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Hope for the Prodigal Porn Addict: Interview with the Founders of Route1520

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

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

Pornography and sexual addictions are discussed with increasing frequency in this modern age. New clinics spring up every year specializing in treating these thorny issues. Support groups numbering in the hundreds pepper the country, many of them meeting in church basements and in the homes of church members.

Recently, I had a chance to interview the founders of Route1520, Tal Prince and Traylor Lovvorn. Route1520 is a ministry that exists to come alongside the local church as a trusted resource in ministering to individuals or couples who have been or are being impacted by pornography and sex addiction.

1. Tal, tell me a little about the inspiration behind the name “Route1520.” Sounds like a clever band name.

Tray and I both have a great affinity for the parable of The Waiting Father in Luke 15, and verse 20 says, “And he arose and came to his father.” This, for us, is recovery. It is the journey home to a Father that is not waiting to punish or reject us. He is the perfect, loving, gracious Father that feels compassion for us, and that is running to embrace us. While we were in active addiction, I think we would both tell you that we were absolutely convinced that this parable applied to everyone but us. Porn and sex is just too bad of a pigsty—He’s mad at us because we both knew better than this.

We both know that we are not to add or subtract from God’s Word, but many of us do it anyway, right? We added some untruth to this parable; what we added is a wrong picture of the Father. We see men every week still flinching and wrestling with the thought that this Father knows all that they have done, and chose and bought them knowing they were going to do it. When men, particularly ones that struggle with porn and sex addiction, are confronted with this thought, everything begins to change. They, like the prodigal, come to their senses and can begin their journey home.

We also love this parable because it shows a family dynamic. We have been committed from the beginning that this will be a ministry to strugglers, their spouses, and their children. Recovery is great—pre-covery is better.

2. Tal, how did you and Traylor meet originally?

Originally, while Teresa and I were volunteer staff for a college ministry where Tray was on staff. Neither of us had any idea about each others’ “stuff,” and never talked about it. I was white-knuckling sobriety at that point, and he had not been exposed yet.

Years later, a mutual friend suggested we get together as we had similar hearts for ministry. We had a lunch, and we’ve been running together ever since.

I had been speaking for a few years on this topic, and Tray had recently started up a group with Dr. Dana Stoddard at a local church for men struggling with porn and sexual addiction. There was a natural marriage between our hearts and visions. Tray has such a gift for facilitating groups and shepherding men in recovery—it’s really striking to watch. I often joke that I’m more the ER doc, and Tray is the long term care physician.

It’s great to see God place teams together, and to see how he compensates for, and in, our weaknesses.

God has placed us together with a deep passion for helping the church get honest and open about this struggle, and to see families begin their journeys home.

3. Tray, your own story of sex addiction, adultery, divorce, and then reconciliation with your wife is a great testimony of God’s grace and power. Your wife must have seen a real transformation in you. Do you think that kind of change is possible for other porn addicts? How?

Melody did eventually see a change in me, but it took a while. It took a while not because the changes weren’t there before, but because the filter through which she viewed me had been set when we divorced.

I just sent the proposal for our book to the publisher earlier today. We are using The Parable of the Two Sons as a backdrop to tell our story of marriage, divorce, and reconciliation. Working this morning on a chapter synopsis, Melody confirmed that when my sin with pornography and sex addiction was exposed, it actually made her feel all the more self-righteous and legalistic. As a result, I had about a 3 year head start on our journey to understanding grace and the true Gospel.

It took a second divorce for Melody to hit her “bottom” and come to the end of herself. Although much of what Melody threw my way after our divorce was sinful and mean, instead of going tit-for-tat with her on her behavior, I was learning to give her grace because of the pain and woundedness that her behavior flowed out of.

A phrase I coined during that time was “You know you are beginning to understand grace when you can give grace to those who don’t think they need it.” After her second divorce, God began to show her the heart behind her attitude and behavior, and, while very painful, it allowed her to begin to step off of her treadmill of performance.

All of these changes within Melody gave her a new perspective and framework through which to see me and my recovery. I had already learned in my recovery that life is very messy. That messiness is what Melody would point to when she had a problem with something I was or was not doing. When she too began to learn that life is messy—she began to see my messes a bit differently.

This is why it is so critical for the offended spouse to find their own path of recovery—even if they don’t stay married.

4. Tal, you understand firsthand what it’s like to be exposed to porn very earlyage eight, I believe. From an early age you turned to pornography for comfort when things went bad. How did you finally break that pattern in your life?

The cycle for me, time after time, was where there is pain, there’s porn and sex. It was how I medicated, and eventually pre-medicated pain and discomfort in my life. I did not believe that God would meet me in my pain—especially the pain created by my own sin. In fact, I really believed that taking it to God would only lead to further rejection and anger. Like so many, I felt that I had to earn my way back in to his good graces. I would try and try, but would always quit and go back to porn and sex.

For so many of us, we truly have to come to the end of ourselves and realize that we really are powerless. Not just powerless to end an addiction, but powerless to medicate our own pain.

My pain came directly from shame. This recurrent thought, “If you really knew me—you wouldn’t be in the same zip code with me,” kept me locked in a very dark place. I was sure God would reject me, and if He would—well, how would my wife stick around?

When I finally broke down and confessed to Teresa, that began a radical change. She didn’t leave. She showed me grace, and we committed to deal with it together. We began, for the first time, to work towards developing genuine intimacy together. We didn’t know what we were doing, but eventually got the right sort of help.

Things began to change radically when we both stepped off the works-based gospel treadmill. So much shame came from the thought that I had let God down yet again. It’s wild how we will believe that His happiness is somehow dependent upon us.

I had to learn where my only really comfort lies, and that is so well encapsulated within question one of the Heidelberg Catechism. It asks, “What is your only comfort in life and death?” The wonderful answer is:

That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

Believing that—really believing it—changes things.

Knowing that he loves me to that level has freed me from the fear of the rejection of others. This is what medicates my pain—much better than porn and sex.

5. What sort of resources does Route1520 offer to the church?

We currently offer a few great conferences and seminars to churches that need to begin to talk about this issue. We can train group facilitators to lead healthy recovery groups that actually work and get down to the root causes. We can also train facilitators to lead groups for spouses of strugglers. We have group intensives that pastors can refer their people to if this is a struggle in their lives. We are also now experimenting with virtual groups, for those that need to attend a meeting online. We are also looking to have groups and intensives just for pastors that are struggling, as they have some unique needs and concerns.

One of the strongest offering though, is a partnership with pastors that just really don’t know what to do. Whether they are struggling, or just don’t know what to do with all of the people that are.

Click here to learn more about Route1520’s online curriculum, Milestones.

  • Comments on: Hope for the Prodigal Porn Addict: Interview with the Founders of Route1520
    1. David Frazier on

      When will God’s redeemed grasp the fact that God is not capricious? One of the greatest breakthroughs to my heart was a couple years ago when I was blindly agreeing with and repeating one of the Devil’s lies during my prayer time: I said, “God, I have let You down AGAIN!” I heard a still small voice reply, “Since when were you holding ME up?”

      Reply
    2. Mark Pearson on

      You are extremely poetic, David..

      I do believe it is philosophy time once again. I find it interesting how pornography is out there, and while awareness of the evil increases, there are still those who are indifferent to it.

      I have read stories of wives who, time and time again, brush off their husband’s porn addiction without shedding a tear. I recently read a spectacular comment from someone that will remain with me for the decades to come. She wrote,

      INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY IS DANGEROUS.
      INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY DESTROYS LIVES.
      INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY DESTROYS SOULS.

      Thanks, Crystal!

      Reply
    3. David Frazier on

      @Mark – I suppose that would be the songwriter in me surfacing. Indifference is certainly an issue. In his initial testimony and interview, one of my counselees spoke of his “pastor” telling him and all the other men that pornography is a necessary evil and beneficial to their spiritual and physical health. It is not that I have not heard that cunningly evil lie before, but this week it just hit me square in the face.

      This same false presumption very well could be a prime suspect to much of the indifference to which you are referring in women and wives. For this I am grateful for CE, and other like ministries, and their dedication to educate men and women to the “DANGER” and “DESTRUCTION” of internet pornography to “lives” and “souls.”

      Reply
    4. Mark Pearson on

      Do you really write songs? Not bad…

      Strange pastor…sounds a little like my uncle’s martial arts story. Apparently when he was in this one class, he was instructed to beat himself about the knees to develop scar tissue. A sadistic proposition at best…

      Reply
    5. David Frazier on

      @Mark –
      Yeah, I had two Major Label Record Deals. One in the secular market from 1999-2003, w 2 Billboard hits at radio, and all that Vh-1/TRL/Spin mag. stuff. Blah! The 2nd was with a “psuedo-Christian Label” from 2004-2007 and did all the big Christian Tours like Shoutfest, WinterJam, Cornerstone, Ichthus, etc. My brother is still big in the biz as a Maj. Lab. A&R for Capitol Records and he also manages several HUGE rock bands. But honestly, you could not offer me a deal with $2 million in marketing and publishing to go back into that selfish and dark world vaingloriousness and pride!

      These days my writing purely consists of music that is as worshipful and glorifying to God as possible. It has been a wonderful tool to stir and prepare hearts for revival/evangelical meetings in which I speak. I’m just grateful the Lord allowed me to keep the gift I used for evil and self for so long. I am also extremely grateful for my wife Kim who sings and travels with me. She is really blessed with a great voice and harmonizes well. God is good.

      Reply
    6. Mark Pearson on

      Not bad, not bad.

      I’m not deep into the music business like I should be. I compose piano solos in my spare time, having only recorded one CD with a private company. Nothing fancy, but that had to be the best piano I’ve performed on…

      Maybe someday I’ll travel the country, displaying the talent God has given me!

      Reply
    7. David Frazier on

      Awesome!
      Piano is my axe as well. I knew I liked you for a reason… 8)

      Reply

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