The New York Times has been writing about the profile of the Atlanta shooter and his “sexual addiction” battles against pornography and lust. Anyone who spent time in evangelicalism will identify with his purity battles that he dealt with. In the “forever war” against pornography the battle with lust is long, exhausting and soul crushing. Males inside evangelicalism realize that they often can’t win. And they are also caught in the dilemma of wanting to date but fearing of becoming sexually active while they do. Accountability is often a means of control and a weapon used by people in ministry. The culture against porn often uses fear and warns that if you look at pornography you too will become just like Ted Bundy and a serial killer hunting women down out of compulsion. Its known as the “forever war” and in evangelicalism it leads to PTSD, anxiety and other issues.
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.“
“Nine-tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be.“
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NIV
The video cover for the pornographic movie Deep Throat.
A couple of years back this blog did a post about the issues of evangelical accountability. You can read that in, “Does Evangelical Culture Contribute to Pornography? Plus the Torment Accountability has Left in My Life.” Before you read this blog article make sure you read the post preceding this at, “The New York Times Looks at the Atlanta Shooter and the Male Purity Programs He Did in Evangelical Christianity.” This article is a reflection on the evangelical culture and what its like to be a man and constantly hammered over pornography and lust. This post is designed to cover the years in my life from 1999 until 2017. Before we get into this post I want to pose a question for you to think about. If alleged suspect shooter Robert Aaron Long was not raised within evangelical culture would those eight people in Georgia still be alive today? Then let me flip the question, in the end did evangelical culture also kill those eight people in Atlanta? Think about that as I tell you about the evangelical machine to fight lust, as experienced by one individual who saw others be steamrolled by this machine. It is psychologically crushing and the “forever war” to combat porn leaves nothing but destroyed lives in its wake.
The Forever War Starts at Fresno Evangelical Free in 1999 and a Bachelor Party at Campus Crusade for Christ at Fresno State
I’m going back about twenty one years but for me I would say it started with a sermon in the fall of 1999 at Fresno Evangelical Free by Josh Hawley (today at The Well Fresno). In the talk the college pastor at the time lamented some of the stories he heard in the college group of guys who looked at pron. With the rapture happening any day why would you sin in that context? Why would anyone sin in that context? It was a very manipulative and guilt laden sermon. I became involved in Fresno Evangelical Free because that was the church people from Campus Crusade referred individuals to become involved. The first time it happened was with a guy in my Bible study. If I remember correctly we met in a restaurant place for breakfast and he comes in and sits in the booth. And the first thing he tells me is, “David I have to tell you this…I masturbated in the shower this morning.” It happened frequently where people volunteered such information and I didn’t know how to respond at times. I didn’t know what to make of it, and it would be the start of a long process of seeing guys beat themselves up over masturbation, porn and dating. Or of how women were viewed in that system. The challenge I saw early on was being in a culture that celebrated marriage but simultaneously guilted people on dating and the risk that posed for sexual activity. If you engaged in sex as a young man, it was basically game over in the evangelical world. There was no worse sin on the planet. But one night at Campus Crusade they had a bachelor party for one of the Crusade leaders, whose name was Brandon. Sanctity of marriage was pushed hard in Crusade and now that he was getting married there were a lot of jokes about him losing his virginity. Many people were envious because of how sex was treated in evangelical culture. I sat there in the room and saw someone from Crusade staff give this guy a packet of Trojan condoms. People laughed and he was encouraged to be sexual. The expectations that were high for this guy on his wedding night was unique. Evangelicalism in this context was deeply sexualized.
Lessons From Saving Private Ryan and Spiritual Warfare at a Crusade Winter Conference in San Diego
At the Christmas Conference for Campus Crusade in 2000 in San Diego they spoke about spiritual warfare. Saving Private Ryan was a popular World Wear II hit by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. In a darkened ballroom they showed the dramatic opening landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. You can watch the clip above but you need to do it on YouTube. That clip was used to talk about spiritual warfare. In the men’s time they referred to that clip to remind people and broadcast warnings. The devil was crawling to consume you and porn and sex was his weapon of choice. Fighting lust would be like landing at Normandy in 1944. Lives would be taken out as the consequence of sin is severe and there would be spiritual causalities. The larger than life battle against lust was and felt overwhelming. Some of the guys were shaken up by the parallels of fighting porn to the Normandy landings in 1944. But in this context they encouraged accountability groups, accountability software and much more. Like the fool I was, I took this hook, line and sinker ready for fighting the “forever war” of lust.
The Forever War Continues with “Dave I Kissed Her What am I Going to do?”
As a leader of Crusade at Marquette I got to know other people in Crusade at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and indeed other chapters in Wisconsin since I went to a lot of retreats and events. Porn was talked about and stressed on retreats and functions with the danger of it and masturbation stressed. Also stressed is being careful in dating, and even praying with females. In this culture some people went on Summer Projects so that they could date and have accountability from their Crusade members or staff wherever they were at. On these projects I heard of stories of Cru staff who questioned those dating on their purity and if they masturbated. Today its troubling to think of a guy in their 50’s or so asking such sensitive questions of a 19 to 21 year old kid. Sexual purity and fighting lust was constant as lust was thought of as fighting a war. I remember one time someone from another Crusade chapter called me. He had kissed and touched his girlfriend and he acted like his life was over. He was afraid of Cru leadership finding out. In that culture purity was breached and he was just minutes from going into bed with her. In this culture you always feared the worst. On a scale of one to ten, the way it worked is first a one, then followed by a fifteen. You were always alarmed and on your toes. Relaxing your guard was never a possibility, because you feared sex. And the devil was prowling waiting to consume you.
Crusade Staff Member’s Wife Speaks to the Women About Their Role in Keeping Men Sexually Pure, Which is Similar to this C.J. Mahaney Talk
On one of the Crusade retreats the wife of a Crusade member pulled the women together and spoke to them about lust. It was actually similar to the above talk from C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries. The Crusade wife spoke about how men were engaged in a spiritual warfare and were fighting spiritual battles. Women had no idea how much guys struggled with lust. She spoke with the females about dressing modest and wearing clothes that would not cause men to “stumble.” Low cut clothing, see through clothing were raised and addressed. Women in this culture were taught that men were the shinning knight and pure. But women were also responsible in keeping men sexually pure. John Eldredrge was pushed in this culture, and for me it was about saving the damsel in distress. But it also created problems. My accountability partner in Milwaukee kept running into difficulties when he dated. He once shared with me his frustration. The females he tried to date eventually learned of his previous sexual situations which came as a part of growing up. They regularly rejected him because they viewed him as not pure and spoiled. He was damaged goods. He was measured by a couple of sexual experiences that happened a couple of years prior. The rejection by females is one of the factors that led to him becoming atheist in time.
Destroying your VCR and then wanting to watch Galexyquest.
“You’re Addicted to Porn You Need to Get Rid of your Computer, DVD Player etc..”
Accountability was pushed and many guys were always confessing their stumbles. From a TV commercial, to a magazine ad, to a movie to more. Everyone it seemed was addicted to porn. At both church and in Crusade a number of people were pushed into Christian counseling. Guys tormented themselves if they masturbated in the shower. I had people who regularly shared that they masturbated or said they looked at porn. Then they said it was just a Hollywood movie that was released. There were times that people were constantly guilted. Being in this culture myself I threw out a VCR a couple of times and then thought, “Wait how can I watch Galexyquest?” There were a number of guys who got rid of electronics, or they were encouraged to get rid of their computers. In this culture everyone was addicted to porn. In prayers people would say, “God help me with my porn problem.” And often times I later learned it was different than what they were communicating. Sometimes people jumped on the bandwagon to fit in the culture in this area. It was weird. There were people who were referred to “approved” (translation fundamentalist) Christian counselors. There they’d pick apart their life. And the Bible would be used as a hammer. Or they were just taught to find what triggered them into lustful thoughts. Sometimes it meant just to go along with the program. You’d confess things you didn’t do because of the culture you were in.
Accountability, Covenant Eyes and “What were you looking at on CNN?”
In this culture software programs like Covenant Eyes were pushed for internet accountability. If you look at this internet accountability statement from First Baptist Church Crabapple its so close to what I would hear being pushed. Accountability happened in so many ways. You’d get into someone’s face and ask them what did they look at on the internet? They would ask you about masturbation or lust. When did they last masturbate? It was a mutually bruising relationship as you’d beat each other up on a regular basis. Today looking back I am horrified that I asked and answered such questions as they are really none of my business. Nor are they anyone else’s business. But it was how the evangelical culture operated. I had Covenant Eyes installed on my computer in time and one of the questions I would be asked about is what was I reading on CNN? A couple of years ago I wrote about Covenant Eyes in, “How Michael Holm a Former NSA Mathmatician Who Works at PicNix Inc. Helped Covenant Eyes Become More Like Oceania.”
Struggle with porn? You’re going to be the next serial killer like Ted Bundy
Minneapolis Christmas Conference with Crusade and Mark Lasaar and Recalling Ted Bundy and James Dobson’s Interview on Pornography
In the evangelical culture one often beat themselves up through fear. And evangelicalism was all too willing to feed people fear. Fear is a psychological weapon inside evangelicalism. In evangelicalism James Dobson reigned supreme. It was told a couple of times from the church pulpit and a couple of men’s conferences that he interviewed Ted Bundy who was a notorious Florida serial killer. Bundy blamed his serial killing spree in which he confessed to killing at least 30 people to being involved in pornography. Porn can turn you violent and as it was shared that unless you got lust under control then you too could end up like Ted Bundy. Fear was also used at the Minneapolis Christmas Conference. They had a night for guys where they rented the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis which was used for sporting events. For your knowledge the dome was torn down in 2013. In the Metrodome they had a talk by Dr. Mark Lasaar who spoke about how serious porn addition can be. Crusade choose him to speak because he shared a story with the leadership team of a guy addicted to porn who took a knife and a spoon and cut his own eyes out. It was a literal version of Matthew 5:29-30. It was implied that others could do that also. I heard the story in talking with other people. It went around the Cru conference. Lasaar gave a fear laden message on what people would do to their lives unless they got porn under control and took it seriously. And like any evangelical presentation there was always a book or series of books that you had to buy. The Evangelical Industrial Complex always won. And as it often works at the time I didn’t think any better and gave into the fear. Why? Because I didn’t want to be a serial killer or destroy my life through crime taught in different channels.
The Forever War for my Small Group Leader at Elmbrook’s Bible Study is His Confession, “I Struggle With Same Sex Lust..”
When I lived in Milwaukee I was involved in the Twenty Something Program at Elmbrook Church. In this evangelical culture my small group leader came out and shared that he struggled with same sex attraction. He then shared his commitment to fighting himself and also gave a talk before the ministry one day. My small group leader dealt with this long term. He was involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at his University of Wisconsin school where he debated gays talking about homosexuality. He did so while using the Bible and talking about how he understood where they were coming form. He later reached a point at his life where went through hell with his family because his feelings were not changing. Then he finally accepted the fact that he was gay. He sent me and others a coming out letter in which he explained being gay is who he is. Today it breaks my heart when I consider what he endured and the fear that existed around people like him. He knew that in the “forever war” someone like him had no place in the church. He would never fit in and not be able to contribute. Today he is a professional gay man who is concerned with the harm from evangelical culture toward young gay men.
Confessions Being Used as a Weapon Against You
There is another aspect to this accountability culture that I learned in a brutal way. And that is when private information is used like a weapon against you or others. Its almost similar to a five year old that finds his parents loaded hand gun in their bedroom and plays with it. I was a candidate for a company and was interviewing with them in Milwaukee. I asked a ministry leader that I knew if I could use him as a reference. He agreed. Human Resources contacted him and in the interview he shared confidential information that I once shared with him years ago. The fact that he brought it up voluntarily horrified me and that he used it as a weapon that could have derailed a job bothered me. Evangelicals carelessly use the word addiction and it sickened me. When I was hired by this company HR met with me and asked about what this ministry leader said. It was one of the weirdest conversations I had in my professional life. Seeing the evangelical bubble clash with other areas of life was weird. It taught me how out of touch some evangelicals are today.
McLean Bible Mission Trip and the Danger of Porn and Becoming a Molester
When I moved to the Washington, D.C. area I did a mission trip through McLean Bible Church to England in 2007. I wrote about my past history with McLean Bible Church in, “The Wondering Eagle’s History with McLean Bible Church.” Prior to the trip I heard a couple of stories about sex abuse and my team leader spoke against the dangers of porn. Pornography can lead you to becoming a sexual predator and it was a risk. It was a variation on what James Dobson said about Ted Bundy. And while I can admit that for some people it can lead to problems not every guy who casually looks at porn is going to sexually molest people in their life. Evangelicals use fear as a tool, and that is what I heard from my England Mission Team Leader.
Accountability Backfires, “I’m a Baptist I Can’t Struggle With Porn!”
Accountability is not a program that works long term. The way evangelicals use it as I learned eventually leads to burnout and being fried. And I learned this as well. This happened almost ten years into evangelicalism in 2009. Even more tragic is that it destroyed a close friendship from Milwaukee that I still privately mourn. My accountability partner was dishonest in the relationship at times. He felt as if he had to put up a front to project the image of having it all together, he grew up as a Baptist in West Bend, Wisconsin. He didn’t want to let me down and nor did he want to let others down. He was tired and frustrated by the heavy psychological burden that came from accountability. As he explained to me in a heated Facebook conversation, he said, “I’m a Baptist I can’t struggle with porn or lust!” At this blog I refer to my former accountability partner through the pseudonym of Zach. Zach went through other challenges including his brother coming out as gay who went to John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist. Zach also had to deal with females rejecting him when he dated because he was not “Mr. Perfect” and not the “Knight in Shiny Armor” as taught to females in evangelicalism. After all his experiences in evangelicalism Zach finally rejected it and married an atheist in Chicago where he no longer considers himself Christian. This blog doesn’t blame him rejecting faith, if anything it understands and empathizes. Evangelical faith is one that leaves destroyed lives in your wake. Zach is one of many. Years ago I was angry that he was dishonest in his accountability. But as time went on I realized that he was a victim of that same sick theological system that I was from. Several years ago I wrote him an open letter which you can read in, “An Open Letter to Zach (Campus Crusade Student Leader UW – Milwaukee 2002-2004)“
Being Invited to a Porn Addiction Group at Redeemer Arlington and Hearing, “Dave I Masturbated in the Shower Again!”
In a faith crisis I was being evangelized by an Air Force Captain who has the pseudonym name Andrew White at this blog from 2011 until May of 2013. And like other evangelicals Andrew came up to me and confessed masturbating in the shower. This was happening so often that it bothered me. Why was I hearing all this? But it kept occurring. Andrew journaled about his battles with lust and his guilt about masturbation. When his wife Jillian read about it in a journal there was a fight which he told me about. I remember thinking to myself “this is not a healthy marriage.” Redeemer Arlington was former Sovereign Grace and under the influence of C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. It was known for its fundamentalism and its leaders Jordan Kauflin and Eric Simmons came from Covenant Life Church. Covenant Life was known for its fundamentalism so much so that in the library of the church science books and sections about evolution stapled together or cut out of the book entirely. Andrew wanted me to get involved in a porn support group and study Edward Welch. Redeemer was using, “Crossroads: A Step-By-Step Guide Away from Addiction: Study Guide.” And when I saw the problems with Sovereign Grace we clashed. Andrew also wanted me to meet a guy named Tim Wilson who was in that same porn group. In Sovereign Grace basically all guys were full fledged porn “addicts.” Tim told the story of his Methodist father leaving his mother and then committing suicide.
When Andrew triggered a false accusation that took aim at my name, ability to earn income and more I was also confused. Andrew has asked me to come to his apartment he shared with his wife and to change the password of his computer so he couldn’t access porn when his wife was out of town. The false accusation Andrew gave birth to dealt with stalking. I couldn’t make sense of it? Who invites a stalker into their home and asks them to change the password on their computer so they won’t access porn? It made no sense. This taught me that evangelicals are warped on sin. If its sexual sin its in a league of its own but there are many other sins that hurt people and that is acceptable.
Men’s Group Accountability with a Sex Offender at Fairfax Community Church
As I was trying to re-build my life following that false accusation I became involved in Fairfax Community Church. I got involved in the Men’s Ministry there and got to know an Eric Nickles. They also did accountability which seemed to be a lot of what Men’s Ministry is in an evangelical church. One day I heard a story of a guy who was involved who was getting ready for prison it appeared. Perhaps he was waiting for his sentencing. He made some comments in this group that had a number of people and I deduced that this was a guy who got caught up in some child pornography. It hit me as I listened to him talk and some others that some people didn’t know the difference between child pornography and regular pornography. Pornography is pornography and in a world of sin is sin, its all the same. What also was worse is that under Eric the group met in the Pre-Kindergarten classroom and later on I learned that Eric Nickle was a sex offender in Virginia. And that the church lied about him and misled the congregation. This was Rod Stafford’s leadership that took this action. So how is this for accountability? You open yourself up to a sex offender who has a history of sexual abuse. That information shared can be used against you. And the church defends the sex offender and lies about him. Who is holding Rod Stafford and the leadership of Fairfax Community Church accountable? This situation taught me as to how warped evangelicals are about sin. How they level it and how its twisted against people. Some churches like to keep people in accountability programs long term as its way to collect information on people that can be used later. Its beyond disturbing.
No I Don’t Believe in Sex Addiction as Defined in Evangelical Circles
In modern psychiatry there is no such thing as sex addiction. The guidelines for all mental health issues and diseases is the DSM 5. The DSM-5 is used by health professionals, social workers, and forensic and legal specialists to diagnose and classify mental disorders, and is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health. Sex addiction was briefly in there before being removed in 2012. Addiction is thrown around casually in the echo chamber of evangelicalism which lives in in its own world of alternative facts. Now that doesn’t mean people can’t be sick or have mental illness but what if situations like obsessive compulsion disorder or other issues drive people to engage in sexual misconduct or destructive sexual behavior? Not only that but you consider how hostile evangelicals are to mental health issues and psychology, that is also a serious problem as well. Because of what psychology and modern mental health says about sex addiction I take their word over the evangelicals. In my book I will always trust the science and those trained experts who have the university and medical health training.
Evangelicals Are Not Healthy About Sex, Some Thoughts About This Forever War Culture
It took me two days to do this post. Why? Because of how hard it was to compose. Reading that New York Times article and a couple of others flooded me with so many memories. I’ve tried hard to forget some of these evangelical systems which are abusive and have no redeeming purpose. In the stories above there is so much collateral damage. Harmed and destroyed lives. From 1999 until 2017 there are people I know from my time in Campus Crusade and some of the churches I was involved with who washed out because of programs like sexual purity and accountability. The reason why evangelicalism fails as a theology system is because it demands perfection. To be a good evangelical mans you have to lie and put on a façade because humans can not deny their humanity. Humans are created to be sexual, and evangelicalism denies that fact and lives in an alternate universe in a world of their own facts and realities. The longer a person stays inside evangelicalism the more detached they become from reality.
You know what is so hard about this post is that many of the churches, pastors, Crusade staff that I know are still working in their professions. Their reign of mayhem, or better put their destruction of lives is not yet complete as more people will have their lives harmed. Evangelicalism is a zero sum gain in the end. It is nothing beyond that. And as the people wash out you know what also pains me and is upsetting? How many churches or ministries hold these guys and individuals to a standard that they themselves will not live up to? How many churches have covered up sex abuse and other misconduct? It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that in its history McLean Bible covered up sex crimes. Fairfax Community Church also misled their community about a sex offender. There was James MacDonald looking at porn, Ravi Zacharias who assaulted women in a spa in Georgia and Ted Haggard having affairs with gay prostitutes while leading the battle call against gay marriage. I can’t began to share my disappointment that evangelicalism is that corrupt as a system. But it is. But the fact remains that evangelicals are deeply toxic about sex. They have taken a wonderful and celebrated part of human life and stained, ridiculed and abused it. And that leads me to the question I posed up above at the start of this post. There is no way, no possible path to overcome the lust issue in evangelicalism. This is why its called the “forever war” as it has no end and is harmful because it teaches you to hate yourself. In my life all the accountability programs, Bible studies over lust, men’s times at retreats, Crusade conferences were spiritually crushing. Lacking hope and beating the victim a thousands times asking, “Do you have this message yet?” You can’t win in a system like that at all. In the end what you have is most likely PTSD from evangelicalism as well as anxiety. Many guys have a lower self esteem as they are taught to constantly criticize themselves.
Who Killed the Spa Victims? Was it Robert Aaron Long or Was it Modern Evangelical Christianity?
I want you to remember these names before we get into this final section. Soon Chung Park, age 74. Hyun Jung Grant, age 51.
Suncha Kim, age 69. Yong Yue, age 63. Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33. Paul Andre Michels, age 54. Xiaojie Tan, age 49. And finally but just as important Daoyou Feng, age 44. They were all killed in the Atlanta area. If Robert Aaron Long grew up as a non evangelical would all eight individuals be alive today? Would they have been gunned down in a brutal and vicious way? Lets say Long grew up like a lot of other Americans. Had his first sexual experience in high school, was sexually active with his girlfriend in college. If that side developed as a healthy component of his life would these eight people still be alive today? While nothing is certain, I do think its highly likely they would still be alive today. In my view there is no possible way Robert Aaron Long could have developed a healthy view of himself or sexuality in such a shame based system that made him feel guilty about sexuality. That shame only fueled the dark side of his connection to the sex industry in a dark way.
But what about those who teach and push a toxic view of sexuality which is a major issue in American evangelicalism? Do people like John Piper, Matt Chandler, James MacDionald, C.J. Mahaney, Rod Stafford of Fairfax Community Church, the Jordan Kauflin or Eric Simmons and Crusade staff like individuals such as Steve Papez or Erick Lettner because of their obsession with sexuality teachings also deserve blame in the end? How many people are having their mind virtually raped by evangelicalism? Is Robert Aaron Long guilty in the end? And this is the answer from this blog. Yes he is guilty as he allegedly pulled the trigger. But Long is also a by-product of the same sick evangelical system that I came from as well. Up above I shared my stories and of the people I knew hammered on lust and pornography. There are other Robert Aaron Longs who are being needlessly created because of how evangelicalism conducts itself. So even though Robert Aaron Long deserves blame for the shooting, those ministers and staff people mentioned above also are complicit because they have created the system, and they still work the system that is still operating. Robert Allen Long this blog believes is guilty of murder. But how much responsibility do we acknowledge of evangelicalism’s role in this sad tragedy? This blog believes that can not be ignored or downplayed. Feel free to disagree if you think otherwise, but the evangelical culture should also be indicted in this tragedy in Atlanta.