In June 2012, I attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Orlando, FL, with 3800 women from across the USA and from other countries. Many more women also listened in via a live web stream, adding another 1200 or so women to the attendance.

The theme of the conference was “Here is Our God,” and speakers unfolded Scripture with passion and vision, helping us to see the treasure of Jesus and God’s Word to all of us. The entire conference is available online for free on The Gospel Coalition’s website. I encourage anyone to listen for excellent teaching from the Bible.

There was, however, one disappointing reality about the conference that disheartened me as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for Harvest USA and as Ellen, a woman needy of God’s grace and truth for my own brokenness. I’m referring to the fact that, in the course of the eleven talks I attended, I heard only two very brief comments related to sexuality. Both of these were just a quick phrase or sentence that mentioned an aspect of sexual brokenness with which women struggle. In other words, in the eleven talks which constituted about 660 minutes of Bible teaching and application, there were only ten seconds’ worth on how the gospel of grace intersects with the sexual brokenness of women!

Ten seconds?! Hear me out: I’m not disparaging TGC or the Women’s Conference; but this void spoke loudly to me, and I’m assuming it also communicated something to the thousands of other women who were listening. Perhaps many were hoping, praying, wondering if our God and his Word had anything to say to those who have quickly become addicted to the new craze of “mommy porn?” Or if there is any gospel hope for women who are in emotional and sexually broken relationships, with men or women? Or if there is grace for the woman in a marriage scarred by serial adultery and a husband who is addicted to porn?

I want to assure you, if you are a woman in any of these circumstances, that there is much gospel hope, grace, and truth for you! I actually met with one such woman in my office two weeks after the conference, who stopped by our Harvest USA display table at the conference to get more information.

Join me for the next few blog posts as I apply the rich teaching I heard from this conference, to the relational and sexual brokenness of women! Jesus said, “[The Father] has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19, ESV). Jesus, our God, promises this to all women—including daughters of God who are heavy and ache with the pain, shame, and fear associated with sexual sin.

Has this been your experience, that you never hear pastors or Christian leaders talk about sexuality? Do you feel, as I do, that you need good biblical information on this in order to walk with sexual integrity?

Updated 5.8.2017

Don and Dave are college students. Don asks Dave, “What’s you major?” and Dave replies, “Business Administration.”

“What’s yours?” asks Dave, and Don says, “English Lit.”

Don then asks, “So, what’s your minor?”

And Dave says, “Porn is my minor.”

After a long pause, Don incredulously asks, “Is that in . . . the Women’s Studies Department?”

The fictional Dave in this snippet of dialogue would probably never be this honest. But a study of 29,000 North American college students revealed that 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to 5 hours each week online “for sexual purposes” [Cited in Porn University: What College Students Are Really Saying About Sex on Campus, by Michael Leahy. Moody, 2009].

And catch this: An additional 11% of men spend anywhere from 5 to 20 hours on porn per week! That is a lot of carnal study. No wonder many say, “Porn is the norm.”

Is pornification just a crisis among non-Christian students? Not by a long stretch. Every campus minister with whom I speak says that almost 100% of the men who are student leaders in their ministry have or have had a fierce struggle with porn. Likewise, they add that most of their female student leaders who are dating stumble a lot with varying levels of sexual activity with their boyfriends.

What will happen to these Christian students if this practice is not dealt with? What will be the impact on their relationships, now and in the future? What will happen to the church if most of today’s rising Christian leaders have been habitually pornified and promiscuous?

If Christian students today see little or no problem with such sexual behavior, then it means they will use sex and porn as their recreational drugs of choice, as their habitual escape from the pressures and struggles of life. Whatever the motive, the end result will be disastrous: Pornified and promiscuous behavior leads to a divorce between love and sex, between committed relationship and intimacy.

Sex becomes just another commodity for consumers to consume. Sex is used not to glory God within the parameters of his design, but for sheer personal and self-centered reasons. This consumer mindset about sex will have devastating implications for when young people do marry. Expectations about sex will run up against the all-too-familiar struggles that every marriage encounters. The odds are good that, when dealing with such marital pressures, they will use the same escape mechanisms they utilized as students—porn and sexual encounters. But this time, it will be adultery.

Broken sexuality is not victimless. Affairs and porn usage devastate spouses, and they often lead to the break-up of families. Children then become the most innocent victims of a worldview mindset, so prevalent today, that sex is merely about my pleasure and my needs. Sex, used within that worldview, is far from harmless—it’s threatening, especially for society as a whole, as more and more families are torn apart.

How do we intervene into the lives of Christian students today to try and stop this tsunami of broken sexuality? This is what I’m going to explore over the next several posts. Let me hear your thoughts as well.

Updated 5.9.2017

Hello again friend, wanted to share a few more thoughts with you since the post a few weeks ago. Jesus really is your real and present Savior and Deliverer for any area of sin struggle, including your addiction to porn. But how does he deliver us? Should you say a prayer and then make a New Years Resolution in the next days as 2009 rolls in? Should you resolve to just not look anymore…no more clicks that will lead to those sites?

Of course prayer and resolve to walk in obedience are wise and holy steps, but I want to share a few steps of wisdom that I trust will lead you to the hope that is yours in Christ for freedom. The hope we have in Jesus, is so much more powerful than a desperate resolution made in our own strength. Consider the following and then step forward in faith friend…it is supremely worth it as true freedom can happen in your soul as you walk into 2009 with Christ!

1) Walk in the light (1 John 1:5-9, James 5:16). We are not meant to walk in a “me and Jesus” kind of Christianity. Of course, a personal and intimate one-to-one relationship with Jesus is foundational to our faith, but he calls us to walk with him as a body, as a family of believers. It is hugely significant that for starters, you confess your struggle to someone who is a) wise believer, b) will pray for you and c) will check in on you.

2) Trust Christ to provide a way out of temptation today and in the days to come (1 Corinthians 10:13-14). God is calling you to a radical faith and radical obedience and He promises to provide escape for you, but you must look for it and walk in it!

3) Pray for and seek out help for the deeper work of discipleship, healing, and repentance that needs to happen in your heart. (Jeremiah 17:5-9, Psalm 107:20, Psalm 147:3) Jesus knows that your heart has brokenness and needs not only spiritual sight but also healing. Your pornography addiction does not define you friend, and it is not “you.” It is however the fruit of messiness that is happening in your heart. Somehow, someway the porn that you’ve invited into your life is “working” for you, it’s providing comfort, escape, pain-smothering…something. You are seeking life and escape in creation rather than your Creator. Why you are doing this and the crooked patterns of coping with life that have grown in your heart over time need the balm of God’s Word applied to it. Through a mature friend, a pastor, a counselor, a woman in ministry leadership at your church, you need to invite someone to help you. You cannot do this alone!

4) Take steps to starve the flesh and to feed the Spirit. This phrase comes from Bible teacher Beth Moore. The idea comes from Galatians 6:7-8 and Romans 8:5-8. We are always sowing seeds and a harvest is always coming in. You’ve sown a lot of seeds into what the Bible calls your “flesh,” or the selfish nature that is a part of all of us. We all do it in various ways and the path of becoming more like Jesus and free from sin entanglements will be a process of increasingly sowing to the Spirit and godliness, rather than to our flesh.

How, where, when are you tempted to turn to porn? When you are alone? Tired? Lonely? Anxious? Sad? Your lunch hour at work or when the kids go to school…or to bed? How are you handling your new cell phone with Internet? Do you use the church computer that has no filter on it? You need to do a radical 1 Corinthians 10:14 and flee from the situations that trigger you to turn to porn and instead begin looking for Christ’s way out, and to feast on him and the Word. Having others in your life who will “lovingly meddle” is crucial. Do you have anyone in your life who will ask you if you’ve been viewing? If you’ve been setting yourself up for temptation?

5) Practice soaking upon and praying God’s Word (Psalm 138:1-3). God uses his Word to cleanse and transform our minds and our desires. Over and over in his Word, he commands us to actively relating to Scripture through study, meditation, considering, teaching, and speaking it to others. It is the only book that is actually ‘alive’ with the power of God to bring change to our hearts and the way we think, feel, live, relate, deal with life. I strongly recommend Praying God’s Word, written by Beth Moore. I use this prayer tool all the time in my ministry with women who are seeking to be free from all kinds of sexual sin and entanglement. Pornography easily becomes a firmly entrenched stronghold in our lives and strongholds are called that because they have a strong hold on our hearts. 

Strongholds will only topple down through a radical surrender to Christ!
 Friend, 2009 can be a year of new beginnings for you, of freedom from sin and of healing for your hurting heart. Christ offers a hope that is true and free, that is yours as you turn to him in surrender and dependence. Don’t resolve to make 2009 a year of trying to make yourself better…it won’t work because we cannot heal our own hearts! Turn to Jesus with your pain and your desperate neediness…He is waiting and he is able to deliver you with true hope…himself!

This post was originally placed on the website of Covenant Eyes, www.covenanteyes.org, an amazing internet accountability ministry.

Welcome friend, hope it’s okay to call you friend? It’s fairly personal and we probably don’t know each other but I do want you to know my heart is tender towards you. And while I’m not entangled with pornography, I’m much more like you than different. Yeah, you and I both have been tempted by the desires of our heart to look to creation rather than to the Creator for life, for comfort, for satisfaction in our souls as we seek distraction from something, some one, some feeling.

I dabbled in porn as a junior high girl, before the internet was created so my experience was with magazines I found in my neighbors’ closet. Secret, lingering, and lustful gazes were happening every time I went to babysit and the kids were in bed. My body reacted…aroused by things I’d never seen before. So enticing! So mesmerizing! And…addicting. Amazingly though, those magazines were missing one day when I showed up for my neighborly duties and try as I might, I couldn’t find them! And so…my porn history was cut short to my then-disappointment, but now I shake my head in thankful wonder at God’s merciful intervention. 

But I’ve more than dabbled in other addictive, ensnaring habits: food, entertainment, emotionally-enmeshing connections with people and in particular with women. I’ve been the kind of person that Jesus came for: a captive needing to be set free and a broken-hearted woman needing healing. (See Luke 4:18-20 and Isaiah 61:1-3 if you’re interested in his job description!)

Your enslavement to pornography is the fruit of a process that’s happening in your heart friend; or as Paul says in Galatians 6:7-8, it is the ‘harvest’ coming in from seeds you’ve sown. When desires and thoughts go astray from a Christ-ward and Word-centric focus, seeds are being sown toward the nurturing of our flesh. I wonder how you made your first click into a porn site? And how long you lingered there? How long it was before you were drinking in and feasting upon the images again? Then when did you reach the sober destination of, “How did I end up here? How in the world have I become so addicted to this stuff?”

You see, God’s promises often come to us with a combination sober warning and amazing hope. Galatians 6:7-8 is a passage I want to urge you to feast upon, to soak your thoughts upon and to take steps of obedience toward: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked, a man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life!”

For as many women who are addicted to pornography, there are as many paths of sowing seeds that led each one closer to the edge of the pit, and then finally into a seemingly hopeless miry mess, a web of addiction from which escape seems impossible. A lonely heart, a heart in pain seeking escape so as to feel good. Disappointment with life, selfish demands that life flow my way on my terms. Thoughts unchecked and coasting in lust, secretly developed stories of sexual fantasy craving fulfillment. A body that longs for sexual intimacy, and the settling for arousing images that lead towards sex with self. Yearnings for romance with a man or woman, yearning for a person to fill my soul, the easy click into a world of relating where I am queen and have nothing asked of me…or so one thinks. Or so one thinks…seeking life in creation which is sin, will cost us more than we ever imagine and will take us further than we ever want to go.
For all of the above, Jesus has come and is a knowing, loving, present Savior, Healer, and Rescuer!

Desires, feelings, pain, dreams, fears, anxieties, soul ache happens to everyone in this world because it’s broken or fallen. This is why Jesus came: to restore creation from corruption and to return us to what we were created for, lives of glory-giving to God—to actually cause 2 Peter 1:3-4 to be reality: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires and participate in the divine nature.”

Friend, there is true, freeing hope for you…it is a person, Jesus. He knows the pains, sorrows, fears, anxieties, longings, and groanings that are in your heart. While porn will smother that pain for a brief time, it cannot heal it, or strengthen you to be the woman God’s beautifully designed you to be! He is your designer and your healer. Will you take the courageous step to be honest about your broken-heartedness, with God and a trusted person in your life? Jesus is saying to you, “Come to me as you are with your pornography enslavement, and I will set you free.” Will you come?

Updated 6.12.2017


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