Here we are three years since the conception of Clean Heart and as I consider the many topics to write about for the first official blog entry, I think about the many men who have come to Clean Heart one, two, three times or so and stopped, and those on the fringe talking with us weekly and contemplating actually attending, but time and time again finding reasons not to.
So why not address a few reasons for not joining the team by answering the questions of, “can’t I live a life of integrity in a sexualized world without going to Clean Heart?,” “Is coming to Clean Heart worth the risk of my wife finding out about my issue(s)?,” “what happens if someone at church see’s me walking into or coming out of the Clean Heart room?”
These are legitimate concerns and ones I worked through when God first spoke to my heart about starting Clean Heart. After the desire to have a group like this was presented by Pastor Don Verdell, I wondered if I really needed to lead this type of a group. I thought about how Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.” But I am indeed saying to you that everyone who looks at a woman to want her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mathew 5:27-28), and I knew I was not living up to this and could never even come close without a group like Clean Heart.
As far as the risk of my wife finding out, this did not concern me. My wife and I have always had open communication. What concerned me the most, was people making assumptions about me and possibly treating my wife or daughters differently because of their misconceptions. I then thought whatever my issues were, what people need to see is that I am working on them. Besides there is no one without sin and in God’s eyes sin is sin, as has been pointed out in Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. He pointed out that both the younger and older brothers had sinned and needed a savior; therefore, if someone has a problem with me leading Clean Heart they need Christ as much as I do.
So let’s consider some statistics as provided by purehope.com:
70% of 18 to 24 year old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month. 66% of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography. (First-person: the culture of pornography, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Baptist Press, 28 December 2005.)
According to pastors, the 8 top sexual issues damaging to their congregation are: 57% pornography addiction, 34% sexually active never-married adults, 30% adultery of married adults, 28% sexually active teenagers, 16% sexual dissatisfaction, 14% unwed pregnancy, 13% sexually active previously married adults, and 9% sexual abuse. (More Sex, Please. Christianity Today International, Winter 2005.)
According to 2004 IFR research, U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion). Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises. The pornography industry, according to conservative estimates, brings in $57 billion per year, of which the United States is responsible for $12 billion. (Internet Pornography and Loneliness: An Association? Vincent Cyrus Yoder, Thomas B. Virden III, and Kiran Amin. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, Volume 12.1, 2005.)
Sexual Sin is a problem and I am sure that many men realize they have certain “issues” but tell themselves that their “issues” aren’t all that bad, but again and again they find themselves asking God for his forgiveness and hoping there are no real consequences for their behavior. If you are wondering what you are going to tell your wife when you let her know you are coming to Clean Heart, consider what you will tell her when you are caught. If God is speaking to your heart right now, he is offering his grace to you. Wouldn’t you like to respond while it is only God speaking to you? God will continue to offer you grace, but eventually it may come in the manner he has offered it to Tiger Woods, or the “Joes” that are shown on local news, or your wife or child finding your browser history. The toughest step is the first one, let’s start that journey
If you feel as though you need to respond, start now. Ask God for his help , then send us an email and tell us that Clean Heart is a place you need to be, and this Tuesday join us. It may seem impossible right now, and there may be times in the future you may find yourself feeling as if this fight is impossible, but if you allow God to work in you and you do your part, a life of integrity in a sexualized world is possible.