Confessions of a Porn-Addicted Missionary

On the outside I was the “fearless Bible Translator bringing the Word of God to the Bibleless people,” but on the inside I hated myself and was doubting that God could really love me or if He even existed.

For a porn-addicted missionary, I think I look pretty normal.  Okay, I admit I was a bit scrawny but I come from a long line of skinny people and it was 95 degrees with 90% humidity in the Solomon Islands, so it tends to curb the appetite!  My point is that you’d never know by looking at me that I was taking advantage of every opportunity to look at porn.  On the outside I was the “fearless Bible Translator bringing the Word of God to the Bibleless people,” but on the inside I hated myself and was doubting that God could really love me or if He even existed.

So why write a post like this for all the world to see? Well, several friends have asked me how I feel about having my struggle with pornography out there for everyone to see now that my wife Kay has published her memoir so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about that a bit.  There are two main reasons:

  •  Anyone can become addicted to porn, including people in ministry & leadership.

We should all know the statistics by now about how often pornography is being viewed by men and women.  But just in case you’ve forgotten, here are a few stats from Covenant Eyes that relate to the Church:

The one that jumps out at me is that 75% of pastors don’t make themselves accountable to anyone.  I’m not really surprised though–obviously I chose not to be accountable when I was a missionary!  Even though I knew I needed help, the shame and the guilt along with the possible loss of a career were too much for me to overcome.

  • There’s too much shame about pornography in the Christian community

My desire is to see the Church become a place where we can talk about issues like pornography without freaking out.  A place where someone can share their struggles and know they are loved and supported and not viewed as some sort of sexual pervert.

“It’s a tragedy when churches shame people who are wrestling with sexual bondage. When we do that we become the priests of further condemnation instead of hope. We deepen the shame with the bony finger of a critical god, instead of revealing the open arms of a crucified Savior.”  Ted Roberts in Pure Desire

“The majority of the people I have counseled could give a long list of things they are good at. They also could state their character strengths and gifts. Most of them deeply love the Lord, but they didn’t understand that we are as sick as the secrets we hold.”  Ted Roberts

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What can we do?

Make ourselves accountable.

Covenant Eyes is the software package we use.  We like it because it sends a report to the accountability partners we’ve chosen.  Our accountability partners are constantly aware of how we’re doing.  If we need help, it’s right there, already in place.

Here’s a great article that provides a step by step plan to get all of your devices set up for internet accountability.

Educate ourselves.

Be willing to read up on what’s really out there on the internet.  Covenant Eyes has a blog you can subscribe to for free, plus a ton of free downloads addressing the needs of men, women, and families.  Don’t assume it can’t happen in your house.  It can happen.  Be prepared.

Start talking about it!!!

Find people willing to share their personal struggle and recovery with your church.  And it doesn’t just have to be about pornography.  When people start honestly sharing their own struggles in any area, it helps create an atmosphere of acceptance.

Provide resources in your church bookstore or website.

Check out the Pornography Resource page on Kay’s blog for starters.

Encourage your church and mission agency toward internet accountability for all staff.

A pastor/missionary/__________ is just a normal person struggling with the same things that we all struggle with. Let’s not put them on a pedestal expecting them to attain some measure of sinless perfection that is impossible to attain.  There needs to be a safe mechanism in place for people in Christian ministry who struggle with sexual purity to get help BEFORE it gets out of control.

Special note to women readers

Since a lot of the readers here are women, I want to tell you that the point of talking about all this is not to freak you out and make your life miserable if you find out your husband is looking at porn.  The point is, to understand how common it is, to talk about it, to learn to manage it together, so that this doesn’t have to be hidden away in shame, where it can’t be healed.

Recovery is possible.  It’s a ton of work, for sure.  But it does happen.

Andy Bruner
I'm a missionary kid who spent varying lengths of time growing up in Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Waxhaw, NC. In 1993 my wife Kay and I went to the Solomon Islands to help the Arosi people translate the New Testament into their language. The New Testament was dedicated in 2005 despite my best efforts to derail my marriage and career with a pornography addiction. Kay wrote a memoir about our experience called As Soon As I Fell .  Her most recent e-book, Porn and Your Boyfriend, is a resource for dealing with pornography in dating relationships.

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