It's 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, and I'm logging on the Internet to check my email, read a newspaper article, and begin research for Sunday's sermon.
Well, that's what I'm trying to convince myself.
But I know exactly what I'm doing. When my secretary leaves at two, I will be alone in the building. I will check my email, and I may read an article or two. But as soon as the door closes behind her, I will do what I have done more times than I care to count: I'll type "sex" or "porn" or something worse in the search engine and spend the next three or four hours in the pigpen.
I will enter a trance that leads me to neglect important projects, ignore phone calls, and lose track of time. Eventually I will look at the clock and panic because my wife was expecting me home 15 minutes ago, and I have just started trashing files, clearing the search history, and doing what I can to put myself back together. I'll use every minute of my drive home to create an excuse for being late. I'll try to put on a good face even though I know pornography makes real connection impossible. Usually, I fail miserably and end up in a fight with my wife in my first 30 minutes at home.
On Wednesday, I'll go to the office committed to not answer the siren call of the porn sites. I'll start the morning in prayer, confessing my sin and begging God to give me a fresh start. I'll return the phone calls I ignored on Tuesday and work diligently on my midweek lesson. I'll do fine all morning, but when the secretary leaves, the battle will rage again. Most Wednesdays I'll win, though I'll still feel the shame of Tuesday when I stand before my evening Bible class.
Thursday is usually a nightmare; Friday is repentance day. Time and again Friday begins with tearful prayers, begging for God's mercy and promising next week will be different. I then scramble to write my sermon. Sunday mornings I arrive at the building early so I can beg God for a fresh start and finish my sermon. Standing in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, I constantly hear the inner condemnation: Who are you to proclaim God's holy Word? and What would they think if they knew? One Sunday, Satan pounded me throughout the worship service so intensely that during the song before Communion, I seriously contemplated not partaking. Imagine what it would look like if the pastor on the second row refused the elements?
Thankfully, what I've described is now 12 years behind me. Its roots, however, go all the way back to my early childhood. I've heard alcoholics say they were addicted from the very first drink. I understand that feeling. When I was introduced to pornography at about 10 years of age, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire. The dysfunctions and neglect in my family left me hurting and looking for ways to numb the pain. I learned very quickly that sex is a powerful drug.
The anatomy of addiction
At first, I shared magazines with friends, caught R-rated movies on cable, and occasionally acquired harder materials. My struggle escalated my senior year in high school when I realized I looked old enough to purchase porn. That's when I developed a binge/purge cycle. I would buy a magazine, use it once or twice, and then (the first time I was home alone) take it to our burning barrel and set it ablaze in a ritual of repentance.