Not long ago I had the privilege of having a deep conversation with a young man who was attending an excellent local Bible school.
What made this conversation unusual was that this young man began telling me about an addiction to pornography that had gripped him since he was nine. He was one of the oldest children in a large family, so hiding his addiction had been no small feat, but he managed it.
Sometime in his teens, the grip of the porn was so enslaving that he began to want to be free. He tried, he prayed, but it still gripped him like chains around his wrists and ankles. While he kept the happy face for outsiders, he sank into deep and angry depression, especially angry at God for not freeing him. The depression grew so deep and dark that he began to contemplate suicide. As the addiction continued unabated, the suicide contemplation became a suicide plan. He wasn’t sure when he was going to carry it out, but he was going to do it.
Then he went to the Bible school where he and his first-year classmates studied Romans together. He learned especially through Romans 6 who he was in Christ and the power that was available to him through Christ’s victory over the old man.
Something clicked. The chains fell away. He was freed from porn.
That was around last February, so it’s getting close to a year. He’s free, he’s transformed, he’s unafraid to tell his story, and he’s passionate to help others.
But one thing he said really stuck with me. He told me he was working on learning how to relate to women as people instead of objects.
Actually, that didn’t just stick with me. It punched me in the stomach.
I talked with him for a while about that and gave a few suggestions. But then I said, “You know, I want to ask you to imagine a scenario for a minute. What if you had met and married one of these sweet girls at this Bible school, but you hadn’t gotten free from porn and had carried that addiction into your marriage. See if you can imagine your life as a porn addict ten or twenty years into marriage. All that anger and depression and those suicidal thoughts and feelings could harden inside you and you could start taking it all out on your sweet wife and children.”
He said, “I can absolutely see what you’re saying. That’s probably what would have happened.”
I told him I was telling him that—with a lot of passion—because I know so many people in these sorts of situations. So many abusers have, as part of the complete picture of their abuse, a significant and often very long-standing addiction to pornography. One abuser told his wife that he had talked with many, many, many men (his context would have been men of the church) who all acknowledged that they were involved with porn too, implying that his own involvement with it—since childhood—wasn’t nearly as big a deal as she was making it out to be.
No wonder abuse within the church is such a significant problem.
On the one hand, if this young Bible school student can serve as an example, a porn addiction can send a person into dark and angry depression.
On the other hand, it presents women as objects.
This is a combination that will act like gasoline on the fires of an entitled mind.
There is power to be freed from porn, through the Lord Jesus Christ. For those who desire freedom and come to Christ to break free, there is great hope.
But because many decide instead to wear the “sheep” mask while they prey on the sheep, there is also much to be done for the rest of us. For us, power over porn may lie in helping some escape and find their own freedom in Christ, from the darkness of abuse.
He is the Rescuer from all kinds of enslavements.