Early in our marriage, Tim told me about a memorable walk home from school when he was just 12 years old. As he passed through the playground housed between the school and his home, he noticed something laying in the ditch. Picking up that trash provided his first encounter with Playboy Magazine. I have never forgotten what he told me that day. He said, “JoAnne, if I close my eyes I can still see that centerfold just as if I had seen it ten minutes ago.” It’s the closest I ever came to understanding the eyes of a man. Women just aren’t made to see it that way.
During my second year of college, I shared a wing of 2 West with a group of my now life-long friends. Some of us were quiet and conservative and some of us were loud and not so conservative. And we were all fun. One morning our portion of the hallway woke up to a prank from one of us who fell in the “not so conservative” category. She had slid a page from Playgirl Magazine under each of our doors. It was my first encounter with the magazine and if I close my eyes today…..I’ve got nothin’. In fact, if I had closed my eyes ten minutes after seeing the picture I’d have had nothin’. Men don’t understand that because they just aren’t made to see it that way.
And in this area of life, I’m simply thankful to be a woman.
The temptation, the 21st century availability, the lack of modesty in women in general all combine to nearly defeat a man before he can even get out of bed in the morning.
But that’s where my pity for you ends…because you are big boys….and big boys can act responsibly regardless of your “needs;” especially if you claim Christ. Or can you? Or maybe the question is “can you be expected to when it has become our epidemic secret?”
For whatever reason we in the church have chosen to ignore the secret; the very secret that lives in sanctuaries and parsonages. The secret that is destroying marriages. The secret that is objectifying women. The secret that causes men to live under horrendous guilt. The secret that sends families into bankruptcy. The secret that drives up the rates of rape and abuse. The secret that I believe is responsible for a lot of what is wrong in America today.
The secret. And therein lies the problem…
If it’s a secret, we certainly won’t hear about it from our pulpits.
If it’s a secret, we certainly won’t seek counsel.
If it’s a secret, men certainly won’t enlist an accountability partner.
If it’s a secret, wives certainly won’t ask their husbands if they are struggling in this area.
If it’s a secret…..then satan has the church exactly where he wants her. For, if it can be kept secret, the men will continue in the secret and be kept weak. And if the men are kept weak, the Lord will have no one upon whom to build His church. Read it for yourself. Men; real men, strong men, human men, sensitive men – they were the ones that Jesus was using to build His church. And when the eyes of our men – those eyes that lead directly to their souls – are used for a perverted version of what God called beautiful, that perversion steals the effectiveness of those men.
I can only really speak for myself when I say:
Husbands – I need you to be faithful men.
Male Pastors – I need you to be spotless and courageous men.
Young men who date my daughter – I need you to be strong, true men.
Without even realizing what he was doing, Tim threw open the door in our marriage when he told me his playground/Playboy story. Because once I understood more of how his mind works, I have known to ask him often about where his eyes rest. It was a huge relief to me that the door was wide open for discussion during those years he spent on the road, mostly alone. Thankfully, I have been spared the grief of this epidemic in my own home and I don’t ever want to forget to be thankful.
Wives, my advice to you is this: ask your husbands if they are struggling and get help if it’s needed.
Husbands, my advice to you is this: answer honestly and trust your wife’s instincts…always.
Stop the secret and you will stop satan both in your home and in the church. I dare you.
1 out of 3 men are in bondage to pornography. 1 out of 3 Christians. 1 out of 3 Nazarenes. 1 out of 3 pastors. 1 out of 3. Every age. There’s no such thing as someone who views pornography “casually”. It changes the brain. We better start talking about it.
While it is very hard for me to be this open in this format, I want my story to be at God’s disposal; so I hope my respone is understood in the spirit in which I am writing. As a man who grew up in a very disfunctional family where sexual abuse was almost the norm; I have struggled with sexual sin and addiction (the Biblical concept is idolotry on steroids) since I was a teenager. Telling the truth and walking in intergrity was a very hard place to arrive, but thank God I am here; because our heavenly Father, Who promised to finish the work He started in me has done what was needed to cleanse me, and keep me walking in openness and obedience. My precious wife is a wonderul example of commitment and grace, but she has suffered alone for many years of our marriage; this while I was serving in ministry. I am so thankful for the newness of life that comes when truth is told, and light breaks through darkness.
That being said: The church in which I served had no place to go and confess, or ask for help….. the doctrine as I understood it was that a long, heartflet prayer of surrender would sanctify me wholly, and I could be sinless in my walk for the rest of my days……. oh how I longed for that to be true. What is true is that I came to realize that I was being pursued relentlessly by the God who loved me unconditionally and WOULD NOT EVER let me go….. and He led me to a place where the issues that were once taboo and secret are addressed regularly form the pulpit; and help is provided for those who long to be free. I was gifted to find a church with a group of men who meet weekly to share the journey out of bondage and into wholeness and integrity….. For the first time after many years of preaching “when any man is Christ, all things become new,” I am experienceing that reality in my own life.
Thank you for bringing such a hard issue to light, my friend. God has gifted you not only with a golden handwih the pen, but a heart that breaks for the things that break the herat of Jesus. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!
Any chance you could install a correction feature on your blog…. I sure do need it right now….. that last paragraph shold have said “a golden hand with the pen” and “break the hear of Jesus”
JoAnne Hancock said:
I don’t think anything is accomplished when we live in secret places. Thanks for sharing your heart. I believe in you and Susan!
Phil Rutledge said:
As you commented, men and women’s minds work differently. IMHO since women react to words and feelings more than visual, romance novels that describe sexual encounters in graphic detail are just as pornographic. I picked up a couple of books from the shared book table at my Mom’s retirement center. These were not the obvious romance novels, they had decent plots, but in them they described multiple bedroom encounters that created an image just as clearly as a if they had a video. What is the difference? I am not defending male pornography. I grew up with 5 sisters and was taught to respect women. I just think we only talk about half of the issue.
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JoAnne Hancock said:
I agree with you 100% Phil. That’s just a different post in my opinion. I wrote this one because of the number of marriages that I’m acquainted with that are suffering in silence on this side of the issue. Perhaps if I would read “Shades of Gray” I would be compelled to write on that but I just can’t bring myself to do it because your comments are accurate. And don’t get me started on The Bachelor either. When our daughter was in high school “If I Stay” – now in theaters – was on her required reading list. We had just moved to this city and I found myself “meeting” (via internet) the new teacher before the school doors even opened. That book has a teenage couple excusing themselves from a family dinner table in order to have a sexual encounter in her bedroom. And this is appropriate in the classroom why? So, I’m with you. There just wasn’t enough space – nor was my heart impressed in that direction last night. This topic could be a series for sure!!
The door for that conversation has ALWAYS been a wide open subject because my husband has/still struggled with this very issue. But as he grew closer to the Lord the longer he walked he somehow now maintains self-control in this area. When he was in retail mgmt for the last 15 years he would often come home and “confess” what his eyes saw and how that affected him not only physically but emotionally to me. Made me love him and his heart for me.