Hey, before we get to today's program, I want you to know that Dave and I were perfect parents. Until we had a child.
Exactly. And we used to think there were perfect parents, but there are no perfect parents. And that's why we wrote the book, No Perfect Parents. And we're excited because now we have an online video course for you.
And you can go through it as a small group individually or even just as a couple. And to get that, you can go to familylife.com slash not perfect to find out more. Again, familylife.com slash not perfect. Hey, Shelby Abbott here. Just want to give a heads up before you listen to this next program. Today's conversation on family life today covers some sensitive but important subjects that might not be suitable for younger ears.
So please use discretion when listening to this next broadcast. All right, now let's jump into it. I've heard the saying before that when God unites man and woman in marriage, it begins a spiritual battle. Satan wants to get in the middle of that spiritual battle. Well, Satan wants to get in the middle of this spiritual battle and drive you apart.
I think a very powerful force is working together to defeat the poor monster. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson.
And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. In 30 years of pastoring and when my assistant would come in and say, hey, so-and-so is just called and they want to meet with you, somebody in our church, some guy that I didn't know. So after 30 years, I think I can say this, I didn't do a study.
There's no science behind this. This is some guy research. I would bet eight out of 10 of the guys that would come in anonymously that I didn't know and want to talk to me, they wanted to talk about their struggle with porn.
I think that's true. And what is so interesting is I had many wives coming to me saying that their husband is struggling with porn and they don't know what to do. And recently, what's been happening more and more is I'm having women come to me saying that they are struggling with porn. This is very real in our homes. And now too, parents are saying, when do I talk to my kids about this?
How do I talk to my kids about this? Yeah. So we're going to talk about it today. All right. You might want to fasten your seatbelt.
We've got John Fobert in the studio back with us. I don't know if they'd call you the porn guy, but you're the guy that has the science. I mean, you're the guy that you go to to say, okay, how does porn harm?
That's the title of one of your books. How does porn harm? The book we're talking about today is protecting your children from internet porn, understanding the science risk and ways to protect your kids. And we've already had quite a discussion because you wonder when I say you're the guy that is anti-porn.
It's because you have studied it from a brain, understanding the science, the risk. I don't think we as parents and as husbands and wives understand how it harms us. Like we've already talked about. So as you think about even what I just said, I mean, I heard you right away go, yeah, eight out of 10 guys coming into my office saying that they struggle with this. Is that pretty normal?
I would say it's pretty normal. I think one of the things the church needs to do a better job of is to say the word pornography from the preacher's pulpit and to have recovery programs in the church for men who are struggling. Because it's such a struggle of shame and loneliness that we need to break open those doors. I mean, if eight out of 10 of the guys were coming to you were talking about it, there are plenty who aren't. And so we really need to get more on top of this in the church. I think a lot of churches are saying it's not in our church, it's in other churches. And we really need to recognize that there's no church that's immune to someone who's being tempted by sin. And the sin that so many men and women are being tempted by is to look at pornography, especially because it's so accessible and affordable and we need to do a better job confronting it in the church. Because I do believe the church is the greatest hope to get over the porn industry and its impact on our lives. And of course, eventually when Christ comes back, the porn industry will see its demise. But I'd like to see its demise before then.
And I think it'd be nice if we could fight it as hard as we can now while we're after the fall and before Christ comes back. I'd love to know your thoughts. You wrote a little bit about it on the effects of porn use on a marriage.
We're going to talk mostly about parenting with our kids, but what have you found in terms of what we've just talked about? How does it affect a marriage? It affects a marriage in devastating ways. Men who use porn are much more likely to cheat on their spouses. They're much more likely to be dissatisfied with their spouses. The couple itself is less likely to be satisfied with their marriage. There's a lie that's out there that says, oh, you should use porn to help your sex life.
That's a total lie. Therapists are saying that and advising it. There are therapists. I've worked with therapists, not as a client, but as a co-professor who have said that to training counselors that, oh yeah, they should look at pornography to improve their sex lives.
That's a lie. What are the effects? The effects are it leads to increased erectile dysfunction and they can no longer function without the pornography. So what happens is a couple can start using pornography together, but then all of a sudden demand isn't able to function sexually without watching the porn. So he may have to watch the porn during the sex act in order to function sexually. And some of that's what you write about in terms of how it rewires our brain.
Yes. Help us understand that a little bit. Well, when you first start looking at pornography, what you get is this huge dopamine hit. And dopamine is the brain chemical that makes you want something and want to continue a behavior. Well, the next time you look at the same pornography, you don't get the same dopamine hit anymore. And you kind of reach out and say, I want that big dopamine hit. That's not what you say, but that's what your brain is saying. And in order to get that big dopamine hit again, you have to go to something more novel, something more violent, something more extreme. And so it leads you down a very dangerous path. And then eventually, all that you can be satisfied with is pornography.
You can't be satisfied with a real live partner, let alone your wife or husband. Now, every guy I know and every woman probably hears that and goes, Oh, that's not me. I'm not going to go down that road. I'm going to stop at this point.
And that'll be enough. But that's not how the brain works, right? It's not how the brain works. Eventually, you get trapped into more and more extreme pornography. Now, of those who are addicted to pornography, 60% will experience erectile dysfunction.
So I do have to put a proviso on that to say not all will experience erectile dysfunction, but they will be more attracted to their porn than to their spouse. Oh, John, this is so depressing. It is.
I'm just listening to this, thinking about women that are listening. Yes. Some are thinking, I wonder if my husband is struggling and maybe they've never even talked about it.
Yes. Do you think that's a good question for a wife to go to a husband and say, is this something that you have struggled with? I think that is a good question for a wife to go to a husband with, because I think it's sometimes going to open the doors to him getting the recovery resources that he needs.
Because a lot of men who use pornography think that their wives won't be understanding at all. And I think if you can approach it from both this is sin and this needs to go, but also I'm here with you and I'll pray with you to see that it goes. I think that balances the checkbook pretty well. So you're saying enter the battle together. Yes. And it's not about the wife personally who is inadequate.
No, not at all. I think that's really important because Dave and I struggled with this. Dave struggled with it in our early years of marriage.
Right. I felt so inadequate. I felt like this is me. This must be me. And then I was so angry with him because I was thinking, why can't you just stop?
Like how hard is it? You just stop. Right.
Right. And you're saying based on what's happening to the brain, it's hard to just stop. It's very hard to stop. It's as addictive as heroin or cocaine or gambling and other behavioral addictions. Well, that's depressing too. Yeah, it is. It is. It attacks the same parts of the brain. And the porn industry knows that.
And that's one of the reasons why they're so successful at making money from it is that it's an addictive substance. I mean, hearing that if I'm a guy listening, I should be scared to death going, I had no idea. Right. You know, I thought I just sort of, you know, I have this little secret thing going on.
It's that dangerous. So coach a guy that's realizing I need help. I need to stop this. What would you tell him to do? I would tell him stop today. Don't plan to stop and just gradually wean yourself off.
I would stop cold turkey today. I would get one of the porn filtering and accountability software pieces. There are lots of them out on the market. Covenant Eyes is the most common one, but... And do they cover all of our devices? Phones, iPads, computers? Yes.
Yes. They can be an app that you use instead of Google to do searches and they can cover all of your devices and they have group rates and all of that sort of thing. Let me ask you this, John, because I know that, I mean, techy people, they can find their way around that and you can even go into an app and kind of get into certain areas, any way to protect against those besides just getting rid of all your apps. At the end of the day, people, if they really want to get around the filters, they will. But I think it's a good step, especially for someone who's in the beginning stages of an addiction, perhaps not in the later stages of addiction. In the later stages of addiction, what they need is something called a dumb phone. I mean, we all know about smartphones, but dumb phones, you literally put dumb phone in Amazon and phones will come up.
They don't get pictures and you need to make sure that you don't have access to getting phones that have pictures that come up on them. Which would be a good strategy to give kids. It absolutely would. Well, how about this? How does he tell his wife? I think it has to be a decision that he makes in context with a pastor and a therapist to help her understand it's not her.
So that she hears that from someone else besides him. And that the person that he wants to help in this fight is her working with him. I've heard the saying before that when God unites man and woman in marriage, it begins a spiritual battle. Satan wants to get in the middle of that spiritual battle. Well, Satan wants to get in the middle of this spiritual battle and drive you apart. I think a very powerful force is working together to defeat the porn monster. And how would you coach a wife to respond? I guess I'm looking at you.
I would say the first thing you should do before you even go and ask your husband, this is pray. I would cover this whole area with prayer. And I've said this. Like John said, it's a spiritual war.
Yes. And so don't think like, oh, this is my problem. Think this is our problem. And I would pray earnestly before middle and after, because even after you've had that conversation, I know that Satan, man, I would get in my head and I would struggle. And then I'd be so fearful.
I would feel like, Oh, I need to be his protection. And then I'm constantly asking you, did you look at anything? Did you see anything? I saw you look at that girl.
What was that about? And so then I become this irritating. And I don't think we as women know exactly what that looks like or how we should step in and help. John, what do you think? Well, I think we need to maintain a spirit of prayer in that. And you talk about praying a lot. I know that when I'm really in a spiritual struggle, I maintain a spirit of prayer, which I call more ongoing, constant prayer.
And if I know a prayer warrior that I can trust, I asked them to join me in that. And I think it's important for the woman to realize it's not her fault that her husband is engaged in this behavior. But there are ways that she can be supportive to him, especially by praying for him and praying for his strength and praying against the porn industry, because that's who's really fighting for the sexual desire of your husband and they can't have it. Do you think a husband should ask a wife if she's struggling?
I don't think it can hurt to ask. I would say this, there's not a big difference between Christian men and non-Christian men and their porn use. There is a difference. That is scary. But there's not a big difference.
To hear that. It's really not that big. There is a big difference between Christian women and non-Christian women looking at porn. Oh, interesting. There are a lot more non-Christian women looking at porn than Christian women. So what it could come across of is I think among Christian men, if they ask their Christian wives, are you looking at porn? It can come across as a little confrontational. Yeah.
And I'm not so sure, unless I had reason to suspect it. I think pornography is a right of passage within boys and men. And whether you're in Christian circles or not, it's become a right of passage.
Wow. And it's something that we need to deal with head on. And it's something that I think the men's market got hooked early. We can still fight for that women's market. I think it'd be a great question to ask your spouse.
I'm thinking of if a husband wants to talk to his wife. I think a way to enter into that conversation is, tell me your history. Do you have any history with porn? When were you first exposed to it?
What did that do? What did it feel like? What have you ever struggled? That kind of approach feels much more palatable than do you struggle with porn?
Right, right. And even for a wife to ask a husband that, because I feel like too, that can be an area that's so filled with shame. But to open the conversation with a couple could be really beneficial and even asking our kids that. As you said earlier yesterday, to ask our kids, has anyone shown you pictures of naked people? Yeah, I was thinking as you were saying that, that I think it is helpful for men to ask women, have you ever been exposed to porn? Because the number one way women are exposed to porn is that men show it to them.
And it's as a to-do guide for this is what I want us to do together. So she may have a prior relationship in which she had a guy show it to her. And that can open a conversation to how did it make you feel? Did you find it attractive? Did you find it disgusting? And a lot of women in the beginning stages will find it disgusting.
But there are women who do get addicted to it and do look at it with some degree of frequency. Yeah. And I'm thinking, we talked yesterday about talking to your kids about this and how scary that can be for a parent. I'm thinking this is just as scary for a lot of couples. They're listening right now going, we're going to have a conversation about this. And you said yesterday, man, this should be something you talk somewhat regularly with your kids.
What about a marriage? Is this something we talk about every month? Well, I would ultimately say you're feeding into the hands of Satan when you're not talking about it. We're feeding the hands of Satan in our churches if we're not talking about it there. I don't think that you have to talk about it every week.
You have to talk about it every month, but it should be part of your ongoing discussion with your spouse, with your children, because it's an ongoing battle. And you don't know when Satan is going to strike. And he does with great frequency with the porn industry. And that's something that I think we need to work together arm in arm to get over.
Yeah. And I know as a married man that we need our wife to know and we need another guy to know, if not several guys. And like you said, pastor or therapist, but I know the small group of men that I do life with, they knew.
And I'll never forget when I, this is 40 years ago, and this was before digital. This is totally different world. But when I told the guy that I started my church with that I struggled, this was not his struggle. And so I'm like, dude, I'm telling you, because I want you to hold me accountable. And I want you to, it was six months later when he, we're in a car one day and he goes, Hey, you know, just think about this. You ever struggle with that again? I go, dude, it's been six months since I told you you're not the guy.
In other words, he's like, what do you mean? I'm like, this is not a once every six months struggle for somebody. It's a daily thing.
I need somebody to understand says it's going to be regular. So I think there's some of that, but you don't want your wife asking you every day, but there needs to be an understanding that, yeah, this is something that if somebody's ever like answered, if you have a conversation, there's a history. That history doesn't just end. It's going to be something that that person's probably going to have to wrestle with maybe their whole life. Well, hopefully it ends at some point. Yeah, exactly. But the struggle and just boom.
Right. Well, and there's something that I want to pick up on that you said there wasn't digital. The digital pornography is one of the things that was really the game changers. Once high speed internet pornography came into play, the number of images that one could see all at once and then just click on any type of scene that you wanted to see in an internet website was an absolute game changer. Cause it introduced what neurologists call a super normal stimulus, which is the kind of stimulus that our brains weren't designed by God to deal with.
So we have all of these stimuli of naked pictures of people, and we can choose from any kind of picture we want and look at almost anything that we want, which is very different than from your grandfather's Playboy magazine. And it's something that has affected the addiction rates to a great degree. And it's something that really traps our kids, our adults, all people in a greater way than the pornography of old used to. I mean, that is just scary. Isn't it? You know, you hear that and like you said, we should be vigilant against, we got to stop this. That's the word that came to my mind too.
Dave was vigilant. We can't be lazy. We can't be passive. No. It's a battle that we have to enter into. It is. And I'm here to rile up the troops.
Yes. We had Ray Ortland on not too long ago. He wrote a book called The Death of Porn. That's a great book. He was fabulous.
I had not heard too many people talk the way he did. Like, let's end this. Let's stop this. Let's band together and put the death to porn. And so we're going to play a little clip of what he had to say in the studio and just love to hear you John just respond to it. Okay.
I use the hashtag star of the beast. It can't endure that. It is not as formidable as it appears. It is we men and Christian men who are enabling it and supporting it. What if we didn't do that? I want to see a great awakening. Yes. I want to see a great movement of God in our generation. What if the next great awakening starts inside the porn industry?
Yes. What if the risen Jesus visits with grace and mercy the precious people down deep inside the porn industry right now? What if 10 years from now the most captivating preachers of the gospel in this country are ex-porn stars? What if the best storytellers for the gospel are ex-porn videographers? What if the most generous philanthropists are ex-porn investors? The risen Jesus is well able to do that. Would we not love to see that? Wow. I mean, yes, we would love to see that.
There's no question about it. I've talked to people who've been involved in the porn industry and who have left it. And they tell me about stories of them being in poverty and having to make a decision between doing a porn scene or having them and their three children homeless the next day. I've never been in that kind of poverty before.
I don't know what I would say, but even in that situation, there was more trickery. And she said that she saw the people who were raped in the porn industry and that it's a horrible, violent, awful industry to be in. It's not like everyone's having sex with attractive people and boys and this fun and exciting.
It's very mechanical. It's very business-like and it tends to take advantage of people who are in poverty who really feel like they have no other option but to make money this way. And they don't make a lot of money for the most part. Most porn stars will live out their welcome within about six months and go home with nothing in their bank account. Except the scars that they carry. The wounds, the shame. I can't even imagine. And those images will be out there forever. Yeah. Yeah. I remember when Ray was here, it was just this awakening of, we just tolerate this. This is the world we live in.
We're not going to be able to do anything about it. And I think his vision was, wait a minute, what if God wanted to use us, the church as followers of Christ, to come together and say, we shouldn't be the ones supporting this. It exists because we ingest it and we could band together and stop it. That's a whole different vision.
It's a whole different vision and it's one that has to be sent. And I think it's why some pastors are hesitant to bring it up in their conversations in churches because they know so many of their men are using it and they might experience some pushback. And they are too. And in some cases, some of them are too.
Not as many as the porn industry says they are, but still some of them are too. So we need to have an honest conversation in the church about porn. Well, as I'm listening to this and was listening to Ray as well, I get so riled up you guys.
I get so riled up. And I feel like even as you were talking, John, I was thinking, I want to pull as many women together to pray for our men, to pray for this industry, to be vigilant to pray for our children who are being exposed to this because Satan is on a mission to destroy our families, our marriages, our kids. And I think we forget that we serve this mighty God who's the creator of all heaven and earth, who has the power and capacity. And if we reign together and we lift our voices up together and we pray for protection, we pray for freedom, and we pray that God would give us wisdom of what else can we do? But we need to fight alongside of our men instead of condemning our men and shaming them for what they've done. Let's band together to love, support our men, our children.
I think it can be done. I appreciate that encouraging word from Anne. And Dave's got some final words of encouragement for men struggling with this specifically. That's coming up in just a minute on Family Life Today. Our guest yesterday and today is John Fobert.
His book is called Protecting Your Children from Internet Pornography, understanding the science, risks, and ways to protect your kids. You can pick up a copy at familylifetoday.com or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. We have Family Life's president, David Robbins, with us today. David, tell us about what's been going on with you lately. You know, in getting to be in this role of Family Life president, one of the greatest privileges and joys I have is getting to hear from people, whether it's their prayer requests that many send in and myself and a team prays over people, or whether it's people encouraging or saying, hey, I want to hear about these topics. We recently heard from Mary Ann, who's a frequent listener, and I'd love for you to hear what she shared.
This is Mary Ann. When I do get to listen to Family Life, I just find it so nourishing. It speaks into a different level of family life, for sure, and the different venues that you offer for that, whether it be young, middle, or older families, is just so fruitful. And I love the transparency and the intimate kind of flair that I get from Ann and Dave Wilson. It is so encouraging to hear from Mary Ann.
Thanks so much for calling in and leaving that message. And one of the things that encouraged me the most was your encouragement of us ministering to different stages and seasons of life, which is something our team is really intentional about. And each one of us have different friends in different seasons. We know people who are newlyweds. We know single moms.
We know people who are empty nesters for the first time and everywhere in between those with young kids in the house. So if you're listening to Family Life today and someone comes to mind that you think would be blessed by what you're hearing, I just want to encourage you, pass it on to them. Tell them when you're listening to Family Life today.
If you're listening on radio, go to your favorite podcast or to the Family Life app and send a direct link to the episode you're listening to. It is our privilege to create biblical, practical content that will help you in your marriage and family and home. And we want to encourage you to be someone that passes it on to someone else and reflects Jesus to the people God has placed in your life. Yeah, those are great thoughts. Thanks, David. You know, I love that Family Life goes right at topics like the ones we've been talking about today and views it through the specific lens of the gospel.
I'm so thankful. We aren't afraid to talk about the real world stuff many of us are facing each and every day. And that's why your partnership matters. Would you consider partnering with us at Family Life to continue the work of making every home a godly home?
You can give online at familylifetoday.com or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's Dave with some encouraging words for those struggling with the sin of pornography. John, thank you for what you're doing. You're stepping into a, you know, a mine field.
I'm gonna let you know what science says, what's going on brain, how pornography harms and how it harms our children. So thank you for that. But I don't, I would also say to the man who's struggling right now, to the husband that's listening, you can win this battle.
In Christ, you have the power of the resurrected Christ living in you. I've been in that battle. I know the struggle. I know how real it is. I know the burn that sometimes you're like, this temptation is beyond what I can master.
You can, actually you can't, he can in you. But man, if you are living in that and you're struggling and no one knows, you got to tell somebody today, your brother, and then it's going to be a scary step, but tell your wife. And I know it's going to be hard and it may not go well because it didn't go well with us. But now looking back, it led us to a place that's better than we would have ever gotten to if I would have never said, this is my struggle. So I think today's a day of a step toward deliverance. Well, and the Bible tells us to tell others. I mean, in James 5, 16, Confess your sins to one another. Yes, absolutely. So that you may be healed.
Right out of my mouth. So that you may be healed. And I think the healing in some ways is once it's out from the dark into the light, God can start to do the healing until it's there.
It isn't like God can't work, but you're limiting God to be able to work because you're not letting anybody in, your spouse. And the same thing, we've said it yesterday, but the same thing's true talking to your kids about this. You've got to create an environment where they can come out of the dark and trust mom and dad and start a conversation. And just in case you don't remember, we have a great resource called the Passport to Purity, which starts a conversation with mom and dad or mom or dad with son or daughter about these kinds of things. And it's a journey toward a life of purity. You heard Dave mentioned Passport to Purity. If you want help talking about these issues with your preteen, this resource will set you up for a win. You can find it at familylifetoday.com.
Just look for Passport, the number two, and then Purity. David Ann's conversation continued after today's broadcast with John. You can hear it on the Family Life Today podcast feed. Just search for Family Life Today wherever you get your podcasts. Now, coming up next week, we have David Ann Wilson talking with Jessica Thompson about how the fruit of the spirit isn't something that just relates to pastors, missionaries, or full-time Christian workers. It relates to you, too. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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