For me, addiction to pornography was bondage. The siren call was irresistible. Over and over again I went back to it and was unable to break away. (Later I would learn that viewing porn released chemicals in my brain that brought not only good feelings but also the need for higher doses of those chemicals to get the same feelings again.) Even though I was a believer in Christ, I had taken on the yoke of slavery to sin through porn.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” When God delivered me from my bondage to porn, that deliverance came at a price. But as a result of His amazing grace, it was not a price I had to pay. Christ redeemed me. He paid the price and saved me from my slavery to sin.
But I learned that redemption was more than being saved from the bondage of porn. After God delivered me, I found that I still carried a lot of guilt and shame for what I had done. As I have written in two previous posts, I had deceived my wife, my family, and my friends. At church I had pretended that everything was okay in my life. Even though I had admitted to others that I struggled with worry, money, and being a good husband and father, I had not opened up about my secret life of porn use. My guilt about this was redeemed through confession and repentance. But I continued to carry shame over what I had been involved in. Porn seemed “higher on the scale” relative to other sins. However, I began to realize that being transparent about my sin did not bring the rejection that I feared but rather grace and acceptance from most of the people with whom I shared my story. Guilt and shame were redeemed and were replaced by mercy and acceptance.
My wife Anne will tell you that in our process of healing together, she needed to grieve some losses: thoughts about what could have been or what we missed. I told her that I couldn’t keep thinking about what might have been because it was too painful. I had to move on and let God do his great work of redeeming our relationship just as He had redeemed my life.
To “redeem” means to exchange, to buy back, to make better. In His “great exchange,” God is returning to us the years that were “lost.” And I can testify that He does make it even better than before. I was telling a friend about a little dish towel that Anne bought and hung in our kitchen. It says, “Together is our favorite place to be.” I told him that’s almost always true.
Throughout this season, the greatest truth that I learned was not about my redemption, but about my Redeemer. I felt the enormity of His love for me as I acknowledged the depth of my sin. I wept when He showed me His acceptance in spite of years spent running after another “god” instead of running after Him. I recognized that His “mercies were new every morning.” And I realized that He had exchanged Someone of great value -His one and only Son- for my freedom. Even though I felt unworthy, He declared me worthy in His sight. The Lord was my healer, my sure foundation, and “an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1b). Now I can proclaim the same words that Job professed in the midst of his agony, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
Next week’s post will be my last in this series. After sharing my story and what I’ve learned about the God of revelation, repentance, renewal and redemption, I will explore the truth of restoration.
By Greg Kerr
A note from TrueNorth’s founder:
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. If you missed Greg’s previous posts on confession, repentance, and renewing the mind, I hope you’ll read them and find encouragement for your own journey with God.
Our goal is to present grace-filled messages of hope for those who struggle with issues related to sexual sin or porn use, and for those who love them. At TrueNorth we share resources that can help you find true freedom in Christ. To subscribe to our newsletter and blog, click here. Thank you for reading, and we’d love to hear from you!
Founder and CEO of TrueNorth Freedom Project in Atlanta, Georgia