Dear reader I will forgo my usual snarky take on the latest issues for Evangelicals to talk about something involving my personal testimony–pornography–and there will be precious little snarkiness when it comes to the seriousness of porn addiction. It’s hard to even type that last word. Addiction. It’s even harder to type these words: I am an addict. But I am. Look at any of the signs of addiction and I can tell you as a porn addict I have them. Here’s a popular list for signs of alcohol addiction:
2. blaming others for one’s problems
right again. I’ve blamed my upbringing (see more below) my friends, my relationships . . . (I’ve blamed others so many times for my failures that I could be a White House Press Secretary . . . well okay a little snarky sneaked in there)
A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.
51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).
Over half of evangelical pastors admits viewing pornography last year.
Roger Charman of Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.
In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.
29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group).
57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).
And before you start bashing men for their hormones and Victoria’s Secret commercials for their adds consider that 34% of female readers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.
So given all of this, if I can help to drag this dirty little secret out from under the bed and into the light of day, I will have done something worthwhile.
I think the reason that it IS and dirty secret is that struggling with some sins is acceptable even noble by the standards of Christendom but struggling with Porn is sign that one is of low moral character and some who probably isn’t fit to included in the category of a mature Christian. Sadly the American Christian church (with notable exceptions) is a strange institution. You have to admit you are a sinner to be accepted and then you have to act you are not to stay accepted. I am a mature Christian and I struggle with lust and pornography the way other people struggle with gossiping, lying, or pride.
I have had to call my wife on my cell from the video store to keep from feeding my addiction. And I’ve failed to call her. I’ve had to drive around town till midnight when my wife was out of town to keep from feeding my addiction and I’ve driven home early. I’ve refused to turn on the TV in a hotel room and I’ve sat through the most inane HBO sports programming in a Howard Johnson in hopes of catching an R rated movie. No I won’t tell you how often or when was the last time I fed my addiction. That’s between my sponsor and me. I will tell you that I am accountable to several men who are on my speed dial, and I don’t often get to the point of sinning without calling them first. What I will also tell you is that I am just like the person sitting next to you at church with his head in his hands pouring his heart out to God.
My first exposure to porn was when I was about 7 years old. My mother and father were divorced and I was visiting my dad. He didn’t hide his porn very well. In fact it was in a pile of magazines by the sofa. He was out for some reason and the rest is history. Essentially, that first encounter was like dynamite in my brain and it has been exploding off and on for 32 years.
Dynamite is volatile and destructive. It can sit dormant for years without going off and then one bump and BOOM. Some people may say that porn doesn’t bother them. Some people can look at their dad’s Playboy collection and it never really affects them. The dynamite doesn’t explode in their brain. Fine those people. won’t end up porn addicts. But really why would you expose yourself periodically to the danger of volatile explosives if you didn’t have to?
My son shouldn’t have to worry about daddy storing explosives in the house that he could accidentally ignite and, by God’s grace he won’t have to worry about porn in our house either. But that’s today and any addict will tell you its “one day at a time” I certainly would appreciate your prayers for me and every other addict out there and if you are looking for a place to go on the internet instead of trolling for porn please check out Samson society for other Christian men who are dealing with Porn and other addictions. (Sadly I do not know of a parallel site for women).
It is very encouraging to read this post, not because of your struggles, but because you are doing what so many need to do, which is get out of the hellish isolation brought on by fear, and just be real about yourself and what you are up against. Thank you so much for sharing. You probably second guessed yourself many times after publishing this, and if you have, please don’t. You did the right thing, not only for you, but for others who will read this. It took courage to say what you said, and I pray that courage pays off. I pray that it will be an encouragement to other men and women to come out of their own isolation, whatever that isolation is caused by, in order to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles all of us.
I think the church has a tendency to say that males and females are different in this area because males are stimulated by sight (and I forget what they say is supposed to stimulate women). That has not been my experience. What a shock it was for me to see such prurient interest in the vast majority of my classmates in college. I wish the church would wake up to the fact that male or female, we are all human – and have the same temptations regardless of sex.