Porn. We are only now beginning to realize the extent of its effects on the brain, relationships, and society at a time when sexually explicit content is just a click away. Christians have recognized pornography’s negative impact for decades, yet it is still often considered a “male” problem within the Church. This can leave women who struggle with porn addiction feeling isolated and alone.
Crystal Renaud, the founder of Dirty Girls Ministries (recently rebranded as SheRecovery and now located at SheRecovery.com), discovered a dirty magazine in her brother’s room at age 10 and became addicted to porn, continuing to view it as a youth group leader in high school. After recovering from her own addiction, she started Dirty Girls Ministries in 2009 to provide women with help, hope and healing from pornography and sexual addiction by creating safe spaces of accountability and community.
So, what’s so bad about porn anyway? Fight The New Drug (fightthenewdrug.org) has compiled research showing that pornography is not private gratification without consequences in the real world. From a neurological perspective, porn releases dopamine, the same pleasure chemical found in addictive drugs. With the flood of dopamine, the brain compensates by removing some of the receptors, so that over time it will take harder and harder porn to get the same “high.”
Seeing idealized, flawless, and submissive women on screen can also set men (and women) up for failure and disappointment in their real life relationships. Porn’s version of intimacy is passive, cruel, and self-serving, while real love requires sacrifice, compromise, and commitment. Seeing women (and men) treated as objects online is more likely to make viewers desensitized to real abuse, and even act out the violence themselves. Add to that the drugs, abuse, and trafficking found in the industry, and we can see that porn is extremely damaging—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
As Christians, however, we believe that pornography also has a spiritual component. Though the Bible doesn’t address online porn, it does speak often about “sexual immorality,” or anything deviating from God’s original plan for monogamous sex within a life-long marriage. Though there may be disagreements about how to apply verses about sexuality to our day and culture, the apostle Paul advised the Corinthian people to “flee” from sexual sin, because they were to commit their bodies (and hearts and minds) to glorifying God rather than themselves (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Dirty Girls Ministries addresses the spiritual significance of porn as the basis for their recovery process. New members are encouraged to take the Personal Inventory, a series of questions self-evaluating the scope of addiction and sexual activities, in order to “admit our true condition and know exactly where we are.” According to their website, addiction recovery involves “understanding the seriousness of sexual sin,” “evaluating where you are vulnerable to sexual sin,” “confessing honestly where you have messed up,” and “committing to sexual purity from this day forward.” Addicts accomplish these goals through five steps:
1. Surrender: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
2. Confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9
3. Accountability: “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
4. Responsibility: “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” Ezra 4:10
5. Sharing: “They have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” Revelation 12:11
Dirty Girls Ministries helps women through their recovery process with their free protected online community of over 2500 members. After joining, members are encouraged to form MeetAbility groups to work through Dirty Girls Come Clean, Crystal Renaud’s memoir about sexual addiction. Then, the women find someone to keep them accountable and on track with their goals, take responsibility in mending broken relationships, and share what they have learned with others.
For more information about Dirty Girls Ministries, which is now a sub-ministry of WHOLE Women Ministries, visit www.dirtygirlsministries.com or call (913) 667-9492. There is also a form to request Crystal Renaud as a speaker if you are interested in facilitating a conversation about female porn addiction, or a variety of other topics, at your own church. For men, spouses, and parents, there are many other resources as well, including XXX Church (www.xxxchurch.com) and Blazing Grace (www.blazinggrace.org). Integrity Restored also has a list of books, websites and support groups (integrityrestored.com/resources-for-overcoming-pornography-addiction/).
Addiction of any kind is isolating, but Christian women struggling with sexual addiction may feel too embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone. If that’s you, know that you are not alone. There are many other women in the same position as you, and true friends will walk alongside you no matter what. Dirty Girls Ministries is a wonderful resource for recovery and accountability, and the message in their name is even better. Even the “dirtiest” girls can come clean physically from their addiction, and spiritually through a relationship with God.