It’s Day 3 of the Set Free Summit, and the theme is hope. Our presenters empowered us with practical tips, tools and approaches to help those affected by pornography. Whether we’re working with a woman who struggles, a betrayed wife, a parent trying to talk to their children about sexual temptation or a mentor trying to reach millennials, everyone needs hope that it’s truly possible to be set free.
Session 11: More Than Fantasy–Reaching Female Porn Users
Jessica Harris, founder of Beggar’s Daughter, shared that 13% of Christian women say they never watch pornography, according to a Barna study. Many church leaders shy away from addressing the issue among women in order to “not cause problems or issues.” Harris read a letter from a 14-year-old girl who had been looking at pornography since she was 11. She said this is just one of the many examples of people struggling that we mostly choose to ignore.
Pornography is sneaking up on us while we are fighting other battles. It robs us of our sense of worth. We need to find those who are struggling and stop ignoring the issue’s existence among women.
Harris says if a woman confesses she struggles with porn, it will likely be the last time she starts that conversation. If it’s ignored or not acted on, she will be crushed. We need to seek people out and start the conversation. It allows people to be themselves and lets them know you truly care and want to help.
- Women struggle with more than just romance novels.
- Talk to your sons and daughters about pornography.
- Invite girls and women to a confidential help session. You may be surprised by how many people attend.
Question: What’s the first step to helping someone?
Answer: Freedom is not about breaking free from pornography. It’s about finding Jesus. You need to teach others how much Jesus loves them and how much He wants to give them something better. Prepare women to counsel other women.
Session 12: Fantasy Island
Kenny Luck, pastor and author, explained how similar to an oil spill, skimming the surface to clean up the mess is a reaction, not a solution. If we don’t get to the source, we don’t get to the reality of it. Porn users often consume it to escape reality, but God uses reality to conform us to the image of His Son. Like the boy born blind, Jesus says the boy’s blindness is not because of the boy’s sin or his parents’ sin, but rather a way to show the glory of God.
There’s a movement for young men to disengage from reality and binge on video games and porn. Luck challenges them to grow up and realize the person God made them to be.
- My reality is God’s glory, whether it’s good or uncomfortable.
- My reality is the way to my maturity.
- I must see my reality as a way to solidify my identity.
Question: It there much difference between a porn addiction and being addicted to something like video games, TV shows, etc.?
Answer: The problem with both is the person is focusing on themselves. Their behavior shuts other people out. You can’t have a successful relationship with anybody by focusing on yourself.
Session 13: Healing a Wife’s Wounded Heart
When a husband is addicted to pornography, his wife often bears the fallout of his choices, leaving her shattered, betrayed, and alone. Vicki Tiede exposed a few of the top myths concerning porn’s impact on marriages.
Myth 1: Porn is a victimless choice.
Reality: Not only does it hurt the guy, it hurts the wife and children. It also drives the demand for sex trafficking. Acting on porn addiction is betrayal and adultery, a sexual act outside of marriage.
Myth 2: The marriage will be restored automatically.
Reality: It’s so much more complicated than that. The wife’s healing is critical. She is dealing with the daily fallout of his choices. Giving both partners a study guide does not mean they will figure things out. Silence and burying their feelings only makes the problem worse.
Myth 3: A man won’t turn to porn if his wife is fulfilling his needs.
Reality: Her husband’s decision to look at porn has nothing to do with her physical appearance or sexual performance. It’s not her fault. We bear responsibilities for our own actions.
Myth 4: If a man stops his porn habit, his wife will automatically be over the havoc.
Reality: There are still feelings of hurt and distrust. Forgiving and trusting are not the same thing.
- When people are grieving, let them grieve.
- There is no such thing as a perfect wife before or after a husband’s porn use.
- The wife’s choices will either help or hurt their relationship.
Question: How much disclosure should a husband give to his wife about his pornographic actions?
Answer: It’s best for the man to admit it to her rather than be caught. The wife will likely be traumatized. Give her time to process the information and allow her to control how much she wants to hear at a given time.
Session 14: The Power of Accountability
The best solution for porn addiction, other than Jesus Christ, is accountability. Why is it that Ron DeHaas, founder and CEO of Covenant Eyes, has a passion for proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ and accountability?
After he tragically lost his wife and two children in an auto accident in 1992, Ron remarried and was blessed with a second family. The loss of his first family made him value the protection of family all the more.
“I saw the dangers of the Internet and how available porn was,” said Ron, “and I was not about to lose another family to this thing: pornography.”
“I thought about getting a filter, but they underblock and overblock. Filters encourage sneaking around and give parents a false sense of security. Rather than legalistically blocking the sites, I wanted to train them on the disciplined use of the Internet,” he said. “I wanted accountability.”
Accountable families–those who have used Covenant Eyes for at least five years–were included in the recent Barna study, The Porn Phenomenon. According to the study, accountable families that take the spiritual formation of their families seriously are successful in passing on their values from one generation to the next. Here are a few other takeaways from the study:
- Teens and young adults believe lying, stealing, and not recycling are more immoral than pornography.
- Language is important. We need to let people know that pornography is synonymous with sex trafficking.
- Covenant Eyes families have a dramatically different view of what qualifies as pornography, what sex acts are immoral, and whether or not porn harms society.
- Covenant Eyes families are far less likely to seek out porn than those who use filters.
Accountability is always the best way to deal with sin. Always. Software alone is not the solution. Good parenting and the Church are the solutions. The key ingredient is YOU. You are the ultimate solution.
Session 15: Parenting in a Dirty World
Dr. Doug Weiss and Donna Rice Hughes helped prepare attendees for the next time parents come asking for advice about what to do now that their child has seen pornography.
If Satan can seduce you, he can reduce you. He’s after our children’s brains. Sexual sin attaches people to things, making it different from any other sin (1 Cor. 6:18). Weiss explained how shame can paralyze the way you think about things. Satan wants to get involved in our kids’ development to destroy them with shame.
- The enemy is a coward. He doesn’t wait until you’re old enough to fight. He attacks young people.
- Parents play a huge role in their child’s sexual education, whether good or bad.
- The power of God in you scares the enemy. Satan wants to limit your effectiveness any way he can.
Children are much more computer-literate than their parents and can view porn in an instant. Hughes stated those images cannot be unseen or forgotten.
- Parents are having to shoulder the entire burden of protecting their children.
- Most parents are either in denial of Internet pornography’s impact or they remove the Internet completely from their home.
- No one is immune to pornography.
Question: What do you do about Snapchat?
Answer: Any of these apps can be used for good or evil, just like the Internet. Parents should do their homework on apps before allowing their children to use them. Even good-looking apps can have a browser attached that can be used to access pornography.
Session 16: Talking to Students
Children in their teens and early twenties live in a culture that has accepted pornography as a normal part of life, so how do we help these young adults turn toward wholesome sexuality? Clay Olsen, Michael Leahy, and Dr. Sean McDowell share a few main thoughts:
Millennials are motivated by activism and social change more than money, said Olsen. They trust science. Fortunately, science has caught up with truth on pornography. College students across the country are changing people’s perceptions on pornography. They’re spreading the message that #PornKillsLove.
Leahy’s research shows that students on college campuses will stop watching porn if there is accountability, zero-tolerance in the workplace, or if they have to pay for it.
The secret to success is discipleship, not a single conversation. Students want authenticity. McDowell expressed that a mentor’s greatest gift is the love he or she gives to those they are mentoring. It’s authentic love that helps address a person’s deep-rooted relational issues and truly sets us free. If our relational needs aren’t met by our family and friends, we look for counterfeits, which includes pornography.
- Millennials react better to a positive message. Rather than “don’t watch porn,” we should be telling people “fight for love.”
- Have consistent conversations with your children about sexual purity.
- We are relational beings. We were made to know and love God and people.
Question: Is it okay for a man and a woman to watch pornography with each other?
Answer: Pornography has damaging consequences to a relationship. God intended for sex to be between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship. It does not improve relationships.
Session 17: The Spiritual Aspect of Pornography
Pastor Bernie Anderson shared his story of porn addiction, the devastation it brought to his marriage, and how he found recovery and healing by God’s grace.
He stressed that pornography destroys integrity, causes men to live a double life, and breaks you apart inside. Here are several lessons he learned while recovering from his porn addiction:
- Women are wired for intimacy. The betrayal is profound when they find out their husbands have been living a double life.
- God’s restoration and healing brings a man and a woman together.
- If you struggle with porn, take courage and start to talk about it. Please understand your wife is broken and hurting.
- I tell my daughters that they don’t find their dignity in the hands that want to touch them, but from the hands of the Almighty God who created them.
- I don’t care what you think of me. There is a God up above who thinks I’m pretty doggone special, and that’s enough for me.
Session 18: A Biblical View of Sexuality
Pastor Jacob Aranza shared why marriage is under attack. If you don’t understand the purpose of something, you abuse it. God instituted marriage and family, and if you want to see what God wants to use, see what the devil tries to redefine and ruin.
Today’s sexual immorality results from a progression through four stages:
- Stage 1: Certain things are right and wrong because the Bible says so–Biblical morality.
- Stage 2: Certain things are right and wrong because society says so.
- Stage 3: Certain things are right and wrong, but I don’t care.
- Stage 4: There’s no such thing as right or wrong, and you’re narrow minded and hateful if you think so.
Pastor Aranza also stressed that God made sex good and for us to enjoy, but human beings can never satisfy us like God. God gives us boundaries around sex because He wants to protect and provide for us. The mission of the modern church is to rescue sex.
- Putting a divine expectation on another man will always disappoint.
- God wants to define man, now sex defines man.
- Survey after survey reveals that the most satisfying sex is found among religious people.
Children will imitate what they see at home. As Pastor Aranza expressed, the strongest antidote to the lies of pornography is a husband and wife that love each other. “There is no substitute for a mama and a daddy who love Jesus with all their heart.”
What about you? What did you learn? How will this change how you do ministry? Let us know in the comments.