As someone who serves in ministry with my own history of struggling with pornography, women often pour out their stories to me with a sigh of relief. While sitting on my living room couch, Jessica shared her struggle with porn:
I was exposed to pornography as a first grader by a childhood friend. I had no idea the lasting effects it would have on me as I got older. While I didn’t understand what it was or why it was bad, I innately felt that it was wrong—that alone filled me with shame. Shame followed me through my life until, for the first time, I heard another woman share that she struggled with it too. That defeated the biggest lie I was believed: that I was in this alone.
There are many women in your church who have similar stories to Jessica. Some may sit next to you on a Sunday and others may be leading Bible studies—they all worry that someone will find out about their secret. I’ve had women from across the spectrum confess their struggle to me, from new believing college students to experienced church leaders. Sadly, the influence of porn in the church is almost as dominant as it is in the world.
I first saw porn in fifth grade. I remember the day like it was yesterday. My friend and I just got back from basketball camp and went up to my room to play. I had a small Dell laptop sitting on my desk and my friend said, “Let me show you something.” She pulled up images and at the time, I had no idea this was porn. I had never heard of pornography before. But in the moment, I felt weird.
I felt like we shouldn’t be looking at this. I remember making sure my bedroom door was shut so my parents wouldn’t know what we were doing. After this incident, I wouldn’t look at porn again until college, but I believe it awakened a part of my sexuality.
“Just don’t do it.”
Growing up, I went to church, but my memories of conversations about sex in a church setting are very minimal. As a middle schooler, my parents sent me to a weekend conference where I sat in a circle with other students and we repeated the words “penis” and “vagina.” Parents were encouraged to sit in on the groups and I remember my dad standing up and saying, “I can’t do this,” as he walked away.
Join myself and Heather on Compared to Who Podcast! On today’s unedited video version of the podcast, I will share my story and we will talk about the following:
–32% of consumers of pornography are women and the number is growing. –What porn is doing to our relationships and our ability to be intimate. –Why porn is leading to the rise of abuse in marriages. –How porn is affecting teen relationships. –How reading erotica or sexually charged content can be a dangerous gateway to pornography. –What to understand about your body image if your husband is struggling with pornography. Plus: -Learn Joy’s helpful acronym tip that helps us practically stay free from addictions!
This past spring, I spent 30 nights alone in the hospital without my loving husband by my side. One night, as I laid in my hospital bed, I thought back on the decision I made to marry him. Little did I know how my decision three years ago would impact me today as I walked through this season of physical suffering.
Years ago, as I was trying to figure out if I should marry the man I was dating, I asked my counselor how to make this important decision. She responded, “Does he suffer well?” The question caught me off guard. After thinking about it, I replied, “Yes; he’s gone through cancer, found joy in the midst of pain, and continues to follow God.” That day I knew I was going to marry my now-husband, Zack.
In our marriage, we have experienced a lot of suffering. When we were first married, I worried about my husband’s cancer returning. Turns out, I’m the one who has struggled with sickness! Over the past three years, my body has experienced vaginismus (a condition involving involuntary muscle spasms in the pelvic floor muscles that can make sexual intercourse painful, difficult, or impossible), miscarrying our eight-week-old baby, frequent sinus headaches, and, most recently, achalasia: A rare disease that causes my esophagus to not function properly.
“I felt like God messed up when he created me, because I had so much sexual desire.” – @JoySkarka
STRUGGLING WITH SEXUAL SHAME? Ever feel like your sexual desires are too much or you (or God) to handle as a Jesus-loving gal? Find encouragement as Titania Paige and I discuss healing from sexual shame and healing from experiences of sexual trauma. By the end of our time together, you’ll have some practical guidance on seeking freedom and hope right where you presently are in your struggle.
In this episode, we talk: • Having strong sexual desires as a Christian woman. • Healing after an experience of sexual trauma. • Pitfalls to avoid in shifting from a mindset of shaming thoughts. Titania asks me: – How were you able to turn to God in the midst of your sexual trauma and shame? (6:15) – How did you go from wrestling with shame to speaking out to help others? (8:15) – How would you encourage us to break the power of shame and begin experiencing freedom? (9:34) – How do you encourage women to shift from a shameful mindset and thought-life? (15:15) – How did you heal from your experience of sexual trauma? (18:21) What were some pitfalls in your journey to healing from sexual shame and trauma? (23:47)
Many women have faced the terrible trauma of sexual abuse and rape. How can a woman heal and recover from such deep pain? In this episode, I share my personal story of sexual brokenness and how the grace of God intersected with my pain to bring lasting healing and freedom. Wherever you are in your journey, may my story bring you hope and courage.
Are you feeling stuck in your home and in your sex life? Think back to the last time you left your house: It could possibly have been four or five weeks! And most likely it has been even longer since you and your spouse went out for a date night.
When my husband and I were newlyweds, we committed to weekly date nights. Every Thursday night we spent time together—sometimes we dressed up and went to dinner, or we went for a walk and got street tacos. Other nights we stayed home and ordered Thai takeout and played board games. As seasons change, it becomes easier to deprioritize date nights. It starts off with missing once or twice a month, and suddenly you’re thinking, “When was the last time we went on a date?” Right now, you may be spending a lot of time together at home, but being in the same physical space doesn’t mean you are working on your relationship; lack of intentional time together impacts both your emotional and physical intimacy…
Since COVID-19 the pornography industry has seen a massive increase in website traffic. On March 24th, one major site announced that their premium content would be free to all visitors resulting in a massive increase of 18.5%. The site explained that watching free porn will encourage people to stay home and flatten the curve.
It’s no surprise that many will turn to porn in our current circumstance. I know because this used to be my story. In moments of pain, I turned to porn to escape my reality. Engaging with pornography appeared to be a quick fix for my negative emotions and feelings, but it was never fully satisfying. These negative emotions and feelings could include fear, anxiety, isolation, stress, and boredom, all of which are currently at an all-time high for many of us.
In our fear and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we search for things to comfort us and make us feel safe. We watch the news and scroll through our Twitter feeds. We buy all the toilet paper and Clorox wipes off the shelves. We binge Netflix hoping that a little distraction and a quick feeling of pleasure will calm our nerves…
I am so excited that HeartStrong Faith has launched a brand new podcast called, “Honest Conversations | HeartStrong Faith.” What they do is discuss difficult topics by seeing what the Bible really has to say about them.
This week, I joined Rebecca Carrell and Liz Rodriguez to share my journey of sexual healing and how to minister to those who struggle.