After I met Mary, we began to get together on a regular basis. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this relationship could grow into the covenant relationship God created called marriage.
As I was still very much seeking the Lord, I remember being convicted by the Holy Spirit to let Mary know my past. I had made many mistakes, and I obviously hadn’t kept myself pure before marriage. I did believe at times that my pornography addiction was over.
I don’t remember this specific conversation, but Mary sure does! I called her on the phone (probably crying) and I told her it was a thing of the past and that I didn’t struggle with it anymore.
Deep down I wanted a good marriage, and I knew I couldn’t hide this thing inside of me. I was many times ruled by a lot of fear of rejection and failure, however.
A note that should be obvious: BE 100% HONEST in everything you do. Half truths don’t help anyone, including yourself.
Maybe I did believe at that time I was finished with the cycle of addiction, but I wasn’t. I probably hadn’t looked at porn for a week. I tried literally hundreds of times to stop on my own with no success.
I would always come back to the lie I believed that said, “This can fulfill your desire for intimacy… It doesn’t harm anyone… it’s not that big of a deal, everyone does it… and so on.”
Surprisingly to me, Mary stuck with our relationship and we continued getting more serious.
HERE IS HER SIDE OF THE STORY
As I think back 17 years ago when I met Josh, I remember being infatuated by this tall, dark and mysterious man. Turns out mysterious isn’t always a good thing. After just a couple months of knowing each other, we both knew things were getting serious. We had “The Talk” and decided to officially be dating even though we lived an hour apart.
One afternoon, he called and said there was something important he needed to tell me; something important from his past. While waiting for that conversation to happen, I remember feeling a sense of dread and determination. This might sound ridiculous, but because he is a man, I knew that his past must be related to masturbation or pornography.
Before we talked about what his “past” issue was, I was determined that if it was masturbation we could work through it. But, if Josh had struggled with pornography, I was out. I didn’t want to, and didn’t think my heart could, handle that news.
I was sitting in the living room in my apartment when Josh called. I’m sure it was a depressing conversation and I’m sure he was crying. He confessed that he had a history of struggling with pornography.
Despite my previous conviction, something unexpected happened in me… against my will it would seem. At the moment Josh confessed his past, this unexplainable peace and love washed over my heart. It is as though God took my heart and wrapped it in bubble wrap in order to allow me to feel His heart for Josh.
I don’t remember the words I said or the words Josh said. Obviously, we chose to keep pursuing each other and to allow God to work in our relationship.
I thought it was behind us. Josh probably thought it was behind us. The truth was, this destructive addiction was just lying silent below the surface…
I had pretty much given up on meeting my future wife. I had heard so many stories, including how my parents met, and how people found their significant others in college. I unknowingly grew up believing I would meet my wife in college.
Well, college came and went and no wife… not even a girlfriend. However, God was calling me, and I was trying to answer. I threw myself into serving the Lord at my local church. It was 2001, and although I had been raised going to church, I had no idea what serving at a local church meant. I made $14,400/year and I was happy!
I loved college and worship ministry. My dream was to get paid to lead worship. In fact, if any church would have paid me to lead worship, I would have jumped at the chance (an interesting side note is that over 10 years later a church did offer and I turned it down… I had learned the gospel is never about money, among other things. That’s a story for another time!).
In the fall of 2002, everything changed. The first week in October, I took a dozen or so students to a college ministry retreat. It’s funny, well… not at the time, how God show’s up when you’ve given up. I had really given up on meeting a woman to share my life with. I didn’t think about it that much anymore and I didn’t date.
On October 4, 2002, I walked in a room filled with college students. I saw Mary for the first time from across the room and literally said, “Wow!”, out loud. I was awestruck. She was beautiful… and I was too shy to even approach her.
I remember that first night. She was worshiping the Lord with passion, and I it was all over for me!
Let me tell you all something really important. You want to be "ready" when you meet your future spouse. I don't mean you have to be perfect, but if you have a glaring sin issue like pornography or masturbation in your life, get help. You never know when it'll happen, and looking back, I wish I had been more ready.
There are significant things that need to be worked through when you are newlyweds or even engaged. Pornography shouldn't be one of them. It was in my life, and now I was dragging someone else into it.
My junior and senior years of college were a time of God’s grace in many ways. I began leading worship on a regular basis, I led small groups and I mostly stayed away from any kind of physical intimacy with women.
God was teaching me and growing me despite my repeated failures with addiction to pornography. That addiction hadn’t become the ‘web’ of lies it would grow into, primarily because no one asked me about purity--and I wasn’t volunteering any information.
I had Christian community and friends, but like many communities and churches, there was not a lot of depth. No one really talked about their struggles in life until they had already successfully dealt with them. I won’t get on my soapbox about the importance of an Acts 2 type community of believers, but I will say it’s one of the most important pillars of the Christian faith. If you read any of our past blogs, you will see it again and again. It is one of the primary reasons we are in a bus living the gospel of Jesus.
There was one relationship, during the latter half of college, where the devil really got a foothold in my life. This “root” would have an affect on me for years to come. We never really dated, but I was good friends with a Godly woman for nearly two years. When I finally got enough courage to tell her about my struggles with pornography, she graciously prayed for me. However, within a month, she called it quits on any friendship or relationship. I honestly don’t blame her one bit! She was right to get out and knew that the healing I needed would not come through her.
I felt like I had lost my best friend. God showed me many years later that this was where the real root of fear began in connection with pornography. It was this fear of rejection that would keep me from sharing things with my wife in the future.
Fear of failure and fear of rejection can be some of the strongest forces in our lives… if we let them. Although this event was a root for the devil to get into my life and my heart, Jesus is always greater! Always. I fed that root again and again through my actions and decisions, and it continued to grow. I believed lies and fears more than I believed God. I chose to stay bound up by living a lie. My pride and my fears ruled me and yet, God’s grace abounded in my life.
As I finished my last semester, I was hired by a local church to run their college ministry. I also was the assistant youth director and served on the worship team. I knew my calling was to serve the Lord and serve others, but I had a hidden secret and I would let no one into it. I was a captive in a web of my own making. I created my own prison
One year later I met my wife at a college ministry retreat. And there starts the REAL story!
When I gave away my virginity, it seemed like God and all of heaven were screaming, “NOOOO!!” I had found a girlfriend who was a christian, so in my mind, that’s all that was needed. If christianity ever becomes a status only in your life, please seek help.
God’s word says, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV) Not only was I not loving God, but I was being a destructive force in a young woman’s life. All this sadly happened, while being very active in a church.
Looking back on my life during that time, it’s hard to even believe where I was at spiritually. I had started to lead worship and play bass guitar on Sunday mornings, but I shrugged off any truth from the Bible about sex.
Sexual sin is so destructive. The wages of sin is death, it’s a progressive road… or maybe regressive is the correct term. What starts as lust in our hearts, leads to so many unforeseen sins: Lies, cheating, concealing, anger, jealousy, not trusting, insecurity,... I could go on and on.
In Acts 15, there is a sharp dispute in the early church over the requirement for all the Gentiles to be circumcised. After James refers to the book of Amos, showing that the Gentiles were meant to be part of the family of God, they decide to only encourage the new believers to do four things. One of them is abstain from fornication or sexual immorality.
Why is this so important? First and foremost, it’s contrary to God’s will. He knows what’s best, always.
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB)
I remember reading this verse in college and thinking, “What do they mean against his own body?” Well, one possible explanation is that it actually physically damages your body. We don’t know even close to everything about the human body, but we do know the effects of pornography on the brain. The brain is actually damaged the more you are seduced by the screen!
When looking at pornography, the brain releases chemicals 4 times more potent than morphine. It’s no wonder people become addicted to it. Your conscience is also destroyed. It may not happen after 1 or 2 times, but like any sin, the more you do it, the less your conscience says, “This is wrong.”
I would say the only reason I continued to know that pornography was wrong all those years was because I consistently heard the word of God. I spent time reading my Bible. I worshiped. I heard many sermons. Truth consistently confronted the way I was living. You might say, well, truth must not be very convincing then. There is no diminishing the power of truth! God is eternal and He is truth. However, I think my experience shows how strong of a hold sin can have in someone’s life.
I am so thankful that young lady had a close personal friend that advised her that sex before marriage was wrong. Deep down, I knew it too, but I had chosen to ignore it. That relationship ended as quick as it started, because it’s foundation was lust.
The Lord kept me from going down a destructive path any further. I didn’t have a true girlfriend again until I met my wife, but there were still a lot of mistakes in my future.
The culmination of my high school years would end in the ‘96-’97 school year. I was involved in everything I could be: basketball, track, band, choir, acting, etc. God was working through all of it, even in the area of women.
I had met a girl at Bible camp during the summer that really loved God. It was the first person in my life (my age) that really loved the Lord and I was attracted to that devotion. We only went on two dates, but from then on, I really knew I wanted to marry a woman that was sold out for Jesus.
High school ended, we broke up and I was off to UND, the biggest university in the state. I kind of always assumed I would find my future wife in college. I heard my parents’ story so many times of how God brought them together. So, I expected my freshman year to be one of finding my soulmate.
I didn’t, in fact, I didn’t even go on one date. It may have had something to do with always wearing a $6 leather jacket from a thrift store (that I still have) and being attached to a guitar. Or, maybe it was that I had long hair and an ever changing beard and sideburn trim. Whatever the case, God kept me from any type of relationship that year.
I got involved running and setting up sound with a church plant that started at a bar. I loved it and felt a part of the band. I also got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, and for the first time in my life, was living near and getting to know a hundred or more christians my age.
It was an amazing time, but something else was taking off… the internet.
Although the internet has changed the world in many ways for the better, it’s also brought pornography to us with the touch of a button.
The university had huge computer labs (because computers were expensive) where any student could use a computer, but that kind of stuff was pretty well blocked. Unfortunately, one of the four guys I shared a bathroom with in the dorms had a computer.
It was like a gateway into temptation. We spent countless hours playing games like Quake and Warcraft. We chatted with people all over the world, and we had direct access to pornography.
It was way too easy. Before, it was a temptation, but for the most part you couldn’t act on that temptation. Now, it was a few keystrokes and you were there: Countless sites, countless women, and all being objectified and lusted after by countless men.
When I think about where I was at spiritually, it’s so sad. I was really pressing into God, but my addiction was separate from that. It’s like I was saying, “God you can have it all… except this part.” I knew it was wrong, but I was developing a cycle where I’d come back to it like a dog coming back to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11).
I was a fool. I justified my addiction. I made excuses. I didn’t get help, and really didn’t see the need for it. In many respects, I was lost. I would not bring my sin into the light, and so it grew bigger, worse, closer to death. My heart was stone and yet, God was walking with me all the way.
He was pursuing me. He loved me, and deep down in my soul I knew that. Then came Sophomore year...
I know I know... I have missed WAYYYY too many posts. We bought a bus that needs A LOT of work-- we still don't have running water:-)-- however, no more excuses, Holy Spirit told me to write and I'll be catching up on many missed posts over the next week. Without further ado, here we go!
Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6 NASB).
So many, many times I tried in my own strength, in my own power; only to fail again and again.
Do you ever notice in Christian circles how we quote half of a verse? We also take verses out of context. But, many times the other half of the verse is pretty important!
I think I have heard, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” over 100 times. Do you think repeating that ½ verse is helpful to your walk with the Lord? I don’t. I think it’s pretty depressing. To me, it means your spirit wants communion with God, but alas, your flesh can’t make it happen.
Jesus is always more encouraging than that. Matthew 26: 41 says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Watch and pray! Watch and pray! Jesus is inferring that if we watch and pray, He gives us the power to OVERCOME weak flesh. It’s only by us aligning ourselves with Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are able to withstand the temptations of our flesh.
I just met a 19 year old that is sold out for Jesus. He led us and some other families in worship and I couldn’t help but think, “Wow! I wish I was in this place at 19.” We have the saying, “The sky is the limit,” however, with our wondrous heavenly Father, the sky isn’t even the limit. This 19 year doesn’t have a limit! Oh, what God can do with a humble, willing heart!
When I was 19, I had gone down the road of satisfying my own sinful desires that had grown and grown. That’s what sin does. If you make those poor decisions, if you don’t watch and pray, it always leads to death… one step at a time. It’s like you’re slowly digging your own grave!
I’m getting ahead of the story, but next, I’ll be sharing about a glimmer of hope during the later part of high school. We’ll also be looking at a sovereign Father showing me what a Godly woman actually looked like. Stay tuned!
My apologies for missing Tuesday! We have been meeting with four other families and some locals in Staunton, VA to pray and seek God's face for the future. God is doing a new thing!! We will be telling more about this story soon, but please pray with us through Wednesday next week when we'll be traveling to Washington, D.C. Here is part 6!
Hitting high school in the mid-nineties kept me from easy access to pornography via the internet. However, the TV could be almost as bad. I prided myself as being one of the only kids in my class who didn’t party on the weekends. On Saturday nights, I would go to the school gym and play volleyball with all ages from the community.
But, the devil had gotten a foothold. You see, while others were out drinking and doing other dumb things, I was watching movies that were bringing sexual images into my mind. Sometimes I remember even hitting record on the VCR and going to bed. The late night shows were even worse, or at that time in my life, I thought better!
I would use these late-night recordings later to feed the lust in my eyes. I don't remember having much conviction over doing this. I do remember it being secretive and exciting. I knew I didn't want my parents to find out, but I never thought about how it affected a holy God's heart.
I also remember many of the shows from the 70s through the 90s -- even the ones that were considered "family" shows -- regularly had seductive women in bikinis, men who had all the women attracted to them (James Bond, Face from the A-Team, etc.), and countless other things that polluted a growing young man's mind.
Thankfully, I wasn’t exposed to continual hardcore pornography, but my steps toward spiritual death were continuing down an ugly path. When a person continues taking these steps in succession, it is a slow, and many times unknowing, process toward destruction. Someone doesn’t just decide one day to commit adultery. They arrive at that awful destination one bad decision at a time.
The bible says, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)” Although Jesus said this in the context of money, I believe it applies to other lusts as well. In other words, if your eye is feasting on things that feed lust, how can you stay pure?
I think 1 John 2:16 backs this up, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” The lust of the eyes goes all the way back to Eve in the garden. It absolutely applies to both money and sex.
And of course, Paul’s answer to this problem is found in Romans 8:13, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Lord, help us to walk by the Spirit! It says, “by the Spirit…” It doesn’t say by your hard work, by your diligence, or by your discipline that you will succeed. You are powerless to change some things in your life without the work of the Holy Spirit. Please go back and read that last sentence again. Seriously. OK, I’m going to type it again: You are powerless to change some things in your life without the work of the Holy Spirit. Think on that for awhile, and we’ll discuss that idea next.
Even though elementary school had some sexual talk, puberty and junior high brought about a whole new level. Sexual acts on buses and even in school happened. People were singled out and teased about masturbation. I remember hiding on the bus hoping I wouldn’t get teased. I knew it was wrong, but my sexual problems would continue off and on for the next 20+ years.
There was also the ongoing drama about who was “going out” with who. I remember “making out” with a girl on a bus trip to a basketball game in the 8th grade. I also remember feeling physically sick afterwards, much like when I saw pornography when I was around 10. God was trying to protect me, but we all have free will. I then remember breaking up with the girl the next day.
Looking back, there was so much dysfunction. I know many have had a much worse childhood with sexual abuse and many other things. Even in North Dakota, probably considered one of the more conservative and traditional states, much sin still abounds.
I believe sexual perversion has only gotten worse in America. I don’t mean to sound depressing, but all you need to do is look at a PG-13 movie from 1990 and then look at one now. Our standards as a society slowly slip away… but, Jesus!! The light of Christ shines ever brighter in the darkest places. In fact, I think we are living in such exciting times for America. The more people who are slaves, the more freedom is needed.
Jesus is truly the answer. Jesus is hope. Jesus is life. Jesus is deliverance. Jesus is freedom. Jesus is the embodiment of love in a man. Without Jesus we have nothing. He is everything and deserves our praise.
Many people talk of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible as a reflection of what God wants to do to homosexuals, prostitutes, and other people with sexual sins. However, Jesus hung out with prostitutes. He ate and drank with what society considered the worst of His day. If we are truly Christ followers, then we should be able to do the same.
If you feel like you have no hope in your struggle with sexual sin, look to Jesus. Surrender your life to Him. Learn His ways. Read His word. Do everything you can to follow Him. He really wants you to know God the Father. Jesus made a way to know Him. He loves you right where you are, and He has an amazing path for your future.
I don’t ever want to make sex sound bad. I think I felt like that growing up. It wasn’t talked about and the only thing that really got through to me was, “sex is bad… until you’re married.” The truth is that sex is a beautiful creation by God. It is a wonderful gift, that in the context of marriage, glorifies Him. I think it’s amazing that God uses the same word (yā·ḏa‘) in the Bible for sex and for knowing Him. Seriously!
Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”
In 1 Samuel 3:7 it says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”
Samuel was a prophet in training. He was training to know God intimately, to be able to hear God’s word for the people. God could have chosen any other word to use in these contexts, but he chose the same one. I will go more into this further in future posts, but let’s get back to 1989 and me being ten-years-old...
I remember in the fifth grade my teacher walked in right when I was copying an obscene gesture that I had seen other kids do. My teacher was furious and took me outside the room. He questioned me repeatedly where I had seen the gesture and if I knew what it meant. The only thing I could muster to reply was, “It’s really bad.”
I felt completely humiliated. My face got red-hot from embarrassment and I just wanted to get away from him. At just 10-years-old, there was already so much shame attached to the concept of sex.
Of course, I already knew about sex in a very perverted way because kids talked about it. Friends would tease each other about sex. There was no honor in it, no respect. Sex education wasn’t until 8th grade, but we already knew so much. We were only children and everything we knew about sex was what other kids talked about. It was very twisted and very harmful.
I can’t imagine having a smartphone at age 10! Just a side note to parents: Please don’t give your kids unsupervised electronic devices! It’s really sex education 101. It’s not smart, you’re putting your kids in a dangerous place. They are not protected and you can literally damage them for life. I know this sounds harsh, but it is truth.
On to the story...
I thought that sex was “really bad.” I didn’t understand the beauty of God’s creation and intention. I didn’t understand that God intended “knowing” one’s wife to be an amazing thing far beyond a physical act.
I could give you a bunch of stats that you may or may not believe on porn use. However, I’ll just give you a few. According to a survey by the Barna Group in 2016, 76% of CHRISTIAN men ages 18-24 actively seek out porn. What is heartbreaking to me, is that for most people, that’s not a surprise.
Women aren’t left out. 87% of christian women have looked at porn, and 33% of christian women under 25 look at porn at least once a month. OK, let me give you one more statistic. Only 7% of pastors say their churches have something to help people struggling with pornography.
Have we, as the church in America, just accepted this as normal? When Paul said in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love,” was freedom truly an option?
Well, we do have free will. Our choices are always life vs. death or freedom vs. slavery. When they are written in black and white, isn’t it obvious what the right choice is?
We are going to come back to this truth and discuss it in depth, but for now, you are called to be free! Your brothers and sisters are called to be free, your parents and children are called to be free. God has called us all to be free, so why is the majority of the church trapped in slavery with this issue? I’d love to hear your comments.
You’ve brought an idol into my holy temple!
This morning God woke me at 4:45 and began to show me the depravity I had been in. For about 1 hour, I laid in bed by my wife knowing God’s love, but slowly understanding God’s hate.
You see, God hates sin. It is detestable to Him. He is Holy. He is one of a kind. He is set apart from anything in the universe. Read Revelation 4 to just get a glimpse of what’s going on around the throne of God. There is no one like Him. He deserves more than all the glory and praise and honor we can ever give.
Before we go any further in my personal story, let’s get this out there to everyone! GOD HATES!!! He HATES idols, He HATES sin. It is detestable to HIm. He can’t, by his own nature, associate with it. I would say maybe 100% of us have them or have had them. Do you?
I brought an idol into the temple! A quick read through the ‘evil kings’ in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings will quickly tell you that they often brought idols into the temple. They worshiped other gods. We do the same.
I set up a false image in my heart. I worshiped it, I protected it. God hated it and despised it. Instead of hiding His word in my heart, I hid deceit and lies and heartache and shame. God had given me the key, but I instead chose to live in my own prison: A self-made hell hole that no one but Jesus could get me out of.
Jesus tore the veil to the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwelt in old testament times. Jesus made it possible for our bodies to be the temple (1 Corinthians 6:19) of the Holy Spirit. Now, God can dwell in us! It’s an amazing, glorious thing and it’s possible for all of us.
But, don’t bring an idol in there. It grieves Him unbearably. And listen, pornography and other sexual issues are at the top of the list, but Christians everywhere are bringing all kinds of idols into the temple: money, cars, the American dream, retirement, Netflix, leisure, entertainment, business, and the list goes on and on.
If you think about something more than you talk to Him, you better check your heart. It is meant to be the well-spring of life and filled with the joy of the Lord.
As I cried this morning, I knew God was showing me this out of love. When I first was delivered from the web of addiction (it’s not just pornography -- so many things were tied to it), God showed me so much grace and love and FREEDOM! I needed it. I had been self-centered, self-absorbed, wallowing in my own pity for a long time.
The devil had me distracted from God’s purposes for my life. I think the enemy is pretty content with Christians doing whatever as long as they have an idol in their lives.
God showed me love and grace, and I began to have more and more healing. My wife, Mary, began to heal. My family began to heal. Today, He showed me something I couldn’t have bared then. He showed me His holiness and His hate for idols… and I’m so glad He did.
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I will continue posting on Tuesdays/Fridays. Please if you have questions or need help, let me know! There is no shame for those who come to the light.
Hi! We're the Hoeckles.
We're a family of six living full-time in a skoolie (aka a school bus converted into an RV). We are inviting you to join us as we live life to its fullest and empower others to do the same. Welcome to the family!