Question:

I'm very ashamed of what I'm about to write. I think God has given me up as Romans 1:24 says.

I have been a member of the Lord's church since my youth, but until recent years I really didn't try to live faithful to Him. I became involved in pornography during my first marriage and didn't realize what a mind altering sin it can become. I am separated from my God by my sin, but I can't seem to get rid of the desire for porn. My first wife was involved too and later became unfaithful and after several decades I divorced her.

I've been happily remarried for nearly a decade to a wonderful lady who is morally sound but a member of a denomination. We care very much for each other, but I have real problems with sexual relations with her. She is very understanding that I can't perform well due to age. I want to make her happy and render unto her needs as a husband should, and I try to. My problem is not just age but the awful mind-set that pornography has caused. I can masturbate with porn but can't perform with my wife. I wish I had never seen any pornography, but I can't get the awful images out of my mind.

I ask God to forgive me, but He can't forgive me when I can't completely repent of my sin. I go to church regularly lead singing and prayer, attend Bible classes and participate, but I'm such a hypocrite I feel I should just quit the church, but I'm afraid to. I don't want to die in sin, but what difference does it make I'm going to hell anyway? Apparently I don't love God or I would keep His commandments. I just wish I could change and serve Him faithfully, but it just doesn't work. I just can't repent. I am so ashamed of what I have become.


Answer:

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

I believe you missed Paul's point in Romans 1. When the Gentiles turned to idolatry, God stopped restraining them from sin, not because He gave up on them, but to punish them with results of their own sins in hopes of turning them around. "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen" (Romans 1:24-25). Sadly, instead of returning to God, they instead progressed further into more depraved sins. Yet it is these same wicked Gentiles whom God sought to save through Jesus.

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:21-26).

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:8-11).

Peter tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). That "all" includes you.

Yes, you have decades of bad habits to break, so the best thing to do is get working on it. It won't be easy, but it isn't impossible. You know looking at porn is wrong, so the first step is to physically separate yourself from it. Throw away any magazines or physical images you have. Delete all files that you have containing porn from your computers. Get a filter installed on your computers and cell phones. I typically recommend K9 Web Protection and OpenDNS. Both are free and they both work well together. Have your wife enter the passwords so you can't by pass them in a weak moment.

Second, talk to your doctor about medication you can use for erectile dysfunction. Though you might be able to do without it, this will help during the transition period.

The first few months will be the worse. As your semen builds up, your urge for sex rises, and habitually you would automatically seek out pornography for relief. But pornography is no longer going to be a part of your life, so when you feel a strong desire, you can take the medication the doctor gives you and enjoy a night with your wife. The impulse to look at pornography will still be there, but you will take the edge off by finding relief in a godly manner.

For a while, unwanted images are going to interfere with your personal enjoyment. That is what the medication is there to help with, it will allow you to keep going though you are distracted. But over time the images of pornography are going to fade because you are no longer renewing them. Memories of the pleasure of sex with your wife will gradually replace them. You will find that the battles will become easier to handle and less distracting.

Like any addiction, you can never trust that you've conquered the sin. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (II Corinthians 10:12). You will always have to be on your guard. But as you learn to stay away from pornography, you will find yourself being more confident about your salvation.

Thank you, Jeffrey, for the encouraging words and Scriptures. I know if I miss heaven, I've missed everything and I certainly don't want to miss it.