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Porn Is Not Your Issue; It's Your Solution

Posted December 11, 2017 by Dave Obwald

I’m not sure how many times I have had this same conversation. A guy says, “Hey, I need to meet up with you,” and after a few minutes of awkward chitchat, something to this effect comes out: “Dave, I love God but I can’t stop looking at pornography.”

First I smile inside because I know change is coming, but not in the way this guy expects. I tell him, "You know, porn is not your problem.” He usually looks very confused, wondering why he came to see me, and says something like, “No, you don’t understand. I have secretly been struggling with looking at pornography since I was 12, and the shame is killing me, and ruining me and everything I love.”

I explain that his story was my story too. But one of the most helpful things anyone ever said to me was that pornography and sexual fantasy, or whatever other addictions or numbing mechanisms our hearts use, are just a type of medicine, our broken solution for a hurting soul. We all have them: food, shopping, control, anger, TV, etc. But it’s our hearts that are the problem, and there is a lot going on in in them. The Bible calls them deep waters, and that is an apt description (Proverbs 20:5, NIV).

The Real Issues

If available, I go to a whiteboard and draw an iceberg, where there is a waterline with a small portion of a huge mountain of ice sticking above the water. In the section above the water I write the word pornography, and explain that if the focus stays above the waterline, there will be very little progress. He usually asks, “What’s below the water?” I tell him, “I’m not sure, but I know what lives below the water is usually less obvious to you, and that is what’s driving you to behave in this way; it’s what you are trying to find a solution to. If you are open to God shifting your focus to what’s below the surface, you will see more change to what’s above it.”

This is the beginning of people exploring their stories, living in the reality of fears, doubts, pain, shame, desires, abuse, and misunderstandings of God and His love and grace. That bottom of the iceberg is a tangled mess of different things for everyone, but the Healer is the same and the need for grace is the same.

My Iceberg

Let me give you a sample of the bottom of the iceberg by sharing some of my real issues. These were the untouched or challenged patterns of my heart, mind and actions (Romans 12:2, Proverbs 14:12). When triggered, they led to feelings of insecurity and feeling overwhelmed. My pattern with all of these triggers was to escape and numb with pornography instead of bringing the pain to the Lord so He could reveal things to me and heal me.

Fear-Based Thinking

What if God didn’t love me? How could He? I had fear that I would never be a good enough father, husband, pastor or friend, fear of saying the wrong thing and being singled out, and fear that I was not doing enough to please God.

Need for Approval of People for Validation

Not secure in God’s love, I was constantly putting my feelers out, looking for validation for my worth from my wife and people in the church. I needed to always agree with others, and was never able to say no because disapproval meant I was rejected.

Resentments

Unable to have healthy conflict and reconcile with others, I built up resentments in my heart toward people, having thousands of conversations in my head about what I would or should say if I were really brave. Rather than dealing with issues, I began to build up walls.

Insecurity in Grace

I could speak about God’s grace through Jesus, a grace that was bigger than any thoughts, actions, pain, sin or despair. But then I would live as if I believed I should be better. I shouldn’t need grace or His life-changing good news, so I went back to trying to earn God’s love through sobriety or other arbitrary means of self-salvation.

The Good News

For me, the brokenness of pornography was a gateway to deeper intimacy with God. It was a gateway to understanding the depth of grace and the love of God that I always doubted because of constant shame. It made me look at how I was living in patterns that were out of rhythm with the grace of Christ that truly sets me free as I walk in it. These are now check engine lights that I am aware of and keep in light with God and others, and they are used by my King not to separate me, but to draw me closer to the one who is healing my soul.

That’s good news (Ephesians 2:8-9). Now I can more clearly see that porn is a bad solution to run to in my pain, and I am learning day by day how to trust the true healer of my soul for all my heart’s tangled messes.

In increasing measure, Jesus is taking this fearful, insecure, resentment-filled, approval-craving man, and showing me through the spaciousness of grace what abundant life in freedom with Him can look like, and I know confidently that He can for you too. Explore this kind of good news Mondays at re:generation groups, where you will find fellow men and women who are courageously learning how much the grace of Christ changes everything. And as you start to experience and live in that transformation, you won’t need porn as your solution anymore.



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