Pastors and ministers across Missouri are being held captive by something that is destroying them from the inside out. No one is immune – small town preachers, megachurch pastors, seminary teachers and convention leaders have been affected and publicly named. Our churches and conventions are suffering the consequences.
These men have something in common with a man I met a few years ago. When I met him, he was unemployed with little prospect of a good job. He was divorced, estranged from his children and none of his former friends would associate with him.
Just a short time before, his situation had been completely different. He was a man who truly loved God. He had been in the ministry for over thirty years. He had pastored the same church for more than 20 years. The problem started by viewing pornography on the computer. When the thrill of that waned, he sought out other ways to medicate his pain and had an affair with a woman. And then his world shattered.
I became acquainted with this man through an online ministry I was a part of that ministered to those suffering from sexual addiction. As I worked through the years and have trained to become a mentor, I learned a lot about my own issues, but I also learned a lot about the commonalities that all people have regarding sexual addiction.
When I started mentoring men who wanted to be free from pornography and sexual addiction, I expected it would be an outreach to those looking for Christ. But that wasn’t it at all. I worked almost exclusively with pastors, theological students, chaplains, missionaries and lay church leaders.
I came to realize that the missionaries, pastors, theological students and chaplains who joined the online program had nowhere else they could go for help. Those of us in ministry know how sensitive it is for someone to seek help for sexual addiction. For ministers, there is a severe risk to admitting and confessing a problem with pornography or sexual addiction. You would lose your job, lose your family, lose your friends and lose your reputation – just because you are trying to get help.
The more I delved into this issue, I came to understand how broad it is. Barna research shows that 50 percent of pastors use pornography. One in 10 youth ministers admit they are addicted. I fear that it is even worse than studies and research report, since it is such a shameful struggle that many are not answering the researchers accurately.
I know that this is not easy to talk about. It’s uncomfortable and it’s sticky. But we can’t ignore it just because it’s hard. The pastors of Missouri are being affected and our churches being harmed and its ruining pastoral families.
I care about pastors getting the help that they need. They’re never going to help their congregations if they don’t know how to help themselves.
And there is hope, there is help, there is healing for sexual addiction through Jesus Christ and His body of believers. I am very pleased that the Missouri Baptist Convention is starting the process to offer a lifeline to our pastors who are drowning and see no way out. At the last annual meeting, the messengers passed a resolution to study and provide safe, private and personal help for pastors regarding sexual addiction. The MBC invited Nate Larkin to speak at the Great Commission Conference. Larkin was a minister who suffered from sexual addiction and now helps men overcome sexual addiction.
I want to take this opportunity to offer a word of encouragement.
First, to men who are enslaved in the secret shame of sex addiction. I want to tell you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Even though you may feel beyond hope, you can take heart that there are many others who have the same struggles you do and have found freedom and peace. However, you cannot help yourself. You must get help from others to be free from this captivity. I invite you to visit my FB page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation about the process of overcoming sexual addiction. You will be safe with me. I realize this may be the first time you have ever admitted your problem and I will handle your contact with understanding and absolute confidentiality.
Second, I encourage the MBC to continue to be engaged in this battle. We have got to turn around and face the enemy head on with everything we’ve got because this is taking the entire church to the ground. Let’s not let another pastor, another seminary professor, another convention leader fall prey without doing all we can to save them.
We must give this our full-out attention. Pastors need to be provided an opportunity to get better. Let’s bring our resources together to offer help that is safe, private and easily accessible. If you are interested in being a part of a ministry to pastors dealing with sex addiction, I welcome your inquiry.