Help for porn addicts available online
Posted on Jul 6, 2007 | by Bonnie Pritchett/Southern Baptist TEXAN
DALLAS (BP)--The statistics are unnerving, though Jason Illian admits the damage to the Kingdom of God is hard to quantify just yet.
It is in the secret places -- behind closed office doors, locked studies -- that Americans, mostly teen and adult men, are seeking and very easily finding access to a proliferation of Internet porn.
Pure Online (www.pureonline.com) is a fairly new resource aimed at being a first step for Christians with sex addictions, especially pornography. Through a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources, the company offers an online Bible study to help men and women seek sexual purity one day at a time.
In the two years since the company went online, more than 10,000 clients have logged on and purchased the workshop materials. Although millions are drawn to porn on the Internet, Illian, the Pure Online CEO, said his company is helping to redeem some of those souls one at a time.
Through streaming videos and downloadable workbooks, clients can, in private and complete confidentiality, begin the journey to freedom. It begins with repentance, Illian said.
He said Pure Online is unique on the Internet in its approach to providing Christian resources for sexually addicted men and women. The goal is to route clients back onto the path of righteousness. The workshops, developed by author and Christian counselor Joe Dallas, use the acronym ROUTEóRepentance, Order, Understanding, Training and Endurance.
In an overview of its resources, Pure Online states: "The program was created by a team of men who understand what you are going through -- and specifically the unbelievable barriers to getting help. We understand the need for confidentiality and the need for a program that can help without you having to tell four different people that you need help."
Created two years ago by Brandon Cotter, Pure Online is now steered by Illian. Both men, graduates of Texas Christian University, were drawn to the issues surrounding sexual sin and how it is damaging society. Though they were walking a similar path, speaking God's truth regarding sex and relationships, it wasn't until after graduation that the two men met and realized they had a common concern and a unique opportunity to help the healing.
"Anyway you look at it, it's bad," Illian said of the proliferation of porn in the last decade. A recent study he reviewed stated that one-third to as much as one-half of Americans view porn on a daily basis.
And the problem is not an "other people" experience. It is in the church -- and the church, he stated, is not dealing with it.
"The reality is we need to speak openly and honestly about this so lives can be healed. Here's the problem: If we don't talk about it [godly sexual relations] on the healthy side, we'll have to deal with it on the porn side."
Illian noted the recent disgrace of Ted Haggard, pastor of megachurch New Life Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colo., who was fired last November after it was revealed he had a relationship with a male prostitute. Illian said the pastor probably had several opportunities over the years to seek help, but he didn't. Other pastors, hiding sexual sins, have little or no accountability and therefore no one to turn to for help.
"This sin," Illian said, "trails behind and affects everything you do."
That is where Pure Online becomes a lifeline for renewal and reconciliation. Illian said a person may log on to the website and select one of the four workshops and begin. Each workshop is geared to a specific user: single men, married men, single women and a workshop with counseling for married men. There are also resources for pastors, wives and parents. The workshops range in cost from $140 for a 15-chapter session to $450 for a similar session that includes personal phone counseling.
Beginning the healing is not easy, Illian admitted. So many men deny they even have a problem and have to hit rock bottom before seeking help, while others are too embarrassed to confess to a confidant.
Sexual sin seems to draw a more repulsive response from the church than other sins such as alcohol and drug addiction, Illian said. But having a Christian accountability partner is one of the goals for Pure Online clients. Such a friend keeps the client focused on the process of healing and helps prevent further excursions into the darker side of cyberspace.
"Isn't that what being a Christian is all about? Grace?" Illian asked.
He said the pureonline.com website gets thousands of hits and about 200 new clients a month.
"We'll take them one at a time if that is God's desire." But Illian hopes to broaden the website's scope of influence in order to make the site more accessible.
Churches and ministries with websites can choose to post a Pure Online banner. The advertisement would be a direct link to the self-help website. LifeWay has posted the site under its Christian Resources section.
Illian said the pornography industry has not only been prolific in its production of filth but has been on the cutting edge of technology, creating new ways to disseminate their product. Thanks to them, Illian said, films and still images can be downloaded to cell phones and iPods. It is Illian's goal to give the porn industry a run for its money in the arena of accessibility.
"For once we can't let the porn industry get ahead. We want to be just as accessible, and have an equal number of resources."
Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.