by Michael Fitzpatrick
For five years I had been struggling with an addiction to pornography—a battle I was losing. I had become a Christian two years before, but my addiction changed my relationship with my family and took even my love of God hostage. It’s not that I didn’t pray. I did—usually while looking at porn sites on the Internet. Lust consumed me, and I felt powerless to change.
One Sunday morning, I sat in the sanctuary half-listening to the sermon. My thoughts were on a verse from Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
I wanted to believe that God could rescue me, but there I was, sitting in church yet living a double life. People at church think I’m a strong teen role model, I thought. My family thinks I’m a devoted Christian. The truth is that I’m neither. I lift up my eyes to the hills, but help comes from nowhere.
Seconds later, my attention was riveted to the words spoken from the pulpit. “The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20).
God detests me? The thought shocked and horrified me. But why wouldn’t He? I was a hypocrite and a liar. I was a failure in my faith. My ways were far from blameless. For the first time I saw my sin the way God saw it. I bowed my head and sent an urgent prayer to heaven. God, if You are listening to me, hear my plea. I am a sinner and a slave to my sin. God, save me! I believe that You can, yet I’m still shackled. Relieve me of this burden—please. I have no other options.
I hurried out of the church, avoiding everyone I knew from my youth group. At home, I fell on my bed and stared into space for half an hour until my mom knocked on the door.
“Honey,” she said, “I just got a call from the church. One of the kids can’t go to camp, and the camp fee is nonrefundable. They want to know if you’ll go in his place. Interested?”
I need to get away from that computer and think about something else.
“Yeah, I’ll go…”
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, but Mom, could you leave, please? I need some time alone.” My mom left my room.
God, I’m in a black pit and can’t see light in any direction. How do I break these bonds? How do I break this addiction? I pray and pray, yet You don’t seem to hear my cry. The Israelites waited four hundred years before You released them from bondage in Egypt. How long do I have to wait? Why won’t You answer me?
A few hours later I left my room and discovered that I had the house to myself. Immediately my mouth went dry, and I looked at the computer sitting there, luring me.
Nobody will see.
I booted up and connected to the Internet. A Christian home page came up, and I stared at it for a minute. Then, hating myself for doing it, I logged on to the Playboy site. I swallowed hard as lewd photos filled the screen. A few minutes later, I switched back to the Christian web site. Five words stared at me:
Jesus watches where you surf.
A pair of eyes followed my cursor as I moved it across the screen. The words…the eyes…it was all too much. I fell across the keyboard, sobbing. “I’m a Christian who looks at porn sites! Lord, forgive me and change me—I need a miracle! Work something awesome in my life!”
The words on that screen still burned in my mind as I walked up the hill at church camp a few days later. I saw three girls playing Ping-Pong and introduced myself to them. As we talked, I noticed that a light seemed to radiate from them. Their smiles, their attitudes, their words—it was the glow of Jesus in them. At that moment, a warmth and love filled and satisfied me more than any lewd images ever had.
With sudden clarity I understood that pornography had controlled me because I’d tried to use it to fill a void for real love—the kind that only Jesus could fill. I found a spot alone and rededicated my life to Him. Once again I asked God to forgive my sin and give me the strength to resist.
When I got home from camp, the first thing I saw when I walked in the house was the computer. Cold fear gripped me—my mouth went dry; my hands felt clammy. It was time to confront the monster in my life. Romans 6:17 came to my mind: “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” I prayed, turned, and walked away.
That wasn’t the only time I had to resist temptation. In the months that followed, every time I turned on the computer I had to resist it. More months passed, but finally, with God’s help, the day came when it wasn’t a struggle anymore. The Lord had given me the power to defeat my addiction. I was free! My double life was over—and my relationships with my family and with God were back where they belonged.
Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, gathered His disciples in a vineyard and prayed eloquently for them, saying, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:14–15). In the same way, the world hates your children if they belong to God. Though we might wish that the precious little ones in our care could be spared from the evil influences in our immoral society, God has a purpose for their lives on this earth, and we must yield to His plan. Our task is to pray for our kids, to teach them the ways of God, and to protect them as long as we have breath in our bodies.
Last week we discussed the “assault on innocence.” This week we’ll take a look at more threats to your family—and how, by resting in God’s grace and mighty authority, you can successfully deliver your children into the joy of eternity.
- James C Dobson
“Double Life” by Michael Fitzpatrick © 2000. Used by permission of the author.