I Created Porn in My Head: David Heughin’s Story

When David Heughins became a born-again Christian at five years old, porn was the last thing on his mind.

Raised in a parsonage, he wasn’t supposed to “struggle” with anything. Unfortunately, David’s Christianity was mostly rules and fear. As a child, he was at the bottom of the metaphoric schoolyard food chain, and he suffered a significant amount of peer abuse. That, combined with being an only child in a very strict home, led David into a pattern of imaginary living. In his imagination, he was strong, brave, and in control.

Unfortunately, this started a downhill slide into addiction.

An Addiction from the Imagination

When David reached puberty, his imagination took up the enthralling subject of females. And because he was isolated and the girls he knew did not attend his church, they became a subject of sexual fantasy.

Without being told anything about sex, David was still able to use his imagination. The reactions this caused his brain chemistry led to a strong addiction to fantasy sex.

David didn’t know anything about pornography, but he was addicted to the pornographic images he created in his mind. Speaking of the lust that overtook him, David says, “They stirred up chemical reactions in my brain and pleasure that was as powerful as any drug on the street.”

As he grew older, he thought that getting married would help stop these fantasies swirling in his head. However, when he did find his bride, he continued to backslide, and now there was a fear of being exposed that only made it worse. David knew that these thoughts were acts of adultery, and he felt an overwhelming sense of condemnation.

At one point, David began to despair his own salvation: “Why doesn’t God deliver me from this?”

An Addict Stuck in Addiction

By 2008 (nearly 50 years after the fantasies began), David’s addiction was only getting worse. He was seeing body parts instead of people in his daily life. He knew that he needed to change, and he signed up to attend a men’s conference called Iron Sharpens Iron. There, David came out of his denial enough to attend a seminar on Internet purity. The Internet was becoming popular and easy-to-access, and David realized that if he went online, he was going to have opportunities to do and see things that he didn’t want to do.

At the seminar, David realized that he was sexually addicted. He was an addict stuck in an addiction.

When he finally realized and accepted this, David was able to maintain sobriety for almost a year. But without accountability, he relapsed.  It was hideous, David says, “I was imagining things that went against everything I stood for as a Christian man.”

Near the end of that year, Celebrate Recovery came to his church. If you’re unfamiliar with Celebrate Recovery, it is a Christ-centered, 12-step program for all kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

David dragged himself to the second meeting, and when he got there, the lesson was on denial (of course!). David learned that denial is pretending a wound is not there, and you can’t heal a wound by pretending it is not there. The teaching struck a chord in his mind and spirit, and David knew that he needed to change.

“I could hear the chains breaking…”

After the lesson, the group of men broke into groups. David sat with a dozen guys, most of them whom he knew and respected. As they went around the circle, each man gave an introduction. Soon, it was David’s turn.

“Hi, I’m Dave, I’m a grateful believer who struggles with…um…um…sexual addiction.”

Nobody fell off their chair. Nobody laughed or said “just quit,” as if quitting an addiction was at all easy. It was the hardest thing David had ever done, but something happened in him when he said it. He describes it as, “It’s like I could hear the chains breaking, and basically, I’ve been in recovery ever since. That room became a safe place for me. Those guys became my brothers, my accountability partners, my accountability team. And I’ve been involved in Celebrate Recovery ever since. When I lost my wife, I went through some relapse. But again, I started going to more meetings.”

Since David’s first Celebrate Recovery meeting, finding freedom hasn’t been perfect. There have been slips now and then. And every morning, he thanks God for helping him to make it through the night, and he asks Him humbly, to help him stay clean throughout the day. He uses Covenant Eyes to monitor his Internet activity, and this has paired well with his meetings through Celebrate Recovery.

We Are God’s Workmanship!

Today, David continues to fight against temptation and the tight grasp of sin. When his wife passed away in 2013, he was able to lay her in the arms of Jesus, while being clean inside and out; what a triumph that was! When he talks about his victory over addiction and his journey to remain pure, David says this:

“I give credit to the Lord. I couldn’t do it myself. You have no idea how helpless addiction makes you. I was trying to live for the Lord, trying to serve the Lord (to prove I was a Christian), reading Scripture, and praying. Yet all those things that I did, did not prevent me and my mind from going to the wrong place.

I’ve come to realize that if I do fall, the steps I hear are not coming to grind me into the dirt but to pick me up. Sexual addiction is not just a spiritual issue, it’s an emotional issue, and it’s a physical issue too. That was a key for me in overcoming it—realizing that I don’t have to prove myself holy in order to meet God’s standards, in order to please God. I need to let Him make me holy from the inside. I’m a piece of work, but I’m a piece of work on His bench.

I can’t, He can, I’m gonna let Him. This is what keeps me clean, one day at a time.”