By Dan Wobschall
Gateway to Freedom Director
It’s been said, ‘‘You cannot give what you do not have.”
Here’s an example. If someone asks me for ten thousand dollars, I could write that person a check for the ten thousand bucks, but in time (not long) they will find out that it was a promise unable to be kept. The check looked legit, it has my signature on it and is from my bank, a bank with real money in it. However, my account couldn’t back up the offering of the money as promised by my signature. The funds are not in my account to give.
I could not give what I did not have.
And for me to expect that same person to trust me enough to write them another check that day or anytime soon would be just foolish. I wouldn’t deserve that trust or respect. Yet, for many addicts they expect to be trusted within just a few weeks or even months as they begin recovery. That is not a realistic expectation to have.
Ask yourself this honest question: “How quickly would I trust & respect that person if the shoe was on the other foot?”
I’m going to speak to you today from two perspectives: the porn abuser and the wounded spouse. Notice I didn’t say husband and wounded wife. The reality of porn being primarily, or only, a ‘man’s’ problem is no longer true.
More women than ever are finding themselves caught up in the use of pornography. And, it’s just as painful and damaging to her, her relationships, and her marriage.
These women are our wives, daughters, sisters, friends, and church family members. Today, I pray you ladies find the courage to speak up. Ask for help and trust that others will walk alongside you, love you, and not shame you.
Trust and Respect
As pornography damages and destroys trust and respect, the task of rebuilding trust is a must for the marriage to survive. Respect grows in the light of trust. If there is no healthy, daily exchange of trust and respect in your marriage, it will suffocate. All of this has a foundation of honesty. Painfully honest truth.
The rebuilding process is much like a human being put on a respirator when incredibly ill until the person is strong enough to support himself or herself.
For the betrayed spouse of the porn user, it’s very common for he or she to feel as though they cannot trust themselves. These thoughts and beliefs develop over time as they extend trust and respect and then it’s broken (over & over in many cases). They begin to question whether they can even trust themselves and lose self-respect.
This was very true for my wife in our recovery. She couldn’t give me trust and respect until she once again had for herself. I see it often in the marriages I mentor and minister to.
One more time: You cannot give what you do not have.
Truths About Rebuilding Trust & Respect
When you blow it, and we all do during recovery, tell your wife or husband. If lying, hiding and minimizing undermine trust and respect, honesty and truth-telling rebuild. Secrets are the fuse to the dynamite strapped to trust.
Don’t expect instant gratification or praise from doing what’s right.
Expecting instant praise for doing what should be expected in the first place is self-centered thinking. This thinking minimizes the fact that your spouse is grieving.
Defensiveness is a clear sign of expecting instant gratification, and it’s not helpful. When getting encouragement during recovery, receive it as the grace that it is. Be thankful. Thankfulness displaces the anger that is an underlying element of sexual strongholds.
Listen more–talk less
Men, listen to your wife. Listen for the meaning behind her words. If your wife is speaking to you, she is revealing something about herself to you. Read that last line again, bebause it’s profoundly true.
Men, hear me: BE HONEST. Secrets and dishonesty destroy trust.
Ladies, listen for sincerity, while watching for changes in the words being spoken and are actions supporting them. Have their words becoming less and less self-focused and are their actions demonstrating that?
Self-condemning thoughts are destructive.
The depth of the wounds we carry affect at what level this interferes with someone’s recovery. I’ve seen it manifest itself with the addict turning compliments and encouragement into criticism in their mind. Romans 12:2 instructs us how to battle this problem, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
It takes intentionality.
Restoring trust and respect doesn’t happen by osmosis or wishful thinking. Many enter recovery expecting it to be pain-free. The deepest wounds our bodies receive have pain as part of the healing process. Intentionally pushing through the pain, doing what must be done in order for long lasting healing to take root, is the prescription. Expect it.
It takes time.
You cannot microwave trust and respect back into your marriage. This is akin to instant gratification. How did you build that trust & respect in the beginning of your relationship? You earned it. Guess what, you have to earn it again. This time, however, you have jumping hurdles that weren’t there the first time–hurdles we placed on the path with our lies and deceptions in the midst of the porn addiction.
As the porn addict who destroyed sacred trusts, we gave up our privilege to be trusted and respected. Do we deserve to be trusted again? Honestly, no. Can we earn back the respect and trust of our spouse and others? Yes, but it’s hard work, takes time, and will be difficult.
Is it worth it? Absolutely! The growth and the closeness my wife and I now have are beyond what I could have imaged.
Will you stumble and fall along the way? Yes. Get back up, dust yourself off, and keep pressing on.
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
Sexuality is one of the most common aspects of being human, yet one of the most difficult to talk about. Why is that? Why are we so reticent to share about sexual wounds or sin with a spouse, a close friend, or a child? I believe it is because the enemy of our souls knows the power of authenticity to heal and unify us.
Often we hide our stories out of fear of losing the one we have hurt. Or we haven’t found that true freedom that allows us to be fully known and consequently fully loved.
In his book Unwanted: How Our Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing, Jay Stringer speaks compassionately of how our stories of sexual brokenness often are the key to moving toward sexual health and healing.
In my own life and in the lives of many others, conversations about sexual wounds and wanderings have been powerful to set us free from the bondage of sin and shame. And in a parent-child relationship, such stories (when shared appropriately) can be powerful to build bonds of trust for
Today’s kids need our stories of struggle, failure, and redemption. They need to know they are not facing the challenges of today’s culture alone.
Often parents share their concerns related to sharing honestly with their kids….
I had a friend advise me not to share of my sexual wounds and wanderings with my children as they were growing up. She said they might look at me and think that because I turned out okay, they would believe they could sin and turn out okay also. I wish I’d followed my gut and been more authentic rather than remaining silent and maintaining the appearance of propriety.
I believe both pride and fear kept me from being authentic and real. And I believe I lost an opportunity to gain my children’s trust for very tender and timely conversations related to sexuality.
My friend’s advice was well-intentioned, but it was based in fear, not authenticity and gospel grace. It assumed that conveying perfection to my kids would lead them toward perfection. I don’t think it works that way. For one thing, perfection should not be the goal. Christ was the only perfect one. But learning to live and love as Christ does is truly life-altering, and Christ was undeniably authentic.
I help parents become allies to their kids in a sexualized culture. An ally is someone a child turns to rather than hides from as he or she becomes more aware of sexuality or experiences things related to it.
Most of us hid in those moments, for example, seeing porn for the first time, experiencing sexual abuse, or discovering the pleasure of self-touch.
Without a safe person to help us process our pain, help us with a sin struggle, or provide protection, we internalized fear or shame related to sexuality. Fear and shame foster more hiding and make conversations even more difficult.
Being an ally means working through the obstacle of fear that often leads to hiding.
The way of an ally happens to be Jesus’ way also. It’s sharing honestly and humbly without fear or shame. It’s being wise to share generally without traumatizing or painting too vivid of a picture for a child. It’s trusting God with outcomes. It’s allowing God to use our brokenness in the lives of our
children. It’s being real. Being human. And being willing to grow and move toward healing for our own shame or freedom from our sin patterns.
Jesus models this for us.
Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you [a yoke is made for two] and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus invites us to come to Him just as we are and to share our burdens with Him so we can live free. Jesus will equip us to welcome the people in our lives who need to share their burdens.
If you’re in the parenting years, invite your little ones to come to you and not hide in their sin or sorrow or shame. Create that open door. Encourage them to lay their burdens down and to share their yoke－the yoke of shame, emotional turmoil, sin, regret, fear, uncertainty, or whatever－with you and with Jesus. A burden shared is half a burden. This will look different at every age.
Teach and model what it looks like to fail, to repent, to make restitution for our mistakes, and to live in the boundless and free grace of forgiveness and unconditional love.
Your children will be much more likely to turn to you when they make mistakes if you've modeled what this looks like and if they aren't afraid of you or your reaction.
Sexuality is so personal. It's easy to see how we learn to hide. We communicate privacy because that’s an important concept for little ones to learn. A level of modesty that isn’t shaming is good.
But somehow, we as Christians seem to have gotten the messaging all mixed up. We have traded the goodness of bodies and sexuality for the darkness of sin, shame, and hiding. We must reclaim bodies and sexuality for God, for His purposes, within His good design as written in His word. And we don’t need to be ashamed of anything about sexuality because God isn’t.
Find a close friend to begin to share your stories with. Cry over innocence lost, or regret, or someone’s sin against you, or poor choices made. Let that younger version of yourself express what he or she could not express then. Be compassionate toward your younger self. Perhaps find a counselor to share with, or share with your spouse.
A therapist friend once told me that she counsels many people individually but she begins to see real growth in group therapy. When I asked why, she said that there is something powerful that happens when we begin to share our deepest shame with others and realize that we are still lovable.
For parents wanting to understand better the power of their stories, I highly recommend John Fort’s book Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex. John helps parents learn the value of their stories to create bonds of trust with their children, and he shows them how to do this well.
God’s grace is for the moment, and His grace covers all our sin and shame. I pray God will lead you to at least one safe person to begin sharing your stories with. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. Vulnerability is often the first step toward exponential spiritual and relational growth.
You will probably never have to share your story on a stage as I often do, but if you’re a mom or dad you have an incredible audience in front of you right now.
No matter what stage you’re in, your friends need your stories. We are so much better together, and God created us to live authentically in relationship with each other. Become that ally that someone in your life needs. Let Jesus show you how.
by John Fort
Director of Training
To help a child who is using pornography stop we need to understand why they are seeking it out. It turns out there are several distinct reasons kids turn to porn.
The better we understand why our child might look for sexual imagery, the better we will be at helping them resist it. The reasons a child turns to porn actually points to the solution.
The organization Protect Young Minds recently completed a research project studying why kids use porn. Combining their findings with that of Be Broken's work we end up with seven reasons kids turn to pornography.
Knowing these reasons then gives parents seven ways to help kids resist the allure of pornography.
The most obvious reason kids turn to pornography is out of curiosity about sex or to gain understanding about sexual words they have heard others use. This is not just a reason for one or two visits to pornography.
Even teenagers are constantly hearing new sexual terms that they have not heard before. This can keep kids returning to their chosen sex educator (porn) throughout childhood and their teen years.
In addition, as kids use porn they see things they don’t understand, which keeps them searching to see more to gain understanding of what they are seeing.
If we do not want pornography to be our child’s sex educator we have to provide an alternative. That alternative is us.
This means we have to be the first to teach our kids about sex and even what all the words they are hearing others say mean. Our kids will not know it is okay to come to us with questions about sex until we start that conversation.
There is no other option—its either us or porn (or ignorant friends) that will teach them.
Teaching kids about sex only sounds scary at first. Once we start, our kids quickly get used to talking about sex with us. Parents are usually the most afraid to talk about sex, not kids.
2. To Feel Good
Pornography is usually sexually stimulating, even to a child.
Viewing sex causes dopamine to be released in a child’s brain, which makes them feel good inside. Kids will return just to get that feeling again. One young teenager explained seeing pornography this way, “It felt like being on a rollercoaster. Some people don’t like that but some people want to go back and feel that again.”
Kids don’t have to be looking for pornography to stumble across it.
Playing video games, surfing for shows in a smart TV, and even doing homework online can bring up pornography even when the child is not looking for it. If this happens, and they feel the rush of dopamine, they may want to return to feel that again.
We can explain to our kids that looking at pornography can make us feel good. We can even tell them it does this by causing dopamine to be released in our brain. But we can explain that pornography is very addictive and we can easily become trapped by it, almost as if we are its slave. We should not lie, yes pornography can feel good, but there are better ways to feel good.
Kids who have felt the rush of pornography will have the hardest time resisting it when they are bored. So, we need to help our kids be better at finding things to do when they are bored. We need to encourage our children to be creative in finding ways to experience fun and excitement. Perhaps some things can be changed at home that make life feel a little less dull.
3. To Relieve Stress
Using porn to relieve stress is less about wanting to feel good than running away from bad feelings. Stress relief is about seeking comfort during times when difficult emotions are present.
It is common for children and teens to turn to pornography or some other form of sexual stimulation when they feel anxious, rejected, or some other negative emotion.
For many kids, pornography can become the go-to method for coping with stress.
To prevent this we need to teach our children how to be aware of their emotions and how to process them. We call this “emotional resilience,” or being emotionally strong.
The levels of anxiety we see reflected in the news demonstrates that our entire society has become emotionally weak. This is something our entire family needs work on. It starts with learning to talk about our feelings all the time.
This process of developing emotional resilience lasts all of childhood (and beyond).
4. To Make Sense of Sexual Contact or Abuse
When a child has a sexual experience, whether due to abuse or experimentation, they sometimes turn to pornography to make sense of what happened.
Studies show that one in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused.
More children than that have experimented sexuality with another child in some way.
These encounters leave a child wondering if what they experienced is normal. If they are afraid to tell their parents what happened they may look up what happened to them online to see it again. They attempt to use pornography to process their feelings.
To prevent this from happening we need to be asking our children what they are experiencing. If they begin to act odd, such as isolating or acting out more than normal, its time to talk and see if something happened that upset them.
We will have to assure them that they will not be in trouble for whatever they tell us, as fear of punishment is the most common reason children are afraid to talk to parents about sexual experiences. If parents do discover a child has been abused they should immediately seek professional help.
5. Peer Pressure
All kids want to fit in.
In today’s world children will hear their friends talking about pornography and joking about sexual things they have seen online. Kids will hear other kids talk about pornographic websites and not be able to join in the conversation because they don’t understand what their friends are talking about.
Kids may be made fun of for not knowing what pornography is. This can even happen in Christian schools, homeschool environments, and church settings.
Sometimes the motivation to use pornography is no more complicated than wanting to understand what their friends are talking about so they can join in the conversation next time. Kids want to fit in and be a part of the group. This is particularly true with kids ages 12-14 or so.
We can help our children by frequently asking them what their friends are talking about.
If we know they are old enough that their friends are probably using pornography it is wise to ask them if they hear other kids talk about porn. If they seem afraid to talk we can tell our stories of learning that our friends were using porn when we were kids. Then we can ask if they ever feel like looking just to see what their friends are talking about.
We can ask them how it feels to not be a part of something their friends are involved in. This is mostly about listening to let them process their feelings.
Feeling left out is not a pleasant experience. We should express empathy for a child who does not look at pornography but feels left out as a result. We should feel empathy for a child who does look at pornography in order to fit in. We can help them try to find other ways to fit in or even help them find friends with the same values as they want to have.
6. To Feel Freedom
Some children live in highly restrictive homes where they feel like they do not have the freedom to express their feelings or make any choices on their own.
While structure is good, when it becomes rigid and regimented a child may feel unnoticed or unimportant. No child wants to feel less important than the house rules. In these cases pornography becomes a secret way to rebel and experience a few moments of freedom.
The feeling of freedom is what they seek, even more than a sexual rush.
To prevent this, parents need to make sure their child feels a sense of independence and freedom to say what is on their mind. It does not mean a child should get to do whatever they want, but they should be able to at least express their feelings about what they do and don’t want to do without punishment.
All children should have some times when they have freedom to do things they like. While many parents do this instinctively, some parents will find this difficult, as it is not how they were raised.
Yet, when we do not allow children any freedom, choice, or ability to express emotions, that bottled up frustration has to come out somewhere. Overly strict homes do not allow compromise but insist on compliance.
Compromise is hard for everyone, including parents, but a necessary skill. Children do need to learn to accept disappointment but parents also need to learn to give children some freedom. The alternative is always destructive.
7. To Feel Validated
Girls today often face frequent sexual comments by boys and can easily feel like sexual objects.
Girls will notice that boys often pay most attention to the girls who laugh at sexual comments made to them, who wear more revealing clothing, or who flirt with boys. A girl who does know what to make of this may find herself searching for answers online and end up with a lot of pornography on her computer or device.
It is easy for a girl to get caught up in pornography trying to make sense of how she is supposed to be validated by others.
Boys often make fun of each other, calling each other emasculating names. When boys feel rejected by peers in this or other ways they experience a deep need for validation.
When a boy stumbles across pornography, the sexual images looking back at him can appear to be validating him.
This feeling of validation can be brought on by oxytocin.
In addition to dopamine, sexual stimulation releases oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes us to feel emotionally bonded to who or whatever we are looking at when we are sexually stimulated.
Kids who need validation find porn gives them an artificial feeling of validation as oxytocin floods their brains. It may be artificial, but to a child it is better than nothing.
To help guard against this we need to do all we can to make sure our children feel validated. We do this by starting when they are very young. Validation is more than telling them, “good job” when they do something well. Girls and boys need gender-specific validation.
At some point a girl is more interested in a compliment on her looks from her dad than from her mom. She needs to know the opposite sex approves of her, and her father is the model of the opposite sex for a girl.
Boys also need approval from their dad, especially as they reach puberty and need to be affirmed in their maleness by their male role model.
Both girls and boys need affirmation from their mothers as well. A twelve-year-old girl needs to hear her mother say, “If all the twelve year old girls in the world were lined up, I would still pick you.”
Boys need to hear similar things from their mothers. Not compliments on what they achieve, but of who they are.
This information is too much for any parent to take in all at once. Instead of worrying about doing it all, pick one of these seven areas you think you can improve on in your home. Here are some examples:
For more parenting help, visit our Family Care Resources.
In a Sexualized Culture, Children Need an Ally
by Debra Wallace
Wives Care Assistant
Maybe you have been hesitant to join a wives care support group?
After I discovered sexual betrayal in my marriage, the last thing on my mind was joining a group!
“Who would ever want to sit in a circle, share their sad story, and listen to other women sharing their sad stories?” was my thinking. “How depressing is that! After all, isn’t my husband the one with issues? Why would I need a support group?”
But after attending a Wives Care group, my thinking changed. Would you like to know why?
Here are my “Ten Reasons Why a Support Group Helps You Heal From Betrayal":
A support group helps you discover you are not alone by decreasing isolation and shame.
Upon first discovery, it’s hard to know who you can trust to share your story. Feelings of shame may keep you in isolation and secrecy, yet talking about it would bring relief to your soul, meeting the longing for someone to tell who would validate your feelings and understand your sadness and despair.
Meeting other women who have also experienced betrayal allows you to realize you aren’t the only one this has happened to. You no longer feel invisible in our pain. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
A support group creates connection with others, helping you to experience increased social networks and friendships. It provides a sense of community while walking through this valley.
There is a bonding among groups who share similar painful circumstances. Pain has a bonding effect. When betrayal is the common denominator, we experience a “me, too” moment. We empathize and are able to comfort one another, with the same comfort we receive from Jesus.
We heal in relationships. The gift of new friendships can be the source of unexpected blessings during this time. Some even find lifetime friends in a support group. Proverbs 18:24
A support group allows you to find your voice and provides a safe space to share your story. (Group offers safety, empathy, validation, and support.)
Confidentiality is key among those attending a support group. We need a safe space to lay our anguish down, and assurance that our story will not be the source for gossip, (as it could be among friends who simply do not “get it”) bringing peace and relief.
A support group helps us to find some sense of trust—even though we’ve recently experienced a crushing blow and are left wondering if we will ever trust our spouse again. John 14:27
A support group shares information and resources.
Betrayed women long to understand reasons for what just happened to them. Although not everything has an explanation, women in support groups receive a wealth of information to help them process the pain and begin the healing journey.
Books, videos, articles, podcasts and names of counselors (with a trauma-informed approach) are shared so women can heal most effectively.
A support group empowers you. You will learn to be assertive and set healthy boundaries.
Most women are at a loss about what her next steps should be after the discovery of betrayal. Wives Care groups introduce the need for safety, self-care, healthy boundaries, and many topics to put wives on a path of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual healing and wholeness.
As you heal, your worth and God-given value are realized — worth more than rubies! Self respect returns as healing begins, establishing your true worth as a Daughter of the Most High King. Isaiah 61:3
A support group helps you rediscover hope and points to the true source of hope, Jesus.
After betrayal, we are often left feeling hopeless and helpless. We may be having a crisis of faith—which is NORMAL—and have additional feelings of guilt because of our questioning God’s part in all of this.
Hearing stories of God’s faithfulness to others—whether or not a marriage survives—brings hope to those full of despair. God’s promises of abundant life, and examples of women living it, give hope to those who need it most. 2 Corinthians 1:10
A support group provides increased self-awareness, gained insights.
As healing begins, a woman realizes there may be issues she is responsible for. Taking a look at ourselves and addressing problem areas that we need to work on is key to becoming whole again.
Being able to take responsibility for our own actions shows us we are imperfect, and may need to ask others for forgiveness, as well as make changes in our behaviors to become more Christlike.
Other women encourage us in this process and give us courage to move forward with a new outlook. We learn to live day by day, living in the present moment.
A support group provides a guided process for healing.
Topics addressed in groups are the key areas of healing to help a woman move forward while processing feelings. Anger, grief and lament, self-care, identity in Christ, boundaries, triggers and grounding, are elements regarding betrayal trauma needing to be addressed and processed. Each topic guides a woman as she perseveres, regardless of her circumstances. James 1:2-3
A support group helps provide coping skills and offers accountability.
As each woman is allowed to share and “check-in” she may discuss her feelings, ask for feedback from peers, or request accountability for future actions. Tools to help cope while riding an “emotional roller coaster “ provide safety, sanity, and stability.
Knowing she has friends who come alongside to encourage her without judgement, who hold space for her, is priceless. 2 Corinthians 13:11
A support group moves a woman from a victim identity into a survivor/overcomer. (You WILL breathe, laugh, trust, and hope, again!)
Understanding you have been victimized, but also realizing you cannot remain in the victim mentality indefinitely, shows that you can move forward with courage as you heal.
The ordeal betrayed women go through is difficult—no doubt—but peace, hope, and joy can be found again.
You will realize that you are stronger and more resilient than you might think! Romans 15:13
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
When news stories break about the moral failure of yet another Christian leader (like Ravi Zacharias or Carl Lentz), it is shocking to some, sad to others, and paints an incongruous picture to the watching world of what it should look like to follow Jesus and lead His Church.
I don't fall into the shocked camp anymore. I've been working in full-time ministry to sexually broken people for nearly 20 years. I've heard it all, even from pastors and church leaders.
But even if I'm not shocked by what I hear these leaders share, my heart breaks for what these stories of sexual brokenness mean for them, their families, and the many lives affected by their positions of leadership.
Leadership, by definition, has consequences.
When leadership is good, followers prosper.
When leadership is bad, followers suffer.
When leadership is deceitful about their sin and weaknesses, followers are devastated by such betrayal of trust.
No leader is perfect or without weaknesses. We must be careful of elevating anyone to such a status of "untouchable" in the church (or any institution). That is certainly a recipe for disappointment, or worse.
It is right, however, to have some expectations of what makes one a quality leader. After all, there should be a measurable difference between good and bad leadership, for the sake of both the followers and the leader.
The question I am trying to answer here is how are Christians, those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, to respond to the moral failure of church leaders? How do we understand and process such betrayal? And in our response, how do we care well for those hurt by such leaders while also upholding the sanctity of the gospel and the goodness of ecclesiastical authority?
Above Reproach: God's Expectation of Church Leaders
The standard for pastoral leadership in the Church is spelled out plainly in Scripture:
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:2-7 (see also Titus 1:5-9)
God's standard for pastoral leadership is that he be someone "above reproach." This can't mean "perfect," for then no one could be in pastoral leadership. But it can certainly mean a man whose life pattern reflects the morality and maturity of a faithful follower of Christ.
When we hear terrible news of the moral failure of a pastor or church leader, we should count such news as awful because of the disregard such a leader showed for God's standard for them. Somewhere along the way compromises to integrity were made and deceit was employed to hide the truth.
At the same time, we must also remind our own local pastors and church leaders of the important and necessary standard God has for them. Let us be an encouragement to those who are living above reproach in their desire to honor Christ and serve His Church. Not all church leaders are living double lives.
Accountability: No Church Leader is Above Church Discipline
Because God does have a standard for leaders in His Church, and because such leaders are imperfect men, there is need for accountability of those in leadership. And when there are stumbles and missteps in their lives or leadership, discipline is necessary.
No church leader is above church discipline!
Where I believe most error occurs in these stories of leaders who end up being front page news for their moral failures is lack of accountability from peers and/or overseeing bodies of authority (i.e. elders, board of directors, etc.).
So much heartache and division could have been mitigated (but not eliminated) if these leaders had simply submitted to their fellow believers when they first started drifting toward sin. Or if the governing leaders pressed in and asked hard questions when they saw or heard things that gave them suspicion of hidden sin.
One of the most insidious lies of the enemy is convincing Church leaders that their position is more important than their character. When leaders stay silent about their sin, the Church suffers far more than if they confess and submit to redemptive discipline.
When a church leader does confess and repent, they need other leaders around them to support them and hold them accountable to a plan for reconciliation (and possibly restoration).
The Differences between Repentance, Reconciliation, and Restoration
In order to understand how to respond to the moral failure of church leaders, one must understand God's desire to redeem all that is broken in creation, and how that redemptive process works in the life of a church leader struggling with immorality.
Biblically, there is a kind of "3-step process" for fallen church leaders to follow in order to participate in God's redemptive plan: Repentance, Reconciliation, and Restoration.*
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
The only way that healing can occur in a church leader who has violated their office is through repentance. Unless there is true brokenness and "godly grief" over their sin, change cannot happen.
To repent is to "change one's mind" about an action taken. It is more than simply confession. To confess is to "agree with truth," but to repent is to respond to truth with a willful desire to change.
When those closest to the church leader who has fallen learn of his sin, they need to call him to personal repentance. There will be a time for dealing with the effects of his sin on other people and the consequences he must face as a result, but he first needs to know that without true repentance over his sin he cannot experience the cleansing forgiveness of God that leads to hope and joy. (Ps. 51:7-12)
This is no time for excuses from the fallen church leader. Excuses, blame shifting, or other attempts to minimize what happened are sure signs that the leader has not repented. Stand firm on this point. While those wounded by the leader can heal and move forward even if he doesn't repent, God commands repentance from all who sin against Him.
One final note on repentance: it happens both in a moment and over time. There can be powerful moments of contrition and brokenness; the Holy Spirit can crush the pride and break open great floods of "godly grief" and remorse. But it also takes time to cultivate an "attitude of repentance," a desire to keep one's mind open to the instruction and correction of God and His Word.
Patience is required at every stage of this kind of healing.
Only when there has been repentance can there be reconciliation (and eventually possibly restoration). So, if a fallen church leader remains unrepentant these next two stages of healing and transformation remain "on hold." In such cases, instruction from Matthew 18 can provide guidance for how to handle the leader's unrepentant heart.
There are several key relationships that need reconciliation once repentance is genuine:
Whether the leader's wife was aware of his indiscretions or not, there will be a need for reconciling. There is no such thing as a "righteous" marriage when one spouse (or both) is living a double life.
Professional counseling is highly recommended for this stage of healing.
There may also be other family relationships that need reconciling: kids, parents, in-laws, and others. Focus on the nuclear family first, working out to other layers of relatives as necessary.
Those in leadership over or around the fallen church leader must implement appropriate church discipline. The repentant church leader then needs to pursue personal reconciliation with each leader to whom he broke trust.
This is about personal reconciliation between leaders, not restoration of the church leader's former position. Whether or not the church leader ever holds another ministry leadership position, there are personal relationships that need to be healed.
Trust was violated. Betrayal was felt. Anger, confusion, hurt, and disappointment need to be processed. Eventually, forgiveness must be granted to the repentant church leader. This all takes time.
One can't live a double life without hurting friends. The whole premise of keeping secrets is lying. At some point, everyone gets lied to by a person living a double life. This includes friends.
Most likely when the news of the church leader's failure becomes public, everyone close to the church leader will take a few steps back. They are hurt, confused, and angry. It makes sense that they would want some space. And that's ok.
In my view, it doesn't matter who makes the first move to try and reconcile the broken friendship. Regardless, the church leader must still be repentant and allow his friends time to grieve.
Over time, as the leader grows in humility, friends can forgive and hopefully establish a new foundation for a friendship built on truth and grace. Again, all this takes time and good counsel, a lot of it.
Reconciliation with followers is often very difficult and very sticky. These are people who exhibited voluntary trust in the leader. They chose to follow him. They were under no real obligation; they freely submitted. Then the lid came off.
It's hard to describe this kind of pain. In some ways, it can feel like the betrayal of a spouse (I'm not saying these are equivalent). And the closer the followers were to the leader (either in proximity or in relationship), the violation penetrates deeper.
Reconciliation with followers can take the longest and really isn't the first priority for the fallen church leader. The main task of caring for the followers needs to fall to the elders or governing body of the organization. Counseling, support, and prayer with grieving individuals and families is critical during such a season.
After the church leader has exhibited true repentance and been working on healing family and leader relationships, there may be an opportunity for reconciliation with followers. This needs to be at the direction and wisdom of the elders or governing body (assuming there was no collusion by such individuals with the leader's duplicity). Much gentleness, patience, and care is needed for this stage of healing.
Keep in mind, reconciliation is distinct from restoration. To be reconciled is to heal the personal damage done by the leader's sin and deceit. This does not mean the leader will (or should be) restored to their ministry position.
Is it ever right for a fallen church leader to be restored to their ministry position? It depends.
Each church has to determine what to do about restoring a church leader to their ministry position after living in secret sin. While there are not concrete biblical mandates on how to do this, there are some principles to guide our thinking.
Type of Offense (Legalities)
Not all sins are equal in their effect, even though all sin is a violation of God's holy standards. Some sins cross legal lines and need to be dealt with accordingly. In cases of criminal offenses, it would not be possible or wise to restore a leader to his ministry position.
For "lesser" offenses there might be the possibility of a restored ministry position, but that needs to be at the discretion of a governing body and in light of how the leader engages all the other aspects of healing and growth we have highlighted in this article.
Of incredible importance is understanding that restoration to ministry is not the goal! Upholding the gospel of Jesus and working toward the healing of all parties affected by the leader's sin is the primary concern. We are called to unity and holiness in the body of Christ; people are more important than positions.
Length and Severity of Deception
How long the leader has been living a double life is also a factor in determining if restoration to ministry is possible or prudent. The difference between a few months versus many years can play a huge factor in the kind of response the leader has to church discipline and the kind of damage done to the church and members.
Was the leader's deception willful or avoidant? Did he actively orchestrate elaborate ways to ensure his sin remained secret or was he passively "keeping his mouth shut" hoping no one would notice. Neither case is right or good, but understanding the degree of deception can help in knowing how damaged or seared is the conscience of the leader.
A church leader who has devolved into patterns of serial narcissism is likely unfit for any future office of leadership in the Church.
Repentance and Attitude of Leader
A huge factor in determining whether a fallen church leader is able to be restored to ministry is their attitude and heart for repentance.
When King David was confronted by the prophet Nathan concerning his adulterous and murderous actions, David responded with contrition and repentance. (2 Sam. 12:13, Psalm 51) He didn't deflect responsibility. He didn't blame. His soul was crushed and he poured out his heart to God in hope of mercy.
But even if a leader is truly repentant of their sin, this doesn't automatically mean they should be restored to church leadership. Remember, the goal is not reacquiring a position, the goal is unity and holiness in the body of Christ, the Church.
The Lord must ultimately be the one to determine if the repentant leader is once again fit for a ministry position, and the governing body must pray for wisdom to hear clearly the Lord's instruction on the matter.
Safety and Wellness of Church Members
Finally, it is vital that the safety and well-being of the entire church membership be taken into account when considering the restoration of a fallen leader. Elders are charged with "shepherding the flock." Many factors must be taken into account across the entire congregation before moving toward restoring a fallen leader to a position of church leadership.
Restoration requires lots of time, lots of prayer, lots of wisdom, lots of patience, and lots of faith. In the end, it is God's call on whether a fallen leader can once again serve in church leadership.
When done well, these are typically the developing characteristics of restored leaders:
Holding the Tension between Truth and Grace
Possibly the hardest thing to do when we learn of the moral failure of a Christian leader is to hold the tension between truth and grace, between justice and love. Only Jesus has ever held this tension perfectly.
What makes holding this tension so difficult is that both responses are correct from God's vantage point. It is correct to respond to a church leader's sin with righteous anger, a clear call for justice. He has violated the trust of his followers and sullied the Name and Word of God.
But love and mercy are also the correct response. Who of us can stand before another person as a sinless judge? In the same way that we cry out for mercy regarding our own sin, we must extend love to the sinful church leader.
This is what Jesus did for all of us on the cross: He displayed both justice and love. God's justice was enacted by punishing our sins that were laid on Jesus' back. God's love was displayed by it being the sinless Jesus who bore that penalty on our behalf. Justice and love came together in the beaten, bloody Jesus who cried out: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
Sin demands justice. We cannot ignore potential charges when a church leader's sin violates the law. We cannot ignore the pain inflicted on followers and the trust that has been broken. There are consequences to sin.
But God also desires mercy. When a church leader (or any fellow believer) is repentant, Christians are commanded to forgive. (Matt. 18:21-34)
Will any of us hold this tension between truth and grace, justice and love, perfectly? No. Does this release us before God from trying? No.
Jesus Christ was "full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) As His followers, we too must strive to walk in step with him, holding that same tension between grace and truth as we navigate responding to moral failures in church leaders (or any fellow Christians).
Proclaim the Gospel throughout the Aftermath
What often gets lost (or reframed) in the aftermath of the moral failure of a church leader is the gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, since church leaders are to be ambassadors of the gospel message, it makes sense that the gospel takes a hit when a church leader violates God's standard for their position.
Enemies of Christ shout all the louder that the gospel isn't true; that the so-called Savior can't actually save and transform lives. After all, just look at the fallen church leader.
Some Christians will walk away from their faith, convinced that their trust in Jesus was in vain since the leader they followed has proven himself a fraud. Their pain and anger become the lens through which they view the gospel.
But Christians must not allow the failures of men to nullify or reshape the clear gospel message of Jesus Christ.
The Good News of Jesus stands on its own because it is God's message of salvation for all who believe. No person can ultimately thwart the redemptive plan of God.
Therefore, never stop proclaiming God's message of salvation during the aftermath of a church leader's moral failure. When people are hurting and angry and confused and swimming in doubt, bring them back to the simple, pure message of Jesus Christ. He is the one they need to look to for hope and salvation, not the fallen church leader.
Sometimes when these devastating events take place it reveals where one's true hope and confidence was placed. Was it in Christ alone or in the church leader? Did followers even understand the gospel, or were they just swept up in the charisma and "talent" of the leader?
With gentleness and wisdom, use this season of healing to clarify the gospel:
When any church leader lives a double life of sin and deceit, it is painful and heartbreaking when the truth comes out. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is not reliant on whether or not human agents carry that message perfectly (none of us do). But we must all humble ourselves before God, repenting of our own sin before Him, and striving to live as faithful witnesses to a lost and dying world.
Of one thing we can be sure: Jesus Christ never fails; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Let us praise God for this truth and continue to call others to put their trust in Christ, not church leaders.
*See book Unpunishable by Danny Silk
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
How often do you use this word or even think about it? What is desire?
Desire is defined as: “a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment.”
Desires are part of being human and woven into our created nature. But what we desire can often trip us up -- and I believe that’s what James was warning us about when he wrote:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
The world we live in fuels those deadly desires. Media, TV, movies, commercials...it’s everywhere. Gotta have the best car, house, clothes...on and on and on. All these things pollute and push out (or at least set aside) the desires of our heart that God our Father would have for us.
Human desires became broken when Eve bought Satan’s lie and Adam failed to fend off his deceit.
As part of the redemptive plan of God in Christ Jesus desire is in play. Human desire was one of the parts of mankind that was broken in the fall in the Garden of Eden. Before the eating of the fruit man and woman were unaware of evil; having an evil desire was not in the mind or heart of humanity.
Then the crafty serpent deceived the man and woman, the lie was bought and evil desire entered the human mind and experience. The very deadly desires that James warned about.
The plan to redeem
Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
James 4:2-3 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
God gave you the capacity to desire; to experience "a conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment." In God's plan, desire was intended to lead us to good things; to places of goodness, truth, and beauty that really would produce joy and contentment.
But since the Fall in the Garden, two huge questions remain:
What do I do now with the truth of God's good design?
And how can I change my broken evil desires?
Good questions. The good news is that desires can be changed by the grace and power of God. So, let's talk about a few practical things you can start doing today to effect that change.
I know this: Life change happens when heart change happens. Changing evil desires and shaping new and right-minded desires is an inside job.
Identity and Beliefs
Here are two areas of life that can really trip you up: identity and beliefs. How you see yourself shapes your belief system about yourself. What does that mean?
People tend to see circumstances how they want to see them, not as the circumstances actually are. What that means is we tend to see life through a "me-shaped" lens; we will see the world around us through a reflection of ourselves.
Optimists see circumstances differently than pessimists. Skeptics view circumstances generally...well..skeptically. If you’re in a tough situation then that difficulty usually impacts how you view things around you. See what I mean?
So, if our self-belief systems are polluted by wounds, addictions, bad relationships and a host of other things, what we believe about ourselves, our value and identity will likely also be negatively impacted.
Here’s where a right perspective of identity is profoundly important. In a saving faith relationship with Jesus Christ, we have been given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). We are saved by grace, through faith (Eph 2:8-9) and not of any good deed or work we do.
In that moment of salvation through faith Christ Jesus, your identity is forever and eternally changed. You have just become a beloved and adopted son (or daughter) of the Most High God. Did you get that? You are now a prince (or princess) in the Kingdom of God the Father; the Creator who's image you bear.
When you choose to believe that and receive it in your heart, soul and mind it can change everything! Is this change instant? No, but I sure wish it was.
I believe this is part of the sanctification journey we are on as Christians. We need to choose to believe our new identity in Christ. Remind yourself of this truth daily (or however often you need).
In light of this truth of your immense value as a child of God, you are free to open yourself up to the work of God's indwelling Spirit to change your broken desires to Christ-like desires. You don't have to obey the lies of the enemy anymore.
The redemption of your Garden-of-Eden-fractured desires is part of God’s plan to redeem the whole you. Start this process by recognizing your true identity given to you in Christ Jesus, by God the Father.
With your identity framed in the right perspective (knowing your true value and worth to God), you can begin to change your desires with a new heart and the “new creation” God declares you to be.
For additional help on your journey, visit the links below:
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist at Be Broken
As an adult looking back on the images and experiences that shaped your sexuality, does it seem like some important elements were missing? As you encountered various things related to sex did you have to navigate them on your own? Did the lack of God-honoring information and the abundance of misinformation leave you vulnerable and without anyone to turn to?
The majority of parents I speak with would say yes, yes, and yes.
You may not have had anyone to process your experiences with. You may not have been protected well. You may not have received the support and information you needed. But you can forge a better way with your family today.
Several days after giving my Allies* talk to a group of parents, one of the attendees reached out to thank me. She said the timing was truly God’s as her twelve-year-old daughter had come to her sobbing and with a confession. She’d been looking at people having sex online. She was simply curious about sex, but once she’d found the videos, she continued to seek them out (which is a common response to discovering porn). She was riddled with fear, guilt, and shame.
As this mom held her sobbing daughter the thought “Be her ally” immediately came to mind. Those three words changed everything about the way she and her husband responded.
Instead of reacting with condemnation and consequences, this mom began empathizing with her child’s feelings of curiosity and arousal as well as the temptation to watch again. Soon after, Dad joined the conversation, sharing about his own struggles with porn around her age, empathizing with his child’s interest as well as her shame.
Now they’re reading good materials together and talking more openly. Their daughter is choosing healthy alternatives when the desire to view porn returns. God is using all of this to wipe away the shame and to prepare the way for more and better conversations.
These parents are creating an atmosphere in their home that will encourage their child to turn to them rather than hide from them as she encounters new challenges related to sexuality. They’re becoming her trusted resource for the information she needs. They’re becoming her ally.
What Satan meant for evil in this child’s life God is using for good. (Gen. 50:20) The darkness will not win because the light dispels it. An ally brings truth wrapped in grace, and truth sets us free.
What about your child? Would he or she feel safe talking with you about tender topics like sexuality or sexual sin?
Of all the good things you’ll teach and model for your child, very few will be as important as God-honoring sexuality. There’s nothing to fear because God will lead you. He goes before you to prepare the good works He has for you, and we at Be Broken would like to help you become the ally your child needs.
Where to Start
Just like the mom and dad I spoke of earlier, you can do this too, starting right now.
If you’re uncertain about how to begin conversations, especially with an older child, consider talking in a setting where you’re not face to face such as while hiking or sitting outdoors. You could begin with something very broad like this:
“I’ve been thinking about how things were when I was your age. Tell me what it’s like to be a ___-year-old today.”
Listen well, resisting the urge to lecture or judge. Eventually steer the conversation around to something related to relationships, bodies, porn, or sex, and then share something related from your own childhood, for example, “When I was about your age some friends showed me porn. I was kind of fascinated but instinctively I knew it was bad. But I didn’t feel safe talking with my parents about it.”
By being vulnerable first, you’ll begin to win your child’s trust.
Remember that it takes courage to talk about bodies, porn, or sex. Be encouraging of small first steps.
Gently explore what might be the root of any resistance on your child’s part. Even resistant children will appreciate the fact that you care and your desire to help. Perhaps a humble acknowledgment of the lack of conversation so far may be needed. You can even admit that it’s a little awkward for both of you but that it will get easier.
Children appreciate authenticity. Share how a lack of information impacted you and your current desire to do better for your child.
Remember, you’re building something very good, and good things take time. You’re growing a relationship founded on authenticity and grounded in truth. You’re becoming a safe place, a port in the cultural storm.
Conversations may have been missing in your home growing up. They may be lacking in the Church today. But there’s really only one way to change that, and that’s by starting conversations in our homes right now.
Be her ally.
Be his ally.
Know that you have an ally in Christ who will provide all you need for this leg of your parenting journey! Also, if there’s resistance on your part please check out the many resources Be Broken offers.
We are here for you, and if you’d like more information about bringing a presentation like Allies to your church or community, please contact us.
Will Talking to My Child About Sex Ruin Their Innocence
Tips for Protecting Kids Against Sexual Abuse
Schedule a Personal Ministry Consult with Anne
A Personal Ministry Consult is a 1-time confidential conversation with a member of our staff to help you gain insights and assistance from someone who has personal and professional experience in this field of ministry.
*Allies: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture is a 90-minute event for parents of toddlers through teens that presents a compassionate, relationship-based alternative to “the sex talk.” Allies is for grandparents and caregivers as well.
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
If you are human, you face temptation. Every day. Multiple times a day.
But just because you are tempted doesn't mean you have to give in to temptation. You are made in God's image and therefore your life is meant to reflect Him in all of His goodness and righteousness. And through faith in Him you can do just that.
The following are 13 Bible verses* to help you resist temptation and live in the freedom and victory God offers you through Jesus Christ. In Him, you don't have to say yes to temptation ever again. Praise God!
1. There is a way out!
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
There is no such thing as a "unique" temptation. Also, there is no temptation for which God cannot provide a way out. So, when tempted guard against thinking that you are being tempted so uniquely that even God can't get you out of it. Look for His promised way of escape. Then take it!
2. Jesus knows how you feel.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Even though Jesus never sinned, He did know what the weight of temptation felt like; he was "tempted as we are" and "suffered when tempted."
The next time you feel the burden of any temptation, remember that Jesus knows what that temptation feels like and how to carry its weight -- and He is standing ready to help you in that moment. Share your burden with Him.
3. Submit to resist.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Satan is called the accuser and he uses temptation as a way of bringing accusation against you to try and convince you your life isn't worth loving. Every time you give in to temptation he "tattles" to God about you and tries to rub your nose in your failure. But Satan is no match for God; his authority is subservient to God's.
Therefore, if you want to win the fight with Satan you must submit to God first. Then, from such a position of humble allegiance you can tell the enemy to get lost -- and have the full backing of God when doing so!
4. Pray for deliverance.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray for deliverance from evil. I think it's safe to say, then, that this would be a good thing to pray. Daily. (Probably even multiple times a day...)
5. Don't blame God!
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Some temptations can be so incredibly strong. It can seem as if there is no possible way to resist. In such moments it can be easy to "blame" God for these temptations, almost as if to say, "God, whatever happens next I can't help because you don't seem to be around right now. So, I guess this is on you."
But God cannot tempt anyone to do evil. This is antithetical to His holy character. We must own our temptations and cry out to God for help in our weakness. He is faithful to help us when we humble ourselves before Him.
6. Stand firm (together) in your faith.
1 Peter 5:9
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The devil is said to "prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." That's what temptation is trying to accomplish: your destruction. But you are called by God to resist him by standing firm in your faith and remembering that you are not alone in this fight.
Calling to mind (or on your phone!) your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world is a great and powerful encouragement in your battle to resist the temptations of the roaring lion who is trying to devour you. Just like in the wild, if you stay in the herd you are much safer against the lion's attack.
7. Walk by the Spirit
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Do you want a guarantee for victory over temptation? This verse gives it to you. To "walk by the Spirit" is mutually exclusive from "gratifying the desires of the flesh." Therefore, when temptation strikes, call out to the Spirit of God who dwells within you and follow wherever He leads you.
8. Carry God's Word in your heart.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Memorizing Scripture is good, but chewing on it until it becomes part of your heart and soul is even better. Notice in this verse the direct link between carrying God's Word in the deepest part of your being (heart) and how that affects whether you will give in to temptation. When your heart beats to the rhythm of God's Word, you will resist temptation
9. Put on the armor!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Resisting temptation is a battle; a war! You would never dream of going into physical battle without the right equipment. Fighting temptation is no different. Gear up with the full armor of God:
Along with all this armor you must "pray in the Spirit." Be battle ready against all the wily schemes of the enemy.
10. Make a covenant.
Job 31:1 (NIV)
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.
A covenant is a serious commitment that carries specific consequences if broken. In your battle against temptation, get serious about your areas of weakness and consider making a covenant like Job did. He wasn't flippant about what he would allow himself to look at with his eyes. He took his gaze seriously.
What aspects of your heart, mind, and body might you need to make a covenant in order to resist temptation more successfully?
11. Love (and obey) Jesus.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. -Jesus
The most powerful force against temptation is not willpower, it is love. When you understand the depths of God's love for you through Jesus, your love for Him will grow. And the evidence of your increasing love for him will come through greater obedience to His commands.
The barometer of our love for Jesus is our obedience to His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. His commands lead us away from sin and toward righteousness. His commands are good and help us resist temptation. Trust and obey...
13. Ask for help!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
By God's grace we have access to all the help we need for resisting temptation -- if only we will ask! When you are tempted, don't waste time trying to "figure it out" or do it on your own. Instead, "draw near" as fast as you can to the Lord, eager to receive mercy and grace as you battle temptation.
These are just a handful of verses to help you resist temptation. Dive into God's Word every day so that you might know Him more and learn to walk in His ways. Over time, your faith will grow and you will experience more and more victory over temptation.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Click the icons below to find more resources to help you resist temptation and live in step with God's design.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses are from the English Standard Version translation.
It is very common for parents to tell us during workshops on talking with kids about sex, “I’m worried I will ruin my child’s innocence.” In fact, this is one of the more common fears parents have related to talking with their kids about sex. Since this concern comes up so frequently it is worth talking about.
Does talking with our children about sex or pornography ruin their innocence?
What Do We Really Fear?
When I ask parents to explain this fear they often respond with a concern that they would put dangerous ideas in their child’s head. They worry it might make their child curious about sex and go look online for answers. They worry it might put ideas in their child’s head to go experiment with on their own. Other parents worry about traumatizing their child with information they didn’t expect and were not ready to hear.
In other words, parents are worried that talking honestly with their children about sex will either traumatize their child or entice them to seek out some form of sexuality to interact with. These are fears about unintentionally putting our child in some kind of danger.
It is easy to understand wanting to protect our children from danger. The question then becomes, does talking to our children about sex and sexuality put them in danger?
The Real Danger for Children
The real danger children face is not hearing from their parents how God designed human sexuality to work.
Danger comes when a child is exposed to sexualized content while unprepared and ignorant about sex.
All children will come in contact with sexualized media or information outside of a parents’ control. The only question is, will they be ready and will they know what to do when this happens?
Children learn about sex from each other. Learning about sex for the first time can feel a bit world-altering for a child, no matter how old they are. A whole new reality has just been revealed to them, although they still barely understand it. Children process new and important information the same way adults do—they want to tell others what they just found out. Very often children will tell all their friends everything they just learned, even friends much younger than they are.
Children learn about sex from pornography. One of the most common stories we hear about first exposures to pornography is when a child clicks on an ad that looked interesting while doing homework or playing a video game. In many cases the child had no idea what pornography was or that anything like it existed. This is a particularly dangerous scenario today as first exposure to Internet porn often consists of hundreds of videos of deviant sex acts appearing on the screen at once.
Children learn about sex from non-pornographic sources. In my case, I found my mothers nursing books on the family bookshelf, which contained many photos of naked people. Their eyes were blanked out, but that is all that was blanked out. These were not images of sex, but my parents had never talked to me about nudity or body parts and I didn’t quite know what to think. I was only eight or nine at the time but I went to my friends, not my parents, to talk about what I’d seen.
When we as parents refrain from talking with our kids about body parts, sexuality, and even pornography, we leave them vulnerable, unprepared, and unprotected for when they do come across that information. Talking with our kids about sex is a way to protect them, not ruin them
When Do I Talk?
Knowing when to talk to our children about sexuality is perhaps the harder question. It is easier when we approach such conversations as a means of protection instead of just education.
Several counselors, authors, and speakers who focus on helping parents talk with their children about sex met in 2020 to discuss this very issue; when do we talk with our children about sex?
Here is the advice that came out of that meeting:
That might seem really young! However, we as parents typically view our children as younger and more immature than they really are. They are often ready for conversations long before we think they are.
In addition, children today are exposed to information about sex much younger than we realize. It does not matter if a child goes to a Christian school or even is homeschooled, they probably have been introduced to more ideas about sex than a parent will realize.
A homeschool boy came up to me after a presentation and volunteered this information, “My dad didn’t talk with me about porn until three years after I first saw it. I was already kinda hooked by that time.”
We cannot give a definitive roadmap for when to have what conversation with your child. Each child is different and there is no “best age” to have a conversation that works for every child. However, here are some very rough guidelines:
Take Your Next Step
What age is your child? Which of the conversations above have you not had with your child? Our suggested next step for you is to pick one conversation and set a date when you plan to have it with your child.
Need help? Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex has conversation guides to walk you through many of these conversations.
For even more resources, visit our
Family Care Resources page
In this post:
5 Core Values:
Since 2003, Be Broken Ministries has existed for a singular purpose: "Helping individuals and families move from sexual brokenness to wholeness in Christ." It is a simple mission with profound impact.
Our desire is to see every person who wants freedom from sexually destructive patterns to realize that desire through the recovery process of healing and growth. And we are delighted to say that we have seen many gain the freedom they desired.
Over the years, however, there have been many distractions to maintaining focus on the mission:
But time and again we return to the core values that God placed in this ministry from the very beginning: Grace, Honesty, Purity, Community, and Endurance. These are the foundation from which we build every resource, every podcast, every workshop, every website, everything.
We believe for anyone who wants to effectively minister to someone struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors, these are the core values that must exist. Therefore, let me share what these core values mean; to us, and to the process of recovery.
"No one is too broken to love."
When anyone reaches out for help with compulsive unwanted sexual behaviors, the most important response they need is one of grace; the undeserved kindness of a friend.
We believe this grace originates from God, who loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin (including sexual sin). God didn't wait for us to get "sober" or cleaned up or "on the right path." Instead, "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8b) That's grace!
Many sexually addicted people, however, are not greeted with grace when they finally decide to seek help. They are often met with condemnation, rejection, or rigid rules. This causes the person to falsely believe that their worth is based on their performance, so if they just learn how to "behave" they will find the love and acceptance they long for. But that's not how grace works.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexually broken person, you must lead with grace; extending compassion, kindness, and warmth even while they are still drenched in the muck of their addiction.
It is a soft touch, not an iron fist, that draws a broken sinner out of the dark and into the light of hope and transformation.
"Everyone's full story is worth hearing."
Sex addicts (or any addicts) are excellent liars. They often have a history of not only telling lies, but also being told lies. In fact, every sex addict I have ever met learned to tell lies by being told lies, whether from a parent, older sibling, or the media they consumed in childhood. And lies beget lying.
The predominant teacher of lies for sex addicts is usually pornography. It teaches a young person a host of lies; about sex, about love, about relationships, about life.
Once a kid has bought porn's lies, it becomes easy to travel down the road of deception -- of others and self. Eventually, this person wakes up in their late 20's or early 30's and realizes "I'm living a lie!"
Therefore, to help a sexual addict break free from a life of lies, you must introduce them to truth. Truth comes from God, for Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6a)
For an addict to overcome their self-deception, they must encounter Jesus. This requires getting into His Word, the Bible, and reaching out to Him in prayer. As one draws closer to Jesus, the line between lies and truth becomes clearer.
But freedom for a sex addict doesn't just happen because they come to see the difference between the truth and a lie. Real freedom only begins when they honestly share their full story and commit to a life of radical honesty.
There is no true freedom if an addict never shares their whole story. All of it must come into the Light in order for them to experience total release and hope.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, create a safe place for them to share their story; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Encourage radical honesty in a "shame-free-zone," reminding them that their worth is not based on their behavior, but on the God who loved them enough to send Jesus to the cross even before they ever acted out.
"A journey of better reflecting Christ."
No one is perfect, except Jesus.
The Bible says, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Ecc. 7:20)
It also says of Jesus, "For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21) Jesus was perfect in every way, without sin. In other words, He was pure. We, however, apart from Him, are not.
Certainly someone wanting to break free from sexually addictive patterns must take steps toward purity. After all, pure is the opposite of impure. However, these steps are not toward a purity that we can conjure up within ourselves, or maintain perfectly. Remember, there isn't a righteous person on earth who does good and never sins. Therefore, purity must come from the only One who is pure: Jesus.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, lead them to a deeper dependence on Jesus for their purity. A life of sexual integrity is one that reflects the image of Jesus.
"Enjoying the fruit of healthy relationships."
The ultimate vision we have for sex addicts in recovery is to become "whole and holy." And the environment where this transformation takes place is in community. We desire addicts to one day adopt the very heart of God, a heart which loves freely and richly.
It is hard for anyone to get close to an addict; to really know them. They hide and lie and naturally push people away with their self-absorbed lifestyle. Everything about them points inward, to their brokenness, their pride, their lust.
In essence, porn and sex addicts are always only about themselves. Not only do they not engage in real community, they can't because their eyes never look away from their own image.
When a sex addict finally has their "rock bottom" experience that jolts them awake to the reality of their self-centered life, they must (re)learn to connect with others in healthy ways. This involves telling the truth, listening, exercising empathy, serving with proper motives, and accountability. This is no small task for someone whose life has only been focused inward, but it is still the path to true freedom and joy.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, welcome them into a loving community where the truth is told in love and faithful friendships can blossom.
The eventual place an addict needs to arrive for their freedom to be realized is a place where giving and serving others is of higher importance than receiving anything in return.
"Finishing well is better than starting fast."
Effective ministry to sexually addicted individuals is not something that happens quickly. The tentacles of such strongholds run deep and grip tightly to the heart, soul, and mind of the addict.
Therefore, a long-term vision of recovery must be established. Programs that promise transformation in mere days or weeks are setting their patrons up for disappointment (and probably even relapse).
The desire to see porn and sex addicts living lives of "wholeness and holiness" is one that requires a greater emphasis on finishing the journey well, rather than just starting fast. Recovery is a lifelong journey of learning and growing, not just a few weeks or months of "detox."
Think of the recovery journey like you would think of nutritional health. If someone is overweight and physically unhealthy, a quick fix diet might help them to feel better for a few weeks or months. But in order for them to experience the best possible physical health they must engage a paradigm shift that involves not just their behavior with food, but also their mindset regarding their whole body (i.e. exercise, sleep, support, etc.).
If you want to effectively ministry to porn and sex addicts, you must help them embrace the long vision of recovery. Invest in their lifelong journey, celebrating small and large milestones along the way.
When the finish line becomes the focus, the steps to reach it make more sense.
The greatest joy in recovery is investing these core values into a weary addict just looking for help...
If you would like to connect with other like-minded leaders in this field of ministry, visit SexualIntegrityLeaders.com.