I’m going to be completely vulnerable and share how grace and accountability have informed my own struggles with this. One night in 2010, around eleven, Elicia was in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, and the door between us was closed. As I was flipping through channels, I stopped and watched a pornographic scene on Showtime for a minute. I grew convicted and changed the channel right as Elicia opened the door. Immediately the embarrassment crushed me, and all the blood in my body rushed to my face. Elicia asked what was wrong, and I lied and said, “Nothing.”
The next morning I woke up early to pray and confess my sin. For the past few months prior to this, a group of men in our church would text each other every morning to report our victory, or failure, regarding pornography (and other sexual sin) from the day before. This was the first time I was going to confess a sin to our group, and I knew I also had to confess to Elicia when she woke up. I sent a lengthy text message to the group and then went to record a podcast. During the podcast I opened up about my recent fall into looking at porn and then saved the file to my computer. When I logged off, I noticed that my phone had dozens of notifications. Something wasn’t right. It was only six thirty in the morning! No one ever contacted me so early unless it was a pastoral emergency. As I scrolled through my phone, I saw that the notifications were from Facebook, in response to a status I’d apparently posted more than an hour before. I was puzzled. I hadn’t posted anything to Facebook—had I?
I quickly logged on to Facebook, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. My text message to my accountability group had somehow been posted to my Facebook page instead! Thousands of people had viewed what I thought I had sent to my small inner circle of accountability partners. People were leaving mixed reviews about my confession—some were very supportive and thanked me for being a pastor who is honest about his struggle; others shamed me for openly confessing; and others told me I need to put accountability structures in place.
I removed the Facebook post, went upstairs, and confessed to Elicia all that had happened the night before and that morning. She forgave me, telling me she knew I had been lying but trusted the Lord to bring me to a place of confession and repentance. I felt as though I was disqualified for the pastorate, but both my wife and elders (who were in my circle of accountability) said that my confession and desire to remain accountable were a sign of victory in this area and would serve as adequate fruit of repentance.
One redemptive and unforeseen outcome from my fall into sin was the number of single and married men who approached me after the fact, confessing their deep addictions to porn. I had heard of men struggling with this addiction, but I had never known how deep of an impact it was having on men in the body of Christ. Over the course of time, Elicia and I were both asked to counsel married men and women who struggled not only with an addiction to porn but also with the defilement and damage to their marriage bed.
Many men who struggle with pornography are unable to physically engage in sexual activity because of a medical condition known as PIED (Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction). The women in these marriages struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Over time, due to a lack of communication, confession, and repentance, the married couple begins to drift away from each other in every other area of life, and sadly they transition into roommates on the verge of divorce. It’s important to note that porn addiction is a struggle not just for men but also for women. In recent years, the number of married women who are addiction to porn is rising and must be considered as well.[i]
Again, married couples can keep the destruction of pornography at bay if they openly communicate their struggles with it and seek victory over it. Identifying the root causes for this addiction is crucial, and spouses must confess, extend forgiveness, and put an accountability structure in place. Married couples must cling to the cross of Christ and love each other through times of confession and forgiveness as well as through times of victory.
You’ve been reading with Elicia and D.A. Horton from their book Enter the Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel-Saturated Marriage. You can read a free excerpt of the intro and chapter one here. D.A. and Elicia have been fighting for their marriage for over 15 years and are passionate about marriage and family discipleship. Get your copy of the book or learn more about D.A. and Elicia at entertheringbook.com
[i] Luke Gilkerson, “Resources for Women Who Struggle with Porn,” Covenant Eyes, June 30, 2014, accessed April 3, 2017, http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/06/30/resources-women-struggle-porn/.