard way: Hiding sin never provides us with the power to overcome it. The freedom you long for is found in confession. Freedom costs something upfront, but not as much as bondage costs over time.

Believing these lies will never give you the power to overcome them. Trying to quit will not give you the power to quit. But freedom is possible.

Here is what I believe with all of my heart: If you struggle with pornography, God isn’t disappointed in you; He is fighting for you. He died and conquered sin and death so you can have victory in this area of your life.

Where do we begin? How can we overcome something that grips our heart and keeps us living in shame and guilt? The first place I suggest everyone that struggles with pornography start is with a Christian counselor. Both my wife and I needed someone with greater perspective and wisdom than we had to help us overcome this struggle in my life.

Beyond that, I want to share one principle with you that I believe has power to bring freedom, hope and healing to your heart. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Healing comes through confession and prayer. I know that sounds very churchy, but take a look at this Scripture: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

The type of confession that James is talking about isn’t a confession for forgiveness; it is confession for healing. There is a healing that comes to our heart as we confess our sins with one another.

Most of us have the “forgiveness” part of confession down. We know that in order to get forgiveness from God, we have to confess our sins. Maybe you grew up confessing to a priest, maybe it is something that you do in your quiet time with God, maybe it is something that you do after you’ve made a huge mistake. Most of us know that forgiveness from God comes through confession.

We don’t talk about the “healing” type of confession in the Church very often. In fact, we have built a religious system that tries to find healing through hiding our sins, not confessing them. The sins we do confess are “safe” sins: bitterness, jealousy, materialism, anger and selfishness.

I was the master at this. I appeared “authentic” for confessing socially acceptable sins while I lived as a prisoner to sins I wasn’t willing to confess. For years, I forfeited the healing that God longed to bring to my heart not because I didn’t confess my sins to Him; but because I refused to confess them to anyone else.

But here’s 3 truths porn will never tell you:

  • Temptation loses its power when we confess. 
  • Sin loses its ability to keep us fractured when we confess.
  • Addictions lose the control they have in our lives when we confess.
  •  

The secret sin you keep only has power as it remains a secret. The Light will always overcome darkness. The difficult decision we face is allow that Light into the darkest, most embarrassing parts of our heart. God can’t heal the parts of our heart we refuse to bring into the Light. But when we do, we can be healed.

28 Comments

june

1

june commented…

do you mean that not only we confessed it to God also confess it to others as well?

Rocky

13

Rocky commented…

The root problem is false teaching, which leads to false guilt, shame, then secrecy. Teaching that there is a sin in enjoying non-taboo sexual media, aka adult entertainment within the range of God's proscribed sexual activities, leads to shame. Teaching that masturbation is a sin leads to shame. Teaching that thinking about sex is equivalent to lust leads to shame. Shame leads to secrecy and the environment for an addictive behavior cycle is thus created. There are other factors such as misusing such things to treat emotional wounds as well as treating porn usage as a legitimate sexual choice, rather than seeking partnered sex causes one's brain to interpret the false sex as being real, thus, a survival need which must be protected. This brain perception in the limbic portion of the brain is on a primitive level which is often experienced as if another person is running things and the logical mind (sense of self) is pushed aside.

So, it's not porn that lies to you or me... and I realize that the writer was using a figure of speech, personifying "porn", when perhaps he meant the thoughts of the addictive mind: "It was the last time and I can stop at any time" are denial statements of a person not realizing that their brain is addicted to this habit through the reward of orgasm. Use orgasm to reward other habits, even pornless masturbation, and the addiction or dependency will end-- simply by conditioning the brain through reward circuitry to seek a lesser stimuli for sexual arousal. "Confessing your struggle" may be necessary at first, at least to talk to one trusted person about it so as to break out of the secrecy and start some sort of dialogue and get educated on this topic. The shame and secrecy tends to reiniforce the false beliefs already in place, which one fortifies in their mind, only to have the "law of sin working in my members" react in aversion to the "law of God", as one believes it to be at the time. Putting oneself under a law of behaviors and thinking of oneself as righteous in conforming or not to said behavior goals takes the believer out of the grace platform, frustrating the work of the Spirit in them. In this case however, the law that is binding them is not God's law, but man's interpretation of God's law on sexuality.

Once I understood the simple idea of using the reward circuitry of the brain to undo the conditioning that created a demand for porn, and saw that it was successful, I immediately cancelled my accountabiity partner and all filters etc., realizing that these were reinforcing the false beliefs, false laws that were provoking the sin nature into rebellion against these laws I had for myself, not to mention that they are offensive to our calling to dominate and enjoy freedom rather than be dominated and managed by others.

Jono Gasparinatos

1

Jono Gasparinatos commented…

Thanks for the article. Good stuff. Awesome humility by the author commenting back to people! Thankyou for that as well. So telling of someones character :)

One thing i would say. I really 'feel' that we are past the time on mainly pushing confession, i do believe it is a huge step and maybe the first step to combat this devastating giant that is pornography, though, i would say there is so so so many believers who have confessed and are now confessed addicts, though still addicts, it seams so few are being set free, i think confession only brings out into light the fact that there are so many who struggle with it, maybe i am being pesamistic in saying this sadenns me, its good that people are confessing but my heart is burdened as i see and hear more and more people confessing to this struggle and once confessed feel completly hopeless to make the next step, i really feel like we just have a growing pool of confessed believers who are still addicted and feeling hopeless. We need pray! We need Jesus! We need the Gospel! (Am not implying you didnt agree with those last few statements :) as i know you would!, more of a pray and heart cry!)

Steve Cornell

149

Steve Cornell commented…

We also need to work harder at preparing singles for marriage by explaining sexuality better. For one small example, emphasize how differences affect and function in marriage (if interested, http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/sex-and-marriage/)

Steve Cornell

149

Steve Cornell commented…

I have counseled many people who are caught in the grip of addiction. The addictions have involved alcohol, spending money, tobacco, food, gambling, pornography, drugs, exercise, sleeping and more.

The pain in the lives of the addict and those close to him is often significant. Addictions have the power to leave a trail of shattered lives in their wake.

One of the first steps to overcoming a controlling habit is an understanding what it is and the hold it has over you.

Consider: 8 Dynamics of Addiction and A plan for change
http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2007/12/29/8-dynamics-of-addiction-and-a...

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