Article Page Break Here

Hope Found in a Book

Stephen Lawhon, 32, a member of Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas, and a longtime Christian believer, said he attempted to fight the temptation of pornography for years until he found hope in the simple warnings of Scripture.

Lawhon said that even though he grew up in a Christian family, his occasional encounters with porn as a kid led to a problem that he recognized as early as age 15.

"I started seeing porn at 11 or 12 years old. There would be a dirty magazine outside somebody's house. It just escalated from there. I always had an unquenchable thirst for it."

All the while, he was a leader in his youth group. He even recalled talking to his youth minister once about it.

"He prayed with me and patted me on the back and said, 'Hey, it's going to be alright.' That was it. And that's not a slam on him. We just didn't know what to do with this back then. We just didn't talk about that stuff," Lawhon said.

In college at Texas A&M, Lawhon said he joined Central Baptist and was in college ministry leadership there, though he still battled pornography.

"I was leading this double life. I had this secret compartment tucked away. When it really took off for me was when it became available online. I would never get caught dead buying pornography. But I would download it in my room. It scares me to think where I'd be now if I had the access that kids and men have today," he said.

He once got rid of his external computer modem, then he got rid of his computer altogether. But his compulsion led him to the school computer lab, where he'd download porn on floppy disks, he said.

After meeting his future wife, he told her he had struggled with pornography, but he said she underestimated the problem. He thought that once he was married he would no longer desire pornography, but he was wrong.

"The pastor who married us told us whatever problems we bring into our marriage would be magnified in the marriage. He was right, and I nearly lost my marriage over it."

Lawhon said he bought book after book on the subject, but, "It wasn't until I picked up the Bible that [God] really showed me He wrote the book thousands of years ago on this subject. It wasn't until I was truly broken that I started climbing out of it."

Lawhon said he has found hope and strength from his church family, his wife and, more than any other resource, the Bible, particularly Proverbs 7 and the warning about the harlot who lurks on every corner.

He said King David was in the wrong place when he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her, while Joseph faced his temptation with Potiphar's wife while tending to his responsibilities. Lawhon said that through the lens of Proverbs 7, one can see that Joseph had an advantage because he was where he was supposed to be while David, who should have been at war, wasn't.

"The Bible talks about how we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to endure, and when we're tempted God will provide a way out. What does that mean? What does that look like in real life? The Holy Spirit is huge in overcoming this. The Holy Spirit will bring accountability in my life. When I feel temptation coming on, I start to drift where I'm not supposed to drift ... and the phone will ring and it's a friend from church," Lawhon said.

"My point is, the Holy Spirit brings accountability into our lives. And when that way out presents itself, I have to make a choice to walk that way out."

Instead of offering "burnt offerings" by going to Promise Keepers or reading a book or attending another conference, Lawhon said he realized "I was choosing pornography over what God had for my life. I wasn't living in the grace of Jesus Christ."

Lawhon spends much of his time working with college students, many of whom are struggling through many of the battles he went through. He advises them to continually renew their minds by memorizing Scripture and dealing with only one day at a time, because overcoming sexual temptation is fought one battle at a time.

"I used to rationalize my discouragement by saying, 'I'm gonna mess up tomorrow. I might as well mess up today.' The Lord told me, 'No, you deal with today, Stephen. I'll deal with tomorrow.'"

Also, the stigma of pornography is greater than alcohol or drug abuse, Lawhon said, which makes coming forward more difficult.

The SBC's Land said in a 2002 radio interview: "You can go to your Sunday School class and say you have a real problem with alcohol and ask the class to pray for you, but if you go to your Sunday School class and say you need prayer for a problem with pornography, it would be like you set off a stink bomb in the room."