“I experienced tremendous success, accolades, rewards, etc. in all sorts of areas of life and yet, at the end of the day, even with all that success I still felt like a total zero. Is your “zero factor” doing you in? I was the poster child for “The Zero Factor.” (Today’s blog based upon a talk given by Darrell Bazell for Pastor’s Weekly.)
I was the leader of my high school youth group.
In college, I did an undergraduate and then a master’s program in Bible. I made close to straight A’s; I was at the top of my class.
I was hired for internships.
I had everything surrounding me look on the outside like I had it all together. But, at the end of every day I went home and believed that there was nothing there because I had an area of shame in my life that I had never exposed. I had never brought it into the light with others. That was my zero factor. (In an equation, if one of the factors is 0, the ultimate answer to the equation is 0.)
Unfortunately, that is a very common struggle for many, many people.”
Church surveys reveal that at a bare minimum 50% and often as high as 75% of men who attend church regularly and are actively involved, will admit to looking at pornography at least in the last week. But it is not acknowledged much less talked about.
- Most men wrestle with secret sins
- Sexual sins are most often hidden in Christian Communities
Pornography is very well hidden in Christian circles. In fact, sexual sins are most often hidden in Christian communities. Christians don’t go there; they don’t talk about that. Everyone sort of knows it is “out there” but are real resistant to talk about it.
Those attitudes compound the issue that sexual sin is one of those subjects that we cannot touch; we can’t talk about—we can’t deal with in the church. If our Christian communities are not a safe place to deal with these issues then what are we doing?
- Hiding destroys community and prevents the receiving of joy.
Addicts don’t make eye contact and they do not receive the joy that is being offered to them. This goes into all their relationships and especially the marriage relationship. As long as a man has the zero factor he has a filter and a disqualifier that prevents him from receiving what his wife or anyone is giving to him.
The real sad irony is that they are even more stuck than before.
Addiction runs rampant in isolation. When you hide among people you feel incredibly isolated.
- Internet pornography is more damaging than the pornography of the past.
There is a whole movement taking place among the 20-somethings of getting away from pornography because they are discovering that it is the constant use of pornography that is leading to ED issues! What that really boils down to is the individuals begin conditioning their minds to needing a barrage of variety so that one person is not enough. As a result of that they rewire the brain in some very dysfunctional ways.
Solutions: What can pastors and churches do?”
Create Safe Environments Without a “Sin Hierarchy.” Unfortunately it is very common for anything of a sexual nature to be seen as almost the ultimate sin. People struggling in this arena are somehow much worse than anyone else. Sin is sin—there is no sin hierarchy. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourselves. So if there is a greatest sin, it would seem to be the refusal or failures to love.
We Need to Model Transparency. This is where it gets really scary, dicey for pastors. The reality is that pastors are all strugglers as well. No, it does not mean that one Sunday you stand up in front in your underwear, but it is important at some place to be willing and able to talk about some of your own struggles, talk about places where your sanctification is still in process.
Churches need to TALK OPENLY about the tsunami of sexual addiction. The reality is that sexual addiction is everywhere. We have a pornographic paradigm all around us. My son is now 10 years old and he is right at that age where he is starting to notice things. Being in Lawrence, Kansas, March Madness is in full swing. My son is getting more interested in watching basketball games and reading stories on line. Yet it is amazingly hard to find him any safe place on the web to go and read a story on KU basketball that doesn’t have pictures of women that are barely dressed. That is the unfortunate reality of our culture and our life today. If we are not talking about it and dealing with it in the church context then we are leaving our people unprotected.
We Must Protect and Empower The Wives. I get phone calls, emails…I am bombarded every week from women all over the country, all over the world who have been devastated by the discovery of their husband’s pornography use or his use of prostitutes, etc., etc. One of the saddest things to me is how often these women have experienced their own churches putting it back on them in subtle and not so subtle ways. I have personally heard elders say things like, “Well, if his wife was taking care of him at home then he would not struggle in this way.” That isn’t true! In fact, I can’t tell you how many 100’s of men I have worked with one on one and groups over the last 12 years and every single one that I have worked with his struggle began long before he met his wife, let alone married his wife. So, we have to do whatever we can to empower women to know that this isn’t something that they just have to live with and put up with. This is something that they have an opportunity to address and to draw a line in the sand that says, you know, you need to get help or you need to get out of my bedroom. Because the damage this does to women’s hearts and their lives is …inexpressible.
We, as churches and pastors, need to provide good resources for both men and women. Thankfully, there are more and more good resources popping up all the time.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
What is critical to note is sexual addiction, pornography addiction, love addiction and those things, is not just a problem for men. It never has been, but especially in today’s internet age, it is becoming a greater and more common problem for women as well. It is real important that we provide resources, that we provide a safe place that people know that even if it is that they can see a pastor and they will know that they are not going to be shunned or shamed, but that they are going to have an opportunity to find resources and to find help and to find people who will walk with them on this journey even if they don’t quite know what that looks like yet.
What amazes me (Carol) is the help that relational joy gives but, relational joy is targeted by the enemy! He heaps on shame so a person will not make eye contact….what a vicious cycle!
Today’s blog is from a talk by Rev. Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly. Darrell Brazell is pastor of New Hope Fellowship, Dir. of New Hope Recovery Ministries. His specialty in ministry and work is in the area of pornography and sexual addictions. His ministry comes out of his own journey of healing and recovery and running groups for men a little over 12 years and working with individuals and couples through the recovery process.
Action Step: This week let’s take a ruthless inventory of our fears. What fears are keeping you isolated, keeping your struggle hidden? I read recently that the best way to conquer a fear is to walk right into the middle of it. My prayer for each reader who commits to facing off fear is that the Lord makes Himself known to you, strengthens you and walks with you into the very thing you are afraid of.
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