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The Best Kept Secret

The Best Kept Secret

When asked to write this article, I did not respond right away because I really don’t know what else to say to pastors. Don’t look at porn. Don’t make a fool out of yourself, your ministry or your God. We don’t need to read about another pastor involved in a scandal in the newspaper. Instead of continuing to write, I decided to let you read what is in my inbox every day. Confessions from pastors just like you who know they need to change but just can’t. Maybe you will find yourself in these confessions.
Youth pastors, worship pastors, associate pastors, senior pastors. One thing I have noticed is that there is no difference in the results, whether those who answered were pastors who took the survey or random people from our site, Christians or non.

Problem … yes. But sadly, that is the reality. Many of our pastors are no different when it comes to the issues of pornography.

On the site there is a section in the “Get Help” section labeled “Confessions.” We have had more than 300 confessions over the last two months on the site. Confessions from wives, parents, teens and—you guessed it—pastors.

When asked to write this article, I did not respond right away because I really don’t know what else to say to pastors. Don’t look at porn. Don’t make a fool out of yourself, your ministry or your God. We don’t need to read about another pastor involved in a scandal in the newspaper. Instead of continuing to write, I decided to let you read what is in my inbox every day. Confessions from pastors just like you who know they need to change but just can’t. Maybe you will find yourself in these confessions:

* * *

Well … here I am.

Here with me I have 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I’m a 26-year-old pastor, husband and father of a 1-year-old baby girl … both of whom I love very much. I would give anything for these two wonderful ladies. My wife is attractive, but our little girl consumes her day, which doesn’t leave much time for me.

This is not her fault. This is not my daughter’s fault. It is my fault.

I feel so guilty because I do these awful things in private and lead others in worship with my stained hands and bruised heart. I am addicted to pornography. My addiction began when I was 12, and I cannot live with it any longer. I’ve been indoctrinated; every female within my sight is a sex object up for “inspection.” It’s a peculiar obsession—I do not masturbate. I simply have this raging desire to see women performing sexual acts. I will spare you the gory details, but be assured that I have seen the most disgusting, gross, revolting and degrading material available. For me, the “worst of the worst” produced shock and awe, while the “normal” material was “enjoyable.” Today, I would go to great lengths to “unsee” what I have seen in the last 14 years.

Dear God … 14 years.
I’ve been spitting on Your face and dragging Your name through mud for 14 years?
Lord, I am a failure. I am a hypocrite.
I need Your forgiveness.
I look at women with lust in my heart.
I lie.
I lie to cover up lies.
I judge people’s sins without judging my own.
Forgive me. Your Word says that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just enough to forgive.
I believe that with everything within me.
Wash away my sins. Make me whole again.
Help me.
I am deathly afraid of telling my wife, and (my family and) I desperately need my job to pay our bills. My ministry and my family are extremely important to me. What to do?

How can I be rid of this gross obsession? If I continue in the same path, I will fall again and again. What is my next step?

* * *

I’m a worship pastor, and I want out of this God-awful addiction. This is horrible. I’ve screwed up the majority of my marriage because of this. It’s not what marriage is supposed to be. My wife found out early on, and she thinks that I’m pretty much over it. I’ve gone back and forth, though … sometimes I do OK … sometimes I look twice a day. This is just not someone I want to be anymore. I know that there is no condemnation in Christ … I know He’ll forgive me and that He loves me no matter what, but I can’t serve and you can’t serve Him with this addiction. It WILL turn into something more serious eventually. You’ll start chatting with women online, maybe just innocently at first, and I promise you, it’ll turn into an affair faster than you realize. I’m done … I want out.

* * *

I’m a pastor of a small church. I’ve been keeping an eye on this blog for a while, and I figured it was time to speak up. Quite simply, my life is jacked up. Yes, as you guessed, I have a dirty little secret called pornography. I’ve managed to hide it from my wife, two teenage daughters and my small church, and I live feeling guilty every day of the week.

* * *

I lead a double life. I’m a full-time pastor, but most of the time I just stay alone in my church office, downloading a lot of porn videos off the Internet, and I’m just completely unable to stop it. I even bought an extra hard drive just to keep those videos, and it’s already getting full. The most painful moment in my life is when my daughters give me a hug and tell me they love me and they think I’m the greatest guy in the whole world. That hurts, but it’s still better than having two angry daughters cursing me for my porn addiction. My wife and I haven’t been intimate for years now because I just don’t feel like that with her anymore. She doesn’t do all the naughty stuff like those girls in video clips, and she isn’t as physically attractive as those young girls. She’s definitely not interested in Victoria’s Secret kind of fashion, either. Fortunately, she isn’t interested in sex all that much, so she seems to think it’s kinda cool that I’m not needy in that sense. But that’s just so pathetic in a way. It’s like a car without A/C during the summer in Houston. It works, but it stinks.

So, guys, stay away from porn at all costs! If you can’t, at least do a good job hiding it from your family and church. It’s better to do that than making them go through a hell. In my case I pretty much gave up on myself. I simply pray that God will use my preaching independent of my personal struggles so more people would come and support my church. The Gospel must move forward regardless of my personal issues. That’s what matters.

* * *

They say that sin takes control when you are not even paying attention, when you have your guard down. That is true for me. The past few years my sin in porn has led into other sin. As I was a youth pastor I started going to strip clubs and getting drunk. Now I am separated from my wife and kids. The sin has taken me down so far, I of course lost my youth pastor job and, since then, another great job. Sometimes I wonder if I can ever get out of the mess I have made for myself. I am even today still struggling with porn. It has such a grip on my life.

* * *

My name is Brad, and I have an addiction to porn. It started at the early age of 4 with a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition of my dad’s. My grandfather and family then encouraged it. I’m not a pastor, but I am a missionary in Southern Alabama. I thought that when I got married I could control myself, but that was not the case. I’ve been married for a year and now have a 2-week-old son. I go through “droughts” where I’m capable of controlling myself, but before I know it I find myself back in front of my computer looking at porn again. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not tempt me beyond what I can handle, and He will provide a way out. Well … HELP!!! I CAN’T FIND THE EXIT!!!!!

* * *

I won’t make this long, but I will share my issue. I’m 25, recently married and interviewing at churches for a pastoral position. I’ve struggled with porn addiction since I was 12 years old. Through high school and Bible college I haven’t been able to get ahold of this. But I desperately want a change before I land in a pastoral position—for my own sake, my marriage and for the sake of the congregation I will serve in ministry.

As I read through the other pastors’ confessions I realize that we all struggle exactly in the same way, and knowing that gives me great hope.

I always just thought this issue would go away with the progression of life and maturity, but I learned that it didn’t. In fact, it got worse.

So here I am, in my prime years and struggling with an issue that can ruin my ministry, my family and my own relationship with God.

I need help desperately and will do what I need to do before it gets worse.

To all you other pastors, I prayed for you as I read your confessions. I have huge respect for you all. Please “return the favor” and send your prayers toward me as I begin my life in ministry. God Bless to you all.

* * *

About five years ago, while in Bible college, I was at a concert sitting right near the front. In the mosh pit area, there was a real attractive girl who was dancing very seductively. I found myself aroused, and decided—for the first time—to “complete the deal.” Five years later, I’m a licensed minister with a mainstream evangelical fellowship, and still struggle with giving in to my flesh in public. Now I’m at the point where I’ll leave my house, go to the grocery store and sit in my car—masturbating to beautiful women walking by. I remember as a youth pastor feeling the urge right in the middle of my sermon prep, heading to Wal-Mart and then coming back to finish my message, feeling guilty as ever. Speaking this out loud, not to mention writing it, sounds a heck of a lot worse than actually doing it and making excuses for it. I’m married, about to take a senior pastorate and couldn’t be sicker of my sin. I can’t go to my denomination—they’d say I lost my salvation and give me the boot; I don’t want to tell my wife, and the majority of my friends look to me as their spiritual leader. I hope someone will read this and take hope in the fact that a pastor who has traveled the country leading others to spiritual freedom is now himself having to ask God for freedom.

* * *

Secrets are never good. God won’t bless your situation if it centers around sin, even secret sin. You can’t just fake it or get by on your own gifting. Some of you need to leave your ministry now. Even pastors need safe outlets. Your spiritual health and family are more important than your church or your job. Stop living a lie. Don’t expect that because you are in ministry, these things will just go away.

You don’t have to live like this.

* * *

This article originally appeared in Neue Quarterly Vol. 01. You can subscribe to the Quarterly or buy individual copies.

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