By Kristin Bonham
Two years ago, I was given a book called Permission to Speak Freely written by Anne Jackson. I was unprepared for the profound impact it would have on me… I was a pastor’s wife, raising 3 kids, leading in a ministry to college age students and “minding my own business”.
In the book, Anne gives herself permission to speak and also invites other women to share the thing they are “afraid to say in church”. She tells about her addiction to pornography in her late teens and early twenties, how it consumed her and led her into fear and depression. Anne says that the purpose of the book is simple, “to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets. We are not isolated in our brokenness.”
This is where God started opening my eyes and letting me see beyond my own little world. In middle school, I was exposed to pornography and erotica by a friend and my parents had no idea. I thought the solution was put those memories away and choose not to think of them again. Easier said than done. I naively thought I would be able to shield my kids without remembering what it was like for me. When I read Anne’s book, God was telling me it was time to get my head out of the sand and start being real. I needed to get over my fear of talking about uncomfortable subjects and be willing to speak up!
Last year, GFC had Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch.com speak at our weekend services. He talked about the staggering statistics of men and women who are addicted to or impacted by pornography and the sex industry. Hearing that it is not just a problem for men might surprise many of you, but I suspect not. If the statistics are even close to accurate, more of us than we realize have been exposed to and are potentially living in a trap set by porn.
Pure Heart by Shellie R. Warren is a book I recommend every woman read. If you don’t need it, someone in your life does. If you have young women in your life, they need to read it. Shellie is very open about her sexual history and brokenness. She doesn’t pull any punches here ladies! While I haven’t experienced all that she shares about, I found myself relating to her in ways I had been afraid to look at. The book cover states, “Whether single or married, all women must cope with issues surrounding body image, lust, adultery, sexual addiction, sexualized images and more. Shellie helps women understand and embrace the true purpose and role of sex in their lives.”
I have been on a mission to put these subjects in front of women and create a safe place for them to be honest and open, unafraid of judgment and condemnation. Things that are hidden have power and when we bring them out in the open, they loose their strength and the journey to healing can begin. Pure Heart, along with a Sexual Integrity curriculum, is used in our Beautiful Heart groups starting in September. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our April blog post about Purity.