We catch up with Toby Morrell from Emery and Matt & Toby for the latest episode of Voices #17.
Temptations on the road:
There are tons of temptations on the road but after talking with the other guys in the band, I think it’s a cop out to say it’s only on the road. I think every guy and girl goes through temptations regardless. It’d be bad for me to go “On the road, I just gotta be careful”. I think it’s more dangerous when I get home. I think there are always the temptations of sex, pornography, extra looks at females and that’s just some instances. There’s a temptation to drink too much or get too angry at my band mates or pissed off because I’m missing my family so I think there’s temptations regardless of being on the road or not. I try to keep it equal. I don’t want to say that when I’m on the road I’m going to be really careful but when I’m at home near my wife, it’ll be easier. I just like to say it’s dangerous as soon as I wake up, for me.
Accountability for me looks like, honestly, it has just radically changed for me within the last three or four or five years. When I first got married, I hid porn from my wife, especially being on the road and I justified it because I was on the road. I was like “I miss my wife so I’m not going to cheat”-there’s no way I’d cheat on her but knowing that that is cheating was just really rotten. The Lord just kept convicting me that it’d well up so much that I’d confess these things to her but I realized that it was mostly confession and not really repentance. Awhile back I told my wife a ton of stuff and gave a full confession. Its also scary because I love my wife more than any person on earth, I love my kids too but I love my wife so much and to tell her these things would feel like she felt like less of a person or less of a female and that’s such a lie because she’s such a strong person too so and if I hide these things they’re just going to keep going so I’m able to be honest and to be perfectly honest, this is the second day of the tour and I already had to be honest about taking an extra look at a movie I watched the other night and just kind of lingering on that. It’s awesome because there’s that shame that goes along with it but my wife and I have had such good conversations about it just being a tool of the enemy-that you would hide that shame and just live in it which is a whole other thing. Even if you don’t look at pornography, you’re still living in that shame which is still the sin because we’re forgiven by Jesus which is this weird tool the enemy uses. I use it too, I’m the one doing this as well. I don’t want to just say “Oh I’m being attacked by the enemy. If he didn’t attack me, I’d be okay”. One thing that has been helping me a lot is that regardless of what I’m looking at, even if it’s a second look at a girl, if it’s a movie with a sex scene, I’ve been trying to tell myself regardless that I am looking at porn. The sole point of that is sexual, its not just “Oh it’s a part of the movie”, its porn. I feel like when I say “That’s just this” and I put it in a category, its way easier to not be accountable to it. I had that conversation with my wife because I’ll be flipping through some movies like “Oh what’s this? Okay” then I’d linger for a few minutes like “What am I doing?”
The strangest thing happened. You get that voice of “Don’t worry, you’re okay, don’t tell anybody” and I heard that voice even after telling my wife and band mates, we’re accountable to each other as well. It was that voice and I thought “That’s not me. I’m not going back”. That’s been my prayer for years of “not going back, not going back. My identity is not going to be this, I’m not going to be this way”. I said that and thought that no matter what I’m going to tell my wife tomorrow. She can take it even if it hurts her feelings, she’s strong and she has weaknesses of her own. That night I slept on Matt’s couch at his house. That night I had this dream where a bunch of different people including my wife and pastor and a bunch of people sitting at the end of the couch praying for me. I woke up like “Whoa, that was intense”. That’s such a huge tool knowing that there are people praying for me. We need to have people praying for us and we need to be honest about it so they know to. I struggle, I’m not going to hide this, I’m a sinner. Jesus is the hero. He’s the guy that’s not going to let you down. Me, I’m going to let you down. That’s what’s good about being honest is you don’t have to live in the shame of “I’m going to let you down, I’m not going to live in the shame of it, I’m going to repent and not go back to it”.
Porn in music:
I would say, obviously with music videos sex sells. I think it’s integrated in everything. It’s almost like you can make any word sexual. I wonder what the statistics would be on making a “That’s What She Said” joke on everything (laughs). It’s the idea of it. We’re always talking about it and it’s always there, it’s become this god in our lives. When people meet someone in a band or some cool person and they project this sexuality so that people will like them and it’s sad because there’s these beautiful people out there, inside and out, and they don’t need sex to make them beautiful. It’s a trick that sex is actually the good thing and they’re not. It’s actually the opposite. Sex is just the thing, they’re the person, they’re the heart and God loves them so much more for them. That’s where I would see sexuality played out in the music industry for me. It’s always there. Its “Oh you’re in a band, you hook up with chicks right?” It’s shocking. That’s what sucks and it shouldn’t be that way. We want fans for fans and people don’t need that in order to make them acceptable.
Advice to females:
I would just say my advice, you get what you pay for and take two cents of what I’m saying but my advice is that if your identity is wrapped up in sex then the sex would have to become more and more and more to get you feeling like it’s a drug. Eventually you’ll be drained and you’ll end up hating it. Your sexuality will end up being your identity and its all anyone will know you for and it’ll be frustrating for a female because at that point she won’t know what her identity is. Obviously, my prayer would be that everyone’s identity would be in Christ because He is perfection, He is what we should try to attain and we’re not going to. That’s what’s awesome is that His blood is shed and covers us. God sees Jesus when He sees us. When Jesus died on the cross He even took all hopelessness away so we even have hope. If that’s what you’re projecting, you’re projecting a thing and not yourself. Its so much better to project yourself regardless of what anyone thinks because we have a God who made us, who loves us and you are special.It sounds so cheesy to say this sometimes, I don’t like it either (laughs) but I want to lose weight, I have so much stuff I have to try and pull out of my identity that’s not Jesus and that happens to everybody but the truth is you’re a creature of God, He died for you and He loves you so much. He gave up all of heaven just to come hang with us. You don’t have to go somewhere and be something just to hang with people. Hang with people like Jesus did. That’s way better than projecting sexuality.
Praying with fans:
Dudes come up and want to talk about theology or something I said or did not say on stage about God. There’s times where they’re just bashing me for not saying something about Jesus. I go “Where’s your heart? Are you being legalistic?” Then sometimes I’ll say “Hey, do you look at porn?” And they say “I know it’s wrong, I’m really trying to work on it”. What are we talking about here? How would you take such a strong stance on something and not come in humility? We need to all realize we’re sinners and this is just a sin, it doesn’t control us, it doesn’t own us even though we think that way. To guys and people coming to these songs, I want them to be honest and be able to share these things in humility. Anybody who is struggling with a porn addiction, I would say no matter what, don’t wait, tell somebody, tell anybody. It’s like there’s a house on fire and you just have to tell somebody before it goes up in flames. You just have to tell somebody. It sucks, it’s so hard and it’s not fun. There’s probably a good chance you’re going to do it again but you have to start somewhere, you have to tell somebody, you have to get it off you because ethere’s this thing that lives with you. It’s like the C.S. Lewis story The Great Divorce where there’s this little lizard on your shoulder saying “Its not this big of a deal” then it just gets crushed. There was a time in my life where I thought “I’ll probably always look at porn” but now I think God is redeeming me and changing me and that’s the ultimate goal to have a redeemed body and a redeemed earth and group of people who are joyful and serving God. The big thing is just say it immediately. Don’t think “If I wait, its going to get better”, it just won’t happen.