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Porn Addict Confessions:

Last Updated: April 15, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Mr. Hyde Comes Out of Hiding

 

I recently finished watching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a silent film made nearly 90 years ago. This film has been described, rightly or wrongly, as the first American horror film. I found the movie quite disturbing, not because it was particularly scary, but because of how it reminded me of my past pornography addiction.

I’m not usually a fan of silent movies, but for whatever reason this particular film caught my attention. The film stars John Barrymore (grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore), who does a superb job in his role. For modern movie goers it may take some time getting over the deliberate overacting, the intertitles, and the dramatic pipe-organ soundtrack (depending on the version you watch). But it is worth seeing.

A Brief Synopsis

The film is based on the novella by Robert Lewis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is one of many screen adaptations of the book.

The plot goes as follows (spoiler alert):

Dr. Henry Jekyll is a kind, charitable physician who spends much of his time either experimenting in his lab or treating the poor at his free clinic. He is known for his piety and prudishness. One day an associate pressures him to begin exploring his more “savage impulses.” Then a group of friends invite him to a London music hall (like a gentleman’s club) where he meets a seductive dancer. This encounter awakens the doctor’s repressed sensibilities. (By the way, despite these adult themes, I did not find the movie visually alluring.)

Jekyll begins experimenting in his lab, trying to make a potion that will “separate” his two natures—his benevolent persona from his newly awakened desire for sin. Upon completing the potion he swallows it, and (following some overly dramatic thrashing around) his appearance is transformed into that of a monstrously evil personality he names Edward Hyde.

So he begins living a double life. As Hyde he lives in a seedy end of the city, shacks up with dance-hall girls, visits prostitutes, and goes to bars and opium dens—basically living a life of reckless sin. Using another potion he can transform back into Dr. Jekyll and assume his normal life of serving the poor and courting his fiancé.

Over time, Hyde becomes more and more hideous and reckless and eventually takes over as the dominant personality. Adding crime upon crime, Jekyll realizes that Hyde can’t be controlled. To make matters worse, the drug needed for Jekyll’s portion is out of stock in London. So he locks himself into his lab, afraid of what might happen if he turns into Hyde.

His fiancé, Millicent, arrives at the lab out of concern for the good doctor’s well-being. As she knocks on his door, he notices himself changing into Edward Hyde. Knowing what Hyde is capable of, and out of concern for Millicent’s safety, Jekyll swallows a vile of poison and kills himself. The End.

The Double Life

Expressed in the context of science fiction, the dominant theme of the movie is that of living a double life. During his efforts to create his mysterious potion, Dr. Jekyll comments, “Think what it would mean! To yield to every evil impulse—yet leave the soul untouched!” He wants to give into his sinful desires, yet he fears the loss of his immortal soul. What if he could be two separate people, living two different lives? Could science help him divide his soul from his sinful self?

The scene of Jekyll’s first consumption of his potion is quite dramatic. (I might add that this initial transformation into Hyde was done without the aid of makeup. John Barrymore’s ability to contort his face is outstanding.) His appearance is so transformed, no one recognizes him as the benevolent doctor. He is free to live a life of sin under the cloak of a new identity.

The same is often true of pornography, particularly Internet porn. The easy cloak of online anonymity and secrecy is at times the very thing that awakens the monster within. Take away our social restraints, add to it the delusion of zero consequences, and watch to see what desires emerge.

Dr. Jekyll is a tragic figure, not just because of the evil Mr. Hyde releases into the world, but because Jekyll foolishly believes he can separate himself from Hyde. Try as he might, Jekyll cannot compartmentalize Hyde’s evil, not even with the aid of science.

The Hideous Nature of Lust

Mr. Hyde’s insatiable lust drives him from one woman to the next with no regard for whom he hurts. In one scene Hyde shows utter disdain for a former lover by dragging her over to a wall-size mirror where he publicly compares her to another girl. Brothel to brothel, nothing quenches Hyde’s thirst. In the daylight hours, Dr. Jekyll’s conscience is plagued with thoughts of his dark life. He becomes increasingly emotionally distant from his fiancé because of his shame.

Mr. Hyde reveals the hideous nature of lust. Love is by its nature a self-giving, self-sacrificing disposition. Lust, however, is self-obsessed. Lust does not see people as subjects to be respected and served; it sees people as objects to be consumed.

The abundance of sex-on-tap media around us trains us for a sex-consumption mentality. People are no longer whole persons but avatars, pixels, and the sum of their airbrushed body parts. Camera angles and lighting trains our eyes what we should notice. Clever editing and acting trains our minds on what to expect from sexual encounters.

The world of Internet porn multiplies these effects ten-fold: we can easily click through thousands of thumbnail images of women as if we are shopping in the world’s largest red-light district, and all the samples are free. The real scandal of Internet porn is that it victimizes not only its actors, but its viewers, desensitizing the mind and robbing it of the joy of real relationships.

The reason why the character of Mr. Hyde frightens readers and viewers today is not just because he is so hopelessly depraved and dangerous, but because he has become a mirror of our own depraved desires. He is what our lust would become if we were left entirely to our own devices, separate from conscience and consequence.

Slaying the Demon

Though Dr. Jekyll’s potion works, his experiment fails. He is not able to contain the monster.

As the film draws to a close we read, “Tortured by remorse for Hyde’s monstrous cruelties, Jekyll realized at last that the evil nature to which he had voluntarily yielded, now threatened to dominate his whole life.” Hyde can no longer be controlled. He finds Hyde coming out without the aid of a potion. Try as Jekyll might, times of great stress or anger trigger the transformation and the caged demon bursts forth more malignant than before.

In the end, Jekyll believes his only choice is to die. To use the famous phrase of Walt Kelly, Dr. Jekyll meets the enemy and it is himself. Jekyll’s butler says of his master in the final scene, “He has taken his own life—it is his atonement.” Overcome with remorse for the monster he created, Jekyll kills himself to stop Hyde’s hideous sin and atone for his guilt.

The film’s ending, though depressing, contains two seeds of truth. We cannot bifurcate the evil in our shabby hearts from our more respectable selves. We must face the fact that though the world is filled with tempting devices, evil is not just “out there.” Evil is in our hearts.

We also must face the fact that segregating our sin into another persona does not make it go away. Only one thing stops sin: it has to be killed.

An Undivided Heart

For the Christian the great and astonishing truth is this: Our sin has already been killed. Our sin was placed on Christ as he died on the cross, and when He died, the enslaving power of our sin died with Him. For the man or woman indwelt with the Spirit of Christ, this means Jesus not only absorbs the punishment for our sin, but He also shares with us His resurrection life and power.

For anyone who has ever lived a double life, the gospel of Christ calls us to drop our respectable persona and come to Him. For anyone who has ever felt like two people housed in one body, a Religious Jekyll and a Racy Hyde, Christ offers to make us whole again.

Just as sure as we must repent of our Hyde-like ways, we must also repent of our Jekyll-like pretenses. Both Jekyll and Hyde need salvation: Hyde from his lust and treachery, Jekyll from his denial and pious masks.

This starts by repenting of mixing our religious potions. We confess to God our tendency to compartmentalize our sin in order to present a holy persona to ourselves and others. We confess this as the pride that it is. We pray along with David, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11, emphasis mine). Then we put feet to our prayers and obey the command of James 5:16, confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another. This means confessing not only our taboo sins but also the masks we hide behind.

  • Comments on: Porn Addict Confessions:
    1. Justin Joseph on

      It’s absolutely scary to think that everyone is on the same level when it comes to the sin nature. I was given a staunch reminder when a sister from church gave testimony the other day about her witnessing to a co-worker. She explicitly said as part of the conversation, “I’m just as bad as Osama bin Laden.”

      How true that is for all of us. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians…”take heed, lest you fall.” Thankfully we believers need not fear sin, but the Christ who’s conquered it.

      Reply
    2. Pastor Fred Rochester on

      Clear description of what my life used to be. The cross is the only place where the urges, impulses, and desires for sexual sins must die. It is only by the grace of God that we can defeat this evil.

      When we look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and when we look to Him as the only One that can help us deal a death blow to sin, then we will emerge as free men in Christ.

      Reply

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