There I was. At a $10,000 a week Addiction Recovery Center in Phoenix.
I was sitting apprehensively in our first “group work” session and we were going around the circle telling total strangers about the darkest demons lurking in our souls. There was some pretty crazy stuff being shared in that first gathering. And the thing was, these all looked like highly successful men. Not one had those blank empty “serial killer” eyes.
Getting to know all these men really well over the next week, I found out a few things.
One was an owner of a massive million dollar company. Another was the manager of one of the biggest pop stars in America. Still another was a super successful book publisher.
And they were all very sincere Christians. And all very addicted to porn and sexual vice.
And I was no different. I enjoyed my own version of success over the years in the world of Christian ministry. Television shows. Christian conference speaker. Best-selling books. And very sincere about my faith in Jesus.
Yet there I was with them. Ugliness and all.
Today, as I coach men out of this darkness, I’ve noticed the same trend. Very successful leaders. Very sincere Christians. And smart. So why are so many smart men making so many stupid choices? And here's another question... why is porn so prevalent among the pious?
If we think porn is some foreign enemy that has never tiptoed it’s way into the church, think again.
Steve Farrar in his book “Finishing Strong,” shared this story…
“A number of years ago a national conference for church youth directors was held at a major hotel in a city in the mid-west. Youth pastors by the hundreds flooded into that hotel and took nearly every room. At the conclusion of the conference, the hotel manager told the conference administrator that the number of guests who tuned into the adult movie channel broke the previous record, far and away outdoing any other convention in the history of the hotel.”
Huh? A group of youth pastors set the new record for porn movies in a hotel?
A recent Christianity Today survey confirms this story:
- 21% of Christian men say they think they might be “addicted” to pornography. (compared to 10% of non- Christian men).
- 54% of pastors said they had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.
I believe there are five reasons why there are so many smart, successful (and sincere) Christian men watching porn:
1. The smart and successful ARE USED TO WINNING.
Porn and sexual vice is just another battle they can win alone, right? Wrong.
When high achievers encounter problems, they always have a plan to overcome. They figure out a way to make the sale or find new customers or recruit a better employee. So when they finally find themselves being consumed with pornography and the collateral damage that comes with it, that “just win” reflex kicks in. They try to will their way to quitting. After all, it’s just images. "How could that be stronger than me?"
But it has become more than images. It’s a deeply embedded, highly addictive, chemically induced playground that has taken years to build in your mind. And you aren’t going to take it down alone.
That’s why the scripture says,
“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NRSV)
Don’t believe the lie. You don’t beat this enemy by yourself. Find a trustworthy friend, pastor or counselor that you can share your story with and figure out a path of freedom.
2. Successful men are often too busy being successful to maintain intimacy in their marriage.
It’s not that successful don’t love their wives. It's just that high achievers can get so busy providing for their family that they no longer have time for them. Odd huh? That we work so hard for the very people we are losing in the process. Every man has a love and intimacy bucket. And if your bucket is not being filled at home, you will eventually find yourself trying to fill it in other places.
If you’re too busy to enjoy regular romantic outings with your wife, you’re too busy. If you’re too busy for evenings relaxing together after work, you’re too busy. If you’re not having good sex on a consistent basis with your wife, you’re too busy.
You never lose it all overnight. But you will lose it all over time, if you don’t make marital adjustments.
3. Successful people tend to travel.
High achievers are always going places. Conferences. Speaking events. Sales trips. Golf get-aways. You name it. Being away, especially when you are alone, offers anonymity, loneliness during downtime and a pandora's box of temptations.
Whether it’s X-rated hotel movies, a woman at a bar or the strip club down the street, there is always something ready to take both your money and your soul.
So here are my suggestions for safe travels. (besides wearing a seat belt in the rental car)
- Avoid traveling alone whenever you can.
- If you are alone, try to stay with a friend or colleague in the city you are going.
- When away, over communicate with your spouse. Call and talk often.
- Avoid downtime like the plague.
- If staying at a hotel, ask them to turn off the adult movie option.
- Take a book or a work project to give your time to in your spare moments.
4. Overwork, exhaustion and success are a dangerous cocktail for entitlement.
It’s the whole “Solomon principle.”
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.” Ecclesiastes 2:10 NIV
Solomon was one of the most wealthy and successful men in the history of the world. Basically he was saying here, “Hey, I’ve worked extremely hard for what I’ve got and I’m going to enjoy the rewards of all the hours I’ve put in!”
Addicts thrive on entitlement.
“I’ve been through a lot of crap.”
“I put in 80 hours last week.”
“My wife doesn’t meet my needs.”
Me. Me. Me.
Hey, I’m not saying you haven’t earned the right to enjoy the fruits of your success. You have. But you have not earned the right to be unfaithful. So how do we handle our sense of entitlement?
Creating sabbath in our life does three important things for us:
- It gives us time rest and rejuvenate our life and bodies together.
- It sets time aside to give thanks to God for all good things.
- It calls us into a community of Jesus people that help care for our soul.
And lastly... and this is extremely profound. Wait for it...
4. We are men.
I know, powerful right?
But hey, we are all men. And no man reading this is simpleminded enough to think the lure we feel towards the forbidden is only targeting the rich and famous. Sexual brokenness reaches across every economic, racial and religious demographic.
Men were created to enjoy sex. To want sex. And sex is absolutely amazing.
If you are waiting for the Christian caveat of “as long as it’s inside a marriage relationship,” keep waiting. Because you won’t find many guys who are engaging sexual vice outside of their marriage that say they hate it.
But they will tell you they hate what it is doing to their soul.
As a man who lived in the chains of sexual addiction for 25 years and saw everything he held dear taken away as a result, all I can tell you is this:
Get the help you need NOW if you are struggling on any level.
I am pleased to offer you three amazing opportunities to get on freedom’s road:
1. Subscribe to “The Final Week of my Life” Series
I will be chronicling the story of "The Final Week of my Life" in a series of seven emails during Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday, April 16th. I will candidly rehearse the happenings of each day that put me in the grave, but more importantly, I will share the seven secrets that empowered me to resurrection.
I'd love to include you in this seven day devotional journey together leading into Easter. Just click here and sign up to be a part. I am so excited! I believe resurrection life is going to be poured out that week!!
2. Live Free Men’s Freedom Experience
Live Free is a transformational weekend experience that I host for men based on the ground breaking recovery program that equips men in the The 7 Step Resurrection Task Model. This weekend is designed to create a brand new way of living, free from porn, sexual brokenness and addiction. Here are the details.
3. Personal Coaching
Walking through your challenges or addictions with a wise, caring coach is the best possible beginning to overcome your failures, find new direction, and transform your life in a meaningful way. Over and over again, I have seen these coaching conversations become the difference between death and resurrection. I would love to help you! All the info is right here.