Every Guy's Struggle
Bored and without much to do on a Saturday night, I was alone in the basement surfing through TV channels. Like snapshots with sound, the images flipped by rapidly, telling me that, as usual, there wasn't much of anything on TV.
Then I hit a couple of numbers randomly, and suddenly I was staring at slightly blurred images of naked bodies having sex.
The blurry reception told me our cable connection had picked up a station that wasn't part of our package. I glanced at the remote, and then looked nervously toward the basement stairway. I knew I should change the channel, but instead I stared at the couple on the screen. Minutes passed before I clicked the remote. In that short period of time, I'd placed powerful images in my mind that would play over and over like a continuous instant replay.
It wasn't the last time I'd turn to this "secret channel." Throughout my junior year, I'd find opportunities to watch it. Sexually excited by what I'd seen, I'd go into the bathroom and masturbate. Then I'd experience intense guilt.
I tried to stop. Sometimes I'd go weeks without watching that pornographic station. Even so, there were still other things that stimulated me sexually—and I didn't have to make any special effort to find them. It could be a model in a commercial or magazine ad. Or maybe I would stare longer than I should at a girl at school in a midriff-baring top, a short dress or low-cut shirt. I'd find myself daydreaming about what I'd seen. Sometimes those images I tucked into my brain led me to masturbate. But whether or not I masturbated, I knew I'd let myself fall into lust.
I agonized. I pleaded with God:
"God, forgive me!"
"I'm so sorry … "
But then I'd find myself giving in and letting my mind go places it shouldn't. The shame and the guilt dug in deeper and deeper.
Help Me to Be Like Joseph
During this time, I really was trying to live my faith, which included reading my Bible. I remember reading through the book of Genesis and being surprised by the problems many of God's people experienced. Apparently God used less-than-perfect people, I thought. There might be hope for me.
Then I came to the incredible story of Joseph near the end of Genesis. I was pulled in by this story of a young man who was sexually harassed by a powerful and probably very beautiful woman. She wouldn't leave him alone, yet he consistently ignored her advances. One time she approached him, grabbed him by his coat and insisted: "Have sex with me!" He didn't try to reason with her. He didn't pause to think about whether he should or shouldn't hang around. His first impulse was to get out of there—and quickly.
To make sure I hadn't missed anything important, I reread the story. Then I prayed:
"God, help me to be more like Joseph … "
Far from Alone
As sincere as my prayer was, I continued to struggle. I felt so alone in my shame and guilt. But I knew I wasn't alone. The guys in my small group Bible study would often hint at their own struggles. But they'd never get too specific. There would be a moment of embarrassing silence, then the topic would change. It was like we all knew we struggled, yet were afraid to get too vulnerable. I began to think lust and masturbation were problems too private to talk about—even with a group of guys.