This week we have an amazing testimony about recovery, forgiveness and so much more. This story might resonate with some of our male listeners more, BUT we believe that there is something here for EVERYONE. Please take time to read Mark Makinney’s story about addiction and forgiveness.
Mark: My name is Mark Makinney. I live and work in Arroyo Grande, CA. I am a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist.
ARP: When did you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Mark: I was baptized as a baby and again as a 22 year old. I can't remember a time when I didn't pray to Jesus and believe that He was my Lord and Savior. Over the years, He has revealed more of Himself to me. In seminary He led me to a small band of men who were all 'reformed' in their theology. Although I had been in church all my life, it wasn't until I met these three men that I heard the Gospel, the truth that God saves SINNERS, not repentant sinners, not sinners that ask for help, but full blown sinners who prefer sin over Jesus and are the ones who in their flesh cry out, "CRUCIFY HIM!". This Truth penetrated deep in my soul and it was such good news that, after hearing this message day in and day out, I decided I wanted to become a preacher because this news was SO good, it was impossible for humans to actually hear it without the preaching of the Gospel. (Romans 10:14)
ARP: What was your earliest memory of dealing with addiction to sex and pornography?
Mark: 12 years old. I found my brothers porn magazines in the garage. I was hooked from the first encounter.
ARP: In the Christian community, many people brush over things such as depression, suicide, and addiction. What’s your story? What led you to addiction?
Mark: Psychologically there are many things that provided the fertile ground for addiction - distant disengaged father who viewed porn and had at least one affair that we know of, a mom who was overwhelmed and took much of her frustration out on me, but truthfully, I was a sinner and I preferred the ease of porn use over the difficulty of building real and lasting emotional intimacy. I did not know how to access or effectively express my grief, anger, shame, sorrow, frustration and so porn became the relief valve. In the 1990's, most porn addicts came from 'rigid and disengaged' homes where addiction was present but now that hardcore porn is Accessible, Affordable and Anonymous, even kids from 'good' homes can get hooked. This is the frightening factor.
ARP: As a Christian how/did you stay focused on God during this time?
Mark: When you are addicted, your first loyalty is to your addiction. I sporadically confessed, read scripture, even memorized bible verses. I was a hearer of the word without being a doer. I did all the things 'religion' told me to do - I went for healing and deliverance prayer 5 times, I fasted, I prayed, I spent time in the word but when the desire for porn called to me, I came running. It was not until I DID what the word said, that the Lord acted to set me free. He allowed me to spin my wheels doing it my way until I hit the wall. Nothing I tried worked. This is often the way God works. He lets us do it our way until we cry out, "Okay, I will do WHATEVER you say, Help me!" The Lord is a jealous God (praise Him for this attribute), and He will NOT share his throne with anything or anyone.
I hated the addiction and I loved the pleasure, the relief it offered. Like Edmund in the chronicles of narnia, I kept riding the dragon and would hate when I did it. I never felt 'okay' with it. I knew it was wrong but did not have the power within myself to stop. (Romans 7:19)
ARP: How did this addiction affect your marriage and other relationships?
Mark: I lost my first marriage and 8 short days into my second marriage, my wife put her foot down hard. It was then that healing began. It was then that the Spirit of God gave me true repentance, a heart of sorrow over how I had treated people. I had been full of anger and blame and at this point God filled me with grief. I sobbed and sobbed. This was not a human doing, it was purely and utterly the work of the Holy Spirit as a direct result of my wife saying ENOUGH!
ARP: What advice would you give to other believers who are dealing with any sort of addiction and how to break free from it?
Mark: The Bible clearly tells you what to do - 1 John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us from all unrighteousness"
James 5:16 - "therefore confess your sins to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed"
Men will try everything under the sun that allows them to stay isolated. They will read books. Go to weekend retreats. Memorize verses. Meet with each other but FAIL to submit utterly to the truth. Sin is DEEP and it rules us and we are crafty in using even the word of God for our own purposes, but it is not until a man puts truth first that he experiences healing. How does this happen? He must do a full disclosure with his wife. This is a tricky business as guys usually either tell 95% of the truth or they overshare. This is where professional help comes in. He must also get in a group where rigorous honesty is required. 95% of men's groups allow vague superficial honesty, "hey man, I struggled this week". That will not work. You need a group of men, a true 'fellowship' group of men who also struggle in this way so that you are compelled to tell the whole truth, so instead of 'I struggled this week' it should sound like, "I looked at porn for two hours last Thursday on my laptop while my wife was out of the house and while the kids slept. Before I slipped, I chose not to reach out to you guys. I was feeling resentful toward God, toward my wife, toward this program and I wanted to remain a victim, so I got right back on the throne and did it may way." That's what truth sounds like. Each time a guy slips he must tell his wife and the wife must have support. Because of the way our brains work and that with 'dopamine' release, we seek 'novelty' in order to stay high, it is very likely that men will click on types of porn that bring them particular shame. This is the horror of the internet. Before the internet, a man would grow tired of the same old pictures, but with the internet there is never an end which means the brain is always pumping in more dopamine because of this new picture or video or porn type. Internet porn is the 'crack cocaine' of sex addiction because it is anonymous, accessible, affordable and offers you endless images. If a man views something that produces shame he needs to share what type of porn he viewed, without being graphic. A big 100 watt halogen light needs to be shone on all of his actions, feelings, thoughts. Bring them all into the light. Bring every thought captive to the light of Christ.
ARP: Tell us about Resolve Therapy
Mark: You can find me at www.resolvetherapy.org I have been working as a CSAT since Feb 2011. I am strict because I spent so many years and so much money on methods that didn't work. I know what works and I will not take a client's money unless he is willing to follow this narrow path. If he wants to come see me but not tell his wife, I won't work with him. If he is willing to tell his wife but is not willing to get into a rigorous honesty group, I won't work with him. A man needs to tell the whole truth about his past and submit to continual truth telling in his present in order to stay free. That is the biblical promise in 1 John 1:7 and God is faithful. My program is rigorous but it works simply because it is biblical. I also lose about 25% of my clients after the first meeting because they refuse to submit to the truth. In those cases, I let them go and pray that the Lord bring them to repentance. The church is simmering in this twisted belief that this is 'every man's battle', meaning that victory is not possible. That is a lie. Victory is not only possible it is biblically assured if we obey the Lord in terms of dragging all of our sin into the light, not just our lust but our selfishness, vindictiveness, judgments, criticisms, cowardice and pride.
Jesus is the truth. The Holy Spirit of Truth guides us into all Truth. It was because Jesus was a fearless truth teller that He was killed. Men deny the truth about their own helpless condition and their need for a mighty and powerful deliverer. Men want to remain on the throne, they want to play at therapy or confession or efforts to change like putting on a filter that allow them to remain isolated. It is not until the Lord brings a man to a place of surrender to Him, to His Word, to His truth that he is ready to heal. Hosea 6:1 "Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us so that He may heal us". God most often uses pain to bring men to their knees. The voice of the church in our society is weak because the 2/3 of the men are hiding in trenches watching porn and afraid of the light instead of wielding their God given sword. What I know to be true is that God will present His bride as spotless, my prayers is that the Lord do it soon.
In addition, my program also involves support for the wife. This is a necessary and often forgotten ingredient.
ARP: What advice would you give to people who have partners dealing with addiction?
You did not cause your partners addiction. You cannot control it and you will never be able to cure it. No matter how much you shout or cry or try to compete with porn, your efforts will be futile because your man is hopelessly addicted to a mistress that is more powerful than his love for you. But there is hope but not in you or him or a therapist but in the Lord. He has shown us how to deal with a wayward bride throughout the Old Testament. This is what you can do. You can say 'ENOUGH!'. You can express clearly to your man that you may love him but you hate his sin and you will pick up your sword and fight it with everything in you. You will speak clear truth to him, in love.This will demand of you that you seek help. Do not isolate. I know it is tempting to cover his sin or protect him. Don't. Tell the truth but be careful to only disclose to those who will support you in your desire to stay with him if you choose. Tell your pastor. Tell your most trusted friends. Seek help. And let your partner know that as long as he is choosing porn, he can't have you. With every married couple I work with I strongly suggest a 90 day period of celibacy. This is crucial because a man needs to dry out and a wife needs to know that there are other ways to feel loved, other than sex. Porn addiction is an 'intimacy disorder' so the only way to fix it is to create deep vulnerable intimacy between a man and a wife and sex in a marriage should be symbolic of an equally profound emotional oneness but too often a wife has settled for sex without the love because it is the only time she feels his affection.
Every woman needs to know that they cannot compete with porn. Yahweh did not try to compete with the Asherah poles, He commanded that they be cut down. We need to stop subtly blaming women for their husbands porn addiction. It doesn't matter if a wife has sex with her husband every day, it will not cure his addiction.
We need to educate and empower women. Too often the church has given women the advice 'not to confront him', to 'have more sex' and to 'pray' so what we have is a million men on the field of battle getting slaughtered by this beast while half of God's army, the wives, are advised to remain on the sideline. No! Get involved. Speak truth to your husband. Pick up your sword! Porn is demonic. He is worshiping at a demonic altar and that idolatry should be given no quarter. What helps a man do all that he needs to do is when his wife has a zero tolerance stance because he then knows he must pick up his mat and walk if he wishes to enjoy true intimacy with his wife.