Porn Nation is an awkward title for a book, especially when I decide to check it out at the library. “Yes, I’ll take The Old Man and The Sea, The Bean Tree, Pride and Prejudice, and oh yes, this porn book.” Judgmental librarian eyes stare down upon me. I smile uncomfortably and ask if I can have a bag.
Nevertheless, I went ahead and checked it out, and I’m glad I did. This book is about a guy name Michael Leahy, who struggled with a porn/sex addiction for over twenty-five years of his life. The beauty of this story is that Leahy doesn’t hide anything. He details his grimy past-life, through junior high, high school, college, and a marriage in which he basically ignored and cheated on his wife for fifteen years before she finally called it quits. She didn’t know anything about his problems until year fourteen; he kept it that well hidden.
After his marriage and his affair were over, Michael Leahy walked the streets of Atlanta one night, and decided the best way to beat this life-wrecking monster was to commit suicide. He said that he went as far as planning out the suicide note, specifically determining what he would say to his two sons, when he got his wake-up call. Leahy wrote that he “felt the presence, the presence of God with [him].” He then explained that he felt that God had been hanging around, waiting for him, for a really long time, but finally, Leahy was at a point where he was ready to be present for God. This was the beginning of a new life for Michael Leahy. Not a perfect life, but a new life.
“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” – John 3:20-21
God knows our hearts. He knows that we who are sinners, we who screw up, never want anyone to know. We try to put on our least-tainted selves and blend into the gray background of humanity with everyone else in hiding.
In reality, it is the masking of these sins and struggles that enables Satan to speak to us, quietly at first, about the things that we keep quiet. He knows that if he keeps grinding our failures into us, and we never allow ourselves to come into the light, he will eventually convince us that this hidden sin is our true identity. It is the hidden sin, not the exposed sin, that destroys lives and families and friendships and marriages. It is what we hide that Satan uses to write our name tags.
Repentance, on the other hand, is when you tell God what you’ve been up to (He knows, anyway, but He likes to hear from us), and then ask for forgiveness. The incredible thing is, we get it. We don’t have to earn our salvation. We can’t earn our salvation. Christ was beaten to the point of near-death, skin ripped off, possibly partial organs and even bone exposed at his flogging (history says that many died during this punishment), forced to carry a heavy cross through the streets, given a crown of thorns to have jammed into his already bloody skull, and then nailed to a cross. My roommate, Heidi, said that the Romans purposely nailed people to crosses by putting nails through their wrist and ankle bones (if only I knew the technical terms) so that there would be no major arteries struck. She also told me that death on a cross was supposed to be a long process, often a week long. You either died of suffocation, dehydration or starvation. Jesus lasted on the cross for three hours, because He had already been beaten so intensely.
Outside of the graphic nature of Christ’s death, the fact is, He did it so that we could repent from our sins and be completely forgiven. Our job is to repent. I heard once that the word “repent” was used in the army for a long time. The generals would yell it at their troops when they wanted them to stop what they were doing, stop moving in the direction they were moving, turn 180 degrees, and walk the other way. What an incredible picture of repentance. To stop hiding our sin, to confess to our Savior, to ask for forgiveness, to walk away from the sin completely.
Carrying sin is a heavy, joyless, dark job. I know this from constant personal experience. Living in God’s grace and forgiveness, being transformed by Him? This is true joy. Leahy ended his book with this:
“And yet, as meaningful as it is odd to become a symbol and spokesperson for sexual addiction, I feel my life’s greater value is as a symbol of God’s grace, an icon of God’s forgiveness, a modern-day prodigal son. Someone who demonstrates that no matter how lost you are and no matter what you’ve done, God can redeem you, your life, and your relationships. The universe is not ruled by the moral and religious law, which condemns us. It is ruled by grace for those who would freely receive it. ‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. – John 1:17’ ”
He will redeem you. All you need to do is ask.