He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. — Proverbs 26:27 (NASB)
Isn’t irony glorious? As I mentioned in my last post, porn fanned the flames of desire for men blazing within me. When I watched porn, I hungered for connection to, affirmation from, and love from men. They could be confident, strong, and intimate with each other in the videos I saw, and I wanted them to be that way with me.
Sadly, the only way I saw men being like that with each other was in a sexual context. But I knew there was something more that I needed, and I knew that it wasn’t sexual. The problem was that I couldn’t easily identify it or separate it from sex because of the loads of porn I’d filled my head with for years.
Also, let’s face it: American men are not the best at being vulnerable or giving opportunities for intimacy and deep connection outside of a sex act. I didn’t see other men demonstrating very clearly whatever it was my heart was longing for, so I relied on erotic images to help me visualize what I craved.
And it looked like a naked man.
When a naked man reveals himself to someone, be it his wife, a friend, a family member, or just about anyone else, he’s saying, “I trust you. I feel comfortable with you. I want you to see who I am really. I don’t want to hide anything from you. I don’t want to hold anything back from you. I don’t want anything to come between you and me. You’re important to me. I’m taking a risk here and you might make fun of me, hurt me, or reject me, but I am willing to take that risk. I love you enough to be vulnerable before you like this, and I hope this will make our bond ever stronger.”
I want you to understand that my attraction to men was a longing I had inside me for this kind of love and relationship. It was not for sex. The desire for sex came later. At the core, I just wanted intimacy.
I never had this kind of love and relationship, but porn showed me what a form of it could look like. It was all I had, so I fed upon it like a poor, starving child scavenging for food in a garbage heap.
But porn is only imagery. It can’t reach out of the computer screen and touch us. We can’t actually build a relationship with the people we see in the videos. It’s all fun and exciting, heart-pounding action until the video ends. Then we’re dropped back into the real world where nothing is different from the way it was only minutes ago.
Each time I watched porn, the pictures would end after I turned off the computer, and it was like my lover had abandoned me for the rest of the day. This naked man had promised me love, intimacy, adventure, and fun, but could give me none of it. Months went by, years passed, and this ache became stronger.
I was a Christian by this time, too. I worshiped God, I prayed, I went to church all the time, and most of my friends were Christians. I went on mission trips and evangelistic outreaches.
I did all the right stuff, I was a good Christian guy, and yet I still ached for masculine love.
The Lord began to teach me, even before I was aware of it, that he was that Lover I longed for in the porn videos. Every time I checked out a guy’s butt for its strong-yet-gentle curves, I was acknowledging there was One who was strong and gentle who loved me more than I could know. When I’d lust after a guy’s arms and chest, ripped to perfection, the epitome of masculine power, I was actually longing for my Father’s arms to hold me in his infinite power and grace.
The Lord revealed to me over time his true heart. He became intimate with me. He understood my needs and desires. And the really wild thing is that he never blamed me for having them. He never belittled me for being in need. He never shamed me for what I craved. Instead, he spoke to me in a gentle voice and told me he understood and loved me. He began to steer my hunger away from created things and toward himself. As he did, I found greater and greater levels of fulfillment and contentment simply in his Spirit.
As I became more satisfied in God, porn became less appealing to me. Lustful fantasies and imagery lost their glossy sheen. As months and years went on, I watched less and less porn. It was a lascivious fire that slowly burned out, for it had lost its fuel.
There is, of course, a lot more to this story than what I’m able to sum up here, but this will do for now. There will be more to write in the future.
I find it quite ironic that porn was meant to be a trap for me, to hold me in bondage, to keep me lacking, always on the lookout for my next fix. It developed in me a desire for something more, something greater, which was supposed to keep me coming back to it for more, but which it could never give me. It was a trick.
But the very desire that porn stoked inside me is what led me in desperation to find satisfaction of that desire in God. And God is the one who delivered me from the trap.
Porn had dug a hole for me, and had fallen into it. Porn had a rolled a stone to crush me, but the stone rolled back onto it, and I escaped.
What lies beneath any of your cravings for a naked man? Do you experience a similar abandonment when watching a naked man on screen, only to disappear by video’s end? What points of irony, if any, can you find in your own life and struggles? Are there any Bible passages that really speak to you or express your feelings?
* Photo courtesy Jonas Bengtsson, Creative Commons.