Monthly Archives: March 2011

What Porn Does to Relationships Pt. 3

How a married couple practically addressed pornography in their marriage.

Editor’s note: A little over a month ago, John and Rachel Buckingham wrote two web articles for us about what pornography and sexual addiction had done to their marriage. You can read those articles here and here. Now, they check in and talk about the decision to fight for their marriage and practical steps they’ve taken to try to heal and forgive.

There are no shortcuts to overcoming sex addiction. There are no tricks, no secret formulas, no patches and no “get free of addiction quick” plans available for the low price of $19.95.

If there were, we would have been the first callers on the line.

There is only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our adoptive relationship with the Father. Without Him, our marriage would be in shambles; characterized by distrust, hurt and the ever-present sensation of horrible betrayal. Without Him, we would now be enemies and strangers, alienated from one another by John’s actions with little hope of true intimacy for years to come. With Him, we have found repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

We have found love.

John on making the decision

That is not to say starting out on the road to recovery has been easy, or that I have been suddenly cured of sexual addiction. On the contrary, the months following the confession of porn use to my wife, Rachel, have been marked by discomfort and sacrifice, and each day I find myself bombarded with the temptation to engage in and pursue adulterous thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, Rachel has chosen to forgive and trust me once again, and we have taken steps together to establish accountability and safeguards for me in order that we might make no provision for the flesh.

While situations and areas of weakness vary greatly between sex addicts, it remains true that we have willingly chosen to subject ourselves to the slavery of sexual sin. Whatever the reason, whatever the root of the matter, we have chosen this path for ourselves and we can—by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ—chose to leave that path. The choice is a difficult one, to be sure, but it is nonetheless a choice that cannot be made for us. We must choose to take action. I made my choice on the day that I confessed my porn use to Rachel.

Sin must be rooted out.

From that day, with the support of my wife and a few godly men, I have turned to distance myself from the insidious behemoth of sexual addiction. Together we have established a system of accountability via an Internet activity monitor and set up Internet filters with OpenDNS that not only block pornographic and sexually explicit websites but allow for the blacklisting of sites that, although not pornographic, present an opportunity for sin.

In addition, we have chosen to avoid the use of smart phones and have decided to forgo dedicated cable television and Internet access in our newest apartment. For our protection, only Rachel knows the passwords to her computer and to our filtering account. Furthermore, I meet with a mature brother in Christ who is also privy to my Internet browsing activity. Rachel and I avoid sexually explicit movies and television shows, and I choose to leave the room while my wife exercises each day with her Pilates workout video. While some of these things seem inconvenient, annoying, trivial or uncomfortable, the truth is that we’re barely scratching the surface.

It’s important to note here that overcoming sex addiction is neither easy nor simple, nor is it achieved by merely gritting one’s teeth, putting one’s back into it and trying just a little harder. Decisions, willpower, privation and a wife’s forgiveness alone cannot and will not free an addict from the burdening chains of addiction or sin any more than a rock can turn itself into a beach ball. If we are to genuinely triumph over the power of sin in our lives, we must seek the only One who ever has: Jesus Christ.

If any person has shown me a concrete example of Christ-like love, it has been Rachel. In the face of my adulterous behavior, Rachel chose to forgive and trust me. This choice was immensely difficult, but I’m so grateful she did, as my battle to overcome sex addiction would be exponentially more daunting without her love and support. Her genuine forgiveness is a reflection of the forgiveness that Christ offers us all, and opens the door to an intimacy I had feared would be lost forever.

Rachel on choosing forgiveness

At the same time as John was presented with the decision to turn from addiction, I was faced with a similar choice: forgive him for what he had done, or not? Before all of this happened, I used to think I would forgive anyone unconditionally, especially those close to me. But when he confessed, I was hurt more deeply than I had ever imagined possible. He had promised to love and cherish only me on our wedding day, and yet, after only four months of marriage, he had broken that very promise.

I didn’t know how to respond.

I knew I should forgive him, but there was a part of me that didn’t want to do so. I didn’t want to trust him, or even let him look at me, much less be vulnerable and open with him. I feared he would just betray me again.

So I prayed.

I wanted to forgive him, but I didn’t know how. What would true forgiveness look like? How would I act? Would I ever be able to fully trust him? I asked God many, many questions that night, and He responded. He told me I had two choices: I could be hurt, angry, bitter, closed off and never trust my husband again, or I could truly, wholeheartedly forgive him and trust that God had brought us together for a reason. God made it clear the first choice would result in further damage to our marriage, alienating us from each other and preventing reconciliation and healing from even beginning. The second, however, would allow God to begin healing the damage immediately. It would still be a process, but it wouldn’t be delayed or drag on.

But what did that choice mean?

It meant forgiving him. Trusting him again as if he had never betrayed me. It meant handing over my heart once again and letting go of all of the anger, hurt, and bitterness. It meant moving on and having honest conversations. It meant being vulnerable and open with him. It meant exposing myself to possible rejection. It meant being selfless and putting his needs above my desire for control or my pain, putting the good of our marriage above what I felt was good for me. It meant letting go of my right to get even. It would be extremely hard and would require sacrifice, but it would be worth it.

After a few days of deliberation and struggle, I chose to forgive him, and it was quite possibly the most difficult decision I have ever made. It required me to believe in him again, to trust him with my heart and give myself to him again. On that day, I chose to let him in and asked him to be open with me about his struggle so we could fight it alongside each other by working through the issues and deep wounds caused by his addiction.

I have never looked back.

Love and reconciliation

Once invited in, the spectre of sexual addiction never completely vacates, and the recovering sex addict should not expect the battle will fully be over while he remains on Earth. Just as an alcoholic might “fall off the wagon” with just one drink, it only takes a sex addict (recovering or no) one moment of weakness to find him- or herself knee deep in the swamp of sexual immorality. As such, we must always remain vigilant against sin, that we might protect ourselves against the sexual immorality that would cause so much pain and hurt. In the sexually supercharged American society, even an innocent walk down the street can prove to be dangerous.

Now, by the grace of God, we have been reconciled to each other, and He is working in our relationship as we seek Him together. His love and forgiveness is awesome and incredible, and we fall more in love each day. Intimacy has been restored to our relationship, but sex addiction no longer enslaves us. There are still hard days, fights and the sin of the flesh, but we are slaves to Christ, and the truth has set us free.

John and Rachel Buckingham are servants of Christ, writers, wanderers and avid coffee drinkers. Read more about them on his and her blogs, where they write on life, love and the faithfulness of God.


A General Note to the Public

Well if you have just been dying to know what Ben Jepsen has been up to these last few months then your in luck! I will give you a quick update.

Basically my life has been consumed with finishing school work. This has consisted of me working away on families in crisis, church and its mission, theology of worship, history of christianity two, and issues in ministry leadership. I have more or less completed 3 of those courses now and am working away at the other two which are DL’s!

From March 2-22 I have been able to be with Shayna in Ontario house sitting for her friends which is great cause they have given me their home to stay in and even their car to use! They are pretty awesome! I have been loving Tillsonburg its a pretty great town and there is this really cool girl here too! 😉 Outside of just hanging out and chillin’ we will be going to see Civil Twilight with A Silent Film. Both are worth checking out! I can’t wait!

Outside of those two things I will be graduating on April 20 from Briercrest College with a BA in youth ministry and a minor in psychology. This is super exciting and it will be cool to see family and friends at this time too!

Now the big question is what I will be doing after grad, well things are falling into place! It looks like I will be living on the island for 4 months working at Camp Imadene with my good friends Melissa and Jon Lampard and Shayna Martin! I am very excited for this opportunity to try out a new camp and live somewhere outside of Grand Forks for a summer!

After camp I will be starting full time at Gospel Chapel as the youth pastor. This excites me to no end, it is my dream job and I have been praying that God can use me in big ways at the church this coming fall and on!

So there ya have it! My life in a nutshell. Basically I have been loving it and am very excited to see what God has for me in each and every day!

-bent 😉

We are crazy…just like everyone else

1 hour delay on my flight, time to blog.

So I was thinking the other day how everyone I am close to has a certain level of craziness in them. For example, it wouldn’t be a surprise for me to come home to my mother dressed as a pirate or spongebob or something, she runs a daycare but still its pretty crazy! My sister says the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. My brother is obsessed with rap music and my father is loud and funny. I love them all to death and would never want them to change but they are all crazy!

This is also true when I look at my friends and how they all have certain levels of crazy in them. Its great. However there is a certain level of crazy that gets dangerous.

I think we all know what I am talking about. The crazy in people that is just so weird, annoying, and even disrespectful that we do not want to be in their presence. These are the people that you may avoid or even run from. They are actually crazy.

So how do you know if you are the appropriate level of crazy? (Everyone has a level of crazy in them) I think you need to start by asking yourself if you are generally a person who draws people in or push them away. Do you love certain things more than people? That may be a bit too crazy. For example if you can never commit to a serious relationship because you put a sports team before people then your too crazy. Or if you enjoy your comic book collection more than others and your time is consumed by that than you my friend are too crazy!

None of these previous things are wrong or bad in fact in some ways for people they can be endearing however when your consumed by them and all people hear about are those things when they are with you then its too far.

The other kind of crazy that is too much for people is the crazy annoying. I think we all have the capacity to annoy one another to a certain level and we need to learn how to deal with that however when it comes to the point that you are almost hoping to annoy others and people are constantly pushed away from you because of this, then you may be a bit crazy!

Anyway I hope you understand what I’m getting across here and find the humor in it! Enjoy your week, I’m off to Ontario for awhile to spend some time with a good friend of mine 😉 Catch ya on the flip!

-bent 😉