© 2009 Teresa Cook
Published in Glory And Strength March 2009
Ten years ago, I gave little thought to pornography. To me, porn meant girly magazines in brown wrappers or triple x movies in the sleazy part of town, temptations that would surely never touch my family. Then one morning, our eighteen-year-old son irrevocably changed my thinking with one simple sentence.
"I'm addicted to pornography!"
Through his tearful confession, we learned that porn had invaded our home. Brandon had stumbled across a pornographic cable channel and been watching it for eighteen months. Though he knew what he was doing was wrong, pornography had sunk its hooks deeper and deeper into Brandon's mind.
Then one day, a chapel program at his Christian college brought him up short. As the speaker described his twenty-year addiction to porn and the despicable things he did to act out his sexual fantasies, Brandon recognized the road he was rushing down and came to us for help.
For the first few days after our son's revelation, I wandered around in shock. Strong in his faith and convictions, Brandon was the last person I would have imagined succumbing to pornography's lies. I clung feebly to the hope that maybe he didn't really have an addiction after all. But words Brandon spoke during his confession echoed in my mind: "I tried over and over to stop but couldn't."
I knew I had to do something to help my son escape pornography's chains, but where do you turn for a problem like this? At the time—before Internet porn spread like the unchecked epidemic it is today—few people even acknowledged that pornography could lead to an addiction. Of the scant resources available, none addressed porn addiction in teens nor provided support for parents. I prayed God would guide us to someone who would help Brandon break this bondage.
Then I remembered reading an article about an organization that ministered to porn addicts. A call led me to a nearby Christian counselor experienced in treating sexual addictions. After several sessions, the counselor referred Brandon to a Christian support group for sexual addicts.
Forming a protection plan
Conversations with the counselor and the few books I located on pornography addiction gave me a glimpse into the power of the foe we faced. I soon learned that pornography is not just a mental obsession but a mood-altering addiction that also affects the physical, spiritual, and social well-being of the addict.
From this knowledge we were able to develop a protection plan that addressed all four areas, modeling behaviors Brandon would need to implement for himself once he was on his own. Even so, we walked a long and difficult road, sometimes taking one step forward and two steps back.
Recognizing the good
Brandon completed a master's degree in psychology and now works with youth and young adults. While he may always struggle to some degree with the temptation to look at pornography, he has learned to seek God each day to overcome it. In turn, he can point other young Christians to the same source of strength for help in mastering whatever temptations may challenge them.
God has used this experience in both of our lives to make us stronger and to draw us closer to Him. And I hope I will never underestimate temptation's power again.