My Early Days
I was blessed with excellent parents: a Bible-teaching pastor for a father, and a Christian mother who quit her job so she could stay home and raise us. Despite an excellent home life I was exposed to a lot of negativity early on outside of my home. I knew what sex was when I was only in 2nd grade, and I was exposed to nudity and pornography quite often: our neighbors had HBO, I had an uncle who had a closet full of pornography, which I frequented whenever we went to visit them, we once found a pornographic magazine lying in the street while walking to school, I had one neighbor that hung photos of nude women in his open garage for anyone walking by to see, and one of my closest friends had a father who also filled a closet with pornography, which we would sneak into when his parents weren’t home. I could go on but you get the idea. On top of this, I remember being incredibly attracted to girls my age as well as grown women as early as first grade. I had about 17 girlfriends at that time. Of course none of them actually knew it, but I did; they were mine in my mind. I still remember Winnie, the girl I had a crush on in first grade. I was in love with my second grade teacher Miss Goodson, and later when I switched schools a lovely blonde with a beauty mark named Tracy. In fact in every single grade there was some girl, or teacher that I thought I was in love with. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to maintain my purity through all this.
One of the many things I appreciate about my parents that helped me stay on the straight and narrow is they never forced Christianity on us. Of course we had to go to church because they weren’t going to leave us kids home alone, but the benefit of watching and learning and growing in Christ as opposed to having Christ forced upon me had a powerful and lasting impact on my life. My dad always taught us by showing us the pros and cons of situations, and to consider the consequences BEFORE acting so we would make wise and rational choices. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I am definitely proof that this Scripture is true.
Besides pleasing God, not giving up on myself, and honoring my parents, there was also another huge reason that I had to continue on this path of purity – my little brother. I prayed to God with great fervor for a little brother and He heard my prayer and blessed me with a spectacular one. Growing up I quickly noticed how much influence I had on my baby brother and it quickly became clear to me that I would have a profound impact on the person hew grew up to be. My influence on him would either be positive or negative and I was determined for it to be positive. In fact, I took on this task as though it were my personal mission, especially after praying so hard for a brother. Consequently from the moment he was born I invested all of my energy into supporting him and teaching him by precept and example as best as I was able. I was (and still am) obligated to live a holy and honorable life to set a godly example for him to follow. I cannot be a hypocrite and expect him to maintain a pure lifestyle while I’m not living one. So every day I try to teach him not only by what I say but how I live, and I’m pleased to say that, although my work continues, he turned out to be a pretty swell young man. And he kinda looks like me too, which is an added bonus 🙂
Another reason I was able to stay on the straight and narrow is despite my intense attraction to girls, that attraction was never reciprocated. I wondered if I was just really unattractive growing up, or if God was just protecting me, or perhaps it was a combination of the two because I had NO luck with the ladies. I was that guy that could make them laugh, and they loved to talk to, but I was always the “good friend.” “You’re like a brother to me” is a phrase I heard for years. I even had to practically beg the girl I liked at the time to go to my senior prom with me! I was hurt by all these things then, but looking back I thank God for it. Having a girlfriend in grade school or even in high school for that matter would’ve overwhelmed me with experiences I was unprepared for and there’s no telling how I would have responded.
What was also key for me is that I learned by observation. While I was chasing down ladies that ultimately never wanted to have anything to do with me, I was acutely aware of what was going on around me and how others were being impacted by their decisions. In particular I watched the popular kids – the groups I wished I could join but wasn’t cool enough to fit in with. These were the ones who were out drinking, partying, doing drugs and having sex at early ages. I watched as they were sent to detention, suspended, and failed classes as a result. Some contracted STD’s, some got arrested, some were suddenly faced with unplanned pregnancies, and some actually died because of their sinful lifestyle. All in high school! This all just reaffirmed that I was on the right track by avoiding what led to all those negative consequences.
After high school my “luck” with the ladies changed. Suddenly all the attention I never had growing up was there. I had a couple of short relationships and quite a few intimate encounters with girls but these were all poor choices. I learned that (especially for males) your inner monster will remain asleep until you wake it up, and once it is up it stays hungry and demands to be fed. Then you either continue to give in to it or you constantly fight to deny it the pleasures it seeks. Few are able to win that fight and consequently become addicted to pleasure. This was not an addiction I wanted then, and I most certainly don’t want it now.
Sadly, this is not something I anticipated until it was too late, and had already grown accustomed to putting myself in compromising situations. Although I drew a strict line at the belt, having convinced myself that everything else was fair game, I was wrong. I got way too close to females and had too many intimate physical encounters with them that I regret to this day. I never violated my boundaries, nor was I tempted to, however, I was so happy to finally have some attention from girls that I didn’t realize how much I was hindering my goal to stay pure by feeding on that attention. I never knew that I would remember all the details about every kiss and intimate situation I’ve ever had. I never knew that those thoughts and thoughts of what could’ve happened if I gave in would plague me to this day.
Fortunately I never comprised in the area of sex in any form. I had ingrained that goal so deep in my heart and mind for years that I knew regardless of the circumstances I would never fail in that area, and always communicated that up front with whomever I was with. The bad news is that many of them took that as a challenge, which made things extremely difficult for the both of us. Now I have to fight regularly to keep from thinking about them, and kissing females is not even an option for me because I know how it affected me and how strong it made my flesh. I absolutely regret shooting myself in the foot with all those poor decisions I made, but the only good thing is that through my errors I can now help others avoid those same errors by warning them of the inevitable consequences.
I waited until I was 19 or 20 before I would even have a single alcoholic drink and I didn’t realize the troubles involved with drinking until after I turned 21. Although I never went out and got completely trashed I still tested my limits too often. Drinking wasn’t so much of a problem because I didn’t have a lot of money to spend and I knew I had to stay functional to get back home safely. The thought of being unable to control myself is still something that I never want to experience. In the course of time I learned that drinking alcohol in excess makes it easier to sin. It’s easier to say things you shouldn’t say and do things you normally would not do, and now I don’t drink at all any more. I’ve learned that I can have just as much fun, if not more, drinking a water or ginger ale.
Clubbing was another huge challenge. The way people dance is extremely provocative and I fell in that trap too often before I realized it was frustrating my efforts to remain pure. Secondly it’s difficult to stand up for Christ when you’re out doing everything unbelievers are doing. This was one of my biggest hurdles to overcome. I found it difficult to deny a gorgeous girl who approached me and pulled me out on the dance floor, but I finally came to the realization that shooting holes in my own boat was impeding my progress. One thing I did correctly though is I determined before I ever started going out that I would never miss church, regardless how late a night I had. That is a goal that I accomplished. It wouldn’t make sense for me to sacrifice time with God on Sunday morning because I was out late getting freaky on the dance floor and was too tired to get up. Even if I was out until 5am I still got up and made it to church. Also during my college years I decided I would never go out drinking or to a club at all. I knew that I might get distracted and didn’t want anything to hinder me from graduating with an A GPA. This is another goal I was able to achieve. Now, I like to say that I’m officially retired from clubbing.
So now after I’ve experienced intimate situations with girls, drinking, freaky dancing, and staying out to the wee hours of the morning, and I suffered the consequences of all these things I have focused even more on my goal to stay pure. It’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t allow any of these poor decisions to overtake me. It’s through God’s strength that I never gave up. Now I’m dedicated to continuing to do what is right and helping others as we proceed on the path to purity together.