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.
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Thousands of online forums overflow with people asking if they should date and marry cancer survivors. Misconceptions and social stigma force people to reject cancer survivors as possible spouses. My husband Zack shared with me that during his junior year of college, girls would express interest in dating him, but when they found out he previously had cancer, that interest evaporated. Imagine living through a life-threatening illness to then have your heart broken because of the memory of it. But I’m glad. My gain.
These kinds of studies point out an interesting fact about how our culture defines marriage. We place marriage in the category labeled “self-fulfillment.” The question we should ask ourselves is do we believe that God created marriage for our personal gain? If so, then yes, you should bolt from any cancer survivors.
“Run. Bolt before he dies and leaves you heartbroken.” That’s what a friend said when I told her about the cancer-surviving man I had met in the elevator.
Just days before this conversation, this man and I had become Facebook friends. While scrolling through his profile pictures, I paused — I saw a white sash draped over his shoulder. Not any white sash, but one that read “survivor.” That cute boy I met in the elevator had survived cancer.
Maybe I should run now while I have the chance. (more…)
As a victim of rape, I thought the rape was my fault. I did not fully understand that I was experiencing the result of sin until years later. No matter the reason for the rape, it still wounded me deeply. Because of my hurt and pain, I often wondered why God would allow His children to suffer.
During the months following my abuse, God felt closer than ever before. He never moved. When I cried out in agony, He was by my side. When I prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks, He was there. When I begged Him to take away the pain, He held my hand.
He was there.
Right beside me, holding my hand, and helping me find healing. He was there and He knew this would happen…
I hope summer is going well for you all. I am currently working as a counselor at a camp called SYI, the Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I’m having a wonderful time! Today we got to go dragon boating down the river! It also made my day when I found out I had a blog post published on XXXchurch.com! I’m super excited about this. The ministry helps with porn addiction recovery. They are a growing ministry and I’m excited to be a part of it.