There’s no socially acceptable way to say this: I struggled with pornography for decades, and it became an addiction 10 years ago. The pull was merciless. I was desperate to find a way to be free of the sin that bound me and pulled me deeper into darkness. I wanted help, but I was ashamed of my sin. I needed a way of escape, but I didn’t want to reveal my addiction for the world to see. I prayed for God to take away the desire to look at porn. I tried as hard as I could to avoid it. I slowly lost hope, and in my own strength became helpless. Then, God used a quote from E.M. Bounds to speak to me:
“Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men… What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use-men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men-men of prayer.”
This quote was in the foreword of a book about Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China. Taylor had surrendered his entire life and will to God in order to take the hope of Christ to China. As I read these words, my heart was stirred. I knew that the same God who called Hudson Taylor was now challenging me. The light of hope had pierced my darkness!
That night in September of 2013, God miraculously and immediately delivered me from the bondage of pornography addiction. There is no explanation for it except for unfathomable grace from the God of new beginnings. This began a habit of rising early every morning to read God’s Word, anxious to hear more from Him and to experience the hope that He promises in His Word. Then, God moved me to reveal my sin to Him, to acknowledge my guilt and to bring my sin into the open. I confessed to God what He already knew, and I took those things that were in darkness and exposed them to light. God then began to reveal Himself to me through His divinely inspired Word. The more I confessed, the more I drew near to Him. The more I drew near to Him, the more about Himself He revealed to me.
When I was looking at porn, I couldn’t see God. When my heart was hard, I couldn’t really know God. But as I revealed my sins, He opened my eyes and softened my heart. I began to understand His compassion, to believe in His power, and to experience His forgiveness.
I went through three months of confession before God, revealing to Him not only the lust in my heart, but also my pride, greed, anger, selfishness, lack of compassion, and on and on. I had not told my wife, Anne, about my deliverance because I had never told her about my addiction. I knew I had to confess to her my struggle with pornography. I had concealed part of my heart from her, but if our relationship was to be one of honesty and openness, I now had to reveal my whole heart. I prayed for God to show me when to tell her. I could not have told her–and she could not have heard it–before God had prepared both of us. My words of confession to Anne were met with grace that was only exceeded by the grace that God had already shown to me. While there were to be consequences in the days ahead (because there are always consequences to sin), that night I found mercy and acceptance from my wife. My greatest fear was rejection, but there was none. The freedom that I experienced propelled me toward the next step of my journey to a complete revelation of my heart. To the group of guys that I met with each week, I confessed that I had not been honest and that I had hidden my sin from them. That confession led to even more freedom. Then I confessed my struggle with porn to each of my three adult children. Still more freedom!
Psalm 18:16 reads: “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.” For me, those deep waters were an addiction to pornography. Verse 19 says, “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” The spacious place was freedom from bondage to porn. I was no longer hemmed in by guilt and shame, no longer afraid to open up and be known. I had been rescued simply because God delighted in me, His child, in spite of my sin. The sin that I had kept in the dark had been revealed. The next step in my journey with God towards freedom from porn would lead me to the humility of repentance.
For the next few weeks, I will share what God has taught me over the last three years. The insights are summed up in the words reveal, repent, renew, redeem and restore. I pray that as I write these things, and more important, as others read them, it will be less about my life and more about the character of God. –Greg
A note from TrueNorth’s founder:
As you may have realized by now, Greg is my husband, and the bravest man I know. We are on a journey with God that has only grown sweeter as we have grown in honesty and transparency with each other and with God. Greg’s redemption story is beautiful, and I’m so excited that he’ll be sharing more about it in the coming weeks. If you struggle with porn use, or can’t seem to break away from sexual sin, know that we are praying for you. You may not struggle yourself but may love someone who does. TrueNorth has resources to guide you, or them, toward true freedom.
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia
Photo credit: Marcus Dall Col