Clergy Fight Pornography (Opinion)

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Addiction, Opinion, Religion

Publication Information


Find full, original article here:
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

For years, the Rev. Bernie Anderson carried a shameful secret – one he feared would destroy his marriage, his career, his standing in the community, even his spiritual identity.

He was addicted to pornography.

Like many others facing a similar struggle, the pastor, now at Wasatch Hills Seventh- day Adventist Church in Salt Lake City, wrestled with his problem alone, praying it would somehow go away.

It didn’t. Never does, experts say.

The human costs of pornography have grown exponentially since the days of tattered Playboys tucked away in junior high locker rooms. In this digital age, porn peddlers belong to a multibillion-dollar industry, spreading sexual images for adults and adolescents to download onto their phones or to watch on big- screen TVs.

Smut finds viewers in every faith, ethnicity, age, gender, profession and economic status.

According to a Christianity Today survey, nearly 40 percent of Christian pastors are struggling with pornography. They seem especially vulnerable, due to their time alone, their legitimate use of computers and their fear of getting help because of the public nature of their jobs.

It is “one of the fastest growing problems in the lives of North American pastors today,” according to pastors “It has become such a common problem, that groups have formed which only exist to help ministers out of the entangled lives they find themselves living.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has created a system for helping people overcome it.

Five years ago, the LDS Church tapped Mormon therapist Michael Gardner to head its 12-step pornography addiction program. He says the addiction afflicts 3 to 5 percent of Latter-day Saints (about the same rate as the rest of the country).

“I’ve seen people lose everything,” he says, “their job, their marriage, their religion.”

Anderson knows those dangers all too well. One day, he limped through the house, hobbled with back pain that he attributed to the stress of managing a large Dallas church and a growing family.

But the problem wasn’t physical, he writes in his 2007 book, “Breaking the Silence: A Pastor’s Story of Going Public About His Private Battle With Pornography.” It was spiritual.

Anderson writes, “I had given in to my dark side and was headed down a path toward certain destruction.”

He was not alone.

“Adolescents are very curious about their bodies and this thing called sex,” says Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, an LDS psychotherapist in Chicago who specializes in couples counseling. “I know that masturbation and porn can be very toxic, but I would also say that flirting with these behaviors is a way for people to understand themselves as sexual beings, seeking to make sense of who they are and what sexuality is.”

For most people, she says, “it’s just curiosity that’s important and legitimate.”

Problems begin when the need becomes compulsive.

“My body seemed to have a mind of its own,” Anderson writes.

Find full, original article here:
By Peggy Fletcher Stack


Leave a Reply