The Friday night talk at the men's retreat this weekend past was given by me. I candidly spoke about my struggle with internet porn and lust. I just told the guys that ever since I was a little kid, I didn't have to go looking for dirty books with naked ladies in them; they found me.
Where I grew up in San Diego county during my elementary and middle school years from 1972-1978, we built forts and ran all through the woods and fields in undeveloped areas. In every fort, every drain pipe and in every clump of trees there was a stash of Playboys and Penthouses some little boy had liberated from under his dad's bed or big brother's closet. These are what my friends and I found whenever we looked for a cool place to build a fort, play with matches, or smoke cigarettes stolen from our moms' purses.
Emotions and body parts stirred to life before I even learned what those things were for. And I over-indulged an appetite that as a grew up I hoped would disappear when I married my wife. You know, because when you get married, you now get all the sex you ever dreamed you'd need.
So we talked about accountability and the values that define us as men. And then we talked about those things with one another around the camp fire.
Sunday morning at church, one of the guys came up and asked me what it was like to talk so transparently about my own sin knowing that my seventeen year old son was there in the group listening to me share. "Aren't you afraid your kid's will throw your sin in your face?"
You can count on people, even your family sometimes, bringing up past sins. But guys, sons included, have to know how common their struggles and weaknesses are. Pastors have the same struggles. You couple that truth with the hope offered through God's forgiveness and healing.
During heated discussions with my teen agers, if they even hint at my early years without God as some kind of amnesty from parental guidance, I simply tell them that I'd be insane to allow them to indulge in the same self-destructive stupidity. But that's doesn't prevent them from finding a few things out on their own.
I appreciate the people I've come in contact personlly that have modeled this for me. Pastor Bob of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale has been extremely candid in sharing short-comings while challenging listeners to obey God. My mentor and ministry-coach, Pastor John Chinelly is an example of a life destroyed by sin, surrendered to God, and rebuilt by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I also appreciate the candid writing of bloggers like Anne Jackson and the guys over at TripleX Church. This is a conversation that needs to be taken public. People who struggle with lust are not weird, strange, perverted, or sick. They're pretty normal. We need to start acting like it.