Porn: Why I’m the Scumbag in the Gym

{Guest Post by Ethan Renoe}

Reposted from his own blog (link at end of post).


 

I like to lift weights in the evening. It’s a more subdued atmosphere with a unique energy to it. Tonight I was at 24 Hour Fitness going through chest day when a cute girl caught my eye. I watched as she walked over to two guys on the bench press, one was evidently her boyfriend. I was about to return to my exercise when I noticed in the mirror that he was yelling at her.

I paused the music banging through my headphones.

From where I was, I could hear: “Get the f*** away from me! Leave me alone!” He then returned to spotting his buddy on the bench press, as if she was a nuisance who had finally buzzed away.

I continued lifting and the exact same thing repeated itself several more times. She quietly approached him to ask a question or show him something on her phone, only to be met with, “No! Leave us alone! Get out of here!” She sunk her head and retreated.

Anger welled up inside of me, and I silently calculated how hard I could throw a punch in the middle of chest day (fellow lifters will understand).

As she returned again to her boyfriend, only to be met with anger and the feeling that she was bothering him, I began praying for the opportunity to interject. I didn’t want to fight anyone, I just wanted to tell her that she deserved better. That there are men out there who don’t treat women like mosquitoes. I was furious.

How could a man treat a woman so expendably? How could he steal all the benefits of a girlfriend, yet tell her to f*** off when he didn’t want her? How could he objectify her in such a pragmatic way?

It was in the midst of my anger in the gym that a silent voice spoke to me. He said, “Ethan, you do the same thing.”

I resisted this thought. The thought that perhaps, when no one is looking, when the door is closed, I am the same as him. But the Lord persisted.

I am a porn addict.

I employ the language common to many substance users: That I am presently in the throes of battle with my poison of choice, rather than assuming a triumphalist attitude that I have somehow beaten my addiction and now live free of it.

There in the gym, I was humbled as Bible verses sunk in in the most piercing way.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I realized that in the dark of my room, I too have taken women when I wanted, and left them when I was finished, shooing them away like fruit flies from a melon. I too have objectified and used these digital mistresses for my own pragmatic gain. My sins are more secretive though, allowing me to polish a chromed veneer to the public while I crumble behind closed doors.

There in the gym, my resistance slowed and I humbly understood what the Lord was saying. If I condemn this boy for his actions, yet do the same thing when eyes are turned away, what right do I have to judge him?

If he is condemned then I am as well.

The Lord knows my sins, yet for some ridiculous reason, has removed them from me. He has washed me spotless of my iniquities. He loves this dude in the gym too, and understanding this is the root of showing grace.

I’ve been reading Philip Yancey’s latest book, Vanishing Grace, and have been simultaneously broken and amped up at realizing the depths of the love God has for us. For me.

But tonight, this concept of grace put skin on and abused his girlfriend in the gym. Tonight I was forced to look into a mirror and extend grace to someone who does not deserve it, just as it has been extended to me.

If I am to compare myself to someone, it should be Christ—the image of perfection and love. Outside of Him, the ground is level before the cross and I am no better than the abusive boyfriend, the rapist, or even the murderer.

Tonight I joined in the chorus with the Apostle Paul as we bellowed, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I am the worst of them all.”

Tonight I am once more grateful for the gospel of grace.

Tonight I am grateful for Jesus: That He died for abusive boyfriends and porn users alike, and that He walked out of His grave, so that we someday may do the same.

e

 


 

 

Ethan Renoe

Ethan has been to six continents, gotten two degrees from three colleges (most recently Moody Bible Institute) and done four consecutive one-armed pull-ups. He has not fallen in love, but he did fall in the pool while he was lifeguarding.
Click here to follow him at ethanrenoe.com.
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7 thoughts on “Porn: Why I’m the Scumbag in the Gym

  1. This… Wow, thank you for your thoughts! We are all struggling with our own addictions, in some shape or fashion, and it’s nice to see people being honest about their brokenness. “They overcame him by the blood of the lamb AND the word of their testimony” Rev 12:11

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for putting this in writing. As someone who also deals with the same addiction (yes a female, shocking I know!) It is nice to know that I am not alone. My faith helps the feels inside that tear at me but being reminded that He loves me always brings comfort. Thank you for your strength to stand up and say something. You are doing God’s work

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great blog, but still left me wondering … Just because you have sin in your life as the boyfriend did, does that really mean you shouldn’t still pray for the opportunity to intervene? Does it mean someone else shouldn’t still pray for the ability to intervene in your sin too? I don’t think that your acceptance of your own sin should preclude you from being able to say something if you are witness to other sin. Thank you for sharing your heart here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erica, interesting thoughts! If Ethan ever sees this, hopefully he can answer some of these questions. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think you’re on the right track here. Happy New Year!

    Like

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