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Hiding Porn Behind The Mask Of Perfectionism

Hi, my name is Andrew. I have a new life in Christ and I’m recovering from fear of 8271781446_6a5c969225_k rejection, pride, perfectionism, and acting out through sexual fantasy and pornography.

Well, that ramped up quickly didn’t it?

These are the words that I have been repeating every Monday night for the last 5 weeks. I am a part of a group called Re:generation (@ The Well Community Church in Fresno, CA) whose mission is about letting the gospel truth become reality in our lives. It’s a  12 step program aiming to disciple others in Christ while dealing openly with different issues. But how in the world did I get here?

 

We have all been hurt and hurt others. We all medicate this hurt and pain with something. Mine happened to be perfectionism and pornography.

 

Honestly I believed I could do life on my own. I tried and I couldn’t, so I put on a mask to cover it up. And for the last several years I have been doing the deep work of trying to take off that mask with myself, my wife, my close friends, and now you, the blogosphere.

We have all been hurt and hurt others (Titus 3:3). We all medicate this hurt and pain with something. Mine happened to be perfectionism and pornography.  Perfectionism is driven by my fear of rejection. If I do everything perfect I will then be loved and accepted. School. Sports. Career. Family. Do and be perfect and everyone will love you.  Porn taught me that I can always feel loved and cared for by the women I look at. They would always accept me and tell me what a strong and wonderful man I was. It was there that the deep wounds of my soul found false medication.

Both of these symptoms of a deeper issue caused me to put on a mask–a false self that I would display to the world, and unfortunately, church often reinforced this mask.

I grew up in a conservative bible-teaching church. I learned a lot of great things that have shaped me into the man that I am today, but, one thing I also learned is that the church would not be a safe place to confess and talk openly about my struggles with sexual sin. As you can imagine this created a dark place of guilt and shame. My mask got harder to pull off.

 

The gospel reminds me I am broken and nothing besides Jesus’ healing love and work on the cross will change that.

 

Because of my perfectionism I decided as most men do I could fix this myself. I tried it all: books, sermons, confessions, prayers. I thought I would be the one to fix it,  but I’m sure you can guess how that worked out.

A passage from Luke 7 (Luke 7: 37-50) began to haunt me. The passage of the “Sinful Woman Forgiven.”  The story begins with Jesus at a religious leader’s house with other important religious people. In comes ‘the sinful woman’ and she falls before Jesus. She is broken. She stops hiding and confesses her sin. Her tears fall on his feet and she wipes off his feet with her hair. The religious leaders are disgusted, but Jesus turns to them and says, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The irony of the story is that she is called the sinful woman, yet she is the one who is forgiven. The ‘religious’ church-going folks are the sinful ones who don’t want Jesus’ forgiveness. They are the ones on the outside. They are proud. They are trying to be perfect. They are the unforgiven, hiding from God and pretending for others. They are the ones wearing masks.

For so many years I have felt like one of those religious leaders relaxing at the table, watching Jesus, but not needing Jesus. Wearing the mask. Respected by many on the outside, but on the inside was, as Jesus said, “full of dead man’s bones” (Matthew 23-27). I was hiding. I was fearful. I was prideful.

The last couple years have been a big deal for me. I am realizing that my desire to be perfect is obviously a rejection of the Gospel. The gospel reminds me that I am broken and nothing besides Jesus’ healing love and work on the cross will change that.

 

My desire to be perfect is obviously a rejection of the Gospel.

 

Christ has taught me that I am so desperately insecure. On a bad day, just a little boy in grown man’s clothes who seeks affection and fears rejection. I simply want to be loved. I work hard to be perfect and so I perform, act the part, hope you will be impressed, and love me in return. When I feel rejected, insecure, or doubtful I have learned to turn to a source that will accept me and tell me what a strong and wonderful man I am.

If you struggle with these same core issues, I encourage you to memorize Ephesians 2:4-5 with me so you can call this powerful truth to mind on those bad days. It says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because  of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved.”

Jesus has and is continuing to root out these issues in my life. I have seen real change and I am so grateful for that. I have so much further to go, but I am taking off the mask and let me tell you it feels good. I feel Jesus’ love of myself and others just as he promised.

I am ready to be like the ‘sinful woman,’ a little foolish, but forgiven by Jesus and understanding the good news of the gospel and the freedom it brings! So what you will probably hear from me next Monday is…

Hi my name is Andrew and I have a new life in Christ…

What masks are you hiding behind?  What could the gospel and scripture say to these issues? How can you continue to bring them to light and be reminded of your true identity in Christ?

You are always welcome at Re:generation on Monday nights from 6:30-pm-8:30pm at The Well Community Church’s North Campus.

Image Credit: Casey Muir-Taylor, Creative Commons

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Editor's Note: This article is part of our STG Men's Series. Check out the rest of the articles here!

This article is part of our STG Men’s Series. Check out the rest of the articles here!


Andrew Feil

About

Andrew Feil is a father of two boys and is married to Denise Feil. They love Fresno and live in the Tower District. Andrew has a heart to help Christians take the next steps in their faith, especially in the area of joining God's mission. With whatever free time he has, Andrew loves to be active, garden, read and support the best team in baseball: the Dodgers.


  • http://www.forestbenedict.com/ FBenedict

    Andrew, thank you for writing about this and sharing your story! This topic is so important and we need more courageous people talking about it. I too am in recovery through Christ from this issue and it is my life’s work helping others get free. I would love to meet you. Blessings to you and your family. – Forest Benedict

  • Josh Blair

    Love you, my friend! Thank you for being so transparent and allowing the grace of Jesus to be your shield. Not only is this post well written, it’s raw and truthful. Thank you for leading well. The Body of Christ needs this, myself included.

  • Ed Boling

    Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. BRAVO. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo! That’s a bravo for each step, brother, with a big one for step 4! It’s a beast. I think I told you that I did Celebrate Recovery and lead for several years. I’ve never found a more real and deep connection with others in a church or small group anywhere. I’ve personally dealt with drugs, alcohol, pornography, codependency, anger and financial responsibility. Still dealing in a lot of ways. Keep it up. It’s an abundant life!!!

  • Dave Obwald

    Andrew as God is drawing you out to take the masks off and believe the truth of Jesus finished work it is also beautiful to watch that journey of grace spreading to others through you. Honored to be on the journey with you!

  • Zach Smith

    Well done my friend! Proud of you and the powerful work God is doing inside you! God is wonderful and He shows His wonder through your story. Such powerful stuff for us all to remember daily.

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