Porn Cost Me Everything

The following testimony was presented before a House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 23, 2000. The hearing focused on obscene material available via the Internet. The overall thrust was to probe why the Justice Department is not enforcing laws already on the books that would effectively hinder the impact of online pornography. The goal of the 5-member panel testimony was to urge the Justice Department to prosecute more obscenity cases.

Sitting on the committee were 9 senators (Ehrlich, Deal, Pickering, Largent, Stearns, Oxley, Tauzin, Green, Sawyer).

On the panel were: -J. Robert Flores, Vice President and Senior Counsel of the National Law Center for Children and Families.
-Ms. Tracey Steward, Head of Technology, Family
-Dr. Mark Laaser, Director for the Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery
-Ms. Janet LaRue, Senior Director of the Legal Studies of the Family Research Council.

-And plain, ole simple me, Chief among sinners and director and head of nothing. I spoke from a position of personal experience about the devastating consequences men can face due to pornography.

I am 46 years old. I am divorced after being married 25 years. My oldest son is a junior in college. My middle child lives with me and is a junior in high school. I also have a 9-year-old daughter who lives with her mom. I hold a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree. For 20+ years I served churches and Christian organizations in Ohio and Alabama. A major publishing company currently employs me as a regional manager.

I speak for the masses of many, many millions of men from every walk of life in every pocket of our country whose minds are held captive by electronic images. But I especially speak for my two sons and daughter that have been deeply hurt by their father’s involvement with pornography – especially online pornography. I consider myself a sex addict with Internet pornography being my primary means of acting out. I feel I have been a sex addict for more than thirty years. I have been in recovery for about two years. In my active days of addiction I felt my self-esteem was very low. I feel that in my addiction I struggled with periods of depression. I consider myself recovered as well as in recovery from sex addiction with no relapses for a year and five months to date. My religious beliefs are protestant. The Internet was an active part of my addiction. I have used magazines, Internet photos and videos for my addiction. The Internet reactivated my addiction that was inactive for years. I feel the Internet took my acting out to a different level because it was so easy to access and hide. My sexual orientation is heterosexual. I acted out in my addiction only with myself. All of my sexual fantasies in my addiction were about women I did not know. The type of porn I would use was mostly hard-core (sex acts depicted). While living with my wife I had no literal affairs – only “mind affairs” with electronic images.

Since adolescence, I did a masterful job of concealing my struggle with sexual addictions and pornography. My own self-hatred, other personal handicaps and as well as relational weaknesses made me a prime target for pornography. I deal with men regularly who are caught in this trap of sexual addiction because of the ease with which it can be accessed and hidden. I was sought out as a customer for pornographic sites through banner adds, Spam, unsolicited email attachments, etc.

The day of reckoning came in my life as a torpedo hit me with a full broadside blow and my life sank. The context of this point in my life was that I was moving through an unwanted job change, interviewing for new jobs, dealing with a strained relationship with my wife, grieving the loss of my dad’s death and dealing with my oldest son leaving home for college. How did I respond? I returned to an old friend for relief – pornography. For a few vacation days the sedating effect from hour after hour immersion in pornography numbed me out and I didn’t feel any pain. But my life-long hidden addiction soon came to light and my sons and subsequently my wife discovered my darkest secret. As a result, my addictions cost me: my marriage; the role I cherished as an everyday daddy to my daughter; job opportunities in the field of my calling and choice; legal problems resulting in tens of thousands of dollars of fees, retirement income, and support obligations; significant financial difficulties; loss of friendships; loss of credibility and trust in the eyes of some; etc. I’ve felt the stinging backhanded blow of professional peers and the abandonment of many alleged friends.

The pain at times has been crushing. My anger toward pornography is intense – it cost me all this and more while the pornographers make billions.

In addition to the external measurable consequences, addiction to pornography also affected me emotionally with a deep and permeating sense of shame and guilt. My life of duplicity kept me in inner turmoil. I’ve struggled with loneliness and feelings of abandonment, rejection and betrayal. Pornography thwarted my development of appropriate relational and coping skills. Because of active pornography viewing I became detached. I found I preferred the fantasy to the real intimacy of a relationship. Sex without emotional involvement became increasingly important. I feel it caused me to objectify women seeing them as nothing more than a means to satisfy my desires. I grew less satisfied with my wife’s affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance proper. Sex without emotional involvement became increasingly important. It created feelings of control and led to me becoming a manipulative and controlling person to those closest to me.

The focused love and redeeming power of God working in my life, hours of guidance by professional Christian counselors, hours in support groups and with accountability partners resulted in health and healing and freedom and victory. Stopping involvement with online pornography has been critical for me – but I will live the rest of my life with the scars and wounds and handicaps from active participation. The road is uphill and difficult. It is easily the hardest thing I have ever done in my life to find freedom from pornography. I feel my relapse will begin when active recovery stops. There is no standing still, taking a breather, or pausing for a rest. When the forward motion ends, the backward motion starts. A recovering addict likened it to a tide: It is either coming in or going out, and it never stands still.

I’m glad the Lord I serve is the Lord of the Mulligan. My God has helped me to get up off the ground and get back into the game. “Hey kiddo, let’s take a Mulligan and start again. But this time let’s don’t include pornography in the game, okay?” At times over the last few years I have thought there is no tomorrow because of pornography, but the sun has been coming up each day. My life in recovery consists of falling and getting back up. I learn and grow. I forgive and need forgiveness. I move into a fuzzy future having given up asking “Why?” and totally relying on the sovereign and loving hand of God to guide me. He has the key to my future and will choose to open the doors of opportunity as He walks with me.

Centuries ago, John Chrysostom wrote, “The danger is not that we should fall . . . but that we should remain on the ground.” In spite of the pain and loss, I’ve been able to come to a better place in my life but not until I found freedom from pornography. I refer to my dragons as S3 – Sex, Stuffing and Spending. I had sexual related dragons to slay as outlined above but also to cope with life I would overeat and overspend. As I have found freedom from the dragon of pornography I also have lost 70 pounds to date and curbed overspending.

How? I was not strong enough to win this battle alone. I needed the help of God, men and professionals. Although I have recovered, continue to recover and will always recover – I cannot “do recovery.” Only God can do it through me. I have an unrelenting reliance and confidence in God’s grace! Along with Paul I declare that, because of my past, I am not worthy of the calling God had given me (see 1 Cor. 15:9,10). But by God’s grace, I also can say, “I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect” (v. 10). May my life paint a portrait of hope for all who struggle for I am nothing more or less a trophy of His grace.

Sustained by God’s unmerited favor,

Jody B.