Pornography and the Pulpit Workshop- Transcript

note: Members can discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE

Obie-host: Good evening and welcome to the latest workshop hosted by Christians in Recovery. Tonight our guest speaker is Richard Nevard. He is the author of “Pornography and the Pulpit: Understanding the Sins of the Shepherd as a Means of Restoration”

The book primarily addresses clergy persons who deal with this issue (according to statistics, 50-75% of clergy do!) and how the dynamics of ministry can actually be a precursor for sexual addictions. It also gives a clear biblical approach for denominational leaders on how to bring their fallen ministers through restoration. It is by far the most comprehensive book on this subject in print.Richard will be speaking about sex, love and porn addiction recovery….He will speak for about 20 minutes or so..and then we will open the floor up for questions for Richard.Please join me with a warm Christian’s in Recovery Welcome! Richard, you now have the floor.

rnevard_-_author: Thanks for having me tonight — I can see this is going to be fun. I was asked to start by telling a bit of my story. There’s an old saying — “let’s confess our sins – you go first!” I find people aren’t interested in hearing your advice until they know you have been where they are. You have to earn the right to be heard.

For me, personally, I was introduced to pornography when I was nine. I found a stash of my dad’s porn one day…Like poison injected into the bloodstream, it flowed through my soul long before I even heard the name Jesus. The behavior continued off and on through my childhood and teen years. I accepted Christ into my life when I was sixeen years old. But I really never committed my life to Christ until I was nineteen and in the service.

I was stationed in North Dakota, living in the barracks. I had no family, no close ties, no life-giving church — I was lonely and desperate to connect to something. Something compelled me to look in my roomate’s dresser, where I found his stack of Playboys. Immediately, my pulse began to raise and the blood pumped strong through my heart and brain. All I knew was there was this insatiable need to pick up those magazines and drink in those images.

For the first time I knew what it meant to have a war rage within me (1 Peter 2:11). I knew at that point my life was being forever altered.
“We know that the law is spiritual but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin…i do not understand what I do. For what I do not want to do, this I do.
When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. What a wretched man I am!” Romans 7.

I learned, as Paul did, that sin does not lose its grip on you when you give your life to Christ. All things became new, except my old sin nature. I wrestled for several months until I could get on the other side of my addiction and subdue it for awhile. But like all things fought in your own strength, the victory was hollow and short-lived.

I visited my addiction a time or two over the next few years..> until I met the woman who would very soon become my wife. Soon I was experiencing real sex with a real woman — I wouldn’t need those glossy pictures any longer — or so I thought. But sin’s reprieve would soon give way and pornography would once again exact its due.

I hated lying to my wife about this but how could I tell her? The shame was too great. Years of hiding my shame…how could I tell her? A few years later our first child was born, then another and another — by now there was too much to lose. I knew that if the truth ever came out, our marriage would be over — but because of the great shame, there was this emotional wall built between us. I could never express genuine love to my wife, because I was too wrapped up in loving me — sexual addiction is a selfish love. It also leaves the person emotionally arrested at the time when it first became an issue — I was emotionally immature.

For seventeen years she languished emotionally, never quite sure that i loved her. Over the years I fought my way to sobriety, until I became a periodic user. But every few years my attentiveness diminished and I became less vigilant and again the devil would find his way back with that poison.

When I received my call to ministry, I hope (albeit fait) was that I would finally find the freedom I desperately needed. For a good many years I stemmed the tide of sexual addiction — three years of study and four years or so of pastoring. I pastored a small church with a reputation for chewing up and spitting out preachers. My compulsive nature drove me to put everything I had into the work sacrificing my relationship with Christi and the boys — the only relationships that would nourish my heart and soul.

I put up with gossipers and back-biters and watched as my closest friends betrayed me. At the lowest point of my emotional state I checked my e-mails one day and found a picture of a naked woman opening before my eyes. Before that picture even finished opening, I knew I had lost.

Let me cut to the chase: I went out of ministry, taking a two-year suspension sought counseling. Christi, to my amazement, stood beside me the whole way. She has been my greatest source of strength through it all. There’s so much more to the story, but I think you get the gist. Why don’t I shut up for awhile and let’s interact.

Obie-host: Thank you Richard.It takes a lot of courage to share on this topic.Again, Richard is the author of. “Pornography and the Pulpit: Understanding the Sins of the Shepherd as a Means of Restoration
We now open the floor to questions. Who would like to ask Richard a question?

Paul: Richard, how were you able to tell your wife about your addiction?

rnevard_-_author: My District Superintendent put me with a counselor who made it a mandatory step. I tried for hours to form the words before they would finally come.

prowwler: Richard, what things have you found most helpful in your recovery?

rnevard_-_author: I had a great counselor who helped me to identify some of my screwed up thinking — he also got me hooked up with a 12-step program for sex addicts. Undoubtedly, my wife’s support played the major role – also seeing how far my sin had taken us. We were forced to leave ministry and friends and our five-bedroom parsonage with a big back yard and move into a two-bedroom apartment with a job that paid starvation wages.Every time I watched my family suffer, I reminded myself this is where my sin took us.

Patrick: Wow. I’ve been reading out loud to my wife, and we both agree that our story is very similar to yours, except for the ministry part. So, are you fully “recovered”?

rnevard_-_author: I have times that are challenging for me — especially when ministry opportunities dried up. After finishing my two years and receiving my credentials back, I tried for another two years to get back to ministry — but no one will give me a second chance. I have times of bitterness and times of feeling sorry for myself. When I do the “stinkin’ thinkin'” I leave myself vulnerable. I made a statement in my book that I hope to hold to — I may not always do right – but I will not do wrong!

Roadrunner: Hi Richard.It seems to me that God has created us with a sexual nature. We have built in responses to visual and other stimuli.If this is so, and everything is in working order, when does it become sin if these responses are operating as they have been programmed to do?

rnevard_-_author: That’s a great question and the premise of the first chapter of my book, actually — where does human sexuality converge with human sin. The Greek word eros carries with it the idea of human sexual love, but also a godly connection as well. The idea is that there are spiritual connections at play in sexual love. There is something deeply spiritual about sexual love, both positively when set in God’s designed pattern and negatively when we deviate from that plan. Sexual love in the proper context can become an act of worship. Worship is the celebration of the Creator and sex is the procreation of the creative process. God created sex as a wonderful experience. He could have made the process of having children as cold and meaningless as a firm handshake.

dlcnea: i am a female with a sex addiction.. is there a difference in the process.. of addiction with a woman vs a mans addiction?

rnevard_-_author: There is, actually. Today’s Christian Woman magazine recently conducted a survey where one in six of the women responded to be addicted to porn.The original definition of porn was “writings of harlots.” It discussed porn as not just pictures, but writings, like today’s romance novels. I was reading through some of my research on sexual addiction among women tonight — one of the main reasons for the addiction is the sense of power. Sex sells and sexual women control the market. While men are generally more visually stimulated, women are relationally. Any time an ideal person is set before you – in chat rooms or “chick flixs” or wherever, and you are looking to something better than what’s asleep on the couch — that’s porn.

Paul: You mentioned that you didn’t get a second chance in ministry. My fear is that when I open up I won’t find love or forgiveness but disgust, judgment and condemnation. Do you have anything that can help me.

rnevard_-_author: You definitely have to be selective on who you disclose to. The only way to have the power to overcome the shame is to get the sin out in the light. A counselor is a great start and when you find the strength, tell your spouse. Done

andy-co-host: How did your treating women (respect level) change since coming into recovery? done

rnevard_-_author: Before women were something to be used — At least during those moments when the addiction was calling the shots.As a Christian an a minister, I knew they were so much more, but my heart and the Spirit of Christ were not always controlling my thought patterns. Now I am able to think more rationally and appreciate women as a part of God’s creation, worthy of respect. Done.

Obie-host: What advice do you have for those who love a sex, love and porn addict?

rnevard_-_author: Walk with them — love them — but do not enable them. My wife, Christi, and I fought more of the night and several more fights erupted after that. But Christi had already decided in her heart that she would forgive me. I do not want to betray that love. But do not be co-dependent. Make them walk the path of recovery and set up barriers so they do not go back — or leave.Done

Obie-host: Ok, our time is coming to a close. Again, Richard is the author of. “Pornography and the Pulpit:Understanding the Sins of the Shepherd as a Means of Restoration”

Richard, thank you so much for taking the time to address our group this evening. We all learned a lot and would love to have you back again.