I remember when I was living fully into my compulsive sexual behaviors of pornography, fantasy, and masturbation, my brain always seeking its next high. Scanning rooms for cleavage, legs, butts, anything I could take and devour. Literally, not thinking about anyone else but me and my pleasure. The theme of “consent” never entered my mind. If I wasn’t physically “touching” them without their permission then I was okay, right? I was free to let my brain go, to imagine and fantasize about this woman or that woman. I had convinced myself that my fantasy didn’t hurt anybody so it was okay, right? Wrong. It not only hurt my relationship with these women whom I turned into objects, but it also impacted how I related to the world (check out A Pornographic Style of Relating). I could no longer treat women as image bearers of God, but as a means to an erotic end.
A shameful memory of this type of acting out came to my mind while I was in college, as I was still acting out fully in my pornographic style of relating and in my pornographic mindset. I was an intern with a middle school as a teacher’s aid and as a church youth group assistant, and this girl who was in both groups caught my eye. I would look at her, stare for long periods of time, she would catch me staring, and I would smile awkwardly; at times I hoped she would talk to me. I didn’t even realize how creepy I had become until my boss called me into his office. He sat me down, and said, “Monica, approached me and said that you have been staring at her, it’s making her feel very uncomfortable.” I was struck with embarrassment and shame. He was right. I had been staring at her, trying to consume her with my eyes, to see what I could take. I was exposed—caught for who I truly had become. Was I that unaware? Was I that dangerous? Yes. Yes, I was. I had become a predator, a groomer, a dangerous young man. Porn taught me to be a taker from women, not to seek consent or mutuality, not to have a relationship with an equal partner but to stare, to fantasize, and to be a voyeur. I used to say, if my mentor hadn’t come into my life, I would be dead. But years later, I realized a much more humbling truth. If he hadn’t have come into my life my freshman year of college, I would be in jail for a sex crime. I was heading down that path to hell; sexual arousal was my God, and I it’s slave. That truth both breaks my heart and takes my breath away. Though now, I am nearly 20 years away from that egregious behavior, and it’s shame at times still taunts me. I have realized only through a honorable life lived differently, by advocating for the liberation of women and men, that I can make a difference not despite my story, but because of my story.
Will you join me?
Will you practice full consent?
Will you no longer take life from women, but share in this new life we have been offered?