Sexual Purity Posts

Letter to A Child: A Wish For Your (Digital) Future

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You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Dear child, you need to know that the moment you were placed in our arms, and we breathed in your sweet being, our hopes and dreams skyrocketed for you. Our lives would never be the same because of you. And neither would the world.

You see, you were born into a pretty amazing generation, where things seem to move at warp speed and advances in technology happen every second. At an early age you’ll have the privilege to embrace tools and opportunities that technology gives you. Discover and learn and make your mark on the world. Use these tools to build relationships and love others.

We can’t wait to see the places you’ll go and the things you’ll accomplish. Undoubtedly, technology will have a huge influence on your journey. But it can also threaten your future.

Because of this, we have a few things we want to share with you. Please know that with great technology comes great responsibility. What can be used for good can very easily take you down a path you never intended. So as you grow up in this amazing time, we wish for these things for you.

May you have discernment and courage.

You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Someday on your journey, you’ll see images that don’t seem right, you don’t understand or are just plain weird. Maybe someone will send you a message that’s crude or hurtful or ask you to look at things that make you feel uncomfortable. It might make you feel scared or uncertain or even ashamed.

Whatever it is, may you have discernment to listen to that little voice inside your head that says, “This is not right.” May you have the courage to overcome any fear or embarrassment and come to us. Talk to us. No matter what. We’re here for you, we love you, and it’s ok. It’s truly ok.

May you be able to recognize true beauty and love.

You’ll know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. – attributed to Dr. Seuss

Reality. It’s something you might struggle with later on, as along the way, you’ll be tempted with images and messages that push an unrealistic, unhealthy, and dangerous dream world of what “real” beauty and “real” love are. It’s easy to fall into this trap, to gravitate and take comfort in these images. We tell you this because we know you will be faced with this challenge. It will be all around you.

You see, if you learn to desire and expect an unattainable idea of perfection and adoration from people who are imperfect and flawed, your relationships will fail.

Dear child, we wish for your relationships to thrive. We pray that you always keep a clear view of what true beauty and real love are, and to experience another’s love someday, untainted. Remember it’s about real people and not pixels.

May you feel protected.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.  – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

As we close this letter to you, we want you to know how much you are loved. And from that love comes our intense desire to protect you. May you always feel that our family and home are a safe haven.

We take seriously our responsibility to protect you from things you’re not ready to handle. You’re growing up in a special time, with the power of technology at your young fingertips. But sometimes it’ll be too much to handle and it’s our responsibility to help you navigate this.

We don’t expect you to know how to make those tough choices—that’s our job. We don’t hold you responsible to know these things—it’s our job to teach you. If we don’t, we are failing you.

We’ll be learning together, which means sometimes you’re not going to like the answers and it will seem unfair. You will not understand at times and that’s ok. This is the part where we ask you to believe us and respect us, even when it’s hard to do.

You’re an amazing kid who will change the world—and we’re not about to let the world change you.

Sexual Purity Posts

Porn and Sex Trafficking: 10 Facts from the Experts

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Sex trafficking: it’s a well-known injustice which affects millions of women and children around the world; whereas porn: a well-known and widely accepted form of “entertainment.”

What’s their connection? Well, let’s take a look at some facts from the experts.

1. Let’s start by defining sex trafficking: according to the Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US Department of State, “When an adult engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as the result of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion or any combination of such means, that person is a victim of trafficking.” Further, “it’s child sex trafficking when a child (under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act.” In the case of a minor, proving force, fraud or coercion against their pimp is not necessary for the offense to be categorized as human trafficking.

2. Like any commercial enterprise, sex trafficking is a matter of supply, distribution, and demand. Supply: the girls. Distribution: the pimps and brothels. And demand: the johns. Experts are now seeing more and more that pornography fuels the demand by promoting the belief that women are sexual commodities, which is a key belief necessary for sex trafficking to exist.

3. If you watch porn, you are 31% more likely to blame a rape on the victim. Those who watch porn are more likely to believe the victims of sex trafficking, who are being raped, are responsible for their situation.

4. Watching porn is correlated with a 22% increased risk of committing sexual offenses, and this includes being involved in sex trafficking in some way.

5. According to former prostitute turned reformer, Norma Hotaling, “Pornography provides rationalizations for exploiters as to how and why their sexually exploitive behaviors are acceptable. Itnormalizes prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation allowing men to more freely engage in these criminal activities.”

6. When it comes to watching pornography, viewers minds can become very desensitized, which can escalated to new genres, sometimes harder and stranger forms of pornography.

7. Pornography is a training ground for johns. As Victor Malarek comments in his book, The Johns: “The message is clear: if prostitution is the main act, porn is the dress rehearsal.”

8. Police have found that porn can be used and is often used to “groom” children into thinking sex between an adult and child is an acceptable, even enjoyable activity.

9. As for prostituted women, many victims of trafficking say they are shown pornography to demonstrate what the john wants. In fact, 86% of prostituted women say johns have actually shown them pornography in order to illustrate specific acts they want them to perform. More broadly in our culture, women exposed early to porn are shown to (a) be more likely to have rape fantasies, and (b) be more likely to have attitudes that support sexual violence against women.

10. Legal distinctions aside, even if one deems pornography a potentially legitimate business enterprise, the actual recruitment, procurement, or employing of pornographic actors and actresses frequently involves false promises, threats, verbal abuse, and heavy drug use. Going back to the definition of sex trafficking, for regardless of the legalities of the media product, the production of porn in many instances is clearly an example of trafficking in persons.

Laura Lederer, former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. State Department, says,“Pornography is a brilliant social marketing campaign for commercial sexual exploitation.” Porn is marketing for sex trafficking both directly and indirectly: directly because online and offline hubs for trafficking use pornographic images to draw the buyers, indirectly because of porn’s influence on the culture.

So before we go around pointing our fingers at the pimps or johns responsible for the injustices being done to millions of people around the world through the form of sex trafficking, let’s make changes to our own habits and hearts to stop the demand, because there is a greater connection between porn and sex trafficking than you may initially think.

For more information on this topic, check out the free e-book, “Stop the Demand.

1- U.S. Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2015,” (accessed January 19, 2016).

2- Ron DeHaas, Luke Gilkerson, Stop the Demand: The Role of Porn in Sex Trafficking, Owosso: Covenant Eyes, 2014.

3- Hearing on Pornography’s Impact on Marriage & the Family: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, U.S. Senate Hearing: Committee on Judiciary, 109th Cong. Sess. 1 (2005) (statement of Jill C. Manning, M.S., Visiting Social Science Fellow, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.), 1-3, ManningTST.pdf (accessed April 26, 2014).

4- Hearing on Pornography’s Impact on Marriage & the Family: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, U.S. Senate Hearing: Committee on Judiciary, 109th Cong. Sess. 1 (2005) (statement of Jill C. Manning, M.S., Visiting Social Science Fellow, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.), 1-3, ManningTST.pdf (accessed April 26, 2014).

5- L.J. Lederer, “Sex trafficking and illegal pornography — Is there a link?” Enough is Enough, (accessed January 20, 2015).

6- “Johns Acting Out,” Stop Trafficking Demand, (accessed January 20, 2015).

7- Victor Malarek. The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It. (Toronto, Key Porter, 2009), 196.

8- “Training Tool,” Stop Trafficking Demand, (accessed January 20, 2015).

9- Shawn Corne, John Briere, and Lillian Esses, “Women’s attitudes and fantasies about rape as a function of early exposure to pornography,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 7 (1992): 454-461.

10- Ron DeHaas, Luke Gilkerson, Stop the Demand: The Role of Porn in Sex Trafficking, Owosso: Covenant Eyes, 2014.

11- Israel Gaither, Linda Smith, Janice Shaw-Crouse, Thomas Stack, Lisa Thompson, Shelley Luben, Laura Lederer, Patrick Trueman, David Shaheed, David Kuehne, Donna Rice Hughes, Judith Resiman, Mary Anne Layden, Patrick Fagan, William Struthers, and Ron DeHaas, “Porn Has Reshaped Our Culture,” Speech, Convergence Summit, from PureHope, Baltimore, April 17, 2011. (accessed April 26, 2014).

Sexual Purity Posts

Pornography in the Church

By Bill Perkins

The High Cost of Silence

The pervasive sin of Internet pornography is taking hold in our churches…and most leaders aren’t doing much to address it.

Several years ago I performed the marriage ceremony for a young couple. Both had grown up in Christian homes and done well professionally. She had won the state’s “Best Teacher” award, and he was a successful salesman. They completed six weeks of premarital counseling with me and also met numerous times with a professional therapist. They seemed on course to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage.

But things were not as they appeared.

Six months after their wedding I received a phone call from the bride. “Bill, I just found out Jason is addicted to porn.”

“How did you find out?” I asked.

“I pay the bills and noticed some unexpected credit card charges,” she said. “I asked about them and his explanation made sense. I mean, I wasn’t even suspicious. And then one day I was looking for something on his laptop and out of curiosity, checked his browsing history. What I saw made me sick. I then did some research on the credit card charges and discovered they were to an online company with a bogus name—it’s a porn site, and he has been paying for adult video-chats.”

“Did you ask him about it?”

“I asked,” she said. “Initially, he denied it. But when I started to power up his laptop, he came clean. He admitted he had been hooked on porn since he was a teenager.”

I wish I could tell you their story ended well, but it didn’t. Nor do most of the stories I hear from the men and women who contact me after reading one of my books or hearing me speak. I wish I could say most pastors and church leaders are aware of the extent of the problem and have a system in place to educate, counsel, and protect their parishioners from the growing influence of pornography. But as someone who travels across the United States speaking in all flavors of churches, I don’t believe that’s the case. I suspect if church leaders were more aware of the high cost of porn in the church, they would more aggressively mobilize the resources needed to combat the problem.

Hiding Creates a Greater Problem

When something is forbidden, or banned on grounds of morality, it becomes taboo. Nothing in the church is more taboo than sexual sins.Indeed, the hallmark of Christian virtue is sexual purity. The Bible repeatedly tells us to abstain from sexual immorality and pursue purity (1 Thess. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 1 John 2:16). And so as believers we should set a high biblical standard of sexual purity and condemn sexual sins.

The problem is, when we hammer away on the evils of sexual sins people decide not to talk about them at all. And since it’s not talked about, everyone assumes there is no problem. Or, if there is one, it’s with other people.

Since pastors are expected to live lust-free lives, they also refuse to discuss their personal struggle to remain sexually pure. No wonder—if a pastor admits he’s got a problem with porn, regardless of how limited the problem may be, he could be fired and blackballed.

Moreover, the taboo nature of sexual sins in the church makes them more exciting to commit. While doing research for one of my books on addictive behavior, I conducted a telephone interview with a leading expert in the field of sexual addictions. He told me, “I believe evangelical Christians have a greater tendency to fall into sexual addictions than any other sub-culture in the United States.”

When I asked him why, he said, “Because sexual sins are so taboo in the church people find them more exciting. Once they commit a taboo sexual act, they refuse to tell anyone. Their belief that they have done something bad creates guilt which leads to shame. This shame generates pain which they try to medicate with more sexually taboo activity. The deeper they fall into sexually deviant behavior the more closely they must guard their secret. The longer the behavior continues, the more addictive it becomes, and the more it destroys their core being.”

While just his opinion, he told me this without knowing that I am a Christian who writes from a Christian perspective. His thoughts underline the possibility that churches, by refusing to address the problem of porn in the church, are actually creating an environment that fosters porn addictions.

The Apostle Paul addressed the power of the taboo when he said, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase” (Rom. 5:20, NIV). His statement is certainly true when it comes to sexual purity—just tell someone something is wrong and it suddenly excites the flesh (Rom. 7). And so as the church fights for purity we need to recognize the message we’re sending could be creating a bigger problem.

Does that mean we should lower the moral standard? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean we need to avoid placing sexual sins in a category in which they’re so aberrant that those who commit them are anathema. We need to create a place where all sins can be discussed and dealt with. I don’t mean we should have a weekly meeting where everyone stands and confesses their sexual sins. Rather, we need to create a setting where everyone knows someone in the church with whom they can discuss their struggle. We need to follow the admonition of James and confess our sins rather than hiding them (James 5:16).

Crippled Leaders

I could quote to you statistics about what percentage of surveyed evangelical pastors have visited an Internet porn site in the last month. Or I could quote a statistic which declares how many pastors are porn addicts. But frankly, I haven’t seen a legitimate survey with such information. The ones I’ve seen didn’t provide a large enough sampling to convince me they are reliable.

But I don’t need stats, because I’ve talked with enough pastors to know plenty of them are tainting their souls with Internet porn, as are many lay-leaders. This creates a problem, not just for the pastor and leaders, but for the church as well.

Last year, I received an e-mail from a church leader asking for my advice. He told me someone had spotted porn on the pastor’s computer which resulted in his resignation. The pastor claimed he had visited a site just once. And even though an investigation of the computer by an expert had uncovered only a single image with no evidence of Internet porn surfing, the man had to quit his job.

The church was devastated and serious questions were raised about the sexual morality of the remaining staff members. The pastor couldn’t get another job and may end up stepping away from vocational ministry. In addition to his losses, the reputation of the church was tarnished.

Of course, for a pastor to maintain sexual purity, he needs a band of brothers with whom he can be open and honest. A man who is cultivating those kinds of friendships sets an example for the staff and church to follow. And a pastor who isolates himself and refuses to deal with his struggles with sexual lust, builds a church that does the same thing. In other words, churches follow the example of their leaders.

Porn is an enemy that will infiltrate and destroy churches from the top down, and it will do so without a blink of remorse.

Addicted Women and Teens

According to a May 18, 2010, survey conducted by Today’s Christian Women Online, 34% of their readers admit to intentionally accessing porn. The results of this are staggering. More women are getting involved in cybersex, more women than men convert online conversations into real-life affairs, and more women are accessing porn while at work.

If those stats didn’t get your attention this next one will. According to Family Safe Media, the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17. In spite of this staggering statistic, most of the Christian parents I speak with deny their kids have or would check out a porn site.

Several years ago I had a speaking engagement at a city-wide men’s breakfast on the East Coast. The point man for the event picked me up at the airport and drove me to my hotel. On the way, he mentioned that an image of a dancing naked woman had appeared on the home page of his desktop computer at home and he didn’t know where it came from or how to get rid of it. I told him somebody probably visited a porn site and it followed them home and decided to stay.

“It wasn’t me,” he said.

“Then it must have been your wife,” I said.

“No way!” he insisted.

“Then it was probably one of your teenage sons.”

At this point he became indignant and assured me his sons never visit porn sites. “They’re Christians who go to a Christian school and attend a strong church,” he said.

Later that night, I had dinner with the man, his wife and another couple. The topic came up and the other couple insisted their three teenagers have never visited an Internet porn site either.

Did these parents know for sure their kids hadn’t visited a porn site? No, they didn’t know for sure. They based their conclusion on the fact that they were all good Christian kids. These two couples are like a lot of believers who think a Christian school and good church serve as a spiritual prophylactic guarding their children from the evils of the world. Unfortunately, by making sexual sins taboo and refusing to talk openly about them, those institutions often have the opposite effect on kids. Those two sets of parents may have been right about their kids. I hope they were. But it’s more likely their children know they’ll be severely punished if they admit such behavior and so they hide it and pretend sexual lust isn’t an issue for them. That keeps everyone happy.

Such misguided thinking is fed by the refusal of most churches to talk openly about the issue of Internet porn. People conclude since nobody else at church has kids or moms who dabble in porn, then it must not be a problem for their family either.

Churches Making a Difference

Fortunately, there are churches in which the pastor and leaders openly admit their struggles with sin. These are the churches that provide counseling and support groups for people to safely discuss and deal with their struggles. They talk about sexual sins just like they do other sins, depriving them of the power they have when they are considered taboo. They offer resources that enable everyone in the church to filter what they can access on the Internet while also providing accountability.

Our strategy to achieve sexual purity has to be like a laser-guided missile. These weapons constantly adapt to the changing terrain as they zero in on their target. Because the moral terrain is constantly changing, we must be adept in adapting as we pursue our target: sexual purity.

Journal Through Recovery, Sexual Purity Posts

Journal Through Recovery Entry 44: Am I? Do I?

Ps 103:11-12 – For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;  as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. ESV

Today. That’s my timeline. It used to be much more long term. How do I plan for and control what happens tomorrow or a week from now or next year. How do I make sure what I want to happen happens in the future. I don’t. Not really anymore. The realization for me is to focus on today. And follow the serenity prayer. To accept the things I can’t change. The courage to act and to change the things I can. Hopefully, also the wisdom to know the difference. So that’s how I focus on each day. God, let me accept that you are in control of today, tomorrow, next week and next year. Allow me to focus on what I can change. That is my actions today.

This led me to something else. Something that I recently wrote about. I wrote that I was wrong. Also that I am wrong. I am realizing and understanding that isn’t exactly true. I wasn’t wrong. I did wrong. I am not wrong. I do wrong. Sounds like a technicality but hear me out.

This goes back to a previous discussion about shame. In my life before recovery, I had incorporated into my life that I was wrong. That I was bad. That I was sin. Through reading, through counseling, through groups I have come to understand the difference. I am not wrong or bad or sin. I did wrong, I did bad, I acted in sin. Incorporating that I am bad or wrong into my identity is against what God intends and is what kept me in that cycle of sin. You know it as shame. And its so pervasive that I have slipped back into that way of thinking subtly.

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see that I had shifted in my thinking in how I was thinking about and classifying my past. Understandably, my wife struggles seeing the good in our marriage before I entered this time I call recovery. Without recognizing it, I started doing the same. Not seeing that it wasn’t black and white: before and after recovery. I had started thinking of my life as what came before recovery and where I am now. I realize now the danger in that.

The time before I entered recovery was just that; it was the time before I entered recovery. It wasn’t that I all of a sudden transformed from “bad” to “good.” Without realizing it, that is how I started classifying my life. Only…that isn’t right. I wasn’t “bad” and I am not all of a sudden “good.” I am broken. Then and now. Only, now I fully realize that I am broken.

I was talking with a friend recently who is also in recovery. I guess the better way to say it is my friend also realizes his own brokenness. I like the way he put it. He said that he used to be able to compartmentalize his life. He would put away the parts he didn’t want to think about or deal with in their separate boxes and he would just not think about them or address them. But they were still there. Now, all those compartments are broken. All the parts of his life are there. That resonates with me. The awareness. I am aware of my flaws, my faults, the damage I have caused. I no longer hide that away in boxes. All my boxes are open.

Am I bad? Am I good? I am broken. Do I do bad things? Do I do good things? I do. Thankfully I am aware of all of them. They are part of in my brokenness who I am. So I address them. I don’t compartmentalize them or box them up. I deal with them…a day at a time.

Journal Through Recovery, Sexual Purity Posts

Journal Through Recovery Entry 41: The Empty Chair

The empty chair in the middle of our circle awaits the return of those members who are currently suffering the consequences of their addiction

Part of the script the facilitator reads for each of our 12 step meetings discusses the empty chair in the center of the circle we set up in the middle of the room.  I am sure many of us have been in groups, Bible studies, discussions and meetings that are in a circle. Our circle in our groups is different. We put a chair in the middle. As a reminder.

Its a reminder to me. To where I was just a few months ago. Or more accurately where I wasn’t. I wasn’t in recovery. I wasn’t in a place where I gave God my life and my will. I wasn’t rigorously honest. I wasn’t in community or anywhere else but deep in shame. I was seeking to fill my abandonment and need for fulfillment in any way I could find. Just not in the one way that could stand a chance of meeting my needs.

The empty chair awaits the return of those in prison. I could have been that person. I don’t know how I wasn’t. The times I lied, stole, sought out fulfillment illegally. The near misses. The multiple times I could have been that member.

The empty chair awaits the return of those who are still in search of their rock bottom. I came to these meetings after thinking I was at my rock bottom. Only I wasn’t willing to be completely honest. I hadn’t gotten to that place of desperation where I was willing to turn all of my life and will over to God. Where I knew that death was the only other option. So I was the one. I was still searching for my bottom.

I didn’t know that there were people (specifically my brother and his wife) who were praying for me to be exposed. They knew I wasn’t being honest. They knew I hadn’t bottomed out. My brother is in recovery. He knows what bottom is. He knew I hadn’t gotten there yet. So he continued to do what he knew would work. He prayed for God to expose my lies and my secrets. And that is what happened.

The empty chair is there to remind all present the loss of those whose disease drove them to take their own lives. I could have been that person. And honestly I know that is what awaits me outside of recovery. Whether it is through the overt act of taking my own life or that I separate myself from God, my wife, my kids, and community. Separation and isolation for me leads to death.

Being on the other side of the circle, not being the empty chair, is much different than I thought. I don’t think I know more than people outside of recovery. I don’t think I am a Pharisee and they are a tax collector or thief or adulterer. I just know they are still seeking their bottom. I have found mine. I pray for the people I know that aren’t in recovery that are struggling with all forms of addiction and brokenness and compulsions. I pray they find their bottom. And that when they do, they find what I found. Grace and mercy.

Sexual Purity Posts, Videos

Former Human Trafficking Victim Speaks Out – VIDEO

Powerful video for those of us who used sex workers to feed our sexual sin.  I hope this sheds some light on the problem and that we think of this beautiful child of God the next time we think about acting out.  She’s somebody’s daughter, remember that.

Sexual Purity Posts, Videos

Sex Trafficking Survivor: A Woman’s True Story – VIDEO

 Powerful story of a survivor’s experience with sex trafficking.