Tuesday's testimonies are from current and former Pureheart counselees. Most of these men and women have broken free and now walk in consistent purity and/or healed marriages but some are still in process. These brothers and sisters, married and single, represent a wide spectrum of ages, races, nationalities, denominations, backgrounds, personalities, and levels of addiction and dysfunction but all of them have changed dramatically. If they can change, so can you! For obvious reasons, we have changed their names. Here are their stories (unedited)
"Rick" Age 30 (Counseling with Tim)
Porn was introduced to me at an early age (about 7-9yrs old) and shortly after I was masturbating frequently when I fell asleep. My family made a move across the country shortly after that and I found myself isolated. My parents were in gospel music ministry and traveled a lot, I would spend countless hours with only my imagination to keep me company. Being homeschooled in rural MO I had a pool of friends 3 deep, a boy with verbally abusive parents, a boy with a mom that was never home, and a boy whose parents lived separate lives; these guys helped form many of my thoughts and ideas about relationships, the world, and sex. During this time I was a self-professed Christian, but I can say I didn’t know the first thing about having a relationship with God. Our family went to church, tithed, and served others; to all those looking in we were living the middle-class Christian dream. About age 14, I found out my Dad’s stash of secrets. He was heavy into porn (he would preview pornographic PPV movies at hotels while he thought we were sleeping). I was really into computers and started searching for porn at the public library making sure to cover my tracks well. I would search my Dad’s office for his porn stash, look at it and put it back every week. As I finished 7-8th grade both our tastes in porn darkened. I started getting into BDSM while he was recording secret, voyeur videos of people I knew and photoshopping female friend’s faces to porn stars. Meanwhile I was looking at everything. By the time I was done with high school, I was bingeing on illegally downloaded porn every few weeks and masturbating multiple times a day while my father likely lost his business because he spent so much time looking at porn. He was accused of at least two affairs that left my parents split the year I turned 18.
I knew that porn was wrong but at the same time didn’t believe it would destroy everything. I felt lost and alone most of my teenage years and as I started making my own decisions, I wanted so desperately to have something more. I went through a period between 18-22 where I fought to be free from porn, I served on missions trips and worked a couple summer at bible camp, but even though I was not using porn it still had a hold on me through masturbation and sexual fantasy. I felt utterly defeated and ashamed every time I would act out. I tried to read the Bible but after two days, I would forget about it; my pray life revolved around God giving me things I didn't want to work for. I craved intimacy but was unwilling to be open to gain it. During this time I met my future wife and was even open to tell her about my porn addiction. Even in that time of struggle to do better, I became resigned to just hiding my porn problems and ignoring it; hoping it would just go away. We got married and had kids immediately, I started college and by the time I finished my bachelors I was sitting at the university library bingeing on S&M porn and masturbating in the bathroom. Unfortunately, my grades never suffered so I still failed to change. Working nights as an RN, I would watch porn at work, on my breaks, on more breaks than I was allowed, sometimes even at the desk. My family would leave the house to left me sleep and I would stay up every couple weeks to watch porn for hours nonstop and masturbate till it hurt. After the binge, the guilt, shame and utter self-disgust and loathing would drive me to delete everything and swear to be pure. This would last at most a few months.
May 13th, 2016 I thought I was about to lose everything because I was caught downloading porn on a work computer. I was deeply depressed, scared, and ashamed of my position in life. I was so low that I was actually thinking that death would be a better out. I had no relationship with God, I doubted he could even keep loving me. My marriage was slowly dying and I pursued my own things with no regard for my wife and kids. I was most likely going to lose my job and had no idea what my coworkers and friends would say. After calling Tim, I told my wife and pastor. My pastor was over to my house in 15min to pray over me and in not so many words told me to man up and stop being so shallow with everyone especially God. My wife’s first words were, “I forgive you” immediately followed with “how are you going to fix this and don’t touch me till then.”
I found Pureheart after googling “Christian sex addiction” recovery while I was in college, but I didn’t make the call till my career and family were on the line. Pureheart was nothing like I had envisioned. I had sampled many month long purity conferences and video studies (at one time becoming pure for almost a year before spiraling into more frequent bingeing than before). The year-long commitment at $70/week was totally different. In the first session, Tim challenged me that if I wasn’t willing to give up anything and everything to know God and become a man of God; I would remain a weak and ineffective Christian, and my family and everyone around me would suffer. Having lived through that with my own parents I was motivated to not hurt those around me. Tim gave me usable tools from day one and every day after. In the first few months, I was challenged like never before to be disciplined in my personal life. I learned that accountability is not only for when you fail but also to help you succeed. I have learned to read the Bible and pray and worship God on my own time. After spending basically all of my remembered life looking at porn and masturbating I was finally finding freedom, and it required hard work. Tim was brutally honest time after time; he called it like it was but always with grace. I learned fast that we had to take sin seriously because God did, but that if we looked for and asked for God’s help he would be there. I learned how my perspective on God, sex, family, and life was twisted by the devil and my addiction; leaving me literally unable to mature mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. The most powerful part of the journey so far has been rediscovering my emotions and giving them a voice. It has been such a relief to no longer suffer under the lie that men don't feel and never cry. I can talk about how I feel and recognize when to hold on taking action because my emotions are flaring.
I followed the steps Tim gave me no matter how awkward or strange they seemed at first (like in Soul Ties when I openly confessed every sexual sin that had chained my spirit.) I have found God’s blessing in obedience and I have been free from porn, erotic materials, or masturbated since May 13 (nearly a year). After several months, my thought life became less and less sexual fantasy and more focused on Christ. I started finding the dreams I lost 20 years ago. The coworker that caught me never said anything so I kept my job. I have started to truly know my wife and am building my relationship with her beyond just sex. After 6 months pure, I was offered a job at my church managing teams and making sure we built connections with the new people; God has blessed me through serving others and has given me an even larger platform for me to talk about God’s forgiveness and transforming power. I started a Band of Brothers and am now walking with 12 guys through the Pureheart books I went through in counseling. I am seeing many of these brothers starting to gain sexual purity in their lives.
The road from May 13th to now was not easy by any means, but it was not as impossible as it seemed when I took the first step. I have a whitelist of websites I use for work, my phone is locked down to the basics, my home internet has multiple layers of filtering and my wife keeps all the passwords. I am setting goals and achieving them, I am learning more about my wife and kids, the things they are gifted in and like to do. I spend dedicated time with my wife and kids. I consistently make time for the Bible, in prayer and worship. I know that weekly check-in and accountability is required for the rest of my life and I lean into this tool to encourage my growth. I know I will never roam on an unmonitored internet connection or be able to just google something on my phone, but I know that in my pursuit of God those things are trivial. I can now say with confidence that I am a Man of God. I am known by God, I am forgiven, loved, called, anointed, of great value, complete, and can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me.