From the Blog

Harmful Deceiver

Before I gave my heart to Jesus in January of 1980, I used to think that pornography really didn’t hurt anyone. Even psychology painted a picture that it could be helpful to detour rape by giving an outlet—and, boy, that sounded good and right to me, until Ted Bundy did his interview with Dr. James Dobson.

I had hoped it was a good thing because I was drawn to it. Men are hardwired to be visually stimulated. God made it to be that way. God created godly marital sex to be an intimate bonding—a wonderful, exciting moment between husband and wife. Fornication includes all forms of sexual sin like adultery, premarital sex, multiple partners, pornography (fornicea), homosexuality, and masturbation. It destroys God’s beautiful purpose for sex.

Pornography is not harmless but hurtful. The first one it hurts is God. Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife when she was trying to seduce him, “How could I do this thing and sin against God?” King David said, after being convicted by Nathan the prophet of his sins concerning Bathsheba, “Against God and God alone have I sinned.” We all have sinned against others and have had others sin against us, so we deserve what we get. But God deserves to be honored and revered, so any sin is firstly against Him. Secondly, we hurt our wives, our children, and ourselves. We also support an industry that supports all sorts of ungodliness, including human trafficking. One thing God used to get my attention was this question, “How would you feel if you were to open a porno magazine or watch a porno DVD and see your beloved daughter? The ladies seen in these magazines or films were somebody’s ‘baby girl’ and made in the ‘image of God.’”

God says in His word that sin is “pleasurable for a season” but it will ultimately destroy us. Sin is not bad because it’s forbidden, it’s forbidden because it’s bad.

On a personal note, I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. I wasn’t looking for porn at six years old, but it came looking for me. I wasn’t addicted immediately, but through other circumstances (I’ll blog about that at another time) I became addicted, and it was instrumental in causing my two divorces. Porn is a fantasy world—not reality. It’s staged and posed and doesn’t portray a true picture of reality. It’s generally perverse and a definite deviation of God’s plan.

Even after I gave my heart to Jesus I didn’t see pornography as a sin, because it wasn’t real—only fantasy. It’s not like I was having an affair. I didn’t understand what the word fornication meant. I didn’t read through the Bible completely until 1997, and it was probably five years later before I heard Jesus’ teaching about lust being adultery. Even then I tried to convince myself that I really had no interest in any of those women personally. And until recently, churches just didn’t address pornography until it was an epidemic in the church. Once I was convicted of my sin, I couldn’t seem to stop.

Finally, after my second wife filed for divorce, I followed the words of James 5:16—I confessed my sin and began the process of deliverance. About ten years later when I was depressed, like an alcoholic returning to the bottle to self-medicate, I started slipping back into porn.

As God would have it, a little company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, developed some material to address porn and sexual addiction. And again by the providence of God, my brother-in-law was approached by this company to come on board to help promote the product. Then he sent me the material to get my opinion. The material was called Freedom Begins Here. This material convicted me of backsliding, but more than that, it made me realize I was not alone and that there was hope. Like any addict, I always have to be on guard because pornography will always be a strong temptation, but with God’s help and materials out on the market and churches that promote transparency and seeking help with our issues, there is a future and a hope.

Jeff Fowler

Read Jeff's story here

PORN - The New Four Letter Word in the Church

Ignoring a life threatening problem that you know exists, is tantamount to a slow suicide. Yet, many churches refuse to deal with such a threat.

Sexual sin and pornography are that sickness.

Much like mold that's growing behind a wall, under a floor or in a dark basement corner, are pornography discussions in the church. They are icky and people would rather not hear about it and, want someone else to deal with it, if at all. 

In other words, it's left up to those who are willing, if any, to get their hands dirty, messy and to clean it up. 

Far too often, no one is willing.

Continue Reading >

Porn: The Intimacy Killer

There are few words that can bring men’s conversations to a grinding halt. Intimacy is one of them. Speak the word, intimate, in the setting of a man-to-man talk and hear the deafening silence.

If this conversation makes you a tad uncomfortable, that's probably a good thing. Intimacy and pornography are diametrically opposed to one another. The two are mutually exclusive. Like light and dark. They can’t occupy the same space. 

Ok, the point is this. Fact: Viewing of pornography kills the intimacy you have with your wife.  If you’re having intimate (sexual that is) outside of the bonds of marriage, you need to revisit God’s design for relationships. Marriage, then sex. 

How do I know this to be fact? My personal experience, which I’ll address shortly, and this article from Resurgence is another solid piece of evidence., Journalist Pamela Paul writes: “pornography gives men the false impression that sex and pleasure are entirely divorced from relationships.”  

The Resurgence article accurately states: “Sex becomes self serving. It becomes about your pleasure and not the self-giving, mutually reciprocating intimacy that it was designed for.”

Continue Reading >

Transparent Ministries & Freedom Begins Here

When we started Freedom Begins Here several years ago, our primary goal was to help men and women who struggled with pornography. After thousands of conversations about this subject, we discovered a much larger issue facing the Christians today. The issue of pornography is just one of many things holding us back from true intimacy with Jesus. We all have struggles--some are just easier to confess and talk about than others. So we began thinking about how to tackle this much larger issue of Christ followers not revealing who they really are.

In late 2010, we created a non-profit called Transparent Ministries. "We" is a group of people, some from Freedom Begins Here and some not, who are passionate about tackling difficult issues and seeing people live authentic lives.

Since porn is one of the most difficult issues facing the Church, Transparent Ministries decided to purchase Freedom Begins Here in October 2011. This gave us the ability to immediately begin supporting people with resources to address the issue of pornography.

One of our main goals is to provide resources that teach churches how to create safe places where people can find help without fear of condemnation.

In short, we want people to be real--real with themselves and real with others.

Transparent Ministries wants help people live in total transparency with each other, become free from their most hurtful issues, and deepen their walk with Christ so they can impact the world around them.

Our Mission is to provide resources, video content and presentations that help people address real issues that bring about true intimacy with Christ.

Transparent Ministries’ goal is to provoke discussion to address issues that the church is not talking about. We want to bring resources together for individuals, pastors, church leaders and counselors.

Men at the Cross - Hershey, Pennsylvania

"The sweetest place on earth" was home to the fifth Men at the Cross event and our fifth time to minister in a big way to the men who attended. We continue to meet and dialogue with men and women who are stepping up and getting equipped with the Freedom Begins Here material. Thank you for tackling this crisis in your own life, for guarding your family, and for challenging your church leadership to take action.

Our approach this time was a little more direct. We created a new sign that read, “PORN. We’re all dealing with it. It’s time to TALK about it.”

We have ideas for other banners too. How about, "Stopping at this booth does not make you a pervert" or "Find help 'for a friend'" or "Shhhh…it's a secret." We’d love to hear your ideas and feedback for how we can break through the silence and stigma that surrounds this whole issue. You can always reply to our emails with your comments. We read and respond to every email that comes in.

Chicago: Our Largest Event Yet

We just returned from the Ascension Convention in Chicago where 1,500 students and youth pastors assembled for one powerful weekend. Something exciting happened for us as well. This event marks the first time Rush of Fools presented Freedom Begins Here from the concert stage.

As you will hear from the video, Kevin took several minutes to talk about the crisis of pornography and sexual addiction, announced our partnership and urged leaders to meet with us the next morning at 8AM. You can see the (very low quality) video here:

We figured only a few would come that early in the morning. We were wrong. It was standing room only. People came because they understand the crisis and they’re ready to tackle this monster that is stealing innocence from our youth.

Some of the stories we heard shook us to the core yet motivate us to keep doing what we do. A woman with tears in her eyes was helping her sister who had recently discovered her husband’s addiction to porn. She had never heard about FBH until that morning. Youth leaders told us how their kids are sending hundreds of pornographic pictures back and forth using cell phones. The kids don’t see anything wrong with it. We spoke with a middle school counselor who is dealing with kids having group sex…in middle school! This is happening right here, in our schools, in our churches, in our homes. It is no longer about those people who need help for their problem. This is our problem. That is why we need everyone to join this movement with us.

Thank you so much for your support, encouragement and prayers so far. We know that the work has only begun. Please invite as many people as you can to join the Freedom Begins Here cause.

Pre-Lanuch Events - Round Two: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa

Well, we’re at it again. Last week we were in Lynchburg, Virginia. This week we will host Pre-Launch Events in Quincy, IL, Merrillville, IN, Des Moines, IA and Naperville, IL, respectively.

Why these cities you ask? Because we’re doing the Pre-Launch Events in parallel with the Rush of Fools / Newsboys concert tour. Our events will happen in the afternoon of the same day of the concert.

What is all of this about?

In partnership with Gary Smalley, we have created a series of DVD ToolKits, entitled Freedom Begins Here, that will equip churches to help people who struggle with pornography and sexual addiction. Before our nationwide release of Freedom Begins Here, we are inviting a handful of Christian leaders to this invitation-only Pre-Launch Event. On our website are the cities on the Newsboys/Rush of Fools Tour where we will be. You can meet some of the guys from Rush of Fools, hear about their passion for this cause, and learn how Freedom Begins Here can prepare your church and help you create a safe place that is ready and equipped to respond to the potential flood of responses.