Why I Stopped Trying to Become a Better Man

For 25 years I habitually looked at porn, and yet everyday I would still set out to become a better man. Now that I’m two years free-and-clear, I see the Gospel like never before, and I’ve given up trying to become a better man anymore.

Satan came to both Eve and Jesus with the same basic temptation. It was always a question:

  • Are you really God’s son?
  • Is God holding back His best from you?
  • Does He really want you to be like Him?
  • Did God give you what it takes to be great?
  • Will you be manly enough?
  • Will you be someone great?

I call it The Question of Greatness.

*Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr

*Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr

The Question of Greatness is hauntingly simple. Anyone can take it up as his life’s mission. It lets you pick your own definition of greatness. Total freedom. To choose your own adventure, turn to page 65…

But everyone who pursues The Question of Greatness inevitably becomes its slave. Why? Because the Question is never answered.

The Question is a driver. It drove me for 25 years. At first I planned to be wealthy, a leader of men. After meeting Jesus, I adjusted my greatness to being godly: full-time ministry, a miracle worker, a disciple maker.

All the while I was secretly a slave. A slave to The Question.

I picked up The Question when I was twelve. I remember the day in Social Studies when I suddenly knew that Bryan, the kid with the $200 Air Jordans, was way cooler than me. And once I bit on that fruit, I could never close my eyes again. All I could do was compare myself to others, excuse (or hide) my faults, and protect my strengths. Compare, Control, and chase after The Question.

To answer The Question, I put on the face of success. Pride was sweet but fleeting, and fear of failure drove me to back to The Question after every success. I would pretend everything was fine. I would make my territory safe. I would protect myself from the doubt I knew was on its way.

Then I discovered porn. I still remember how my hands shook as I turned those pages. I’d finally found the leaves to cover my nakedness.

In the dark places where no one—and I mean no one—was invited, the shame told me a different story. The shame was a comparison too, and facing my failures was more than I could bear. I chose to indulge in one of the most pleasurable, reassuring controls that exist.

I chose acceptance and success wherever I could find it, as long as I didn’t risk vulnerability. The pornography worked so well for that. It was the only rest I could find: guilt-ridden, self-loathing rest. I would sit in front of it for hours. I didn’t just stroll through a few stills and a video. I would binge. I would wallow.

Afterwards, I would carefully construct my inward excuses and outward lies. I would set out to improve myself—to become a better man. I would go home to my wife, whom I was stabbing in the heart every lying, prideful, invulnerable day.

I became a pendulum swinging between pride and shame: one side in the light, the other in shadow. My only sanity was to craft my story with carefully phrased excuses that any Christian would consider godly and contrite, myself included. I was telling my tale and answering The Question with each accountability partner and every lonely prayer asking to be set free.

But this poison didn’t come just from the Internet. It came from the pulpit every Sunday as well.

You see, I believed in a false gospel, and so did my church. My gospel told me I was going to make something of myself, and God was my biggest cheerleader. I would make sure God chose me to be one of his special ones.

Every sermon I heard, every verse I read, spoke only to the Question that was driving me toward oblivion. My pastors and mentors all fed the fire. I was one of the promising young leaders in the church. I was sure to make a difference in the Kingdom.

Today, I’m on the other side of this story, with a clearer head and hands washed clean. I live with a wife who is two years into a recovery that will likely take twenty. I am just beginning to see the poison I was swallowing. People say porn destroys marriages, but that’s not the whole truth. Porn also destroys wives.

People say porn destroys marriages,

but that’s not the whole truth.
Porn also destroys wives.

I have more to share about this journey, but the most painful chapter has ended. And I, for one, never believed it would. I’ve given The Question of Greatness to Jesus, and now I set my face toward the author and finisher of my faith.

I am freer today than I’ve ever been. And because I now trust Jesus with my life, I have stopped trying to become a better man.

Luke_ZedwickLuke Zedwick worked for 11 years as a math teacher, church elder, and an occasionally paid minister of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. He’s spent the last few years as a school principal, husband & dad, and Bible teacher in his local church home group.

If you would like to contact Luke, you can reach him here.

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