Updated: Jan 30, 2021
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” - The Apostle Paul
My ex-wife’s slap burned. I was curled up as she responded to the shock of her new husband telling her that her dream had been shattered. The perfect man, the perfect marriage, was actually the introduction of a nightmare. She had caught me lying, and in turn I told the whole truth. Everything she wanted to know had to be answered. In the coming days, weeks, we began to confront an addiction I’d had for almost twenty years. A few close friends stood by, overtime some left, new ones came, but no one saw me in the dark but God.
If you told me five years ago that porn and sex trafficking were linked, I would have nodded politely, but disagreed vehemently inside. Going into my marriage with a porn addiction is what changed my mind. It seems an obvious link today, but back then I thought, “Clicking a link can’t be connected to that high of a level of evil.”
What changed my mind? Primarily God pointing it out. Secondary to this, restoration of my mind and heart. Having been sexually abused at the age of three, I thought sexual interaction was normal. I had no concept of boundaries. By ages 6-9 I began masturbating and an addiction to porn that I would fight for twenty years. At the age of twelve I gave up my “virginity”, and that cycle just kept getting worse. I was haunted by terrible imaginations and dreams that involved everything from being a trafficker to being trafficked. Somehow, the demonic blinds us to what is really happening. No one sane could live my life and think, “How could porn leap to trafficking?”
Porn, sex trafficking, rape, pedophilia, etc. are all symptoms of a root issue called lust. Lust binds men to powerlessness through fear, shame, and punishment. The torment I endured, kept me from confessing to my ex-wife until she had me cornered. In the most twisted irony, these dynamics create a cycle of victimizing others through hyper-sexualization. To feel powerful, loved, and confident we seek out ways to fill up the lust in our hearts. We attempt to glamorize it, but it leaves us feeling a little more dead inside. The Apostle Paul once wrote himself, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
I was a lifeguard one summer. If there is anything I know about the water it is that when your drowning –Its impossible to save yourself. When I admitted my secret life to my ex, she couldn’t handle it. There was no room for me to be proud about having come into the open. I destroyed her life. It was only shame. My work, family, and self, were all suffering because I had chosen powerlessness over vulnerability. Powerlessness destroyed trust wherever I went. I was chained (I thought) to my brokenness. Some very close friends bluntly asked/told me, “Do you want to stay married?” and, “This is all you. Seek help or lose your marriage.” I decided to stand up and heal, I found the only way out is to hit harder than I’d been hit. Boys might be boys, but a man goes to war.
Men who want freedom from lust have to fight for it. There is no way around it. You will feel helpless, you will feel like lustful things are your identity. However, you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. Its not cute, its manly. It will require more than just prayer or reading your bible. Men in the church seem to think they are helpless and they beg God for help. Yet no magical freedom occurs. That is because If you are bound in your mind, you are bound in your body. A man who recognizes he is not a slave in his heart will be free in his body. Jesus said that whomever He sets free, is free indeed. As Paul echoes, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” You are free from your thoughts, temptations, and past sins. They do not define you, you can write a new story.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Frederick Douglass once said, “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” We’ve all seen people complain. I’ve watched people complain about their finances, but when I offered them a job they didn’t want to work that hard. They had a good idea, but no character behind it. Prayer is an invitation from God to walk in partnership with him. Its not only in the closet, its in doing good works that create change.
To overcome pornography, change my mindset, and live out of love instead of fear, I had to take action. I prayed in the dark, alone with God. I sought counseling. I read scripture. I found new hobbies. However, there is something I actively chose to do that physically fought against the Lust of this world. I started donating against sex trafficking. There are spiritual and mental principles that came into effect through this.
First, it taught me not to see the opposite sex not as sexual, but as people. It opened up conversations with my ex-wife and others, which created a mindset against Lust. This active decision helped rewire my brain from being a victim to being a powerful person. It reinforced human value over temporary pleasure.
Second, whatever you plant in a field, you reap from the field. When I donated toward my spiritual stand for purity I reaped grace to be pure. Essentially, I determined that I would pay physically and spiritually to build a life of freedom. As Jesus endured the cross for the joy He knew he would have in seeing us free, I decided to go with him.
We are created to do good. It is why the whole world is crying out for the end of sex trafficking. However, who will actually set us free to be this new world? It is Jesus.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36, Jesus