Does God Forgive Broken Promises?

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Q. I'm really embarrassed to be asking this question, but I'm worried about my soul. No one really taught me about sex, so I decided to find out on my own. I went online and looked at porn. I didn't feel good about that—so I asked for God's forgiveness, and I promised God I'd never do that again. But I have, twice—and both times, I made the promise to God again. I've deleted all the porn from my computer, but I'm wondering if I'm doomed because I broke my promise to God.

A. Let me start by sharing some good news with you: We are so loved by God that nothing, not even a lifetime full of broken promises, can end his love for us. Romans 8:38 says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (NIV). Even our mistakes, our sins, our broken promises to God will never change his love for us.

I hope you find comfort in that, but I also hope you find conviction. What I mean is that our job as God's people is to live our lives in a way that says: "Thanks, God. You have given me all your love and that makes me want to show you love in return. I want to do that by living the way you have told me to live." God wants our lives to be filled with good things, but we tend to miss a lot of them because we spend our time doing what we want instead of what God wants.

That leads to the other part of your letter—the porn. The people on porn websites are abusing their bodies and the bodies of other people by turning what God intended to be a beautiful, meaningful connection between two married people into something selfish and destructive. You have done a very wise thing in getting rid of the temptation to view porn on your computer. But you need to go a step further and move your computer to a public part of the house and use it only when there are other people around. As you know, it's just too easy to start clicking on those old favorites again. You'll be far less tempted if you know someone else in the family could walk by at any time.

Since pornography has been your primary exposure to sex, you're going to need a few resources to help undo the damage these images have done to your understanding of sex and love. I'd start by finding a mentor—a youth pastor, a Christian adult you trust, a counselor who specializes in sex addiction—and setting up a schedule of weekly meetings (or even daily phone calls) where you talk about how you're doing and how you can keep away from pornography. Also, find help and support online from websites like freeinchrist.truepath.com and xxxchurch.com. These sites have multiple ways to help, like support groups, articles, chat areas and testimonies. And it's all meant to help people—good Christian people like you—find help and healing. Those sites also offer special filtering and accountability software to help you "stay clean."

I'd also suggest reading Every Young Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey (WaterBrook). This book will give you all kinds practical advice for resisting temptation and guide you toward a healthy, godly understanding of sex, love and dating. Most of all, it will remind you that the things you are struggling with have been temptations for Christians for centuries. You are not alone in this fight. You have brothers and sisters in Christ who can show you the way to win.

Carla is an editor of the Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

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