Here is episode #1 of the voices series with Levi The Poet.
Levi: So my wife Brandi has always been my accountability partner. (White Collar Sideshow) promotes Safe Eyes so I just went straight to Safe Eyes because it pretty much eliminates me being able to go to pornographic websites because it’s more of a filter than an accountability software. It gives updates and things like that so Brandi has been getting emails weekly or monthly for the last three years. I think the first time I signed up for it was in ’08 because I was interning at HM Magazine and I was out in this corn field all by myself with nothing else to do so that was obviously an enormous temptation for someone who was struggling with it for such a long time. I convinced myself for a really long time that I just shouldn’t because you had to pay for the Safe Eyes so I just justified it like I didn’t need to spend money on it. I spent the money and it’s been totally worth it since then. Honestly, I haven’t really struggled with porn for quite awhile but I think that lust will always be something that very sneakily creeps in to a dude’s heart or mind or desires or eyes and it’s something that I have to be very conscious of.
Lust for pornography and temptations isn’t something that goes away. I got married in April and I think that the newness of the marriage has made me lack desire for anything else. I don’t think that right now I’m so naive to think that the devil can’t get some sort of temptation back into my head but as of right now the Lord has been very gracious with me in changing in my desires. But it’s an issue that we had to recognize in our relationship when we got married and it sucks because pornography is totally a lie like everyone always said it was. I feel like I know that in a new way now. I wrote a poem that says “All my fantasies about my wife to be were based upon things I should have never seen, positions that never should have been idolized by my eyes, worshiped as though they gave me life”. I think I’m realizing the fullness of the lie that porn is in regards to what true sexuality really looks like in a marriage covenantal relationship. It doesn’t have as firm of a hold on my life that it used to but its only by the grace of God that that has happened.
Levi: I started looking at porn when I was 12. It was something that continued for a very long time. I would say in the last couple of years the Lord has brought about sanctification but I never thought that was something that was going to happen. I have written very honestly about it. A poem I will always do in my Levi the Poet project is one called “Pretty in Pornography” which is a very detailed description of my addiction to pornography and my regret and idolizing women and objectifying them as something other than something created in God’s image or likeness. Another poem called “Kaleidoscope” which is about a prostitute who is suffering very severe idolization and objectifying of men who are taking out their sexuality on her and she’s kind of stuck in this position where she had somewhat of an abusive husband where she in incapable of getting out of that lifestyle because she’s needing to provide for her daughter. I would say the same major point and premise for both of those poems is really sharing with dudes that they suck a lot of times, there’s not excuse for that ever. We are to treat women in much higher regard than anything in our society does. Two, I guess it’s a direct word to women who feel very much the weight of the sexualized culture that we live in that they feel like they have to modify themselves to b accepted or viewed as beautiful or loved. No, that sucks. The Lord made you in His image and likeness and that makes you inherently valuable. That’s a huge part of my heart in my project is really a message of purity. I think that back then at HM, Doug, the editor and I, used to have these Bible studies. He asked me what a dream is that I really don’t want to let go of as I continue to get old and I said “I really have a heart for dudes struggling with pornography. I would like to have the Lord redeem the years that I have fallen and my failures and somehow use that as an opportunity for me to be able to be repentant and hopefully for the Lord to use that as some sort of redemption and connection in other dudes’ lives that deal with the same thing who desire change.
Levi: My wife is an angel. She has had so much grace for me in this area but she has not been an enabler which has been a really cool thing and something to stress. What I see from accountability in this area is that a lot of people are finally popping up to talk about it and there’s a lot of accountability but there’s also a lot of enabling because I’m accountable to a dude who is doing the same thing. It kind of becomes this thing of “Okay brother I’ll pray for you” then it slips on by. I remember the first time I slipped up and looked at porn when I was dating Brandi and it was at her house while she was asleep. I wept and started shaking and I was so terrified of telling her. It happened multiple times afterward but she dealt with me graciously and lovingly but she was angry, it was righteous anger and it was a good thing. I think there should be that righteous anger against sin. My prayer in this area of my life is that God would make Brandi the most beautiful woman in the world to me, and He has and its awesome. But my second prayer is that the Lord would reveal Himself as the most desirable thing in my life because I think that would be the ultimate abolishment of that sin, or of any sin. I pray that for any sin regardless if pornography is the thing right in that moment. I don’t think Jesus died for us to help us manage our sin. I think He died for us and makes us new creations. In Hebrews 4:14-16 it says “We have a great high priest who has passed into the heavens who can sympathize with our every weakness because He has been tempted just as we have, yet is without sin so we can come boldly into the throne room for grace and mercy when we need it the most”. That verse and what it implies and entails is life changing for a person struggling with addiction because it means we have a God who sympathizes, that loves us, cares for us and will walk through the process of transformation with us. I just want to say that we’re called to repentance and to change, and not to management. Sometimes that gets really hard and tricky and it’s going to be the grace of God that does that in us.
Levi the Poet is a spoken word artist who travels the country with his new wife Brandi, who performs in White Collar Sideshow. Watch our video interview with Levi here.