3 minute read

Pastor and Recovering Porn Addict Tells His Story

Last Updated: April 7, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Meet Tal Prince—recovering porn/sex addict and founder of Tapestry of Hope , a church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Deep Into Jesus

Tal says, “I’ve been in church since I was a fetus.” Tal is the step-son of Cliff Barrows, Program Director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was mentored by Cliff and assisted him during the last years of Billy’s crusade ministry. Tal had a successful career in international business before going into vocational ministry.

Today he is the founder and pastor of the church, Tapestry of Hope, and keeps a lively updated blog called Threads in the Tapestry. He is the Director of External Relations at Beeson Divinity School. He is also host of the weekly radio program “Tal Prince Live.”

Deep Into Addiction

He was hooked on pornography at the early age of 8, an addiction that continued until he was 32. He’s been in recovery now for 10 years. Today a chief aspect of his ministry is to help those who are also entrenched in temptation and addiction to pornography.

Tal writes,

“After being in recovery for several years from sexual and pornography addiction, I learned that God didn’t save me because he has good taste, he saved me because he specifically came to “seek and save that which was lost.” I learned that if I surrendered them to him, God could take all of my struggles and my brokenness and use them for his kingdom. I’ve come to understand that there’s so much more to the gospel than rules and regulations—that it is actually about intimacy and relationship. Everything about me is known to God, and he loves me anyway. The more transparent I’ve allowed myself to become to others, and more importantly, to God, the more I’ve learned to, like the apostle Paul, “boast in my weaknesses.”

Tal talks candidly about the mad cycle of his porn addiction, how he used porn and sex to medicate himself, how he attempted to escape from the pain of the world around him:

“In the past, when conflict reared its head, I would avoid it—strike that—run from it. The difference then, was that I ran into porn or sexual relationships. That always made me feel loved and worth something—and hey, realistically, who can think about a conflict in the middle of sex? Do you see how our addictions mask our pain, but don’t treat it? I ran for sex or porn over and over again, but when I re-entered the real world, the conflict was still there, only it was bigger and hotter, which only scared me more. So what did I do? I ran back to porn or sex to mask my pain and fear. That, my friends, is the vicious cycle of addiction. That is why we laugh cynically when told, ‘Just stop doing that!’ Trust me, we would if we could. We don’t like it. We really don’t. It just seems to be a much better idea than facing our imperfection.”

Exposing His Failures to Warn Others

I think this picture about mistakes is hysterical and relevant to me. It’s also relevant to you. We all have failures in our lives, and we do need to serve as warnings to others. We should not be afraid to expose our failures so that others can learn from them, and be encouraged by the hope of the Gospel.” (Tal Prince)

Tal’s a busy man these days. In addition to his radio program, growing church, and involvement at Beeson, he also recently joined the Ruth Graham and Friends conferences where he conducts workshops about the plague of pornography.

Because there has been such a rise in sexual addiction in the church (see my recent blog about Christianity Today’s cover story) Tal believes that the time has come to talk openly about our struggles and live out James 5:16, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (The Message). Tal comments,

“I dare you to live your life out loud, and boast in your weaknesses. It is in our weaknesses as followers of Jesus Christ that He is most glorified and magnified. None of us are as shiny and perfect as we would like people to think we are—if we were, than God saved us because He has good taste. I can assure you, that is not the case.”

The Role of Accountability

Tal says,

“I’ve been using Covenant Eyes for over 6 years now, and it’s an essential part of my continued recovery in this area of my life. I recommend it at conferences and to people I talk to whether they are addicts, or just need the accountability—and really who doesn’t need accountability?”

Why is accountability so important to Tal as someone who has struggled with pornography addiction?

The fact is we need community. Isolation is deadly. Tal writes, “The Gospel, my friends, is meant to be lived in community. We are to be Proverbs 27:17 people—iron sharpening iron. We are to encourage each other in the race to win the prize.” I recommend reading his humorous blog about how he explains the need for accountability.

Thanks, Tal, for partnering with us and sharing your story!

  • Comments on: Pastor and Recovering Porn Addict Tells His Story
    1. Jessica Coogle on

      HELLO, I WOULD LIKE TO SAY I AM SO GLAD YOU WROTE THIS ARTICLE! I WAS ADDICTED TO SEX! BUT GOD DELIVERED ME TOO!

      Reply
    2. Tal Prince on

      Hey Thanks for such kind treatment here. I’m so thrilled to partner with Covenant Eyes.

      I am very thankful for the program, and am praying for the development of CE for mobile phones. Many of the men and women I deal with are really struggling with it, and are in need of help.

      I’d like to see about having you on the show, brother. We’ve had Lynn on to talk a bit, so maybe you’re next!

      Thanks again for the gracious treatment here and for your support of Tal Prince Live!

      You can listen to archive broadcasts on our website, http://www.talprincelive.com And you can listen on Sirius 161 Sunday nights at 9:00 EST.

      Grace and Peace,
      tal

      Reply
    3. Wendy on

      I am glad CE worked for you. But my husband who is a pastor was able to circumvent the CE program. It seems I don’t matter that much to him. He’d prefer some fantasy over me.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Wendy – A few people might be able to circumvent our program. Unfortunately those sort of people would probably be able to circumvent any program. If he is serious about getting help, I would recommend an ISP level filter. This would cut off access to pornography at the Internet provider side.

        I am so sorry to hear about your husband. Please visit our “Struggling?” section for help.

    4. Victor on

      Bless you Pastor. All that the sinner longs to hear is that there is hope of redemption. Thanks for your life and being open on this.

      Reply
    5. shaun on

      its so hard when sex is natural in ur life and masturbation is natural. not like heroin and crack (not me) where its not natural. It just seems like every time I want to stop and when I have a good few weeks stopping, I drop all guards again and again and go watch pornography.!! im sorry God

      Reply
    6. BENSON KAMAU GATHONI on

      i need your help i feel hopeless

      Reply
    7. Brodrick on

      Addicted to sex with my mistress. Divorced my wife of 40 years because after 3 years I cannot nor do I want to leave her alone. Have spent over $100000 on her over 4 years now. I am attached to her and will do any thing to keep a xual relationship going. I know I will regret this later in life but I am 62 years old and she makes me feel good and young. I have forgiven myself as I know God has forgiven me.

      Reply
      • Steve on

        If you’ve spent an average of $25k a year on her for four years, she sound more like a gold-digger–or worse. That’s more money than a lot of really hard working people earn on average.

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