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How to Treat Porn Addiction in the Church

Last Updated: October 28, 2020

John Doyel
John Doyel

John Doyel has dedicated himself to helping men recover from sexual sin and return to God. He leads a recovery ministry at Vineyard Columbus called 180 Recover. He also writes daily emails of encouragement to help believers recover from porn or sex addiction, which you can sign up for on his website or by emailing at doyel@me.com.

To what degree do you think sexual sin is impacting the ministry of your church?

  • If 60% of all Christian men are addicted to porn, then every one of them are impacted as well as all of their wives and the kids of those families.
  • If 20% of all Christian women are engaging in sexual sin, that is impacting all of their relationships as well.
  • If people in your church are not serving in ministry and using their Spirit-given gifts because of their fear and shame over sexual brokenness, how much is that harming your church?
  • If people in your church are serving in ministry in spite of their sexual brokenness and not being empowered by the Spirit, then will their efforts be helpful or harmful to the body?

I guess it all depends on if you see your church as a country club or a hospital.  Are people coming out of habit to hang out, be seen, and maintain the appearance of “all is well?”  Or is your church a place where broken people come for help and healing?

For the past seven years I have been developing a ministry at Vineyard Columbus called 180.  It is a ministry for those who are addicted or struggling with pornography and any kind of sexual brokenness.  Every Monday night about 70+ men gather to worship, hear a teaching and meet in small accountability groups to receive the support they need.

Most churches do not want to open that door.  Send them away. Send them to counselors, 12-Step Groups or anywhere, but let’s ignore the problem and hope it goes away.  That’s the most often used “head in the sand” approach. And we all should know it is going to get worse.

If sexual temptation is indeed “Every Man’s Battle,” then how are we to help every man, woman and their children be protected and find the freedom we should be experiencing in Christ?  All the statistics say the number of women becoming ensnared in this area of sin is also increasing.

Here are five absolute musts each church should work on establishing.

1. A plan to help those who struggle on a daily basis.

Many churches have AA and NA meetings. Those churches have learned how to have an open arm to help the addicts in their congregation and in their community.  They have tended to be mainline congregations who use these groups as an outreach to their community.

Other groups have started to offer an approach more acceptable to Evangelicals.  Celebrate Recovery is probably the most well-known and widespread.  However, though it is a good start, it does not even come close to dealing with the depth of issues a sex addict has.

In my ten years of recovery, I found sexual addiction to be a multifaceted problem. The physiological, emotional and relational issues need to be addressed, in addition to the spiritual aspect. Telling someone just to pray and read their Bible more is like trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun.

2. A comprehensive plan to protect families.

In case you do not know it, anybody of any age with a smartphone can access any kind of porn imaginable in about 30 seconds or less.  The days of finding your dad’s Playboy hidden in the closet are gone. An ocean of smut is out there and only a few clicks away.

So the church needs to provide to parents and adults who have kids in the home the proper safeguards so that porn cannot be accessed by any computer, tablet of smart phone.

3. A ministry to help couples rebuild their marriage.

Many marriages have been destroyed because of infidelity in person or online. For eight years now, my wife and I have been involved in a ministry aimed at helping these couples rebuild their marriages called Begin Again.  Contact Vineyard Columbus–Marriage And Family Ministry to learn how to have it in your church.

4. A plan to teach the youth.

The obvious balancing act with teaching youth is how much do we talk about without raising their curiosity? Wake up… their curiosity has been aroused already by the culture. Assume they know far more than they should and educate them on the harmful effects porn has. There is a reason porn is called the “crack cocaine” of sexual sin.

5. A plan to help pastoral staff who are struggling.

I was addicted to sexual sin for eight years while serving as a full time, senior pastor.  If I had been a better man, I would have sought help much earlier.  However, that would have been career suicide.

Does your church have a plan where a member of the staff can go to seek help earlier in their developing problem before it becomes overpowering? Or is the policy to immediately dismiss anyone on staff who admits to sexual struggles and sweep it under the rug?

I am so thankful my wife and I both found ministries at our church that dealt specifically with the deep and painful issues we had to work through. I have now produced the 180 Recovery Ministry, which includes videos and my teaching notes, for anybody who either wants to begin a ministry in their church or start their own 180 Recovery Small Group.

180 is a recovery ministry for believers struggling with sexual sin and brokenness.  It is completely based on Scripture, because I believe the foundation of recovery starts with truth from God’s Word.  If you are interested in learning more please contact me at jdoyel@180fresh.com.

You can also receive my daily emails to encourage those struggling with sexual brokenness.  I try to do what it says in Hebrews 3–to encourage one another daily as long as it is called today, so that we are not led astray by the deceitfulness of sin.

  • Comments on: How to Treat Porn Addiction in the Church
    1. Greg on

      Am glad that at least someone out there is willing to talk about the issue(s) of sexual sin and brokenness from the pulpit on down.

      Sadly, the vast majority of churches are not, and for rather obvious reasons, I believe never will. One could easily make the argument that it’s already too late–part of why I believe persecution in the U.S. is rapidly increasing.

      Truth is, the church is still far too comfortable keeping our sin hidden behind plastic masks, let alone fear of stepping past our various upbringings, etc. and broaching anything even hinting of sexuality…but it’s okay to talk about weddings, pregnancies, babies, etc. everything else surrounding it–that much I know.

      Speaking for myself, though I have pages on my website of personal thoughts about this, anything to do with sex/sexual intimacy has since rapidly become disenchanting. Why?

      1) In part, because I’ve realized it has no practical relevancy for me as a single person without any means of biblical expression. And, in the end, God is concerned with our spiritual state; not satisfying our desire(s) to be married, etc.

      2) I am honestly just fed up and sickened by the world around me shoving the complete misuse and ongoing lies/deceit about sex down my throat. Honestly, that alone is enough to virtually eliminate any libido I once had (even after God graciously rescued me from pornography). I believe in the _biblical theory_ about sexual intimacy, but the numerous ugly realities and hurdles surrounding it now make me want nothing to do with it. Dr. Juli Slattery said it best:

      “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.”

      3) The numerous and drastically different perspectives between men and women of, and about, sexuality and each other’s physicality (though understandable) simply do not lend themselves to healthy, vibrant, ongoing sexual intimacy. Don’t ask me why God made us that way, but it’s very real, and very debilitating to intimacy. Check any Christian marriage blog (http://intimacyinmarriage.com or http://hotholyhumorous.blogspot.com) dealing with sex, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

      4) How do we, as the Body of Christ, *practically* (and both in the church and home) illustrate and herald the beauty of sexual intimacy when it’s obviously a very private thing that we are to safeguard–not expose? It’s very much a catch-22 situation. We want to herald the beauty of biblical sexuality, but can’t because of the limits we have to be careful to safeguard.

      Reply
    2. "I tip my hat to you brother" on

      Wow John, powerful, just a powerful article!

      I agree with you on everything you stated. I wish I could comment on each of them, but just briefly, you are correct about kids knowing far more than some give them credit. Also, what a tremendous statement about finding dad’s porn stash, yes sir, that’s how I started, but now it’s at the click of a button. I kinda am glad all I had was the playboy magazines and the occasional X-rated movie that was light stuff compared to now. We’re talking 30 “plus” years ago, now anyone can look up the most vile sadistic things and feed their minds for hours in total secret, scary.

      I also like the comment about “country club or hospital”, amen brother! I could not agree with you more, absolutely true. I really believe people would be shocked to see what fellow members are struggling with. It is so easy to look okay on the outside but have sewage inside. I am so happy you chose to step down and deal with the problem, I am so proud of you. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to do that, I tip my hat to you brother.

      I am going to look into your material and please keep up the great work!

      Reply
    3. Bev Sterk on

      thanks for confessing if you had been a better man, you would have dealt with it earlier… this fear of career suicide is effectively silencing the pastors/leaders from addressing this publicly because so many of them are struggling or addicted, this silence is at the expense of the growing number of women and children that are now getting hooked on it… I pray they would be the better man… and trust God because they did the right thing!

      Reply

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