October 27, 2008
Pornography succeeds in luring about 40 million adults in the United States annually into its many traps. This includes untold numbers of Christian leaders and pastors who struggle against its daily attraction and stumble in the fight.
The September release of the DVD-CD set “Somebody’s Daughter: A Journey to Freedom from Pornography” focuses on this struggle of Christians in ministry. Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 is Pornography Awareness Week, and the makers “Somebody’s Daughter” hope the DVD will not only promote awareness but also help those facing the addiction.
“Somebody’s Daughter” is a multimedia release featuring a television documentary, which details the lives of three men and one couple active in Christian ministry, who struggled with and overcame addiction to pornography. It addresses the universal appeal of pornography, speaking to individuals, families and churches.
The Writing of “Somebody’s Daughter”
The concept for the project was born out of a song of the same name. Christian recording artist John Mandeville and Steve Siler, founder and director of Music for the Soul, wrote the song after Mandeville revealed to Siler that he struggled with pornography. After attending a meeting for sex addicts, the two men wrote the song to illustrate that women should be viewed as a creation of a Holy God. The song was also a starting point in Mandeville’s healing.
“I was deeply honored that John asked me to go with him to a meeting, because I knew it took a lot of courage for him to call me and share his secret with me,” recalled Siler. “I went with to him to the meeting, and after hearing several different stories, I came away wondering if this was happening to anyone else. So, I started talking to my friends within the Christian music industry, and within a few weeks, I realized I knew seven Christian songwriters or artists’ who were dealing with this.”
Later, Siler confirmed that the problem extended far beyond the Christian music industry. “I did even more research and found out it was a church-wide issue,” Siler said. “Even though this has not been a personal struggle for me at the level of addiction, I would say for every man that visual imagery in this culture is a struggle.”
Since then, Music for the Soul has produced 18 music and spoken word tracks, four music videos and a television documentary, all compiled on “Somebody’s Daughter.” A curriculum guide is also available to help churches and ministries implement the resources on the DVD and CD. Ten percent of sales of the project will be donated to Christian counseling centers to aid in counseling people with pornography addictions.
According to Siler, “Somebody’s Daughter” was produced to shed light on how the $13.3 billion pornography industry is plaguing those who profess Christianity, and to promote healing and deliverance from the growing epidemic.
“The latest statistics I’ve heard state that 70 percent of lay leaders are struggling, and 40 percent of pastors are struggling. The statistic that I feel is most important is that if you open your eyes and look at our culture, 100 percent of kids are going to be facing this stuff because it’s in our magazines, iPod’s, cell phones, Internet, cable television and billboards—it’s coming from everywhere,” Siler said.
“I really felt like we needed to do something that would help the church in particular to take on this issue, because it’s a difficult thing to talk about. So, we wanted to create ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ as an icebreaker and as something that the church could use to show videos, or personal testimonies. It gives them a way to start the conversation.”
“Somebody’s Daughter” is scheduled to air Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 on the ION Television Network (formerly PAX TV). The documentary also is slated to air on INSP, Faith TV and “It’s Time for Herman & Sharron.
What Feeds the Addiction
According to Family Safe Media, the average age of a person who is first exposed to Internet pornography is age 11. They also reported that 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit Internet pornography websites.
Stephen Simpson, teacher at Fuller Theological Seminary’s school of Psychology, and author of What Women Wish You Knew About Dating (Baker 2008) and co-author of What Women Wish You Knew About Sex, is another Christian leader who is helping to raise awareness as a psychologist and speaker.
When taking steps in dealing with the addiction, he advised, “First, remember that ‘addiction’ is seldom the primary problem. It is usually a symptom of one or more of a number of problems: relational problems, self-esteem deficits, depression, anxiety, past sexual abuse, etc. The list is nearly endless. Though it’s important to implement behavioral steps to decrease use of pornography, it is essential to examine underlying issues.”
Simpson said it is going to take dealing with porn on personal, church-wide, and on a national level to make a difference.
On a personal level, he said there are a lot of great books, programs, and even software available to help people overcome a problem with pornography. Accountability and having limits on computer access is the most direct approach. He said, however, underlying problems must be addressed or the problem will not go away. Married individuals need to maintain an active and vital sex life. Healthy physical intimacy in marriage is an excellent deterrent.
One Cincinnati-based small group pastor, Jody Burgin of Vineyard Church Northwest, is not only raising awareness on a local level, but he’s bringing that awareness into the national spotlight. Burgin, who once struggled himself, now speaks and writes about pornography and the power of the addiction.
In addition to writing and speaking, Burgin also regularly talks about it from the pulpit on Sunday morning.
“We are created for dynamic relationships with God and others. Yet many of us don’t feel all that close to God or to other believers. We tend to settle for counterfeit loves, such as material objects, sports, work, addictive substances, etc. These substitutes provide only a temporary illusion of comfort and reassurance,” he said in one of his messages from http://www.vcnw.org/.
He said common counterfeits also include illicit sexual relationships and activities. “We should recognize, however, that when a man turns to sexual counterfeits, sex may or may not be his primary yearning. He may, rather, be driven more by feelings of loneliness, pain, stress, and the desire to be loved and accepted,” Burgin said.
What Attitudes We Need in the Church
Promoting awareness on a church level is obviously is important, but Simpson conveyed something else is needed—positive attitudes about sex.
“The church does a great job of saying ‘No!’ when it comes to sexuality, but we are terrible at promoting healthy, fun sexuality, despite the fact that an entire book of the Bible is devoted to having great sex, ‘The Song of Songs,’” he said.
“God gave us our sex drives and a desire to be physically close to someone. If The Church doesn’t emphasize the importance of this and encourage Christians to become great lovers, then the porn industry is ready and waiting to fill that void. We need to spend more time talking openly about sexuality across the lifespan, and emphasize the positive and healthy aspects as much as we do the sinful and negative ones.”
Simpson said as a nation, we must make federal laws that limits access to pornography. “Right now, it’s like putting a free vending machine in the room of someone who's trying to stay on a diet,” he said.
Alan Chambers, President, Exodus International, who regularly faces the problem on a national level, believes awareness is key.
As the largest Christian ministry helping those affected by unwanted same-sex attraction, the organization routinely sees men and women who struggle with pornography and other sexual addictions.
“It is a very real problem that has become a pandemic within the body of Christ,” Chambers said. “Therefore, we have to care about it. People are addicted to it and we have to provide the answer.”
Many ministries offer resources to help.
For example, XXXchurch has a free program that is available to churches called Porn Sunday. This program includes a 30-minute sermon video, support group guide and a complete guide for pastors for addressing porn in the local church. XXXchurch also provides a free accountability software called X3watch, available at x3watch.com, which requires an accountability partner.
In addition to these resources, XXXchurch tours over 200 churches and colleges a year speaking at events such Porn Sunday; the ministries Men’s breakfast, Porn and Pancakes; and the newly launched Porn and Pastries, an event for wives, spouses and who are women struggling.
“You never can come to the point in which you think you have arrived. You have to be constantly on the guard as you push forward. It’s important to continue to have safeguards in your life. Freedom is not a destination but it is a process and it takes time,” said Craig Gross, founder of Fireproof Ministries and XXXchurch.com.
You can view the documentary “Somebody’s Daughter” in its entirely here.