Blazing Grace Radio Episode

Action Steps to Freedom from Porn

Recorded: Feb 08, 2021

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Blazing Grace Radio
Blazing Grace Radio
Action Steps to Freedom from Porn







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Action Steps to Freedom is our 8 week course that equips men to overcome porn and sex addiction. In this first of 2 shows, Mike discusses:
1. How the Action Steps program work, including how each man is paired up with a support and prayer partner for the duration of the course.
2. Why full disclosure to the wife must be provided for healing to start, and the husband shouldn’t wait until he has 6 months of abstinence.


Episode Transcript:


ANNOUNCER:

This radio program is PG-13. Parents strongly cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13.

Jesus’s mission was to comfort those who mourn, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives, and open prison doors for those who are bound. For those who want more than status quo Christianity has to offer, Blazing Grace Radio begins now. And here is your host, Mike Genung.

MIKE GENUNG, HOST, BLAZING GRACE RADIO:

Hey, Mike Genung here. Welcome back. It is February 2021, and as many of you know, I moved to Arizona – me and my family – last summer, and we moved in here. They said they had a record number of days, more than 110 degrees. So that’s the Arizona I always pictured. This last week it’s been in 40s and raining, and I’m not used to that. Even snow in the mountains, not far away from the greater Phoenix area, so that’s been kind of fun to watch. So my family is seeing that there’s more to Arizona than just the heat, and it’s really beautiful here when the rain’s cleaned everything out and the sky is crystal clear. So you ought to come by sometime!

So I want to start today by talking a bit about Ravi Zacharias. I was thinking about his situation – and I’ve talked about him a couple of times – where it came out that he had been having inappropriate sexual conduct with massage therapists at massage companies he owned. This was back 2010, ’11, ’12, and then 2017 another allegation came out of a woman that he had been making inappropriate advances. Ravi Zacharias Ministries came out publicly and said, “Yeah, this is all true, and we’re grieved”. I was thinking about that.

So obviously, this is a very devastating thing to those of us who loved him. But I was also thinking: I wonder if he had somebody that he could talk to, who he could open his guts up from a heart level and say, “You know what? I’m struggling with lust, and I’m struggling with these things”. My experience has been there’s a lot of leaders, pastors, in Christian Ministry or churches that don’t have that, and that’s very destructive to the Church.

I was talking to a guy who’s been a pastor, I think, for around ten or 20 years – I don’t remember – in a lifelong struggle with pornography. He told me that he tried to open up with somebody in the Church once, a long time ago, years ago, and they basically shunned him. And that was it. After that, he’s like, “I’m not going to go there again”, and so he came to me for help and knowing that I would be a safe person because of what we do and all the videos where I share my story.

So this is one thing I want to emphasize. This is one of the great fault lines in our Church of today, where the surveys are showing that 85% to 90% of American Christians are isolated. It’s not just Americans, it’s others across the pond – in Europe and in Asia. When I go and speak, I’ll ask people to raise their hand if they meet with another brother or sister once a week, every week, and usually 15% put their hands up. So we’ve groomed our people to be isolated. We haven’t really challenged them to break free from that. Part of it is our Christian culture where we sit at church and it’s basically a really big Sunday school service and we watch and we go home.

So I really want to challenge you, each one of you who are listening to this: do not sit there in isolation. This may seem like an easy, you know… “What’s the big deal?”, but isolation feeds porn addiction, and it feeds fear and shame and a lot of other sins. If you’re sitting there in isolation, at some level, you’re living your Christian life in the flesh… and that’s not the way we’re meant to live our lives. James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. That’s the way the Christian life is meant to be lived.

What I want to get into today is – what I’m calling this episode is “Action Steps to Freedom, Part One”. We have an eight week course for men, and it’s “Action Steps to Freedom“. What it is, is we get anywhere from two to six men in a group, and then we pair up each guy into groups of two. So each guy has his own support and prayer partner who he’s going to be working assignments with every week. Every week, they’re given anywhere from four to five assignments to work on average. This course is very powerful because part of the damage that porn – or any kind of sexual sin – does is it basically trainwrecks the character. A lot of men have this idea that “If you can just help me to stop acting out, help me to stop looking at pornography or whatever it is, I’m good”. But what they don’t realize is it’s affected their entire character. So we’re not just talking about stopping looking. We’re talking about a character overhaul here, and that’s what this course is really built around and designed to do.

Then what happens is during the week, you and your accountability and support partner are meant to talk every single day. It doesn’t have to be a long call every day, it can just be even just ten minutes; “Hey, how are you doing?”, share from your heart where you are, where your marriage is, and then pray for each other. And then some of those assignments, you do have to work with your support partner. So this is a fantastic way to jump into the recovery process. The guys who make it all the way through the eight weeks have seen their lives changed, seen their lives transformed, and not just their lives, but also the lives of their marriage. Because what we do is we integrate the man’s healing with his wife’s.

It’s really easy to go to a support group and get your 30- and your 60-day coin or whatever it is, and then your buddies are slapping you on your back, and then you go home. Then you look at your wife in the eye and she breaks down sobbing because she didn’t sign up for a marriage with a guy who’s addicted to pornography, especially not a quote-unquote “Christian guy”. That wasn’t the package that they were expecting. So where his recovery and where his growth and maturity is really tested is not at the support group, it’s at home when it comes to greet his wife. So part of that is learning how to treat her right, to listen to her, to treat her with kindness. So we weave – in the action steps course – we weave in assignments for the husband with the wife. That’s really the most effective, and that’s the truest way to gauge your maturity, but also to get you to grow in ways that make a difference.

So there are a lot of programs that may focus on getting your sobriety, and not looking at lust, or porn, or whatever it is, but we go a lot deeper than that. You have to give it the hard issues. That’s a big part of our focus. Everything we do is getting to the roots, getting to the hard issues, getting to the core beliefs, helping to realign your character with the God-given role as man of the house that you’ve been given – the mantle you’ve been given – as a spiritual leader and the priest of your home, as the lover of your wife.

So what I’m going to do today is get into describing some of these course assignments to give you an idea of what this course looks like. Along the way, there will be plenty of meat for us to dine on in these topics that’ll help give you an idea what the healing process looks like.

So in week one, every man who is in the course has to give a complete sexual history to his wife. This is not an easy thing. It’s a real tough one. I had to do it with my wife back in 1991 when we’d been married a year and a half, and I’d been binging on porn daily – at least once a day – and then blew our marriage up when I had sex with a prostitute in 1991 – March of ’91 – and then I told my wife and she broke down sobbing. So that is not an easy conversation to have. But you cannot heal, and your wife cannot heal – your marriage cannot heal – until everything comes out.

When I say everything, I don’t mean every little detail. I don’t mean every little name of the websites you’ve looked at. I don’t mean getting graphic with descriptions, or describing what you were looking at in any way. Because we don’t need to draw vivid color pictures here; all we need for this is black and white pictures that describe the issue. That’s enough. Some men are so tormented by guilt and shame that they make the mistake of giving your wife every little tiny intrinsic detail. All that’s doing is cutting the knife deeper. She doesn’t need that, but she does need the truth. So if you’ve been binging for years on pornography – once a week, once a month, whatever it is – she needs to have a clear understanding of where you are, and where you’ve been, and what you’re doing, what you’ve been doing.

The other thing is what pornography does, what sexual sin and lust do, is that they drive the man inside of himself. They turn him into somebody who’s living in isolation and withdrawal. So one of the most important ways is for all the secrets, all that stuff, has to come out and has to come up. It has to come up with your spouse, and it also has to come up with your brother, the guy you’re going to be working the course with. So you share with him and you share with your wife. I don’t have the course in front of me, but I believe you share with your buddy first so that he can pray for you and your wife when you have that conversation. Then, again, within the first week, you’ll be sharing what your sexual history is with your wife.

You don’t want to make a mistake that a lot of men make, which is they’ll dribble out the truth over months and even years. There are some guys who give their wife a little piece, and then another little piece, and then another little piece, and the truth never comes out. Or if it does, it comes out over a long period of time. All you’re doing when you’re doing that is you’re keeping her heart torn up and she doesn’t have a chance to heal. So it’s right off the bat, it’s critical that we get you started in the process of healing with destroying and removing all hiding, lying, deceiving, all that. We have to realize that that has to all come to an end.

I also want to say that this isn’t something you have to do with – and you don’t want to do with – extended family, with others you don’t really know or trust that well. For now, you need to heal, and your wife needs to heal. So just let’s keep it within the support group, the course, the guy you’re working with, keep it with your wife for the moment. But don’t think you got to start going and telling everyone. Some guys every once in a while make that mistake. Especially telling extended family is a really big mistake because they’re not able to be impartial in most cases, and it can cause more damage than good. So you want to be very careful with who you tell with this stuff.

Then what happens is every week you will have a group conference call with Tim Peterson. He’s a fantastic guy. He’s a pastor and a psychologist, part of our team. He’s very good at walking broken people, men AND women, through to the healing recovery process. He does counseling for us. He’s counseled me in some situations, and he’s very good. So you’ll be in fantastic hands. So every week, however many there are – sometimes a group of two, four, six – all of you make a phone conference call, and then Tim will give you feedback and some guidance on helping you get through maybe some stumbling blocks and some counsel. So this is all designed to help you to move through and to get you through any stumbling blocks.

Some ministries and counselors advocate waiting six months… I should say waiting before the man has six months of abstinence from sexual sin before he tells his wife. I tell you, I disagree with that very firmly, very passionately, because there’s a lot of problems with that thought, that philosophy.

One is a lot of guys need more than six months to get that first six months of abstinence. A lot of guys need a year, maybe two years, maybe even three years or more. So what happens? So what you’re basically saying is I’m going to keep my marriage on hold for another one to three years, or whatever it is – or six months, even, if you’re fortunate enough to jump into it that quick… I’m going to put her on hold, put my marriage on hold. I’m going to keep lying, I’m going to keep hiding, I’m going to keep pretending I don’t have a problem.

All you’re doing when you’re taking that approach is you’re keeping yourself bound up in partial isolation, which is isolation, period. It’s kind of like there’s no such thing as partial obedience. It’s either disobedience or obedience. So you’re keeping yourself in isolation to an extent. You’re keeping the lying there, you’re keeping those things embedded in your soul, and you are wounding her. Because most women can sense when their husbands are doing this stuff. They can feel in their spirit when something is off. What we hear is that the wives asking their husbands for months or years, or a long time, “Hey, what’s going on here? Something’s off”. Meanwhile, the husband’s heart is getting harder and harder, and he’s snappy, critical, and bitter.

So the only way to begin to unwind all of this is to start with the truth at the very beginning of the recovery process. You don’t want to put this off; every day, every week, month you put this off, all you’re doing is you’re adding more pain and more interest that you’re compounding to your marriage, and you don’t want that. So that’s why in the very first week, we have you giving your sexual history to your wife. Part of what we’ll help you with is understanding that she will be very upset. Could be crying, could be anger, you don’t know what you’re going to be dealing with. So the important thing to do is to respond to her with kindness, and patience, and compassion.

The other thing you want to realize is that this is a process that’s going to take years for her to heal. A lot of men make a big mistake: we hear wives say all the time that “My husband keeps saying, “When are you going to get over this?” The answer for that is a long time, years. So you don’t want to say those words to your wife, EVER. She is where she is, and that’s just going to add more pain to her sorrow. So when she starts to heal or what you can do to help her to heal is when you respond to her with kindness, and patience, and compassion, and let her pour out her grief to you, let her pour out her anger to you. When you treat her that way, that’s when she can – one little tiny piece at a time – she can begin to heal. The way you treat her is also a big time trust rebuilder.

So trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. If you have no trust, you have no marriage, you have no relationship. Many women say that their husband’s lying and hiding hurts them more than what they did – the acts themselves. That’s another reason why it’s so critical NOT to wait before you have six months of abstinence before you tell your wife. Because now you’ve got six months more of lying, and hiding, and faking it. You don’t want to go there.

So that’s a little bit about week one. Then on the second week, you’ll be making an action plan for getting under control… the stumbling blocks of temptation that are under your control. So what I’m saying is if you’re acting out with your smartphone and you don’t have an app on there or you don’t have any kind of block, you have to do something with that smartphone to remove the risk of temptation in a fall. I’ll tell you that I’ve never heard of a guy who could not get around a porn blocking app when he wanted to.

To me, the most effective feature of an app to put on your phone isn’t the porn blocking feature, it’s the accountability feature where they send a report weekly to the persons you choose. It’s a report that gives them every single website that you’ve looked at and every app you’ve opened on your phone. So if you have that report sent to your wife and to your support partner, that’s going to make you think two, three, or four times before you go in the wrong place on your phone. To me, that’s a far more effective deterrent than just the porn blocking alone, because as I said any guy can get around that when he really wants to. That’s part of the hunt, that’s part of the challenge. That’s part of what gets him excited, is “Let’s see if I can beat this. Let’s see if I can get around this”.

There are quite a few apps out there. Covenant Eyes is one well known one. It’ll cost you $16 a month, but, again, they have those reports that they’ll send out to the accountability partners of your choice. They have a feature that I don’t really like that much, and that’s where it takes screenshots of the websites you look at. They just came out with that about a year ago, and honestly, I don’t like that, because all of us are going to be looking… a lot of us using our website – or our phone, I should say – to look at our bank account. So that means you could potentially get a screenshot somewhere, there’s going to be a screenshot somewhere of the pages in your bank account. So you want to be careful with that, and be careful with the app that you choose, and be aware of that going in. You can also call Covenant Eyes and ask them what their take on that is, but I know there’s a lot of other apps out there, and I’ve also had the idea of coming up with our own app, too.

But Matthew 5 says, “If something caused you to stumble, cut it off”. In so many words, it’s better that you… I’m going to read it right now, actually. “You have heard that it was said you should not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than your whole body be thrown into hell”.

So we have to take radical action against those things under our control. So if you have some kind of streaming service or something at home, and that’s been a problem with you, or you’re watching inappropriate content, you’re going to need to do something. If that’s taking you down, then do something. Maybe you got to turn it off, but talk to your wife about it and form an action plan with her.

Some people get a little legalistic in this, and there are some ministries that they tell you you got to cut off all electronics going in. What God’s Word says is “IF it causes you to stumble, cut it off”. It doesn’t say “cut off everything”. So if it’s not an issue, don’t worry about it. But some people get led in the wrong way in this, and you got to start cutting everything off, and then what happens is the man just give up because it’s impossible and they got to make a living. So with your wife and with your support partner, what you’ll be doing the second week is working out an action plan that works for you and your marriage and your business situation that rebuilds trust, keeps you away from temptation, and keeps you both moving forward.

I want to briefly tell you about a story of a guy named Jim. I met with Jim for several years for lunch, and just about every week, Jim kept coming to me and saying he looked at porn on his phone. I kept asking Jim, “What are you going to do about this?” “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll pray about it.” “Jim, you need to get a dumb phone, put an app on your phone, something. What are you going to do about this?” “Oh, I’ll pray about it. I’ll think about it.”

Well, after several years of meeting with Jim for lunch, I just said – and him staying stuck in that place and not being willing to take any action – I just said, “You know what, Jim? Me meeting with you is just enabling you. I can’t keep doing this. You don’t really want to change. You just want to feel good by sharing with me after you screw up.”

So we need a safe place to share, we need a safe place to confess our sins. But if all we’re doing is doing a “sin dump” and we’re not taking the action steps necessary to break free from it, then all we’re doing is playing games. That’s what I told Jim. I said, “You don’t want this”. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of guys that I have to tell them when I say, “You got to meet with another man once a week for the rest of your life or you got to take these action steps”, I get the deer in the headlights look. I’ll tell them, “You don’t really want this. You just want some magic silver bullet”.

So during this course, we’ll be walking you through all these steps to freedom, into healing. Then in the next week’s episode, I’ll get into more of what these action steps look like in the course. So I’ll see you next week.

ANNOUNCER:

Blazing Grace is a non-profit international Ministry for the sexually broken and the spouse. Please visit us at blazinggrace.org for information on Mike Genung’s books, groups, counseling or to have Mike speak at your organization. You can email us at email@blazinggrace.org or call our office in Chandler, Arizona at (719) 888-5144. Again, visit us at blazinggrace.org, email us at email@blazinggrace.org or call the office at (719) 888-5144.