From the Blog

I'm Not Hurting Anyone

Fox News recently did an article entitled, “8 Signs Your Partner Is Addicted to Porn” written by FOXSexpert, Yvonne K. Fulbright. Sexpert? Huh?! Anyway… the article reads more like “Is he cheating on me?” and less like “Is he, she, or even AM I Addicted?”

What I found most intriguing is the blog connected to the article… entry upon entry of placating a behavior that wounds. It wounds us, and the ones we love. One of the defensive responses that we hear when we breach the topic of porn and sexual addiction is that it doesn’t hurt anyone. I think anyone who has struggled with this can recall the inner voice of “reason” explaining the “coping-method” concept, the “not-a-physical-affair” argument, or even the “it-will-help-my-relationship” justification. It’s just NOT true. The pain of pornography IS real. So who does it hurt… REALLY?

Homo simul iustus et peccator :: Mercy, not condemnation

Running the Race

I Corinthians 9:24-26
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

I ran a 5K race this past Saturday. The race was small; only about 70 other runners competed. I am not a fast runner but I am a consistent runner. The small races are fun for me because I feel like I am really in the mix of the elite runners.

The sun was out and it warmed up into the 70s by the start of the race. A 5K race is just over three miles long - not a long race. By the time I reached mile two, I felt the sun on top of me and the heat coming off the pavement. About that time I turned a corner and faced a hill. As I got to the top of that hill, I made a left turn and faced another hill. All in the last mile.

Facing those hills, I was glad I had gotten enough sleep that week and have been diligent in my training. I have been running long enough to know the value of speed work and long runs. Healthy eating makes a difference as well.

When I am training I know a need to do certain things to do well (regular training, good diet) and stay away from certain things (junk food, staying up late). I have a goal in mind. I am aiming toward my goal.

It’s the same in my personal life overall. I need to do certain things (prayer, living in right relationships, times of rest) and stay away from certain things (living for the flesh to serve my own needs and desires).

In my life I want to run a race that honors the Father. The rewards will be eternal.

My Space.... a Gateway to another dimension

We all know the effect social networking has had on our culture. Everyone and their mother (literally) is now able to have an online presence... What does your presence look like? We are so naive to think that the pictures we put online are only viewed by our friends. Think about the images you're making available to the world... and to people that could potentially be struggling with an addiction to pornography that could be triggered by a "revealing image." It seems like everywhere you look there are triggers and I have a suspicion that while the majority are supposed to act as triggers, many are not.

If you have a Facebook, or Myspace, or any other online presence please take a moment and think about how you're presenting yourself. Be a light to those in dark places...

I mean, who honestly likes clicking on a link to a myspace page and then waiting 5 minutes just to see half naked pictures of some random person? All you wanted to do was see if you knew the person, right? And what's up with all those "rear shots" used in spam friend invites? There are at least 3 a day that I have to mark as spam. Sex might sell in advertising, but if you ask me, sex is killing social networking!

I am a Saint, I am a Sinner

Check all that apply… I don’t struggle with porn. I know that my pastor doesn’t struggle with it either. I really don’t know anyone who views pornography. I have a great family and a great marriage. I am a Christian. I am very blessed. I can say “yes” to some of those things. Now flip the coin.

I am struggling through this life. I can’t sit in front of a computer for more than 5 minutes. I’m unable to stay alone in a hotel room with cable TV service. I can’t even drive through that one part of town. I am so broken. I am so alone. I will never make it. Do you know this voice? All of us do (Romans 3:11-18). Even if you’re a Christian leader or pastor, all of us have stumbled. Some still bear the scars from our falls. Maybe it wasn’t sexual temptation, but we have all felt broken and alone.

The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther used the Latin phrase “Homo simul iustus et peccator” to explain the state of all believers in a new light. Man is at the same time saint and sinner. What a paradox. I am a saint and a sinner. I’m not perfect, just forgiven. PBPGINFWMY. Say it however you like, but it is the transformational power of the gospel. It is the light of hope shining into the darkness and the darkness cannot hide from it.

So what does God require ME to do about this whole porn thing? If you think you are a saint, think again about YOUR need for a Savior. If you think you are a hopeless sinner, consider YOUR Savior and the mercy He extends to all. There is a beautiful answer to that question in Micah 6:8, “Do what is fair and love kindness. Walk without pride with your God.” I can be fair and kind to those who struggle. I can humbly come before God to find freedom.

In the Light

My home fellowship group has been doing a study on the gospel of Mark this year. As I was preparing for our lesson this week, I read the section in Mark where Christ is about to go to the Cross. One of the sections of that lesson talks about how important Jesus’ sacrifice really is. We cross-referenced other verses to study the point.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (The Message)

Jesus gave everything to us in order that we might have a life that is impossible for us otherwise. The verses go on in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:3-4
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. (The Message)

Ephesians 5: 8-10
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. (The Message)

We are bombarded with so many messages and so many images from television, from movies, and from the internet. We don’t take big steps into the darkness, but instead we slide into it. Every day I need to remind myself that I need to focus on “the good, the right, the true.”

A Rude Awaking

Girl Texting
“Mr. Miranda, help me please…” I sat listening to a voicemail from a frazzled and terrified mom who had on the previous night busted her 6th grade, 11 year old daughter for looking at gay porn—both guys and girls—and for having a Myspace page. After calling the mom back and speaking with her, I shared some basic information with her concerning the addictive properties of pornography, a little about my story (I’m a recovering addict—since 1999) and some suggestions for internet safety.

She was speechless! I had to make sure that she didn’t have a coronary right there on the spot. During our talk she cycled through a bunch of different emotions: disbelief, anger, frustration, fear, terror…and then back to anger—okay, she stayed at anger and frustration for a lot of the time. Mom said “I thought I knew my little girl…I mean, you hear about this kind of stuff happening to people who are crappy parents, but me and my husband are great parents,” and they really were. But staying on top of a teenager’s ever changing cultural and moral landscape is a lot like a salmon swimming up a waterfall: if you stop for just one second you go backwards!

Once I began to delve a little further I realized that my student’s father looked at porn on a regular basis and you can fool a fool, but you can’t kid a kid. Kids know their parents habits and ultimately their character. I reminded mom that both habits and character are caught not taught and if they wanted their daughter to stop looking at porn, it was going to have to start with dad.

I also informed mom that she and her husband needed to begin really spending time with their daughter and getting to know her. Mom admitted that the family was really busy—the word she used was “fractured;” I thought that her choice of words was interesting for two reasons: 1. both she and her husband are nurses and 2. this was an accurate yet sad descriptor of individuals, families, communities and our culture as a whole: fractured, we are broken!

Mom went on to admit that when her husband came home from a hard shift, he would disappear into his “man cave” for hours at a time “playing on his computer and the internet.” Mom and daughter were left all alone to fend for themselves. Mom went on to tell the oh-so-familiar story of a lack of intimate sexual or spiritual relationship with her husband and how that lack of intimacy was mirrored in her and her husband’s relationship—or lack thereof—with their daughter. I could only assume that a large portion or possibly all of the time, this father was looking at porn. He was looking for healing, for intimacy, but it would never be found there. Speaking with the student confirmed the same story. The student told me that she rarely saw her father when he got home and when he spoke with her it was only about “safe stuff like school and my grades and stuff…never about who I am or what I like to do…or about what I can’t do.” This family was broken! How could we put the pieces back together?

Getting to Know You

In my almost 18 years of experience in dealing with teens and families as both a Christian Counselor and as a middle and high school counselor, I’ve been asked the same question by parents, teachers, youth workers and anybody who just wants to get to know teens better: “Omar, how can I get to know my teen better?” And here again was this mother asking me the same thing. She said, “Mr. Miranda, I know you told me to get to know my daughter, but how do I do it? What do I say or don’t say?”

I’ve found that if I ask 5 questions, I can usually get to know what type of issues that teen is dealing with, the friends he/she spends time with and generally open the door to what’s going on in their life. These are the questions I told that mom and dad to ask their daughter and start the long and difficult road to healing the brokenness that they were all experiencing. Here are the questions in no particular order:

1. Tell me your favorite 3 video games you have played or are playing?
2. Tell me your 3 favorite bands/songs you are listening to?
3. Tell me your 3 favorite web-sites you have frequented?
4. Tell me about 3 favorite shows you are watching on the T.V.?
5. Do you have a myspace, facebook or other social networking site (SNS) page? Can you tell me about it? Can you give me your address?

Then when you have all that information, go surfing on the internet and prepare to be amazed at how much you learn! You might also be amazed at how much closer you and your teen are. If you want to dig deeper, ask your teen these questions once a week, then follow-up with questions like: “why do you like to listen/watch this…?” Get ready for some honesty! Remember, if you don’t want to truly know the answer, don’t ask the question

YouTube and the Porn Crisis

YouTube is the 3rd most trafficked site on the web, according to Alexa Internet statistics. Everybody is using YouTube. It has revolutionized media communication just as much as the television did back in the 1950’s.

But there is a big difference between broadcast television and the user submitted content on YouTube. The difference is regulation. When TV hit the scene five decades ago, your choices were “I Love Lucy” or “Gunsmoke.” Not exactly TV-MA material, much less XXX. We all know that the FCC has a tight grip on what television networks can and cannot show on network TV. Even though most of us are quick to point out the tolerance of questionable (ok, downright scandalous) content on network TV, it pales in comparison to the increasing selection of sensual videos and pics available at our fingertips on sites like YouTube.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a professional video producer myself, I think the concept and model of YouTube is brilliant. But for those of us (might I say all of us) who have major temptation issues when we see a video titled “lonely girl in bedroom,” the amazing innovation of YouTube also presents a huge stumbling block that begins to reveal why we are facing an epidemic of pornography addiction. And even though YouTube attempts to block actual nudity, porn producers do just about everything to drive you back to their site after clicking on one of their teaser videos.

Understand that I’m not pinning the moral fallout of our society on YouTube! I’m also not blaming them alone for the crisis of pornography and sexual addiction. Just a few minutes of surfing around on sites like MySpace, Flickr, and Friendster can be like running the gauntlet of sexual temptation all while sitting in the comfy secrecy of your bedroom. These sites are full of sultry images and videos just waiting to trip us up. I know I’m not saying anything earth shattering here and you may be wondering where I’m going with this.

I mainly just want to ask a question. Is it safe to assume that all of us struggle with sexual temptation on some level? I’m not just talking about guys here. Girls, you struggle too and that’s normal. If that is a safe assumption, and we know that porn is thrown at us constantly without discretion for age or situation, how can we win the battle and find real freedom from pornography and sexual addiction?

What do I think? I think it starts with ruthless accountability. If you haven't installed accountability software already, do it now! Through our partnership with Covenant Eyes, you can download a free 30-day trial here: Download Covenant Eyes Trial