Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 6, The Rest of the Story

In the weeks since i wrote My Story more than one person who knows me well have had two responses. The first is to be very relieved when they find out that I am not in the throes of a terrible addiction. The other group has repeatedly said, “Chip, you need to let your readers know that you are overcoming this.”

This is my answer to both groups.

I supposed I should start where I left off in My Story. I joined that support group at Ebenezer Counseling in Knoxville, TN. That group of men were a real source of grace for me and taught me a key lesson I am still learning to this day: give grace and truth.

There is a movement out there that seems to believe that grace and truth are somehow opposites that need to be balanced. In my own recovery, I have found that they are complimentary, but only in the cross. Don’t choose between grace and truth. embrace both wholeheartedly. Tell the sinner they are sinning with no qualms but be sure to love them well when you say it.

But I digress. I attended that group for over a year. Most of my journey away from The Seven Lies I Believed happened in that time. Eventually Sam and i moved to Minnesota and started a family. I spent many months in MN having good success in resisting the call of pornography in my life. I still had Covenant Eyes on my computer and my accountability partners were still keeping up with me. But I was not part of a group and i really should have been.

So I crashed. You could describe me as a binge porn user. I tend to hold out for a while and then binge. Shortly after my crash my ever more sensitive conscience started to beat me. I decided to pursue a group in MN and made a few calls. I found a group and started attending.

It sucked.

I don’t mean to impugn the character of the men in that group. They were sincere and sincerely looking for hope. Hindsight helps me see it is not that the group was that bad, it was that I was spoiled. That group in Knoxville was exceptional. So I did the exact wrong thing. I quit. What i should have done was pursue another group. The Twin Cities are a large metropolitan area and I’m sure there was a good group available. I simply lacked the maturity to look farther.

Following this was a few months of no group support. i had limited success on my own but I was clearly not ready to survive in a tempting world. In God’s good grace, he didn’t make me find a group. He brought a group to me.

I attend Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (North Campus for all you Bethlehemites out there). Sam and i decided that we would join one of the Bethlehem Small Groups. That group was very different from my Knoxville group. These men weren’t nearly as confrontational but also carried a taste of Heaven with them. I have come to truly care for and be cared for by those men.

There were certainly failures during the years with that small group, but they were few and short. I really feel like I grew up a great deal with those men. When I had my most recent failure that I mentioned in My Story. I wrote an e-mail to those men and Sam.

If I were to summarize my journey since that group in Knoxville, I would say that I have grown up a great deal. I was recently asked how I would rate my hope on a scale of 1-10. I said that i was at an 8. God is healing me and I feel certain that he will keep healing me. My journey has been one of looking at pornography every few hours to now looking every few months or years.

Recently, Pastor Jason Meyer has been preaching through 2 Corinthians and two verses have been very close to my heart recently.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1 Cor 1:3-4

The comfort God has given me is this: He has shown me ridiculous mercy in my struggle with pornography. On pondering those verses for some time, I felt like I should start a blog where I chronicle my struggles and use it to comfort you with the comfort I have received.

And that is how God placed you in that chair reading these words right now.

-Chip

Up Next: Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 8, The Shame We Feel

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Some More Administrative Details

I wanted to thank all of you who have visited the blog. Today the blog has had it’s 500th view. It continues to grow faster than I imagined it would and it is so encouraging to me that my story is being read and (I hope) encouraging you toward Jesus.

There are a few minor changes coming to the blog that I wanted you to be aware of.

First, the blog will be publishing the day’s article at 8 AM instead of 4 PM. This change starts tomorrow morning (9/30). I am continuing to play around with what the ideal time to publish will be. It has a real impact on readership but I am hoping that 8 AM will be the final publishing time.

Second, after this I will stop publishing articles on most Sundays. The readership drops off dramatically during the weekend and that will give me a little more time to focus on the very important Porn and the Christian Guy articles.

Third, I am starting a new series called Take a Breath Tuesdays. The nature of this blog is pretty intense so on Take a Breath Tuesdays, we will have lighter content and a little more fun.

Fourth, feedback! I would love your feedback. It is kind of awkward to comment on a blog about pornography, so please just fill out the contact form below and that is sent right to me. Your privacy is important to me and I will not share anything without your express permission. I would very much like to hear what topics were helpful to you and what topics you wish I would address. What’s on your mind? I want to know about it.

Fifth, Thank You so much. It means so much to me that you all are reading this blog. I have had hits from Nigeria, Australia, Liberia, Uganda (thank you to my faithful Uganda follower, you have really been a bright spot for me to see when you visit), Lithuania, and several others. It is so wonderful that i can serve people outside of the US.

God bless you. Check it out tomorrow morning at 8 AM for Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 6, The Rest of the Story. I will be filling in some more information about My Story. The blog it about to turn three weeks old. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

-Chip

Should you see Don Jon?

I am always on the lookout for a film that has real redeeming value so I was excited to hear of the release of a film that was a look at the life of a man addicted to pornography.

Here is the plot as described by IMDB.

Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women. Written by SophiaLB

Sounds good. The direction of the film has definitely piqued my interest. Then I scroll a few lines down and it is Rated R for sexual content and nudity.

Suspicious.

I then read the parental advisory on IMDB.

Frequent sex scenes and jokes, usually in a very funny context, though very graphic.

Crap!

On reading further, the original version that was played at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival was rated NC-17. The movie was then toned down to being rated R.

So this movie is the equivalent of having an AA meeting in a bar. Sure it might be helpful, but more likely we will just end up staring at the naked girls. Unfortunately, this is a movie that anyone in the recovery community should sit out.

-Chip

A Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

I was recently surprised to learn that teens and preteens were reading my blog. Now I am the last person on the planet who should have been surprised, but it really hadn’t occurred to me that they might be reading my blog.

I really didn’t have teens and preteens in mind when I started this blog. My main focus was on guys who are currently struggling with pornography. So the discovery of a younger generation reading my material had me quickly reviewing if I had written anything inappropriate for their eyes.

The answer to that question is not actually mine to know. As in all matters of what is appropriate for children, it is greatly at the parent’s discretion. I don’t think i would change any of the content I have up now, but there is one thing I would change. I wish I had sent a warning out to the parents of children who I am Facebook friends with. Please forgive me for not extending that courtesy to you. it is your prerogative and I did not give you the deference you deserve. I’m sorry.

Now that I have said that, I would also like to make a suggestion. If you would like your teenager to have a better understanding of pornography and the harm it does, maybe you should encourage your teen to read this blog. Wouldn’t the warning that my life has been be a better training for these young men and women? They will be exposed to pornography, maybe Porn and the Christian Guy is a safer and better place to start that exposure.

In conclusion, I respect your decision, whatever it is. I completely understand if you have your kids unfriend me from Facebook. God bless you as you raise children in these challenging times.

-Chip

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 5, My Husband is Looking at Porn, What Should I Do?

Feel-Trapped

It is easy to look at my own addiction and think of the person it is effecting most, ME!

Or is it me?

Maybe I am the perpetrator and my wife is the victim. She didn’t do anything wrong and yet she suffers for what I have done. She has to deal with the feelings of inadequacy: the question, “If I looked better, maybe he wouldn’t look at porn.” She is the one who feels the pressure to maintain the impossible body that Hollywood projects. She’s the one who feels in her heart that her husband’s straying mind means she isn’t worth much to him. Maybe even not worth much at all.

Yes, my wife was the real victim.

This article is for you, the real victims. The wives of the men who continue to look at pornography over your objections. I hope to offer you a little comfort, a little understanding, a little advice, and a little hope.

First off, your husband’s pornography problem is not your fault. He may blame you, but this is a darkness that lives in his heart. You are a victim of his behavior and it is OK to be hurt by his behavior. He owes you a serious and sincere apology for what he has done to you.

Second, no matter how good you looked, he would have this problem. I have known many men with beautiful wives who have profound pornography problems. I know this is very hard to believe: it feels so backwards. The most important man in your life who should be looking at you is instead looking to the photoshopped girls on the web. I want to say it loud and clear, Your are beautiful because God made you beautiful. The reason he is looking at other women is because HE IS A FOOL! God provided the grace to look at you and only you. Your husband has not taken God up on the offer.

Third and most importantly, Jesus loves you. He is your real husband. Jesus has eyes only for his Church and that is you. There is grace for you today. There is justice for what is being done to you.

So what do you do? Here are some practical things you can do to serve your husband and help him be free. Jesus has some guidelines as to how you should pursue this.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Matthew 18:15-17

Let’s pay careful attention to Jesus and let Him do the work.

1. Pray for him.

Your husband is trapped. He may even want to do the right thing but sees no way out. The Holy Spirit is his only hope (and what an amazing hope He is). Pray for him. Tell God how much it hurts you and pray that he will set your husband free. A warning for you though, the grace of God for men like me is usually to beat us until we submit to Him. It is the rough hands of a loving Father.

2. Confront Him.

Confront him about his sin. Be gentle and firm, but most of all be firm. He is sinning against you and it is OK to press him to stop sinning against you.

It is important to know your husband as you approach him. Consider what would be effective in helping him be honest with you. Again, gentle and firm. Remember that he will need to take some actions to demonstrate his repentance. Maybe he can follow the steps in my article How do I stop looking at Porn. It is OK to point him to help and resources, but give him room to choose his own path. Usually, the first few times he is caught he will try to do it alone and it won’t work. Have patience with him.

There are two responses that warrant escalating the situation. The first is that he is defiant that it is OK for him to look at porn and that you should understand.  It’s time to move on to the next step.

The second response is more common in Christian communities which is to promise to stop looking at porn and then repeatedly fail AND fail to try getting support. If he simply will not join a group and keeps failing, treat that as him saying he won’t change. Then it is time to move onto the next step.

3. Confront Him with Support

Jesus was serious about bringing in a brother. If you know someone who has struggled with porn in the past and particularly someone who is involved in the recovery process, bring in that guy. Otherwise find someone you both know and trust and bring that man (probably not a good idea for this person to be a woman) with you to confront your husband. An elder or pastor from your church would be a good choice as well. If you have the option, find someone who is a straight shooter. Your husband needs things to be made crystal clear.

Confront your husband again. Your husband will react badly to this, so be prepared. This is scary for him, but redemptive. Reaffirm that you love him and that you want him to be free. Let the other man press him.

If your husband is defiant or passively not taking action after this meeting. Go to the next step.

4. Bring in the Elders of Your Church

Yes, you read that right. Your husband is in willful sin and is not pursuing overcoming that sin. He needs to be held accountable by the body of Christ. This is not God’s punishment of him. This is God’s grace to him. A loving Father is correcting his son. He uses his church and He is using you. Have the courage to love your husband like Jesus does.

Remember that loving your husband is to fight the sin in his life. This sin is a cancer eating out his soul. Love him enough to fight for him even when he won’t fight for himself. Bring in men who will press him hard and correct his foolishness. Love him enough.

5. Submit to the Church

Depending on how strong the leadership of your church is, this process may not be something they are ready for. Even if they handle the situation poorly, submit to their authority. God doesn’t require us to be right, just to be faithful. Your husband may talk his way out of it. Your pastors might turn out to be wimps.

Even if the church wimps out (which will be common), know that you have also shown your husband how seriously you take his sin. If he is a true believer, then the Holy Spirit in him will be beating him from the inside out.

Should the local church fail you, what then? Keep pressing on your husband firmly and gently. Keep pulling in men who can keep pressing your husband to repentance. Your faithfulness is the grace of God for your husband.

6. Find a Woman Who Has Gone through This

You are not alone. Look for a woman has had similar struggles. This is a messy business and you need support. She can be hard to find but keep looking for her. There is grace for you in walking with someone who has gone through what you are going through.

7. Have Hope

I can’t tell you how this will turn out. It may be that it all goes badly for you. Remember that your only true and lasting hope is in Jesus. Whatever the church does, be faithful to Jesus. Whatever your husband does, be faithful to Jesus. God has placed you here right now. He appointed this suffering for you and He loves you. Cling to Him and let’s watch together what He is going to do.

I want to say one more time that this is NOT YOUR FAULT. The preceding paragraphs could feel like it is your responsibility to change your husband. It is not. He is responsible to respond to the Holy Spirit and seek repentance. It is your job to be faithful to Jesus and love your husband enough to push him. There are no guarantees except that there is a loving Father watching you and giving you the grace you need to carry this heavy burden.

-Chip

Up Next: Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 6, The Rest of the Story

Recovery Resources: Covenant Eyes

Covenant Eyes

In the battle against my own sinful nature there are very few practical tools. The power of internet pornography is that it is accessible in privacy. So, to strip the internet of this power, you must remove the privacy.

Covenant Eyes is a unique program that takes all of the websites visited on a computer and sends them to men and women I choose as Accountability Partners. the sites can be organized by a ratings system that lists sites by their risk of being pornographic.

Covenant Eyes is designed with the pornography abuser in mind so it is difficult to bypass it. It is easy to get it off your computer, but it will e-mail all of your accountability partners to say you uninstalled it.

In my opinion, Covenant Eyes is an essential part of recovery for anyone who is struggling with pornography. You can try to stop using without help like Covenant Eyes, but you are probably kidding yourself. I have known many men in recovery and I know of only one who was successful without Covenant Eyes.

-Chip

P.S. I am not being paid by Covenant Eyes (in fact, I pay them). I just feel it is that good of a program.

Searching for Obiwan

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Sometimes God does not give us what we want. He does something even better. He makes us into what we wanted for ourselves. Nakadude (known to his friends as Naka) is a blogger and friend to my wife and I. Often, as I read Naka’s posts, I see him finding the path ahead of me and letting me know of obstacles that are coming.

What really shines through in Naka’s Blog is how well he applies scripture to modern (well, often 1970s and 1980s modern) problems and situations. Naka has a special interest in how older men can guide younger men through life. He is onto something. One of the great dangers of our day is how isolated the generations of men has become from each other.

My favorite post on Naka’s Blog is The Search for Obiwan. He describes his own journey of looking for a mentor to walk him through life. Another great post from Naka is his take on Cat’s in the Cradle and it’s celebration of fatherhood. Naka was also the only person that spoke about the Joe Paterno scandal that made any sense. Check out The Legacy of Kings and Coaches.

In God’s mysterious plan he has not provided Naka’s Obiwan. He has made Naka an Obiwan for Sam and I. Thank you Naka. May the force be with you.

-Chip