Porn. Masturbation. Sex.
If you just squirmed in your chair, it’s probably because these are seemingly uncomfortable topics to discuss. In the church, these things are often not addressed at all, or at best, expressed in one word: “Don’t”.
However, these are issues that our families and our churches can’t ignore. There is too much at stake.
Immediately after a sermon series that addressed the issue of porn, my church started an addictions recovery group. Only four people joined, including me.
I was the only one who was solely there working to kick porn out of my life. (Everyone else was struggling with drugs or alcohol.) I remember hoping that other people from church would think I was a drug addict. I feel like the church has far more empathy for those struggling with substance addictions than for porn.
Yes, admittedly conversations about porn, sex, and masturbation can be extremely uncomfortable at first. They also require vulnerability that most of us don’t want to show.
To big perfectly honest, I won’t bring these topics up in front of most people – coworkers, friends, family, etc. However, normalizing this conversation, to the extent that it can be, is essential.
I feel that both the church and society at large have an odd relationship with porn.
While talking about porn feels taboo, it is almost hush-hush acceptable. Everybody does it, nobody talks about it. It’s literally our dirty little secret.
Thankfully, church and society are beginning to see the devastating impact porn has on our marriages, families, and society at large. Little steps are being taken to start the conversation and turn the tide.
In my own life, my church was a big part of me coming out of the shadows. About 10 years ago, our church did a sermon series about porn titled “Elephant in the Room.”
One of the things I appreciated most, was that our pastor not only talked about the negative impact porn was having, but he attempted to normalize the conversation around this “elephant” in society no one seemed to want to talk about. He shared how he chose to have the difficult conversation to speak to his 10-year-old son about porn, knowing that this is the age most young people are first exposed.
Most importantly for me, he provided resources for people looking to change. One of the resources he highlighted was XXXchurch and its small group programs. He also referenced various filtering and device monitoring software.
I was one of those people who was quietly struggling with porn. In fact, I had been trying to change on my own for years and had had limited success.
I joined an addictions group at my church and a small group through XXXchurch. I got covenant eyes on my phone and computer. While just hearing the sermons provided encouragement that I was not alone, it has been implementing accountability, filtering, and consistent spiritual discipline that has helped me to grow.
Change has not been easy.
Several times I dropped out of my online recovery group, only to return when I realized I wasn’t making the progress I wanted alone. I would uninstall and then reinstall covenant eyes on my phone. I always seemed to go back to struggling with porn.
I knew I had to develop more consistency. I rejoined a group and stuck with it (I have now been part of the same group for over 3 years). I talked to a counselor regularly. I tightened up my filters and had an admin in charge of my covenant eyes account. I have fasted and prayed.
It is amazing to see the progress that this had in my life. While God is changing my behavior, even more, he is slowly changing my heart.
I went from being alone to having a team of people to support me. I am so glad for my accountability partners from my Live Free group, church, and the support of my wife. This isn’t something most men can beat on their own willpower or strength. It takes the power of the holy spirit, as well as authentic accountability and relationships to even have a chance.
I am incredibly thankful for all the ministries, groups, books, and podcasts that are popping up to address these issues. If we can use technology to access pornographic content, we need to use the same to deliver helpful resources and knowledge that help us to be free.
I am glad the tide is finally starting to turn and the conversations are being had.
We are hosting an event called Shameless. Everyone can benefit from learning more about shame and how it can tear apart your identity. For more information about this event or to register yourself and/or your group visit www.shamelessevent.com.