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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  Brad.White@newvisionlife.com

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