The following story is the first chapter from my book, 10 Lies Men Believe About Porn, available now wherever books are sold. It is presented here in eight parts and should take you no more than ten minutes to read. If you would rather read it off-line, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive a free PDF download of the first three chapters of the book as my thank-you gift for signing up.
I am about to tell you my story for three reasons. First, to show you I am a deeply flawed human just like everyone else. The sin and pain I am capable of producing is astounding. Likewise, my ability to deceive myself into ignoring and justifying my issues is equally shocking. It would seem I have no business writing a book advising anybody of anything. Nonetheless, here I am.
Second, there is a lot of healing that comes from the honest telling of our stories, both for the storyteller and for the audience. I have found over the years of telling my story that we really aren’t all that different. As you read the slow motion, instant replay of the highlights (and low-lights) in my journey, I hope you are able to see glimpses of your own story. The details will be different, but the themes will likely be similar in spots. Remember, you are not alone in this struggle.
Finally, I tell you my story to give you a sense of hope as you live out your own story, no matter what chapter you are living in today. If God can use a man such as me in His kingdom, not just in spite of my sordid past, but because of my sordid past, think of what He can do with you!
I still remember the first time my eyes were opened to what became my drug of choice. I was no older than 12, exploring the woods on my bike with a few friends. We would frequently ride these trails behind the college football stadium and build jumps. Epic jumps. It felt like we were flying six feet in the air, though I’m sure it was only six inches, if that.
Even now I only want to talk about the bikes and jumps and steer the conversation away from the issue of the magazine. It’s tempting to make small talk and never allow anyone below the surface—I think it’s a guy thing. How about those Seahawks? That Russell Wilson looks like he may just work out for them, huh?
Anyway, we stumbled across a homeless camp one afternoon. No one was home at the time, so as any adventurous middle-school boys would do, we started to explore. Who knew what treasures we would find? It was empty beer cans, broken bottles, and a soggy sleeping bag sitting outside by a fire ring. But the end of the rainbow seemed to be shining upon the weathered orange tent. We cautiously unzipped it, scared that it might have somebody sleeping inside, but found it empty…almost. Just inside the door of the tent was the object that begins this type of story for many men of my generation: a Playboy magazine.
I’m not sure if any of us had ever seen a naked woman before we found the magazine. I never had. I had developed plenty of crushes and the normal adolescent curiosities, but I really had no idea what existed beneath the mysterious layers of clothing women always had on. I knew there was something I wanted to see but had never had the opportunity.
Somehow I ended up getting to keep the magazine. I think it was something similar to Gollum wrestling the ring from the hands of Frodo, but that may be an exaggeration. All I know for sure is it ended up hidden deep within my closet, and a lifestyle of hiding, lying, deception, and lust had suddenly sunk deep roots into my soul.
Fueling the Fire
I look back now and can’t see a moment where I wasn’t addicted to porn. I believe for me it began the instant I laid eyes on that magazine. There are numerous reasons for this that are starting to make a lot of sense as I put the pieces back together in my mind. First, God has made me intensely visual. I am a designer by trade and have always been drawn toward visual beauty. I see colors, textures, details, and shapes on a deeper level then most people. You can imagine the effect this has on my appreciation of the female form. The other reason, which is subtler but more influential, was how I viewed myself during that moment of discovery.
I was an awkward kid—chubby, pimply, and nerdy. I would spend my lunch hours hiding in the school library reading Black Belt magazine even though I had no martial arts training whatsoever. I guess I thought if I could order the throwing stars from the catalog in the back I would suddenly be cool or something. I wasn’t all that popular with the ladies. Maybe I would have been, but I had convinced myself that girls wouldn’t like me, so I avoided them to eliminate any opportunities for rejection. If I never talk to them, they can’t say no, right?
So there I was, lonely, intensely visual, pubescent hormones raging, scared of female rejection, and finally in possession of what I thought was a “solution.” The women in this magazine would never reject me. They didn’t care what I looked like. They didn’t mind my nerdiness. They would be there to satisfy all my curiosities, my sexual needs, and even my deep desire for human connection. These were all lies of course—the magazine wasn’t doing any of this—but I believed them…big time.