My name is Matthew Caruk and porn ruined my life. There, I said it.
I’m 25 years old, happily married and my wife and I are now expecting our first child. I’ve been a part of The Salvation Army since the day I was born and when I turned fourteen I became a full, uniform wearing member of the church (called ‘soldier’). The process for this includes committing to vows before God and the people at church to live my life for God and stay away from addictive activities and substances like drugs, gambling, smoking, pornography, etc (check out these vows here). It took me less than a year to trash these vows.
We had recently gotten the internet at home and I was learning how to search for things online. As a young person, I was shocked when I saw a sporting event sponsored by, what I thought, was a strip club chain. They say hindsight is always 20/20 and if I had to relive those three minutes from 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have searched for the term ‘Hooters’.
As a newly enrolled church member, I knew the results on the screen were wrong and I tried to look away. But instead, being the 15 year old, puberty fueled youngster I was, I searched for more. The next few days I would race my mom home from school (often on days I knew she would pick me up) to get my fix. Over the following months, my fix changed. What started as pictures online slowly led to videos online. Before long I was setting the VCR to record late night movies when my family was asleep, and waking up before them to watch (and erase) the evidence. Maybe some of you out there can relate to this?
During the summer of 2002 I went to Salvation Army music camp as I had done for many consecutive summers. Before leaving, my parents confronted me after looking through the computer’s history files. I denied everything for fear of what they would think and how they would react. Looking back now, I have come to realize this is why I never opened up: fear of how I would be viewed.
After my close call, I felt convicted all week to talk to someone about my addiction and I opened up to my counselor. He had been my counselor at camp a few times, was a church youth group leader and band member and all around great guy. After I shared my confession with him he looked at me and said “I suffer with the same thing.” I was shocked. I thought I was alone in my struggle!
Sharing my struggles turned out to be a great thing because after the summer, my counselor and I kept in touch to pray for, encourage and support each other through our struggle for victory. To my surprise, my urges to look at porn slowed and I prayed God would heal my mind. My relationships and grades began to improve as I spent my time better. Eventually I met my wife and realized what a true, loving relationship looked like (check out 1 Corinthians 13).
I’ll admit though I still stumble (10 years after my initial search) but God has lifted me from a very deep and dark pit. I thank him daily and ask him continually for strength.
Having said all this, I know there are young Christian guys and girls reading this out there who are just like me. Maybe you’re one of them. You feel like you’re sinking and you want out. Be advised: recovering from porn addiction doesn’t usually happen overnight! Before you can start to turn your life around and allow God to walk you through it, it’s helpful to understand your addiction and recognize the lies that Satan and our culture feed you about porn.
1. You Are Alone
It was estimated the global pornography industry grossed 30 billion dollars in 2008. I don’t know how deep your pockets are but 30 billion dollars did not come from just my pocket. Satan wants you to believe you’re alone because he despises support groups. Satan doesn’t want us praying for each other. Satan likes it when we isolate ourselves. Rest assured: you are NOT alone in this!
2. Just 1 Picture Won’t Hurt
Pornography is an addiction. Ask any hardcore drug addict and they will tell you, they started with just one hit, maybe of something soft. Then when that drug didn’t give them a fix, the drugs got harder and the hits became more frequent. It’s the same with pornography. One innocent picture will lead to three, will lead to videos, will lead many places you don’t want to be. Staying clear of anything that will lead you astray is the only way you’ll find freedom.
3. You’re Dirty
Sex is a natural thing, a gift from God and he wired our bodies to enjoy it. However, He designed sex to be enjoyed between a man and woman in the confines of a marriage. The fact you feel bad about your addiction is a good thing. It is the first sign you want to change. Remember: we all fall (Romans 3:23) but God still loves us and will forgive.
BREAK THE ADDICTION
Ok, so there’s some myths but how can you break free from the addiction? Keep in mind every person is different and what may work for me won’t necessarily for you. I’ve found that breaking free requires determination and the will to honour God and despise Satan and his lies. Having said that, here is what worked for me so far.
1. Be Honest
It took me being honest with myself to realize this was a growing problem. It took me being honest with a friend to realize I needed help. It took me being honest with God for Him to show me where to go to get the help I was looking for. It took me being honest with others to keep me honest with myself and God. Caution: this step will be painful!
2. Find A Mentor
Sometimes called an accountability partner, find someone who you can be open and honest with. Be sure this person will remain in contact with you at least weekly. Try to find someone you are comfortable praying with. It is best to find someone of the same gender. Be advised: this person doesn’t have to be someone who struggles or has struggled with porn addiction as well.
Matthew 7:7 says that God will give to those who ask. It was amazing for me the people God put in my path or the resources he guided me to when I asked him. God is faithful and he loves us. He is also willing to forgive when we stumble, but without prayer he can’t.
4. Use Your Net Time Wisely
Oddly enough, what is probably your weakness can be used for good. There’s only so much time to spend online. If you’re spending it reading scripture or seeking guidance, you’re not going to spending it looking at porn.
REMEMBER – you’re not alone in your struggle!
- What are your thoughts on porn – harmful or harmless?
- Have you or anyone you’ve known ever been caught up in the porn scene?
- What would you say/tell others who are looking at porn?
- What do you think others who don’t struggle with porn issues need to know or remember?
- What scriptures might be helpful in the journey out of porn?
- What does the bible say about our bodies and how we should view other people’s bodies?
- If you’re found freedom from looking at porn, what were key steps along the way?
iPod Phone – desktops
iPhone & Computer Accountability software – monitors the sites you’re surfing and sends a copy to a trusted friend you specify that you want to help keep you accountable.
XXX Church – Porn & sex addiction help and recovery. Billed as the #1 Christian porn site
Free In Christ – To give encouragement and support to men who are addicted to pornography and other sexual problems.
Salvation Army’s View on Pornography
Somebody’s Daughter – A 1 hour story raising awareness of the pervasiveness and destructiveness of pornography in people’s lives
Q’s You Can’t Ask Your Mama About Sex – by Craig Gross & Mike Foster
:: by Matt Caruk of Brampton, ON
I will be praying my story of struggle and victory is an encouragement to you. May God bless you and help you on your journey!
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