By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Family Strategies Counseling Center
Pastors have a tremendous opportunity to help Christians who are struggling with pornography addiction. They can help in ways that no one else can. They have an influence that is unique. There are some simple interventions that are rooted in the gospel of Christ, that also follow recovery concepts. Following these practical Biblical teachings can support those caught in the vice of pornography addiction in Mesa Arizona.
1) Encourage Transparency. Those caught in the grips of pornography will typically isolate themselves. They may attend Sunday school, small groups, and regular worship service, but emotionally feel alone. Guilt and shame keep their secrets hidden. They put on a mask so others can only see the face they want to portray. It might be hard to admit, but behind the mask they are suffering. A toxic message of identity develops, telling them they’re bad and unworthy, that they don’t measure up, and ultimately that they’re not good enough. This toxic shame begins to erode their self-concept as God’s child. Transparency is an essential ingredient for recovery. Those who cannot learn to live openly will be unsuccessful. It may feel vulnerable and embarrassing to open up, but your encouragement as a pastor can make a big difference.
2) Model transparency. Whether from the pulpit or at Starbucks over coffee, help believers by demonstrating your own ability to open up. Show them strength in vulnerability. When you model transparency, it becomes contagious within the church. You will find others begin to do the same. It creates a healthy climate for healing and change. Additionally, prepare for a possible outpouring from those with secrets. Once the church environment is conducive to disclosure, it encourages people to come out of hiding. Don’t be alarmed when this happens. It’s part of God’s healing design.
3) Educate the body of Christ. Weave information about this issue into your sermons, study guides and small group discussions. This will equip believers with correct information. To understand that some become addicted to pornography can be a tremendous relief for those who are hiding. They may feel inadequate as a Christian because their willpower has been insufficient. When you openly talk about the issue, it encourages open dialogue within the church about the topic.
4) Encourage support. Urge those who are struggling to come out of isolation. Help them to identify support ministries, friends and mentors who can patiently walk beside them. No one can overcome these issues in secret. Shame thrives in an atmosphere of hiding and secrecy. Developing a support network is fundamental for the individual’s growth.
5) Reach out in compassion. Help both adults and youth to know that you love them despite mistakes. In the past many have been shamed by the church, family, or friends and find it painful to trust. When you reach out and take an interest in their lives, it’s easier for them to overcome their fears. It is the fear of shame and rejection that fuels both isolation and the addiction cycle.
6) Teach the grace of Jesus Christ. Pornography addiction causes a sense of failure and inadequacy. The grace of Jesus Christ can diminish the shame that fuels addiction. A whole new life emerges when God’s children experience unconditional love. Jesus came to help us learn and grow, not to condemn us. He wants us to find healthy connection with people. He wants us to commit to sexual behavior within the bounds of faithful marriage. He loves us even when we stumble into sin! “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (NIV) Matthew 11:28.
As the plague of pornography addiction falls upon Mesa Arizona, we can help believers avoid a spiritual crisis. And with God’s help, assist them in escaping its destruction. If you need consultation about how you can help your congregation, or would like to visit with a therapist who specializes in pornography addiction in Mesa Arizona, please give us a call. We can help: 480-668-8301.
 “Out of the Shadows – Understanding Sexual Addiction,” by Patrick Carnes, 2001.