I am a man that struggles with sin. I don’t hide it, and I don’t excuse it. I did a poll a while back on twitter that asked the question, “When you look at porn, do you make up excuses or know you’re guilty, though you struggle?” It was a complete shutout in that everyone in this poll, all 11 people, admitted they’re guilty. Amen to that I say. In my struggles, I never used one excuse. Meaning, I never tried to vindicate my actions. The only thing I ever thought to myself is, “I hope I don’t get caught.” Almost always, the next words after my sin was, “God, I’m sorry.” Before you think I just brushed my sin aside, and marked it forgiven and never thought about it again, understand, I never felt fully forgiven or absolved. I didn’t, because I knew personally how deep the struggle went for me.
Pornography is one of those pet sins we love to write about and talk about. We have books and articles that list steps to overcome, and to recognize how hurt your loved one will feel or probably is feeling. We have articles from wives talking about the hurt it causes and from the men who have (allegedly) put the struggle of porn behind them, encouraging you towards a deeper purity in your life by following a series of steps. All those things are great.
This is not what this article is about.
At best, it could be considered an open letter to wives to understand better the heart of their spouses, or for men who struggle in this area, to read the article and nod their head in agreement, because I know they are out there. (I suppose I shouldn’t put it into specific categories, since women struggle with porn too!)
If you are a card-carrying, full-fledged, redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus, forgiven Christian then you know what I know. There are no excuses. The pop para-therapeutic, Christian, kinda-counselors out there want to put a face on your problem. They want to say, “the reason you haven’t overcome is because you think one, or all of these excuses:
I’m not hurting anyone.
It’s not really cheating.
I’m spicing up my sex life.
I do it alone
I get ideas for the bedroom.
I’m an adult and I can do what I want.
I’m meeting needs she won’t fulfill.
I do it when I feel lonely.”
It seems all very nice and organized, but If we are the Christians we say we are, then somewhere in the middle of all those excuses is an immense amount of guilt (or “conviction” if you’re one of those Christian who don’t believe we should feel “guilty”), over this sin. If that is the case, then all those above excuses are nothing more than fodder for the masses that need to analyze and excuse everything away. That leaves only one answer for the Christian, who looks at porn or lies or steals or frankly, does anything contrary to God’s will; We know we’re sinning.
First, if it’s true that it’s an addiction, why do we treat it like it’s so easy to overcome? “Stop it, and get an internet filter!” is an almost verbatim answer, among others, to nearly every article or book on the topic. My brother was a drug and alcohol addict and it took years before he was clean and even still, I know it’s an internal struggle for him. If it is an addiction, let’s not trivialize it with excuses. Let’s treat it seriously. Let’s understand that this may not go away in a snap. We may have to offer support, love and forgiveness, 70 x 7, no matter how much it hurts. It’s easy to focus on ourselves, and how much it’s hurting us, but let’s be realistic, if there is an addictive quality to someone’s porn watching, they know its sin, they are feeling the guilt, and they are having a hard time stopping. Heaping on more guilt only drives people to greater despair, whatever the sin.
If it’s not an addiction, we still know its sin we’ve just given in to, maybe once or more than a few times. It doesn’t really matter. You could make up a list of excuses why Christians, including pastors, are looking at porn, but we’d still know it’s a sin. There’s a reason it’s done in the dead of night when people are sleeping or when no one’s home. We are hiding abnormal behavior from everyone. We don’t want to get caught. All the excuses in the world don’t change the fact that it’s done in the dark. So whatever excuses you think we are giving ourselves (and I sometimes doubt the statistics of how many actually use any of those), the truth is the excuses are more for you to psychoanalyze and develop plans to fix us, than it is for us to shout from the rooftops, “we’re proud of our porn!” That’s what all those excuses do. They create validation. It makes people think that we have some weird acceptance of the behavior. But the reality is, we are hiding in a little corner of our basement, hoping we don’t hear the creak of a floor board that tells us someone is coming to check on what we’re doing! We like hearing the excuses from the experts, because it makes us sound less deviant, less sinful. But, the truth is, it’s a sin and the majority of us know it and don’t trivialize it. Whether it’s a war of addiction or simply a fleshy nature that wants what it wants, we know what we are looking at and why. Because we like to and want to, even if at the same time, we wrestle and hate it.
So, what do we do?