It has been over five years since I started celebrating my delivery from the scourge of pornography. The grace and power of God poured out during my Consecration to Divine Mercy released me from the hold that pornography had on me for over 40 years. With the exception of a few backsides, praise God, I have also been released from the prison of habitual masturbation.
I remember times throughout my married life when my wife would confront me about leering at women. As I have grown closer to our Lord and developed the discipline of completing a Daily Examen, I have discovered that while I avoid leering I regularly look at women and put them into one of two categories: “A Woman I Would Lust After” and “A Woman I Would Not Lust After.”
Men are both biologically and societally wired to be visually drawn to women. However, as I became aware of my habit to place women into these two categories I realized that I’m still failing to see women the way God sees them. Regardless of which category I place a woman in, I am missing the mark and still reducing them to this or that type of woman instead of seeing them as someone made in the image and likeness of God. And if a woman knew I was categorizing her like that she would certainly be offended!
In Scripture, we read the following:
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, or our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does He not see my ways, and count my every step?” (Job 31:1-4)
This passage has the potential to lead us into frustration or despair. We might feel it is impossible to live up to this standard, especially if we have struggled with masturbation and pornography for a long time. But Jesus lived, died, was raised from the dead, and has sent us the Holy Spirit—and we have therefore been given the grace to overcome our sinful ways no matter how difficult it may seem.
As a result of Christ working in my own life, I have been lifted out of the cesspool of my sexual sins. This was something I couldn’t imagine happening at one point in my life. Still, I continue to be challenged by the temptation to reduce women and fail to see them as daughters of God.
But the good news, as we learn in recovery programs, is that we can continue to improve. In Step 10 we are invited to continue to take a personal inventory of ourselves and when we are wrong to promptly admit it. Step 11 instructs us to continue to improve our conscious contact with God and ask Him to infuse us with the power to carry out His will. And Step 12 reminds us that the only way to keep the peace of God is to give it away to others. In other words, by cooperating with God’s grace and not giving up, we can grow toward holiness no matter how dark our past.
I realize that, on this side of heaven, I will always be confronted with areas of my life that need improvement. But these continuous struggles to look at women the way God does are, in fact, blessings. They inoculate me from the serious sin of pride and from thinking that I have “arrived” at holiness when there is still much work to be done.
Ultimately, I rest in the promise that God will complete the good work that He has started in me. By working the steps, frequenting the sacraments, and trusting in God’s infinite mercy, I trust that Jesus will continue to direct my path toward heaven. Jesus, I trust in you!
Jim Gorski is a father of four children who has been married to the same woman for 36 years. He completed his master’s degree in social work in 1984 and has directed church music groups for the past 41 years. He remains a grateful child of the most high God and strives to trust in God’s loving mercy and His ability to provide for Jim’s every need.