DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Help For Those of Us Who Have Struggled With Pornography

Written by: on March 7, 2019

In our previous readings, Charles Taylor notes in A Secular Age, “In almost all Western Societies during the 1970’s, the legal privatization of our sexual lives occurred through the legalization of abortion, divorce reform, authorization of pornographic films, and so on.” [1]

I was only 7 years old when the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision legalized divorce nationwide, so I really don’t remember a thing about it. The taking of innocent life in the name of “women’s reproductive rights” still baffles me. A nurturing mother, carrying a precious life in her womb, however inconvenient or difficult, choosing to terminate her pregnancy? I cannot fathom it!

California was the first U.S. state to pass a no-fault divorce law (California, what a big surprise). Its law was signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, a divorced former movie actor, future President of the United States, and came into effect in 1970. [2] I was only 6 years old in 1970, again no memory for me. Today, I understand every state in America permits no-fault divorce, though requirements for obtaining a no-fault divorce vary. At its convention in 1947, the National Association of Women voted to draft and promote a bill that would embody the ideal of no-fault divorce and describes its efforts to promote the passage of no-fault divorce laws as “the greatest project NAW has ever undertaken.” [3]

Not at all letting men off the hook, Josh McDowell, international speaker from CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), recently told me there were 29 million pornographic websites currently available on the web. He lamented that in his estimation 57% of Pastors currently view porn, outlining that of the 120 pastors I lead, potentially 65 of them might be in jeopardy of moral failure. Thankfully, he helped me formulate a redemptive plan for restoration of those who will fail. Not if they fail, but when they fail. The beginning of that plan is outlined below:

1. It takes 3-5 years to be completely free from pornography addiction because of our brain chemistry
2. You must cut it off at the source–Covenant Eyes is a program that helps!
3. Accountability is a must, where confession occurs, and we do NOT automatically fire those addicted
4. A series called “Conquer” is helping local churches
5. Porn is the biggest issue facing the local church, marriage and counselors
6. 57% of current Pastors are viewing porn
7. Porn is not the problem, it is only a coping mechanism for deeper hurts in a person’s life
8. Women also view porn and are the fastest growing segment of porn viewing
9. Don’t go it alone, announce it to someone you trust, admit “I have a problem” and own it
10. Christ’s victory can and does sanctify–don’t believe the lies of the enemy

This brings me to the so called phenomenon of “private sexuality” described by this week’s author Jonathan Grant in Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age. [4]

“The all-conquering narrative of modern freedom has driven a wedge of confusion into the sexual lives of Christians as they find themselves increasingly caught between two scripts: a cultural one and a Christian one.” [5]

Freedom? Seems to me the Bible talks a lot about freedom. Jesus did, too. In Luke 4:18, he said he had come to the earth to proclaim freedom (and to set the captives free), and on another occasion in John 8:36 he said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” [6] I don’t think he said we would be free from the consequences of that freedom.

Personal freedom? I thought we gave up our rights when we chose to follow Jesus. I am weary of using the excuses of consumerism, individualism, enlightenment, postmodernism, utilitarianism, expressivism, and whatever other isms Grant wants to cite. Our freedom was and is extremely costly. Jesus died for it. Why is it so easy to forget this?

Now, let’s fast forward to our modern age, using the most dangerous word describing our current challenges of sexual immorality. This word is a faulty bridge between “private sexuality” and misguided “Freedom”.  I personally think this word is a bane for both women and men.  What is the word I am beginning to abhor?  It is CONSENT.

I have often heard this word surrounding the Me Too movement (which I am not trivializing, because there has been terrible abuse to both women and men). Supposedly the Shades of Grey movies properly explain what consent means. Are you kidding me? Another form of the word consent is “consensual”. Can’t stand that word any more, either. Politicians often use it as rationalization for abhorrent behavior. I even heard of a new app bragging about its ability to provide legal consensual sexual promiscuity. Consenting adults involved in promiscuity? It’s wrong! Consensual sex outside of marriage is costly, for as Scripture says, “All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”  I thought we were supposed to flee from sexual immorality!

Our author, Grant, thankfully unveils the hypocrisy of consent. He says,

“…there is nothing new about people seeking degrading sexual experiences. The problem is that this is becoming increasingly acceptable and even mainstream because our society now lacks a coherent moral framework within which these desires can be identified. On the basis of the modern principal that consent is king, it is difficult to challenge sexual immorality because everyone was a willing participant and left feeling “happy”. Yet this demonstrates the deep inadequacies of our cultural vision of freedom and sexuality.” [8]

I am going to finish reading our book for this week. This blog was finished before reaching page 65. There seems to be some very helpful information to follow, so I am going to read every word this time…

[1] Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. 485.

[2] Wilcox, W. Bradford. “The Evolution of Divorce.” National Affairs. 2009. Assessed 20 December 2017.

[3] Baskerville, Steven. Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family. Cumberland, KY: Cumberland House, 2007. 234. 

[4] Grant, Jonathan. Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision for Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2015. 54.

[5] Ibid., 55.

[6] Barker, Kenneth L. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Luke 4:18, John 8:36.

[7] Ibid., I Corinthians 6:18.

[8] Grant. 63.

About the Author

mm

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

10 responses to “Help For Those of Us Who Have Struggled With Pornography”

  1. Thanks, Jay. I appreciate the grace you extend to those who are addicted to pornography and your insight that there is something deeper going on that needs to be addressed. My marraige has survived a pornography addiction and my husband has found true freedom and healing following many of the very steps that you prescribe. All that to say–Victory in Jesus IS truly possible. (And he doesn’t care if I share this because he know he isnt’ alone in the struggle and that the world needs to hear stories of healing and restoration.)

    I wonder if there is something that can be done not just in response to moral failure but in prevention of it, admitting that we are ALL at risk.

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Jenn,

      Thank you so much for the testimony, of victory, and also for the willingness to have it out in the light where it can help others.

      Thanks for your question on the prevention side–and that is our next step. Unfortunately most pastors come to us already addicted, so prevention is too late. Josh McDowell says the average child has witnessed porn already by the age of 5! Technology is of course the avenue, and he readily admits there is no way to avoid it.

      While searching for book reviews on “Divine Sex”, I was bombarded by porn. Only through my victorious journey through Christ was I easily able to quickly hit the delete button.

  2. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    In the late 70’s and early 80’s I used to get dispatched to security calls to keep the peace for citizens on both sides of the issue at planned parenthood sites. It was so conflicting and confusing for everyone to grasp; still is I think. Except what I see in the news now even takes it to the next level, what a shame.
    Great addictive recovery plan you shared! If I can ever be of assistance, please let me know. I used to speak, still do, at 12 Step Recovery programs where Porn Addition is one of the many addictions that the members struggle with. I give them their end of course encouragement, Armor of God message, and graduate them with an Armor of God challenge coin. It really helps them remember what to do because it is tangible, visible, meaningful, and can be used by other members to challenge each other and encourage each other when the are struggling.
    Thanks for calling out the Cost to follow Jesus. Amen and amen. Yep, who among us are free? Only in Christ are we free, but otherwise, this earth suit belongs to him. I want my eternal suit, cause I know it will let me fly without wings.
    Preach it Pastor Jay- Great post. Put that one in your short list for your morning devotional book you are writing.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Mike,

      I was interested in your work with the 12 step recovery programs. Was it Celebrate Recovery, AA, or some other? Was it Christian, or another?

  3. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jay,

    Your posts are always grounded in the Scriptures and I appreciate that immensely. There is so much confusion in our culture regarding human sexuality and for some reason the church has largely remained silent. I think this has contributed to the crisis that you mention regarding pornography, even amongst Christian leaders. We have failed to maintain open dialogue about this critical subject and have instead covered it with shame so that it is not discussed at all until there is a ‘problem’. How do you hope to both raise this issue with your leaders and help them to be more overt in their work in this regard?

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Fascinating you should ask that Dan. We are working on the process to open the dialog. Unfortunately, just wanting to talk about it was enough to make one church quit. Very painful, but like you said, we must get away from the shame of it all and take the conversation back!

  4. Great post, Jay!

    It’s always sobering when we go from facts and figures to flesh and blood. It puts faces before us and the responsibility of leadership upon us.

    You mention, “…57% of Pastors currently view porn, outlining that of the 120 pastors I lead, potentially 65 of them might be in jeopardy of moral failure.” This has increased with the immediate access of the internet with smartphones and lewd images on social media. Sex has always been rampant. For instance, even during the time of Christ, they had male and female temple prostitutes. However, porn no longer comes with onlookers – it comes at the privacy of your own screen.

    I’ve witnessed countless stories of porn addiction leading them to rape or adultery. You mention, many great tools that help those who are addicted. Do you offer any family counseling or marriage tools? One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve witnessed is men taking the verse 1 Corinthians 7:5 out of context and raping their wives. They expect them to be submissive and agreeable and then blame them for their addiction when they’re not being satisfied. How do you plan on rewiring the mind of men and women so that they understand mutuality within marriage?

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Yes, we offer counseling and crisis management, with professional help that we will pay for, to any pastor needing help. Unfortunately, things remain in the dark, not being brought to light so it can be dealt with and worked on.

      The long process of “lie replacement therapy” for people caught in the addiction has been helped by the conquer series, as well as “Every Man’s Battle” series. Scripture is of course very helpful in helping us rewire the brain through these challenges…

      Thanks for asking!

  5. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jay, as always I appreciate your authenticity and vulnerability! I’m so glad to hear you are leading your charge of pastors with awareness and resources. The struggle is real for male pastors and your willingness to have open and honest conversation is key. Too many men take the stance of “it’s not my problem or my business” and avoid the difficult conversation. The world (and God’s kingdom) is better because you are in it friend!

  6. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    great post Jay. I think there was a lot of helpful and alarming statistics shared in this book and your blog. It seemed everyone agreed when they saw the problems, but its his solutions that seem to cause disagreement.

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