Tuesday Testimonies: A Necessary Conversation
Editor’s Note: This testimony is a continuation of Brian VonAchen’s story, which began in the last issue. The first time one of my friends told me he watched pornography, I did not handle it well. The friend sitting across from me was one of the kindest, most respectable people I had ever met, and I had only heard of watching pornography as something really twisted people did. I felt betrayal and fear, and I showed it. He was not a Christian, and my response to him lacked in any love, so I ripped a chasm in our relationship that took a long time to fill. Since then, almost every guy I have become friends with has shared his struggle with pornography. Its commonality does not excuse it as something that is okay, but something that Christians need to learn to respond to not out of shock or fear but love. When Brian VonAchen shared the role pornography has played in his testimony, I knew this was a story I wanted to tell.
Brian committed his life to Christ the summer before eighth grade. Though he was changed in some ways because of his faith, depression and suicidal thoughts began to creep into his mind.
“I felt like I was living a double life. I would go to school, and I still wouldn’t really say much, but I was kind to people. I had a main friend group, but they didn’t know about anything that was going on,” Brian said. “I would come home and most times I would just hate myself.”
Brian tried cutting himself to feel something physically for the pain he had inside but realized that would not solve the problem.
Eventually, he turned to pornography, which temporarily numbed the negative thoughts. Through friendships and opening up about depression, the suicidal thoughts diminished, but he continued to view pornography through high school.
“There were just a lot of times where I’d mess up, and I just got so tired,” Brian said. “I was just done. I was reaching that breaking point: I’m tired of this. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to find a solution.”
He had not talked about pornography openly before, and his parents never discussed it. But in his senior year of high school, Brian decided to reach out to his youth group leader for accountability.
He was able to go from January to April of that year without viewing pornography. Recognizing the strength that he gained from bringing his struggle to light, Brian became bolder in talking about what he has gone through.
“You have to have community,” Brian said. “You have to rely on God. You have to grow in that relationship. And you have to be accountable.”
But pornography, like any sexual sin, is not easy to stop. Brian continues to battle with this temptation.
“Especially with pornography, it’s not something you can just recover from overnight or even in a month,” Brian said. “It’s something that’s basically going to affect me for the rest of my life because it’s not really something that just goes away. The only way it would go away is by God’s power.”
I struggle with the application of this testimony because I have not personally dealt with pornography, but God has taught me a lot in the conversations I have had with some of my closest friends who have. I also believe that everything we experience has a way to glorify God.
Sexual sins come from a genuine desire – a desire God gave us. We were created in a way to be fruitful and multiply.
So, someone who struggles with sexual sin is someone who desires that level of intimacy that ultimately reflects the eternal intimacy God desires for us, the love shared between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Those desires are just put in the wrong place to produce immediate but not eternal gratification.
Pornography is not okay. But pornography is a real struggle that genuine, true, kind, respectable, Christloving people have. So, it’s a topic we as Christians should not be afraid to talk about.
It starts with a conversation. Brian encouraged anyone who is in a similar situation to talk to someone who will listen and walk them through the path to overcoming pornography. He also suggested the podcast Consider before Consuming, which calls pornography the new drug because of its addictive qualities.
Jacqueline Hale is the Feature Editor. Follow her on Twitter at @HaleJacquelineR.