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Posted by on Mar 29, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Faith and Science: Solving the “Conflict”

This month with the recent relaunch of XXXchurch we’ve been focusing most of our content around the goal of establishing what this ministry is about and what our focus is on. In other words… what sets us apart from other ministries or organizations.

So far we’ve told you that…

  1. We are that “church” for anyone and everyone where they can seek healing and freedom.
  2. We are not “awareness” focused, we are solution focused.
  3. We are for building a culture of transparency and grace.
  4. We want to destroy the shame that people feel around the topics of porn and sex.
  5. We are not “AGAINST” the sex/porn industry, but rather are “FOR” something better.

Which leads me to this nugget…

We are a faith based organization that embraces the Bible but also seeks truth in science and psychology and does not limit its message to a small group of Christians.

It’s important to state this because when surveying the landscape of ministries or other organizations focused on the issues we deal with, often these groups come down on one of two sides.

A) To be a legitimate faith-based/Jesus-focused ministry all conversations need to be laced with scripture references and the like, and failure to talk about stuff without clearly labeling things as “sinful” or not is just weak and an attempt to avoid taking a stand for what we say we believe. 

B) To be credible and effective we must only focus on science and data because “faith” erodes the validity of our message. In fact, some organizations are very vocal about the fact that they are NOT faith based and avoid messaging that’s tied to any sort of belief system at all.

However, what we believe and see is that science and faith are not necessarily arch-rivals seeking to discredit each other’s authority. 

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

True science and true faith compliment each other and strengthen one another’s message.

Admittedly, this tension we see between the two camps often frustrates me, but I understand why it happens, so I want to make a few things clear about our position on this matter:

You don’t need to mention Jesus or the Bible for a principle to be biblical.

The Bible is full of amazing life-changing truths and teaching. And you see many of these principles taught in other religions and systems of thought. Why is this? 

Because Truth is Truth.

And biblical truth is biblical truth even if the person delivering it doesn’t specifically mention Jesus by name or provide a scripture reference in the footnotes.

Take for example the idea of “loving one another.”

Jesus is clear, as his followers one of our primary responsibilities is to love other people, including our enemies. 

This means… 

We look out for the less fortunate.
We act out of generosity.
We show kindness and grace.
We don’t take advantage of people.
We don’t exploit or objectify people.

So if someone says, one of the reasons porn is so “wrong” is because it objectifies women (and/or men) then that person is speaking “biblical” truth and principle even if he/she never mentions Jesus or the Bible.

When we talk about values, goals, and identity it may sound on the surface like we are just offering self-help philosophy. However, if you have a faith in Jesus then your values, goals, and where you derive your identity from should look very different from someone who does not. 

They should be rooted in Jesus.
No one should have to tell you that. 

I’ve read some amazing books from guys who are not Christians. And what made those books especially impactful was when I read them through a Christian lens. The authors spoke to me in a powerful way that impacted me on a very spiritual level, and they never mentioned Jesus once.

Look for the biblical principle.
Draw the connections. 

Trust me, you will get more out of that process than if you sit there expecting someone to spell it all out for you.

God reveals himself in his Word and in his Works. 

One prominent Christian leader said the following.

Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based.

This type of commentary is insane in my opinion and just shows a fear for engaging in these important conversations. Why can’t we approach science and psychology with the same investigative nature that we approach the Bible?

Comments like that enforce the idea that Christians are a bunch of weak-minded people who can’t engage in critical thinking and the like. And quite honestly, it’s not just problematic theology…it’s bad theology.

Because God’s divine revelation is not limited to his Word.

In other words, God uses more than the Bible to reveal himself and his knowledge to us.

The Bible says as much:

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” – Romans 1:20 NLT

There are some Christians out there who insist that everything we need to know is in the Bible.  I disagree with this idea because it only focuses on God’s “Word” and completely devalues God’s “Work.”

Additionally, this type of thought completely ignores the reality of our situation.

Can the Bible tell you any of the following?

  • Are push-ups or bench presses better for strengthening my chest?
  • What’s the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats?
  • What do I need to avoid, so I can get a better night’s sleep? (i.e. caffeine, blue light, etc.)
  • Why does a certain smell or color trigger my brain to desire porn? 

The answers to these questions can be found in an understanding of our brain and our bodies… the disciplines of biology and psychology. 

Yes, science has often been hijacked by those who want to deny God. But just because men have attempted to corrupt these disciplines doesn’t mean that we need to reject them. 

It means we need to redeem them. 

Science at the end of the day is a study of God’s “Works.” 

And therefore I would argue that not only is it in our best interest, but it also our responsibility to study this stuff in an attempt to better understand and appreciate what God wants to reveal about himself and his creation.

Many people believe that science and the Bible are opponents. But I would tell you that they are two sides of the same coin.

Why does your body work the way it does?
Why does your brain work the way it does?

Because a creator who’s a whole lot smarter than us made us that way. So we are foolish if we don’t seek to understand these things better.

Theology, biology, and psychology – these different areas of our life were not meant to be compartmentalized and treated independently. They are complimentary.

Completely ignore one area and you will feel the negative consequences in others.

What makes a ministry “Jesus-Centered” is its heart and purpose. Not the fact that they have a cross and a dove on every page of its website. 

I’ve seen plenty of great Christian ministries out there doing great work… Kingdom building work.

I’ve also seen plenty of “ Christian ministries” out there doing not so great work. Instead of trying to build God’s Kingdom, they are more concerned about building wealth, fame, and influence.

Do you know what these two types of ministries have in common? 

They both claim to be Christian.
They both leverage the name of Jesus.

But they are very different because they exist for different reasons.

Live Free and XXXchurch exists to help individuals break free from porn, sex and shame because we believe that people must do that to fully experience God’s best for their life.

We do not limit this mission to believers.
We do not say we are only here for the Christians.

And therefore we offer resources and teaching that we believe can benefit both the believer and the nonbeliever because again, truth is truth.

I believe this ministry is a Jesus-centric ministry because our mission is to help those who are hurting and broken [PERIOD].

In other words, we are here to love and demonstrate God’s grace in a real and tangible way. 

And I believe that’s an extremely biblical, faith-based, scientifically sound, and Jesus-centered approach.

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Posted by on Mar 25, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Shame: A Betrayed Wife’s Story

Hidden. Broken. Isolated. Empty. These are all things we have experienced in 2020. The added pressures and complexities of COVID coupled with living through the trauma of sexual betrayal have pushed many to the end of their rope.

Betrayal feels like our rock bottom. Add COVID to the mix, and the bottom of our rock bottom falls through. We have reached new lows many of us never thought possible.

Being a spouse of a porn addict tends to bring out what has been rooted in us before discovery of the addiction.  For me, this was (and still is) shame.

Shame is such an ugly word to me. It was something I ignored for all of my life. It is something I pretend isn’t there. Before I discovered my husband’s addiction to porn, I felt shame about feeling shame.

It wasn’t until I started to acknowledge my own hurt from my spouse’s addiction that I began to see the deep-rooted effects of what I was feeling.

Shame had overtaken my life.

That is exactly what it does.

Shame hides and tells us to hide.
Shame lies to us and tells us to lie.

Shame covers itself up, masking itself behind other emotions and lies – and tells us to cover up and hide our true selves from the world. It tries to control and tells us the only way to escape hurt again is to control the people and environments we are in.

Unfortunately, I listened to all of these lies. I ran and hid, and, as a natural introvert, I told myself it was just who I was. Shame became my identity. I didn’t know a different way of life.

I didn’t know who I was outside these feelings.

Shame can be experienced in many different ways which is why it can take so many different forms. Someone says or does something that can cause the emotion of shame in us. It is when we internalize this stuff that it takes root and can begin to morph itself.

Adam and Eve had never felt the emotion of shame until God had called them in the Garden after they had taken the fruit from the tree of life (see Genesis 3). It was only then that they hid.

Shame was the first emotional response to the first sin. I believe this shows us plainly that shame is the primary tool the enemy of our souls would like to use, especially when dealing with the betrayal of a sex addiction.

Shame is experienced in relationship, but it is also only healed within relationship. 

I don’t know one person who has not been touched by its devastating impacts. So why is it that we pretend we are untouchable and unaffected by shame?

When Adam and Eve hid from God, what did God do? He called to them. God provided a way for Adam and Eve to overcome their shame of nakedness (with clothing).

In the same way, I believe God is calling us to overcome the shame in betrayal we experience. God is calling us to believe His identity for our lives as daughters and highly loved.

 

Shame tells us, “I am not good enough.”

God says, “I am sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9)

 

Shame tells us, “Your spouse’s addiction is your fault.”

God says, “Sin has caused this – not you” (James 1:14)

 

Shame tells us, “Hide and cover-up for your husband. It’s your job to protect your husband.”

God says, “Come to me and give me your burdens” (Ps 55:22; Matthew 11:28-30)

 

Shame tells us, “Control your husband and the environment around you, or else you will get hurt again.”

God says, “I am Lord of your life, My plans and purposes are good for you. Trust me.” (Jer. 29:11; Provers 3:5-8)

 

When I first started to believe that my husband’s addiction was a reflection of his own heart, shame began to crumble in the light of God’s love.  When I first joined a Live Free Wives community and heard other women say “Me too” I began to heal.

If you are in a safe community, please take the opportunity to share your emotions of shame. Allow your community to help you heal. If you do not have a community like this, I would highly recommend getting connected with Small Groups Online.

Shame doesn’t have to be the end of our story. Come out from the darkness.

 

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

The Dangers of Anti-Porn Culture

A couple of weeks ago, ChurchLeaders.com released an article spotlighting XXXchurch and its new mission citing some remarks I made in a previous blog post. Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the coverage but I wasn’t a huge fan of the headline…

Anti-Porn XXXchurch Site Owner’s Message: ‘Things Aren’t Getting Better’

Clearly the writer of this article didn’t spend too much time familiarizing  himself with our site, or he would have seen this excerpt from our About Us page (which is also part of our “message”):

It’s time to stop blaming the porn industry for our problems. Legislation and pointing fingers doesn’t work.

In other words, XXXchurch is not an Anti-Porn organization.

Now I realize when some people hear me say this they become incredulous thinking that we must then be “pro-porn.” Crazy jump in logic I know, but they fail to understand that simply because we refuse to demonize something does not mean we are endorsing it at the same time.

Why is this so important? 

Because when we focus all our attention and hate on the object of our struggle we lose sight of the fact that the REAL enemy is what causes us to struggle in the first place. 

Don’t get me wrong…

  • We are not saying that porn (and the sex industry) at large is good thing.
  • We are not saying that porn is healthy.
  • We are not saying that you should use porn.

And yes, we are not saying that porn and the sex industry positively influences culture. Quite the opposite in fact.

But what we are saying is that it doesn’t matter.

Freedom is not living in a world absent of “threats” and “temptations.” Freedom is being able to function in a healthy way even when these things are all around us.

Here’s the hard truth…

Porn and sex are not to blame for your issues. They are just medicants for your issues.

And when we fail to understand this and keep focusing our attention on how “bad” something is, we lose sight of our personal responsibility.

And why is this so dangerous?

For starters…

  • We never get the help we need because we are too busy complaining about how bad things are.
  • We never talk about our struggles because that’s hard and difficult vs. just piling the blame on our “common enemy.”
  • We never own our own crap and seek alternative ways to shift the responsibility for our own brokenness.

And then something like Atlanta happens…

Last week Robert Aaron Long went on a shooting spree visiting three Atlanta-area massage parlors killing eight people in the process.

So tragic.
So hateful.
So disturbing.

But what struck me was his reason… Long told police he believed he had a sex addiction and that he saw the spas as “a temptation … that he wanted to eliminate.”

Now admittedly we don’t know everything about this situation or the motives of this young man. But it’s safe to say that he was driven by a deep hatred for what he recognized as the object of his affliction.

In other words, these spas and individuals were to blame for his problems and not him.

This type of tragedy saddens me because it serves as an extreme example of how we live in a culture that often rather “blame” than “own.”

  • Much easier to target your temptation than take responsibility for it.
  • Much easier to point fingers than look in the mirror.
  • Much easier to find a scapegoat than admit you are the goat.

And again, this is an extreme and tragic example of what can happen when we demonize what we see as the enemy rather than just taking care of our own house. But it’s an example nonetheless.

Let me be clear…

Porn is not your enemy.
The sex industry is not your enemy.
People are not your enemy.

They are just players in a very large chess game where your success or failure comes down to how you decide to move your own pieces.

Stop hoping temptation goes away.
Stop harping on how bad things are.
Stop wishing life would just get easier.

It doesn’t work that way.

We are all broken.
We all have pain.

And we all need to seek our own personal healing so these distractions in life do not become our undoing.

If you are struggling with sex addiction or have been impacted by it in some manner, please hear me on this…

There is help. There is hope. There is healing.

Take a step today and find the communities and resources you need to find the freedom you’ve been searching for.

 

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Posted by on Mar 18, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Porn Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate

A wonderful woman that has been a part of our online groups wrote in and wanted to share her story. We hope this encourages you…


If you’re a Christian woman struggling with porn, masturbation, or other sexual sins, I can assure you that you’re not alone. I’m a 31-year-old woman, born and raised in the church, who became addicted to pornography and masturbation towards the end of college, and who still struggles with sexual sin today.

My relationship with sexual sin, though, began much earlier. 

For my 16th birthday, friends gifted me my very first sex toy. I remember using it for the first time, unaware of how much that experience would shape my life.

My behavior with masturbation grew from an occasional occurrence into a full-fledged addiction. It got to the point where I would masturbate for hours after work then fall asleep in front of the TV, only to repeat the cycle the next day (then the next … and the next …). 

My introduction to pornography only magnified the problem.

At my job, I would go into the bathroom, or drive home during my lunch break, so that I could “get my fix”. I would go into the bathroom of book stores/restaurants/etc. to watch porn and masturbate, or would pull over on the side of the road to do so.

It’s alarming, in retrospect, to admit the extent of sexual sin’s dominion and control over my life during that time. I always knew I had a problem and that I needed help.

But I didn’t personally know women who struggled sexually, and I felt extremely isolated, ashamed, and hopeless.

For years I craved fellowship and connection but didn’t know where to find it. I had heard about XXXchurch and reluctantly joined a group in the summer of 2019.

I was skeptical that it would actually help but joined nonetheless. Now, a year and a half later, I am enthusiastically grateful that I made that decision. 

This group has been a space to share more openly and vulnerably than I can with most other people.

I have grown to feel much less alone in my struggle and appreciate the outlet to encourage other women. I tend to view sexual sin as something I have to muster through and conquer but, through the support of my group, I am learning to humble myself before God and simply admit that, in my own strength, I can do nothing.

I’m learning what it means to really let go and to trust God, and not just in the area of sexual sin.

I am learning to embrace my weaknesses because, in them, His strength sustains me. I am slowly learning that Jesus is not only my Savior, but my friend and friends walk patiently through trials together.   

Since joining my group, sexual sin remains an ongoing battle in my life. But rather than viewing that as defeat, my group continually reminds me of the many ways in which I have grown.

Rather than focusing on the guilt and shame that comes with sexual sin, I’m learning to keep my eyes and heart fixed on the cross. I’m aspiring to meditate on the Savior, and not on the problem.

I can’t change myself on my own; I need Jesus.

The more I embrace His heart, the more I understand why I turn to sexual sin, because of brokenness.

He wants us to draw near to Him in that brokenness, as much as our instincts scream at us otherwise. If Jesus asks the prostitute and the adulteress to draw near, wouldn’t he ask the same of us? 

Trust His love for you and invite Him into your battle. Lean on His strength, not on your own. Fight the urge to retreat and hide because of your sin.

Join a community, maybe on like at Small Groups Online. Get the support you need.

And remember: you are not alone.

 

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Posted by on Mar 15, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

The Origin of Shame

Chances are whether you’re a Christian or have no faith context whatsoever, you know about the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. 

It goes something like this… 

God created an amazing world we now know as planet earth. Adam and Eve were the first two people he made, and so he gave him this beautiful garden full of potential and teaming with life. 

All of this was theirs for the taking but with one little caveat… don’t eat the fruit of one specific tree. 

Of course, we all know what happened. 

They were tricked into eating the forbidden fruit by a cunning and clever serpent,  which resulted in complete disaster – something the church world often refers to as the fall of mankind. 

It’s a beautiful story. And yet it’s a tragic one as well.

A story of limitless potential that results in a terrible ending.

It’s a story that we closely associate with something we call “sin” or original sin. The story of man’s disobedience to God, which results in a world, once full of life, now a place where people hurt and kill each other for gain and power. 

But when I look at that story, not only do I see the cost of disobedience, I see the grand entrance of something called shame. 

As we know, before Adam and Eve ate the fruit, there was no such thing as shame in the garden. But after their misdeed, what does the story tell us? 

“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.”

Why did they feel the need to clothe themselves?

What made them feel the need to hide and get dressed?

I believe what we see is that when they saw each other for the first time completely bare, flaws and all, they didn’t like what they saw. 

They didn’t like what they saw of their partner.
And they didn’t like what they saw about themselves. 

So they felt immense shame and the need to cover up. 

And I think this is so significant for us, especially if we are seeking sexual integrity, because the thing that will keep us trapped in our unhealthy ways more than anything is shame.

It’s that fear of being known for whom we truly are.

It’s that disgust with our frailties and failures and the need to disguise them so no one else knows the real us. 

Shame isn’t what we were meant to live in. 

When God confronted Adam and Eve, He didn’t say good job for finding some clothes. No. He said, Why are you hiding? Who told you that you’re naked? 

Of course, He knew the answer to that question before He asked it; but it’s evident that His concern had nothing to do with their nudity or their poor fashion choices. 

He was concerned about the fact that something had shifted in their consciousness causing them to want to go get dressed and cover up.

Understand, I’ve worked in this area of ministry for over a decade now and I can tell you one thing with 100% certainty… 

Any man or woman who can’t get out from underneath the shadow of their own shame is going to continue to struggle. 

Shame is the enemy. 

It will suffocate you and keep you in the shadows where you will continue to hide and never actually find freedom. 

Listen, talking about the stuff that we do is not comfortable. And for sure, it seems weird. 

But it only feels that way because of shame. 

Telling someone about your sexual struggles, your desires, your questions, and insecurities may seem completely out of bounds, but in the end it should be completely natural. 

It’s what we were created to do… 

To be in communion.
To be known fully, without any hiding or masks. 

You need to understand that while exposing yourself to other people may create a great tension and challenge you more than anything you’ve ever done; it is no doubt one of the best things you can do for your soul and for your recovery. 

And this is why we are so focused on bringing these conversations to the surface, not content to just leave them alone in their own little dark corners.

Yea… 

It’s not easy, convenient, or popular.
It’s not going to get you a new book deal.
It’s not going to garnish you thousands of followers.

And if you are a pastor, it sure won’t get you butts in the seats or increase those offering numbers.

But it’s what we need to do regardless… because it’s the right thing to do.

Don’t let shame have a say in your life.

Don’t keep looking for those fig leaves to hide your “nakedness” rather than stepping out and being known for whom you actually are, the real you, warts and all.

 

 

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