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Your Marriage Can Win the Battle Against Pornography (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2023 2:00 am

Your Marriage Can Win the Battle Against Pornography (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 1, 2023 2:00 am

Pornography is a pervasive evil that is toxic to marriages. Research shows that 55% of Christian men look at porn at least monthly, and 1 in 10 view porn at least daily. Mark Makinney points out this is inherently a sin problem, and he describes how viewing porn will hijack your brain. Mark and his wife Rosie also list warning signs that your spouse could be addicted to porn, and then share their own story of Mark’s 25-year addiction and how it impacted their marriage. (Part 1 of 2)

 

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Everybody around us this summer, I say everybody, but our eyes were open to it in the last year that there's a lot of folks in their 30s that are our age that we're seeing their marriages fall apart and it scared us. After 11 years, Brett's marriage had grown stale. He wanted something better for he and his wife. That's when they found our podcast online and began listening almost every day. Focus on the families helped our marriage from the standpoint of opening our hearts to see things from the other's perspective and to make sure that God is centered in our marriage.

I'm Jim Daly. Thanks to the generosity of friends like you, Brett's marriage is getting better. Working together, we can give families hope. If you'd like to join our marriage building team, please call 800 the letter A in the word family, or you can donate at focusonthefamily.com slash gift.

And when you do your gift will be doubled. Historically, many people believe it's a non-issue. It's normal, it's private, and it doesn't harm anyone. But today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, we'll learn more about a horrible addiction that's destroying far too many men, women and their marriages.

And due to the serious nature of the topic, we recommend you direct the attention of young listeners elsewhere. When someone's addicted to pornography, their brain doesn't function very well. And I know guys are going to roll their eyes and go, my brain functions fine. I'm a financial analyst, whatever. I do something important, use my brain a lot. But relationally, they don't get it.

Dude, just trust me on this. Your brain is not working. It has not been working well. You don't see the gravity of the situation. That comment comes from Mark McKinney, who for more than 10 years has been counseling men and married couples through the painful and often redemptive process of recovery from sexual addiction.

Mark and his wife Rosie are our special guests today, and we'll hear a lot more from them in a moment. But let me say this right up front. Pornography, it is a poison that harms everyone. The addict, their spouse, their marriage, the family. And worse, Christians are not immune. We're going to talk about some of those statistics. It will shake your world to know how many people are caught up in porn addiction. It's devastating how many husbands and wives too.

It's not just a male issue, but it is more and more a female issue as well. But many of us in the Christian community are ensnared by that evil addiction too. And maybe this is where you're at. I don't want to heap guilt upon you. It's about getting help. And that's for you and your spouse. So our prayer is that God will touch your heart through this program today and prompt you to get the help you need.

That's the bottom line. Focus on the Family is here for you. We have great resources, even a counseling team who can talk with you.

And you can schedule a time with one of those counselors when you call 800, the letter A in the word family. We'll have details in the show notes as well. I mentioned that Mark and Rosie are with us. Rosie was our guest a couple of years ago. And she was describing her passion to strengthen and support women who have been blindsided by their husband's pornography addiction. Mark and Rosie have lived through this pain in their own marriage. That's what brings such credibility to their testimony. And now they're sharing that good news that God can heal. You may be feeling like there's no way.

Well, here's evidence that there is a way. This couple has gone through it. They know restoration and redemption.

And they will fight for you too through this great resource that Rosie has authored, Fight for Love. Mark and Rosie, welcome to the broadcast. Thank you for having us. It's lovely to be here. It is lovely.

Thank you. I mean, this is some listeners are going, wow, OK, you can really talk this openly about this, as John said, this private corner of your life. But where is there power in talking about it so openly? I think the power comes from the simple message that it's a sin. And so it is a sin. Yes.

But how how is it? It shouldn't be isolating us. Right.

So I think that's what it does. Right. But you've got to think about why does it isolate us? So why is it that if we gossip or we're fearful or something else, that it doesn't isolate us?

But this one does. That's what I think the important thing is. So the message of the gospel is to walk in the light. And I love that. Absolutely love that verse in First John, where if you look at the word, it's parapeteo, that's translated as walk. But it's it means to conduct your life. So the Lord is telling us, conduct your life in the light. And so that's the power of it.

The power of it is once we walk in the light, then the light of Christ comes into that. You know, it's great to have that spiritual foundation in that regard. The brain chemistry is important, too.

A lot of people don't realize what's going on there. In fact, I've heard that pornography addiction is even a greater addiction than cocaine. I mean, the brain is living off that dopamine hit.

There's so much biochemically that's going on there. You can't switch it off. You mentioned that in your talks and all. But what was your experience in that regard?

What does it mean? You can't switch it off? Well, the devastating thing about pornography is that you can get high in your brain. You don't have to buy anything. You don't. Your eyes aren't going to dilate. And as you've said, there is no off switch. And that's why the redemptive path has to be very clearly a scriptural one in that you rely absolutely on the Lord, because you can be on an airplane and get high.

All you have to do is close your eyes. In our pornified society, there's alluring images everywhere. And I'm not in any way demeaning alcoholism, because I know that's a terrible disease and drug addiction. That's terrible as well.

But this one, you can actually get your drug from your own head. Yeah. And that manipulation, that addiction is, in the end, so destructive. And sometimes people don't realize that. The loss of pleasure. I mean, it creates in you a requirement that you need more stimulation, correct?

Correct. I mean, it really feeds upon itself that a regular intimate relationship with your spouse may not provide enough appeal to that porn addicted man, particularly. Yeah, 50% of men actually avoid their wives. That are addicted to porn. That are addicted to porn, yeah.

And the other 50% actually want their wives to participate in a way that porn has taught them. Because there's something called sexual conditioning, which is another very destructive thing about porn as opposed to cocaine. Cocaine doesn't change your sexual tastes. Porn does. And like cocaine, though, it creates a dopamine surge, which then your brain goes, whoa, this is a lot.

So it shuts down receptors, which is why everything else in life seems, you know, sunset, even being intimate with your wife is not as exciting as internet pornography. It's kind of the definition of addiction, right? Yes.

It supplants what is normal and natural. Yes. And good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So much how, you know, this struggle in life is all about, right? Good and evil.

Yes. I mean, evil represents this thing that you think will give you everything you need and it doesn't. It comes up wanting. You come up wanting. Rosie, let me turn to you. You have some heartbreaking statistics about the scope of the pornography addiction, even within the Christian community.

What does that look like? Paint a picture for us. Yes, they are heartbreaking, but in some ways they're very encouraging for women who are dealing with this because... Now dealing with the spouse or dealing with it themselves? Dealing with the spouse. Okay.

We'll talk about dealing with it yourself in a second if you like. Yeah. Yeah, 55% of Christian married men are regularly looking at porn.

By that I mean at least once a month. And one in ten is looking at it at least daily. Wow. That's in the church. That's in the church. It shows you the power that this has. I mean, when you look at it, even the biblical stories, what's so amazing is human sexuality is powerful. I mean, it is a bondage if we don't manage it within the Lord's gift. That's why I love the work that you do presenting what healthy sexuality looks like and how it fits into God's design. You know, Julie Slattery's work. Because so often we focus on fighting against pornography instead of fighting for something beautiful, something glorious as per God's design.

Yeah. It's just a slightly different perspective instead of like, you know, we've got to be shameful and we're fighting this horrible scourge. It's like, no, let's just talk about it and actually fight for something really amazing and transformative and powerful. And that's why we're open to talking about it because you don't have to hide in the shadows. So many people are dealing with this and there is such hope and life and light on the other side.

Let's do this. Let's talk about it. Well, that's one of the great difficulties I find that we kind of don't want to talk about this. They feel it's inappropriate, whoever they are. But Christian leadership generally, listeners to programs like this, they feel a bit uncomfortable. Maybe because they're not dealing with it and they think, wow, why would you talk about a topic that is such a minority situation?

The point is, this is not one of those. 55% of men in the church are dealing with it. We need to talk about it, to carve a path for healthiness. And I believe, Jim, I believe God wants us to talk about it. Because tell Jim the scripture that came to you this morning, because this is really cool.

The weaker part, the part that seems to be weaker is necessary, Corinthians. And it's powerful because I really, we look upon this, don't we, Jim? Oh, this is the really bad sin. But the blessing of it is it actually reveals that I am a sinner. Oh, yeah. But the beautiful thing is I truly, I am not ashamed of the fact that I was addicted to porn for, I'm really not.

Because the blessing in it is that I have come to realize that I, in my own power, I cannot, apart from him, I can do nothing. And that's a blessing. Yeah.

I do want to come back, Rosie, to the women. Yes. Because this is a bit jaw-dropping. Yeah. It makes sense given where the culture's at and the over-sexualization that's occurring in our culture, and kind of the women empowerment thing. But what's the percentage of women who are caught in pornography? Well, it depends on what country you're in, because it slightly varies, but it's about a third, about a third of women. Thirty-three percent? Yeah. And it's interesting how different countries have slightly different numbers.

Yeah. But it's the younger girls that's the really shocking one. It's our middle school girls and our high school girls who are drowning in this stuff.

Is there an explanation for that other than what I just said? It's available everywhere. What was the statistic about the normalcy that young people now believe? Was it like 20 percent of young people today now believe that pornography is not- It's good for society. It's good for society.

It's good. And here's a trippy thing. It was that Josh McDowell did a study, I think it was like four years ago. And they said that more young people under the age of 30 believe that not recycling is more immoral than porn. Not recycling. Wow. Yeah.

Wow. So that's what they're up against. And it's everywhere. And the magazines are actively pushing it at you, promoting it, social media.

It's an industry, multi-billion dollar industry that's going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that they have a customer base that's growing. Absolutely. And that's one wide open way you need to look at this in addition to the spiritual connotations. What are some of the warning signs for a husband or wife that their spouse is viewing pornography, that there's concern? Pornography, they call it an intimacy disorder. But it basically destroys your ability to be intimate. And there's actually secular resources that focus on this.

Because it's not just coming from a Christian perspective. But so as it destroys your ability to be intimate, what happens is the guy, think about it, you're hiding something. The analogy I use with guys is you've just slit your wrist, but you bandage it up and you've gone in the house with your hand behind your back.

And you're going, hi, honey, how are you? I mean, there's no way you're going to be able to relate to that, to her. So you become critical, you become defensive, you become withdrawn. Those are the three big ones. Yeah. Let me ask this. Because some of those, you have to be a little cautious, I would think. Correct me if I'm wrong. But you could have a distant husband who's not looking at pornography, he's just emotionally distant.

So you have to put multiple pieces together. And there's those practical signs like, you know, why doesn't he come to bed at the same time as I do? You know, where's he going on the way home from work? What's he doing?

What's he doing? Is it to do with pornography if you're picking up all these signs? Well, statistically, it's really worth having the conversation.

And hopefully he'll be open with you. Can I? But what I would suggest there, because what wives have done that I've encountered is that a wife will say, honey, are you addicted to porn? Now, the thing is, because pornography- So you got to self identify, you got to figure out, oh, am I addicted? No.

Right. No, I'm not addicted. Guys will look at porn the night before that question's asked and wake up in the morning and go, thank you, God, I'm free. And the answer to the wife will be no. So wife, if you're going to engage in this conversation, you need to ask the husband, when's the last time you sought out?

And I would even use the term alluring content because guys will look at things that are pornography, but it's not what they consider pornography. So that's the question you want to ask your husband. Yeah. Mark, let's start explaining your pathway. We've alluded to it, but you became addicted to pornography. What did that struggle look like?

How long did it last? Let's just go to the core thing. Right. It's been eight decades, first of all.

And I think the hardest thing in this process for guys is that they actually call it pride, call it fear, call it lack of faith, but they want to solve this on their own. And that was my biggest failure. If I just read this book, and I'm a conservative Christian, the Bible is living and active, but what I did is I memorized the Bible, but then I'd act out in the afternoon. Well, you're really being one of the 55%.

Yes. I mean, that's the way to describe it. You were committed to Christ. You just couldn't get this under control. Because I wanted, here's the thing for me, I wanted to do it my way. So I would say to people, I was telling Jesus what to do, and praise the Lord, he did not obey me. Yeah.

He didn't. And so that was the path for me is that, and I think what guys go through, there's, we all have this kind of like, you know, ashrapole or idol of our own self image. I wanted people to see me as calm and funny and this and that. So I didn't want to expose to anybody that I was addicted to porn. I didn't want to expose to anybody that I looked at porn last night. But the Lord calls us into that fellowship because we are sheep, not polar bears.

He makes us inherently needy of community, and that's how we heal. Rosie, again, to give some of the contour to your story together, you kind of quickly figured out there was a problem. I think it was day eight of your marriage, and you're on your honeymoon, and what happened? Yeah, so I was just slightly different in that before getting married, I'd already been in a relationship before I was a Christian with an unrepentant porn addict.

And so I'd got sort of quite a lot of history and baggage and experience. And then I became a Christian, I meet Mark, and we get married, and everything's fine. And then we get married, and then intimacy comes into the equation, and it's Jekyll and Hyde. And I'm like, okay, this is really peculiar. Probably a bit flashback for you as well. Yeah, and it's like, what has happened?

Because he's angry and critical and resentful and blaming, and it's making him angry. And I'm like, okay, something is really, really, really, really, really wrong here. And because I'd had that prior experience, I didn't immediately go, oh, it must be me.

I must be a terrible disappointment. It's like, no, we have a really big problem here, and so we need help. So I said, right, we're going to see somebody. And at which point she listened, and she said, well, you do realize, you know, he's a porn and sex addict. And I went, ah, okay. And at which point I put my boundary down, like, we need to get this out of the equation. You can have pornography, or you can have, maybe you can't have both.

And then I'll see who I've married. So that's the ultimatum that you had to express to Mark. And here's the thing that I really want people to hear.

It's not just, because I didn't find a stash of magazines. It was the way it affects your behavior and the way they treat you and the way they value you. And just the dissatisfaction and the criticism and all that, that was like the huge red flags. And I was kind of putting pieces together. I'd seen some of the sort of symptoms before, but I didn't know. But I just knew, this isn't right.

We need help. And it's not me, or it's not entirely me. Yeah, Rosie, let me dig in a little bit to something you said very quickly that so, to me, is so critical for women to hear whose husbands are addicted to pornography. It is amazing the capacity women have to look at themselves first, that self-blame.

That's the initial reaction. I do not find men to be that way. We have bigger egos, I guess, and we quickly blame other people. So speak to that woman who needs to find that inner strength to say, whoa, this is not me.

This is not my fault. That seems really critical in the process. I love that you brought that up, Jim, because you're right. It's 76% of women who are in this position think it's their own fault at some point.

It is the sort of like the default position. And that comes from all sorts of reasons. Your husband tells you, the world tells you, the church says you're not having enough sex or not enough sex. You're not adequate, all those things.

Whatever. So it is really hard to see through the lies and the fact that your heart's now absolutely broken in two and you're devastated. You need help.

Knowledge is power. You need fellowship of other women to come alongside you and say, I know that you're falling apart right now and we're going to hold you until we can get you back on your feet and we're going to stand side by side while you put those boundaries in place because you're not going to be able to do it on your own because it's so, so hard. The only reason I did it on my own was because I was literally physically isolated on the other side of the world, given up my entire support system. So it must have just been the Holy Spirit going, you know, we have to do something now. You know, it was like jumping off a cliff. Oh, yeah. I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm still putting a boundary in. I just, man, I'm proud of you because it takes a lot of insight and fortitude to react the way you did.

Or desperation. We're going to get more into that. But Mark, let me come back to you.

This is kind of the ping pong of the story. But in that regard, when Rosie laid down that ultimatum, I mean, it's either porn or me. You pick.

How'd you react to that? I didn't like it. Right. I don't like the choices.

I want choice C. I can deal with this on my own. Don't worry. And really, I think one of the things is at the time, if I'm going to be completely transparent, I was blaming her, blaming her, blaming her. Oh, here she goes with a boundary again. I mean, I knew it was wrong. But my – and this is guys coming at this. A lot of times guys will say, but what about you?

What about all your dysfunction? What's your immediate response? Totally. Totally. But God had us in a position where I really, truly had no choice. And I looked back. Now I look back and I am so incredibly grateful because had she not put that boundary down, I'd probably still be there today. Yeah.

And before we get to more of the recovery process, I do want to come back, Rosie. Because, you know, I guess there would be categories of response from women in this situation. The revelation comes to light. It's validated. He's admitting it. Now you have these categories of responses.

Well, it's either me or the pornography. Seems like a mature reaction. Some women will be, you've committed adultery. We're done.

And they're out of their relationship. To maybe a passive approach. Well, let's work on it over the next year and see how things go. I don't know.

I'm just filling that blank in. But speak to the wisdom, you know, the fact that you stuck with it. Some women would have said bye-bye.

I think – I mean, here's the thing. It really depends on your circumstances because had we been married for 35 years and got four children, and, you know, I'd got no way of financially supporting myself and I was – my response would have been probably different, but because we'd just got married. And even though I'd given up, you know, my country, my job, my life, my family, I'd just given up everything to marry him, in some ways I'd already lost everything.

It would just be, okay, I'm going to be out there on my own. But it's – which is why I want to emphasise you need support to hold the line, to hold that boundary. Because it's so terrifying to suddenly have your whole marriage threatened by something which is totally out of your control. So it feels unnatural to then bring other people in at that point, but you really do need support because your fear is going to be overwhelming at that point of what's going to happen.

Well, I think that if I could portray it this way, that battle between your fear and any glimmer of hope is really the contest. And for you, when did you feel that there was hope for your marriage? It was when we – Conference? Yeah, we went – it was a very romantic New Year's Eve treat. He took me to a 12-step – Recovery programme?

Retreat. So we get there, yes. So just him, me and – Well, no, at least it was a step.

See, 80 sex addicts. It was very romantic. And I saw the brokenness in everybody and started to understand my own brokenness. And it was transformative because now it wasn't just like I've got the one monster in the world and somehow I've married him. It's like we're all broken.

And that was transformative. And it's like, okay, I don't know what the future holds, but I need healing. I need help. He needs healing. He needs help. He's still my friend. I still care about him. I still want the best for him.

What does our future look like? I don't know. However, let's just put a pause on that, you know, on making big decisions and let's just get as much help and as much healing as we can. Because I want to get to the bottom of how I've got in this situation. Not that it was any way I'm responsible, but there were red flags in the engagement that I just blew past, you know, looking back in retrospect.

So it's like I've obviously got some things that I could use healing on as well. And then I'm going to be a new person and he's going to be a new person. And then we'll see if actually we want to be married because the thing was I was so convinced that God wanted me to marry him. And it was almost like I was just putting the decision towards God and going, okay, I'm going to give you nine months, God, you know, to show me why you put us together. Because I really do believe you did. I felt so strongly. And so even though for my eyes it looked like everything had fallen to ruins and as though this great divine cosmic trick had been played on me, I still couldn't release that hope, that fear that actually he had a plan, he had a plan and I just had to hang on and just had to stick with it and be really brave and look at my own stuff.

Not that my stuff responsible for anything for him, but my own brokenness, you know? So that was the transformative point because then there's hope. Then I have hope in my future because I can take ownership over making good decisions. Well, you know what is screaming at me is the fact that I think, and again you said it so well, that it's kind of down to a case by case situation. I get that I don't want to be insensitive to perhaps even a much worse problem that a spouse is feeling or particularly a wife. But it must give God great pleasure when a couple can reconcile. Because that's the scripture. When they can actually figure it out, correct the sin and move together in unity with him.

Which is the goal, right? And so again your courage, both of you really, each had a different part to play. But what a powerful story. Let's come back next time and talk more about how God did do that to give hope to the person listening or maybe the dozens or hundreds that are listening right now that need this kind of help. Can we do that? Sounds good. Okay, let's do it. Folks, this is it. This is real. This is kind of where you say the rubber meets the road, right? This is real life. This is, as we talked about, 55% of men in the church, maybe 33% of women in the church are hooked by this addiction of pornography. Don't stay there.

It will destroy you. And that's the testimony we get from so many couples who call us. And they've made different decisions. Some have stuck it out and felt the healing of the Lord and have really some of the most intimate marriages now.

Because everything is known. And then there's those that break up over this and have a lifetime of regret. Don't be in that category. Let's find a way to get you the help you need.

We're here for you. We've got this great book that Rosie has written, Fight for Love. And if you can make a gift of any amount, if you could do it monthly, that helps us reach more and more people. If you could do it on a one-time basis, that's great. We'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. If you can't afford that, man, we're a ministry. So we'll get it into your hands. Just call us and we'll trust that others will cover the expense of that. Either way, get in touch with us. Counseling is available.

Other resources too. We want to help you. We want to help you experience what Mark and Rosie have experienced. That's the healing from God. Yeah. We're a phone call away.

800 the letter A in the word family. 800-232-6459. Or we've got details about how you can get help from our counselors. Get a copy of this book by Rosie McKinney, Fight for Love. Get other resources, but get help when you call or stop by the show notes.

All the details are right there. And if your marriage and family is in a good place, let me invite you to participate in a special campaign FOCUS has going on right now as we approach the holiday season and the end of the year. This is a critical time for our ministry's budget, and we're counting on friends like you to help provide the fuel that we need to strengthen marriages and equip parents, save preborn babies from abortion, and so much more as we head into next year. This is a great opportunity for you to do ministry through Focus on the Family, and I want to urge you to contact us right away.

Yeah. Call today. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, or you can donate when you click the link in the program notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we continue the conversation with Mark and Rosie McKinney and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Your marriage can be redeemed even if the fights seem constant, even if there's been an affair, even if you haven't felt close in years. No matter how deep the wounds are, you can take a step toward healing them with a hope restored marriage intensive. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face challenges together. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 05:54:14 / 2023-11-01 06:06:50 / 13

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