Idolatry? Me? I don’t like that word. It sounds so foreign, so pagan, so Old Testament. Yet, it is the reality of today and of a secret part of my life.
Addicts or a sexually compulsive people know how to compartmentalize their lives really well. They know how to ‘fake’ it for others and live in an unreality. I should know. I compartmentalized my life really well. I was hooked on a form of porn that made me feel empowered as a man.
I knew I had a problem looking at internet porn, but it really was not ‘that bad’. I did not ‘act out’ like other people I knew. I didn’t have the guts to go out and buy a magazine or visit a ‘club’. Instead, I could hide behind the computer screen.
People say it is one of the biggest problems facing our families and congregations today. It can go undetected, it has no outward signs. It is not talked about in Christian circles, and yet is joked about in media as though it was normal male life. Yet, I was hooked, and did not know how to get out. The hole in my heart needed something to numb the pain.
For me, the apostle Paul described it best in Romans 1:23 when he said “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images…..”(NIV). The Word of God makes it plain that I was guilty of idolatry. I had easily traded God for lesser things. I traded who He wants to be in my life for “images”. The snare of Internet porn captured me because it was secret, hidden, anonymous, and was easy to access.
As a Christian and ministry leader, I could pretend like it never happened. The power over me was set. I could remain in silence. I didn’t know what true confession looked like. I knew and practiced I John 1:9 well, but had no idea what James 5:16 meant in reality.
A few years ago, I attended a Living Waters program in Kansas City. I was challenged to be real, open, and honest with another person. This scared me to death. The thoughts of “what will they think of me” and what will happen when I am ‘exposed’ overwhelmed me. Yet, I knew I had to do it, I had to be clean.
I remember confessing to my small group, telling them piece by piece seeing if I could trust them. Instead of shame and humiliation, I was met with love, care and real concern. I was not exposed, but covered. It was at the place of being open and truly vulnerable that God met me.
I had taken these hidden things to the cross for years, but was still hooked because of the power of silence. Now choosing Jesus meant choosing others to be accountable to and to confess to.
I must admit, I still don’t like it, and would rather hide. I can easily think I can ‘handle it again’ and don’t need to tell, but I really cannot. Jesus is the freedom when we walk in the light as He is in the light!