“All We Need Is Jesus.” Maybe you have heard someone say this recently from a pulpit near you. Growing up on a steady diet of this and other well-meaning clichés led me to an isolated and individualistic brand of Christianity that told me I was supposed to be strong and have it together in all areas. This disciplined self-reliance meant that I covered up and kept secret any area where I was not strong and did not have it all together. I was an expert at moving effortlessly between the myriad of masks I used to cover up my weaknesses and insecurities. I felt it was my duty to keep my struggles secretly locked away in order to protect my reputation and to be a good witness to the world. If the people around me saw me struggling, I reasoned, then that would send a message that Jesus was not enough. I could not let that happen, so the cover-up continued.
Unfortunately, the cover-up taking place in my life was pretty significant. I was exposed to pornography as an eight-year-old and would never be the same because of that experience. The knowledge that viewing pornography was wrong was not enough to keep me from going back to it again and again over the next twenty-two years. Convinced that believers were supposed to experience only positive emotions like happiness and joy while desperately trying to protect my Christian reputation, I stuffed and ignored the painful emotions of sorrow, grief and loneliness.
The more I stuffed, the more I ran to pornography and sexual fantasy to medicate my pain. The more I medicated, the more sin there was to hide and cover up. As I continued this destructive cycle, the discrepancy between the picture of what I thought a godly man was supposed to be and who I knew myself to be grew larger and larger. Because I had only heard sex and pornography discussed in the context of big sins to be avoided, I honestly believed that I was the only Christian man struggling in this area and continued to isolate and hide.
Read the rest of Traylor Lovvorn’s chapter in our free e-book, Porn-Free Church: Raising up gospel communities to destroy secret sins.