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Escaping America's #1 Addiction

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - The statistics are staggering if not mind boggling:

  • The average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography is between the ages of 11 and 14.
  • 80% of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 have had multiple exposure to hardcore pornography.
  • There are more than 14,000 sexual scenes and messages on television each year.

Pornography addiction has risen to epidemic levels.  In doing so, it has destroyed countless marriages and families while distorting our definition of sex and sexuality. Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with filmmaker Steve Siler to discuss his new, hard-hitting documentary “Somebody’s Daughter”, now available for churches and small groups.  They tackled several important topics including how pornography drives people away from relationships, accountability, and why God does not always supernaturally take away an addiction when someone asks.

With so many documentaries on this sort of topic, they always seem to start with all the lurid and salacious imagery that causes pornography addiction in the first place.  Your film stayed away from that.  Was it a conscious decision on your part not to feature this type of content?

Here is the deal.  I have sat with pornography addiction survivors and watched films like that.  I can tell you that a lot of those images are triggers.  I said going into this project that this would be a trigger free documentary.  I don’t want anybody acting out because of what we showed them.  We are not going there.

Why do people feel shameful about pornography if they were never taught to feel shameful about it?

Isn’t that interesting?  I think we are wired to understand that intimacy is between a man and a woman – that we have an inherent desire for closeness with a real flesh and blood person.  If I were to look at a photograph of a woman and I start to undress her mentally, I am taking something from her without giving anything in return.  I think we instinctively know that it isn’t right.  There is something that is inside of us that is telling us it is not right.  Once we overcome this once it gets easier.  And now we overcome it twice, and on and on.  What pornography does is that it literally hollows us out and deadens us to the point where we don’t even realize we have slid this far down the mountain.  That is how you end up with a situation like the one we have now where PG-13 movies today are what R was five or six years ago.  We don’t even notice a difference.  Our society has coarsened itself. 

When people ask God to supernaturally take away an addiction such as pornography in many cases it does not happen.  Why?

I think that it is not that God can’t do those kinds of things.  One of the guys in the film asked God to do just that.  If God had made it that easy for him would he be sharing his testimony now?  Would he be reaching out to millions of people to share his story, be transparent, and be transformative for others?  I think that sometimes we want to make things easy for ourselves because we don’t want to face the pain of what we have created.  I think that obviously in the natural world that God has created our behavior to have consequences.  When people try to bypass those consequences they are trying to shortcut what God is trying to teach them. 

How does porn addiction drive people away from relationships?

The key thing is that pornography addiction drives people into hiding.  So, if it drives you into hiding it is creating a distance.  I like to draw from a couple of analogies.  First of all, if a man has been looking at pornography on a Saturday night, when he goes to worship on Sunday morning he is not going to be there with his hands up in the air and just completely open to God.  He is going to be sitting there wondering how God can even look at him.  He is going to be turning his face and lowering his eyes.  He is not going to be open to the Holy Spirit.  He is not going to feel worthy of it.  What we have discovered is that when you have a relationship with pixels or with a photograph it demands nothing of you.  A flesh and blood human being demands an emotional response.  The pixels do not.  And they won’t be in communication, conversation, or relationship with us.  I think that what starts to happen is when men are dealing with this secret the first thing they think is that if my wife knew she would leave me or she wouldn’t love me.  That just makes it even more important to hide because they are protecting themselves

Is it important to tell somebody when you are addicted to pornography?

Absolutely.  My feeling is that when you turn that light on there is actually a weight that lifts because this thing that you have been carrying by yourself, you are now getting help to carry this.  As my church, will you meet me with grace and not condemnation, with mercy and not judgment?  I would say we would have kicked David out of the Church.  So, if we are going to keep David in the Church we might as well keep people who are dealing with pornography in the Church too.  Why is this sin so much more unforgivable than the others?  It is the same thing with a wife, with a wife being able to say, ‘You know what?  What you did is not ok and I am not happy about it.  I may be angry about it for a long time but I am going to walk the path of forgiveness with you because I want to love as I have been loved.  God has forgiven me.’  It is also important to have accountability partners – getting other men in the church, men in a program, somebody that you can talk with honestly and who can look you in the eye and say, ‘How are you doing this week?’  Right away, if you are not doing so well you are going to look away.  But men need that accountability.

How can a person recovering from porn addiction be kept accountable? 

I think you need several hedges in your life.  You need a pastor to be accountable to.  You need a men’s group to be accountable to.  You need one man, a mentor-type to be accountable to.  You definitely need to be accountable to your wife if you are married.  If your wife’s favorite show is “Desperate Housewives” you need to be able to tell her that there are triggers in that show that could lead to a downfall.  She needs to respect that.  She needs to be your partner.  There are all kinds of ways on your computer to stay safe.  We need to make a choice every day that we are going to choose intimacy with God first and then we need to put those things in our lives that will help us walk that walk.

Is this film targeted at a Christian audience or more of a general one?

We don’t try to hide the Christian content.  As far as I’m concerned Jesus is the answer.  We are telling people that.  I think the film is profoundly Christian without being preachy.  That was my goal.  My goal was let’s not preach, let’s tell stories and if the story convicts it convicts.  However, in creating the supplemental music videos I can tell you that two of them were expressly created with the idea that this could show on any network television program.  We did this because we wanted to have some things that had a chance to make this a larger discussion.  Ultimately, if we are going to win this battle this is a secular issue … this is a cultural issue.  We have to convince the culture that this is morally wrong regardless of what you believe.

Final question, after people see “Somebody’s Daughter” what would you like them to take away with them?

There are two things.  I want for the men to realize that every woman is created by our Heavenly Father.  When we disrespect a woman we disrespect our God.  We also disrespect ourselves.  For women, I want them to have confidence that they don’t have to behave in a certain way, act a certain way, or look a certain way to please a man.  All they have to do is be themselves.  Be the person that God created them to be.  For the Church, I want it to realize that we cannot be afraid any longer.  We are never going to win anything or any battle if we fear.  There is no fear in Jesus Christ.  If we don’t act as a Church and act dramatically I truly believe that this battle could be lost in five to ten years.

* Some text courtesy of Music for the Soul.

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