The Issue with Ned

by Randy Kosloski

Proverbs 4:18“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”

As a therapist, I once had a young client named Ned who was dealing with issues regarding his masculinity. These same matters have shaken me many times, and having dealt with them personally, I found it difficult to act as Ned’s guide while he explored these emotional issues. It was only slightly less frightening to deal with these issues vicariously than to deal with them myself. Even so, my conversation with Ned was one of the most productive therapy experiences I have ever had.

Ned’s masculinity issue was manifesting itself through a pornography addiction. I find that pornography is the perfect maladaptive symptom, because it touches every one of a man’s insecurities, providing sexual satisfaction without intimacy, pleasure without sacrifice, and the illusion of power without faith.

Ned was continually moving from one relationship to the next, always dragging these issues along with him. He was also very blessed with intelligence and fortitude. He taught me more than I ever taught him. He taught me that purity is a path rather than a target. Although, at times, we may fall off the path and land in an overgrown mess of trees, shrubs and dirt, we must courageously pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and keep walking on the path of purity. In their book Every Man’s Battle, authors Arterburn and Stoeker address the intense struggle of sexual temptation and how, in fact, every man will deal with this issue. They don’t say, “If we are just holy enough, we won’t be affected by this temptation.” Rather, they warn us to “start swinging,” because this is a real fight.

What made Ned particularly susceptible to this temptation was the fact that he did not view his father as a trustworthy model for masculinity. Ned was a foster child, and although he had a stable father figure for his entire life, he did not trust him since he was not his biological father. The effort this role model made as a foster parent failed to earn Ned’s trust. Without a trustworthy male role model, Ned turned to the culture around him to learn how to be masculine.
The male model that our culture asks us to emulate is a powerful one both physically and emotionally. Society conveys that he must be uncaring, completely fulfilled, and willing to sacrifice none of his own desires. Never measuring up to the cultural icon, Ned turned to fantasy to feel masculine. Enter pornography, which fulfilled the fantasies and allowed Ned to feel masculine, even if it was short-lived.
I wished I could have given Ned an injection of the healing he needs, like insulin through a syringe. If I could, I would take a hit as well. What I did give him was the understanding that all men have inadequate male models. Even if our father spent all sorts of time with us, provided for us and completely protected us, it would still be inadequate. All men must look to their Father in heaven and his Son Jesus Christ for the appropriate male example – the only comprehensive one that exists. This is not a discredit to the fathers of the world who are doing the best they can. Rather, it gives the glory to Jesus, who did everything perfectly.

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