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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Tautges

counselingoneanother.com

Women and Pornography

In Christian circles, pornography is almost always portrayed as a male problem. However, more and more Christian women are confessing their addiction to the power of lust. In the following interview, counselor and author Rachel Coyle talks about her mini-book Help! She’s Struggling with Pornography. Her booklet is part of the LifeLine Mini-Book series. This interview was originally posted by the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

BCC: "Sometimes people assume that only men struggle with pornography. What prompted you to write a booklet for women battling pornography?”

RC: “Years ago, when I was just beginning my training in biblical counseling, several women approached me for counseling, each with her own story of how she became not just involved, but addicted to pornography. It was interesting that these women all approached me within just a few months’ time and were not acquainted with one another. This experience opened my own eyes to the reality of this problem and how life-dominating pornography can be for women as well as men. I began talking with other women and researching this issue extensively for several years to understand the magnitude of this problem. This resulted in a lengthy thesis paper on the topic which has since been condensed into two articles, one book chapter, and finally, this booklet.”

BCC: “What types of struggles with pornography do women experience?”

RC: “In the booklet, I focus on women who look at pornography as well as women who read pornographic literature such as graphic novels or magazine articles among other things. Some women do not realize that they are addicted to pornography because they do not look at pornographic images, but they read material that conjures up the same kind of images in their minds. For a woman who turns to any kind of pornography as a means of escape, euphoria, or sexual fulfillment, the effect is the same. This is very clear in God’s Word, which I explain in the booklet.”

BCC: “How important is it to have a clear understanding of the definition of pornography?”

RC: “It is vital, especially in reference to a woman’s struggle. Pornography is everywhere, and in our society we have come so far from modesty that many of us do not even know how to define pornography or identify what could be considered pornographic. Billboards, movies, television, graphic romance novels, magazine articles, chat rooms, and even music all have the potential to be a source of stumbling for women who struggle with this issue. In the booklet, I explain the possible dangers of these and other media sources.

BCC: “Tell our readers how you examined the Bible’s teaching on the problem of pornography.” 

RC: “Many of the words we use to describe the problems of life are not found in the Bible, for example: alcoholism, bulimia, abuse, and of course, pornography. But this does not mean God does not have the solution. As we understand what fuels those behaviors and how they are rooted in our hearts, we can “re-define” the terms and use biblical words to label our problems. This equips us to efficiently study God’s Word and understand the problem as well as the solution.”

BCC: “How is your booklet different from other materials that address this subject?”

RC: “As you can tell by the title, this book is written specifically for women. That is one key difference, as most books are written for men or are gender-neutral. I identify various sources of pornography that women tend to be attracted to and explain why they may be considered “pornographic,” such as novels and soap operas. On a practical note, the compact size of the booklet allows a woman to be discreet in dealing with her own struggle or helping another woman work through such sensitive material.”

BCC: “Is your booklet only helpful for women who struggle with pornography?” 

RC: “It is written for either a woman who is struggling or an individual who wants to help a woman who struggles, but the principles I use to explain the problem and the solution are founded in God’s Word. They apply to any kind of besetting sin; anything that we find ourselves struggling to overcome. Therefore, anyone could read this book and apply the principles to their own personal battle against any habitual sin.”

BCC: “Who should read this book and why?”

RC: “Pastors, counselors, and mentors should read it to take the blinders off and become aware that women (as well as men) can and do struggle with pornography. Women should be addressed from the pulpit along with men. Parents and youth workers should read it to be aware of the potential dangers young women face through various media sources (including PG movies!), which could introduce them to pornography. All it takes is an inkling of curiosity to introduce a young woman into the deadly grip of pornography. Women of any age should read it to learn how vital it is that we filter what we allow into our minds. What we read, look at, watch, and even listen to has the potential to open us up into a world of sensuality reserved for husband and wife alone. Women who struggle with pornography should read this book and know they are not alone! For them, it is a source of hope for freedom from pornography, fixed upon the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

BCC: “Thanks, Rachel, for helping our readers to ponder biblical principles for victory over the temptations we face in our daily Christian life.”

Get a copy of  HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography.

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Dear Suicidal Friend

In his excellent mini-book, HELP! My Friend Is Suicidal, police chaplain and pastor Bruce Ray, writes, “There is ultimately only one reason why people commit suicide. Most of them have not lost their minds, but all of them have lost hope. They have developed tunnel vision and cannot see any other workable options. Suicide is the only choice left that makes sense – i.e., the only option that to them seems reasonable.

Hope, true hope, biblical hope, hope that grows out of that which is eternal—not temporal—is the remedy for the suicidal mind. Hope delivers from death (Ps 33:19).

There are many definitions of hope that I could mention here, but instead let me offer you mine. Hope is confident expectation in God to be faithful to fulfill each and every one of His promises.

Hope is in God. It is found in no other place. But what exactly does that mean? What mental ‘hooks of hope’ can we hang our thoughts upon? What truths must we continually feed to our idea-voracious minds in order that we might “not lose heart,” but instead ensure that “our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16)?

  1. Hope is God-centered. “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:7). Ultimately, hope is not found in anything, or anyone, outside of God.
  2. Hope is connected to Jesus Christ. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Tim 1:1). “Hope in God” is not possible unless we have been reconciled to Him through His Son, the one and only Mediator between God and sinners (1 Tim 2:5). In Christ, we have “a better hope” (Heb 7:19).
  3. Hope is the work of the Holy Spirit. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).
  4. Hope is rooted in the resurrection. “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:19-20). Through Christ we are “believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that [our] faith and hope are in God” (1 Pet 1:21).
  5. Hope is not dependent upon hopeful circumstances. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).
  6. Hope is focused on God’s promises. As believers, we live “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago” (Titus 1:2).
  7. Hope is dependent upon God’s goodness and mercy. “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine” (Ps 33:18-19). Biblical hope never grows well in the garden of entitlement.
  8. Hope grows in the mind that intentionally chooses to remember who God is. “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 321-23).
  9. Hope is found in the encouragement of the Scriptures. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4). “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word” (Ps 119:81).
  10. Hope is found in the saving gospel. “…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel” (Col 1:5).
  11. Hope is laid hold of by faith. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5; C.f. Rom 5:2).
  12. Hope grows out of Christ-like character, which can only be produced in the fires of suffering; therefore, a believer should not seek escape from suffering. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:3-4).

Finally, brethren, let us listen to and believe God’s benediction of hope that is obtained by grace. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word” (2 Thess 2:16-17). Knowing this let us each determine to be dispensers of hope in a world filled with hopelessness.

Comfort the Grieving

On a fairly regular basis, I receive inquiries concerning how to obtain copies of my book Comfort Those Who Grieve: Ministering God's Grace in Times of Loss (It's been hard to find since stock was intentionally allowed to run low since we moved the book to a different publisher). Thankfully, I am now able to direct you to the revised and updated version that was just released by Zondervan earlier this month. Comfort the Grieving is now part of the Practical Shepherding series edited by Brian Croft. Here is what Brian writes in the Foreword of this edition.

Some of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned as a pastor, lessons that are affirmed year after year, happen in hospital rooms and funeral homes. I have watched sweet elderly saints take their last breath while holding their hand praying for them. I have won enemies over after a visit while they are recovering in a hospital room. I have seen despair turn to hope while talking about Christ as I’ve sat with a grieving widow at a funeral visitation. These pivotal moments for fruitful ministry exist because the hospital room and the funeral home accomplish something few life moments can. They remind us of our frailty and brokenness. They jolt our hearts into reality when we are tempted to believe we are invincible. They press us to focus on eternal things when we want to live in the temporal.

And yet, ironically, these are places many pastors try to avoid today. Why? Well, for one, this kind of ministry is hard work. It is not glamorous. It requires you to engage your heart in a way that makes many people uncomfortable. It involves assuming burdens that are painful to bear. Sometimes no one knows you are doing this ministry, other than God and the people you visit. But these types of visits are core to our calling as pastors who shepherd God’s flock until the Chief Shepherd returns (1 Peter 5:4). And I’m convincd that one of the best ways to recover these essential aspects of pastoral ministry is to equip pastors so they can better care for those who are grieving.

That is why I am excited about the book you hold in your hand. My excitement is due to two things. First, the content and structure is particularly suited to equip pastors and others in this task of comforting those who grieve. Beginning with the biblical foundations that show us where our hope comes from in times of grief, it moves into ways in which a pastor can minister this hope to others, both publically and privately. The last section gives specific practical helps: hand-written notes, advice on using songs, and even charts to help in scheduling visits and contacts in the first year of bereavement. This book is concise, clear, and gives any pastor the necessary tools they need to shepherd their grieving people well.

The second reason I am excited about this book is that it is a key resource in the Practical Shepherding series. Another title in the series, Visit the Sick, addresses how to extend care to people through the struggles of sickness, pain, and affliction. Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals is a title in the series that addresses the immediate circumstances surrounding a death, including the preparation of a funeral sermon and logistics of working with funeral homes. Although hospitals and funeral homes are key places to do ministry, they are not the only places where grief is experienced. Much of the grieving process requires extended care that takes place long after the immediate circumstances of the hospital and funeral home.

This newest book in the Practical Shepherding series, Comfort the Grieving, is a wonderful complement to these other two books. It fills in the gaps while affirming the wisdom and practical helps they offered.

And Walter Kaiser writes: "Few have attempted to offer comfort to those who grieve, and fewer have been as successful. I commend this wonderful little volume. It is a veritable anthology of practical helps for those who are grieving and for those who attempt to minister to their needs. Therefore I recommend it as a book for all deacons, elders, pastors and lay persons. It is an important tool which should be thoughtfully read if we are to minister wisely and effectively to those in our fellowship who will eventually face such times."

I'm very grateful to the Lord and to our friends at Zondervan Publishing Group for this new edition of Comfort the Grieving. It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will use it to equip God's people to comfort one another with the comfort that is ours in Christ.

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