I get asked this question alot. A young woman struggles with pornography or masturbation and has somehow told a man in her life. “Phew!” She thinks, “That settles that!” Then comes the question, “Is this good enough?” The answer: no.
Male accountability seems easy for us women but it isn’t accountability at all.
When I was in college, I had a male friend who, for some reason, felt led to confess a pornography addiction to me. He told me over e-mail. It seemed the perfect opportunity to tell somebody about my own struggles, so I responded, “Me too.” That was the end of that and the beginning of a very awkward friendship. Even after that, I found it much easier to tell men, and have found that I am not alone. It would seem a lot of us are more comfortable telling male peers. Here’s a few thoughts about why.
There are more men in our spiritual world.
The Christian hierarchy is male. Most pastors are men, youth pastors are men, pastoral counselors are men. Get the picture? When you walk into the doors of your church, most likely, things are run and governed by men. Sometimes finding a woman to tell doesn’t seem like an option.
They ‘get’ us.
Pornography, unfortunately, is becoming an acceptable part of male culture. In society, it is praised and in church it is preached against. While there still is a lot of shame surrounding porn addiction, especially for married men, there is also a subtle understanding that many men struggle with this. It is addressed in books, rallies, sermons and on radio shows so we feel a sense of empathy from our male counterparts. While they may not understand our struggle, they understand what it is to struggle. We can’t say the same for most women.
They usually start the conversation.
Most of us are just waiting for someone else to bring it up. After all, it is much easier to say ‘me too’ than it is to break the ice by saying, “Hi, my name is Jessica and I am addicted to porn.” Since it is more common among men there is a higher likelihood of it coming up in conversation.
Still there are many dangers in having male accountability partners.
Remember that true accountability is intimate. It is not a simple, “Hey, how’s life?” That intimacy combined with the nature of this topic is a cocktail for disaster. There is danger in this for both parties involved, yes, even if one of the parties is a pastor. Summed up the danger is that you become each other’s pornography.
You become his pornography.
A couple weeks ago, I sat across from one of the pastors in my new church. I told him about my ministry and what I do and we dialogued back and forth for a few minutes about the importance of having women work with women on this subject. I said, “It’s hard to tell a man you struggle with pornography.” His response (and this was the first time I had heard this), “Yes, and that’s kind of a turn on for men too. If we hear a woman say she struggles it gets our gears going.”
I have experienced that with some of the comments here on Beggar’s Daughter, so I actually do my best to keep my ministry out of my co-ed life. I want people to know me for me. I don’t want men walking around thinking about my former sex addiction. I want to be able to have normal friendships and conversations with them. Do some of them know? Yes. Do I have discussions about this ministry (note: this ministry, not my addiction) with them? Yes.
But there is a difference between knowing and discussing, and there is a difference between discussing and being accountability partners.
He becomes your pornography.
Remember, as women, our struggle with pornography is more emotional. Many of us can be addicted, as one girl put it, to male attention. So, what happens when you spill your guts to a man, married or not, pastor or not, talk about sex with him and feel loved, safe, and protected by him? It’s a perfect recipe for breaking free from a porn addiction, and transferring all of that lustful energy to the new man in your life.
Now, instead of going online to view pornography, you fantasize about him. When you feel alone, depressed, and rejected, you call him. When you are looking for love and male attention, you call him.
Here’s the problem, freedom is not about getting out of pornography. If you get out of pornography only to get trapped in something else, you aren’t free. Freedom is about the victory won by Christ. It is about Him, and while men are great, there are times their man-ness can get in the way of our freedom.
That is why I encourage women who come here to tell a woman and have her be your accountability partner.
We want the abundant life God promised to us, not a life dependent on and damaging to others. I know it is embarrassing, and I know we don’t talk about it, but it is so important that we find true freedom from this, not temporary relief.