Newsletter Archive Home
Blazing Grace Newsletter, December 2006
* Voices from the Church
* New Crosswalk Article: Getting to the Roots of the Porn Epidemic
* Surviving Christmas
* The Blazing Grace Radio Show
* The Numbers
* Upcoming Radio Interviews
* You Know Porn is Mainstream When…
* Final Words
Voices from the Church
The main article of this month’s newsletter is composed of essays from eight men and women. Their words describe what the church really looks like under the hood; through their stories we’ll hear the cries of pain caused by the epidemic of sexual sin in the church—and witness the incredible hope found in Jesus Christ.
A Pastor’s Wife, Porn and Pain, by Patsy
My Story, by Bil
Sitting with Someone in Pain, by Robin
From Shame to Grace, by Dave
An Open Letter to Pastors, Board Members, and Church Members, by One Wife
Rachel’s Story, by Rachel
One Pastor’s Journey to Grace, by Tom Pedigo
The Dog in the Fight, by Shelley Lubben
A Pastor’s Wife, Porn and Pain
I am so grateful for Blazing Grace and the wonderful ministry that God has entrusted to Mike. In our society where sexual material is so easily accessible, basically through the Internet, there is a great void in the church for the ministry and healing that is necessary to bring both men and women out of this bondage. Unfortunately the church as a whole has closed its eyes to these problems because they don’t know how to deal with this epidemic.
I am so proud to be a part of the ministry and very grateful for the opportunity to help other women who are struggling with sexual issues and/or have spouses who are struggling with, as Mike puts it, “Satan’s silent sin.”
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this was something I would have to deal with in my marriage. My husband and I were High School sweethearts and married in l965. During the first 18 years of our marriage we were separated numerous times because of adulterous affairs.
My husband’s parents divorced when he was eight. He didn’t have a relationship with his father until after he became a Christian in l983 and his father died shortly thereafter. His mother was married 4 times and became an alcoholic. During those first l8 years I knew that the hatred that he had for his mother and the lack of a male role model were a portion of the reasons for his infidelity.
We were getting a divorce in l983 because of an adulterous affair when he miraculously became a Christian. Two years later he was ordained a Pastor. We had a ministry to families for three years at the church that we attended. Shortly after leaving our church he wanted to start a church, which we did for six years. Then we began to have home Bible studies. He started to pull away from the things of God. He stopped praying and reading his Bible and was spending a great deal of time on the computer.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “He is having cyber sex.” I asked my husband and of course he denied it. We were sharing a computer and I began to find porn sites in his favorites. I confronted him again and he told me that he didn’t know how they got there. Eventually, he admitted that they were his.
Several times I tried to talk with him about the problem, which was greater than I knew at that time. He began to blame me for his involvement in porn. “If only my parents had taught me how to have a relationship with a man,” and it went on and on. It was all my fault and each time that I tried to talk with him his blaming me became more intense. He made the comment many times that I wasn’t going to control him.
He had to go out of town for a few days and I found a secret email account and the password. I checked for hidden files and literally researched the things on the computer for a day and a night. I found 22,238 pictures, 75 porn sites, and 1359 emails from women. He was on a number of dating sites using a fake name and fake pictures of other men. So many emotions flooded my soul. I felt humiliated, betrayed, inadequate, and somehow I had failed as a wife and woman. The thoughts that ran though my mind were “if only I had done this, or done that” “He was right, this must have been my fault.” I was devastated, sick at my stomach, and wanted to die. I thought, “this doesn’t happen to Christians and certainly a man that is a Pastor wouldn’t be involved in this.”
He called me the second night that he was out of town and I told him what I had found. His answer to me, “It’s just a game that I play.” I tried to tell him how it made me feel but he didn’t care. He informed me that what he did on the computer was his business and none of mine. That day my 41 year marriage fell apart and so did I.
In May of this year he moved out. He just kept saying, “If only you had left the computer alone, it was just a game.” The game became a reality. He is currently in another state living with a woman that he met on the net.
After he left I lost 30 pounds because I couldn’t eat. I began, unconsciously, to become obsessed with the way that I looked. Dressing in a more provocative way than I ever had before. I was looking for someone to pay attention to me and tell me that I was ok as a woman. During this time God spoke to my heart and told me that I was a married woman and that He expected me to act as such. When there were temptations to sin I would remember what God said and that has kept me from making terrible mistakes.
God began to do a deep healing in my heart. He showed me that I still had not fully forgiven my husband for the affairs that he had before we became Christians. I have learned to forgive every minute when I have a thought about what has happened. I have prayed earnestly for my husband and the woman that he lives with. My prayer for my husband is not that our marriage be restored but that he be restored to His heavenly Father.
Jesus has become so real to me as the God Who heals the broken hearted. He bore my sorrow and my grief and He has poured His healing oil into every wound, bruise and scar.
Finally, I have come to the point of seeing who I am in Him and that brought a liberty and freedom from all the negative feelings that I was having about myself. Finally, I can see myself the way that He sees me.
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If God had asked me if I wanted to walk this road, I certainly would have declined. But, God has worked it all together for my good and I have been forever changed because of His grace, mercy, and healing.
One of my favorite sayings is, “If He will do it for me He will do it for you.” In Him there is everything that we need to walk through any circumstance and situation and come out the victor. He is able to heal broken hearts and deliver His people from the bondage of sexual addictions.
Thank God for the men and women that He is raising up to expose “Satan’s silent sin,”
I don’t really know when it began. Or even why.
I was brought up in a wonderful Christian home with two parents who fully imparted God’s love to me, and was nurtured in the faith by an excellent Bible-believing church. I came to know and love Jesus in a very authentic relationship in early childhood.
I didn’t struggle with most of the temptations urban teenagers encounter: drugs, alcohol, cheating at school, fighting, stealing. I had a superego the size of a Wal-Mart. Yet, sexual fantasy was a challenge for me, a source of incredible guilt and torment. Fortunately, through high school, I had limited exposure to explicit material.
But in college, that changed. I was living with non-Christian roommates and in an environment where pornography was pervasive, I found myself drawn to it, at first when no one was looking so as not to ruin my witness. By senior year, I gave up pretending and convinced myself that looking at porn was not sinful. This wasn’t by some theological revelation; it was because I got tired of having to constantly confess when I fell.
I got married two years after I graduated. By now, I’d renounced my attempts to make pornography use morally acceptable. I was sure that marriage would solve the problem of what was now my full-fledged addiction. It didn’t. No problem like an addiction gets solved by marriage. It made things worse.
Things deteriorated over the years. As technology changed and my resistance diminished, I found that behaviors I’d previously deemed unthinkable became normalized. All this while being deeply conflicted, ashamed, and terrified of being discovered. In my journal, I wrote:
This is heavy.
Something unnatural, and way beyond my control is driving me on a futile search for more and more.
I love You, Lord; no other sin do I routinely commit in deliberate, premeditated fashion, not wanting to hurt you, but unable to stop.... Why?
I’m operating on two levels now. On one hand, I’m a deliberate, rebellious sinner, bent on a consuming lust, casting aside all concerns of godliness.
But then, I’m a man of God, desperately desiring to do what is right.
Do not utterly forsake me!”
October 1, 1986
Many a day, I’d wake up not wondering if I’d yield to temptation, but wondering how bad it would be. For several months at a time, I would stop taking communion, knowing that the next day, I’d probably be back at it again.
Even though at times I shared aspects of my struggle (including going to counseling), no one, including myself, understood and realized the extent to which this sin-sickness was consuming my soul. But in 1991, I became desperate; I saw clearly that I was being destroyed and was no longer able to hide my secret life. I disclosed all to my wife, parents, selected friends. For the next few months, I tried to change my life through counseling and accountability relationships.
However, I did not really understand how deeply embedded the addiction was in my soul, nor did I or those around me have a clue about the recovery process. And, in retrospect, I never really stopped addictive behavior. While I’d cut off the worst forms of acting out, there were many “minor” concessions I was continuing to make to lust. Soon, I was in full relapse. And too frightened, proud, and self-deceived to admit it.
One summer morning in 1995, my wife confronted me after I’d stayed up all night surfing online for pornography. In many ways, my life ended that morning. In an instant, I went from being a superstar in my community, the ideal husband and father, an admired leader in the church, even the model recovering addict, to being a moral failure, a visual adulterer, a liar, a porno junkie.
As I confessed and came to realize how low I’d gone, as I saw the unspeakable pain these admissions caused my wife, as I bore the humiliation of church discipline (I was a leader and employee of my church), as I tallied the amount of money I’d spent and the time I’d wasted, as I was confronted with my moral bankruptcy, I began to question the ability of God’s love to extend to me. I understood grace, unconditional compassion, mercy beyond understanding; but I started to wonder if I was the exception clause, the one that God had abandoned. I wondered if my family, my community would be better off without me and even considered suicide, though for the sake of my children, I did not dwell on this for long.
Fortunately, my story doesn’t end here. Truly, with the psalmist, I can say:
“I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” Ps. 86: 12-13 (KJV)
In the darkest night of my soul, I began a new life. And for the past eleven years, I’ve been involved in a journey of recovery, transformation, and restoration. And I can say that today I walk in freedom and victory.
God has used many tools to accomplish this including deep friendships that involve much more than just reporting my failures, periods of counseling with a therapist who really understands addiction, intense involvement with a 12-step group, the discipline of routine self-reflection, and the ministry of helping others who have struggled like me. And in this journey, I’ve had some amazing experiences and witnessed unchallengeable evidences of God’s grace and power.
Without question, the most miraculous sign of God’s favor has been in the ongoing restoration of my relationship with my wife. I will never fully grasp the depth of pain I caused her, the degree to which I betrayed her trust and shredded her self-esteem. Our former pastor described the impact of my addiction on my wife as like that of a Mac truck driving though a beautiful stained-glass window.
My actions ruined our marriage beyond repair. God has given my wife the amazing grace, the inexplicable capacity to forgive, so that we could work together to build a new marriage. I can never again question God’s love, for each morning I wake up next to a beautiful godly woman whose love I don’t deserve.
So, where am I now? I am free and I am being freed.
Free, in that I no longer worry about how bad it will be. Situations, environments, opportunities, emotions that would have led me to sin no longer do. I really can say “no”. Free, because I have developed a lifestyle of rigorous honesty, routine accountability, and behavioral safeguards, knowing that I am still vulnerable to temptation and self-deception.
And being freed. I am not perfect. I’m not what I used to be, but I ain’t what I’m gonna be. God continues to point out ways that I concede to my sinful nature (lust-based and otherwise). And I continue to heal from the patterns of thinking and relating to others that my years in addiction taught me.
When my life had fallen apart eleven years ago, I didn’t know if there was any hope for someone like me. But now I know that “… the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). God has saved me. God has heard me. God has restored my life.
Sitting with Someone in Pain
For a little over a year now, I have been reaching out to women who are dealing with the pain of betrayal that accompanies their spouse’s problems with pornography. It never seems to grow easier, only more difficult. I remember hearing a message at church once about “sitting with someone in their pain” as they walked through a dark time. Not giving advice or solutions, but simply being there, absorbing the shock and devastation with them. When I first heard this message I was neither trained by my educational background or my walk with God for this call to walk alongside a hurting brother or sister. However, God knew before the beginning of time that I would need to be ready for “such a time as this”. Even now I realize that message was a divine appointment in my own life.
About four years ago, God called me out of a fulltime career in teaching with the public schools. He planted inside of me a burning desire to really know His Word and a passion to share it with others. I retired from my position and went back to school at age 50 to answer that call. God opened the doors for me to attend a local Christian University where I was able to obtain degrees for ministry. One of the degrees was in Theology, the other in Christian Counseling. God didn’t waste any time in using the study of His Word to begin a healing work in my own heart. The atmosphere of this school was that of a family and the pastor who taught my classes provided a safe place for me to talk about the pain of my own life and how God’s Word could bring healing. God saw not only my future but that of other women who would need the healing balm of His Word applied to their hearts. But first, there was my own pain…..
While I was involved in getting new degrees and being built up in my spirit, the enemy of my soul continued to chip away systematically at my heart to bring destruction. There was a hidden and secret sin in my own house that brought darkness and deception within the walls of my home every day. Because the spirit of God lives within me, I sensed something was terribly wrong in my marriage. I often tried to voice my concerns to my husband but the enemy would silence me by speaking words of anger and blame through my own husband. I now see how tightly woven the tentacles of the enemy are wrapped around BOTH the husband and wife when pornography has invaded a household. I often wonder what would have happened had I not spent the hours upon hours praying over my marriage and weeping before God for His help.
The enemy of our souls has crafted a plan to destroy men, women, and children with sexual sin. It begins the day we are born. Satan knows that God has a plan for each of our lives. The Bible says that sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies. When we fall into sexual sin or are violated by sexual sin as a child, we are carried away by Self Hatred. We find our bodies, souls and spirits have been defiled by our own fleshly desires or that of someone else. The Bible speaks of defilement in Matthew 15:11-20 and Mark 1:23-24. What is in the spirit of others can defile us. The marriage bed that is meant to be “undefiled” is defiled by sexual sin and lusts of the flesh.
My own sexual betrayal came early in life, as a child, and continued to build in intensity as I grew into a young woman. The pure heart that God had given me at birth was now swallowed up in the shame and guilt of sexual sin. I have only recently come to understand that my betrayal, and the sin perpetrated against me as a child, left me with an inability to have intimacy with others. Herein lies the greatest tactic of the enemy. God’s plan is that one woman and one man united together in marriage would be a model of Christ’s love for the church. Satan uses the self hatred, deception, shame and guilt associated with sexual sin to bring defilement to the marriage bed before the marriage begins. Pain is already present in both hearts before the vows are even spoken. And Satan has managed to put a seal on our lips, keeping the secret sins of our heart under wraps waiting for another season to unleash the surprise of betrayal on our already wounded spirits.
Recently, I “sat with someone in their pain”, the pain of betrayal and destruction of trust. This was a marriage that had produced both children and grandchildren. I physically felt the heaviness of this woman’s heart as she wept sorrowfully. For many like her, the holidays will be wrought with pain and anguish of heart and soul as they continue to “keep the secret”. At Christmas, what child wants to hear the words, “your father has been viewing pornography”? What mother wants to look on the man she loves and see the vacant, empty, hollow creature he is becoming at the hands of the enemy’s design? And what man really seeks to disappoint those he was called to lead and protect?
Just as the enemy sought to destroy Jesus at his birth, the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy the life and purpose of each person God has created. He has systematically worked to bring our society to the place we now find ourselves in history. Pornography has provided an avenue for sexual sin to abound all over the world. Satan, “the thief”, has not come to steal your Christmas gifts, or destroy your perfectly decorated house. He has come to kill every bit of life that resides in your house. But God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the enemy and to give us life. The Bible calls it the abundant life.
God has called me to sit with women in their pain, because I have experienced the same loss of hope and fears for the future. I have felt the helplessness and lack of control over addiction. In God’s Word , II Corinthians 1:3-4, it says “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” How am I able to continue to relive the pain of my own encounter with pornography and sexual betrayal? By allowing My Savior, Jesus, to “sit with me in my pain” and walk with me through the very valley of the shadow of death as my hopes and dreams were sacrificed on the altar for His purpose in my life. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and His power to redeem that which is lost.
God’s purpose in sending His son Jesus is the redemption of all mankind. What does redemption look like to me? I remember a broken thirty six year old man, walking down the aisle of a small Baptist church when I was thirteen years old. I watched as my own father decided to give up his sin and trust in Jesus. The very power of God raised my own father from the grips of addiction. I know His power is still available to those who make a choice to cry out to Him in repentance and receive the work HE has already done on the cross. I am praying that all who read this will find the strength to reach out to Him and find healing for their own families this Christmas.
From Shame to Grace
"While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's
actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person."
From Facing Shame, by Fossum and Mason
Shame is a powerful motivator to change one’s actions, attitudes and the way we look at things. Coupled with guilt, shame is God’s given emotion for us to feel bad enough about our actions that we are motivated to change; unless you are a sexual addict. Shame in the mind and soul of a sexual addict means isolation, and isolation for the addict means death! We look at people around us: at work, in the market place and especially at church, and we are convinced no one else could possibly be suffering what we are. No one here in the pews with me could be so filthy, so unworthy, so alone. How could God love such a dirty person let alone use me to further the glory of his kingdom?
And this is just what the enemy wants us - the sexual addicts - to think. Yes we felt guilty, every time we acted out. Yes, we declared 100, no 1000 times never to do IT (name you sexual vice) again. Yet we kept failing over and over again turning reoccurring guilt into constant shame.
With the shame came deeper and deeper isolation. Satan got what he wanted - another man or woman who might possibly witness to others, share God’s love and grace with others, and increase the number of the faithful – now isolated and an ineffective member of Christ’s church.
Yet the situation does not need to be this way. The numbers speak for themselves. Over half the men sitting in the pews with you every weekend are struggling with sexual sin. The number of women struggling with sexual addiction issues is on the rise and may soon be as big a hindrance to the effectiveness of the body of Christ as that of the men. Satan lied again; we are not alone after all. Many men and woman share the same shame and burden as we do. Christ was right! Satan was and continues to be the father of all lies.
We have discovered the truth, but what can we do to rid ourselves of the burden of shame and the never ending lusts of our flesh that drives us into our addictive behavior? Fortunately we can do absolutely nothing. You may ask, “why fortunately?” - because we can not do this by ourselves. We must break our isolation and seek help, help that does not come in the form of support groups, books or the even in pews. While these are essential for our growth and accountability, true and lasting help comes from the only One who loves us unconditionally. One whose grace abounds beyond anything we can even imagine. One who never rejects us and can fulfill our every spiritual need.
Jesus Christ is this one! Once we confess our brokenness and total inability to defeat the lusts and desires of our flesh and the resulting addictive behavior, we can then break free of our isolation. We can begin to travel the narrow road to recovery. Foremost, we have to submit to Christ and realize He “is sufficient for even me”. For me it meant no longer drawing a “line in the sand” declaring I would not act out or harbor lust in my heart. Remember, I had done that 1000 times before and failed.
Submitting to Christ meant just that. I would give my life over to him. He would be the boss; He would be in control. I would now live for Christ – no one else. I realized this was faith before works in action. I could do nothing unless I believed. Again, Christ was right! Then something happened in my life. Very slowly but noticeably I began to realize I could survive without my addictive behavior. I no longer felt alone. I open my heart to others, fellow addicts and especially my family. However, I did not do this for them – it was never motivation enough to stop in the past. This time I was doing IT for Christ. For the first time in 34 years I started to feel a part of the body of Christ. My self-served sentence of isolation began to fade. I saw Satan’s accusations and condemnations for what they were – lies. I began to experience more victories than defeats.
Fast Food Solution – Not Offered on the Menu, but Hope is
Did this happen overnight? No! My addiction formed over the span of decades. Consequently, my behavior certainly would not change in the matter of days or months. Do I still feel the pull of the desires of my flesh? I most certainly do. However, I now know how to surrender it to an all loving God. Does the appearance of a pretty woman still catch my eye? Of course it does. But now instead of conjuring up fantasies, fueling the flesh’s lust and eventually acting out later to the thoughts of her or a million other possible visions, I now ask the Lord to bless her life, look away, and move on. Am I able to do this every time? No! The flesh is powerful and its desires will probably be with me until I meet my Lord and Savior in the sky. However, I no longer feel the shame and isolation I once did. I now confess my sin to Christ, my accountability partner, and my brothers in my support group. Shame has turned to humility and humility glorifies the Lord.
While the power of lust has not been totally broken in my life, Christ has broken the cycle of shame and isolation. I now seek out Christ first and then other Christians. I no longer give credibility to Satan’s lies. I share my feelings and emotions. Additionally, I have begun searching out the root causes of my addictive behavior and discovered I have used acting out as a form of self medication for anxiety, stress, rejection and loneliness since I was a teenager.
I have found hope at last in the blood of Christ and the fellowship of other believers. I now seek them when feeling anxious or stressed. I now know Christ will never reject me and always loves me. Does hope exist for you? Again, I say yes! Hope, faith, and love abound in Jesus Christ, who died for all of our sins. Will the thorn in your flesh remain? Yes, I believe it will. But think of the glory this brings to the Lord if every time you feel the temptations of the flesh you humbly turn to him and then glorify Him by surrendering IT to him and testifying of his boundless grace to others. Just remember – you cannot do it! It is impossible on your own…but Christ can and will remain faithful. Submit to him and begin to walk the narrow path to freedom.
An Open Letter to Pastors, Board Members, and Church Members:
By One Wife
Look around you any Sunday morning; you might be surprised to see who is sitting in your sanctuary. Statistics are grim, but they tell us up to 50% (possibly more) of the men in your churches are viewing pornography on a regular basis. Statistics tell us up to 50% (possibly more) of the men in your churches are by default involved in sexual immorality or adultery. There are victims, innocent bystanders, being harmed by the actions of others. I could be any woman in your church, any woman that sits next to you during worship, any woman that attends one of your small groups.
I can put on such a good mask, you might not even know I exist as I do. What are you to do with me?
First, know that I'm here. If you are a church member that is fortunate enough to have a wonderful, Rockwell-style marriage built on all the bedrocks of salvation and scripture, thank your Creator. Look around you sometime. If it isn't you, it's someone else.
I might be the woman that stumbles through the doors just in time for services to start. There isn't much socializing coming from me. I probably tend to keep to myself, whether or not I'm with my husband. After all, I live in relative isolation with my marital secrets, and making friends isn't very easy when I constantly weigh my words and adjust my smiling Mardi Gras mask. I consider myself lucky some days to make an effort to do something (anything) with my hair and put on a little makeup. I'll probably be the woman the other women think, "If she would just do something!" Chances are, I'm doing all I can at that moment.
Second, don't think I'm not taking it all in at any given moment. I may be the one who appears to be on another planet during your worship services. I may be the one who appears to have zoned out during the message. I'm taking it all in, more than you may ever know. Ever watch a dry sponge suck up the water around it? I'm the sponge today. I am busy sucking up all the glorious worship I can hold. I am soaking up the words of the message like I may never hear another one again.
Third, please don't preach messages on cheap grace. Grace justifies the sinner, not the sin. I've had my fill of preachers who shrug their shoulders and say "what he does outside of church isn't my problem". It IS your problem. It is your problem when men are sitting in your church and bringing their Jezebel idolatry issues in the door with them. God cannot and will not bless a church that is knowingly contributing to this epidemic of sin by turning their heads the other way. It is your problem when women are sitting in your pews, under your guidance, and being told it's "not your problem" when their husbands are destroying every last bit of string that is holding their marriages together. We all suffer when we refuse to speak out about issues that are tearing the fabric of the church to shreds. Preach to us about ways to keep our anger in check so we don't sin as well. Preach to us about the pitfalls of allowing bitterness to invade the recesses of our hearts. We may become indignant, but we truly need to hear it. We need the warnings you can give us about what can happen to the state of our hearts if we do nothing but replay our own problems over and over in our minds.
Fourth, offer some ways for us to socialize. A healthy living class would be great. Remind us we need to sleep well, we need to eat healthy food, and we need some form of exercise. Start a crafting circle in your church. Busy hands keep our busy minds focused on something besides the sorry states of our marriage. Bible study groups are great, but sometimes something different is a nice change of pace. When we're mad and overwhelmed, every scripture we hear is an "aha" moment. Usually directed towards the person who is wronging us, giving us even more righteous fuel for the fire. We need normal conversation. Support groups are great, but after a while, it becomes redundant. We crave listening to "normal" women discuss "normal" lives. Let us sit in a room and just listen and enjoy.
Fifth, give us the space to determine if we can tolerate the marriage or if we must go. Sometimes people cannot understand a woman's decision to stay with an adulterer. For me, it's been the simple voice of God speaking to my heart: "Don't go, peace, be still." I may not be winning any contests, but I daily strive to run the race set before me. Sometimes, you have to stay and try to show someone, with deeds and kinds words, what it looks like to stop trampling in the blood at the foot of the cross. Please be supportive of my decision to stay in this and see it to what I pray is a godly conclusion.
Church members who are silently suffering, months ago, I would have boldly said "you should go" or "you should say". I can no longer do that. I can pray for you, and point you to scriptures that speak of grace and mercy ... and suffering. I am learning that while suffering isn't my strong suit, it is teaching me more than I ever dreamed possible. Don't forget there are really three people in a marriage convenant ... you, your spouse, and God. God does not break his covenants. He is still very much there with you, every step of the way. I get much comfort from the story of the Prodigal Son. He went, and did his thing. His father didn't chase after him. He just stayed right where he was, continuing with his life. He waited for his son to return to him a changed man. Take care of yourself, eat right, eat healthy, get some exercise. Put one foot in front of the other and keep on with your daily life. With prayers, with hope, and with love, we will all have our husbands return home a changed man.
When I discovered my husband’s pornography use and lying, I was devastated. I feared the marriage I thought would be so great would end in divorce. I was embarrassed, and hurt, but due to the shameful nature of the problem, felt I had no one to talk to.
Looking back, there were signs that something was wrong with our relationship, but at the time, I didn’t know to suspect porn addiction had taken such a hold. My husband was unreliable and forgetful. He wanted excessive time alone and lied to me and to others by frequently exaggerating to make things sound better than they were.
Now, years after I first discovered porn use, my husband and I are on the road to a recovering marriage. Where there was devastation, I am now greatly encouraged. Were there was arguing, there’s a new kind of mature, loving communication. I would not have known to hope for such a change in our marriage.
I now spend time corresponding with other wives who are in the midst of discovering their husband’s sexual addiction. I do this because I know the wonderful benefits of healing in my own marriage, and because I wish I had been able to talk openly with someone who knew about sexual addiction while we were in crisis.
I used to think that sexual addiction was not something to be spoken about in polite company or that occurred in church, but now I know otherwise. Most of the women I talk to are involved in church, many of their husbands participate as leaders in church and the community. The silence about pornography and masturbation allows it to continue unchecked. There’s a belief among my coworkers and family that pornography can be used to spice up your sex life and that only rare sexual predators use it in an abnormal way. Many women I write with have tried to adapt to their husband’s addiction by playing along in the pornography, trying to recapture their husband’s interest, only to learn that his addictive behavior isn’t cured by their participation.
Often, women are struggling with decisions about divorce and separation when we begin writing. The bitter pain they are dealing with is overwhelming and a solution seems unreachable. I like to begin by letting them know there is hope.
In direct opposition to past patterns, my husband is seeking out friendships, accountability and social interaction. He is learning to cope with anger and pain in new, more mature ways. He is a better father, more patient, considerate and tender. He takes responsibility at work and at home more seriously. And our intimate life is alive and healthy.
In the midst of the pain of discovery, I considered divorce. I was bitter and self-righteous. Knowing how my marriage has grown and changed, it’s hard to think how close I came to losing it. The work continues and it was difficult, especially for my husband as he dug through old wounds to find a place to begin recovering.
For us, having others to rely on and grow close to was essential. But even more foundational than this was learning to rely on God for our emotional needs. For us, going to church in and of itself didn’t fix things and a great counselor couldn’t find the source of the problem. Healing began with knowing others who had struggled through before us, like in Blazing Grace. They pointed the way to a closer relationship with God, who already knew the source of the problem and was ready to meet us where we fell.
One Pastor’s Journey to Grace
by Reverend Tom Pedigo
Winning Edge Ministries
I am a former pastor in recovery. In the Fall of 1992, my ministry of 20 years came to an abrupt halt as I was exposed for moral failure and within a week resigned my position as Senior Minister. My marital infidelity didn’t just happen; I didn’t “fall” into this sin, it was a gradual process - an insidious progression of willful acts of boundary violations and compromising of scriptural convictions.
The very analogy of the “Frog in the Kettle” that I had used countless times as a preacher (as well as many other preachers and writers in their messages) was being ironically fulfilled in my life. As I began to collapse morally, emotionally, volitionally and especially spiritually, I found myself in the proverbial “water that was slowly beginning to boil” which would ultimately lead to my vocational death and moral downfall. There is one major difference between the frog of the analogy and myself – and that is, I knew I was being slowly cooked; the innocent amphibian did not!
Even though the Body of Christ was still reeling over and recovering from the national exposure of fallen televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart during the late 1980s, there wasn’t much material available for churches or religious leaders on this topic of “restoration” or pastoral recovery. Another well-known preacher and church leader that had fallen during this time period, Gordon MacDonald, had written a rather generic book entitled “Rebuilding Your Broken World.” After my fall, I could find nothing that would help give me the practical tools I needed for long-term recovery. The local church didn’t have any “how to’s” in their traditional, denominational arsenals of dealing with a “pastor removed because of sexual sin.” There wasn’t much in the way of procedural help for us “ash heap ministers.”
On a personal note, ministry and preaching was all I knew since I was in college. I wasn’t trained to do anything else. Before my sin was revealed, I was pastoring a growing church for almost ten years, I was the president of an evangelical minister’s association along with a daily radio broadcast and a weekly TV program. I knew my double life could catch up with me but I was driven by addictive forces and couldn’t stop myself. I was living a life of hypocrisy. And then, everything hit the fan. I confessed to my wife and then the Elder Board my affair. Now what? Where was I to go? What was I going to do? Who would help pick up the pieces of my sinfully, shattered life?
Although my dear wife chose to stay with me and fight for our marriage and family, depression began to set in as well as escalating panic attacks. I felt like the elderly lady in the now famous commercial where she is laying on a floor and says, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Comedians continually used that commercial as a springboard to their jokes and skits. I used to laugh about it too…until I was the one who fell and couldn’t get up. Helplessness is a breeding ground for hopelessness. My world became a black hole of despair.
Along with my adulterous behavior, I was also struggling with past and hidden issues of sexual addiction and compulsive behavior related to pornography. How can a minister – the “man of God” – be caught in the grips of sexual immorality? How can a “holy” leader that “everyone-looks-up-to” and “puts-on-a-spiritual-pedestal” possibly be ensnared with lust? And yet, statistics and research has revealed that it’s not that uncommon for Christian laymen (and even ministers) to be hooked on porn, masturbation or some form of sexual immorality. But, what does a minister do, or what do those who love him and care for him do, when he is exposed for some form of sexual sin or adulterous behavior?
During the Thanksgiving holidays of 1992, the Lord laid a burden on a certain pastor’s wife in my town and she asked her husband to consider offering their church as a host church for my “restoration” as well as set up an accountability group or rebuilding team. Of course, this Charismatic minister thought it was the devil speaking through his wife and not the Lord at the time. He knew my doctrinal stance on the Charismatic Movement and “healing” and didn’t think I’d even be open to these ideas. But he didn’t realize that I was like a drowning man in the cesspool of my own making and needed massive, spiritual intervention. He took me out to breakfast and eventually asked if I’d be willing to go through a rebuilding process. I readily accepted, which I’m sure shocked him - and confirmed that his wife had truly heard from the Lord. That pastor later confessed to me during that first meeting that I had the “emotional stability of scrambled eggs.” His analysis was correct.
Eventually, I had two pastors (a Charismatic and a Nazarene) and two Christian laymen (a Navigator and a City Rescue Mission leader) covenant to spend one day a week with me for 1 ½ to 2 hours for at least one year. These meetings, and the love and commitment of these men, were the springboard or foundation for my restoration process. It was the experience from within this group that I wrote The Restoration Manual: A Workbook for Restoration Fallen Ministers and Religious Leaders (1994). And unfortunately, it’s been doing quite well since its publication – meaning, too many pastors are failing in their ministry and falling from their pastorate because of exposed, sexual sin.
As for me, my recovery has been a long and uphill pilgrimage. My failed vocation was a breeding ground for tidal waves of guilt and shame. Because of my background and personality, forgiving myself and accepting God’s unconditional love and grace has been a struggle for me. Going to counseling and therapy, being on medication, attending 12-Step groups and other accountability groups have been building blocks in my healing process, but never bridged the gap into the emptiness of my heart. What I’ve needed all these years of recovery has been a renewed and intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ – the Great Lover of my soul.
It was in this quest for spiritual intimacy that the Lord led me to Blazing Grace Ministries and the Strength in Numbers group. It was with this ministry, the founder, and various men that have motivated me to finally wrestle through the issues of the heart – that is, accepting God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness on a personal level. I feel like a “Grace Baby” in my recovery journey. While I’m not running yet; at least I’m not crawling…maybe walking unsteadily and sometimes wobbling but still moving forward. While I am not still totally where I want to be; praise God I am not where I was! There is help, hope and healing; even for a formerly “fallen” but “being restored” minister!
The Dog in the Fight
by Shelley “Boxer” Lubben
You’ve heard it said “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” but I disagree. I contend that it’s the “type” of dog in the fight that matters most in recovery from sex addiction. What type of dog lives in you?
In my experience, I have learned there are actually two dogs that live in me. I call one the “black” dog and the other I call the “white” dog. The black dog is naughty. He wants to get into trouble and dig deep holes for himself. He’s the one with his tongue hanging out ready to lust. He’s the one who is real curious and wants to sniff out naked pictures and pornographic web sites. He’s the very black dog that lives inside of me.
Then there’s the “white” dog. He’s the good dog. He’s the one who wants to strut like a Champion and practice God’s principles. He’s the one who wants to protect his loved ones from evil that lurks outside. He’s the one who digs into the Word and becomes obedient and highly trained. He’s the very white dog that lives in me also.
So, there are two dogs living in me that are completely opposite of each other and if they had the chance, would fight and tear each other into pieces. But actually there is very little fighting going on in recent years. The reason they don’t fight much is because one of them is much bigger than the other. The little dog doesn’t mess with the bigger dog because he knows he is no match for him. Why is one dog bigger than the other?
I make a choice everyday to feed and take care of the white dog. I feed Him the Bread of Life, surround him with other purebreds, take him on healthy walks to church, throw him bones of truth, pour lots of Living Water in his bowl and train him daily in the ways of the Master. The Good Dog gets the very best care and is fed daily the best choice food:
On the other hand, I do not feed or take care of the black dog. He is scrawny and malnourished and spends most of his days lying down in the corner with no energy to do much. Even if he whines, I refuse to give him a morsel of food or throw him beefy bones of lust or let him run without a leash. In fact, this dog is kept on a very short leash. I do not allow him to do anything but STAY DOWN. This dog is not fed anything and is dying daily.
I use the illustration above to simply say “do not feed your black dog.” Do not feed him the food of sexual content found in magazines, television and movies. Do not allow him to listen to music that stimulates him sexually. Do not engage him in inappropriate relationships with impure breeds. Do not allow him to feast on thoughts of lust but instead rip that food away from your black dog by casting out the thoughts as fast as they come in. Do not expose him to other dogs that are in heat and seeking affection. Do not allow him to run at the dog park with other black dogs. In fact, command that black dog to stay down with a chain wrapped tightly around his neck where he dies daily in a lonely corner! If you stop feeding the black dog, he will whither away to nothing and have no power over you.
Stop feeding your black dog and instead shovel the Word of God into your white dog. Your white dog will grow and grow until it becomes a Champion Boxer able to defeat anything that steps into its path. Come on boy, be the Champion you were made to be!
Practical ways to feed your white dog are:
Read and study the Word daily. Joshua 1:8 says “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
If it’s hard for you to read God’s Word, listen to Christian CD’s or teachings online. There are unlimited resources online so you have no excuse not to feed your white dog. Here is a list of my favorite web sites that dish up some great Word:
http://www.kgcmedia.com/video.php (These FREE messages are by the Pastor who taught me to be a champion.)
Attend a good Bible teaching church that offers love and a safe place to grow and recover. Call up local churches and ask them if they have a sex addiction group. If they do, they most likely offer an accepting and loving atmosphere for you to recover in. Pray and ask God to show you the best church to help you heal and live a successful Christian life. Heal boy!
Hang out with other Champions. Bad company corrupts but good company will lift you up. I was taught in recovery to surround myself with excellent people who were doing better than me. Seek out strong leadership and mentors who will influence you to do great and Godly things. The best way to find leaders is to serve them. Get involved in your local church in the midst of your addiction. Don’t let your sex addiction stop your from serving God. Serving is part of the healing process! “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22.
The best way to defeat the deception in your life is to be a doer of the Word and serve God. The devil will lie to you and try to disqualify you but in this dog show, every dog is a Champion in Christ! I started serving in children’s ministry as a diaper changer in 1996 and by 2001 I was promoted to the Department Head of the four year olds with about 150 kids and over 50 parents serving under me in a church of 4,000 members. Not bad for the new dog on the block.
Prayer. I can not emphasize enough how powerful prayer is. Prayer is simply drawing near to God and talking to Him in your own language. It’s doesn’t have to be some professional prayer only a Pastor could understand. It only needs to be a simple prayer from your heart. If God heard the juvenile prayers of a prostitute and porn actress and healed her, how much more will He hear your prayers and rescue you? It says in Isaiah 57:15 that God actually dwells with the broken hearted:
For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.
“For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would grow faint before Me,
And the breath of those whom I have made.
“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him;
I hid My face and was angry,
And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,
Creating the praise of the lips.
Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,”
Says the LORD, “and I will heal him.”
Wow, God hangs out with the broken hearted who keeps turning away to sin and though God gets angry He decides to heal him anyways. So why would a God so great and powerful care so much about mutts like us? I’ll tell you why.
Because God really is man’s best friend!
New Crosswalk Article: Getting to the Roots of the Porn Epidemic
The following is an excerpt:
“The only way the church will turn the tide on the porn epidemic back is if we address it with our kids, before the world gets to them. We have to prepare them for the sex saturated culture that they will be exposed to and teach them how to deal with it; if we don’t the statistics show your kids and mine have a 50/50 chance of turning into a porn addict (See How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church? for a look at the numbers). Those odds are too risky to bet our kids’ future on.
Some of you may be squirming at the thought of addressing the topic of sex with your 10 year old, but there’s no avoiding the fact that our children will be exposed to pornography (that is, unless we move our families to a monastery in Nepal and go into isolation). We have to face the reality of the culture we live in today, and take the initiative to equip our youth for the battles ahead…
You can read this article at: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/pastors/1457170.html.
“ “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, goes the old Andy Williams song… but for many the Christmas season is cold, harsh and unwelcome. The anticipation of reuniting the pieces of a fractured family can invoke emotions of sorrow, anger, regret or anxiety. The struggler with porn, who barely functions emotionally, knows he must put on a happy face and pretend that all is well for his family; it would be a disaster if Nosey Aunt Nellie or Dysfunctional Uncle Donnie found out about his secret, let alone his parents. He feels more isolated when his family is around than when he’s alone.
The pictures of happy, smiling families getting together for cozy Christmas celebrations can be like sea salt in the heart of the wife of a sex addict. Her husband, shame filled and self absorbed, rarely smiles like the men in the images of Christmas cheer; their marriage is frayed, torn and tired from a year spent in the trenches. Her parents wouldn’t understand, and she feels just as alone as her husband does. The idea of faking it in front of family for 4 days at Christmas time fills her with dread, and she hopes the time will pass quickly. Thankfully, the joy from her children provides a little respite…”
The above is an excerpt from the main article of last year’s December newsletter.
You can read the entire article here.
The Blazing Grace Radio Show
The Blazing Grace Radio show is Jayson Graves of Healing for the Soul, Rob McIntire of Freedom to Live Counseling, and Mike Genung teaming up to take on the topic of sexual addiction in the church. Jayson and Rob are Christian psychotherapist who specialize in treating men with sexual addiction issues.
Here’s our lineup for December:
December 2, 2006 – Molly Ann Miller, author of My Husband Has a Secret.
December 9, 2006 – Mike Genung discusses his new book The Road to Grace.
December 16, 2006 – Susan Stafford, former prostitute turned to Christ; with Shelley Lubben.
December 23, 2006 – Shelley Lubben on the porn epidemic among our youth.
The show is broadcast in Colorado Springs on KGFT 100.7FM, Saturdays at 11:00am. You can download mp3’s of the broadcasts without cost at the radio page, or listen to them in streaming audio at Oneplace.com.
We are also broadcasting the show on KKLA in Los Angeles Saturday nights through December 2; it may be cancelled after this depending on donations. It costs $400.00 per show to air the show on KKLA.
The broadcasts are available as a podcast through Itunes. If you have the Itunes software, the shows are listed under “Religion and Spirituality/Christianity.”
In a survey of over 500 Christian men at a men's retreat, over 90% admitted that they were feeling disconnected from God because lust, porn, or fantasy had gained a foothold in their lives.
As reported in an article on Pastors.com by Kenny Luck.
In his book "The Sexual Man", Dr. Archibald Hart revealed the results of a survey of some 600 Christian men, on the topic of masturbation:
61% of married Christian men masturbate
82% of these have self sex on an average of once a week; 10% have sex with self 5-10 times per month, 6% more than 15 times per month, and 1% more than 20 times a
13% of Christian married men said they felt it was normal.
* The average time a porn movie is watched in a hotel room is 12 minutes.
* The average teenager spends three to four hours per day watching television and 83% of the programming most frequently watched by adolescents contains some sexual content.
Gary Rose, CEO of The Medical Institute, as reported by Focus on the Family 7/8/2005
Upcoming Radio Interviews
I will be a guest on the following radio shows January of 2007 to discuss the problem of sexual sin in the church:
* Tuesday, January 2 at 2:30 pm Eastern time: The Bob Dutko show on WMUZ 103.5 FM in Detroit
* Wednesday, January 17 at 7:35 am Central time: The Morning with Randy Show on KBJS 90.3 FM in Jacksonville, TX.
* Tuesday, January 30 at 8:00 pm Central time: Quest for Character show on KJSL AM630 in MO.
I appreciate your prayers for wisdom, boldness and grace, as these are live shows, some of which have call-ins. Please pray that the Lord would be glorified, that His churches would be encouraged and challenged to speak out clearly about the problem of sexual sin in the church, and that the sexually broken would reach out for help. Realizing that silence about this issue is one of Satan’s greatest weapons, please also pray for protection for technical and any other issues that might keep these interviews from happening.
You Know Porn is Mainstream When…
We’re running two Struggling with Porn? billboards in Colorado Springs this month and next. One of those billboards is on a major street, right behind a garden nursery. Last week, the sales rep from the billboard company called me and said that men had been walking into the nursery and asking “where they can buy the porn.”
As a result, the Blazing Grace billboard was taken down and relocated.
Remember the “good old days” when there was a cultural stigma of shame around buying porn and adult bookstores were contained in the industrial part of town?
"…if I needed a porn picture or something like that, my staff normally does that kind of shopping for me."
Jack Nicholson, from a Rolling Stone interview.
Porn is the new National Pastime of the U.S.A.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Blazing Grace is a 501c3 non-profit corporation whose purpose is to minister to the sexually broken and equip the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2006 Mike Genung