Is the Fear of Being Found Out Contributing to Your Addiction?

What is your biggest fear?

Personally, I hate snakes. Even little, innocent, harmless, garter snakes. I know they can’t hurt me. I’ve been told they’re more afraid of me than I am of them. Whatever. I still hate them.

It still curls my nose hairs when I think of the woodpile in our backyard. My wife was an avid gardener and was constantly in need of more trellises and raised beds throughout the yard. I liked to swing a hammer, build stuff, and pretend to be manly, so it worked out great. My dad called me up one day and told me he had an old, weathered trellis that needed to be removed and hauled to the dump and figured he’d ask if we could use the wood. It wasn’t just any trellis though. It was over twenty feet long! Of course we jumped all over the prospect of free, pre-weathered wood and told him to go ahead and dump it in our yard instead. Over time, I built a few things out of it, but the majority of the pile sat untouched behind the shed.

There was one particular afternoon where I needed to use the tarp covering the woodpile to line the bed of my truck. I carefully removed it with one hand, casting it aside quickly so I could fight off any striking rattlers (garter snakes) with the pitchfork I was holding in my other hand like a spear. Seeing none, I relaxed, bunched up the tarp, and carried it over to my truck to spread it out.

As I unfolded the tarp I saw the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my entire life: Not just one, but TWO garter snakes had been curled up in the tarp. I had just carried these wretched creatures in my own arms! I instantly screamed like a little girl and did that freak-out dance where you jump and run in place at the same time while your whole body convulses in sheer terror. I’m sure I made my wife proud.

CobraAs ridiculous and exaggerated as this story sounds, I can assure you it is all true. Typing it out all these years later still brings a shiver to my spine. The crazy thing is, at one point in my life I had a fear that was significantly more crippling than my fear of snakes. If I were given the choice between facing this greater fear, and being a stand-in for Indiana Jones in the snake pit scene, I would have asked for the whip and fedora without hesitation.

The one thing that scared me even more than snakes was a fear that someday, someone might discover who I really was. I might let my guard down and allow my true self to be seen. Someone might discover that Steve, the upstanding, churchgoing, youth-group volunteering, hard-worker guy was actually Steve the porn addict. Steve the pathological liar. Steve the sinner.

You see, I believed I was the only man sitting in church fighting this battle—failing at this battle. If I allowed others to see that I wasn’t perfect, they might reject me. After all, I didn’t want anyone to think this whole Christianity thing wasn’t working for me. I lived my life in a state of constant fear—fear of getting caught, fear of being found out, fear of being rejected if people got to know the real me.

When you believe the real you is worse than everyone else, and you fear that God and others would be ashamed of you, the only option you will feel you have left is to clean yourself up and make yourself acceptable again. This plays right into the trap of the devil though, because your sin isn’t something you can actually clean up on your own. No matter how hard you try, you will continue to spin your wheels and get nowhere. Your sin and shortcomings, if anything, will become even more central in your day-to-day awareness because of how much time and effort you will be devoting to fixing them. They will become your focal point. And the more you focus on your sin, the more gasoline gets dumped on the fire of your shame.

But God’s desire is not for you to struggle in isolation. He wants you to reach out for help, both from Him and from others. We are told in James:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16).

Did you catch that? If we confess our sins to each other, we will be healed. For some reason, God has decided He wants the healing of our habitual sins to be a team sport. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Jesus tells us the defining characteristic of a believer that sets us apart from the world is our love (John 13:35), and nothing shows Christ like love to others more than coming alongside a brother who is struggling, sharing your life with him, praying for him, and accepting him regardless of his issues. It’s through these types of relationships that we can begin to experience what the unconditional love of Christ looks like.

It’s ironic—and heartbreaking—that so many men are hiding their struggles with porn in an attempt to protect themselves, when in reality, the hiding is contributing to their bondage. If you are in Christ, He has already set you free. All you need to do to experience that freedom is bring your hidden sin into the light so the blood of Jesus can cleanse you and set you free from it.

What is the biggest fear you have had to overcome?

cover-mockupThis post was an excerpt from my book, 10 Lies Men Believe About Porn, available wherever books are sold.

10 Lies Men Believe about Porn Preview

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

PLEASE NOTE: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.