I sit in the Mind Cure Conference listening to Scott Ritsema expand on the exploding epidemic of pornography addiction. Afterwards I thank him and agree how needed his message is. Many if not most who have not been affected by it’s destructive forces are oblivious to it’s prevalence or seriousness. I share how my first marriage ended after I discovered my husband at the time was addicted to child pornography.
That evening, the friend I am staying with asks aloud, “I wonder if there’s an issue with this in this audience because sexual issues keep coming up in the talks?”
The audience is predominately Christian.
“Every adult audience needs to hear this”, I reply.
She was busy helping with the kids during the seminar. Perhaps she missed the statistics.
- $3,075 is spent on pornography every second.
- Forty million americans are regular visitors to porn sites. (1)
- 70% percent of Christian men and 20% of Christian women say they struggle with pornography. Even pastors are not immune with statistics ranging from 20% to 63% of pastors struggling with sexual addiction.
- Child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Nationally, there has been a 2500% increase in arrests in the past 10 years. (2)
The presentation material replays in my head. Brain scans of a porn addict show more atrophy and tissue damage than the brain of a drug addict. The chemicals released while viewing pornography give the brain an unnatural high. The result – less attraction to your spouse and intense desire to seek out more novel and intense porn among other things. It’s highly addictive.
Continuing to converse with my friend, I argue we all have an obligation to enter the conversation. Besides all the men and women affected by this plague, consider the countless children being raped and abused to feed these lusts.
My blood pressure starts rising. I can feel the pressure in my head.
I begin sharing about a young man in his 20’s in my local church and his inappropriate public displays of affection with a girl who’s maybe 13. I have no idea what is happening in private, but my radar is up.
“I’ve asked some elders to talk with him. But they haven’t done it yet. They’ve said ‘Maybe this guy is innocent and immature. He’s such a nice young man.’ They usually are nice men. My ex-husband was a very nice man. Either they think I’m over-reacting or they don’t want to bother.”
“It doesn’t sound right. You should ask the pastor to talk to him”, she suggests.
“I don’t have faith in the pastor. You’ve got a 50/50 chance that a pastor is dealing with sexual issues. Besides, he sees the same thing I do and hasn’t done a thing. They’re not equipped to talk with him,” I moan.
“Then you should take it to the conference administrators”, she continues.
“It was a disaster when I took my problem to our pastor?!” I start to rant and feel my heart beat quickening. I feel like I’m going to start shaking, but I take a deep breath and sigh.
“You should still go to the administration”, she presses.
“I’ve lost my faith in the church leadership. I may have to go to CPS”, I pause. “My ex still goes to the same church. He volunteers at the school. He’s takes pictures of kids on the playground. He’s a pedophile. My father talked to the principle. My one friend who knows everything has tried to warn parents. No one seems to care – either about him and if he’s stayed in treatment or about protecting our children. We’re all like zombies walking aimlessly through the charade called church.”
At 1 am we finally go to sleep.
While waiting to board my plane and return home to my family I think about another talk at the Mind Cure Conference on forgiveness. The presenter talked about the power of forgiveness to heal past wounds. He explained how unforgiveness causes physical symptoms when someone talks about those who hurt them. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, shaking, etc. These symptoms are calmed when you’ve truly forgiven.
I think I’ve forgiven my ex-husband. I don’t dwell on the past. I’m not angry with him anymore. So why do I still have physical symptoms when discussing this topic?
Walking down the airplane aisle the thought hits me. Jesus forgave not just one pedophile, but every porn addict, pedophile and abuser on the face of the earth. He forgave them and took what they deserve even as they keep committing their heinous crimes. He prayed for his abusers as they were torturing him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
What if he’s calling me to not only forgive my ex but forgive every pedophile that makes my blood boil in anger for the collective pain and suffering of millions of children, wives, daughters, sisters and brothers. Not that I have the authority or power to forgive anyone, but for the restoration and peace of my soul.
The tears start to fall. I’m glad it’s 6am and my fellow passengers are mostly dozing. I whisper to God, “I don’t have that kind of love.”
He answers, “I do.”
Then I picture the rivers of tears God has shed for all the suffering of those abused and those abusing. I think of the centuries of tears he has cried for all of the rejection and abuse he has suffered because of us. I think of the limitless love and forgiveness and intimacy that He longs to give to every one of his children. How he wants to heal the distorted thoughts, feelings, lusts, and addictions. Yet most continue on with their addictions, misery and suffering, pushing away the only one that can help them. I’m so undone. I cry for God. It’s beyond any love I can fathom.
There is only one answer. There is no other. The LOVE of God. It is the only thing that can heal, restore, forgive, mend, refresh and bring true intimacy. It is supernatural. It must be. It’s beyond human ability. Without God’s love I can do nothing. I cannot forgive or heal or mend. With God’s love, all things are possible. It’s how I survive. It’s how I let go. It’s how I can love again. It’s what has gotten me through this day and moving forward to whatever He asks me to do next. Even those things I cannot comprehend.
Education on and help for sexual addictions
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