One of the greatest challenges facing the church today is pornography. According to one study, pastors state pornography addiction is the top sexual desire of all sexual issues. Pornography has
always been a part of society, but with the invent of the internet, free access and availability to pornography is running rampant in America and in the church. Printable Version link at the bottom of this article.
Ministers from every denomination are struggling with sexual issues. Various studies and surveys affirm that ministers are involved in pornography at about the same extent as those in the pew.
Many have reported feeling guilty, unqualified, and have to conceal their addiction from their church and denomination for fear of being dismissed and publicly embarrassed. Ministers struggle with
this ever-existing problem while trying to be the leader the church needs, ministering purity, abstinence, and being free of fleshly desires. Many are struggling with the same addictions that they
are preaching against. Why is this possible? Let’s examine a few factors.
Pastors are Vulnerable
- Pastors are in positions of power. People look up to them, many times with standards much higher than their own. Most people look up to pastors
and go to them for advice. This higher morality places pastors in spiritual and moral leadership.
- Pastors lead stressful lives. They are expected to hold themselves to the highest standard; therefore, the shame factor is greatly exaggerated when their behavior
is perceived as less than perfect.
- Pastors often lack the resources and outlets to communicate their own hardships. Many other types of professionals have group supervision or accountability
partners. Many pastors feel isolated from others.
- Pastoral demands often wear and tear on a minister and his family with personal needs often not met.
- 33% of pastors and 36% of layman state they have visited a sexually explicit website.
- Of these, 53% of the pastors have done so in the past year, as compared to 44% of the lay readers.
- 50% of the laity state their spouse knew about Web porn use, only 28% of the pastors stated their spouses knew and 30% claimed they did not talk to anyone about their behavior.
- Two-thirds of those who visited sexually explicit websites say they prayed about this area of their lives (69% of pastors and 60%
- Only 4% of pastors have sought professional help or confessed to anyone, 7% of laity.
- Curiosity Stage: The desire to learn about things that may not properly concern a person, but its veiled mystery invites
personal searching. To see what is it about and if it is something to be desired.
- Experimental Stage: Initiating action to see whether something may be stimulating or compelling and
staying longer than originally intended.
- Regular Usage Stage: Recurring usage at certain times under certain circumstances, or within certain contexts.
- Habitual Stage: Acquired by continual use until habit is formed. Guilt is overridden by the desire.
- Addictive Stage: Compulsive behavior, giving oneself over to a strong habit, addiction larger than self, need for
professional help to overcome.
Many denominations have graduated stage/treatment/suspension processes. Many are willing to help bring about healing and restoration on the curiosity and experimental stages; however, suspension and professional treatment are recommended for other stages. Most denominations
understand this is becoming an ever-increasing problem and each minister should be given the opportunity for healing and restoration. While each denomination may have their own set of guidelines,
each minister should be looked at individually by their own set of circumstances and should be ministered to in an appropriate manner.
Help for a Minister
- Realize you have a problem. The first step on the road for healing and restoration is admitting you have a problem and seeking the
necessary support needed to bring about that recovery. Many people try to cope or hide their problem, only for it to become larger than they ever expected. Sin will take us farther than we ever
dreamed and will take away everything if untreated.
- Who do we trust? The first one to trust is God to remove sin and temptation from our lives. You must also trust your spouse for help. A breach of trust and
fidelity happens whenever a spouse discovers your addictions before you have a chance to help explain the difficulties to them. Your spouse should be your closest friend, one who
cares about you the most, one with no secrets, and should be the one who will be with you even through the darkest times. You need to trust someone else, such as an
accountability partner or even someone within your denomination who is confidential.
- You have to be accountable! These include the ones you trust as well as yourself. Jesus
stated to the ones he ministered to, “Go and sin no more”. Addictive people have difficulty staying free from their addictions. Accountability people add boundaries and structure
so that your goals and objectives are met…to be free from any addiction—even pornography.
- Boundaries and structure. Each day before leaving your home, you
and your spouse need to pray a prayer of protection that the enemy will not come in, set guardian angels around your thoughts, home, and each other to protect you and war for you at all times.
Boundaries and structure include substituting time and places where addictions happened with other events and structure, such as, placing the computer in an open area for everyone to view, nothing
secret. Structure may also include meeting at regular times with an accountability group to report your progress.
- Seek professional help. If pornography occurs on a regular basis or becomes addictive, you
must seek immediate professional help for the sake of yourself, your spouse, your family, and your church. There are many God-led professionals willing to help assist you whenever you need it the
- Realize there is hope. All things are possible for them who believe! God is a God of
healing and restoration. God desires for your ministry to be strong and uses your talents and abilities for His work. There is no need of guilt, shame, secrets, and pride when it comes to receiving
the help. Don’t let the enemy put words of doubt in your head. Remember, we all have problems and God is still a problem solving God!!! Allow Him to help
Healing for Minister’s Spouse
Many spouses are shattered to find out their mate has engaged in sexual attractions for others through pornography. Many have stated, “Why am I not good
enough?” Why and how is it possible for my spouse to turn to other things that are not real for excitement and fulfillment? What is wrong with me for them to turn to the very
things they preach against?
Education seems to works best for the spouse. It brings knowledge of how and why to an otherwise troubled situation. It allows the spouse to better
understand the road to restoration and healing for himself/herself as well as his/her mate. Here are a few suggestions:
- This is a sickness:Your spouse has a sickness. It is not only a sin but a disease of
which your spouse cannot control his/her compulsive and obsessive desires. He/she will need help, assistance, and support of those closest to them to get through this addiction.
- This is not a personal attack: People with addictions often cannot help themselves and
suffer through guilt and shame knowing their loved one has been hurt, humiliated, has feelings of broken fidelity, and questions of self-esteem.
- This is often secret:You are not alone. Many spouses hear their husband/wife speak of
fidelity throughout their ministry from the pulpit or they remember the vow on their wedding day. How could they be so naïve? Why were warning signs not there? The pressures of ministry are very
demanding with higher standards placed upon ministers than with other Christians. Some demands are unrealistic and some may even contribute to desires of escape through addictions. Many ministers do
not have anyone else to turn to for help and the last person they wish to hurt is their spouse, so they hide it.
**Our website has a list of suggested books and helps for a pastor and spouse.
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