Raymond didn’t grow up in a Christian household. He first saw porn at only nine years old, through a smartphone. His dad was fighting lung cancer, and Raymond remembers it as a stressful time. He thinks that is a big reason why he turned to porn.
When his father passed away, Raymond continued to immerse himself in pornography. In middle school, he really started to consider the effects of the content that he was watching.
“This is not good content. I knew it wasn’t content to be consuming. I would try to stop, but I would find it was really difficult to stop. I didn’t know I was an addict by then.”
Deep down inside, Raymond knew that porn wasn’t good for him, and during 8th grade, he came clean and fought to quit. During his freshman year of high school, Raymond successfully avoided pornography.
Unfortunately, this freedom was short-lived.
In his sophomore year, he started engaging in porn again. “I don’t know what drew me back in, but I knew it was wrong.”
Finally, Raymond decided to talk to his school counselor about his addiction. He was concerned about masturbation and knew that porn was wrong, but he felt like he couldn’t get away from it. The counselor told him that what he was doing wasn’t wrong. Hearing this, Raymond engaged more and more, but he just couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to stop. And he would try to stop, but through his senior year, he continued to engage in explicit content, more and more.
The summer before college, Raymond came to the full realization that porn had consumed my life. He says, “My friends asked to hang out, and I would decline because instead, I wanted to watch porn.”
So, he called his friend and confessed. This friend was the first person to tell him that watching porn was wrong, and this friend also invited him to church for the first time. She also asked him to talk to the pastor, and by God’s grace, Raymond agreed. The pastor was able to talk to him and reveal God’s word on sexual immorality.
Setting up accountability was key.
Coming into his freshman year of college, Raymond plugged himself into Christian fellowship. He wanted to learn more about God and Christianity. He joined an addiction group (called Lifeline) through his church and told his group leader about his struggle with porn. This leader encouraged Raymond to set up Covenant Eyes and use accountability as an integral part of his recovery journey.
Raymond asked a close friend from his fellowship group (who was a few years older) to be his ally while using Covenant Eyes, and this friend was consistent in checking up on Raymond and holding him accountable for his activity online. He was available to talk any day of the week, and Raymond felt safe confessing his porn use to his ally. He also knew that if he did slip and watch porn, his ally would know about it through the regular reports sent by Covenant Eyes. This aided Raymond greatly during times of temptation, in addition to setting up certain websites as blocked altogether.
You are still loved.
Honest confession, weekly prayer meetings, and regular fellowship with Christian peers have all played a part in Raymond’s freedom story. He also acknowledges that “Without God, no one would have told me that lust or porn was wrong.” Attending church and immersing himself in Scripture changed Raymond’s actions and his heart. And even though he still considers himself to be “in recovery,” Raymond knows that he will need to continue to use accountability, even when he thinks he doesn’t.
When asked about any wisdom he has to share with others seeking freedom from porn, Raymond said this: “I think an ally is a very necessary part of my story. I tried to conquer it [on] my own, but the only way I could have recovered is by God’s grace and [the] people he put in my life. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed. You’re still loved by a lot of people.”