I received an email from a mother asking for help for her 14 year old son’s pornography problem. Because this is a common issue I decided to post it here on my blog. Here are a few of the lines she wrote:
I have a 14 yr old son who got involved in pornography online and I’m not sure what to do. We’ve spoken to him and pray for him and banned him from using the internet… I’m disturbed because I don’t want him getting hooked for life… Is there anything I should do or say that will be of help? Are there resources for ‘weaning’ a child off pornography? Please help a desperate mother.
This blog article is my response to her.
Dear Desperate Mother,
I’m definitely not a counselor, so please keep that in mind while reading my words. I’m just a guy who produced porn for awhile, and because people find that interesting I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share what God has done in my life. Nevertheless, I’m not unlike any other sinner that has been saved by grace, and therefore my words don’t have any more authority than those of other Christians in your life.
Most people have a circle of friends with whom they discuss life issues. In my life, I rely heavily on my Pastor and even more-so on my son’s mother, to whom I was married before my sin tore our family apart. We remain good friends despite all of that, which is in itself a testament to the amazing woman of God she is… She’s had to deal with so much, and the way she’s done so has birthed some incredible wisdom. Sometimes we discuss emails I receive where the sender shares how pornography has ripped apart his or her life. She always tells me to focus on the root of the problem, rather than treating the symptoms. And she is so right. Realizing this, I’ve spent a lot of time asking God just what the root of the problem actually is, and how best to deal with it. I’ve come to see that the root of the porn problem is the same as the root of all of life’s moral problems.
So… I’ll simply share with you how I deal with my own problems, and hopefully something that is said will help.
I’ve noticed that when a person begins a romantic relationship with another, many things in their life just… change. Especially at the beginning when all is new. When love strikes, a man gets all giddy and sees colors more brilliantly than ever before. Because he wants to present a better package, the woman doesn’t have to ask him to change certain things, he just does so to please her. He tries to avoid things that displease her.
I’ve noticed the same thing to be true with those who fall in love with God.
I was raised in churches where God was a list of rules. He was the definition of what I could do and what I could not do. To make God happy, I had to be holy. To be holy, I had to DO things I found myself incapable of doing. I had to be someone I was not capable of being. There were rules I always failed at following. Since I couldn’t live up to the rules, I began to grow bitter. Watching those preaching the rules fail to follow them themselves birthed more bitterness and even a burning hatred. The Christian life seemed impossible to follow, even for those who were supposed to be “leaders”. Why bother?
At no time did I ever see God as someone I could fall in love with. At no time did I see Him as someone with whom I could have a relationship with.
Those last two sentences? They reveal the root problem with porn and any other issue we deal with. We either don’t really believe we can have a relationship with God, or we choose not to pursue one.
As a man, I’ve had issues “falling in love” with a male figure. I’ve had to realize that when God created mankind in His image, that included all feminine aspects as well. So… I’ve chosen to view the Holy Spirit as a representative of God’s “feminine” side. After all, Jesus described the Holy Spirit as a “comforter”, and blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, right? Sounds to me like God sticking up for His woman! (Legalists, please don’t bother emailing me complaints about that – I wrote with a smile on my face and am not seriously making any claims as to gender of any parts of the Godhead). Embracing the fact that feminine aspects are incorporated within God has helped me fall in love. Like any relationship, the more time spent together, the deeper love becomes.
The more I immerse myself in God’s love, the more I realize the REASONS He asks us to do certain things. He doesn’t, for example, ask us to put sex off until marriage because He wants to take away our fun or because He needs an excuse to send us to hell. He does so because He knows how we’re wired. He created us, after all. He knows the bonds we create when we are sexually intimate. He knows the way sex affects us. He says to us, “I just wish you’d trust me. I have something special for you. Wouldn’t it be better if the wife I have for you never has to wonder if others before her were ‘better’ in your eyes? Wouldn’t you rather not have to wonder if men in her past are still in her head? You can do whatever you wish – I’ve given you free will – but I wish you’d choose to trust me. I do know what’s best for you.”
The same concepts are true when it comes to pornography. “Sin” is the opposite of God’s perfect plan for our lives, and pornography is definitely not something that will benefit your son’s future relationships. He’s 14 years old and he might not yet respond to the picture falling in love with God. But I’m sure he’s encountered thoughts of romance. I’m sure, if I asked him, he’d say that if he had a woman in his life he’d fight for her. That’s just what a man does for his woman, right? So I’d challenge him with this: “How romantic would it be if, in three years when you meet the woman of your dreams, you can tell her, ‘I’ve been fighting the hardest battle of my life for you, and I didn’t even know you yet.’?” Every man needs a battle to fight, your son is no exception.
And dear mother: tell him who he is… ’cause that’s who he’ll become. Tell him what an amazing man of God he is. Tell him what an amazing husband he is going to make. Tell him that you’re confident he can fight for his future bride by keeping himself mentally pure. Tell him… who he is.
I want my son to know that if I’ve presented to him a God that is merely a list of rules, I’m incredibly wrong. In a book I love the author wrote, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.“ That is so true. So if I want my son to fall in love with God I need to show him how to do so. The more time I spend with God, the less my desires are to pursue sinful activities… because when we humans truly love someone we don’t want to hurt them. When we love someone, and spend lots of time with them, we learn to trust.
For me, spending time with God just makes me feel better. The mean person I normally am becomes a nice person. Life is just easier. When lust arises, I remember that the object of my lust is God’s daughter, and I need to respect Him, and her, by not thinking those thoughts about her. He means her to be someone’s wife, and what I’m making of her in my head is not for me to have. I also know that I can trust His plans for me… this includes my sexual future. So I go to Him and reveal all of the thoughts I’ve had. In detail. Because He already knows anyway, and shedding light on the problem takes the power out of it.
At one place I spoke, a young man shared something powerful with me that I’ve placed into practice in my own life. He told me that he has counseling sessions with God. He sits God down in a chair opposite him and tells Him explicit details of thoughts he’s had. Who the girl was, what he wanted to do with her, how he wanted to do it, etc. God already knows anyway, but being so blatant with Him creates an intimacy over time. He is a trusted friend, rather than someone from whom our sins must be hidden (impossible to do anyway, right?). The more that trust builds, the less we want to share a bad “report” when the next counseling session time arrives.
As his mother, you obviously want what’s best for him but your son is going to make his own decisions. So ultimately, there’s not really much you can DO other than to tell him who he is. He’s a man of God. A powerful man of God. An amazing “catch” for his future bride, for whom you know he will fight to keep pure.
And should he fall to temptation of porn, do you know what to tell him? How about this: He’s a man of God. A powerful man of God. An amazing “catch” for his future bride, for whom you know he will fight to keep pure.
And should he fall AGAIN to temptation of porn, do you know what to tell him? How about this: He’s a man of God. A powerful man of God. An amazing “catch” for his future bride, for whom you know he will fight to keep pure.
That’s all I’ve got. Hope it helps.