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Transparency: Tough But Always Worth It

Original Article can be found HERE

Whether I care to admit it or not, porn is a big part of my life. It seems shameful, but that’s the reality I live in, for better or worse. I have learned many lessons through porn use and recovery, sure, but often at great cost.

The Lesson of Integrity

One obvious yet extremely important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of integrity. Through my many struggles, a few God-given victories, and tools like Covenant Eyes, I’ve learned (and am still learning) what it means to live a life of integrity and real accountability. Integrity was always one of those buzzwords I heard as a kid in youth group. I can remember how when a leader would ask a question about what integrity is, I would be quick to raise my hand (I was “that kid” in youth group) and talk about doing what’s right even when no one is watching. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that became one of the hardest things for me to do.

I was always good at doing right when someone was watching, but as soon I discovered the pleasure of secret sin, I quickly learned how to live a double life. The ease of living a secret life with today’s technology is part of why living with integrity is so difficult. Technology never changed what living with integrity meant, but it quickly changed what it meant to get there. Since evolving technology meant almost anything is accessible at practically any time, it meant that a large part of living with integrity involved getting rid of some of the ease of secrecy. Whether in 2024 AD or 2024 BC, though, this always starts with good old-fashioned transparency (another buzzword, maybe). It means having a group of trustworthy friends or mentors who know everything about you. Transparency is difficult, uncomfortable, and painful, but always worth it.

The Tools of Transparency

With technology being what it is, this transparency also means striving to ensure that technology doesn’t become a way to harbor secrets. Tools like Covenant Eyes, therefore, are indispensable weapons against the ease of keeping secrets with our technology (more on that later). Sometimes it means taking away the ease of technology to prevent slipping up. Integrity doesn’t mean doing it right all the time, but every wrong use (at least speaking for myself) is an opportunity to hold a secret, so it becomes important to create safeguards against those opportunities by making choices to use technology differently. This is particularly hard when that means giving up some other useful, practical, and otherwise innocent component of technology, like news or even social media (“innocent” may be debatable), but living with integrity is never without sacrifice. The key is remembering that the sacrifice is worth it—integrity is always worth it!

My Struggles

My struggle for integrity seemed to be a losing battle from the start. From the beginning, it was so easy to keep it a secret. It just started out as a little curiosity; I just wanted to know what it was my friends were always talking about. But as soon as I got a taste of what that moment of pleasure felt like, and the overwhelming sense of shame that followed, I began to chase the high in secret. I kept telling myself that it was just a phase, something I would get over soon enough. Yet as it followed me into high school, I began to lose hope of winning a seemingly impossible battle. The theme that came out of my continuous return to porn was a desire to get pleasure “at all costs.” That very theme would soon lead to even more devastating results.

It was in college that I began to make strides in my battle against porn. I was introduced to accountability software, invited into close circles of intimate friendships where I was able to share my deepest secrets, and involved in a loving and caring Christian community at my university. Covenant Eyes was one of the programs I used (and currently use) to begin making progress against my battle with porn. I was finally beginning to allow others to peek into the parts of me I had fought to keep hidden.

Still, there were parts of my journey I continued to keep secret, including a secret “girlfriend” in my sophomore year. I use quotations here because it was a relationship shrouded in secrecy, fueled by my desire to obtain what I wanted—at all costs. I lied to family, friends, and church. And yet the woman I pursued was herself a godly woman, someone I became attracted to because of her upstanding character (spoiler: she’s now my wife).

The details of my relationship with my then “girlfriend” are too long to delve into here, but we had taken a break in our relationship, questioning whether or not we were going to continue it. Then, in a “climax” that was the lowest point of my life, I slept with another woman. The coincidental and cruel timing, as if plotted by Satan himself, revealed to me (and everyone around me who soon found out) just how deep my sin issue was.

Healing Out of Brokenness

I suppose it was really in that pit of loss that the Spirit finally had the most room to work on my heart. Through a long process of healing and reconciling the brokenness I left in the wake of my decisions, the grace of Jesus shone through even brighter, reminding me how quick He is to redeem the broken things. I know I wrote a few victories up top, but I don’t want to minimize how clearly I was able to see the healing power of true transparency, real integrity, and personal accountability.

I’ve experienced a lot of pain and loss as a result of my wickedness. My desire for pleasure has blinded me to the great cost of pursuing my own lustful pleasures. However, it was only through these struggles that I was able to learn what it means to be a man of integrity. If it hadn’t been for the depth of my struggles, I wouldn’t have needed to learn of such deep vulnerability or use programs like Covenant Eyes to really discover true transparency; I wouldn’t have learned the lessons that have taught me to live with integrity, to truly count the cost and do what’s right, knowing that it’s better for me.

I may have said “for better or worse” at the beginning, but I can say with full confidence that it has always been for better, as Jesus continues to show up and teach me what it means to live with true and real integrity.

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