I have recently shared my testimony with you about my struggles with pornography, so I don’t need to expand on that, but rather relate more to the war at hand in the Church of Jesus Christ. In 1998 I finally listened to God and followed His plan lined out perfectly in James 5:16, and I confessed my sin of porn addiction to a group of believers on a Sunday night. I then began the process of deliverance from that which had ensnared me at a very young age. At that point in 1998, I had been a Christian who had tried to deal with this issue on my own for eighteen years—with very limited and short term success. The church was in denial that any true believer could have such a struggle. After all, we are a new creation; old things are passed away and behold all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17). That scripture and the church’s silence on the matter often led me to doubt my salvation, because I still struggled with sin. On three separate occasions I fasted forty days and begged God to remove this from me. But the only response I would hear from God was to confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you can be healed. At that time my pastor was also my father-in-law, so I wasn’t open to the idea of confessing to him. I did one time after my fastings and prayers weren’t bringing results. I tried giving my father-in-law a very watered down version of a confession which was hardly a confession at all, so it hardly worked at all. It wasn’t until the marriage failed that I confessed on that Sunday night (which was, by the way, a different pastor and different church). I also confessed to my wife, but she couldn’t forgive me. After that time, I would speak anywhere and anytime I was invited to share my testimony. Again, the churches were not ready to address the issue. Neither Freedom Begins Here, Transparent Ministries nor Celebrate Recovery existed at that time. Ten years and many disappointments later, I got out of the fight, and before too long I began losing battles with my struggles with porn. Since the births of FBH, TM, and CR, I’ve gotten back in the battle which helps me stay much more alert to the wiles of the enemy and the triggers that can lead me in a downward spiral. I have to STAY THE COURSE.
I need to be reminded, and so I’ll restate the porn stats that directly concern the church:
60% of men and 30% of women, even in the church, struggle with porn.
The 12– to 17-year-old age bracket is the largest consumer of Internet porn.
42.7% of Internet users view porn.
7 out of 10 lay leaders and 4 out of 10 pastors admit to having viewed porn as much as once a week.
Ashley Madison is a Canadian based on-line dating service, soliciting people who are married or in serious relationship with their slogan “life’s too short, have an affair.” On August 19th, 2015, the Ashley Madison web site was hacked and many were exposed, including over 400 pastors and church leaders. On September 8th, one distraught pastor committed suicide in his shame.
Friends, our pastors, elders, and deacons are hurting just like we are. We have to speak up. We can stay silent no longer. If we don’t actively and aggressively attack this problem, it will continue to grow and entrap our brothers, ours sisters, our sons, our daughters, and our grandchildren. SILENCE IS THE PRISON DOOR TO THE CELL OF OUR SHAME THAT KEEPS US IN BONDAGE TO OUR SIN. Confession releases those bonds so we can be released and healed. It is a process and WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 tells us, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can he be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not easily broken. You and I in Christ are that threefold cord. Proverbs 27:17 reads, As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. We must work together. Each of us needs a friend, a brother who loves us and that we trust and know they have our back. I need a friend/brother like that and I want to be a friend/brother like that for anyone willing to trust God and to allow me to help and encourage you and protect you from yourself and the enemy.
In the beginning of this message, I quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17 and shared how it made me feel I wasn’t saved. The scripture is true, however, and I now believe I have a different understanding of its meaning. The more years I have in relationship with Jesus and the better understanding I have of God and His grace through Jesus Christ, the more I’ve gained understanding of its meaning. We know that God sees us perfected in Jesus. I now could expand the scripture to say, If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are PASSING away, behold all things are BECOMING new. In the book THE CURE by John Lynch and Bill Thrawl, they talk about the butterfly. In essence God has created us a new creation, a butterfly. Even though we may still resemble a caterpillar or cocoon, if a scientist were to check our DNA at any stage, he would say we are a butterfly. So we are maturing/becoming new.
Over the past four or five years, my wife and I have been ministering and mentoring people at the Union Gospel Mission, 5 Rock Ranch, and now at Celebrate Recovery at the Salvation Army. I have befriended many hard core guys with all sorts of addictions and anger issues. These big, tough guys will confess their alcohol and drug addictions, their anger issues, they’ll confess that they abused their wives, stole from and mistreated their mother, attacked their fathers, and maybe even confess to a killing or maiming, but when it comes to admitting anything to do with pornography, they become silent. I’ve been wondering about this for a while and I feel I’ve been given an understanding (from the Lord, I hope) into why this is so. Alcohol, drugs, and violence are “macho” sins, but pornography carries the additional shame of masturbation. There is nothing overly masculine or macho attached to that. Guys will brag about their many conquests but hide in shame anything to do with masturbation. So there is an additional pride issue involved.
Until we break the silence of our shame, we’ll continue in our imprisonment. Until God’s children (the church) become transparent and the church (institution) becomes a safe