Just One Look
Underestimating the power of porn.
by Roger Evans as told to Carol McGalliard
I stood behind my bedroom door, fists clenched. “I’ll show them,” I vowed. “I’ll show them I don’t need them. I’ll show them I can get what I need all by myself.”
Powerful vows for a-six-year-old, but I was already convinced that the world couldn’t be counted on to meet my needs. That was the start of my establishing a lonely, isolated existence. Fantasy became my escape. In this world, I hit game-winning home runs, and my father swooped me into his arms. My mother hugged me tenderly rather than lash at me in angry outbursts.
Also at that age I began a pattern of suppressing anger and pain. I found sneaky ways to violate my parents’ standards without getting caught, like urinating all over the walls in the bathroom at school. And lying. I learned that if I lied and stuck to my story, my mother would get frustrated and back away. I could avoid her fury by lying more. I could avoid my dad’s ridicule if I didn’t cry when I was hurt or afraid.
Path of perversion
By my teen years, isolation was a way of life for me. One day while caring for a family’s aquarium during their vacation, I noticed a book lying on a table — Valley of the Dolls. I knew it was a “dirty book” and that I shouldn’t look at it, but I picked it up anyway and started reading a passage that described a sexual encounter between two lesbians. It both disgusted and attracted me, so every time I went to feed the fish, I reread that passage. Strangely, it comforted me in a way that nothing else ever had.
By the time I was in college, fantasy masturbation had become a problem. I never considered it wrong until I became a Christian my sophomore year. After that, I had periods of successfully controlling it, followed by times of failure and tremendous shame.
When I married Annette years later, I believed our marriage relationship would end the problem. My abstinence lasted until the last term of her first pregnancy when she was unavailable to me. After all, society says it’s OK for the husband to masturbate when the wife is unavailable. Though I managed some restraint, I struggled off and on after that — even through seminary.
Days of deception
A year and a half into my first youth pastorate, my stress level peaked. I was working two part-time jobs, and ministry work took me away from my children and wife. This created major tension in our marriage, so I turned to fantasy masturbation for comfort. Shortly thereafter, I began writing my own pornographic stories rather than risk being seen buying pornography.
By Annette’s fourth pregnancy, I had established a pattern of withdrawal on the pretense of work. Soon after our fourth child was born, we signed with an Internet service provider, and I investigated the online adult forums I had heard about. Immediately, I became more interested in Internet porn. One look was all it took to unleash that power established years earlier when I read Valley of the Dolls. I spent increasing amounts of time in fantasy sex, withdrawing more and more from my wife and children. A year and a half later, I accepted a full-time position as youth pastor, convinced that working as a pastor would free me from my addiction.
But the added stress of an interstate move and the responsibility of a large youth ministry drove me deeper into Internet pornography. I spent almost every night in my study, lost in the world of fantasy sex, sometimes staying up most of the night. Annette thought I was working. I even spent time in my church office viewing Internet porn. I logged over 500 hours online in two months, all of it to download pornographic material. The bill exceeded $1,500. I could not think rationally, or else I would have switched our service from an hourly charge to unlimited use for a nominal flat fee. I didn’t even realize I had lost touch with reality.
For two months I hid the Internet bill from Annette. But my secret was exposed when she opened the past-due notice, investigated, and found that the hours had indeed been used. With the history feature on our Web browser, she checked the Web pages I had visited.
When Annette learned that I had spent 500 hours downloading porn, she confronted me. After many angry words, she asked me to leave our home. With four young children — three of them boys — she did not want to risk exposing them to pornography. She was crushed that I had abandoned her and our marriage bed and that I had turned instead to fantasy women.
Defeat and divorce
We had several sessions with our pastor and elders. Afterward, the church board determined that, due to my serious problem, I must leave my position. They found a room for me at a residential center to undergo treatment for my pornography addiction. Annette came for joint counseling, but after several sessions, she returned home and filed for legal separation. I had lied to her our entire marriage, and she no longer trusted me. Worse, I did not know how to emerge from my fantasy world to win her trust.
We were never able to work through the maze of problems connected to my addiction, so Annette later filed for divorce. I finally returned to work but in the secular market, not in the ministry.
Plea for healing
Pornography robbed me of my wife, my children, my ministry. The need for comfort is greater than ever without my family, without my ministry. The allure of porn and fantasy sex is indescribably powerful. I believe God is able to heal me; I pray He will help my unbelief.