When I reach the end of my life, I want to be able to say that no matter what happens, I strive to live each day with integrity. To me, this means matching my actions with what I know to be true and to live out my convictions as best I can. It is not an easy feat, but it’s something I continually press toward, especially regarding pornography.
For the past couple of years, I have struggled with habitually watching porn. Just writing that out feels like I am wilting away inside and is not a proud statement to share. And yet it is a reality that I must face with courage and intentionality. It is hard to say what exactly caused it or why I have felt drawn to its luring pull. I could point to family circumstances, my disposition, personality, etc., but that only goes so far amid the fight. There is curiosity mixed with horror, comfort molded with regret, and a resolve to never watch it again, only to somehow run back with irritation and relief.
Deep down, I knew it was wrong before God, and I didn’t want to engage in those behaviors. Yet working through that shame and regret is rarely straightforward, and it was easy to enter self-destructive cycles. How could I watch something so horrible? How could something that was once terrifyingly grotesque now be subdued? And how was I supposed to face this alone?
My accountability partner was one of the first people I ever told about my struggles. I vividly remember the conversation—the words choking out of me as I lay bare my deepest shame. She looked at me with love and grace—something that I couldn’t believe. She gently nudged me to get the software Covenant Eyes, which she explained is made for exactly this. I said I would think about it, as the thought scared me a little. Yes, I hated what I was doing, but a commitment to be completely transparent? Deep down, I felt that I didn’t want to give up the comfort of porn.
What if I couldn’t live without it? Little did I realize that so many of my issues were caused by and perpetuated by porn. Loneliness, shame, farness from God, not loving others well, and being irritable were just a few. Yet sin is often disguised as something it is not. It always promises satisfaction, though it never delivers. Leaving the door open was like letting death into my house, a silent killer who was not looking out for my best interests.
My friend was incredibly patient with me, hearing the same side of a conversation over and over. After one particularly hard talk, I could see in her eyes that what she was about to say was important. Essentially it was this: I had to make a choice, and I could not keep living the same way and expecting change. Her harsh but necessary words struck me, and that night I downloaded Covenant Eyes.
Getting the app was straightforward enough, and it provided me with resources that completely changed the way I thought about porn. The ebooks helped educate me and allowed me to understand that my behaviors were not completely hopeless but rather quite easy to predict. Most importantly, I felt less alone. It wasn’t just me fighting for purity; there were communities of other people who strive to fight the drug of porn. Because it is so easy to access, having an accountability partner helped profoundly by bringing another person in, to see my decisions in real-time. It helped me realize that watching porn isn’t a decision I make right then and there, but far earlier in my resolve and my beliefs.
Having Covenant Eyes quickly made me realize how easy it was to break the boundaries I had so intentionally set up. No matter how many limits I set, I knew how to dismantle every last one if I was intent on giving up. I hid from my accountability partner, deleted the app, was sneaky in my searches, and the list goes on. It was a wake-up call for me. If I wanted to watch it, I could. If my reasoning for not watching it was not strong enough, I would find a way to break every boundary. If I relied on my own strength, I was doomed. I was trying to fight an issue that was relational all by myself. And that alone was enough to understand that software couldn’t save me.
I realized that quitting porn isn’t something that I can decide one day and be done with. It is a conscious decision, a commitment that I must renew daily. Though it can feel impossible, I am confident that God has given me everything I need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). Through His strength alone, I can overcome porn, and this can be done by utilizing the many resources He has given me, including accountability and Covenant Eyes. I want to be able to cope with life well. To live in a way that God desires, full of love and peace. To connect with real people better and have meaningful relationships. To be so content and enraptured with the beauty of Christ that porn is the equivalent of drinking ocean water—unpleasant, undesirable, and horribly unsatisfying.
Sobriety is possible, and by God’s grace, I have experienced it. Yet porn is always looming in a dark corner, and each day, I must resolve once again. Covenant Eyes paved the path for me to not only talk about my struggles but to overcome them through the grace of other people. I am thankful for the beauty in vulnerability and how no matter what I think otherwise, I am never truly alone. At the end of the day, I strive to live a life of purity because ultimately I am not living for myself but for the One who gave His life for me.