Have you ever thought about the effects of pornography on your soul? I was working on a gratitude list this afternoon and realized that now I seldom have sudden outbursts of anger, usually directed against unsuspecting loved ones. Back when I was using porn regularly, these were common occurrences. The anger always seemed to be seething just below the surface and when something or someone set me off, watch out! It was like stumbling on an IED (improvised explosive device). Someone nearby was going to get hurt.
I’m not sure what caused the anger. I think it had a lot to do with my shame. These outbursts were followed by a condescending tone and self-justifying excuses such as, “I have a right to be angry.” “It wasn’t my fault.” “If you knew what I had to put up with…” Actually, that last one had an element of truth in it. No one knew what I “put up with” or what secrets I held. That was the problem. No one knew what explosive images I had gathered up in my mind. Call them IEDs (images of explosive desires). The lust-inducing images gathered through the use of pornography were volatile, destructive, and powerful. They lay along the deserted roadsides of my soul just waiting for the enemy to detonate them at the worst possible moment.
Of course, angry outbursts weren’t the only consequences of my porn use, but they were among the more noticeable. Other more subtle symptoms affected my mood, outlook on life, self-esteem, prayer life, and preaching. So often we are tempted to believe that we don’t hurt anyone but ourselves when we view pornography. After all, it’s a private sin. It’s just between us and God, right? (Even that statement is telling. Do we want something like pornography to come between us and God?) By God’s grace, I have been spared many of the consequences of my actions, but maybe i haven’t been spared as many as I think. How many relationships have suffered damage because of my IEDs? How much has my ministry been hindered because of that hidden layer of shame I’ve tried to conceal with a veneer of self-justification? Next time you’re tempted to click to drink in those lustful images, remember the danger. Don’t hide another IED in your soul!