Tag Archive: pornography


pornarticle2 We met Bek Curtis last week and she has kindly agreed to let me post her follow-up to the post she shared with us  on her struggles with and victory over Pornography. So here is a repost of her unplanned part II, titled ‘The ‘How’ of Freedom’:

I find myself writing once again on the topic of pornography, and once again writing with reluctance, fueled this time by different motivators.
I had a few people express frustration with the original article I wrote, due to the fact I didn’t expand on the ‘how’ of gaining my freedom, a frustration I can empathise with.
I am more than happy to share how God intervened, as the glory belongs solely to Him.
My reluctance however, centers around individuals who are struggling with porn addiction and looking at my ‘how ‘ and trying to emulate it to become their ‘how ‘, without checking with God to discover His perfect plan for individual freedom.

We are all unique, any addictions or self-control struggles we face are fed by a multitude of factors that vary from person to person. What drove me, may not be what drives you, and so the process of, and journey toward your freedom may look different to mine.
There are things I won’t write about, things I didn’t do in my journey, but things that may work for you. Tools such as mentoring, household/mobile internet filtering, counselling, accountability partnerships, and countless online support groups and resources.

Our God is a unique God. He is a God of relationship, not religion.
A formula created to unlock freedom is not what He is requiring of you. Instead He extends an invitation for you to have intimacy with Him.
When Jesus healed, He did not use the same ‘method’ each time. Some received healing through prayer, for another it came via a physical anointing of saliva mud, and for one courageous woman, an act of faith, just a touch of His robe was enough to bring about her healing.

When we rely on formulaic prayers and procedures, focusing only on our desired outcome, we miss the relationship, we miss the very key that unlocks our chains.

My freedom journey began with a distinct moment when watching a particular porn video (this is not a reason to keep watching until you have an ‘Ah HA’ moment!) there was a girl positioned in front of the camera, lying on a couch and whilst I truly cannot remember the sexual acts she was engaged in, I do remember her eyes.
Everything else in that moment faded away as I looked into this young woman’s eyes, into the eyes of a women who was clearly under the influence of heavy drugs.
I saw within those eyes a lifetime of pain, a lifetime of abuse and rejection. Her eyes held the burden of a lifetime’s striving for approval, acceptance, attention, love.

The eyes are the window to the soul, and hers was broken, crushed.

I wish that I could say that was it, the glimpse of this woman’s troubled life had changed me so profoundly that I never struggled again, but to say so would be a lie.
What did occur, was a shift in my thinking toward these women, a recognition that beneath the bravado were young women who longed to be loved.

I wanted to help these women.
I suddenly saw in front of me a harvest of souls waiting to be shown the love of Jesus. But how could I ever hope to make a difference, to reach them if I was sowing into their pain?
Each minute I viewed their outward cries for approval, I tightened the chains that bound them, that bound me.

I began to desire to be part of a solution.
I began to desire God and His will in my life above all else.

When I wrote the words: ‘My God is the God of freedom, for those who truly desire it’, in my initial article, I was sharing with you my ‘secret’ my ‘how’.
I desired God above ALL else. Above porn.

1. EMBRACE THYSELF
I resolved to stop making excuses and justifications for why I was drawn to viewing porn.
We humans are experts in defending our poor behaviour. We can make impassioned pleas and excuses for all manner of dodgy deeds.
I’ve raised three children through toddler-hood, I have witnessed my fair share of self-justification-tantrums!

Sometimes we don’t grow out of these tantrums, we just change the way we allow them to manifest.
But in order to face addiction head on you have to coach yourself to an excuse-free place. A place where self-awareness, self-examination, and recognition of self-responsibility is not only embraced, but practiced.
Whilst ever you are seeking to blame all or part of your behaviour on someone else’s actions or lack of actions as the case may be, you make a marked choice; to remain in addiction.

You may have a partner who doesn’t fulfill your sexual desires or appetite, you may be genuinely frustrated, angry, hurt or lonely, but while you allow resentment or rejection to dictate your behaviour you are choosing to give away much needed power that could instead be harnessed and used for self-responsibility and self-control.

2. RESTRICT
I set about putting restrictions on my phone, as that was where I had easiest access to porn.

This made it a very conscious and rebellious decision if I chose to go in search of content I shouldn’t.

3. RSVP
I embraced God’s invitation into intimacy, and I started talking openly with Him.

When I felt temptation coming on, I would tell Him. I would explain what was happening, and I would focus on Him, begin to thank Him, begin to worship Him.
Let me tell you, it’s hard to maintain sexual arousal, and a desire to view pornography when you are speaking, or in my case singing to the Creator of the universe!

Condemnation is an insidious thing and I believe it’s one of Satan’s greatest tools.
How many times have you felt as though you’re trapped aboard the ‘I’m sorry God, I did it again. Help me’, carousel?
Condemnation says, ‘Okay, you can’t keep saying sorry, this is a joke, just stop talking to Him’.
But God says: ‘It’s okay, come to me, I want to help you, let’s walk through this again, I’m here for as long as it takes.’

Brutally honest discussion with God is the key.
What’s stopping you? It’s not like He’s going to be shocked, He knows what you’re thinking anyway! But He is the perfect gentlemen, He will not force you to open up, He allows you to exercise free will and bring your thoughts to Him.

4. TAKE HOSTAGES!
My experience with addiction (and trust me, ’tis plentiful, as addiction and I have been buddies in various forms for many years), is that it is not so much a case of trying to talk oneself out of addiction, but rather into it!

There was always a voice that started out as a suggestion, a mere offering of an idea to view porn or whatever current addiction I was flirting with. *Cue the internal to and fro dialogue:
No, that’s not a great idea, I don’t really want to do that. Sure you do, it’s fine, it’s just this once. No it’s not just once, I won’t stop. Sure you’ll stop! This is the perfect way to prove it, just do it today and you won’t have to do it tomorrow. Hmmmm. You can stop whenever you want, you’re not addicted to this, you’re just choosing to do it. This isn’t addiction anyway, it’s just a habit, you can break a habit whenever you want’.
Repeated daily.

So my next step was learning to take every thought captive.
There is a reason these verses are in the bible (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

When you stop a thought in its track and acknowledge it, instead of allowing it to run with reckless abandon through your mind, you take it captive. That means it not longer masters you, but you master it.
Yes, it takes practice, this is a discipline that can feel like a full-time job. But it is a job that pays well! It even comes with a dental plan… (I may have just made that bit up. But you never know?).

When you take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, you are commanding them to fall into submission under the Lordship of Christ! That is no small deal!
It is here that Jesus takes over. It is in this moment that you are choosing to give Him control, to work and weave and mend and heal.

5. WORD!
I found it really helpful to read through the New Testament when I was struggling. And not just reading for reading’s sake, but asking The Holy Spirit to allow the words to come alive in my heart and mind as I read them.
Again, it becomes very difficult to choose poor behaviours when you have chapter after chapter, verse after verse challenging you, giving you step by step encouragement and promptings on how to live well, abundantly.

6. DITCH THE GUILT
I don’t believe that shame and guilt are good motivators toward effective change. I believe instead that they lead to condemnation.
But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, turn them toward Him, just like the old hymn says, the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace!
Glory and Grace, not condemnation and disapproval.

In the 2012 film, Father of Lights directed by Darren Wilson, there is a brief interview with Banning Liebscher of Jesus Culture, where he says:

“….there’s a generation that is experiencing more options than any generation in all of history.
So the tendency to materialism or distraction, is so available….ability, instant access to entertainment and social networks and internet and travel. There are so many options and choices in this generation. generation.

What excites me is that choices are powerful in the midst of options, not in the midst of no options.
And I think we’re going to see the most powerful generation the world has ever seen, come out of an environment that gives them options, and a generation’s going to rise that their “Yes” in their spirit will be so loud, it will drown out everything else.”

His words immediately resonated in my spirit, they told my story.

For me, Banning’s words were more than a prophetic declaration, they were a testimony of what was and is already taking place, for this is exactly what had happened to me during my journey. The ‘YES‘ to God in my spirit, became louder than any ‘NO‘ I would ever have to speak to the world.

That had been my revelation. That “YES” had been my key.

Let me finish by saying, there is hope. There is freedom. There is a light that shines bright in the darkest of places.
There is love, one who is love itself, waiting to enrapture you and lead you in grace.
He who is love, is able to transform you by the renewing of you mind.

Did you catch that? He is not just able, but willing to clear away the garbage in your mind, erasing the memory of all destructive and tempting images, and renew it to it’s created design! Ponder that!
May this be your testimony, because what He has done for one, He will surely do for another.
-Bek Curtis

 

You can hear more from BekCurtis by following her on the Twitterer  or by checking out and subscribing to her blog ‘Perfectly Flawed’

[To read part I of this post, click here]

[For some more stories about people struggling with and overcoming Pornography, click here]

 

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This is a repost of a blog by permission which was originally posted on her blog, ‘Perfectly Flawed’ – meet Bek Curtis:

bekcurtis

Lust. Sex. Porn.
If those words made you squirm, you may not want to read ahead. Likewise, if you’re of the prudish variety, because here I openly, albeit reluctantly, share with you my experience of, and thoughts on, pornography.

Reluctant, because people can be jerks. Some people refuse to see the transformational work of Jesus in the lives of others, and sadly these are often the same people who preach it.
Reluctant because I have children who need not be shamed or shunned on my behalf.
And reluctant, well, because I’m a woman, and women don’t struggle with porn….right?

The internet was not an accessible thing when I was a teenager. It hadn’t yet infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives.
Mobile phones weren’t capable of sending or receiving texts, let alone photos and videos. In fact, back then, mobile phones were black bricks with aerials that required manual extension for each and every conversation.
I had no access to, nor any real knowledge of pornography, and so it was not a part my formative years.

I developed a curiosity toward porn when Jordan and I were a few years into our marriage.
We’d stopped going to church, our relationship with God was practically non-existent, and the circle of friends we were keeping saw porn as no big deal, just something ‘everyone’ does.

I knew pornography had been a big part of Jordan’s life before we were together, and this knowledge made me irrationally angry, and jealous. I felt as though I was missing out on something, and I really do hate to miss out.

I decided, in my great wisdom, that it would be a fabulous idea to introduce pornography into our marriage.
Jordan and I were solid, our sex life active, it could only add to the passion, what was the harm?

Surprisingly, Jordan was not keen, not keen at all.
I think his reluctance was mainly due to the fact that he thought it must be a trap. I mean, what wife encourages her husband to view porn with her?

However, he was also concerned that it would create marital tension, he felt as though porn was just something that was not needed in our relationship.

I disagreed. I won.

Porn was not exactly what I had expected.
I knew it would be graphic, but this, this was beyond graphic.
This was not like the sex scenes in a movie.
This sex wasn’t just sex.
Porn sex was different.
The bodies were ‘perfect’, the positions, acrobatic.
No one had a single hair follicle visible anywhere on their perfect bodies. And visible their bodies were. Microscopically so.
Everything was up close and zoomed in. Nothing left to the imagination.

There was no kissing, no intimacy, no love, just animalistic, self-gratifying acts of sex.

And yet, I took the bait… I was hooked.

Jordan would beg me to come to bed, asking if it could be, “just us tonight“, instead of us and whatever random couple had piqued my interest on screen.

But I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop.
Frustrated, Jordan would storm off to bed whilst I sat glued to a computer screen, searching, waiting for the perfect body, the perfect couple, the perfect image. An image I could never find.
The searching became a drug.
I would search while Jordan was at work, I wanted to find the perfect woman to present to him. A woman who wasn’t overweight, a women whose body was not marred by stretch marks, and the not-so-flattering effects of gravity. He deserved her. Not me. This searching had become a bizarre act of self-loathing and self-punishment.

I found myself looking at women on the street, wondering what they were like in the bedroom, passive or dominant? What were they okay with, what weren’t they okay with? Did they have secret body piercings, tattoos? Pubic hair?

It was disgusting. I was violating them with my mind.
And no, I’m not sexually attracted to women, the images I had been viewing had warped my thinking, been seared into my memory.

I no longer struggle with porn addiction or a desire to view it.
I no longer have pornographic images haunting my mind.
My God is the God of freedom, for those who truly desire it.

I still have to make the choice not to let my mind wander. I still have to choose not to click on Internet articles, links or videos that may contain questionable material.
I still have to make a choice to disengage from sexually explicit conversations.
I still have to make a choice to view each and every person I encounter; male or female, as God sees them. To honour and value them as fellow human beings, created in His image.

I long for the day when I can read a dessert menu, and not be aware that half the names on the list carry innuendo in porn speak.

I still have major body hang-ups and a ridiculously poor body image, something that didn’t exist to this degree before I invited pornography into my life.
There is a reason why the comparison game is a dangerous one to play.
I have freedom, but some consequences remain.

I recently had a discussion with a close friend of mine. She has teenage daughters, and we were talking around the topic of this crazy world of porn and sexting that our kids are not only exposed to, but immersed in. Yes our kids. Our sheltered kids. The ones we watch and monitor, the ones in youth group, the ones being raised in Christian households, the ones attending Christian schools- Our kids!

As we talked, my friend told me of a blog she’d come across, written by a young man who was imploring women to show some self-respect by removing any and all hair from their pubic and genital region, making sure that all women heard his message loud and clear, that they should be sporting a Brazilian. He wrote that pubic hair is ‘disgusting’ and he was physically incapable of maintaining an erection, if a girl had any hair, ‘down there’.

Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously?

This, this is the world our kids are living in.
This is why we need open, and I specify: age appropriate dialogue with our kids!

Our daughters do not need to grow up believing that there is something wrong with their body because it does what it was designed to do, believing that they are worthless, unattractive and disgusting unless they remove all their body hair.
They do not need to grow up believing that they have to perform all manner of sexual acts in order to deserve and receive love.
Our girls need to know that someone who would seek to bully, pester or coerce them into doing anything they are uncomfortable with, does not truly love them, and does not need to be indulged.

Our sons do not need to have their thinking warped by loveless, lust-filled images of sex-ploits. Images that are edited and produced to create and fulfil a need that can never be satisfied by just one viewing.
They do not need to have unrealistic expectations of women, relationships, sex and all sexual acts.
Our sons need not suffer sexual dysfunction because the images that are on repeat in their mind, have formed a new and flawed perception of ‘normal’.

We need to tell our kids not to avoid porn just because it’s wrong, but why it is so wrong.
We need to explain exactly how it devalues both sexes, and damages soul and spirit.

If I, as an adult woman over the age of 25, whose brain had finished developing, could have had her thinking rewired by viewing pornography, how much more susceptible are our adolescent kids to damage from pornographic material?

We need to educate our children about exactly what it is that the porn industry is feeding into: sex slavery, human trafficking, child exploitation.
I literally had no idea that this sex crazed industry was fuelling a hellish existence for so many young women, men too.

I wonder, had I known back then, what I know now, would porn have been any kind of turn on at all?

We shouldn’t educate our children in order to guilt them, but rather to equip them, to empower them to make choices that benefit not only themselves, but others also.

We need to teach our kids not that sex is dirty or wrong, but that it is quite the opposite.

Sex is beautiful, it’s fun, it can be messy, it can be awkward, it can end in, or be interrupted by fits of laughter as you both tumble off whatever piece of furniture it was that you were experimenting on.
It can be mind-blowing-ly amazing, and it can be a complete disaster. Sometimes things will go smoothly, other times things will most definitely not, but that all of it is good when expressed within the safety, sanctity, stability and mutual respect and equality of marriage.

Sometimes marriage sucks! It’s not all white picket fences and fields of flowers. Sometimes it’s just tumbleweeds and barbed wire. But to have the privileged of becoming one flesh with someone who totally gets you and is committed to you during the hard times, is a gift that should not be undervalued by images of lust, undervalued by a world that trades in old for new, and is hell-bent on instant gratification.

We need to tell our kids that we understand and remember what it is like to have raging hormones, to tell them we understand what it is like to be sexually curious, to be sexually aroused.
We need to teach them healthy ways to deal with that arousal, and the sexual frustration that those raging hormones bring.

We need to ask our kids how we can support them, and if they’re not really sure how, we need to suggest ways. We need to suggest mentors or trusted adults that they can talk openly with and journey with.

We need to teach our kids that God designed sex, not just as a means for procreation, but enjoyment, discovery. He’s not up in the sky sitting on a cloud with a cup of tea, muttering to Himself, ‘Oh dear, that’s a new one, didn’t think of that. Filthy humans.’

We need to teach our kids that God not only created sex, but the whole biological system responsible for switching on sexual desire.

We need to teach them that our God is an approachable God, that He is more than happy to provide a way to deal with whatever struggles we face in life, including sexual struggle.

And above all that, we need to believe that of our God! We need to experience that of Him! We need to share with our kids, how and when God has stepped in to provide a way out for us. That means inviting Him into our difficult situations, so He can do just that.

I am the mother of a teenage son.
We can protect and shelter him all we like, but eventually he will discover the world, as he is supposed to.
He will grow and mature, and set his own boundaries and parameters.
He will decide what paths he takes and what lines he’ll cross.
And we will love him and support him all the way.
But while he is still under our roof, within our grasp, and accountable to us, we will have the difficult conversations.

We will tell him where we’ve failed.
We will tell him the outcomes of our failure and where we wish we’d taken different paths.
We will be real, we will be unedited.
But most of all, we will emphasise grace.

Grace for failure.
Grace for poor decisions.
Grace for outright rebellion.
Grace for a journey, and not just a quick fix.
Grace for forgiveness.
Grace for redemption.
Grace for transformation.

Grace for us as parents to recognise transformation, as we chose to forget indiscretion.
Bek Curtis

You can hear more from BekCurtis by following her on the Twitterer  or by checking out and subscribing to her blog ‘Perfectly Flawed’

[For Part II where Bek speaks of some of the ‘How’ of overcoming her struggles with Porn, click here]

[For more stories on struggles (and triumphs) with Pornography, click here] 

i don’t, as a rule, share anonymous posts… however, this IS my blog and so i make up the rules and figured this one deserved an exception.

It is a post from a friend of mine who scribed a very different angled approach to the whole masturbation/pornography struggle that so many of us have or had and i thought it might be helpful, or at the very least, interesting:

Three Quick Awkward Memories:

1. In my teens my Dad used to stand in front of the TV when any potential nudity potentially happened to appear. This was very frustrating, and also had the effect, of course, of feeding my curiosity (in the days before the Instant Lust Gratification Finder known as the Internet). And the effect of making me think that it was inherently wrong/naughty/sinful to be even wanting to look at women’s bodies. And finally the effect of causing me to develop my very own DIY secret nudity search antennae. I don’t doubt that my Dad wanted the best for me though.

2. As a committed, born again christian at bible college I made a very public and tearful confession during a 3 day period of prayer and fasting. I had visited a blue cinema and watched what would now be described as a soft porn movie. After my confession a few guys came up to me (privately) and said how fantastic it was that I had confessed and how it had helped them. Personally I didn’t feel great after my confession. Just a little bit empty and embarrassed. However, I believed very much in openness and honesty, and I didn’t want to live a lie.

3. Later as a married man I confessed to my wife and to the man who married us, that I had fantasised about his daughter.

I’m only telling you this stuff to demonstrate that I am a fully qualified male, pornographic/masturbation struggler. It hopefully makes the rest of what I say make sense. For my part I don’t recommend revealing this sort of information publicly as a rule, unless you’ve got a fairly healthy sense of who you are. And even then…if you feel the need to talk about this kinda thing better do it with people who(m)  you know and trust. Confession can sometimes be a way of beating yourself with a very big stick.  Maybe I’m still doing that. I’m not 100% sure.

And now, here is a letter I found recently, sent from God to my younger self. I regret not reading it at the time.

Dear Hector (Name invented for anonymity)

You want to serve me with all your heart and soul, and you believe that I love you completely and forgive you totally. But it’s not always easy for you to get beyond the “what you want and believe” to the “who you are and what you do”. I want to tell you what I think. Because seeing yourself the way I see you can only help things, right?

Firstly, I can tell you that I am interested in the means AND the ends. In the ongoing process of you becoming the best, most complete Hector that you can become. And it is not in your knowledge right now to know who that person is.

Secondly, I think we can agree that I made sex AND I know your future. Some good news is that you are going to have a great wife (though it won’t ALWAYS be clear to you  how great she is). And you will have some great sex. And some good sex. And some sex. This will be an important part of your life. But only a PART of your life.

Thirdly, you are going to continue to struggle with Sex and the Art of Loving. You will separate sex and love in your mind far too often. You will not know a once and for all “victory” in this area (can you live with that possibility?). You will continue to WASTE time (yes, wasting time is the most serious of your offences in this matter) on bad habits. Habits that do nothing for you other than act as a kind of unnecessary release valve despite there being other, more satisfying, less self-hatred inducing, release valves available. And this waste of time will hurt YOU far more than anyone else.

But, and this is a HUGE but. You believe I’ve forgiven you right? Well, as it happens, I really have. Not only for the mess ups you’ve already made, but for all the ones you’re going to make. So that “Worst Of” video you’ve got running in your head, the one about what’s happening inside your head, the one that Me, You, And Everybody Else is going to watch come The Day. It’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Because I love you like the best dad or mum you could imagine. I spend the vast majority of my time getting excited about all the good things you’ve done. Or try to do. I spend a tiny bit of time getting mildly frustrated that you spend a bot too much of your time either: 1. Wasting your time searching for tiredness/anger/sadness/stress relieving unsatisfactory orgasmic “fixes”, then 2. Wasting your time worrying about it, and 3. Wasting your time talking about it.

And now  I’ve wasted enough time talking about it too. But I care, so it was necessary. Now clear off, relax, and get on with:

trying to make the world a better place; being honest; making people laugh; making them groan; making ‘em think; making music; being creative with words; being generous; loving that great wife you’re going to be getting; wearing your heart on your sleeve with your future kids; appreciating other people and nature and good things; crying at bad things; saying sorry when you hurt people you love; taking responsibility for your actions; dreaming of a better way; speaking out for justice; protecting the weak and the vulnerable; being weak and vulnerable; being strong; pursuing truth; being a peacemaker; turning the other cheek; loving your neighbour…

…as you love yourself. I could go on. Really, I could. But for now I think that’s enough.

Lots of Love from

The One who loves you far BETTER than you love yourself.

BV134WordPress informs me this is my 1000th blog post on Irresistibly Fish. It feels like i should be doing something special.

for anyone who follows this blog, or maybe stumbled upon it today, and who doesn’t understand the title, let me explain…

my nickname is Fish – has been for a very long time – stands for Faithful In Serving Him and i try to see it as something i am aiming towards as opposed to something i feel like i’ve arrived at… there is always room for me to be more faithful. the Bible tells is that even when we are unfaithful God is faithful and so it’s a good example to follow.

and then just taking it a step further, i want to be Irresistibly Fish – i want to be faithful in serving God in a way that is enticing to others – that is really the heartbeat of what i want this blog to be about.

sure, it tends to be a bit of a mixed stew because i am also a great appreciator of humour [yes, Americans, with a U!!!] tending more towards the dry british monty pythonesque and the random misdirection’ness of a good Jack Handey:

‘Before criticizing someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you will be a mile away and have their shoes.’ [Jack Handey]

‘Of all my uncles I think I liked Uncle Cave man the best. After school we’d go and play in his cave and every now and then he’d eat one of us. Later we found out he was a bear.’ [Jack Handey]

so how to celebrate a 1000th blog post? i guess by sharing somethings i wish for you to know:

IF YOU ONLY HEAR TWO THINGS

Often when i get a chance to preach, i throw in a kind of bonus pre-preach intro along the lines of ‘If you only walk away with two things today, let it be these two things’ and so this would be a good place to share those as well and they apply to you whoever you are:

[1] GOD LOVES YOU MORE

You might be someone who doesn’t believe in God or is struggling to hold on to a belief in God. You might be someone who has turned away from God or stopped believing in Him. You might be someone who is really angry with God at the moment, or disappointed or confused because of ‘something God did’ or maybe even something God didn’t do [that you really believed or were hoping that he would] – Know this – God loves you more. It doesn’t take your believing it for it to be true.

On the other hand, you might be someone who feels completely loved by God at the moment. You feel completely close to Him. You hear Him speaking to you through scripture and through the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You feel absolutely connected to Him in worship. You and God are pretty tight right now. Well hear this – God loves you more. No matter how big you can grasp His love for you to be right now, it is bigger.

God loves you more. And if you don’t believe it, then take at least a moment to consider ‘What if it is true?’ Ask Him if He does? He’s certainly big enough to confirm it to you.

[2] GOD IS BIGGER 

I’ve been known to make churches or whole camps of people sing this little mantra i came up with years ago. The only problem is that although i have a kindof tune in my head it is really hard to communicate that tune and so the whole singing part for the most part ends up being me singing and everyone staring at me with a kind of WHATTHEFLIPISGOINGONHERE kind of look… it goes like this:

God is bigger than my box…

He’s bigger than my theology…

He’s bigger than my understanding…

He’s bigger than me.

With some kind of weird fast five clap thing after the ‘understanding’ that no one [including me most of the time] ever gets right.

But it’s true. You may not like to think this but you have a box in terms of how big you think God is, what you actually believe He is capable of, where you think He can and will get involved, how He can speak to people, what He looks like, who He speaks to and so on. It might be a really huge box. It might be the tiniest of boxes, or a box that confidently displays ‘There is no God’ which is its own little picture of God. But you have one.

Each of us do – the idea of just how big God is and the limitations that we place on Him. We each have a theology [study of God] and we each have an understanding. And it’s a little bit of tautologous redundancy on the one hand as the three things mean largely the same thing, or connected things. But the point is that in some way each of us reduce God to a smaller thing or being than He actually is.

One verse that helps bring this home to me is Ephesians 3.20 which informs us that God is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE HOPE OR IMAGINE which basically says that however large we are able to hope or imagine, God can do even more, even bigger than that. But it’s these verses that come before that which help back up my statement song as well:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. [17b-19]

How wide and long and high and deep…

God is bigger than your box, than your theology and your understanding.

Plus the one we forget way too often: He’s bigger than me.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE YOU TO HEAR AND TAKE WITH YOU FROM THIS BLOG

there are so many things i could say and so this list will not be exhaustive by any means, but as i hit this milestone on the blog there are some definite things i want people to take hold of and engage with;

# going back to the above verse, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we hope or imagine – i do say this a lot but i think often our hopings and imagings are so small that we aren’t all that impressed when God does them. i suspect God might be wanting us to HOPE and IMAGINE bigger so that when He does show up and do the things we are hoping and imaging for, we are super impressed and give Him the glory and praise He deserves…

 – i think of the story of Gideon in the Bible facing this huge unbeatable enemy army and how God stripped his army down from thousands to just three hundred and then ‘armed’ them with musical instruments and torches and sent them into battle [so it was obvious that the victory was God’s]

 – i think of the story of Joshua and the whole of Israel marching around the impenetrable city of Jericho for seven days and then on the last day breaking into shouts and musical instrument noise and the city walls collapse and they gain a huge victory [all attributed to God]

 – but i also think of my friend Dale who was praying with a bunch of friends from church before hitting the streets and one person got ‘a ‘download’ from the Holy Spirit that there is an elderly man, who’s name is Henry who used to be a painter, but is now out of work and financially vulnerable and suffering from pain in his knees.’

they went out on to the streets to pray for people and didn’t meet up with Henry the whole day. Until right towards the end, when they came across this old man walking with his four year old grandson:

‘We asked if we could pray for him… he declined and was walking away. I asked him ‘Is your name Henry?’ He turned and said yes. I did a double take. I asked him if he used to be a painter. He said yes, but he was laid-off and is now working odd jobs and money is tight. I asked him if he had pain in his knees. He said the arthritis was so bad in his knees that he often could not fall asleep at night!! So I called over everyone and asked them to repeat what we had spoken of that morning. They confirmed all this to him. Boom!’

– i also think of a talk i preached at a Simply Worship gathering where [against my initial will and ‘better thought’] i invited people to step forward into the impossible thing God was calling them to [much like Peter walking on the water] and a young guy called Brendon felt like God had told him to take his inheritance money and put it as a down payment on a place of safety for children at risk and how a group gathered with him and started praying regularly [because God had told them they were not allowed to as for money or fund raise] and how God used an atheist having an encounter with a presence on the property they had found to hand over 2.1 million South African Rands to but that property, which more than 5 years later is continuing to function as a place of safety for children at risk.

so i would like you to ASK and IMAGINE bigger – and i would like to start doing the same more often.

# those of you who claim to be followers of Jesus [whatever you choose to call yourselves] i would like for you to follow Jesus. 

this ‘christian’ thing is not a decision you make once so that you can ‘make it into heaven’ – it is a life-transforming decision that needs to be made again every day as we choose to put Jesus on the throne of our lives and submit to His will and be involved in bringing about His kingdom. i just wish for you to live that stuff you say you believe. i wish to see you living it in the way you spend your money, i would love to see you living it in the way you use your energy and time and the resources you have at your disposal. i wish to see you following Jesus in the way you forgive anyone and everyone who may have wronged you in any large or small way. i wish to see you involved in some way with those who are considered ‘the least of these’ whether they love Jesus or not.

i wish to see you combining these two – so asking and imagining bigger in the things of Jesus. Thinking of your community, of your neighborhood, of your country even. Thinking along the lines of education and healthcare, of human trafficking. taking on the ‘What ifs’ of even daring to consider the idea of ending poverty, or lack of access to clean drinking water or an end to the violence that plagues the streets around you.

# i deeply desire that we [as followers of Jesus and even just as people in general] will be known more for WHAT WE ARE FOR than for WHAT WE ARE AGAINST. even as we wrestle with scripture and trying to hold on to Truth in times that test the very fabric of it, may we completely be removed from the mantle of ‘you will be known by your hatred of the gay’ as one example within a myriad of examples.

# i hope that we can move past trite ‘answers’ such as ‘abortion is wrong’ to what may sometimes be difficult or inconvenient solutions such as offering to adopt the child of a young single mother whose only option seems to her to be abortion… or better yet, inviting the woman and child to live with us. because surely as the church that is the next logical step right? providing viable solutions rather than just picking on the scabs of what is broken and messed up?

# i love my wife. i know, i know, doesn’t seem to fit in with the run of where i was going there but i can’t write a 1000th blog post and not mention tbV [aka The Beautiful Val] but yes, we have not had the easiest of contexts since we have been married, but we are still running strong and we had the most excellent date night last night. i do completely love her and am grateful for the journey we have walked and run [and occasionally crawled] together thus far, and for everything that is ahead of us.

# i long to see relationships flourish, which is why so much of what happens on this blog has to do with relationships. From those in the lives of people who are single right now, to those who are in dating or engaged relationships, to those who are married and then beyond that to any who have children. God just has such a huge heart for relationships, and so do i. i want to see the 50% of marriages end in divorce statistic plundered. i want to see fresh life and hope and people who will fight for their relationships and not just in them. i want to see people honouring promises made in front of family and friends and God instead of jumping ship when the waters get rough or when someone messes up. i want to see people owning up to their own crap first before trying to fix their partners. i want to be doing that too.

# i long to see Taboo Topics spoken about and stories shared that encourage others to seek transformation in their own lives or simply encourage those who may be struggling through a particular experience or stage. This has been the most successful aspect of this blog and i love how powerful some of the stories that have been shared have been for other people – i think particularly of Singleness, Losing a Child, Infertility, Parents of young children [when it hasn’t been particularly easy] and Pornography/Masturbation. Topics rarely spoken about in church [and even general life often] where a bunch of my good friends have come forward and bravely shared a glimpse into their story/struggle/experience with amazing results. May these continue to grow.

and so much more… but i will have the next 1000 posts to do all of that.

thank you to those of you who made it this far down. thank you to those who journey on Irresistibly Fish, whether you read each post religiously or whether you head back every now and then and dip your feet into the waters [that was a metaphor, no actual water was involved in the writing of this blog post] – i really appreciate you, even those who disagree with me from time to time. maybe especially those who disagree with me from time to time [especially when you fight nice]

# i think largely i would say if i had a wish for this blog it would be more engagement! More comments and interaction, more sharing of similiar stories or equally funny cartoon strip links or your opinion on the thing i’m currently opinioning on or your Facetablet offer

no, i don’t have children. and neither does Anne Marie Miller actually. but when i read this piece she wrote the other day [that went completely viral and totally shut down her website, i need that it needed to be shared as clearly did everyone else… but reading her next three pieces [which are linked at the end of this] i would just recommend adding Anne’s blog to your blog reader list as she clearly has some very important stuff to say…

especially for parents of children and teens…

THREE THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN AND SEX

Dear Parents,

Please allow me a quick moment to introduce myself before we go much further. My name is Anne Marie Miller. I’m thirty-three years old. I’m newly married to a wonderful man named Tim. We don’t have any children yet, but we’re planning on it. For the purpose of this letter, you need to know I’m a recovering addict. Pornography was my drug of choice.

I grew up in the church – the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher man with a passion for learning the Bible. I was the honors student; the athlete; the girl who got along with everyone from the weird kids to the popular ones. It was a good life. I was raised in a good home.

It was 1996, I was sixteen, and the Internet was new. After my family moved from a sheltered, conservative life in west Texas to the ethnically and sexually diverse culture of Dallas/Fort Worth, I found myself lonely, curious, and confused.

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Because of the volatile combination of life circumstances: the drastic change of scenery when we moved, my dad’s depression, and a youth pastor who sexually abused me during my junior year of high school, I turned to the Internet for education. I didn’t know what certain words meant or if what the youth pastor was doing to me was good or bad and I was too afraid to ask. What started as an innocent pursuit of knowledge quickly escalated into a coping mechanism.

When I looked at pornography, I felt a feeling of love and safety – at least for a brief moment. But those brief moments of relief disappeared and I was left even more ashamed and confused than when I started. Pornography provided me both an emotional and a sexual release.

For five years I carried this secret. I was twenty-one when I finally opened up to a friend only because she opened up to me first about her struggle with sexual sin.We began a path of healing in 2001 and for the last twelve years, although not a perfect journey, I can say with great confidence God has set me free from that addiction and from the shame that followed. I returned to school to study the science behind addiction and family dynamics.

Over the last six years I’ve had the opportunity to share my story in a variety of venues: thousands of college students, men, women and teens. This summer, I was invited to speak at several camps to both junior high and high school students and it’s without exaggeration when I tell you with each year I counsel students, the numbers and the stories shock me more and more.

There are more students compulsively looking at pornography at younger ages and with greater frequency than ever before.

This summer, by a long stretch, was the “worst” in terms of what secrets I learned students carried. After my last night speaking at my last camp, I retreated to my room and collapsed on the bed face-first. Tim simply laid his hand on my back to comfort me.

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I could not logically reconcile in my mind all the confessions I heard over the summer with the children who shared them. While every story was unique in the details, in most situations, there were three common themes that kept surfacing.

  1. Google is the new Sex-Ed: Remember the first time you, as a parent, saw pornography? Likely it was a friend’s parent who had a dirty magazine or maybe you saw something somebody brought to school. Now, when a student hears a word or phrase they don’t understand, they don’t ask you what it means (because they fear getting in trouble). They don’t ask their friends (because they fear being ashamed for not knowing). They ask Google.Google won’t judge them for not knowing. Because of our short attention spans and desire for instant gratification, they don’t click the first link that shows up – they go straight to Google Images. In almost all of the stories I heard, this is how someone was first exposed to pornography – Google Image searching. The average age of first exposure in my experience was 9 years old.Google Sex Image Search
  2. If Your Child was Ever Molested, You Likely Don’t Know: Another extremelycommon theme was children being inappropriately touched, often by close family members or friends. When I was molested at sixteen, I didn’t tell a soul until I was in my twenties. I didn’t tell my own mother until I was twenty-eight. The stigma and shame of being a victim coupled with the trauma that happens with this experience is confusing to a child of any age: our systems weren’t made to process that event. Many things keep children from confessing abuse: being told they’ve made it up or are exaggerating, being a disappointment, and in most cases, getting the other person in trouble. While a child can look at pornography without being abused, children who have been molested by and large look at pornography and act out sexually.
  3. Your Child is Not the Exception: After speaking with a youth pastor at a camp, he said most parents live with the belief their child is the exception. Your child is not. The camps I went to this summer weren’t camps full of children on life’s fringes that one would stereotypically believe experience these traumatic events or have access to these inappropriate things. You must throw your stereotypes aside. Most of the children at these camps were middle class, mostly churched students.Let me give you a snapshot of a few things I heard from these students:
  • They’ve sent X-rated photos of themselves to their classmates (or received them).
  • They’ve exposed themselves to strangers on the Internet or through sexting.
  • They’ve seen pornography.
  • They’ve read pornography.
  • They’ve watched pornography.
  • The girls compare their bodies to the ones they see in ads at the mall or of actresses and keep those images hidden on their phone (or iPod, or whatever device they have) so they can try to imitate them.
  • They question their sexuality.
  • They’ve masturbated.
  • They know exactly where and in what movies sex scenes are shown and they watch them for sexual gratification.
  • They’ve had a same-sex experience.

And they’re terrified to tell you.

(Update: The focus of this article is on the conversation, not the action, though as parents, you need to be aware of the fact young children are experiencing these things. I feel the need to clarify none of these actions make someone a “bad” person. While this specific list does contain things many people with a Christian background consider to be sin, it is lack of communication that makes this dangerous at this age. Most of us go through exploratory phases before sexual phases: a three year old masturbating because he knows it feels good and a seventeen year old masturbating to porn for a sexual release are two different things. If your child is uninformed or uneducated about things they need to know based on what is appropriate for their age and sexual development, regardless of your beliefs, it leads to shame and self-doubt.)

But maybe you’re right. Maybe your child is the exception. I would argue at this juncture in life, being the exception is as equally dangerous.

At the end of every session I presented I intentionally and clearly directed students to ask me or another leader if they didn’t understand or know what a certain word meant. “Donot go to the Internet and look it up.”

Sure enough, there is always the child who stays behind until everyone leaves and quietly asks what the word “porn” means or if God is angry because that boy or girl from down the street told them it was okay for them to touch them “down there.” There is the child in the back row who leans over to his friend and asks, “what does molest mean?” and the other boy shrugs.

This summer, I am beyond grateful that mature, God-fearing adults were available to answer those questions with grace and tact and maturity; that we were in a setting that was safe for questions and confessions. It was entirely appropriate. Not every child gets that opportunity. Most won’t. Most will find out from the Internet or from a peer who isn’t equipped to provide the correct answer in the correct context.

Parent and Child

As the summer camp season ends, I feel a shift in my heart. For the last six years, I’ve felt a calling to share with students how God has set me free from the shame and actions of my past and that they aren’t alone (because they truly believe they are). One college dean referred to me as “the grenade we’re tossing into our student body to get the conversation of sex started” because they realized how sweeping these topics under the rug caused their students to live trapped and addicted and ashamed. I will continue sharing my testimony in that capacity as long as there is a student in front of me that needs to hear it.

However, I am more aware now more than ever before in my ministry how little parents know about what’s happening. And because I’m not a parent, I feel terribly inadequate in telling you this.

But I can’t not tell you. After seeing the innocence in the eyes of ten year olds who’ve carried secrets nobody, let alone a child, should carry; after hearing some of the most horrific accounts from students I’ve ever heard this year, I cannot go one more day without pleading with you to open up and have these difficult conversations with your children. Would you prefer your son or daughter learn what a “fetish” is from you or from searching Google Images? Talk to them about abuse and yes, even trafficking.

Just this month I met a relative of a girl whose own mother was selling her body from the time she was five until now, when she’s sixteen. This was not in some drug-infested ghetto you’d see on a news story. It was in a very upscale town in a very upscale state known for its nature and beauty and summer houses. Abuse does not discriminate.

Your children need to know. If not for them, maybe for a friend. Maybe they can help bring context or see warning signs.

Ask them what they know. Ask them what they’ve done. Ask them what’s been done to them. Show grace and love. Stay far away from judgment and condemnation. If you feel ill equipped, ask a pastor or counselor for help. If you hear an answer you didn’t expect and your first instinct is to dismiss it – don’t. Find a counselor. Look for resources. Continue following up. If you struggle with this (and let’s admit it, statistically, a lot of us do), get help too.

Do the right thing, the hard thing, for the sake of your children. If we don’t do this now, I am terrified of how the enemy will continue stealing hope and joy from our youngest generation and how they’ll be paralyzed to advance the Kingdom of God as they mature.

We cannot let this happen on our watch.

[*Specific details that could identify children have been changed in such a way that it does not affect the story and only protects the children. Mandatory Reporters reported confessions that involved abuse or neglect or situations that indicated a child was in any type of danger by using proper state laws and procedures.]

[For Anne’s follow-up article titled ‘Follow up responses to three things you don’t know about your children and sex’ click here]

[For Anne’s post called ‘Who do you want teaching your children about sex?’ click here]

[For ’20 resources to educate and equip parents and children about pornography and sex’, click here]

 

Taboo Topics is a series dedicated to sharing stories from real live people [mostly who i know] on real life issues, situations or experiences that are seldom spoken about for various reasons. So far the topics that have been addressed [with links to all the stories] are the following:

Abortion

Adoption

Eating Disorders

Infertility

Losing a Baby

Pornography and Masturbation

Singleness

I hope these will be of encouragement to you and to friends and family who you know who have been through similar things – please feel free to share the stories or send links to people who you think might appreciate them.

love brett “fish” [brettfish@hotmail.com]

i want to take a moment to honor Catherine on this and am so super amped that she shared this story and know it has taken A LOT for her to do so – but both pornography and especially masturbation have largely been seen as a guy issue for so long and it was at a summer camp a bunch of years ago that i really got to see the depth of the problem and how it affects a lot of girls and young women as well – this story is so much needed and it is not without cost that Catherine shares this. but God is faithful and we trust that He will use this story to help bring release and freedom [or at least start you on the journey of it] for a number of women. thank you Catherine:

‘It was Summer Camp Justified and my first time ever at one of the BYSA organised camps down in hot-as-hell Kimberly. Looking back I know it was actually hot-as-heaven; God did some heavy refining that week in late 2008. My entire youth group had gone, and when I mean entire youth group… I mean all 8 or 9 of us. We were small but close-knit, and all of us were good friends. It was and is to this day the most amazing thing that I have ever been to. And I’ve been to my fair share of Passion conferences and Hillsong concerts!

I remember sitting as a group trying to decide whether we’d go to the mission outreach or one of the talks: Pornography and Masturbation (Brett Anderson). I was shocked to my core – who on earth talks about that sort of stuff?! Not once had I ever heard a sermon on it, read a Christian book about it and much less gone to a talk about it. I was desperate and determined to go.

You see – I had – at that stage, been struggling with pornography and masturbation since I cant even remember when. I can’t remember when it started or what started it exactly but I know that as the years went by, the burden got heavier until, at Justified, I was literally crawling and dragging myself through life with it. I wanted answers. I wanted to know for once and for all what was right and what was wrong.

Nobody knew – nobody even suspected – what I was hiding in the dark place in my soul. The part I couldn’t bear to shed any light on, so embarrassed and so ashamed I was of it. Men struggled with this I knew. This was and is the big lie: that men are the only ones who struggle with deep and dark temptations.

I wanted to go alone to the Pornography talk, so that I could hide in the audience with my guilt and my shame, without anyone being the wiser. My whole group came along. I have never been more vulnerable and fearful – like a deer in the headlights. I was certain someone would connect the talk to me and the box would be opened; all my darkest secrets and fears would come out. I believed my friends would turn against me if they knew the kind of person that I was and tell the whole world about my shame.

If anyone ever wondered how I came to be friends with Brett, it’s not because I met him after the Pornography talk. It’s because I facebook stalked both him and Bruce after the camp because they had impacted my life so very deeply. Brett’s talk on Pornography and Masturbation answered so many questions for me. But more startling to me than anything else was when other young women climbed onto stage – IN FRONT OF EVERYONE – and revealed their inner struggles, so similar to mine.

And then we were all sent outside to unload our burdens with our youth groups. Uh-oh. The last thing I wanted to do was reveal to my friends the shame I was hiding. I listened to each person unlock their secret pain and share it with everyone. Most were shocking and surprising. I soon began to realise that everyone was carrying a heavy burden. I was at war within myself: on the one hand I feared to share my guilt and humiliation, and on the other hand I was burning to unload the burden and shed some light onto a very dark place.

God’s will won out in the end and I tearfully – and quite incoherently – unlocked that secret place inside my soul, and set the truth free. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever had to do in my life but it was also the first time I have ever felt so light and so unburdened – so free.

I have struggled with Pornography and Masturbation for years. Literature was and still is my greatest downfall. I’ve always loved books and I’ve always loved reading, but it has been both a blessing and a curse. I used to filch through my mom’s fiction, looking for trouble. I learned to do it when no one was at home and could catch me. Eventually that took too long and I turned to the internet – truly the most treacherous place for the unwary – and discovered a trove of spots where I could look for more trouble. I covered my tracks; deleted all my browsing history. Then came internet access through your mobile…. Still I carried on. I realised in the very beginning how much of what I read and saw and did, disgusted me. I loathed it but was swept up in a current of morbid fascination and uncontrollable temptation. All the time I questioned whether what I was doing was wrong, but I knew deep in my soul that it was, and I loathed and hated myself for it. I prayed constantly for God to take this burden away from me; I begged Him to set me free from the chains and bondage that had ensnared me.

Sometimes I had brief periods of respite where I was not hounded by this terrible burden. But more often than not I was watching myself fall almost everyday. With regards to Masturbation, I can barely talk about it and cannot say the word without such disgust and contempt for myself. The word itself is truly a horrible and ugly combination of vowels and consonants. A truly fitting word for the act itself. The pornography was always a means to that end. It was never really about the pornography except that it was a direct route to masturbation. If pornography is the chains, masturbation is the heavy-duty lock. It ensnares so thoroughly and so completely that you cannot see the tunnel much less the light at the end of it. I was addicted; the same way a druggie is addicted to cocaine – but knows it’ll kill them.

After summer camp I was determined to put an end to this: I never again wanted to be imprisoned. I stayed away from books except those from the local Christian book store. I never went near the internet unless someone was in the house and I knew I could get caught. I put safe-search on google and instructed my sister to lock it. I took the browsing option off my phone. I knew it wouldn’t be enough so I decided to get an accountability partner. Someone I knew struggled with the same thing. It was the worst decision I ever made. Or maybe it was the person. But they did not hold me accountable or help me in my struggles, despite promising to do so. A year after summer camp and a year after having stayed clean, I fell again.

The devastation was acute. I wanted so desperately to be free from this but it had ensnared me again: was I never going to be free?? A year of severe depression followed and I had never felt further from God. I felt that I’d been left in a black pit to rot and die and that He didn’t care about me and didn’t want to save me. I finally found my way out again and back to the God who had never abandoned me. I knew it would require daily prayer and daily perseverance. I knew what I was up against.

Its been 4 years since Justified and I still struggle. I met a wonderful man and now I have someone to struggle with, someone who holds me accountable better than anyone has. We decided straight from the word go that we would wait and remain pure until marriage. A decision that’s been incredibly difficult but one that we have stuck to despite the struggles. There is nothing perfect or easy about this life. Pornography and Masturbation are things I have to fight with on a daily basis and it never gets easier. I still carry the shame and the guilt and hope that one day God will remove it completely from my shoulders. I have no certain answers to the pain and the struggle against Pornography except these three: God’s love, God’s grace and God’s forgiveness.

There is no quick solution or easy-fix I’ve found. I know all about refinement – I’m a jeweller who works with precious metals stones – and it’s no quick process. Refinement is a long and arduous process: the bad must be burnt away from the good or forcibly separated through a series of long, costly and complicated procedures. It is the same with a diamond (my life is full of these ironies), the good must be cut away from the raw; polished until it’s the best it can be. There will still always be flaws and inclusions, but it will be what it was intended to be right from the beginning: something beautiful that shines.

I foresee future battles and pain – God is not done with me yet, he is still busy refining me through my personal struggle. But I hope that my testimony may be able to set more women free from this struggle so that they may begin their own journeys toward healing and a possible victory over this enemy: Pornography and Masturbation.’

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