When I was a kid, there was no place you could hide a thing in my house that I would not find. In fact, I made it my business to know every nook and cranny of that place. Now, I was regularly unable to find where I left my shoes, but the important stuff, the stuff other people hid—I was gonna find that stuff.
I spend a lot of time with guys who are in trouble—guys who have been trapped by a sin (or several) and are fighting to get free. These are truly my best friends. Some have been trapped by drugs, alcohol, or pornography. After years of hearing the stories from these guys, a few things keep popping up. There is a pattern, particularly among those trapped by pornography. For many men, their struggle began when they found their dad’s “secret stash” of porn. One of my friends was about nine years old when he was digging around in his garage. His dad had several toolboxes, and needing to know what was in them, the boy opened them up. Though one toolbox looked like all the others, it was very different from the rest. You see, this toolbox was stuffed with VHS porn tapes. He discovered a part of his dad’s soul that day that had been a well-hidden secret. When a boy makes this kind of discovery, he goes through a confusing maze of thoughts and emotions that typically goes something like this:
“I love my Dad, and clearly my dad loves all of this sexual stuff. I guess this is what men do. Since I want to be a man, too, and this stuff makes me feel good, I guess I will do this, too. And I guess this is what women are for, so…”
There are many ways in which a parent can bless a son—this moment is an actual, spiritual curse. It happens silently and is often not told to anyone for years. For a young boy, this moment is absolutely life-altering. It is my theory that kids never follow exactly in their parent’s footsteps. They either like what their parents like less, or do them more. They reject those things completely or repeat them obsessively. Many men who ogled Playboy magazines now have adult sons who spend hours watching HD video porn every week. It is much, much worse, for this son. The “secret stash” is a metaphor for the condition of a man’s soul. Who you are in secret is who you really are. Many of my friends who are fighting to get free of porn, alcohol, drugs, etc. are driven by this overarching thought:
“I will not allow this sin to move down one more generation. This is going to stop with me!”
That’s why I love to be with these guys. They’re desperate for Jesus. They’re determined things are going to change. With help from God and a bunch of other raggedy men, they are going to heal, examine their soul, and pray that the Holy Spirit will transform them to become more like Christ. Some get tired and stop. A few never really wanted to do the work that’s required to change. They don’t understand the truth: who they are in secret is who they really are, and they can’t see that who you really are will naturally tumble down to the next generation. The good news is many of these men do get the raw reality of their situation. They are tired of lying and covering up, they are exhausted by their deception, and they long to be free and lead their families well, training up their kids to love Jesus. I’ve seen it: God really does transform people. These addicts really can become Godly men who do not have dark secrets waiting to be found out by their children. Many men have a hard time imagining what life will look like—living without the burden of sin constantly crushing them. It can look something like this:
Before I was born, my Dad wanted to go into ministry. He changed paths and ended up in business, but he had an ongoing interest in spiritual things. Because of this, he had a small collection of books he kept tucked away in his closet—above the ridiculously gaudy and wide “Ecology” necktie he got from a convention, and to the right of a stack of long un-worn thermal underwear (we lived in Southern California). He never talked about these books, and I never saw him read them…but I knew they were there. I knew where everything was. Some of these books were Bible commentaries, and a few were popular books any Christian might be interested in. One was “Prayer” by O. Hallesby; another was “Your God is Too Small” by J. B. Phillips.
When I was in junior high, I was involved in my church and interested in spiritual things. One day, we got into a discussion at church about prayer, and I didn’t have many answers. I went home that night, and without asking and without telling anyone afterward, I got into my Dad’s secret theology stash. I read what my Dad had read. I simply assumed that this is the stuff men read, so I felt like a man reading it. I don’t think I ever told my Dad I stole his theology books. I still have them, and I’ve gone back to re-read them on occasion. Sorry for stealing your books, Dad. And, thanks, Dad, for letting me discover a part of your soul. Thanks for blessing me with your “secret stash.”
Special thanks to our Pastor of Family and Children’s Ministries, Dave Carl. Dave loves Jesus, being a husband and father, and pouring into the families of Stonebriar Community Church. He would love to connect with you! Join our private Facebook page and start sharing your thoughts today.