When Ken came to see me in regard to his pornography addiction, he had been “unraveling” psychologically, physically & spiritually for years. Now he was near undone.
From the Stories Series
Ken was a husband & father, a respected business leader, an elder in his church and a Christian for over 23 years—he was also addicted to pornography the entire time.
Why couldn’t he quit viewing pornography, Ken wondered…
- Was he not a really a Christian?
- Was he just a bad Christian?
- How could a Christian be addicted to pornography?
- Was he the only Christian addicted to pornography?
Ken was taking multiple medications for depression, pain, anxiety, and insomnia. The pills no longer delivered the same level of relief.
- He was struggling to maintain his marriage.
- His business was in trouble.
- Even satisfaction from pornography was diminished.
Ken believed that his pornography addiction was sin and he was truly sorrowful. Many times, every year, for two decades, he vowed to God that he would leave porn—he always returned. Ken despised himself.
Was he unable to quit porn just because it made him feel good? Other things made him feel good too.
- Attending his son’s baseball games made him feel good.
- Doing well in business and providing for his family made him feel good.
- Helping with projects at his church made him feel good.
True, those things didn’t deliver the same extreme “feel good” that porn did.
Yet, was he so weak-willed that he couldn’t just bring himself to stop? He wasn’t weak-willed in business. It took tremendous will power to achieve his success.
Why couldn’t he just stop using porn?
Unfortunately, pornography addiction doesn’t stop at the church doors…
Ken was ever-grieved over his inability to quit viewing pornography. He lived with guilt. The task of keeping his addiction a secret from his wife taught him expert levels of deceit—he knew it and that created more guilt—which led to an inescapable downward spiral of shame.
Ken could spin clever lies and manipulate his wife’s image of him; he’d done it for years. Now, he found himself troubled when he looked at her. Her innocence and God’s Spirit convicted Ken a liar & deceiver, selfish & unfaithful.
Unfortunately, pornography addiction doesn’t stop at the church doors, but Ken thought it did. He reasoned that statistically, some men in his church must view porn once in a while; it’s just human nature, right? What he felt certain about though was that he was the only man so heavily addicted to pornography. That thought depressed him further.
The “weight” of Ken’s sin and the issues it caused felt as though it was crushing his mind. Ken’s whole being was in collapse. His endless cycle of shame, sorrow, asking God’s forgiveness, promising to repent, only to return to his sin once again only worsened his despair.
And now the constant stress of carrying that sin was causing physical symptoms in his body:
- stress-related headaches
- pain in his neck & shoulders
- intestinal issues related to anxiety
- inability to sleep due to worry, fear & anxiety
- difficulty concentrating due to lack of proper sleep
Then there was the weight gain due to food. Not healthy food, but food high in processed sugar or food that metabolized as sugar. The sugar delivered a slight high and some food items created a dopamine kick. Those “feel goods” temporarily counteracted his depressed state of mind. That created a cycle of addictive pseudo relief.
Ken also suffered from a question he couldn’t answer but that haunted him; had he so displeased God that God gave up on him?
Maybe that was why Ken couldn’t quit porn, because God would no longer help him? That seemed to make sense. How could God trust anything Ken said because Ken promised a thousand times to stop using porn and a thousand times Ken broke his promise.
Like cancer to the body, sin was ravaging Ken’s soul. Yet, pornography addiction was not Ken’s core issue.
In my first session with Ken, it was apparent to me that he was most definitely a Christian. He also wanted to end his addiction to pornography. It was evident that there were some things that Ken needed to fully understand and learn to apply.
I would tailor our Biblical counseling sessions to his personality type, family heritage, Christian experience, and state of mind. That approach would give Ken the knowledge & application he needed in a way that would make the most sense for his type of person.
The other thing that was clear to me was that Ken’s pornography was only a symptom; pornography was not Ken’s core issue.
I introduced Ken to the process of Healing Prayer and suggested he think about it. If he was interested, we could proceed during our next session. I saw hope fill his eyes, expression and body language and I thanked God he allowed me to encourage this man.
Ken returned the following week ready to proceed with Healing Prayer. He had done the things I asked him to do to prepare and was obviously nervous. I assured him that most people, especially men, are nervous at first, but it would soon pass; and it did. We began.
Each Healing Prayer experience is different. The process is the same, but how the Lord works with the afflicted person and their response can be solely unique.
For some people during Healing Prayer, there are tears, long periods of silence, deep meditation, a lengthy session, and a multitude of other experiences. For others, it seems as though they no sooner close their eyes and the process moves rapidly and without much emotional response.
I have learned after 30 plus years of this work, that the reason each Healing Prayer experience can be different is that God is kind and the Creator of the person before me.
He knows the depths of his creation. Thus, God knows how best to approach and work with a person. God simply “tunes” the Healing Prayer experience to the unique person he created. This makes sense to me. Everybody understands that people are different from one another. If we are astute, we learn to speak with different people in different ways if we wish to best communicate with them.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter how the process looks to the counselor, its effectiveness is all that matters. In Ken’s case, the process was effective.
Ken finally understood what happened to him and why he spent much of his life reacting to what happened. He saw how pornography was only a symptom (there were other symptoms) and experienced freedom from it deep within his soul. All that was left was to employ Biblical counseling to provide Ken a “prescription” to strengthen his resolve with growth in his faith & relationship with God.
I saw Ken about a year after our last session. He was still free from pornography, he had repaired his marriage, improved his business and was leading a Bible study!
There is no better joy than to see God’s people thrive with the life God intended for them. I am grateful.