The Challenge of Dealing with the Effects of Sexual Addiction, Pornography, Pedophilia by Family Members or Friends

Sexual addictions, pornography, pedophiles, family and friends of sexual addicts, S-Anon

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

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Thanks for bearing with me as I’m getting hit with year-end activities for my children and me at school. I’m in the middle of cramming, finals, and looking forward to having a Summer break this year!

While the blog articles have tapered during my busy school schedule, the activity behind the scenes continues and I’m grateful for all I have learned in walking with people who are going through challenging and very difficult times. Last night was one such example which I’d like to share.

Last night, I attended an S-Anon meeting. It was my first time going to a 12-step meeting of any kind. I attended at the request of a new friend who, understandably, didn’t want to go to this meeting by herself.

 

What is S-Anon and for whom is it geared?

S-Anon a 12-step group that meets weekly for family members or friends of people addicted to sex (pornography, relationships, etc).

With any addiction, family and friends become a part of the addict’s system. Family and friends are impacted by their loved one’s addiction. It can affect them personally and in relationships, present and future. Additionally, how they respond to their addicted love one can have ramifications. Is the sex addiction talked about openly? Or is it the elephant in the middle of the room that people know exists, but refuse to talk about.

 

Would S-Anon be a good fit for me? The sexual addict I know is not in my immediate family.

At first, I was thinking that I really didn’t qualify to be at this meeting since there’s no sex addict in my immediate family and I don’t have close friends addicted to sex (to my knowledge, anyway). But then I realized that my in-law certainly has affected my immediate family. He is a pedophile, and our family has had to make very clear boundaries on visitation rules; for example, he is not allowed in our home, period. We allow time for meals, etc, but my kids are always reminded about safe touching, not being alone with him, etc. So, yes, I would benefit from these meetings, as would my adult children. There is a teen version of S-Anon, so that would be an additional option for my younger kids.

While the sex addict in my family is not in our immediate family, the situation has presented challenging issues for our family. We have had to broach the subject of sex and sex abuse at a very young age and in very clear terms with our children. We have had to grieve the loss of a normal grandparent-grandchild relationship.

I remember the day it struck me that my dreams of leaving our kids with the grandparents for a special weekend or a few days was completely out of the question. My children have had to find other “adopted” grandparents to fill some of those roles; but it will never be the same as most families where grandparents are an integral part of their lives. That’s just one of a number of losses we have faced due to sexual addiction. This is definitely something I could bring up at a future meeting that has affected me. Do I have anger about it? You bet! I wanted my children to have the best childhood possible and that was robbed from them (and me) due to the pedophile.

 

S-Anon, wife of pedophile, pornography, sexual addictionsWhat about other areas of sexual addiction are discussed?

Another area that I’ve seen an increased amount of discussion is the issue of a husband’s use of porn (including child pornography) and it’s effect on marriages and families. This is a very real and ongoing problem many Christian families face. The sense of betrayal, lack of trust, self-blame, body shaming issues really come to surface for wives of porn addicts. With porn, the marriage bedroom becomes very crowded and complicated. This takes its toll on wives, and the ripple effect on the children can become very apparent. If the sexual addiction interferes with a job and the addict gets fired, obviously this will have severe consequences on the family.

Because sexual addictions are such a secretive sin, children might sense that something is wrong, but not know quite what it is. They might not understand why mom is so depressed. It would be good to explore this topic more and I hope to be able to share personal stories because I know it is a growing issue that is rarely addressed from the pulpit. I wonder how many wives of sex addicts are sitting in the pews each Sunday at church wondering how their church can help them. It’s typically not  a topic that pastors address. Where will these wives turn for help?

Over 3 years ago, I posted the first article on wives of pedophiles, Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles. This was written by a SSB reader, Anon3, who shared her experience and offered words of hope to another wife of a pedophile. I wish I had kept track of how many women have found that blog post and responded. Looking back, I would say that on average, one person per week has either comment or sent an e-mail asking for help. Those are just people who land at the blog by doing using search engines. Wives of pedophiles would certainly be welcome at A-Anon meetings.

 

What are the meetings like?

The meeting we attended was quite small, but it varies at every location. The meeting is structured and begins with reading excerpts from their S-Anon book which establishes the rules, objectives of the meeting, and a focus topic area. There is a time where people are allowed to share and a closing. It is confidential and what is said there, needs to remain there.

What I did find is that it is a safe place to gather, share personal stories, get encouragement and support. So many times when we are dealing with something by ourselves, we take it personally, blame ourselves. When we open up with others and exchange stories, we will see familiar behavioral patterns. This is similar to the familiarity many of us have had with spiritual abuse. We have a common denominator with similar, but not exactly the same experiences. (More questions about meetings.)

I think in time, an S-Anon member can get clarity and understanding why they have responded the way they have: why they may have trust issues, why they may have anger, etc.

Knowing and identifying these patterns will be helpful when learning to make healthier decisions and setting appropriate boundaries with the sexually addicted loved one. This is not an easy process. It takes work, but I have spoken with several people who have said the program has given them great tools.

I sensed that those who were at the meeting last night found confidence, understanding, and a tremendous amount of weight lifted from them as have traveled this journey. Rather than trying to survive, they seemed to be thriving AND have enough energy left to help others along in their journey. That was very encouraging for me to see.

For those who have just found this article via a search engine and who are dealing with a sexual addict, welcome.  You are in a difficult place, but you are certainly not alone. You are always welcome to comment here on the blog. I also have a private forum you may ask to join. (Email me at spiritualsb@gmail.com). But I also encourage you to seek out a local S-Anon for ongoing support. You definitely do not need to walk this road by yourself. Many have done it before you and would like to offer support.

Here are a few questions from a longer set of questions at the S-Anon website:

Is S-Anon for you?

  • Have you felt hurt or embarrassed by someone’s sexual conduct?
  • Have you secretly searched for clues about someone’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you lied about or covered up another person’s sexual conduct?
  • Have you had money problems because of someone’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you felt betrayed or abandoned by someone you loved and trusted?
  • Are you afraid to upset the sexaholic for fear that he or she will leave you?

You can see if there is a local S-Anon group in your area here.

Note: Although I used men as addicts in the examples above, women are not exempt from having sexual addictions.

 

36 comments on “The Challenge of Dealing with the Effects of Sexual Addiction, Pornography, Pedophilia by Family Members or Friends

  1. I was married to a porn addict for 18 years. I’ve been happily divorced for more than a decade. I found out 4 months into the marriage, unfortunately, I thought the right thing was to keep it a secret for 10 years, so as not to shame my husband. I sat through countless women’s luncheons and retreats, feeling like something was wrong with me, because, “Ladies, you need to give your husband more sexual attention.” Was I the only woman in the room whose husband didn’t want her?
    We did try Christian counseling where the pastor asked if I was responsive enough in bed as sometimes men look elsewhere.

    Porn destroyed our marriage. Trust was completely destroyed. The sad thing is all I wanted was for him to include me in the struggle and tell me. It was devastating to find it again and again. It never got easier, only more heartbreaking.

    After the marriage ended, God took me on a 5 year course of healing. So many wrong ways of thinking had to be changed and it all began with the scripture, “Let me see your face. Let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.” I KNEW the Lord was speaking to me, but I couldn’t accept it as true. I spent years repeating the words whenever rejection and self hatred reared its head. Until, one day, I actually believed them. Those words became a sword in my hand.

    If I could give any advice to a young Christian woman in the same position, I would say, “Do NOT keep secrets for your husband. Tell people. Ask for help. Don’t be diplomatic. Refuse to accept anything but a porn free home. You are not in any way to blame for your husband’s sin. Nothing you can do will make him desire you. He needs to repent and pursue freedom for himself. He is the problem, porn is a symptom. Pursue the things that you enjoy. Do not call things holy that are not holy (fear disguised as faith, etc). And remember your voice is sweet, and your face lovely. Your husband is a Funhouse mirror. You will never be able to contort yourself enough to look normal in his eyes. Look in the Lord’s mirror.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Anonymous, thank you!!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I love “Your voice is sweet and your face lovely.” I’m glad you are now looking in the Lord’s mirror.

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  3. Anonymous – I am sorry for your hurt, but glad to hear that you have experienced healing. Thank you for sharing and offering hope.

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  4. Thank you, Julie Anne, for making this a safe place for ex-wives of child molesters to talk about our lives.

    Yes, S-Anon is a help for women (or men) who need help establishing boundaries. We often think our husband or partner is “acting out” because of something we are doing — or are not doing. (Too nagging, not enough sex, not enough understanding, etc. etc.)

    The questions that helped me break through my codependency were these:
    – • Was my husband molesting children before I met him? YES.
    – • Am I able to get my husband to stop? NO
    – • Would anyone in the world be able to make me molest children? NO

    So I have nothing to do with his illegal behavior. He was doing it before I came along. I cannot make him molest children. I cannot stop him from molesting children. I am free of guilt, no matter how much he wants to blame me (or frankly, no matter how much my church or my own dysfunctional conscience wants to blame me).

    If your partner “grooms” victims — gets to know them, hangs out with them, tries to win their trust — it’s time to get away. That kind of pedophilia never goes 100% away.

    In today’s world, wives can now be charged criminally by victims, as we saw in the case of Jared Fogel’s business partner’s WIFE, who was named as a defendant because she knew of the danger. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/17/pudgy-subway-pedophile-jared-fogle-s-troubles-are-just-beginning.html

    Divorce is 100% acceptable by most Christian denominations in this case. Jesus said you could leave due to infidelity.

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  5. I saw this over dinner and had to say something blunt as that is my style. I know way too many guys who have been hammered over this issue. I knew guys who opened up and the system came down on them hard. It crushed and destroyed, and also created cultures where people had to lie to fit in. I haven’t been on a men’s retreat in years but it seems all I ever heard about on men’s retreats was porn…nothing else. I thought about this issue after my weight loss surgery and I wondered why I never heard gluttony or so many other issues talked about as frequently.

    I also think the evangelical culture fosters and creates porn problems because of how it functions. The down side to this is that someone like Mark Driscoll comes along saying what he did and people jump to him. Another sad reality is I believe the culture encourages and pushes people toward porn because of how guys feel shamed. Plus you also have a lot of females trained to find “Mr. Right” who can have very unrealistic expectations in their own way. As I have aged and shift through this mess I think the church can be much more toxic about sexual issues than regular society.

    This is the last thing I need to say which may be uncomfortable but I feel I need to get off my chest. When evangelicals talk about porn they often do so in the hetro-sexual context. However, there is also a large and thriving gay porn industry that many evangelicals just don’t care about. It’s often ignored, and taboo…just think of the challenges and the inability we have to even discuss the issue of gays.

    I say all this from the perspective of a guy and what I have seen over 10 years. If porn is going to be spoken about it really needs to be done in the context of grace. But here is the problem. Evangelicals struggle with grace because they feel like if they extend grace they are giving a license to someone to sin.

    This will probably be uncomfortable for many but I have to say this and vent.

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  6. WonderingEagle,

    The reason you probably don’t hear so much about gluttony is because it primarily harms the addict. With porn, it can devastate a wife emotionally/spiritually (as the earlier comment suggested). The addict has a choice, but those around them do not have the ability to stop the addict. They are powerless.

    I get the fact that porn is much more available. This is an issue for both men and women. They made the choice to indulge in the sex of choice, and then again, until it became too difficult to stop. Keep in mind that in this addictive behavior category, some of it is illegal (child porn, pedophilia). There are real consequences to sin. I think grace is shown when there is true remorse and heartfelt repentance, including restitution. To give grace before that seems to be enabling.

    All I know is that the pedophile in our family said sorry many times, but continued in his same pattern. He was reluctant to willingly put himself under accountability. It would be cheap grace to extend grace to someone like that.

    Maybe others have thoughts they’d like to express.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And with child sex issues I agree with you completely hands down 110% Maybe what is complicating this is the merging of legal vs. illegal activity in this post. Some of this could be apples and oranges depending on how its looked at. Illegal activity hands down goes through the justice system all the time. I am not saying that they are given a get out of jail card at all. If a person engages in illegal activity then they must face the consequences of what they have done. That is one of the reasons why I respect Chuck Colson a lot…he did exactly that. But if there is illegal activity the book should be thrown at them incredibly hard. Society should not tolerate that at all.

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  8. Did you read the first comment, though? Did you try to imagine what it was like for Anonymous? How about when she’s a stay at home mom with no education beyond college and he loses his job because of porn and they have children to feed? What about what it does to her emotionally – – that she has a downward spiral of depression blaming herself? How about when their pastor blames her for not giving enough sex? See, I just can’t go there with you on this. It’s not just a personal sin. It’s an addiction affecting many, whether it’s illegal or not.

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  9. Julie Anne…Anonymous is not to blame for his porn problem. That is his problem. The pastor saying his wife is not having sex with her and feeding that…well lets call that for what it is. Pure and simple bullshit. Please don’t insert words into my mouth. I am not downplaying her situation at all. She is not responsible for her husband’s porn problem…he alone is.

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  10. Hold on, David. When you are talking about men being harped on, are you talking about the purity culture, without even having an addiction? (Just as young women are harped on about modesty and purity.)

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  11. Wondering Eagle,
    Porn use in a marriage is not about legality or illegality, nor is it even about losing a job and not being able to support children, although, it can definitely go there. It’s about betrayal of the relationship. When a man chooses another woman (or man since you brought up gay porn), whether she’s real or electronic, he is rejecting his wife. He may protest until he’s blue that she’s the only one, but his actions are screaming at her. Porn is not just a sexual issue, but also an intimacy issue. A man who is habitually using porn will disconnect from his wife (there are plenty of studies that back this up). He has violated the trust between them and while she may be able to overcome this at the beginning, as the years go on, she will find it increasingly difficult to regain trust. Add to this the complications for many Christian wives, who are taught to forgive, pray, submit and hold on to wisps of hope that he might someday understand the devastation he’s causing in her life.

    I have spent many hours talking to lots of women, all Christians, who have discovered their husbands were using porn. Every one was devastated and took a long time to heal from the hurt.

    I have also found that many men are oblivious to the damage porn is causing in their wives’ hearts. As my own former spouse said to a counselor, “I’ve never touched another woman.” And my reply was, “You have proven you have no boundaries. I have zero confidence that what you’re saying is true.” I really wanted to believe him in the earlier years, but by the time we got to years 17 and 18 of repeated betrayals, I could not trust him anymore.

    P.S. I am anonymous out of respect for my kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Do you tell others about the sexual abuse? — by Barbara Roberts | A Cry For Justice

  13. It’s struck me for a while now that one of the saddest things about sexual abuse is that it ruins play. Play is one of the most wondrous ways through which we can learn, grow and be childlike in the sense that Jesus called us to be. But abuse curtails it and can hinder a person’s ability to be playful.

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  14. Ok, now I understand where you are coming from. Yes, that is a separate issue that certainly deserves its own blog post. This article is about people who are sexual addicts. Thanks, David. I think we’re on the same page now. 🙂

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  15. A man who is habitually using porn will disconnect from his wife (there are plenty of studies that back this up).

    I don’t want to get into too many details, but I accidentally ended up on the other side of this issue, and I didn’t really understand it until I started reading some of these posts about porn. Going in I only had a vague idea that porn was probably destructive, but now I think it explains a number of things with an ex.

    But yes, I think it does cause a disconnect. How could it not?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My dad was a pedophile. I think he had other sexual issues as well given that he was caught committing beastiality when I was 15. I was 19 when he was arrested for rape of two 12 year old boys. I can see in hindsight now that he not only had an affinity for young boys – particularly mentally handicapped and/or socially disadvantaged – he groomed in plain sight, often in front of me. He was a stay at home dad by the time I was born, so I was with most of the time I wasn’t in school until my teens. Though he didn’t sexually abuse me, it was still absolutely devastating especially when I started looking back and seeing the grooming he did for what it was. Up until the beastiality incident, he was a deacon, and we belonged to sect of Baptists (Landmarkists) that consider Southern Baptists too liberal. It shook my whole perceived world to the very core.

    But like a good little Baptist deacon’s daughter, I maintained my facade under a cloak of denial that there was anything wrong. After all, he was also an abusive control freak. I learned very early to “look the part” no matter how dysfunctional our family was. I discovered the magic of alcohol when I was 16, and spent the next 28 years numbing and escaping until my facade crumbled and I had to either increase my drinking, or get help. I consider it sheer grace that I chose to get help. I learned enough honesty with myself in therapy and Al-Anon to recognize I needed AA when I was told I needed to stop drinking for a while and couldn’t. And it was working the steps in AA that I finally starting dealing with all the guilt and shame I had been carrying because of my dad’s actions that were never mine to carry.

    I said on Twitter yesterday that I had no idea there was an S-Anon group. Turns out there is a group in the town where I work. I think I’m going to check it out sometime! Thank you! 🙂

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  17. Dear JulieAnne,
    I am so glad that you had the courage to accompany your friend to that first meeting. S-Anon was a life-saver for me when my life exploded and I know many,many women and men who have similarly benefited from the simplicity but profound experience of sharing the journey with another. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    There are many aspects to the 12-step groups that we need in our churches–unconditional positive regard, compassionate support, tools to begin to recover and to live an authentic and healthy life. And the promise of confidentiality is not just lip-service. It is a highly valued principle of the program. Thank you for sharing your experience and for taking the time to go with someone who needed your support.

    I am proud to be you friend,
    Brenda

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  18. DragonLady, I read your comment earlier today when I was on a field trip with my son and had to have some time think about it. If there was ever an example of how a sexual addict can affect someone, your story is it. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad that you have found help and hope along your recovery path. And I’m also glad that you found an S-Anon in your area that you can check out. Very cool!

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  19. Brenda,

    Three years. It’s been over 3 years since we “met” online, and then later in person. The events surrounding how we met and also connected with Anon3 are simply amazing and I believe divinely appointed. You have mentioned S-Anon for quite some time and I’ve always been intrigued. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to go and see what it is all about. We know that DragonLady plans to check out S-Anon because of this post, and who knows how many others will. You have been such a valuable person to me as a friend, but also in helping me understand what it was like to be a wife of a pedophile. The experience and wisdom you have shared with me and others is having a ripple effect. I’m very excited about that — that many can find the tools and support to become whole again. Thank you, Brenda 🙂

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  20. Re: Porn
    Yes, porn addictions can destroy marriages (ED, lack of emotional closeness), but I don’t the religious community has any solutions other than saying, “Stop doing that.”

    This video with 6.5 million views is really helpful for porn viewers. It explains why porn is so addictive and what can be done from a scientific perspective…how thousands of addicts have stopped.

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  21. How is porn an evangelical issue? Define what you mean by Evangelical to begin with because it is a very vague term in today’s context.
    I would hardly define Mark Driscoll as representative of what many call mainline Evangelicalism. Thirdly how is Evangelicalism to blame for shaming and pushing guilt on those who view porn? How does the bible view porn and also homosexuality and porn?

    It isn’t about your conservative Evangelical Pastor (assuming you have one or know one) guilt tripping men about porn it is about what the bible says regarding all forms of sexual immorality. I hear what you are saying ” SHOOT THE MESSENGER” then you don’t have to hear the message or feel guilty about your behaviour.

    Generally when people speak about porn they are using a broad brush it really doesn’t matter whether it is straight or gay porn. Both types have the same result. I have a client who views gay porn on a daily basis often for more than 7 hours a day; how do you think that effects them?

    Firstly they have no consciousness of sexual sin secondly it effects how they interact with others thirdly it amplifies unrealistic expectations about sex and relationships and finally it results in extremely risky behaviour… here’s the clincher straight porn has exactly the same outcome and consequences there is no difference between them.

    You said you were being blunt…. no you weren’t! You were really trying to say something completely different come out and say it.

    What I just wrote was blunt and to the point

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  22. Actually I would disagree on Mark Driscoll I have known several people who thought the world of him. To an agnostic/atheist like me at the time it baffled me. And these guys were more mainstream in their theology. I have known guys who have been fired on the job for looking at porn so yes I know it’s deadly. I know it creates problems. I look at porn kind of like alcoholism. For some people alcoholism affects their employment others learn how to manage it and be a “functioning alcoholic.” Neither is good. I was trying to point out that there is another dimension to this topic especially with a growing gay family culture. Yes we’ll start to hear stories about how porn affects gay families. Yes it will be tragic. No I don’t believe its healthy at all.

    Finally I think homosexuality is very complex, I know its not the topic here. But I think its a very complex issue. I know a guy who joined the US Army years ago in an effort to cure his being gay. The BS he went through because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” being in effect meant he couldn’t report the problems going on – even when he was threatened.

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  23. I do also think fantasy and unrealistic expectations are a problem not just limited to porn but other areas. I think magazines like Better Gomes and Garden or Men’s Health can both have an adverse affect. I think that’s part of the reason why some guys stay in the gym for hours and get addicted to exercise. I also think that’s why some women can be obsessed with the cleanliness of their house. Their read a magazine like BH & G and feel guilty their home is not like what they read. Any type of fantasy is destructive I would suggest in that it creates un-realistic expectations. In the case of porn it sets people up for failure as they expect something they are not going to get. That is part of the harm of it.

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  24. Any type of fantasy is destructive I would suggest in that it creates un-realistic expectations.

    I mean, it depends on how much importance you attach to something. One can spend too much time cleaning, too much money decorating, etc. But I don’t think the impact is generally as harmful as something that enters the bedroom in such a personal and harmful way. It replaces true intimacy with fantasy and I don’t think most people would be hurt in the same way by a clean and pretty house as they are by the kind of rejection or pushing into uncomfortable and dangerous directions that accompanies the use of porn.

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  25. Wonderingeagle thanks for your replies. On Mark Driscoll I would note that his views have varied over the years thankfully he has distanced himself from the Emerging Church movement. I share many of his reformed views but I am not a continuest as he is. I think the fact that he was caught out as a plagiarist did a lot of harm to his ministry as well.

    I like the way you phrased the term functioning alcoholic in relation to porn addicts. I think we are all functioning addicts with various flaws and weaknesses not just sexual addiction as you pointed out.

    A thread that many may identify with here is image addiction especially in the form of presenting a holy or righteous image that has been propagated by Bill Gothard. What you implied and I think I get this is how image can become an unhealthy preoccupation. Patriarchy would apply as another unhealthy image also propagated by Bill Gothard although this plays into the male ego and attracts narcissists. Bill being a narcissist developed his system fairly extensively although it takes a lot of misquoting of the scriptures to make it work.

    Thanks for expanding on your original posts

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  26. In the context of the strained and, in some cases, ongoing relationship between churches and 12-step programs, the history of the 12-step program is both instructive and compelling.

    The modern 12-step program has as its foundation the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, which actually began as a religious movement known as the Oxford Group (http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/aa-timeline). The short version of AA’s formation is that, while AA began as an explicitly church-based endeavor, AA’s founders ultimately decided that in order to reach the maximum number of suffering alcoholics and offer them at least some hope for spiritual healing, AA had to exist independently from the church.

    While the description offered here of S-Anon as a source of compassion and loving confrontation for victims of sexual addiction and misconduct is almost certainly accurate, the more relevant question today is, outside of those churches that still allow 12-step programs to meet in their buildings, is such a ministry of compassion and understanding within the church even possible?

    My personal experience with nouthetic counseling advocates and practitioners is that they believe the 12-step program is a modern-day antichrist, which is exactly how these adherents feel about any form of therapeutic modality other than the cult prostitute of nouthetic counseling to which they are enslaved. Given how many more churches today are adopting nouthetic counseling as their standard, either out of arrogance, ignorance or both, how can the modern church and the 12-step program even remotely co-exist?

    In reading many of the comments posted to this blog, much of what has been expressed represents the desire of people not to be categorized, on the basis of addiction, sin or condemnation, but rather to be listened to and understood. Who really believes the modern church is capable of that today, when the focus of most women’s programs is nebulous, at best, and the focus of most men’s programs is how all men will be in bondage to pornography if they are not held accountable by church leaders and/or nouthetic counselors?

    The failure of the modern church to truly embrace the vision outlined in Acts Chapter 2 can be measured by the current distance between the modern-day church and the 12-step program, which to my knowledge has not materially changed in almost 90 years and is, in fact, biblically based. The fact that an uncomfortably high number of churches today would rather adopt condemnation of those who are suffering, in the form of nouthetic counseling, than an undoubtedly imperfect form of compassion, represented by people who at least desire to offer their experiences and perspective in service to others, is probably a primary reason why people in general, and men in particular, are abandoning the modern-day Christian church.

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  27. Sean,

    I was going to post a thought similar to yours, but you did a much better job than I could have. Had to look up “nouthetic” and learned a new word. In the circles that I was in, it was called “biblical counseling.”

    Do “biblical” (or nouthetic as Sean put it) remedies ever work? I have never seen them work in my own life or in others’. Sure people who have undergone biblical counseling to address their issues tend to put on a good facade and get up in front of congregations to give glowing testimonies. But I have never seen biblical counseling work in real life. Ever.

    John MacArthur and others advocate nicely packaged concepts like “Sufficiency of Christ” or “Sufficiency of Scripture,” meaning that solutions to our life problems can only be found in Scripture, not in the secular world. Sounds nice, but what he really means is the sufficiency of his religious system which he conflates with Christ. No, John MacArthur. Christ is not the religious system you peddle and visa versa. Get over yourself.

    When a biblical remedy prescribed by the church does not work, more condemnation follows. It is your fault for not properly and diligently applying biblical principles. It’s your fault for not studying Scripture with enough earnest. It’s your fault for not praying hard enough. The whole system perpetuates the cycle of guilt, shame and continued sinful behavior (but well masked and suppressed) It’s toxic and immoral.

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  28. Sean, there has been some interesting secular backlash against AA recently, not so much on the religious side but more on the idea of giving up alcohol entirely verses moderation? I wish I could remember the article name, but it still has a pretty good track record versus everything else.

    I’m guessing it’s much, much better than nouthetic counseling, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen good numbers, or any numbers at all, from those folks! They don’t seem to take a scientific/research approach which disturbs me.

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  29. The Christian Community and many who refer themselves as feminists’ who oppose pornography have an uphill battle with freedom of speech laws, that seems to have no boundaries.

    To educate or re-educate the mental and physical harm that pornography has on sexual health may not be fully understood but there is a price being paid.

    I can’t figure out why society isn’t being indoctrinated to the dangers that porn has, other than the same old “it’s degrading to women and that it is sin”. When in truth porn is even more damaging as it over-stimulates the mind and eventually effect desire not only with their own spouse/partner but also causing desire to disappear even looking at porn. (as they think looking at it over and over again when create desire)

    Porn is a heroin, whereas those that are addicted to it will never achieve the mental rush than the very first time they view it and yet they keep looking at it trying to achieve that same rush but they continue to view it.

    What is really strange is many who view it, would achieve some intimate normalcy if they stop looking at it. One can only imagine how difficult a struggle it is for a heroin addict to come clean so they can have some normalcy in their life and yet they continue to pursue euphoria even though they know it is destroying their lives,,, porn is somewhat the same way.

    The only way to combat porn is through public awareness as a way to prevent those from even looking at it in the first place.

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  30. While there is no question regarding the harm pornography has caused, the more relevant question in this context is, what is the most effective means by which to bring those enslaved by pornography, or any other form of addiction, to a place where they can have freedom from that bondage?

    As I have noted previously in prior posts to this site, the typical time frame called for by nouthetic counselors (I will never, ever refer to nouthetic counseling as “biblical”) is 13 weeks. For someone who has been spending a lifetime chained to porn sites on the internet, the bottle, the crack pipe or the buffet line, is 13 weeks with someone who may or may not understand that person’s struggle, and who may or may not even be competent to counsel, likely to result in deliverance from evil?

    Clearly, one of the motives behind the adoption of nouthetic counseling by increasing numbers of churches, is to increase “production” within the church; namely, more people “serving” in ministry, “witnessing” to the unsaved and “evangelizing” lost souls into confessions of faith that may or may not be genuine. The arrangement between increasing numbers of church leaders and their parishioners is, apparently, that in exchange for your whole life, someone will deign to spend an hour with you during each of 13 weeks, making clear in excruciating detail how, and how much, your actions offend God throughout that time.

    It is, indeed, this pronounced lack of willingness to share in people’s struggles, in favor of haughty condemnation fueled by the sort of comfy, chummy groupthink that makes the cult prostitute of nouthetic counseling possible, that is the true cause of the modern church’s decline. Whatever happened to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15(b))?

    While I share the concerns of those who would eschew the 12-step program’s concept of “God as we understand God”, the preference of those who struggle with addictions for meetings with others who have had similar struggles, and are able to lovingly confront based on their experiences, as opposed to those who would use God’s Word as a sword rather than a plowshare, and who are likely to be confrontational primarily for the sake of their own convenience, is completely understandable.

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  31. I am late to the party, but I want to chime in and back up Anonymous here.

    I was not a born-again Christian when I married my now ex-husband, who is the son of a UCC minister. I went to counseling when our son was 3 because I knew something was really, really wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that I was barely able to function. After the first four visits, my couseling turned into couples counseling. This was due to an incident where my ex was shaking me and screaming in my face, and came within 1/8 of an inch of punching me in the face. I left that night. But three counseling visits later, I decided to ask for a separation. After reading a letter I’d written about why I was moving out, he came and confessed that he was addicted to porn and masturbation.

    Now that the problem had a name, I could deal with it. I went to counseling for a year while we were getting divorced. I also spent nearly five years in Al-Anon. I don’t think S-Anon was available back then. My ex did not think he needed treatment for his problems, and has never sought it. To this day, 17 years after our divorce, he still displays all the classic symptoms of an untreated addict.

    Anonymous is completely right about the rejection. I was rejected for cyber women. They’re perfect companions: they can change their looks according to the mood of the day, and when he’s done or tired of interacting, all he has to do is shut off the computer. He never has to deal with bills or kids or housework with them.

    It took me more than four years to quit blaming myself for everything that happened. My son and I are still paying the price for his untreated addiction — dad has been absent financially and emotionally for many years, and even though my son is only 21, he already knows for sure he can’t count on his dad for anything, so he doesn’t even ask or try.

    My dividing line is this: if your partner can’t perform sexually without viewing porn first or watching it while having sex, they’re an addict. (Notice how I made that a gender-neutral statement.) I very firmly believe that if porn use crosses this line, it’s addiction. And it’s adultery, pure and simple. You’ve rejected your spouse for a fantasy, and you’re cheating.

    So, wonderingeagle, I’m sorry if you think the system came “down too hard” on my ex, who gave up his wife, his child and his home and nearly lost his job so he could keep his porn. I could tell you about the lifelong physical harm this did to me, and the tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees his porn has cost me. Or how hard I’ve had to work to get our son through college while his dad retired early and plays golf every day. But somehow, I don’t think revealing such personal details would make a difference to you.

    Anonymous, I’m with you. So glad you had the strength to leave. My ex went to a Christian counselor, too. They decided that the top priority was for him to keep his job. They didn’t even work on keeping his family together. I went to a certified sex therapist and had much better results. Happily divorced indeed!

    I, too, will not use the name I usually use here.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Dear Also Anonymous,

    Thank you very much for the courage you’ve shown, in leaving an unhealthy marriage and in sharing your story. Your perspective is extremely valuable in helping everyone understand what’s involved in porn addiction.

    So, wonderingeagle, I’m sorry if you think the system came “down too hard” on my ex, who gave up his wife, his child and his home and nearly lost his job so he could keep his porn…

    I can’t speak for David (aka WonderingEagle), but I don’t think that he intended to make excuses for men like your ex-husband, or to minimize the harm that they do to themselves and their families. He mentioned above, in response to Julie Anne, that he was speaking more generally of the “purity culture” so prevalent in many churches, rather than on the more specific subject of addiction.

    However I think his observation, that churches are woefully ineffective in dealing with porn use among men, is also true in regarding to porn addiction. Most pastors and church counsellors, I fear, aren’t well equipped to deal with the topic of addiction at all, and worse still, don’t recognize that they’re out of their depth. They might be able to convince a man to stop addictive behaviours for a while, but they don’t know how to support him through withdrawal, or help him deal with the underlying pain or trauma (if any) that he’s trying to medicate. Being the son of a UCC minister certainly doesn’t seem to have helped your ex-husband at all.

    I hope that your ex comes to his senses someday, before he forfeits the potential to have a real relationship with anyone. And I hope you and your son have found some happiness in life, and people who love and support you.

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  33. I was not sure if I saw my husband’s encounter but did make the decision of going to the hospital with the family member and have it reported. Sad to say I stayed to find out exactly 1 year later. He has since been arrested here on this past Tuesday. Mind you we have only been married 5 years and have grown children. I thought I made the right decision. He is my 2nd husband after 13 years of a single mother. He was a godly man verses my first of 20 years with an abusive man. I know he has sinned a great sin and I am to move on. But the pain and confusion is the hard part when everyone knew this man and could not comprehend his actions. He is an alcoholic and made everyone think he did not remember. That day was a mess. But I feel I need to make no contact with him but my love for him gets in the way. I need encouragement to proceed with what I know is the right thing to do. Please a cry for help..

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