By: Hugh Houston
I felt trapped and I couldn’t take it anymore and I was scared to death. I knew that if I didn’t do something quickly, my secret sin was going to get much, much worse. I was 50 years old, and I felt like I had been fighting lust and pornography my whole life. And I suppose I had been.
My first encounter with pornography came when I was a teenager spending the night with my cousins.
They lived in another state and I didn’t see them very often. There were three brothers and two were older than me. I still remember that they shared a bedroom with two double beds. Along one of the walls, there was a desk. One night at bedtime one of my cousins opened a large drawer on the side of the desk and there was a stack of Playboy magazines.
I had never looked at one of those in my life. That night I went through several magazines. Some of those images were burned into my brain. I can still remember the rush I felt as the adrenalin pulsed through my body. Was it addiction at first sight? I can’t say. I just know that in spite of the fact that I had been taught differently, from then on, I began to seek out opportunities to take another peek and feel that same surge.
Bible College, Marriage, missions, Lust
I went away to Bible college and eventually decided to become a missionary. But none of that quieted the ghosts of lust that still haunted my thoughts. While I was there, I fell in love with a wonderful Christian woman who is still my wife to this day.
Like so many guys, I thought having a wife and a healthy sexual relationship with her would cure my desire to look at pictures of other women. I was dead wrong.
I remember after we had children, I would get out of bed late at night when everyone was asleep, sneak into the living room and flip through all the channels, hoping to catch a glimpse of something sensual.
Now when I think about those times I feel so ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s the truth.
Once I went to a men’s retreat with guys from our church where I felt extremely close to the Lord. While there I had repented of my sins and renewed my vow to live only for Him. But when I arrived home late at night I turned on the television to seek out those lusty images one more time.
I wish I could say that was the only time that happened. Like so many other nights, I fell asleep with my heart in pieces, asking myself what was wrong with me.
Preaching and Porn
I would get up and preach on Sunday about Jesus and living for him. But when nobody was looking I was searching for sex scenes on the TV.
When the Internet came along my problem got infinitely worse. Now I didn’t have to flip through channels to find something or go out to some newsstand. All of a sudden, what my sinful self craved, was right at my fingertips.
One day I was in my office looking at a steamy picture on a site and my oldest son walked into the room. I couldn’t get off the site in time so I just reached up and turned off my computer monitor. He saw though and I stayed up that night wondering what he thought. Yet not even that sobering scare kept me from going back for more.
And the months and years marched on.
Feasting on the wrong flesh
In order to live with myself, I minimized my sins and justified my actions. Yet in spite of all of my rationalizations, I was still living a lie. I felt so much shame and guilt. I can remember looking at those pictures on a Friday or Saturday and then going to church on Sunday and taking the Lord’s Supper. I remember how I fought to push those images out of my mind so I could think about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for me. I thought: “How could I have let this happen?” Even in my self-induced blindness, I knew I wanted out. I had to find a way out.
How many times did I promise God and myself that I wanted out of this mess, vowing that this time I would try harder and this time I really meant it? Nothing ever worked, nothing ever changed. Except something did happen because this part of my story is years behind me.
So what happened?
Something occurred within me that only God’s presence can explain. He touched my heart and planted in me a drive to finally search for help. Help beyond my own strength and beyond my comfort zone of control. I could never have made it without the Lord’s grace.
He is always there and certainly more than willing to rescue those who are perishing and give life to the dying.
I can’t really say why I took that step, except that I was deathly afraid of my craving for porn getting even worse. At the age of 50, I had lied so much and wasted so much. I was sick and afraid. One day I took action.
Redeeming the internet
Up to this point our internet service had been dial-up. But my wife and our younger son really wanted broadband. They kept insisting, so one day I finally gave in.
And that’s the day, with the Lord’s help, I began to use the tool that had been the door to so much evil to seek help. I should have confessed my sin to a friend or to someone at church. But you see I’m a missionary. I was too afraid to let my secret be known. I was afraid of the repercussions. Yet it was only after I reached out to others that I began to find the freedom my heart always longed for. At first, this started with an online community then I began to reach out to others around me.
a new mission
Over a year later I worked up the courage to confess my involvement with pornography to my wife.
She was devastated.
Those were dark days as we dealt with all of the repercussions of my betrayal. Through it all the grace of the Lord reached down to us and picked us up in our woundedness and brokenness. Through his love and mercy, He has remade us and strengthened us. Our marriage is so much stronger today than it ever was in the past. We’ve learned how to fight for our relationship and daily move toward each other and Christ.
Looking back, the parts of myself that I kept from my wife were never worth it. I would hide from my family and from God’s family. I hid in darkness and I gave my deepest passions to an empty relationship. I was sinking into a vast ocean, all alone.
What the Lord has given us in the last few years has been more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed.
Missionaries are pioneers to new places. As a pioneer from a dry and shadowed land, hear me: I’ve gone before you and there is another way. Don’t wait till you’re 50 and empty. Stop hiding. Stop drowning. Get help. Jesus has never looked at the outside of a person, He always cares about the heart. He doesn’t care about ‘the good’ your doing, His kingdom is a kingdom of vulnerability.
To be saved you have to cry out for salvation. It’s time to stop hiding.
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Hugh Houston has been a missionary in South America for the last 35 years and has been married for 40 years. Hugh and his wife have four adult children. Hugh has written a book called “Jesus is Better Than Porn” which tells the story of his journey through pornography. Each chapter has resource questions that allow this book to be worked through individually or in a community group. Click here to check out his book! Also, you can reach Hugh at email@example.com