A Blessed Future

Steve Arterburn

The Bible tells us that all have sinned and gone their own way.  No matter how far you’ve gone in the wrong direction, however, when you turn around God always welcomes you back.  Are you living beyond your means?  Have you given in to the world of internet pornography?  Maybe you’re failing your wife and kids, crushing them with your anger or solitude.  Is your free time filled with television or video games?

God is ready to welcome you back.  His arms are open, and his promises are sure–he will transform your worst failures into a blessed future, if you’ll ask him to.

There is hope for you.  God is gracious and will forgive you, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do.  He will even turn your past around and create a new life’a life of hope, peace, and ongoing relationship with him. But you have to take the first step. It’s a paradox of our faith: seek God and He will find you! Whether it’s the first time you’ve sought Him or you have strayed over and over, He’s there with His arms wide open!

The Great Accelerator of Sexual Addiction

Darren Lowman

The Internet’s ‘triple A’ ‘ “access, affordability, and anonymity” (Cooper) has allowed pornography to escalate in ways thought impossible. Men struggling with sexual sin/acting out are finding that they can explore their every fantasy in complete privacy and utter anonymity. Long gone are the days of sheepishly sliding into the corner liquor store to purchase a sleazy magazine. At a cost of less than 50 bucks a month, a DSL connection provides millions of pages of pornography. Before internet access, thirty dollars would buy a single steamy porn magazine or video.

It has become so easy to destroy one’s life.

Internet pornography has changed the way addiction counselors assess compulsive sexual problems. Generally, it takes 2 years or more for an addiction to become established. In other words, counselors want to see a pattern of maladaptive behavior over a long period of time before naming a problem addictive.

The Internet, however, has significantly reduced the time it takes to become “hooked” and for the destructive nature of this disorder to become realized. This is why Dr. Patrick Carnes, known as the grandfather of sexual addiction, states that “the Internet has become the great accelerator of the addictive process.” Internet porn, also known as the crack cocaine of sex addiction (Al Cooper), can grab a hold of a man or women in less than 60 days. Men attending Every Man’s Battle conferences are known to express the pivotal Impact internet porn has had on their lives. It is often a great accelerator of their addiction or it is the beginning point.

What makes the Internet such a risky proposition? Why should men remain vigilant in their stand against the evil lurking inside the computer screen? The internet, unlike any other medium, offers rapid fire information. Not to mention the 1,000 new pornographic web sites that enter the super highway daily. The brains circuits are quickly overloaded and require more and more stimulation in order to maintain or increase the “high”. The pleasure seeker is driven to explore the next image, surprise, or fantasy with no end to this search.

Carnes writes about one such individual in his book, Clinical Management of Sex Addiction:

Robert sat in his attorney’s office wondering how things had gotten so out of control. It was only six months ago that he discovered pornography online and now he was being charged with possession of child pornography. He was at a loss for words when his wife asked why this happened. What could he tell his own children about the fantasy life that he developed online? Robert remembers discovering the illicit pornography and then his life becomes a blur as his addiction spirals out of control and into a world he never thought he would enter. The next thing he remembers is being arrested at his home and his computer being taken away as if it were a weapon from a crime scene. As his attorney entered the room, Robert realizes how much worse things could have become if he had continued to progress in his cyber sex addiction.

Additionally, the World Wide Web is turning some not only into sex addicts but into sex offenders. Many would have never gone down such a road if it weren’t for access to the Internet. Such a case was reported by Natalie Pona, a staff reporter for the San Jose Marital & Sexuality Center:

This is new for forensic psychologists, said Dr. Al Cooper, a California based therapist and author of Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians. What were finding is a lot of these people have no history of sexual problems’. And we believe they would not have had problems without the Internet. Take the case of the 21 year old Winnipeg man who allegedly lured a teen from her home. He allegedly gave her marijuana then videotaped himself sexually assaulting her, said Stonewall RCMP Sgt. Gerry Thomas. The attack was interrupted by a passing RCMP officer. The man didn’t have criminal record.

Certainly, this type of situation is an exception and should not be understood any other way. However, men are generally unaware that engaging in cyber sex accelerates an established sex addiction and can lead them places thought impossible. Additionally, it leads many to sexual compulsion that, without the Internet, would never have developed such a problem

Most would agree the internet has changed the way we all do life.
There are many, many up sides to the Internet. However, access, availability and affordability have allowed the ignorant pastor, father, husband, employee, etc to get caught in its evil web before ever knowing how devastating it may prove to be.

Men who have been successful at rooting sexual addiction from their life have taken extreme measures to ensure the Internet doesn’t “take them down”. For example, many have removed their Internet (or computer all together) connection. When the internet is unavoidable in the work place, these men maintain accountability, meeting with others on a regular basis ensuring that their sexual behavior is “an open book.” Men in recovery must be aware of just how vulnerable they may be to losing all that matters to them, in part, because of the great accelerator of sexual addiction’. the Internet.

Are you viewing Internet pornography? See Every Man’s Battle for help.
For an Internet Filter see, Every Home Protected.

What Is the Father Wound?

Jeff Eckert

Jack is a 42-year-old who entered my office for counseling after his wife discovered his long history of Internet pornography, and trips to local massage parlors. As I began to explore his history in an attempt to understand the deeper issues involved, I was struck by one of Jack’s statements: ‘My father always provided for us and was home every night after work. But even though he was there, he was never really present.’ Thus begins an exploration of the question: What is the father wound?

Andrew Comiskey, in his book on sexual and relational healing entitled “Strength in Weakness” writes, ‘Though the Father intended for us to be roused and sharpened by our fathers, we find more often than not that our fathers were silent and distant, more shadow than substance in our lives.’ This kind of a ‘shadow’ presence is not what our heavenly Father intended for our relationships with our earthly fathers. Unfortunately, few fathers follow the injunction of Proverbs 27:17: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’

Like Jack, then, many men grew up with fathers who returned home after work, but were never really active as sharpening agents in the lives of their sons. These fathers provided for their sons’ material needs, but they were strangely absent when the time came to satisfy the needs of the heart, such as intimacy and connection. Fathers like this may have been available to coach their sons’ baseball teams or supervise yard work. However, they were less likely to model intimacy in relationships, or to be an active presence when their sons were dealing with the pain of rejection by peers.

In his soul, every man craves deep, intimate connections with other men, but men are often left without the tools for creating these loving, nurturing relationships. A big reason for this has to do with the primary role fathers typically play in families. Rather than nurturing their sons or developing intimacy with them, fathers often spend the majority of their time enforcing the rules. Patrick Morley, in his classic book “Man in the Mirror” states, ‘Mothers love and stroke their children. Angry fathers handle the discipline.’ While this statement may seem unfair to fathers, it is a fair assessment of the father’s role in many families. Not only do fathers interact with their boys in a primarily disciplinary role, but boys are taught to absorb that discipline with a stiff upper lip. Boys learn the lesson very early on that they are not to display any sense of vulnerability. When life gets tough, negative feelings are to be stuffed and internalized.

This stoic, unemotional approach to life is often accompanied by a seemingly unreachable set of expectations from fathers. Countless men enter my counseling office with stories of fathers they could not please: ‘All my life I have felt as if I just couldn’t cut it in my father’s eyes. It always seemed like the bar was raised just above my reach.’ Some of the deepest wounds lie in these feelings of inadequacy, which can then poison other relationships and make true intimacy difficult. Men that grew up with fathers they were unable to please often carry around a suffocating belief system: ‘I can never cut it. And if I’m not cutting it, then why would others want to be around me?’

Another reason men may feel inadequate is because their fathers did not support or affirm them as they moved into manhood. Jack Balswick, in his book “Men at the Crossroads” writes, ‘Tragically, many young men are growing up without a father who will affirm their leap into manhood’Often the voices they do hear are distortions of true manhood.’ Because so many boys do not have a father affirming their ‘leap into manhood,’ that transition is often filled with feelings of fear, anger and frustration, instead of confidence and security. Lonely and discouraged, boys become isolated and alienated men. In this isolated state, men continue to desire closeness and connection, but they often have no concept of how to achieve it.

It is because of this quandary that many men seek out sexual fantasy in an attempt to find some sense of intimacy. Many men feel a void in their lives, often created by the wounds of the past, and some men attempt to fill that void with illicit sexuality. Men’s desire for intimacy and connection is real, powerful, and appropriate. But when men try to satisfy that desire in the form of sexual fantasies and acts, they find merely approximations or shadows of true relationship and connection.

However, a healing balm for men’s wounds, including their father wound, can be found. By obtaining a biblical understanding of what a father truly is, and through a relationship with Jesus Christ, men can begin to experience healing. More healing can occur through accountability and community with other Christian brothers. As Jack began developing relationships with others who were truly present, and experiencing relationship with a heavenly Father who is always present, his need to escape into the world of sexual fantasy was diminished. Sharing our wounds with fellow sojourners in the journey can provide immeasurable healing. It is in coming out of our own woundedness and brokenness that we can most clearly see the essential nature of relationship with Christ and others.

For more help, please join us at our next Every Man’s Battle conference.