Since the age of 11 years old, I have struggled with pornography and purity.
I Was Trapped in a “Binge and Purge” Cycle
I can still vividly remember the day that my innocence was stripped from me, when I first entered that word on that computer and my life was no longer my own. Ever since that day, my life has revolved around my porn addiction and the consequences it has had on my thoughts, personality, and behavior. There have been times when it seemed like I had overcome my addiction by reaching out for help or by getting caught and held accountable, but it never lasted and was instead a constant cycle of “purge and binge” where I overindulged for months to years and then was “fine” for a few months.
I have always been aware of my sin and the damage it was doing to me, but I always came back to it, and at times I even felt like a slave to my own body where I did not want to watch anything or take part in masturbation but felt controlled by some other being which forced me to do it. The constant cycle of “binge and purge” that I experienced led to a lot of depression in my life to the point where I felt completely and utterly worthless and even brought me to the point of having suicidal thoughts.
I Experienced the Harms of Pornography
It harmed me and the way I viewed women, interacted with my friends and family, and viewed relationships. I entered a relationship when I was 17 (to the person I am currently engaged to), at a point in time where I felt much more in control of my addiction, and we had a good clean relationship for a few months.
Eventually, we both left our hometown and went to different cities to pursue undergraduate degrees in the fields we were interested in. During those times of long-distance dating and stress from school, I quickly returned to pornography as a stress relief and began to become reliant on it to help with my stress. My mind began to become more and more twisted to where I was beginning to justify my actions as “Everybody does it, so it is fine,” “I am in control and can stop whenever I want,” or even “This is a fault of mine, and if she really loves me, she will accept that.” I started to view pornography and masturbation as an ok thing to do and created delusional justifications for it to try and dampen the immense guilt and shame that I felt.
I Finally Reached Out for Help
It took years for me to finally reach out to friends that I could trust about my struggles and ask for help. At the beginning of April 2023, I proposed to a group of my closest Christian friends the idea of creating an accountability group where we can keep each other accountable and work together to overcome our pornography addiction, as we were all struggling with it to some extent. This idea was accepted immediately by my friends, and we decided that every Monday we would get together and ask each other about our weeks and how we have struggled and to be completely honest with each other about how we did during that week.
We also downloaded Covenant Eyes onto our devices (phones, laptops, and tablets) and shared it with each other so we can monitor each other’s online activity and are beginning a Bible study to go through about purity and dealing with sexual temptation. I previously had Covenant Eyes signed into my phone, but was through my father, so now I have created a personal account and am allies with my friends in our group.
Since I became completely transparent with our group and shared all the details about what I struggled with, I have felt such relief and freedom from the temptation of pornography. I have not viewed a pornographic video or image since we created that group because I now know I am being held accountable and I have felt greater strength to resist temptation. I deleted apps on my phone that I knew were triggers for me. I paid more attention to where I was weakest to temptation and actively avoided those situations. Over the last few weeks, I have felt a level of victory over pornography that is unrivaled to any other event in my life and I want to continue through this journey of integrity and purity.
I’m Working to Remove Temptations
Today’s technology is dangerous. The incredible level of access a person has to view pornography on the internet is nothing like we have ever seen; any device that has an internet connection holds the potential to be used to view pornography (for example, as a child I was able to use a Nintendo DSi). To live with integrity using today’s technology starts with fully recognizing the dangers that it possesses, understanding where an individual is vulnerable, and knowing how to avoid potential dangers.
In the modern world it is impossible to live a life completely isolated from technology, so to live with integrity involves actively removing temptations (like deleting apps) and having people to hold you accountable for your actions and who are willing to confront you. That is where Covenant Eyes is so valuable and important; because you cannot avoid technology, you must find ways to be able to navigate it safely and in a Godly manner. Using the understanding of the dangers of technology and our weaknesses, we have to create an environment where we can avoid temptation and remain strong when we are confronted with temptations.
This is where I currently am in life: Working to remove things in my life that act as temptations, understanding where and when I am weak, and surrounding myself with people I can be honest with and accountable to. Those, I believe, are the main steps a person must take to live a life of integrity.