15 Ways That Pastors Ignore Their Porn Problem

Most pastors struggle with porn.

I was part of the first wave of men who got sideswiped by porn when the internet made that world instantly accessible. I still wig out a bit when I hear that dial-up tone from my old AOL days. I hit rock bottom in 1998 and still have the scars to prove it.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have buried at least one friend as a result of porn's effects on his life. And because I am willing to bring it up with other friends who are pastors, I have walked through what very much feels like 'the valley of the shadow of death' with well over 100 pastors. I have become friends with these men. They tell me their story because I tell them mine first. This is how solid relationships are built - through vulnerability; something I never knew was possible when I was struggling with porn.

I don't like writing these words. Someone may use it against me. I fear that you may think less of me even though I have put many miles behind me and that chapter of my life. 

But that fear of truly being known forces pastors to keep that part of their lives hidden in the shadows. They know what they're doing is wrong. They know that they are flirting with disaster in their jobs and marriages. They may have had periods of 'victory' over this issue only to feel the crushing weight of shame when they fall to temptation again. 

Maybe I know you already. Maybe we have never met. But I know that if you are struggling silently in these shadows you're tired and afraid. You have lied to others and you have lied to yourself over and over. We try and find ways to deny or excuse our behavior. Over the years, here are some of the more common excuses that pastors have given me as to why they never got help.

1. I think I can control my porn use - I just need to try harder.

2. I don't think God will give me the life I really want. Only porn can do that for me.

3. I know what God demands of me. I am getting really good at ignoring him.

4. I have become very comfortable in admitting that I 'struggle with lust'. I just don't ever give any details, or use the word 'porn.' 

5. No one - not God, myself, and certainly not another person - has ever heard me say exactly what I have done wrong.

6. I have asked God to take this struggle away. But he hasn't. So I guess that means he's cool with it for now.

7. I don't really want to stop using porn. But I am angry at God for not taking the desire away from me. 

8. I can't even begin to think of all the people I have harmed by using porn - family, friends, the church I lead, not to mention anyone I have watched or looked at. 

9. I have never tried to make things right with anyone who I have harmed. I said something to my wife once, but she got very angry. So I've learned to keep my mouth shut.

10. I have confessed in the past, but I'm still using porn these days and no one knows. I was forgiven the first time, but no way that happens again.

11. I'm pretty sure God doesn't want me to use porn. So I stay away from him other than carrying out the duties of my job. Wouldn't want to have to force the issue and actually 'trust and obey.'

12. My story and my struggle might actually help other people. But then I'd have to admit that I'm still a struggler. So I'll just keep all of this to myself. 

13. You know what? I've done a lot of good for God and his Kingdom. I deserve a little reward once in a while.

14. I'm not hurting anyone. I'm just looking at pictures and videos. It's not like I'm having an affair.

15. I wouldn't have to look at porn if my wife were more sexual than me.

Does that sound familiar to you? I know they are familiar to me. Some of them were my own personal favorites.

There is a lot of bad news in that list. The worst part of it is that you still think you're in control of your situation. I am convinced that your ability to be fully alive - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and psychologically - is impaired more and more every time you use. The weight of that is overwhelming.

How About Some Good News?

The good news is that you really can be free. You really can have the life you were made to live. You really can be known and loved. But you cannot get there until you admit that you are flawed and broken. A sinner who is powerless to stem the tide of what you have started.

Do The Next Right Thing

The best news in the world is that God has done for you what you could never do on your own. The cross of Christ shows us that there is a real God who knows the real you and really loves you with a reckless love we call grace.

You are powerless. But he is powerful. And if you belong to him, you have hope to do the next right thing.

What is that next step for you? Owning up and being honest that you need help is a great start. And if you email me at matt@griddiron.com, I'll help you figure out where to go from there.

 

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