Personal story time: When Alicia and I were newly weds and my porn problem became apparent not only were we trying to figure out this crisis in our lives but we felt very much alone in our struggle. The women that Alicia reached out to for help were not very equipped to help the situation and were almost shaming in a since. We have encountered this quite often in our ministry to help those who were in the same boat as we were; afraid to confess or reach out for help in fear that they would be shamed by the church. The every people who should be the ones who are the most understanding and willing to help those where they are. Sadly, instead of getting the help that addicts and their spouses need many are greeted with statements like:
Have you prayed about it?
Are you taking care of all your husband’s needs?
You need to trust in God more.
And the worst part is that this only reinforces the lies that the addict and their spouse are already telling themselves. “I have to keep this a secret.” “I must not be enough to keep my husband happy and satisfied.” “I am the only one who is this messed up.”
If you are stuck in this situation please listen to my words: Satan is absolutely behind all of this. He wants you to think that you are alone in this battle. He wants you to question God plan for marriage. And he wants you believe that the church is the one place you can never go for help. DO NOT BELIEVE HIS LIES.
But, church, if we don’t want our members to believe this nonsense then we had better do our job of making our churches a place where we can be open and honest about the stuff going on in our lives without fear of being judged or shamed.
So here are 4 ways to develop a shame free church:
1) Preach about porn
I have said this from day one in both my recovery process and in starting this ministry, if we want to heal this then we need to start talking about it. As a church we can’t be of much help if we constantly shy away from or blush at the reality of the situation we are in. Porn is common place today. It is talked about and shown everywhere we look in society today. We would be fools not to at least see what God’s word has to say about it. But more than just knowing that it is sinful, the church as a whole needs to know that there is nothing that we can’t talk about in the church. If there are people struggling with anything, as the church, we help.
2) All have sinned
Stop ranking sin. Now, this is very hard to do as human beings because its in our nature to rank things or compare ourselves. We say, “Well at least I’m not as bad as that guy.” When in reality we are all equally in desperate need of God’s grace regardless of what sin we have committed. I think we tend to get confused with the varying degrees of discipline or consequences attached to sins and the sin itself. Someone who struggles with porn addiction is no worse than someone who struggles with lying. Can the consequences be different for each sin? Absolutely. But either is worse than the other because they both equally separate us God. So before you prejudge someone in your congregation who struggles differently than you, take a look in the mirror and extend the grace you wish to receive.
3) Make a plan
It is time for churches to move from wondering if there are any members who struggle with porn to questioning, why are those who struggle not reaching out. If you are still thinking that this isn’t a church problem, meaning that those in your congregation are addicted, then you need to wake up. Studies tell us that in the church, there are more people who struggle with porn than there are that don’t. And if this problem is as widespread as the stats are telling us then we had better be prepared to help. To not do so would be to turn our back on those who are wasting away in a sea of shame and self-hatred in our own churches. What is your plan? Do you have a group that meets? Is there a go to person that can help in these situations? If you don’t have an answer to these questions then you need to equip yourself to help. You can start here with our #Basic series.
If you have been down this road of heartbreak and betrayal before, I know that your gut reaction is going to be to keep it to yourself because its embarrassing. And I get that, I do. However, sharing your story and how you grew from it could be the lifeline that another couple or person needs to finally get the help they need. Be vocal about the hope that is out there and be willing to help those who need it. This is what the church is and this is why God established it, so we can help each other with our problems and assist in getting each other to heaven.
It is time for the church to become a no shame zone. We preach this a lot, in fact I’m sure you hear it every Sunday. “If you have anything your struggling with please come forwards while we stand and sing.” However, our actions are preaching something different. When we respond to people who are hurting by recoiling from or judging them then we are only making the problem worse and at the same time playing into Satan’s plan.
If you need help or you feel like you can’t reach out to your church family, please contact us. It’s what we do. We will listen, share our stories, and get you the help you need. If you are a preacher or church leader and need help setting up a program we can assist in that area too!
Do what you can to expel shame from your church family and then you will see what God truly can do through a group of people with open and honest hearts seeking Him.