Love Month Feature: XXX Church

February 11, 2011

Sometimes love isn’t really love.  Sometimes, it gets messed up and it’s just dirty.

I knew when I wanted to write a month of blogs about love, it wouldn’t all be lovely.  It’d be some good things, along with messy, confusing, dirty things.  And I thought to myself, “Who deals with more messy, confusing, dirty things than anyone?”

So I got on the phone and called Steven Luff in Los Angeles.  You may not know him, but you’ve probably heard of the church he works with.  Steven leads recovery workshops with XXXChurch.  That’s the “porn church.”  No, it’s not an actual church.  But it’s a big network of people working together to fight a huge problem.  Just last weekend, over three-hundred (actual) churches nationwide participated in XXX’s big new thing, “Porn Sunday.”  I’m really glad to feature Steven today, and what he shares is really helpful, not just to deal with porn, but for everyone.

Oh, and for the first time ever, we are having a giveaway today that literally everyone wins.  All you have to do is keep reading.

First of all, how did you, of all things, become involved in XXXChurch?

XXX was started about ten years ago by Craig Gross.  A few years ago, I started a recovery program at Oasis Church in Los Angeles.  At the same time I was starting seminary, and those early experiences coalesced into Pure Eyes, which I wrote with Craig.  Getting involved with XXX was just one of those God things where everything came into place all at once.  Now I take care of the recovery side of things at XXX.  We have two main recovery groups in L.A. and Hollywood, and in March we’re launching an intensive weekend recovery seminar.

Can you give us an idea of just how big a problem porn is?  Some people probably think it’s just gross teenage boys looking at Playboys.

Craig went out to a church recently and had about 150 men fill out cards anonymously, telling what they’re struggling with, and the majority of them listed pornography.  I’ve seen statistics as high as 70% of men and 30% of women are caught in porn on some level. 

70% and 30%?  Wow.  Add that up, and it’s 100%! 

Or not, but it’s still a lot.  So, how do your workshops and ministries work?

Our recovery groups take a hard look at what is really happening in the physiology and psychology of the brain, what feelings, emotions and triggers are causing people to act out with addictive behaviors.  It’s not just the devil tempting you.  Your brain has a very real “reward” center that causes people to binge on all kinds of pleasurable addictions, and addictions change the brain in very real ways.  Once people can see their addiction for what it is, they can be free, and obliterate the myth of “compulsive” behavior.

We don’t like to say that recovery ever ends.  Once you’re in recovery, you’re always in recovery.  But we are all on some level in recovery.  We all put something before God.  By grace, we’re forgiven, but we always have to find ways to be complete in God rather than the substitutes.

What’s the most important first step people can take in walking away from porn?

People need to find someone they can trust to talk to.  The cure to any addiction is unconditional love.  The cause for so many addictions is conditional love; people or culture saying I will not love you unless you look like and act a certain way.  When you show all your darkness to a loved one or an accountability partner, it’s a dangerous moment.  If you pick the wrong person, someone who loves you conditionally, it can be damaging. 

On the other hand, we don’t encourage dishonesty with spouses.  Every week, everyone has to confess a lie or secret they’re keeping from their spouse.  Lies and secrets carry shame, and I encourage guys to be honest with their wives when they’re ready to be.  You can’t just deal with physiological causes of addiction.  If you’re not finding real ways to be loved in your real relationships, no attempts at behavioral change will be successful.

Is it possible to keep kids away from porn?  Is porn so ubiquitous that kids are going to be exposed to it one way or another?

Whatever you need to do to keep your kids away from any kind of substance abuse, do it.  Be as vigilant as possible.  Parents need to talk about it with kids, keep filters on their computers, and not keep computers in kids’ bedrooms, no matter how much it may keep them placated.  The correlation between every substance addiction and behavioral addiction is that reward center in the brain, and it doesn’t stop developing until adulthood.  If it gets messed with, the brain gets hardwired toward an addiction.

How do you feel about the attention or response the church is giving to porn?  How can churches be effective at addressing this issue?

It’s a touchy subject that no one wants to talk about, but so many people struggle with.  Many pastors aren’t equipped to deal with it, or are afraid of losing their members over making this a focus.  It’s really easy for the church to banish the sex addicts to the sidelines, even though churches will sponsor any other addiction recovery group.  But to me, a recovery group is no different from a Bible study.  It’s a place to share struggles and find God’s love.

So much healing can take place when it’s just talked about, not in a voice of condemnation, but just an acknowledgement that it’s out there, and people may be in a very dark place with it.

Okay, I told you that you already won something just by being here, so here’s the giveaway.  Exclusive to my readers, you can get any of XXX’s 30 day online recovery workshops for $20 bucks off.  Follow this link, and use promo code: TCONP.  If you’re struggling, this is the perfect chance to stop putting off helping yourself.

Seriously, I want to help get this resource to as many people as possible.  Even if you can’t use a workshop, please tell people about it – tweet it, Facebook it, tell your friends, church group, pastor about it and point them to the promo code. (I’d love it if you pointed them here to get the promo code, but whatever.)

If you’ve got a success story (of you or a friend) who walked away from an addiction of any kind, I’d love to hear about it.

14 responses to Love Month Feature: XXX Church

  1. I applaud Steven Luff for his courage and willingness to address such an important subject. I applaud you, Matty, for giving him a forum. I believe we need to talk about sexual issues publically. If we don’t deal with such problems as adults, how can we even hope that our children will side-step them. I pray, Steven,that God will expand your ministry and that many will experience His healing through his work in you and those who serve with you and through the support of others who are walking the same path.

    May God make you strong and courageous,


  2. This is good stuff. I’ve been porn free for about 3.5 years and a lot of that was due to the resources that I found on xxx church. It was difficult to access it from my ship, unfortunately (stupid filters!) but alas, it helped! I’m celebrating a lot of freedom now days. XXX Church is the real deal and is a big help.
    Dan Smith recently posted..New Bible Study on Base

  3. I ran across XXXChurch several years ago and have recommended their work again and again. When I mention them during sermons, referring to them as the Porn Church, I get a few gasps and then nods of understanding as I describe their mission. Good stuff.
    seekingpastor recently posted..Again and Again

  4. Excellent resource!

    I heard that having a computer in a location with a door raises the chances of abuse significantly for both men and woman.

    I also heard that couples with a TV in the a bedroom also increase the chances of abuse.

    It makes sense, but I was wondering if there were some stats for that?
    David recently posted..Fixing the Church from Your Pew! – Part 1 of Many

  5. Great feature and highlight, Matt. Something we as the Church have to talk about and deal with. Sometimes it feels like it’s all been said, but it really hasn’t and more people need to know there is freedom. Thanks man!
    jasonS recently posted..Light Friday Hit List- 2-11-11

  6. My Prayer to God,
    (Feb 11, 2011) Tonight Lord, I bring this prayer before your Holy Throne. I humble myself before your righteousness and state, I am a sinner saved by your grace. I don’t know how all of this is going to turn out, but I have put you first in my life from now on. I lay this prayer at your feet and put my total trust in you Father God. Through all this adversity, I know you are with me.

    I am a born again believer, evangelical minister and retired U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain who was a back slider. I have repented of my sins and come back to the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms from a Military Combat Tour. I let the situation with anger management cause several issues throughout my life and within my marriage. I have taken full responsibility for my sins, my actions and in-action to seek counseling prior, by the “Veterans Administration” VA for this crisis. I have even taken full responsibility for my wife’s negative actions throughout our marriage of 13 plus years. Lord, you know, it’s my fault for not upholding my part as the Christian Husband, Father, Pastor, Chaplain and Man that you called me to be. I have been in VA Counseling since late Dec 2010. My wife of 13 plus years and children left me almost two months ago. One week before Christmas. It will be two months this upcoming Sunday, Feb 13, 2011. She filed for a divorce on Jan. 3, 2011. I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel, except trusting in you O God. I don’t want to be divorced or separated from my family. Something you already know Father God.

    My prayer to you is this; God have mercy on this sinner saved by your Grace in Christ Jesus. Look with favor on my humble request to save my marriage. Forgive me God if I have asked anything that is to prideful. Or shameful. Or sinful. I bow down to you in mercy O Lord. My prayer is, you look at me as a child of yours, who is broken by his sin and is now going through this painful situation, due to his actions. And rightly so. Forgive me for my reluctance to put you first and foremost in my life and in my marriage. I have no one to blame but myself. O God, I pray tonight that you keep watching over my family as we are separated. Bless my wife and Bless my 11 year old Daughter and my 10 year old Son. Give me your ear O God. Let me draw close to you.

    I humble myself before you Father. My heart is still torn apart. But you already know this. Lord grant me your peace, and touch my heart through all of this mess that I have caused. Holy Spirit please comfort and guide me in this time of heartache that I have helped create. I pray in Jesus Holy Name that my prayer in some way, some how, some form, will be a sweet offering and blessing that will be fulfilled and honored by you, Heavenly Father. I don’t know how all this will turn out God. But you do. I am at a crossroads in my life. But you already know this as well. In all of this stress, I am being tested in this time of trial and tribulation. The devil has come at me from all angles, attacking me and using his deceitfulness to try and peel me away from you Father God. He has tried to stray me away with every argument and evil tactic. I ask for your Holy Angels to comfort me, protect me, minister to me and watch over me during this time of temptation. Heavenly Father, you know my heart and my soul. You know that myself and my wife are Christians but have not lived accordingly as you have called us to be throughout our marriage of almost 14 years. We have lived partly for you and the rest in sin and I repent of that in Jesus Name. I can only hope and trust that my prayer does not go void or on dull ears. I have faithfully sought you Father on my knees, knowing you and your loving presence are in the midst of all this. I am asking for your grace and a miracle to grant my request, that reconciliation, healing, transformation and love be restored for my marriage and my family. I am praying for my wife to start talking to me once again. It’s been almost 8 weeks since she stopped talking to me. I know that I have self inflicted most the causes that has drawn me to this point. I have taken responsibility for those “sins” and actions. I also recognize that you Lord, can intervene by stopping anything in this world, including the divorce, if it be your Holy Will. I pray that you Lord Jesus, will plant and surround witnesses for my wife to see, that her husbands words do speak love. Showing her, that my words are not just that anymore. That they are actions resulting in movement towards wholeness and hope in Christ Jesus. Show her by your holy means O God, that I am seeking help and support for my issue through the VA and most importantly, through you heavenly Father. Through all the emotional drama and turmoil I have created in my family, Father, help me show my loved ones that I am working through these issues and gaining coping skills to overcome them. Present to her heart by your Holy Ghost, Father God, that I have totally surrendered my life to Christ Jesus this time. Thus, putting all worldly ways behind me and walking in your Providence. Lord, I know this is a tall order. I wouldn’t blame you if you told me to just shut up, sit down and keep quiet. I have come together with fellow Christians as the bible speaks and agreed in prayer that this be honored and answered in accord with your righteousness.

    Lord Jesus, I have fallen so many times throughout my 50 years of life. You have always been there to pick me up and put the pieces of the puzzle back together. I love and thank you for that.

    I know what the bible says about the faith of a mustard seed in St. Matthew 17:20-21 stating,

    He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” NIV

    I know what 1 John 5: 14-15 states,

    “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us–whatever we ask– we know that we have what we asked of him.” NIV

    (If it be your Holy Will O God)

    I also know what the bible says in St. Matthew 21:21-22 stating,

    Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” NIV

    I hark-en your love to have mercy and release the affirmative concerning my humble prayer request.

    As Psalm 37:4-6 states,
    “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” NIV

    I pray that I never look back O God. I don’t ever want to be hitting rock bottom again. I fully understand now, why it is important to serve and love you first. Father, have forgiveness on me for my doubt. For I have let the enemy cause conflict and negativity in my heart concerning this marital issue. Especially, during this time of my weakness. Let me be humble and say, I will accept your will, whatever the results. Please grant me peace in all of this. I know you hate divorce. I admit, if for whatever reason it does happen, I fully have taken responsibility for the cause of the divorce and it will be due to my sins. Please grant me O God, the faith to never cease following you and your will ever again in my life, no matter what the end result of this situation may be. Grant me your love in this life and never let me stop praising you ever again. Let me serve you always, putting you first in my life forever from this point forward. Out of my weakness through this despair and in all of this darkness, someway, I have managed to hold onto you.

    I thank you God for your salvation in my life. I thank you Heavenly Father for the change you have started to implement in my life through this struggle with anger. I pray my wife through some means will see it taking place. I thank you God for the closeness of being reconnected back into your loving arms. I have let go and turned it all over to you Father. I am thankful for this. I thank you for instilling in me, to put my total trust in you, to cease every obstacle of sin that I have held onto in my walk. I thank you O God for helping me to release all of my sins, confessing them to you in Jesus Holy Name. For receiving your forgiveness and absolution. Thank you for the wisdom to continue in my journey of wholeness, through counseling and the support of those you have placed in my path. I thank you for giving me the ability to forgive myself first, so that I can forgive others. I thank you Lord, that I can love myself as my neighbor, once again. I thank you for your anointing in all of this process. I thank you Lord for my Wife. I thank you God for all of my children. I thank you for the time spent talking to them on the phone, knowing they miss and love their Daddy and sharing with them that I miss and love them to. I thank you for the spirit of humility. I thank you for the spirit of honesty once again in my life. I thank you for your protection and guidance. I thank you for the chance, once again, to be refined in your love. I thank you for the direction you have me headed on the straight path. I thank you for this separation, because without it, I honestly don’t know if I would have drawn near to you again. Thank you for your peace that lives within me concerning all of this. Even when I am down, sad and depressed, I can witness to others, you are here with me and among them as well. Thank you for giving me the boldness to witness on your behalf again and not being ashamed of you. Thank you for giving me shelter, when I could have been homeless. Thank you for the provision of food, when I could have went hungry. Thank you for reassuring my heart, it’s going to be O.K. Thank you for stopping my thoughts of taking an action that would have been unholy concerning my own life. Thank you for my brother for taking me in, who I love and ask you touch his heart to come back to you again. Thank you for opening my eyes to seeing my faults and sins. Thank you for helping me put my pride down once and for all. Thank you for helping me to just listen, instead of having all the answers. Thank you for giving me love in my heart once again. Thank you for helping me with coping skills to handle my anger management issues. Thank you for helping me to share love once again. Thank you for giving me strength to pray for those who have come against me. Thank you for giving me a prayer life once again. Thank you for giving me patience when things have not went accordingly the way I had wished. Thank you for the uncertain times. Thank you for the times of silence. Thank you for the times I have felt your presence and have heard your voice in my heart. Thank you Lord for the heart to forgive those, who have not forgave me. I pray for their hearts to be opened and see in me, through your love, you are changing me. Thank you for your forgiveness of my sins. Thank you for looking after my wife and children and taking care of all of their needs. Bless them O Lord. Bless my Family and my In-Laws. Watch over them in your love. Thank you for the many Christian Brother and Sisters in Christ you have surrounded me with. Thank you O God for giving me insight for things I have no control over in this life, or can fully understand at the present. I ask for your continued peace in my life, hone me into your likeness and reform the clay of this 50 year old for your purpose and will.

    God, you know I love you. I am sorry and repent that I quit putting you first in my life all those years in this journey of my walk. My confession to you Father is, have mercy and redeem me from all my faults, thoughts and deeds that are not yours. Forgive me for taking you for granted so many times throughout my life. I would ask you to heal mine and my wife’s heart. Let me be an instrument of your peace and a blessing for your kingdom’s purpose. Let me be the Christian Husband, Father, Pastor and Man you have raised me up for. Use me in some form of ministry, that proclaims your love and salvation. Let me never again put pride over you and your righteousness. Let me show you with your help, what your prodigal son in Christ can do on your behalf.

    Lord have mercy on this prayer…..from a sinner, saved by your grace. A Husband who is separated from his wife and two children due to the stain of his sin. I pray for all those Combat Veterans and their families in similar or worse condition(s). May you heal their cause and hear their cries, before you ever entertain the thought, of answering my call for help. I pray for my father who is dying of stage 4 cancer. O Lord be with him during this time of suffering. I pray for him and his commitment that he has surrendered his life to you O Lord. I pray for members of my family and all those throughout the world that have not been saved, that by some means of your grace they will come to the Lord Jesus and accept Him into their lives as their Savior. Heavenly Father, may my request not be seen by you as selfish, but rather one, who blesses others through this humble penitent prayer.

    Lord I am looking for my Jabez moment. A double portion and an extension of my boundary for your will, not mine. I am asking for your supernatural power to answer all my request, especially the part about my marriage to be brought back together in Christ Jesus. The Healer, Savior and King. I pray in His Almighty and Powerful Name, that the divorce will be stopped and reconciliation takes place showing the world, that God’s love is above all things. That faith is truly the unseen element of God that makes unbelievers become believers.

    Even in my all brokenness, I dearly love you Father God and always will, because of what your son, my Savior Jesus Christ did for me at Calvary. He being, “The Lamb of God” was nailed to a cross and died for my sins. Sins that were mine, not His. He rose on the third day so that I, and the rest who has accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, will have life eternal. Nothing can take the place of that. Not even the possibility of losing my wife and children to divorce. God, you have given me so many gracious opportunities over the years that I have squandered. Lord help me to reach out and press onward this time to take those opportunities, if you offer them. Let me humble myself for your Kingdom, to share those gifts by talking with boldness, about the resurrected one who creates miracles in peoples lives. That’s the hope I have, because I know you still love this man who is crying out through this prayer request, who has walked with you and beside you for many years. Lots of times, I even tried to walk away from you, but you were always near, even when I did not want nothing to do with you. I have felt your Holy Presence among my life as far back as a little boy in First Grade. Use me O God from here on in, no matter what happens, I have you with me. I look at all my past sin and acknowledge, I don’t deserve nothing, but more anguish and pain in my life. Especially, one who knew the difference of your way verses the evil ones way. I ask you, look upon this with your mercy. Show my family favor if it’s truly your will by granting my request for reconciliation. I don’t have to tell you Heavenly Father, you know that I love my wife and my two children very much. O God no matter what direction my prayer takes, if given this chance or not given this chance, I will show you from now on, what you truly mean in my life. I promise I will lift you and your Holy Name up always and forever and serve you first in my life for the rest of the time you have given me on this earth. I make this solemn oath to you. I will never cease applying you in mine and my families life from hence on if you bring us back together. I guess that’s just about the jest of it all God.

    Lord, have mercy on me and my family. I know that line must be getting old, but I have no other response. In all of these tears I have shed the past two months, I know you have stored them up. As well, with my wife’s tears to. In all of my past and sinful nature, I know you are real O God, because you have picked me up and saved me from eternal damnation. The trail that I was headed down. So in all of this, I will bow down before you, giving thanks and praise to your Holy and Just Name forever. I am prepared to accept whatever you decide in my life and in this situation concerning my marriage, family and future. If it’s not my way, I will be truthful with you, it will probably crush my heart, but I know you will be there to pick me up and assemble me back together as you always have. O God if you see fit in the scheme of your Holy Will, I pray, you take mercy on my prayer, like no other prayer I have ever asked of you before. I really haven’t asked you a lot in my life, so with that said, I will leave it all in your hands.

    In closing, Heavenly Father, there are so many people hurting and worse off in this world than my mere situation. I feel I should be praying for them instead of my biased concerns. At times, I feel ashamed that I have kept crying out to you to intercede in my marriage, but I know you hear me.

    I have went about as far as I can go with this Father God.

    I claim this prayer in Christ Jesus Name and say, it is finished! AMEN

    In Christ+


  7. Kevin certainly experiences a lot of pain here. Sounds like he has an awful heavy burden to carry.

    As to the other stuff in today’s posting–WOW! What a great church fund raiser! Only costs $99 to get ministered to. We’ve been missing out. Our church only has bake sales and car washes.

    • Yeah, $99 ($79 with discount) sounds pricey, but consider that’s a month’s worth of counseling. You’d be lucky to spend that little on one session of professional private counseling with a licensed therapist. So it really is the “ministry” rate – cheaper than what comprable services would be outside the church. People pay good money to talk to a lawyer or an accountant. If you want good specialized counsel in anything, it costs something. The reason free clinics usually suck is that they’re free.

  8. Wow, great interview. Sounds like pastors should cut back the on sex sermons in church and maybe focus on this issue, which appears to have a bigger grip on people than we realize.

    Thanks Matt, for writing about the tough, not-so-feel-good stuff that a lot of people won’t.
    Annie K recently posted..The Hiatus

  9. Porn is such a dangerous thing, and a lot of men don’t realize that by engaging in it the human trafficking system gets funded and fed.

    I think a lot of men would stop watching porn if they realized how trashed and beat up a lot of the girls get in the porn business. And it’s all in the name of what? They don’t care about your pleasure or your happiness. They just want your money. It comes all the way back to money for them.
    Brooklyn Cravens recently posted..Visual Dungeon

  10. This is a great resource. Will retweet to get the word out.

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