Pornography, Sex & Singleness

Thoughts on Donny Pauling (and a message for us all)

Thoughts on Donny Pauling
It’s late… way too late for this morning person to be up writing, but sometimes, your heart just won’t let you sleep.

You could call this a post I never wanted to write.  In fact, when I wrote my last post about victims, I fully intended (and still do) on writing a followup about the suspects.  Because, sometimes, unfortunately, those suspects are wrongly accused, and that can be completely devastating for them.

It was a new thought pattern for me.  I’m a victim advocate.  If a woman (or man) is brave enough to step forward and claim assault, then we need to be compassionate enough to believe them.  That’s how I feel.

But when you believe the victim it automatically renders the accused guilty, which can be a problem, especially if you know the accused, and especially if the accuser is wrong.

Just a year ago October, I sat in my pastor’s office, crying hot tears of anger.  Our church had recently “survived” a lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at the hands of some of our members.  During the member’s meeting summarizing the case, the lawyer had done a remarkable job of stating that accusations were unsubstantiated and improbable.  I could respect that.

Then our senior pastor got up and called the accusation lies, and all respect went out the window.  I sat in my chair trembling in frustration.  Improbable and unsubstantiated are understandable terms.  The accusations were nearly, if not over, 20 years old, so yes, that was completely understandable.  Calling someone a liar was absolutely unacceptable.

And then, two months later, my whole worldview got flipped on its head.  Someone else had been accused of having sex with a minor, and this time I knew him.

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Women & Pornography

A Voice for Victims: Speaking Up For Victims of Sexual Assault

A Voice For Victims

Every 107 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. (source)

It seems in this year alone, sexual assault has been all over the news.  From the UVa rape story scandal to the Josh Duggar incest scandal to Bill Cosby’s scandal, it’s simply everywhere.

Sexual assault is becoming a very real, albeit horrific, fact of life.

Should it be that way?  Absolutely not.  Is there one factor to blame for all of it?  Probably not.

You could blame pornography for being a wretched teacher when it comes to women.  Truth of it is, women actually don’t exist solely for the pleasure of men.  And we actually don’t mean “yes” when we say “no.”

You could blame the epidemic of fatherlessness, because when little boys have little to look up to, they have little to look forward to.

You could blame the Christian Purity culture for reducing men to nothing more than a set of primal impulses that “they can’t control” or conservative Christian culture for making a “man’s world.”

I don’t know who to point a finger at, but I do know who you can’t blame.

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Women & Pornography

When Should I Tell My Boyfriend About My Porn Problem?


“Don't worry about a thing,every little

If there were a list of top-ten most frequently asked questions from girls who deal with pornography, this would be one of them.  Through e-mail or in face-to-face meeting, many young women have shared their love for a certain Prince Charming, and then asked, “When am I supposed to tell him?”

The message from the culture around us is confusing.  Some suggest discussing physical and sexual boundaries on the first or second date.  Others suggest waiting until you are engaged or married to discuss anything sexual. Then, there are still others who suggest never telling him at all… ever.

So let’s look at each of these options, because really these seem to be the only ones:

  1. Tell him right away
  2. Tell him when you are engaged/married
  3. Never tell him at all

Tell him right away?

I could not tell you the exact source, but I believe I heard it while I was in college taking a class on Biblical womanhood. Wherever the context, I distinctly remember the content.

A woman, now married, shared about her first date with her now-husband.  During their first date, he said to her, “I am saving myself for marriage and looking for a girl who is doing the same.”  This led to a candid discussion about their sexual history (or lack thereof). Mind you, this was their first date.  The take home lesson according to the speaker was to get that kind of stuff out of the way first.

To some extent, that makes sense, especially if we are talking about expectations.

Sexual expectations and boundaries definitely need to be discussed early in a relationship.  Sexual history, on the other hand, does not.

Sexual expectations and boundaries have to do with how you are going to interact with each other.  Are you both waiting for marriage or does he expect to be in bed with you by date #3?  This is important to know and cannot simply be assumed.  Are you ok with PDA but he is not?   Again, important to know.  Your past with pornography, or sex, or masturbation (and for that matter, his past with the same) do not need to be tackled right away.

Now, perhaps I’m not the best person to be writing about this, because for me, my past has to come up at the beginning.  It usually goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m Guy!”  (Said with a heavy French accent, obviously)

“Hello, Guy, I’m Jessica.”

“Jessica, what do you do for a living?”

“Well, I work full-time, go to school, and write.”

“A writer?!  Really, what do you write about?”  (Poor unsuspecting soul)

And such is the beginning of the end.

In mere seconds, I morph from potential Proverbs 31 material to the Proverbs 5 harlot and the young men flee. So, I completely understand the fear that comes with this confession.  I understand trying to walk the tightrope of “I want him to get to know me first” and “I want to be honest with him.”

We can tend to view ourselves as damaged goods and feel the need to give full disclosure.  It’s important to remember, though, you are not a used car for sale in a lot.

Think of any of the friendships you have.  Part of the process of building that relationship is getting to know the other person, and it’s not like a job interview.  We don’t walk around with social portfolios and window stickers listing all of our strengths, weakness, daddy issues, and sexual mileage.

Beyond that, sex is intensely intimate.  It is one thing to say, “I’m waiting until marriage.”  It is a completely different conversation to discuss my past sexual failings.  If we are supposed to be guarding our hearts, sharing the most intimate hurts of our hearts right away is not the wisest choice.

Bottom line:  Do not torment yourself thinking that you have to tell him over coffee.  Let him get to know you first.  You are not “a porn addict.”  You have a name.  You are a person.  Let him get to know the person.


Wait until you’re married?

Two words for this: bad idea.  In fact, if I were to have to pick between telling Prince Charming right away and waiting until after we say “I do,” I would tell him right away.  I have seen it so many times in e-mails sent to me from wives who watch porn.

The story line always seems to go:

She did not want to tell him right away, so she decided she would wait until they were married.  They go through premarital counseling and she mentions nothing of it.

They say “I do” and live happily ever after get to their honeymoon and she realizes that she’s in trouble.  Her own mind and heart are wreaking havoc.  She is struggling to be turned on by her husband.  She thought marriage and sex would make it better, but it hasn’t and now she’s frustrated, and he’s frustrated, and she’s terrified to tell him because she’s afraid he might leave.  So now it’s a big ugly secret, and she sneaks into the guest bedroom to watch some porn to turn her on so she can at least fake it with her husband.  She is afraid he’ll leave if he finds out, so the intimacy is shot on all levels- physically and emotionally.  The thing she kept secret because she was so afraid would ruin their relationship has now done exactly that because she kept it a secret.

I admit it, I’ve never been married, but unless you’re planning a surprise anniversary trip, it seems safe to assume that secrets are bad.  In this case, very bad.

If there is one thing you need to understand it is that porn addictions thrive in fear, dishonesty, and mistrust.

Which is why option 3 is also a terrible idea.

I have ministry partners who will argue this, but I say you definitely need to tell him, and not because he needs to know but because you need to know he knows.  Until you tell him you are always going to wonder what will happen when he finds out.  Confession is not about accurate advertising.  It is about honesty in a relationship. You need to tell him so you don’t end up like that wife who is terrified he will find out.  He does not need to know, but you do need to tell.

If not then, when?

So if, it’s not first date conversation and should be taken care of before the wedding, when?

There is no hard and fast rule that says, “On date number 5, you need to discuss your porn addiction with him.”  Sorry.

Instead, let me give you some thoughts.  Tell him:

1. When you know he can be trusted.

If you have been great friends for 10 years, then you might talk with him about it sooner than someone who met her Mr. Maybe online and is still carrying mace to every date.  This is a very vulnerable issue, so make sure that you can trust him.  Trusting him does not mean you are positive he will stay with you.  Trusting him means that you are positive he won’t use this against you.

2.  Before you say “I do.”

Telling him before you say “I do” is definitely hard.  I’ve walked with many friends through that moment and it’s been one of the hardest in their relationship.  They describe it as a moment when you just hold your breath and wonder if your relationship will survive the bomb you just set off.

Some have had this conversation before they got engaged, others have discussed it during the appropriate time in premarital counseling.  One is not necessarily better than the other.

3. When there is plenty of time to talk

Here’s what we like to do, ladies.  We like to drop bombs on people when we do not have enough time to stick around to watch the fall out.  We will strategically schedule potentially uncomfortable conversations so that we have an excuse to leave early.  We even do this with first dates.

Guilty as charged.  I actually recommend to my friends to have their first date on Thursday night (or Monday-Wednesday), so that, if all else fails, they can use work in the morning as an excuse.

We turn down dates via text.

So, I can see the wheels turning in some of you.  You are trying to figure out how to tell him in the way that is safest and most convenient for you.  Maybe you can text him.  Maybe a letter?  Maybe just dump him and save yourself the trouble.


Whenever you decide to have this conversation, let it be whatever conversation it needs to be.  I’ve had it be a simple, “Meh whatever” five minute conversation and I’ve had it be a deep back-and-forth conversation that has gone on for a couple hours.  Give yourself that time.  And if you’re not ready to give that kind of time, then you are not ready to tell him.  You either don’t trust him or the relationship is not far enough to merit this kind of investment.

This is a tough conversation.  It is an intimate conversation and it needs to happen, but there is no rush.  Wait until the time is right, and then trust, not only him, but your Redeemer.  The man may be confused, hurt, or even frustrated. However, if he’s a man after God’s heart, eventually, you will be met with grace, and your relationship will be deeper, stronger, and more secure because of it.

Sex & Singleness

Christians & Ashley Madison


Christians and Ashley Madison

When the news broke about Josh Duggar’s membership on Ashley Madison, I honestly cannot say I was surprised.   My heart absolutely broke for Anna and those kids, but the fact that Josh had made these choices did not surprise me.

No, I don’t just assume that every man goes out looking for an affair, or that every man would pay money to try to find one.  But given his history and how his family reacted in the course of that history, it could almost be expected that he is addicted to pornography and being unfaithful to his wife.

It’s also not surprising that he reportedly listed the following in his “wants” on his Ashley Madison profile:

“Experimenting with sex toys”

“Sex Talk”

“Naughty Girl”

“Girl Next Door”

Can we talk about sex for a moment, here?  No, I mean, seriously, can we just talk about sex.  It’s not like it’s a big secret.

But, there are still groups of people who act like sex is some big secret.  The problem with acting like sex is some big bad secret is that you end up with people who are, essentially, sexually dysfunctional, afraid to embrace their desire, and slinking away to sites like Ashley Madison where they can crave all they want and at least feel normal.

In fact, if I were allowed to guess, my guess would be that many of the users on Ashley Madison are conservative Christians.  Here’s why: Continue Reading…

Sex & Singleness

Why I Don’t Support Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Let me preface this by saying I am nearly 30 and still a virgin, so this is not an attempt to justify or pass blame off for adolescent (non-existent) sexual escapades.  This is an attempt to change the way we talk about sex and abstinence, because while I may be nearly 30 and still a virgin, my abstinence-only sex education classes have little to do with that.

I remember my first sex ed class.  One hundred of my seventh grade classmates and I piled into the choir room and sat facing our guest speaker.  He was a bespectacled nurse who was either socially awkward or intimidated by a room full of prepubescent Jr. Highers.

His presentation, as I remember it, was filled with very little “education” as far as how sex worked and a lot more stories of 101 ways sex can go wrong.  There was the list of STDs, the unwanted pregnancies, the girls who bled to death after losing their virginity and the couple who tried to make love on a hardwood floor on a snow day.

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Pornography, Pornography Addiction, Women & Pornography

The Heart Behind “The Heart of the Matter”

Within moments, there will be an online screening for “The Heart of the Matter,” the documentary I was asked to interview for back in May 2012.  It was released while I was away on hiatus, and I have yet to see the finished product, but I came across a scathing review of it.

The review, from a self-proclaimed “porn loving feminist,” detailed the shame in the film.  So much shame, from the gray backgrounds to the single chair in the middle of a barren room.  Our interviews talked about shame.  She honed in on mine in particular and said that if I could just get rid of my shame, I could join her and her progressive feminist friends (apparently progressive feminist is synonymous for “women who like watching porn”).  Her point was that the film simply showcases a toxic culture of shame in the church.

That was exactly the point.

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Lust & Fantasy, Pornography

“Teach Men Not to Rape” and #TakeDownThatPost

It is not often that I write addressing current events.  They can be so volatile and slathered in opinion.  One poor choice of words and you bring the wrath of a politically-correct American democracy crashing down on your head.  So, yes, I keep my little voice out of the big fight, perhaps more often than I should.

This week though, I just do not feel I can remain silent, because the effects of porn have been all over my news feed.

From a college porn star bemoaning the fact that she gets no respect now, to the outcry at Miss USA, to a large Christian publication’s story in which they allow a child abuser and sexual predator to spin his interactions with a minor as if it were just an affair.  #TakeDownThatPost is sprinkled all over my Twitter.

And my heart seriously could not take it anymore.  This all, in my mind, has one root problem- sin, yes, but more specifically, porn.

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Purity & Freedom, Women & Pornography

When Confession Costs You a Friendship

Michelle and Alexi had been best friends for years.  It seemed natural that they would be roommates in college.  So, off to college they went together- home away from home.

But Alexi was harboring a secret.  She was struggling with porn.

After months of silence, Alexi finally gathered the courage to confess to Michelle.

And then everything changed.

When Alexi e-mailed me, Michelle was distant.  Alexi felt she was being treated differently and she was disappointed in her friend for not being there for her.  This was the time she needed her the most.  Now what was she supposed to do?

It is a situation many of us dread: we confess and someone just walks away.  What do we do?

Is the risk worth it?

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Purity & Freedom, Women & Pornography

Choosing the “Right” Accountability Partner

If you are ‘in the market’ for an accountability partner, it can feel a lot like, well…. dating.

No, I am not kidding, and if you read the e-mails I receive from readers, you would know I am not kidding.

Maybe this whole accountability thing is not a big deal to men. At least we women do not picture it being a big deal to the men among us.  After all, porn is just a given, right?

Guys have it so easy, we think.  There is this universal understanding that guys struggle with porn, as if it is an effect of the Y chromosome.  Whenever we hear a man talk about ‘sin’ in his life, what do we all immediately think?  I know I am not the only one who immediately assumes it is a sexual sin of some sort.  I am not saying that is fair (because is it is not), but that is how we can perceive the male experience.

We picture men having a conversation about porn like we might have a conversation about shoes:

I have a confession to make.  I have 20 pairs of shoes.

Girl!  Me too!

(Come to think of it, that might actually be true for me.)

We picture that confession being met with nods of agreement and manly side hugs of understanding.  “It’s OK, man.  We have all been there.”  Then, they all pray together, text each other throughout the week, install accountability software and ask each other tough coded questions like, “How’s your walk?”

We women look at that and think, “I want accountability like that.”  

The “I struggle with porn” conversation is not quite as casual for women, at least it does not feel that way.  Instead of feeling like a conversation about shoes, it can feel more like confessing to being an ax murderer.  You just have to be careful who you tell, right?  Right!?

Well, maybe not…

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Purity & Freedom, Women & Pornography

Steps to a Steady Heart

It is time (finally) to pick back up in the Trigger series.  In case you are new (or in the likely and totally understandable event that you cannot remember what I wrote about five months ago), let me get you up to speed on what exactly we are talking about.

Have you ever been doing just fine in your walk on freedom only to suddenly find yourself knocked over by failure?  One moment you are doing fine, even better than fine- you are doing great.  By the end of the day, though, you have fallen and fallen hard.  What is worse is you do not even seem to care.

How did that happen?  What makes some days harder than others or some temptations easier to resist than others?

I can sit in a car alone with a man and not even think twice about it, but smelling a certain lotion can start a battle.  Why?

Well, the answer is triggers.  We all have different triggers, and I break them down into four different areas: triggers of the soul, triggers of the heart, triggers of the mind, triggers of your strength.

Right now, we are talking about triggers of the heart.

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