Women & Pornography

How Can a Male Pastor Help a Female Porn Addict?

You’re a man in church leadership and want to help everyone in your church, but then a woman comes to you and confesses a porn problem. What do you do?

If you’re like a majority of men in the U.S., you’ve been raised to believe that porn is a man’s problem. There aren’t classes in seminary that talk about female sex addiction. Promiscuity? sure! You could probably give an argument for modesty in your sleep. Pornography, however, is a “guy thing.”

Except for when it’s not.

So, when a woman sits across from you, e-mails you, or calls you on the phone, confessing to this “guy problem” what do you do? Because it’s shocking. It’s uncomfortable. It’s sex. It’s porn. It’s intensely intimate, and odds are you, yourself, have a history with pornography.

If it were a man, you would know what to do. You would have strategies, solutions, tips, and pointers. (If not, check out these resources here.) But when it’s a woman, it’s hard to differentiate between helping the wounded and being a “stumbling block.”

Is it really wise for a male pastor to counsel a female sex addict?

My answer would have to be no. I have several reasons for that, one of which being even if you aren’t in the 50% of pastors who have a porn problem, she has a problem. One of the pitfalls of her struggle could be emotional dependency. If she’s using pornography to meet some sort of emotional need or desire to be needed by men and you agree to counsel her, guess what you just became.

You just became her “porn surrogate.”

Now, instead of masturbating and fantasizing to porn videos, she’ll be fantasizing and masturbating to thoughts of you. You’ll think you’re making progress, but the reality is, she’s just replaced the porn with you. The moment you decide to cut her loose, she’ll be right back.  She might not even do it on purpose.

Then, there is the overall wisdom of a man who is essentially untrained in how to help female sex addicts being alone in a room with a female sex addict. Grant you, most female sex addicts aren’t going to attack you. This is more an appearance and accountability thing for both of you. It’s simply not wise to be behind closed doors with her talking to her about what genres of porn she’s into.

Can you still be instrumental in her healing? Absolutely. Here’s how:

Get some women on your team

Invest in the women of your church by enlisting the help of qualified women to mentor and help disciple specifically in issues of sexual integrity and addiction. There are trainings available through various counseling and recovery groups including Harvest USA. Soon, there will be a course provided through this site as well to help offer more insight in the struggle and what recovery can look like, so be sure you’ve signed up to receive e-mail notifications for that.

The most important thing to remember is you don’t need to assemble a team of former porn addicts. Find women who are simply willing to sit, listen, and lead, but who are also strong enough to put up solid boundaries, because those will be important.

Get some resources

There are a growing number of powerful resources available to you. Stock them in your church library. Share them with your women’s ministry team.

The top one I always recommend is Sexual Sanity for Women by Ellen Dykas. Others include No Stones by Marnie Ferree, Dirty Girls Come Clean by Crystal Renaud, Purity is Possible by Helen Thorne, and my books, Beggar’s Daughter and Love Done Right: Reflections.

There are also two DVD resources that I recommend- The Heart of the Matter and The Heart of Man.

Order a copy of  The Heart of the Matter

Order a copy of “The Heart of Man”

Even though the Heart of Man features a man, the story is powerful and women will identify with it. Plus, it includes an interview with a woman who not only struggled with porn but also struggled with same sex attraction. It’s a powerful testimony for women.

Break the Silence

This is the most important thing you, as a pastor or leader, can do for the women you lead.  You can break the silence on female sex addiction and sexual struggles.

It is also the easiest, requires little planning, and no funds. So, if you’re worried about assembling a team or buying resources, at least start here.  The next time you talk about pornography from the pulpit (because you need to be talking about it), simply use the word “and.”

  • Men and women struggle with pornography.
  • Parents, talk to your sons and daughters about dangers online.
  • Husbands and wives need to be accountable for what they watch.

It really is that easy. 

For too long, we’ve followed this train of thought that says, “Talk to the men about porn. Talk to the women about modesty.” It isn’t helpful and it is increasingly become less applicable. It leaves the women your community feeling isolated and ashamed.

Even just acknowledging their struggle is enough to give women hope.

It may give them courage to come ask for help but it can also cause some women to step forward and offer to help.

I had this happen at a church in Australia this past summer. I shared my story with the youth group. We talked about shame and strongholds and how God sets us free.  Afterward, one of the youth leaders came to me in tears.  No one at her church knew, but she was a former adult actress. She had been afraid to say anything because she didn’t know what would happen, but she realized that she actually had a unique ability to minister to some of the girls in the group.

All because a pastor was willing to start the conversation.

At the very least, be willing to start the conversation and point women to resources, even if you don’t have them. At best, have a well-equipped team of women in place who can work with women who come forward and provide hope for the journey of recovery.

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