Recently I had a chance to speak with Dustin Daniels, founder of Seven Places Ministries. He is a man who knows personally the heartache of porn addiction, but has also experienced the life-giving freedom Christ brings to broken people.
I wanted him to have a chance to tell more of his story.
1. Dustin, what does the name “Seven Places” refer to and what does it have to do with pornography addiction?
In 2003, the Christian rock band named “Seven Places” produced a music track that included a sermon from Pastor Jon Courson on their album titled “Lonely for the Last Time.” Jon walks us through the seven places that Jesus bled from to atone for our sin. Jon paints such a beautiful vivid picture of what Jesus had done—what He chose to do for you and me so that we could have an eternal relationship with Him. It’s truly unbelievable. It was certainly a defining moment in my walk with the Lord Jesus when I first heard it, and Almighty God continues to redefine my relationship with Him as we play it before our weekly classes begin.
It was in 2009 when Almighty God gave me the specific vision to start a purity ministry. The term “Seven Places” and this sermon came to mind when choosing a name. It was a perfect fit:
- The first place Jesus bled from was His head, which cleanses us from our thought life submerged in perversion with pornography and all forms of sexual sin.
- The second place was Jesus’ back—because of the countless times that we’ve turned our back on Him.
- The third and forth places were His hands—only He knows how many times we’ve sinned with our own hands.
- The fifth and sixth places that Jesus bled from were his feet—because we have walked into places we had no business walking into.
- The last place was the side of Jesus, which cleanses us from the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness we ourselves hold inside.
The seven places that Jesus bled from cleanses us in every area from all sin—and because of His blood, we are free and forgiven.
2. You have your own story of porn addiction, too. Can you share some of that with us?
I found my father’s collection of pornography around 8 or 9 years old. I was instantly intrigued and fascinated. The fascination became my obsession throughout high school, college and into my first marriage. Fast-forward 20 years: pornography led me down a path I never thought I would walk…multiple affairs, strip clubs, failing businesses, bankruptcy, collapsed career, crushed reputation, explosive anger, serious bouts of depression, and suicidal thoughts. This road was simply just a bottomless pit of lies, disappointment and despair.
My depression hit a new bottom when I was 31 years old. Although I was searching for God and trying so hard to do all the “right” things, I made yet another terrible choice by sleeping with my date after a Christian rock concert. The next morning I couldn’t shake the heaviness that was on my shoulders. That afternoon is when I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face, and that’s when He saved my life and soul.
3. Dustin, since you’ve been remarried in 2005, how have you establish a good pattern of transparency with Amy to guard your heart against temptation and keep intimacy alive?
Almighty God has taught me that my life must be an open book. I lived the first 31 years of my life wearing a lot of different masks wanting so desperately to be loved—but the reality is that people didn’t “love” me…they loved the masks that I wore. I’m so thankful and grateful that Jesus alone brought me out of that exhaustive lifestyle by purchasing me with His own blood.
Regarding my transparency level with Amy, I have certain rules or guard-rails for myself: (1) She always knows where I am; (2) I have Covenant Eyes on my computer and iPhone…and she gets the weekly reports; (3) I don’t ride alone in a car with a female; (4) I don’t counsel women alone; (5) I don’t go to lunch with women alone; (6) I don’t watch TV or movies without Amy; and (7) We rarely watch rated R movies. (The last rated R movie we watched was “Book of Elijah”).
Now please don’t misunderstand…looking at this list, I think it would be easy for someone to get legalistic very quickly. Becoming pure and whole only comes from the grace and blood offered by Jesus The Christ. These guard-rails are simply my way of keeping my guard up and remaining above reproach.
When it comes to true intimacy, I must admit that I’m just now learning what this means. The effects of being a sex addict and pervert for over 20 years has most definitely played a major part in my misunderstanding of what intimacy truly is. Intimacy and love are the very opposite characteristics of pornography: Pornography takes while Love gives. Porn is disgusting and degrading while Love is uplifting and encouraging. Porn is angry and anxious while Love is joyful and calm. Porn is absolute evil while Love is pure and holy. Porn has everything to do with the self-centered physical pleasure of sex while Love is the giving of one’s self until there is nothing left to give.
I will spend the rest of my life learning what it means to be loving and intimate with Amy. I certainly don’t do these perfectly, but it’s by the grace and blood of Jesus that He allows me to do them increasingly.
4. Why did you start your mentor ministries at Seven Places? What are they?
We are called to make Disciples in Matthew 28:19, and that’s what Seven Places is all about. If we would just take the time to mentor one other man for 60-90 minutes every other week then both people will continue to grow in the Lord Jesus and be forever changed. All it takes is one man for you to spend time with! The hope that Almighty God gives through that relationship is eternal!
The reason we started the Mentor Ministries was because we believe that there comes a time in our walk with the Lord Jesus where we need more Bible studies, more Bible Classes, or even more Church like a whole in our heads. Please don’t misunderstand, those are obviously all very good things. However, I have talked to and coached many men who are faithful to Christian programming, but have no real relationships with other men. If we’re not careful we become programmed to simply sit and listen. I believe we need engagement in the lives of men who are struggling. We need men to care about other men and their families! Not out of religion or duty, but because we realize that we ourselves can’t keep this gift of grace to ourselves! The only way to do that is to get face to face with other men—and get real about our sin and repentance. Too many people want a pill or a top 10 list, or even for Jesus to come down and touch them so they don’t have to struggle with this sin anymore. Almighty God has given you this propensity to sexual sin for a reason…and that is to draw you closer to Him. Your struggle is a spiritual battle that is supposed to bring you to your knees every day. We must allow for the struggle of ongoing sin in our lives so that we can see God’s definition of holiness and purity. Without this daily struggle—without the daily renewing of our minds, we always end up thinking that we contributed to our sobriety or wholeness…which is never the case. This is where mentoring comes in: we need at least one other man in our life to coach us—to show us what God’s Word says, and to bring us back to reality in firmness and love.
5. You offer father-son and father-daughter workshops. What are these workshops like?
These workshops show parents how to start the topic and have a safe conversation about sex. More importantly, they show both the parent and child how to keep the conversation going throughout the rest of their lives.
One of the scariest things for fathers is to see their sexual sin being carried over into the lives of their children. It’s certainly an eye opening experience and brings the fathers sexual sin to greater awareness and higher risk level. The great news for these fathers is that it doesn’t have to be this way! Almighty God through His Son Jesus has showed us His definition of purity and He alone can break this generational sin. What we are doing is creating an open discussion about the questions that children have, and applying our own real-world stories and Biblical principles to show children the Truth about purity.