I was baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant and raised by my parents to have faith and trust in God. By the age of 13 that faith and trust in God was replaced by a faith and trust in another God, pornography. I came to believe that pornography could give me freedom and happiness, and God was a slave master denying me this freedom and happiness. In my mind, I believed that God could no longer be trusted or keep me safe. Pornography became something I could trust to keep me safe and give me instant relief from the troubles of the day. This trusting relationship I developed with pornography over the next 20 years no longer could be trusted to give me safety and relief. In fact, my relationship with pornography gave me financial problems, health problems, and intimacy problems leading to out of control and unmanageable behaviors. Hitting my rock bottom forced me to make a decision about whom to believe and trust, pornography or God. I chose God which was not an easy decision. This decision to choose God was a two step process. The first step was to explore the attachment I had built to and lies I believed about pornography. The second step was to explore my detachment from and lies I believed about God.
Exploring the attachment and lies I developed about pornography required that I look at traumatic experiences and treatment by the authority figures in my life. This exploration helped me see that several illnesses, family deaths, and physical abuse I experienced as a child produced powerful feelings of rejection and abandonment. I felt unloved, unsafe, and I believed my family could not meet my needs to be loved and keep me safe. When I was introduced to pornography during this period it gave me instant relief, and I wanted more. It became my sole means for connecting with someone that wouldn’t reject me or abandon me. I developed a strong attachment to pornography. Scripture says I cannot serve two masters because you love the one and hate the other. In choosing pornography as my master I began to hate God. I came to believe He would not protect me or love me because He didn’t protect me from the trauma I experienced as a child. I believed he was angry at me for being sickly as a child and I was being punished for it. I now know that my beliefs about pornography and God were wrong.
I must admit that the lies about pornography were much easier to see and change than the lies I believed about God. The negative consequences I was experiencing in my life and learning from other people who experienced the same thing helped me believe that pornography was a lie and would never provide me love and protection. Being introduced to many resources on the dangers of pornography was also very convincing to me. Denouncing my faith to pornography was one thing, putting my faith in God, that seemed unattainable. So, how did I come to believe that God could restore my life and that I could trust him with my life. I knew that the God I believed in, angry and vengeful, not there for me, had to be fired. A faith in that God would not work. I had to find a faith in God that worked for me.
I want to offer two things that helped me in developing a faith in God that worked for me, and I hope will work for you. But, first I want to talk about what I have come to understand about faith, and what it is not, and what it is. Faith is not a feeling. You do not have to feel faithful to be faithful to God. Faith in God is an action, a decision to make God the center of your life and let go of self-interests. Faith is not something you obtain from having extreme intelligence. Remember the Scribes and Pharisees were very intelligent, but most of them never came t have faith in Jesus. Faith is a way of life were I decide to live that life in thanksgiving to God for all He has given me. Now, on to the two things that helped me develop a faith in God that worked for me.
#1 Attend and participate in the Mass
All those years I was attached to pornography I still attended Mass on Sunday. But I was not participating in the Mass. The Liturgy and receiving of the Holy Eucharist is the most powerful form of prayer and connection with God. The prayer over the offering from today’s Liturgy says it so well. “Grant us, O Lord, we pray, that we may participate worthily in these mysteries, for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished.” The Mass is a celebration. We celebrate His ultimate sacrifice in dying on the cross for our sins which is the greatest form of love. He gives me the greatest gift of love in giving me His body and blood in the Eucharist. During those years of attachment to pornography i was just taking up space in the pews. As I attended and participated in Mass on a weekly basis with the understanding this was a celebration (I now attend daily) I came to believe God loved me because he sent his only son to die for my sins. One suggestion I have for improving your participation in Mass and making it a form of prayer is to use the Missal, which has all the parts of the Liturgy along with the prayers. Other publications like the Magnificat and The Word Among Us will also serve the same purpose.
#2 Read Scripture
I believed lies about god because I didn’t know Him. The Mass reveals who God and Jesus are very well. In fact the Mass is full of scripture with teachings from the priest on the scripture and how to apply it in our lives. As I formed a good habit of participating in the Mass I met people there who talked to me about reading scripture. I was taught growing up that scripture was only to be read by the priest which I now know is untrue. To read scripture on a daily basis is a most powerful form of prayer and best way to communicate with God. As I read scripture I noticed I started to make better decisions in my life. I also noticed I was less anxious and depressed. The best revelation I experienced from reading scripture was that God does love His people, and he is merciful and just. I was able to let go of my fear and anger towards God. Through scripture reading God was communicating with me and sharing his love for me that I could then go and share with the people around me. His greatest commandment was to love others. Porn will only take. A faith in God that works is one that leads me to love and give to others!