Pornography, that is.
My life changed forever when I was 21.
I'd been curious for years to see what the big deal was about pornography. One afternoon in my empty apartment, I decided to just look around the Internet. After all, I told myself, this is something guys struggle with, so it's not like I'll get hooked or anything.
The instant that first image popped up, I knew I was addicted.
And I was a Christian.
* * *
I grew up in a Christ-centered home and gave my life to Jesus when I was 3 or 4. I memorized a lot of Scripture, read my Bible and talked with God about everything. Well, almost everything.
The summer I turned 3, I was molested by a couple I trusted. They made it seem that it was my fault and that I'd get in trouble if I told anyone. I felt dirty and guilty but decided to push the memories as far away as possible.
But they kept coming back. The shame I felt only fueled my feeling of worthlessness before God. Although I turned to Him for many things in my life, I found I couldn't approach Him with this secret. It felt unforgivable to me, and I was afraid to be honest with God or anyone else about this.
When middle school hit, my identity in Christ crumbled under the weight of the guilt I felt. So I began cutting, thinking it was fine to "cope" that way. I continued to "cope" rather than crying out to God for the next 10 years.
* * *
That first day I surfed for porn, I knew I shouldn't do it again. I hated what I did and how I had misused God's gift of sexuality. But I went back. I kept returning to those sites more and more frequently, and even began planning my day around having an online encounter. And as time passed, I searched for "harder" material to get the same rush. I was consumed by guilt but felt powerless to stop.
Two years into my addiction, I got the courage to confess my sin to my roommate, Hilda. I despised being bound by guilt from harboring this secret sin, and I decided that I was willing to be exposed in shame if that's what it took to free me from pornography. Hilda spent hours talking with me about my struggles and praying for me. She began to regularly ask where I'd been online. It was so difficult being honest with her, and it still took another two years — and the involvement of a Christian counselor — before I was completely free from porn.
What about you? We've received numerous letters and e-mails from young women who are caught in pornography and express feelings of shame and loneliness as they share their fear that they're a "freak" for having gotten addicted to something that "only guys struggle with." You're not alone. No matter how you got into pornography, you're not the only girl stumbling.
And you don't have to keep stumbling! If you're ready to get out of porn, talk to a trusted Christian woman. Be honest about your struggles, and don't make light of your involvement with pornography. Ask her to pray with you as you confess this area of your life to God. If you don't think you can tell her yourself what you're going through, show her this article, and ask her to get back with you about it. Secrecy will only make it harder to break this addiction.
While it's not necessary to tell everyone about your sins, it is important to find the support of Christian females who can hold you accountable and perhaps even help you find a Christian counselor who deals with intimacy disorders. And that's OK. Focus on the Family has a staff of more than 20 licensed Christian counselors available to talk with you. If you would like to talk with one of them, please call (719) 531-3400 Monday-Friday 9-4:30 (Mountain Time), and ask for the Counseling department at extension 7700. One of the counselors' assistants will arrange for a counselor to call you back at no charge to you.
Christian counselor Joann Condie, who specializes in treating people with these kinds of struggles, explained in a Focus on the Family broadcast that just stopping the behavior is a kind of "sin management approach." She explains that it's necessary to address the thinking that's behind the behavior:
[U]nderneath that thinking, there are damaged emotions. If those are ignored and neglected ... then only part of the battle is done. And then beneath all of that is a strong spiritual component that has to be addressed, too. The Seductive Lure of Internet Porn," originally aired May 19-20, 2004, and is no longer available. For a similar broadcast, check out "Pornography: Not Just a Men's Issue," originally aired April 1, 2011
Next, get rid of your access to porn! Put your computer in a public place, add filters or accountability software and limit your use of the computer to when there are others around.
Avoid music, movies, books, magazines and TV shows that cause you to stumble. Decide in your heart to "set before [your] eyes no vile thing" (Psalm 101:3a), and do whatever it takes to keep your eyes and thoughts pure. For me, it meant eliminating Internet access, getting rid of the TV set and even averting my eyes from the magazines displayed in grocery checkout lanes. There may be different adjustments you will need to take, but refuse to let your guard down!
Looking back, I can see that I was convinced by Satan's lies that pornography was the best that sexuality had to offer. As I worked with a Christian counselor, I began to understand the truth God gave us through the Bible and to allow His Word to heal me.
Am I still tempted? Yes, but I also know that temptation is not sin. And as I walk in the truth and refuse to let secrecy reign in any area of my life, God is glorified. I'm not ashamed any longer of my years of sin. They are proof of God's loving kindness and that "He is mighty to save" (Zephaniah 3:17).
Copyright 2009 Rachel Zoller. All rights reserved.