Escaping the Pain of Porn

Jan 26, 2016

“…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

— Genesis 4:7b

Houston’s First member Richard Green encountered pornography when he just was 12 years old. He had come face-to-face with sexual acts years earlier — but that time wasn’t in a glossy magazine spread. Though his struggle with pornography and compulsive behavior took root in childhood, the love of Christ weeded out destructive habits and cultivated new ground of healing and ministry. Richard leads others to experience Christ’s healing in Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step accountability program, at Houston’s First.

“I think I was chosen to lead because I have a heart for people who are at the end of their rope,” said Richard. “There are some very tragic stories of people from all walks of life at Celebrate Recovery. One thing we all have in common is that we do something to deal with pain.”

Pain was a near constant companion of Richard’s, carrying vivid memories of a neighbor molesting him — then a six-year-old — and his sister, who was just a toddler. When their parents found out, they moved to another home in their suburban Los Angeles neighborhood. Yet in spite of the molestation, pornography was a staple in his home, where he first came in contact with it as a preteen.

Small in stature, timid and socially immature, in Richard’s attempt to overcome shyness, he participated in speech and debate at school. Technology and engineering was his strong suit, much like his father, an aerospace engineer. “Logic and knowledge were important to my family,” said Richard. “My father was not a talker — no display of emotions. I couldn’t talk to him about the pain I was feeling.”

In seventh grade, his best friend committed suicide. As a young adult, Richard got drunk at a birthday party and a male friend raped him. Raised a Roman Catholic, at 21 Richard decided to study to become a priest. “I thought my addiction would go away when I went to seminary,” he said. “I knew what celibacy meant.” He stayed two years. “I kept having flashbacks and nightmares about all the devastation,” he said. “I used porn to suppress the pain.”

Though his plans for the priesthood were derailed, his faith in God would not be. In his personal faith, Richard took an analytical approach. As a metallurgical engineer in the aerospace industry, the DNA of his faith may be a bit esoteric for some. “My understanding of science and the universe, the truth of God’s existence through the creation, has kept me alive,” he said. “Christianity is the only religion that talks about God’s creative work outside of time.”

Richard’s faith would be sorely tested in a series of devastating setbacks. His second wife, who was living in another city, became concerned about Richard’s state of mind after his move to Houston in 2012. She had learned about his sexual addiction early in their marriage, and after a failed attempt at counseling they separated. After Richard’s addiction was made public, he lost his job and their home, and in order to meet his financial obligations to his first wife of 25 years, he moved away from his grown children to begin a new life in the Bayou City.

“I crashed in Houston,” said Richard. “I didn’t know anyone. I was clinically depressed and often had thoughts of suicide. I also was cutting as a way of dealing with pain.”

Richard's wife filed for divorce. Fearing Richard might do something drastic, she contacted the authorities. He spent 90 hours in a psychiatric hospital, where healing began. After intensive therapy, a psychiatrist there recommended he attend Celebrate Recovery at Houston’s First.

A year into Celebrate Recovery Richard was invited to be a leader. “I was floored when I was asked to consider it,” he said. “I had gotten a handle on my compulsions by dealing with the stuff that happened to me as a kid. Though triggers like loneliness, feelings of abandonment or high levels of stress will always be there, I’ve learned to recognize them and have put in place methods to break the spiral to unhealthy behaviors.”

No matter the difficulties he encountered or the setbacks he had, Richard has always known that God would never abandon him, and he sees His plan being accomplished as he uses his gifts and shares his story of redemption.

“Celebrate Recovery is a place where people with compulsive behaviors can find safety,” said Richard. “Doing what God designed me to do has also kept me from returning to those behaviors for comfort. He asked me if I was willing to give them up to do the things He created me to do. It’s time to do something God is waiting for you to do.”


Next Steps

Pastor Gregg talked about having Victory over Pornography in a message at Houston's First. Watch the video, and visit our list of resources for people struggling with this addiction or for parents who want to guide their children well.

Celebrate Recovery provides a safe, confidential environment to break free from the hurts, habits, and hang ups that hinder us from experiencing the true joy found in Christ. Meetings take place each Thursday from 6-9p at The Loop Campus in the Oasis Room, with a class for Spanish speakers at the same time in Rm 401. If you have questions about Celebrate Recovery, contact Huston McComb at Huston.McComb@HoustonsFirst.org or 713.335.6462.

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