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    Addressing Pornography

    Thursday, April 23, 2020

    Pornography is not an easy topic to discuss. But the enemy is using this addiction to destroy relationships and walks with the Lord, and the only way to gain victorious ground is to address it with grace and Truth. 
    In a dating relationship, it is a topic that needs to be discussed since more likely than not that the man you are dating has or is struggling with porn. Research conducted by the Conquer Series shows that 68% of church-going men view porn on a regular basis and 76% of young Christian adults (18-24 years old) actively search for porn. While porn is often stereotyped as a male only struggle, the number of female users has rapidly increased. The Conquer Series also found that while “only 13% of self identified Christian women say they never watch porn, 87% of Christian women have watched porn.” So there is no doubt many women reading this find themselves struggling with porn. 
    A friend of mine, Brad White, has agreed to answer some tough questions regarding pornography. Brad is on staff at my church and has recently written a book on pornography. God is using him in great ways to speak into the lives of those struggling with this sin. 
    Lauren: Brad! Thank you so much for being willing to answer questions from the Singled Out for Him community. Before we jump into some specific questions, I think it’s important to know why we are even talking about pornography. How is pornography a sin? Why is it harmful? And why is it even important that we talk about it?
    Brad: In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says “But I tell you that if anyone looks at a woman lustfully he has committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus makes it clear here that if we are even looking at a person lustfully that we have committed adultery with them. I think for many of us we would consider the one in adultery to be a physical line; however, we see here that Jesus has drawn one that is marked in our hearts.
    Pornography is horrible on so many different levels. First and foremost it is a sin. So if we are engaged in it, we are continuing to live in sin. Christ called us into a life of freedom not into a life of bondage. Secondly pornography is harmful because it causes unrealistic expectations. I have sat with too many couples who are struggling in their sexual relationships due to pornography being a part of it. The third reason I would give is because pornography is so addictive. Pornography interacts with our brains similar to a drug like heroin. When we interact with pornography, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that makes us feel good. When this chemical is released, our brain reacts so that we will begin to seek out that behavior again. This is why pornography is so addictive. 
    You can ask anyone who struggles with pornography. Whatever it is that they started watching is not what they are currently watching. Their usage will progress. This is how a person can go from softcore pornography such as playboy, to finding themselves being arrested for trying to hire prostitutes. Sin is a slippery slope. One of my favorite quotes is “Sin will take you further than you want to go and will cost you more than you wanna pay.” This is so true of pornography.
    Also, I believe that pornography is the silent killer of the church. We’re happy to get up and talk about lying, cheating, and stealing. However there’s so much shame that is attached to the subject of pornography that often times the Church shies away from it. But when we look at the statistical data we see that there’s a higher percentage of people who are engaged in viewing online pornography than those who are not. If the church sits back and remains silent, we will see this epidemic destroy marriages and families and homes across the country.
    Lauren: I am so thankful that you are willing to be obedient and step up and talk about it within the church. While it needs to be discussed in our churches, it also needs to be brought up in our relationships. The main concern, since there is so much shame attached to pornography, is how to bring it up in the right way. Can you advise how a girl can ask her boyfriend if he is looking at porn without seeming nosy or judgmental? What’s the best way to bring the topic up in a relationship? On the other hand, what should we NOT say or do when asking about this topic?
    Brad: First and foremost I think there has to be some significant trust built in a relationship before this ever comes up. I don’t think this is an appropriate second question! This would be a question that I wouldn’t force; I would follow the lead of natural conversation. I also believe that vulnerability breeds vulnerability. So if you and your significant other are having a deep conversation about your personal struggles and areas in which you were hoping that the Lord will continue to renew your mind and grow closer to Him, potentially you won’t even have to ask and he might share it with you on his own.
    If however I am being forced to answer the question, I would maybe phrase it this way - “How are you protecting your eyes and heart to make sure that everything that you are taking in honors God?” A second option would be - “How can I help you in keeping yourself pure before God? I know that God has hardwired men to be visual, so I want to know how I can be praying for you in this area.” This way you’re leading with a question that sounds like he is already being successful. It doesn’t sound accusatory.  It is super important to note that if he confesses his struggle to you at this time that you do not become angry or defensive. This will make him shut down and he will not bring the subject up with you again. You have to understand that his viewership has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own insecurities. Respond to him as if he said to you “Hey I struggle with eating five Twinkies every single night.” 
    I would also say to not flat out ask them if they struggle with pornography. This comes across as accusatory and will most likely lead to a fight or to his lying to you. You have to allow the conversation to come up naturally. If he confesses that he does struggle with pornography, I would not suggest asking what he is watching. I’ll explain it to you this way: say you are a brunette, and he tells you he looks at redheaded women. From that point forward, every time you see a woman with red hair, you are going to feel overly self-conscious, and wonder if he is checking her out. I do not think that you need to know all the details of his struggle. I think it is best for you to have a 100,000 foot view, and allow his accountability partner or pastor at church to be on the runway with him.
    Lauren: You mentioned not making this the second question to ask - obviously, but when do you advise bringing up the topic of porn in a relationship?
    Brad: This question kind of leads back to the last two. I think this has to come up organically in a relationship where trust exists. I also think that this has to be a relationship that you feel is moving towards marriage. I don’t think these are conversations that you have with a casual date.
    Lauren: Ok . . . so say you have a good conversation regarding his struggle with porn and he admits to struggling with it. How do you move forward in this relationship when you find out that he struggles with porn? What is the best way to deal with it?
    Brad: Above all, you have to understand that the struggle has nothing to do with you. This is a struggle but it is all about them. I believe the best thing that you can do is be in prayer for them and encourage them to spend time with an accountability partner that can walk with them
    Lauren: We have talked about relationships and men struggling with porn, but despite stereotypes, I know that many of my Singled Out for Him sisters struggle too and are looking for help in their addiction as well. What are some practical boundaries you recommend for believers - male or female - to set to continue staying pure in their thought life? Are there any apps/content filters you would recommend? 
    Brad: The best advice I can give them in this area is to have an accountability partner that you are checking in with regularly. This has to be someone with which you are having honest conversation with and sharing your struggles with. There are several content filters that can be used. Triple X Church, and Covenant Eyes are two of the top that I recommend. For iPhone users, you can set up content blocks through the settings of your phone. It is possible to completely limit all adult content. It’s also important that the accountability person is checking up on the phone to make sure that apps are being utilized well. Obviously in the day and age that we live in there are multiple avenues via apps that pornography can be accessed. This is where conversation has to happen between accountability partners of what apps are used and how.
    Lauren: Sometimes the hardest part of making a change is taking the first step. How do you start detoxing from porn? What’s the first thing you recommend doing?
    Brad: For people who struggle with smoking they can get on a nicotine patch that slowly steps down their nicotine needs. This simply isn’t the case for pornography. You cannot stairstep your pornography use to nothing. It simply does not work. Pornography must be stopped cold turkey. As the brain has worked hard to wire itself to seek out more and more shocking content, it will take several months for the brain to rewire itself to get back to a place of normalcy.
    Lauren: You recently wrote a book on the struggle of pornography. Can you share a little on the name of the book, what the book is about, and how our readers can get a copy?
    Brad: The Little Book on the BIG Lie of Pornography was written out of my own struggles with pornography and the journey that I began to walk with other men as they found freedom. It’s a short, direct book that shares my story, the harms of pornography, some practical application steps, and then really getting to the root of the issue. Pornography so often is singled out as a person’s problem. It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg, the behavior that we see. Below, at the bottom of the iceberg, is a belief system that is driving that behavior. Once the belief system changes then the behavior will follow. The book can be purchased on Amazon and is also available on Kindle. 
    Lauren: Brad, thank you so much for being willing to answer our questions today. I pray God will continue to use you in a great way to help our brothers and sisters in Christ fight against this area of darkness in the Church. 
    If you have further questions, feel free to email Brad at

    Guest Post: SOFH Sister Marlene

    Thursday, April 16, 2020

    Grab a hot cup of coffee and join me in listening to my SOFH sister, Marlene, share her heart on singleness and dating.

    I have a fear of dating the wrong person.

    I have a fear of being hurt emotionally by a guy I give time to by sharing my hopes, dreams, and fears. I have a fear of being rejected by the guy that I think is cute and seems to be a good match for me.

    I was 15.

    I thought the guy liked me, So, I googled, “How to tell if a guy likes you?” because well that seemed like the ideal thing to do, right? I just wanted to make sure my gut feeling was right.

    Once the internet agreed with me and I could pinpoint specific times that I saw him “stare at me or always be around in close proximity” (which meant he of course liked me), I started thinking of how I was going to tell him I liked him or at least give him hints to pursue me.

    The time came on Instagram (because that’s what I thought would be best; but where did I let God in on this potential relationship?). He posted on his feed, “Honesty Hour: Tell me something that you’ve always wanted to tell me”. I thought that this was the perfect time to tell him! Right!? So I got the courage to DM him. (Again, without consulting my Father in Heaven.)

    With my palms sweating and heart beating, I typed I like you” to my crush.

    The response I got typed back to me was, “I think that you are a great girl. We go way back, yet I have never seen you in that way, but you are a great girl.”

    The response in the moment stung . . . and felt like a compliment. Even though he validated that I am a great girl, I still felt the rejection of only being seen as a friend while I saw him as a potential boyfriend.

    Again, I was 15 years old, and he was 15 years old. I was also using Google to order my steps into a godly committed relationship rather than the other Big G!! GOD! Google has valuable resources for singles. It's just for me as a 15 year old, I got into the idea of going for “How to tell if a guy likes you” kind of resources instead of “How to hear from God in your season of singleness.”

    Being 20 years old now, I have had time to mature (and am still in process). I still see this godly man at church meetings. My prayer to God had been that it would never be awkward between us and that he would even forget I ever told him I liked him at midnight on Instagram through DM. I have no way of really knowing if he forgot, but I do know for a fact that the awkwardness is gone. I can look him in the eyes, talk without stuttering and ask him for prayer requests. He is a great young man and I pray only blessings for him.

    I, at the age of 15, was in no way ready for a dating relationship. The rejection gave me time to focus on my relationship with the Lord. Even in my time of focusing on this guy, God was still showing up in my daily life. This also gave me time to pour into knowing and becoming more like Jesus. I learned that I need to let God in on my love life. Even at the age of 15, God still cared about what guy had my attention. All the time I spent swooning over this guy was taking away the time I could be devoting to God, praising him, and worshiping him. Kirk Franklin once said, “God never competes for our attention.”

    I learned that no season is wasted by God. I want to pour into my relationship with Jesus every single day. Even though I thought time was wasted on just seeking a guy’s “yes” to liking me, God was still pursuing my heart. I read my Bible all the way through for the first time by July of the year of 2015. (I told the guy I liked him in September of 2015.)

    Honestly, I still need time to understand who I am. I need time to know who God created me to be, with my specific DNA. God created me with purpose. He says that I can “praise [Him] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; [His] works are wonderful, I know that full well,” (Psalms 139:14). I want to continue to discover, explore, and spend time with God. I want to pursue God’s will for my life. I want to pour into passions that are ordained for a great work in God’s kingdom.

    During this season, I want to travel (Hawaii is on the list!). I want to go to Haiti where my parents were born and connect with my family there. I want to learn how to speak French fluently. I want to learn more instruments (I play the clarinet, bass clarinet, and piano, but I want to learn the trumpet, violin, trombone, and drums). I want to grow in my purpose with the Lord. Specifically right now, I want to take this season of being home and doing online school work to continue getting close to my family, studying my Bible, worshiping God more intimately and praying fervently.

    In this time, I am thankful for the joy of being single in Jesus.

    This is time for me to allow Jesus to fill the emptiness that troubles my soul. This is the time that I can truly let Jesus be the lover of my soul. Like Jonathan McReynolds says in his song, “Lover of My Soul”: What I lack, you are full of. Where I’m broken you are whole. What I doubt, you are sure of. So I’ll trust the lover, the lover of my soul. Jesus is the lover of our souls y’all. He loves me - He loves you! The Lord loves us so much. He thoughts towards you are good.

    Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. We pray that the Truth of your dying for our sins reminds us that our pain is never too small or big for you to make a miracle in the midst of what we call our mess. Man may reject us, but God, you never will. You choose us every day; help us to choose you.

    Cast your cares upon the Lord for he cares for you! 1 Peter 5:7

    Marlene is a Florida-born and Kentucky-raised Haitian American gal. She is currently in her second year at Berea College where she is planning to major in Chemistry and minor in Dance. She loves unity within community and thus, Psalms 133 is the heartbeat of her everyday life. On any given day, Marlene enjoys chatting with her friends and family, doing Zumba-cardio workouts, jamming to Kirk Franklin, and reading the Word. You can catch Marlene rocking her bright smile, her pep in her step and her flowy dresses. Marlene wants you all “to be encouraged and go out and be lights of the world!”

    Unknown Endings

    Tuesday, April 14, 2020

    “The dog dies at the end.”

    This is 5th grade me to my classmates sitting in literature circles at the start of a brand-new book. I got in so much trouble.

    I didn’t really know about *spoilers* then and I wasn’t trying to ruin the book. But when I saw the dog on the cover, I immediately flipped to the last page to see if the dog was still alive. I was NOT to be tricked again. I knew how these dog books worked! You grow attached to the dog in the story and then bawl your eyes out at the end when the dog dies.

    I wanted to warn my classmates so they could emotionally be prepared and separate their hearts a little from the dog. Not get too close.

    I got called to the teacher’s desk and learned my lesson.  I mean, I was just trying to help a friend out over here. 

    Ok so I thought I learned my lesson. But 5th grade Lauren isn’t too different than today’s Lauren. While I know not to ruin movies or flip to the last page in a book, my approach to books about dogs and to relationships aren’t really much different. When I start talking to someone, I want to know right away how it ends. I hate the risk. I want to put all the walls up to protect my heart. I want the least amount of attachment possible so I get hurt the least. Because I know how these relationships work - you grow attached and have fun and then there is heartbreak and pain on the last page.

    The thing is, no matter how the story ends each time for me and relationships, I can be confident that my relationship with Jesus won’t end in the same way. In fact, with Jesus, our first page started with death. He died for me. And I know each page only has great love for me. I can trust my loving Jesus with my relationships.

    With relationships, I am trying to leave my skepticism aside. I pray and ask God to take these fears and worries. I thank Him for being the good and loving Author. I trust Him with the mountains and the valleys, the fun and the pain. I take a deep breath, and then I turn another page.

    Such a Time as This

    Thursday, April 2, 2020

    What we are going through now is a season, a time. 

    A time to weep with those we miss, and a time to laugh with the people in our houses. A time to mourn what life once was, and a time to dance for the fun that can still be had. A time to plant new habits of rest and knowing God, and a time to pluck up bad habits of busyness and distraction. A time to break down the lies building up in our heart, and a time to build up with the truths from God’s Word. A time to embrace the circumstances we are facing, and a time to refrain from embracing others. (Ecclesiastes 3)

    But the good news, sister, is that just like Esther, you were made for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14). So rise and shine for now is the time

    Be Still and Know

    Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    The fear has been there all along.

    Fear of the future, the what ifs, the what if nots - they have all been lingering under the surfaces of our hearts like lava ready to erupt. Busyness, like the earth's crust, has been concealing the fear. Sometimes we feel the heat of it. But most of the time we choose to ignore the warning signs of the hot lava beneath our feet and beneath our hearts. 
    But now the fear is erupting. The circumstances are just right. Busyness is being stripped away, distractions are being removed, and the fear is burning on our hearts and in our minds. God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still is not a habit of mine, not a habit of ours. Being still reveals what is truly going on and causes us to face who God is; that stillness becomes a call to action, a call to live differently. 

    Now we are being forced to be still. The busy life we once knew - outings with friends, gym classes, coffee dates, traveling - has ceased. And God is asking - “Will you know that I am God?”

    So that is the question I must ask myself. “Will I know that He is God?” This God - who sent His precious Son to die for me, who purposed my days before time began, who is kind, who walks beside me in the valley of death, who promises to return for His bride with holy vengeance and jealous fury - is asking you to trust Him. He is asking you to lay your fears at His feet. He is asking you to know and believe that He is God. Will you?

    The fear has been there all along. But so has God. and His perfect love casts out fear. Trust Him today, friend.

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