My first real memory of pornography is in college. Sure, I saw some gratuitous sex scenes and nudity in rated-R movies, and I enjoyed plenty of moments with Victoria’s Secret catalogues, Maxim and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, but my use and enjoyment of commercialized flesh didn’t impact my life or dominate my thoughts in the way that hardcore pornography did when I entered college.
The Internet was only just beginning to take off back when I was in high school, and I didn’t really know then how much pornography could be found online until I walked in on my college roommate masturbating to Internet pornography during the first month of school. I was a little traumatized by interrupting him at first, but he told me—and showed me—some of what he was in to, and I had to admit, it seemed pretty appealing.
Almost anytime I was alone in my room (trying, of course, to be diligent about my studies), I couldn’t help but start thinking about that world of Internet porn. A once a week indulgence became a bi-weekly occurrence, and, by the end of the first semester, I was spending time every day clicking through what had to be hundreds of images online.
I was raised in a mostly Christian home. I say mostly, because we went to church every Sunday, and my parents had talked to be about waiting until I got married to have sex, or risk getting a girl pregnant. I had gotten moderately involved with my youth group, and, as an athlete, I attended my high school’s FCA. As a result of my apparent involvement with Christian extracurriculars, I ended up dating mostly “good girls”, and even though we pushed some limits and were pretty physical, I entered college as a virgin (technically).
In college, I didn’t have the same safety nets, but I also was pretty immersed in Internet pornography. Since I was spending so much time looking at porn, and so little time studying, I didn’t really find enough time to be with a “real woman”. Over the summer break, I kept busy with my high school friends and a job, and I got away a little from the pornography I found so enthralling during freshman year. Getting away from it actually felt pretty good. Back at school, however, the struggle continued, and it wasn’t until Christmas break of my senior year in college, when I had become pretty serious about a girl, that I started wondering if everything was OK with my habit.
My college girlfriend (who is now my wife) was a Christian. During a dark few months, I started seeking out our Christian fellowship group on campus, and that’s where I met Lesley. She was beautiful, funny and smart, and she led worship for the group. I pretty much channeled what I saw modeled in high school –I was on my best behavior to try to win her over, but I still had this dark secret. One day, right before Christmas break, Lesley came over to study with me, and she went to look up something on my computer, and somehow, the menu bar auto-filled to a porn site. It was in that moment that she got a glimpse of this other world I was living in. She was really upset, and I denied it all—I blamed my roommate, and she seemed to at least partially believe me.
It was a close call, and I was surprised at how guilty I felt about what she had seen. And about how guilty I felt about lying to her. That was ten years ago. Today, we have two sons, and I want to make not only my wife proud, but my sons too. As Lesley and I walked towards and through engagement and marriage, it became more and more clear that I needed to be honest with her and come clean. It also became clear that I wanted to be clean, and in the clear from the pornography that had taken such a hold of me. I wanted to love Lesley in the way that she deserved.
It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. As a parent, I don’t want that crap around my sons. I don’t want them to lost interest in their childhood or experiencing what life has to offer beyond the computer screen. I talk to my sons now about purity. I talk to them about what their mom means to me. And, when the time is right, I will talk to them about pornography too and what it takes to stay away from it.