Pornography and the Church,  Women and Pornography

The One Word Christian Women Struggling with Porn Need to Hear

What if I told you there was one word that Christian women struggling with porn needed to hear? Just one word that could help eradicate shame and set them on the journey to freedom?

What if one word could completely change the atmosphere of your church?

Could it really be that simple?

Five years ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Set Free Summit, hosted by Covenant Eyes and Josh McDowell Ministries. It was a gathering of hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders addressing the issue of pornography use within the church.

During my session, I shared about the shame experienced by a Christian woman struggling with pornography.

See, in our churches, too often, women are climbing ladders. In an interview last year with CBN, the producer said something like, “We have this image of Christian women as white and virginal.”

And I feel like that is true.

In churches, it seems you’re either the Proverbs 31 woman or the Proverbs 5 woman.

You’re either the perfect wife or the harlot. There isn’t room for an in between. There isn’t room for growth or struggle. You’re either a good woman or a bad girl. That’s it. You’re marriage material or you’re to be avoided.

So, you have hundreds of women climbing this ladder, thinking that somewhere at the top is the woman everyone wants them to be. The pastor’s wife who leads Bible study, plants her own garden, sews her own clothes, stays physically fit, sings in the choir. Whatever image your church culture has cooked up as being the “ideal Christian woman.”

And all of our women’s ministry events center around this goal of climbing that ladder. Led mostly by women who sit perched precariously on top of that ladder.

We have women’s conferences and talk about how to be a better wife. We have small group studies on the Proverbs 31 woman. Our break out sessions for teen girls talk about marriage, dating, and true beauty.

I call it “fluffy stuff.” It’s the tea party. The prim and proper dresses over the tight-laced corsets, with the dainty china cups and tiny little finger sandwiches. It’s delicate, stuffy, and all for show.

Now, I love tea as much as the next woman (correction: probably more than the next woman) and I have my fair share of china, but there comes a time and a place when the body of Christ has to be willing to tackle hard issues. I’m not just talking about pornography. I’m talking about the real issues women face, because honestly, “true beauty” is so 90s. 

We need to be tackling issues like infertility, sexual identity, sexual trauma, and other things that make grandma blush.

When’s the last time your church had a women’s event focused on healing from sexual assault?

When’s the last time your youth group girls had a break out session that addressed sexting?

For Christian women who struggle with pornography, frankly, this “tea party” dynamic is deadly. If your women are being overtaken and their hearts massacred, pouring some Earl Grey and talking about how to be a good mom isn’t going to cut it. They’re going to walk away empty and hollowed out.

Some pastors have asked me, “What kind of women struggle with pornography?”

The answer is “the kind of woman you’re married to.”

We make a grave mistake when we assume that the only women who struggle are the “obvious” ones. The girls wearing immodest dress who everyone knows are sleeping around. The woman who only attends church twice a year and divorced her third husband last Fall. Those women… obviously they have issues.

But what if I told you most of the women I hear from come from the top of the ladder?

They’re pastor’s wives, worship leaders, preacher’s kids, small group leaders, Sunday school teachers. And they are spending so much energy hanging on to those top rungs for dear life, desperately afraid of falling. They’re choking down the tea. In some cases, they’re the ones pouring it. 

If they share their struggle, what happens to them? Do they “fall from grace” and land at the bottom of the ladder? Shunned and disowned? Do they take down a bunch of women with them, all of those who (wrongly) “believed” in them. They’re stuck.

One word can set them free.

One word can topple that ladder for them.

What is that word?


Yes: and.


Do we need to start having women’s meetings that tackle more substantial topics? Yes. But it doesn’t take a district-wide conference on pornography to start the conversation. All it takes is “and.”

When you address pornography, you say “Men and women struggle with pornography.” Because they do.

Husbands and wives struggle with pornography.

Boys and girls struggle with pornography.

Parents need to talk to their sons and daughters about pornography.

When you use the word “and,” you destroy the decades-old narrative that says this is only a man’s problem and that we need to somehow spare women from hearing about it.

With one word, you reach into the hearts of women in your church who have been living convinced they are alone. It’s the first step in saying, “I see you. I know you’re there and help is on the way.”

Could a couple ladder-climbing, tea-cup-wielding grandmothers be really upset? Possibly.

But are you “destroying a generation of women and robbing them of their innocence” by simply letting them know that you know they struggle? No, you’re not.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 {ESV}

You don’t create problems by talking about problems that already exist.

Women in your church already struggle with porn. You aren’t destroying them by mentioning it; you are saving them from something that is already destroying them.

You’re “shaking the ladder,” so to speak. And people who have spent their lives perched at the top of it are going to be upset about it falling over, but there’s no grace at the top of that ladder. There’s no freedom at the top of that ladder.

What you want in your church is to connect women to the Gospel. You want to build bridges that connect them to grace, healing, and freedom.

Here’s the beautiful thing.

When you use the word “and” you send out a beacon of hope to women who are struggling. You start shattering the expectation that Christian women are all some sort of pristine and perfect specimen.

You start shaking the ladder.

When you shake the ladder, it falls.

When a ladder falls, it becomes a bridge.

That bridge levels the field, so to speak. No one is higher up. There are no pedestals. When sins are discovered or struggles confessed, there is no “fall from grace.” Instead, there’s a current pushing her toward it. There’s just the Gospel, and grace, and the news that sets every one of us free.