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Pornography: How Do We Fight Back?

Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace pose for the cover of The Art of Relationships Podcast.

Chris Grace: Well welcome to another podcast of the Art of Relationships. Tim Muehlhoff is here today with me, Chris Grace. And Tim, as a professor here at Biola, we get this amazing opportunity and also to take some material, some information, resources, research and background on a variety of topics about relationships. And then be able to talk of them with our listeners and we've been having a great conversation about sexuality-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: Porn use and ... So let's continue this topic.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah. We understand that people are busy and live crazy lives and they don't have time to read and be up on the research and stuff like that. And we feel like at the CMR, the Center for Marriage and Relationships, that we kinda are like the clearing house of information for you.


Chris Grace: That's awesome.


Tim Muehlhoff: We'll do the work, we'll read. It's kinda like movie reviews. Who's got time to go see all these movies and give a review.


Chris Grace: Yep.


Tim Muehlhoff: But we feel like hey, that's part of our calling, is we wanna be a gateway that you can understand what's happening in the latest research and stuff like this. Certainly porn-


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Is a national crisis. We talked about that last podcast and there's a lot of good research, there's a lot of bad research.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And so we took a great look last podcast about this chart that you had about what's an addiction, what's a struggle, and now we wanna talk about what are some practical ways for people all along different aspects of that chart.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Right. Let me start with this quote Chris, from a wonderful article called 'The Effects of Porn on the Male Brain' in the Christian Research Journal. But let me say that this I think would equally apply to females listening who are struggling with this as well. It says this, "The male brain seems to be built in such a way that visual cues that have sexual relevance have a hypnotic effect on him. When these cues are detected, they trigger a cascade of neurological chemical and hormonal events. In some ways, they are like the hit of a drug. There is a rush of sexual arousal and energy that accompanies it." So our last podcast Chris, we had a chart and we encourage you to go back and listen to the podcast or go to our website and the chart is on our website, we asked two questions. How much ... How often were you taking a hit of this drug? And again, that was the great job you did of laying out what'd be a one on the chart, that might be hitting the drug once a week or unintentionally coming across it to a five, where this is happening maybe on a daily basis to an eight or a nine, where you can't control it. You need that drug and you'll rearrange everything to get a hit of that drug.


Second, we wanna know what kinda drugs are we talking about. There are certain forms of pornography that some people say are kinda like neurological crack cocaine. You see it and immediately you're kinda rewired towards it. So wherever you are on different aspects of this chart, we wanna offer spiritual responses, relational responses, communal responses I think to this struggle. Right, Chris?


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: So let's jump in.


Chris Grace: Yeah. Sounds good because I think in this Tim, we're looking at people who have been exposed to pornography can land in any of these areas on a scale.


Tim Muehlhoff: Right.


Chris Grace: They could be dealing with numbed pleasure responses. Right?


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: That's a desensitization. They could be forming kind of addictive pathways, this hypersensitivity in sexual conditioning.


Tim Muehlhoff: Shame.


Chris Grace: And then shame in particular-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: I think for us, is something we need to talk about. Sexuality and shame and our reactions to it.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: And then a biblical response.


Tim Muehlhoff: So with the spiritual category.


Chris Grace: Okay.


Tim Muehlhoff: For a second. John makes a fascinating comment in First John. He says, "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one." Which means one of the things Satan's ... has been doing in our culture is shaping our appetites. Shaping how we view good God given things in a slightly warped way. That's not to say all culture is bad-


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Because God's common grace does redeem culture.


Chris Grace: Right.


Tim Muehlhoff: But it means that Satan has wanted to have warped view of things and so things like pornography, right, is Satan's attempt to warp this idea of sexuality and things like that. So that says to me that my response from a biblical perspective is going to be first to realize it's not just my addiction to porn, my struggle with porn, this is a spiritual battle that's happening first and foremost. Satan is attempting to warp our perspective. So any response that we're gonna have, has to be spiritual in nature. It's not just grabbing a male accountability partner or female accountability partner. I think it's stepping back and saying, "Lord, I'm under spiritual attack. It's taking the form of pornography but this is Satan's attempt to derail my view of something as wonderful as sexuality created by God. It's his attempt to get between me and my spouse, his attempt for him to cause me to have addictive behaviors." So the first thing to is to run to the Lord and to say, "Lord, I need spiritual help." This is Jesus saying, "Listen, I want you to pray every day. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come." Why? Because at the end, we don't wanna be a snare to the devil. Right? We don't want temptation to hit us.


So the reason I say that is, later we're gonna talk about shame. So if Satan is understanding that this is a spiritual issue, he's gonna wanna shame us that we can't run to God. Right? So our primary source of protection, now Satan's gonna shame that. So we're gonna talk about very practical things but the point we wanna make is this broad philosophical one, theological one, which is to say that struggle you're having with pornography right now, images. First sit down and say, "Hey, let's call this what it is. This is a spiritual battle. There's an enemy of my soul. There's an enemy of my marriage and it's time for me to use biblical defenses, not just psychological defenses." Which of course, we love but it's spiritual.


Chris Grace: Yeah. I think that's right Tim. I think ... You could even ... I remember a verse in First Peter that comes to mind, where he equates this by calling us a chosen race. Right? We're a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Then he says ... And when he gets to this topic in First Peter 2:11, he says, "Beloved I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul."


Tim Muehlhoff: Right.


Chris Grace: So it's the ...


Tim Muehlhoff: Right. Right. Right.


Chris Grace: This is a deeper waged war and it's not just for what we're looking at or seeing. It is actually for much ... something much greater or bigger. It's for our souls and so this idea of a spiritual battle I think Tim, is a very important reminder that we are dealing with something here that can have some ... It has serious implications for our ... who we are, how we see ourselves in God's eyes, the shame we feel because it has an import on the gospel. Right? Our ability to talk to-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: Others about or share ... and live with God's glory 'cause it's now being hindered and impacted by an enemy.


Tim Muehlhoff: So I have a friend of mine who counsels couples when it comes to porn addictions and he counsels men as well. Here's what he says is the very first ... I think this fascinating, the very first step in addressing this porn struggle is fasting.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: It's to say I want you both as a couple to enter into a season of a 40 day fast. Now that fast he says, should be something food related is what he says. So in other words, you get into the habit that when your body wants something ... like it's okay to have pizza or dessert or coffee. Right? But I purposely, when I have that inclination, I say no to it, because I wanna draw close to God and I'm using this vehicle to do it. He said that's a great counter habit to ... when you get this temptation to feed your ... the hit of the drug. Right? The porn drug. So he encourages couples to ... I want you to start to fast and it could be giving up television, it could be giving coffee, dessert, something.


Chris Grace: Netflix, something. Right.


Tim Muehlhoff: Something. But that's a great counter habit-


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And so when I have this desire to have coffee and I don't, I give it up. It's not that I'm just giving it up, I use that moment right then to say, "God, I'm turning to You." When I would have this, I'm turning to You and say, "God, be with me right now. Help me, be present." And that was a great reminder that my daily ritual was to have a cup of coffee in the morning, but now my daily ritual is to turn to God and say, "Be part of this day."


Chris Grace: And he says this ... He recommends this because he thinks it's exercising a muscle-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yes.


Chris Grace: That isn't being exercised-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yes.


Chris Grace: As discipline and in one area, it will lead over and bleed over in ... even in another area.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah and I like that. So it's both practical and spiritual in nature and both couple ... both individuals are doing it within the marriage. I think that's a great first ... and it doesn't need to be food, but it can be something that both individuals are giving up.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Now they're both in this spiritual discipline and I think that's a great place to start and ... But also to say Satan is after our marriage.


Chris Grace: Yeah. Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: He's after me and so it's time for me to put on my spiritual armor. It's so funny ... It's funny Chris, that in Ephesians five, Paul is ... gives his most vivid account of marriage. Ephesians six right after-


Chris Grace: It's spiritual warfare. That's right.


Tim Muehlhoff: In the original, there's no chapter breaks. Immediately he goes into spiritual battle.


Chris Grace: That's right.


Tim Muehlhoff: I love that and yet most [inaudible 00:09:42] would say, "I think I can vaguely thinking of my spiritual armor. I don't know if I could name it." And I think Paul would say, "[inaudible 00:09:48]. Guys, gotta get dressed for battle." And I think that's ... It'd be great for us to maybe meditate on Ephesians six and how can we get dressed as a couple I think is really important.


Chris Grace: I think that's great, Tim. It's a reminder of the impact of spiritual disciplines, whether that is in the area of fasting and prayer, whether it's memorizing scripture, finding certain passages that we can turn to in the word right, that will guide us and direct us, and I think that's a great reminder. I'm always recalling ... For me in John, there happens to be a particular passage that I think is always helpful and it's in John 21, and it's mostly about where Peter encountered the risen Christ. Remember on that morning on seashore and he's sitting there over a breakfast of these freshly caught fish and it was just one month earlier if you remember, that Peter had denied Jesus three times.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah. That's so good yeah.


Chris Grace: And he was boasting that he would never do this and then to his shame and disgrace, he did, and it must've been crushing for him.


Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, yeah.


Chris Grace: And so I'm assuming on that seashore on that morning, Peter had never ... hadn't seen Jesus since that night. This is almost 30 days later, he hadn't seen Him since. At least according to all the records, and then when Jesus look at him, no doubt Peter's heart-


Tim Muehlhoff: Oh my gosh. Can you imagine?


Chris Grace: Skipped a beat, 'cause he's like ... He probably feared this upcoming indignity of ... and wanted nothing more than to hide, but instead in the span of three simple questions, Jesus took Peter through this beautiful, restorative-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: Redemptive love model and that's where it talks about how shame can cut its power off over loss.


Tim Muehlhoff: It's good. It's good.


Chris Grace: And he just ... So I ... That just talked about ... So when they had finished breakfast, Peter said to Simon, "Peter of Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these ..." Remember Peter said, "Yes Lord. You know I do."


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: He said, "Tend my lambs." And then He asked him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said, "Yes Lord. You know I love You." And He said to him, "Shepard my sheep." And then remember the third time He said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" And Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You." And Jesus said, "Tend my sheep." I think this idea of do you love me is an amazing passage, because we see Jesus' treatment of the shamed, the unworthy Simon, son of John.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: A model for how he responds to all us unworthy humans-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: Tim, that are self consciously aware of our brokenness.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yep.


Chris Grace: We all are.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: And this is Jesus' way of-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, I love that.


Chris Grace: Kind of restoring and treating him with kindness in a deeply powerful way, and reminding us that shame isn't the thing that can be ... is over us. God's deep, unchanging love for us is-


Tim Muehlhoff: So going back to the spiritual armor, Paul talks about the breastplate of righteousness.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Roman soldiers ... Most likely Paul's thinking of a Roman soldier. They called their breastplate the heart protector.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And so think about that. Breastplate of righteousness means you are righteous in God's eyes. So I think it's incredibly liberating to say to a person who's struggling with porn, a male or a female, "Listen, God's love for you isn't up for debate. Right? Kick this habit."-


Chris Grace: That's exactly right.


Tim Muehlhoff: "He doesn't love you more lifelong struggle, He doesn't love you less."


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: That's been rooted in Christ's sacrificial death and your salvation and status as a child of God. It's not up and down on the porn habit. That's what Satan wants to say.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah. God will love you more if you kick this and He loves you less because you didn't. That's the kinda shame message you wanna get away from.


Chris Grace: I think that's right and I think that's where Peter had to have the courage just to show up even.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: All right. To risk even more failure, hurt or heartbreak and that's what He called us to. That's what these disciplines call us to show up, God is there.


Tim Muehlhoff: That's right.


Chris Grace: He's sitting there and I think for him to ... There are just great models of this idea of restoration and redemption. So-


Tim Muehlhoff: So that's kind of a spiritual response. The second one really is a spiritual response as well, but it's being community. You mentioned this is the last podcast. Be in a community of people because Satan wants to isolate us and shame us.


Chris Grace: Yeah. Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And there's something good about-


Chris Grace: Yep.


Tim Muehlhoff: Sitting with other men-


Chris Grace: Yep.


Tim Muehlhoff: Sitting with other women and just for somebody to say, "Listen, I'll be honest. I struggle with this and it's hard." And there's something liberating about that to say okay, it's so ... I remember in grad school Chris, life was crazy, we had three small kids. I had a full time job with Campus Crusade for Christ and yet I'm starting a masters. It's really difficult. I keep getting invited to a study group and I just don't have time for it. Right? So one day I show up ... I had to do something on campus just at the time that the study group was meeting. So I literally walk pass the door and somebody yells, "Hey Tim! We're having our study group. Come join us." And I was like, "Ah, okay." So I sat down and what do I hear from people? "This MA is crazy. I don't know how to write the papers. This is overwhelming." And I sat there and I said, "Thank you. Oh, thank you." So I think that's liberating to hear that other people struggle with this and it doesn't make you lesser than and you're not isolated anymore.


Chris Grace: I remember Tim, a men's retreat I went to, same kind of way. I was so busy starting a new career as a professor and we went with this ... I went with this church in our ministry. And I remember they had an afternoon optional session on sexuality and I remember thinking I am going to take a nap. This would be the perfect time and literally the area where all the men were staying was empty and I'm sitting there thinking where is everybody at, while it's also a time to go out and enjoy the mountains where we were and do different activities. And I thought no, I'm gonna go check out the alternate ... this optional session. Tim, every single man on this retreat was at that-


Tim Muehlhoff: Wow.


Chris Grace: And it was so encouraging to see-


Tim Muehlhoff: Wow, yeah.


Chris Grace: That there were people there who wanted to talk about issues like this.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, that's good.


Chris Grace: But to see others around us and I think shame feeds off of our isolation and our loneliness or even kind of leads us to wanting to be away from other people. And I ... So ...


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, Noreen and I just had this experience. We were speaking at a marriage retreat and we do a talk on sexual intimacy.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And there was an optional time as well in the afternoon that Noreen and I were gonna lead, and so I closed our talk on sexual intimacy with, "Hey, so some of you may wanna just come if you have questions and stuff like this. Let me just throw out one question we get all the time and I'll just say right now, this could be provocative, and I don't think masturbation is always sin. Okay. So we're done. We'll see you at 4:30." So Noreen and I leave, we went for a walk and said, "Man, I hope somebody shows up." Well our walk actually took a little longer than we thought. So we got there just a little late, maybe three minutes late. Chris, the guy who ran the retreat came up to me and said, "I think the entire retreat is here because we never get to talk about it."


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And so people suffer in isolation and so we ... It was the most honest questions I have ever had on sexuality, pornography, masturbation.


Chris Grace: That's great.


Tim Muehlhoff: And when the masturbation thing came up, I looked at Noreen and said, "Hey, this is you. Go ahead, take it. I'll pray for you."


Chris Grace: Good luck.


Tim Muehlhoff: "I'll pray for you."


Chris Grace: I'm sitting here praying for you.


Tim Muehlhoff: Go for it.


Chris Grace: Tim, I-


Tim Muehlhoff: But again, it's the silence thing.


Chris Grace: It is and I ... And it's interesting because there's a concept, that idea of ... that the Achilles heel of shame is talking about it. That's it. So if Peter-


Tim Muehlhoff: That's good.


Chris Grace: I think Peter's shame, it would've fed on secrecy and silence and judgment just like ours.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: Right? It gets in the way of this authenticity and vulnerability. Dr. Brené Brown is this expert on shame. She asks this question, "How can we be vulnerable on ... and authentically known when we are paralyzed with fear about what others might think or see?"


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: To show up that kind of event means, "Oh, my gosh. Everybody's gonna see that I'm here and dealing with this."


Tim Muehlhoff: That's right.


Chris Grace: She says that shame only works when it keeps you in this false belief that you are alone, and so listen we have to ... we all have it. We're all afraid to talk about it-


Tim Muehlhoff: Right.


Chris Grace: And when we don't talk about it, it has control over us and here's her quote on that, "Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences who have earned the right to hear them. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive." I love that.


Tim Muehlhoff: Now let me go back to our comment.


Chris Grace: Okay.


Tim Muehlhoff: I'm sure our listeners are saying, "Hey, forget ... I don't care what you're talking about. Masturbation isn't always sin? Forget it. This is all filler. I'm hearing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."


Chris Grace: Yeah, let's go [crosstalk 00:18:24].


Tim Muehlhoff: You go back to that comment.


Chris Grace: You might wanna talk about that one.


Tim Muehlhoff: Okay. So here's what I promise because this is a prevalent issue as parents, right, we'd be naïve to think that our kids aren't struggling in the most sexualized age in the history of humanity, with all the stuff we just said about pornography that ... that ... And again, this is developmental issues as well. So there's a book that literally changed my perspective on this issue and again, having raised three boys, it's called 'How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex' by Stanley L. Jones. Stanley is the ... Jones is a former provost or current provost?


Chris Grace: He was provost at Wheaten for a long time.


Tim Muehlhoff: Okay.


Chris Grace: He's a psychologist there.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah. So he wrote a great book.


Chris Grace: Former.


Tim Muehlhoff: The chapter on masturbation is worth the price of admission of the entire book. So let me make a ... So we'll do this. We don't have time right now to co-op the entire podcast and Chris hasn't had time to adequately prepare his answer. But listen, let's do a whole podcast on it.


Chris Grace: Okay. Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: I think what I'd like to do is take that book-


Chris Grace: Okay.


Tim Muehlhoff: How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex and just present his argument about this issue and again, he's wonderfully nuanced. He references scripture and then let's you and I have a great conversation about it. So our promise to our listeners is we will dedicate a podcast-


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: To this issue and we can talk about it developmentally, spiritually so ... But right now, it'd be a bit of a cliffhanger, so stay tuned.


Chris Grace: Good. Okay.


Tim Muehlhoff: As soon as Chris is ready to go we will present it.


Chris Grace: Yeah, okay. I think that's great, Tim. Let's do that. So let's talk about what are some suggestions that you have and some tools about overcoming some of this ... the shames, destructive and toxic powers, our feelings of this and what are ... what's-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, let me be transparent from my own life. My dad was addicted to the [inaudible 00:20:02] pornography. He was on the seven, eight of that scale.


Chris Grace: Yeah, yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: And when we were 13, we found his stash. Right? He didn't know we found it but we found it, my two older brothers and me, and I had a chance to pour over that stuff for years, and by the way, that absolutely coincided with my becoming a believer at age 13. I do think there are spiritual ramifications to that. Right? So I have to have boundaries. So heres how I stay away from the drug. My wife and I have ... so I ... This may seem totally unrelated, but to me it makes perfect sense. I read this article that for every pound you lose, is four pounds off of your joints. I have osteoarthritis in my right knee. I'm trying to get my black belt in martial arts. So for me, I'm super motivated to lose weight 'cause that's significant pressure off of my knee. Well, Noreen has joined me in eating healthy.


So Chris our house, when you walk into it, it's a pretty boring house. There just isn't the junk food around because I'll tell you what, if that junk food's around, Chris frozen Kit-Kat bars. You know what I mean? Doritos, come on and [inaudible 00:21:11] ... Right? So we don't have it. So I've made the decision, two decisions when it comes to this electronic drug. One, on my computer that's right in front of me right now in the studio, I have Covenant Eyes. A friend of ours, John, is my accountability partner. So every week, John gets a print out on this laptop of exactly where I went on the laptop and so we talk about it literally every week. He says, "Hey, I'm just ... I just wanna clarify what's this." Because sometimes Covenant Eyes registers something 'cause it's a derivative of ... Like you to ... Right now you go to Sports Illustrated, well the Swimsuit Edition's gonna be the link to that. Right? Not that I looked it, but that it can pop up ... Covenant Eyes. So Noreen is greatly comforted that I have an accountability partner. It helps me with this computer to know hey listen, I don't get to go wherever I want.


Second, I've made ... I've made the decision not to have a smart phone partly because man, I don't want that in my back pocket. I don't want a chance to hit the drug in my back pocket. So I've just made that decision and Covenant Eyes does make an app for cell phones.


Chris Grace: Sure.


Tim Muehlhoff: So I'm not saying you have to get rid of your cell phone. I just wanna have an environment where I ... all these temptations aren't just easily ... It'd be like having all this junk food and then I ... suddenly I make a decision I wanna eat healthy. I do think it's good to clean the cupboards electronically every once in a while and so those are two quick ways electronically. It just helps me and I'll add one more. On our television, we have parental controls.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: This is when the kids were young.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Well, guess what? They're still they're still there because late at night, on TV with basic cable or satellite, you can find nasty stuff anytime you want to. So Noreen has the codes, I don't. So I have to ask her, "Hey, I wanna watch this. It's legit, it's fine. It's just for some reason it's blocked. Can you punch in the code?" Noreen says, "Absolutely."


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: But that's another level of me just cleaning out the cupboards.


Chris Grace: No, I think that's great practical advice, Tim. I do something similar with same thing, another thing called ... It's called Content Barrier.


Tim Muehlhoff: Oh.


Chris Grace: You also have an accountability person who gets a print out, a read out. The same thing with me, my computer has parental blocks on it or on my phone.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yep yep.


Chris Grace: And it's rare that I'll run into a site that I really need and then [inaudible 00:23:40] will open it up but that's the same way and you're like, "Hey, I need to look at this site." But to know that it also prevents any kind of pornographic ... at least explicit material from coming through and it can't-


Tim Muehlhoff: That's right.


Chris Grace: Come through the block. Now of course, there are a lot of people who get around that and kids in particular are so good at this, but it's not the only thing but Tim, it's a great way. But I think the idea is ... What you're getting at is this notion of being able to talk about it with somebody that cares for you, that trusts you or that you trust that wants to have these conversations with you. I think that is cutting off this power of isolation and loneliness and shame.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yes, I totally agree but now we're back to why we started with the spiritual perspective first, 'cause Chris if my heart's not right-


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Guess what? I'm gonna find a way around any electronic hindrance.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: If my heart's not in the right place, guess what? I'll find a ... So the first opportunity I have not on my computer, not on my phone. If my heart's not in the right place, I'm gonna take that ... That's why the spiritual thing is so important and the [inaudible 00:24:43]. But I love the fact that, guess what? You clean the cupboards and you try and eat healthy. I think that's certainly a great step in the right direction.


Chris Grace: I do too, and just your ability to talk to somebody else, to reach out to them and to practice in front of them to be vulnerable, by sharing this very aspect of your heart and life with them, and they get to see that. In fact, I remember Brené Brown talking ... I remember her quote saying, "Shame can't survive being spoken. Talking cuts shame off at its knees." That's what this is.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: It's ability for you to share with somebody and me to share with the person when they hear this, and I could talk to them about this and helps me move forward-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: In a powerful way.


Tim Muehlhoff: And let me just talk to the people who listened to our last podcast and [inaudible 00:25:26]. They're a seven, they're an eight. Again, that would be like me trying to fix my right knee on my own.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: I don't need a-


Chris Grace: It's going to take experts.


Tim Muehlhoff: Orthopedic doctor.


Chris Grace: That's right. Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: Right. So I went to a doctor who said, "Okay. A couple things we need to do is one, we gotta get you an off loader brace. Second, I want you to do some physical therapy. Third, I want you to lose weight." Right? So again, if you're at a seven and eight, we can't just look at our spouse and say, "Stop it. I want you to stop it now.", because that's not gonna happen. It's time to go to a specialist and get ... find out what's fueling this as well as getting help from an expert perspective and I think that's important to say.


Chris Grace: That's good. Tim, as listeners may now be attempting to process where they're at. Some of ... other advice that you would give, obviously this discipline. I think it's a great model for them to be able to work on fasting and prayer, to work on having somebody there that they can share with to cut this idea of being isolated off by being vulnerable. And then ... Anything else that you would say, this is really going to be key when it comes to dealing with this particular issue for those that are trying to grow.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, let me mention something. I think it's the single best thing I've ever read on the topic. You can find it online, it's called 'The War Within' and there is no author. The author wrote it anonymously. Leadership Journal, which is a publication of Christianity Today, basically said, "I'll agree to write this article." He's a pastor of a mega church, but he's never ... To my knowledge, he's never come public and he wrote the most insightful ... into his 15 year struggle with pornography that I've ever read, ever read, and I often suggest it to spouses, to a wife in particular. You wanna get just a glimpse into a man who's a Godly man, doing great ministry, his ... the depths of his struggle. The way you can find it is, just simply type in The War Within, Leadership Journal and you're gonna find it. He actually wrote a [rejoinder 00:27:31] to it, I think like six years later. He said, "The War Within Continues." But Chris, it is profound to see a man who is staring at the depths and watching a friend who was clearly at the eight, nine level and it ruined him. It ruined him physically and it ruined his ministry and it kinda scared him straight a little bit, that he began this long journey back. But it is profoundly written.


Chris Grace: Well that's a lot of ... I think hopeful ways of approaching this and we're just scratching the surface of some of the deeper issues that are going on. But also recognizing that this is a battle, this is something we've been equipped for. We have some great models and resources scripturally, spiritually.


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: And then others who've joined in this journey and to learn from them. So Tim, that's real helpful. Thanks for also sharing some of that and ...


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah and last comment Chris, I really wanna speak to the listener, male or female, who feels like, "Okay. I crossed the line, I can't go back. I just can't go back." I would really suggest that you look at Luke 15. This is where Jesus paints the worst case scenario with the prodigal son.


Chris Grace: Yeah, yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: This is the worst case you could think of and the Greek word when the father saw the son far off, is he literally runs to him. In the Greek, that's a sprint.


Chris Grace: Yeah.


Tim Muehlhoff: So just know that you can come back.


Chris Grace: Yeah. That's right.


Tim Muehlhoff: And don't listen to the lie that you can't.


Chris Grace: I love that. In Isiah 43:18-19, one other that says, "Do not call to mind the former things or plunder the things of the past. Remember that behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it?" And I think this idea, He'll make roadways in the wilderness and rivers in desert, Tim. I think sometimes some people get so caught up in this shame and guilt process that they don't realize that God is actually at work redeeming, loving and bringing them back-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.


Chris Grace: And we still wallowing back in those sins. Remember Corrie ten Boom said this, "God takes our sins and casts them into the sea of forgetfulness." And Micah eight talks about and then he puts up a sign that says 'No Fishing'. Sometimes we go back and-


Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.


Chris Grace: We wanna fish for those sins and he's saying, "This is my forgiveness."


Tim Muehlhoff: That's right. That's right.


Chris Grace: It's deep and profound and thanks for sharing that with us.


Tim Muehlhoff: Great final word. That's good.


Chris Grace: All right. Well good talking with you all and go ... Again, if you have ... other questions, you can obviously write us. Send us your questions and we'll address them in future times and again, we have another podcast coming up on this, hopefully in the near future. Tim, it's been good visiting with you.


Tim Muehlhoff: As always, Chris. Thanks.


Chris Grace: Take care.