Grace | American Family Staff Writer
What do narcotics and pornography have in common? According to
Richard Young, assistant professor at Brigham Young University College
of Nursing, "pornography consumption can be as mood altering
and as addictive as narcotics." (www.firesofdarkness.com)
For many, such a claim seems unrealistic. For others, like Sarah
Smith, (not her real name) and her family, this devastating
effect of pornography is much too real.
While the effects weigh heavy on Sarahs family, she admits,
"I dont know if we have dealt with the reality of this.
We have all been trying to process the illness for years now. As
far as the divorce, it is still so fresh. We are simply trying to
get through it." Sarah speaks of her familys present
situation resulting from her fathers addiction to pornography.
Christian homes not immune
Family Safe Media reports that pornography is a $57 billion
business worldwide and a $12 billion business nationwide. Thanks
to an industry with revenue larger than combined revenues of ABC,
CBS, and NBC and larger than combined revenues of all professional
baseball, basketball, and football franchises, what was once a "Beaver
Cleaver" family is no more.
"We had lots of high standards and values that we were taught
and expected to live up to. We always ate dinner together around
the table every night no matter what was going on. This is the family
time that I grew to love and hope for my own someday," Sarah
said of her Christian upbringing.
Unfortunately, Christian homes are not immune to the pornography
plague. According to Family Safe Media, as of 2003, 47% of Christians
admit pornography, in the form of adult Internet porn sites, is
a significant problem in their homes. In comparison, 47.78% of families,
in general, identify pornography as a problem in their homes, as
evident from a 2003 poll taken by Focus on the Family and reported
by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families
Knowing who can be affected by pornography is almost as shocking
as the effects. Surprisingly, the porn addict does not have to be
the stereotypical degenerate found in the aisles of a back-alley
"I wasnt some guy hanging out in bars, or a bum. I wasnt
a pervert in the sense that people look at somebody and say, I
know theres something wrong with him," said the
late Ted Bundy, infamous serial killer. He made these remarks in
an interview with Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family,
just hours before his execution.
"I was a normal person. I had good friends. I led a normal
life, except for this one, small but very potent and destructive
segment I kept very secret and close to myself," Bundy said.
For Sarahs father, the same potent and destructive segment
was well kept from his children, at least for a while.
As Sarah grew up, her father was a deacon, businessman, sports
coach, and "the fun one of our parents." He served on
community and church leadership committees. She always looked to
him for coaching tips, fun stories, laughs and adventure.
"He seemed to balance my relationship with Mom so well."
Unfortunately, the balance began to teeter soon after the computer
and Internet entered the Smith home.
"I discovered sights that had been visited that had words
in them such as photos, bikinis, and many objectionable phrases,"
As a deterrent to the inappropriate Internet searches, the family
switched to a filtered Christian Internet service. Unfortunately,
the Christian filter did not filter everything.
In addition to Mr. Smiths accessing porn from the Internet
at home and work, the family soon realized the Internet was not
his only means of fulfilling his desires.
Although Sarah learned of her fathers illness about four
to five years before her mother asked him to leave, she later realized
that her mother had found magazines even in the early years of their
"In the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process.
Then, at a certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it,
making it into something that is almost a separate entity inside,"
Sarah eventually found pornographic videos hidden around the house,
but what was most indicative of the problem was her fathers
changed attitude and personality.
"I noticed my dad becoming less and less the fun social person
I had always pictured," Sarah said.
She also noticed her fathers lack of eye contact and interaction
with her college friends. Sarah was disappointed. Tension began
to build. Father/daughter conversation was silenced.
"Things seemed to go unsaid a little more in a household that
had always been very open and honest with each other," she
Despite their shame, the Smiths decided to have a family meeting.
"We confronted Dad with the truth about what we knew about
his habits and how it made us feel. He sat and listened and never
really responded," Sarah explained. "Once confronted several
times, he admitted that he struggled but never to the extent that
his addiction really went," Sarah said. "Towards the end,
it was amazing what he was willing to risk in order just to
see a picture. "
"It started with magazines, led to videos, books, and eventually
to the Internet and to photographing real woman," Sarah said
of her fathers addiction. But it didnt stop there.
"He became very angry, defensive, blaming everyone else
" she said.
He also claimed that all men struggle with it and lied about his
actions by covering his steps signs of a sexual addiction
according to Fires of Darkness, an organization focused on reaching
out to pornography addicts and their loved ones.
"It was awful to know the truth of what was going on and have
to listen to lies and not be able to speak out. I felt that I couldnt
because of my role as a daughter to a father," Sarah explained.
At that point, the relationship between Sarah and her father deteriorated
as she and the rest of her family feared his temper.
Since then, her father has received some counseling but not to
the extent Sarah would like to see. She desires complete healing
and restoration for her family.
"This addiction, like alcoholism, has places where people
can go and live for weeks. I desire that for him," she said.
"I do love him and know that I need to practice this [love]
because he will always be my dad, but it is very hard and the relationship
is very broken.
"I never saw and still have yet to see a desire [in him] to
truly change. I have seen a lot of justification, rationalization,
and blame," Sarah admitted.
Such excuses do not lessen the long term effect on Sarah and her
family. For example, Sarah admits that this particular situation
has caused her expectations to falter when considering her own desires
for a godly husband.
"Trust is a huge thing for me at this point," she admitted.
"I think that I will struggle through trusting my [future]
husband, wondering if I am good enough physically or better than
all the false images that are out there for men to see
will always wonder what men, not just my husband, really do when
they are behind closed doors."
But the evil mystery behind these closed doors does not prevent
Sarah from finding comfort in her spiritual Bridegroom.
"My heart is broken, but God touches me daily to remind me
that even in the brokenness, He completely fills and satisfies."
Although it is still difficult for Sarah to comprehend the actuality
of this happening to her family, she knows they are not the only
ones fighting the battle.
"I have learned through all of this that pornography affects
so many families. Many people have experienced the hurt and shame
this causes but are just unwilling to share it," Sarah said.
She is also saddened by the realization that "churches dont
seem to deal directly with this huge issue that is running rampant
in our society."
The reality is that it is happening to families nationwide as pornography
keeps a tight rein on the hidden hearts of millions of believers
and non-believers. However, these reins are not too tight to be
loosed through the power of prayer.
"No matter where you are in your struggle with pornography
addiction or sexual addiction, prayer is the beginning of change
," said Tom Buford of Fires of Darkness, a former pornography
A steadfast relationship with Christ continues to bring Sarah and
her family through the dark days of pornography.
"He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing,"
Sarah said. "He does always receive the glory and I am seeing
this daily, even on the hardest day."
Resources for those
dealing with sexual sin
Web site of Pure Life Ministries, a premier ministry to
Christians dealing with sexual sin. Ministry includes an intense
6-12 month resident care program.
On-line site of Fires of Darkness, a Christian minstry
founded by Tom and Mera Buford. Excellent source of information
and resources for those addicted to pornography and for their
The Web site of Morality In Media, an interfaith organization
that works to combat obscenity and uphold decency standards in
powerful, AFA-endorsed internet filter developed by