Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14
A few years ago, a friend of mine who was a counselor at a church told me of a man he’d been working with. This man had been lying about his struggles with porn; when he exposed the truth to my friend, he kicked him out of his office.
When one of our neighbors, who was a Christian, discovered that her 14 year old son was viewing porn, she spanked him, adding humiliation to shame.
Years ago, before I worked up the courage to walk into a support group for the first time, I took a risk and told a retired pastor that I struggled with sexual sin. He angrily reamed me, saying “Just stop doing it!”
I’ve heard stories where accountability partners ripped their friend a new one when they shared that they’d binged on porn.
What’s going on here?
I have yet to hear of a guy who was verbally beaten into freedom from lust, let alone any kind of sin. Responses like this show why the church isn’t always a safe place for the sexually broken to get help – and why so many go outside of it.
Sure, there will be instances when a guy is playing games with lust and needs to be confronted, but even then, what is the approach that will best cause them to receive what’s being said?
When a man (or woman, for they struggle with sexual sin too) is hurting, shame-filled, and looking for answers, the last thing they need is to get blasted… or spanked. Approaches like this drive a man deeper into isolation and sin, which is the last thing we want to do.
Here are a few tips on how to walk with those who are hurting:
90% of helping others involves allowing the other person to pour their heart out. Hurting people need to know they’ve been heard, which requires effective listening. Sometimes just having someone that is willing to listen is all we need for encouragement. If the pastor I opened up to had just said “I don’t have the answers, but let me pray for you right now,” it would have made a huge difference.
I see this in support groups where a guy starts sharing and then another steps in and co-opts his speaking time. Allow the person who’s sharing the freedom to unload it all. If you’re one-on-one, same thing. Interruptions send the person a signal you’re not interested in what they have to say.
Asking the right question is a great way to help the other person take a harder look at himself, and what’s going on. It also shows you’re a good listener.
Be a safe person.
Safe persons keep secrets confidential, don’t slam others when they blow it, and don’t force their experience on them. I don’t know of anyone who wants to share the dark side of their life with someone who isn’t safe.
Let them blow off steam.
If they swear or say something that isn’t theologically correct in a moment of frustration, don’t start preaching. When Job expressed his pain he accused God of “destroying man’s hope” (Job 14:19), asked Him to “stop frightening me with your terrors” (13:21), said “I will surely defend my ways to His face” (13:15) and then questioned God’s mercy when he said “Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?” (7:21). Job’s three friends would have done great if they would have just let Job pour out his pain and frustration without attacking him.
Earn their friendship and trust before you start speaking into their life.
This takes time, an investment in the relationship, and plenty of listening on your part. Once you’ve earned their trust they’ll have an easier time receiving what you have to say.
Remember their journey is not about you.
When my counselor friend told me he threw the man who confessed lying about porn out of his office, he admitted that it was because of pride. Sometimes we take on the belief that if another person falls that they reflect our ability and reputation to “fix” them. God gets the glory when He changes people; whether they succeed or stumble, it’s not about us.
It’s amazing how a few well-placed words can build up another. “Thanks for sharing with me… it took courage to open up like you did… you did the right thing staying out of isolation… you’re on the right path; God is with you.” I know that when I’ve shared my failures with others and have received acceptance and encouragement that it lifted the burden of shame and guilt off my shoulders.
For those who are serious about finding freedom, a friend who is a good listener and can offer encouragement and wisdom is a balm to the soul.
You know where I blow it the most? At home, especially in the early years of my marriage. It’s so easy to take our spouse and kids for granted, forget they’re the most valuable gifts God has given us, and jump on them for the smallest, stupid things. Thankfully, God has done a lot of work on me here.
I believe that those who make the best accountability partners have experienced pain and Moby-Dick sized failures in their own journey. Such persons usually offer the most grace to others when they blow it. God uses our pain to fashion the humility that makes us effective listeners and encouragers.
His kindness leads us to repentance.
New Colorado Springs Support Group
For those of you in Colorado Springs, I’m toying with the idea of starting a Strength in Numbers group that would meet Thursdays at noon. Strength in Numbers is our Christ and grace centered support group for men who want freedom from sexual addiction. Email me if you’re interested in attending.
Also, if you are interested in starting a group in your area, I have free materials I can email you on starting and running a group. Email me if you’re interested.
More information on Strength in Numbers groups is available here.
It’s Not Your Fault! When Your Husband Blames You For His Sin
Here’s a new article on the Blazing Grace website for wives:
Take a look at www.blazinggrace.org if you haven’t visited for awhile. The site has been redesigned, with more changes on the way.
Also, our forums offer a safe place for those who struggle with sexual sin and their spouses to go for support and encouragement. Visit the forums at http://www.blazinggrace.org/forums/
The Road to Grace
The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction is Mike Genung’s book on breaking free from sexual addiction.
Topics covered include:
* Biblical tools for overcoming sexual temptation.
* Healing from shame.
* How to stop a masturbation habit.
* Dealing with the core issues that drive sexual sin.
* Understanding and receiving the love of God in the heart.
* Healing for Wives
* How to restore a marriage that’s been broken by sexual sin and/or adultery.
The Road to Grace is used in support groups, and provides plenty of material for discussion.
For more information and to purchase, visit www.roadtograce.net
Healing a Broken Marriage
It’s Just a Little Porn; I’m no Sex Addict
Sexual Sobriety isn’t Enough
The Destructive Force of Adultery
Winning the War in the Mind
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
May 2012: Why We Need Suffering
April 2012: The Forgotten Half: Wives of Christian Porn Addicts
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken and equip the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2012 Mike Genung