John Fuller: On this episode of Focus on the Family, we’re returning to a very serious, heartbreaking issue that puts many marriages at risk. And this topic is not suitable for younger listeners.
Rosie Makinney: You’re not fighting for the marriage that you had minus the pornography. You’re fighting for something new, something beyond your greatest expectations, because pornography is not the problem. Pornography is the solution to an intimacy disorder, so that’s what you’re fighting for. You’re not fighting to just get rid of pornography. You’re fighting for this new level of vulnerability, honesty, authenticity that you’ve never had before, and that’s exciting.
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John: That’s Rosie Makinney, describing the devastating impact of pornography and why husbands and wives who are addicted to it need to get help right away. We’re gonna offer some of that help today, uh, with Rosie. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, we had an amazing conversation last time with Rosie, and, uh, we talked about this issue of pornography. She lived through this crisis in her own marriage, and her testimony was very helpful at the end of the program last time. Her husband, Mark, was trapped in a porn addiction, and on day eight of their honeymoon, it exposed itself, and Rosie gave him an ultimatum. You can have porn, or you can have me, but you can’t have both, and that was something she learned, uh, through experience, that she needed to take a stand for both of them, for his sake and for her sake. As we learned last time, pornography can hijack, boy, the brain chemistry. We covered that in detail, and if you missed it, uh, get the smartphone, uh, app or call us, and we’ll get it to you through a download, or go to the website, however you can get it, but we talked about the powerful effect pornography has on brain chemistry and the way that it, it grabs you and holds you for that dopamine hit-
Jim: … the feeling of happiness that you get from it, but it’s empty. It’s an illusion, and she really covered that yesterday. I’m looking forward to furthering this discussion and let me tell ya. I get it. We’re talking about, yeah, intimacy in marriage, but remember, this is God’s gift to us, uh, certainly as Christian couples. He gave us physical intimacy as his wedding present, and, uh, we want to make sure that you’re not messing that up. Let’s have healthy marriages so that we can reach the, the lost-
Jim: … to help them in their journey toward Christ.
John: And if this is a struggle in your relationship, uh, we would direct you to our counseling team. We have caring Christian counselors. Um, they field a lot of calls about this very topic, and, uh, they’re a phone call away. Uh, we’ll schedule a consultation when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. And, uh, we do have copies of Rosie’s book, Fight for Love. Uh, it is an excellent resource capturing her story, a lot of the details that she shared, uh, about the brain science in, uh, the previous program, and, uh, it’s available to you. We also have, uh, other resources as well, all at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Rosie, welcome back to Focus on the Family.
Rosie: Thank you. It’s great to be back.
Jim: Um, uh, uh, y-… we said this throughout the program last time. It’s just such a difficult topic. We hit the, the number of Christian men that, that are affected. Uh, it’s, you know, kinda stunning to think about it, something like 78% of men and 55% of married men, particularly, so these are high numbers within the church. Um, and the worlds about the same number, so, you know, obviously, this is an area of our hearts that we’re not letting the Lord reign over, and we’re covering it up. You know, I, I was thinking last time, Rosie, um, certainly on parenting programs, little boys, we have an issue with shame. We don’t like being caught. We are, uh… you know, we respond very hard to shame, to the point where you can’t even look at your mom’s eyes when you’re caught, right? And I know that, um, particularly, um, women psychologists, Christians, have talked about that. You don’t force your boy to look you in the eye. Let them mull that over, and I think, in this topic, it’s that same little boy that is so ashamed of what they’re doing, and it’s hard for them to admit it. It’s hard for them to ask for help. They’re lost in that sense, and it gives me tears even thinking about it.
Jim: They’re just still that little boy that doesn’t know what to do-
Jim: … doesn’t even know how to ask for help.
Jim: And you really covered that yesterday with how addiction works and what these men are facing.
Rosie: And here’s the thing, that shame is driving the pornography.
Rosie: It’s a coping mechanism. It’s managing what’s happening on the outside in order to manage what’s happening on the inside, and so you’re absolutely right, and it’s a vicious cycle because, the more they do it, more ashamed they are. The more ashamed they are, the more they have to do it, and it just goes round, and round-
Rosie: … and round, which is why we women have to be really brave, and stand up, and throw them a lifeline because, quite often, we’re the only ones who knows it’s happening because you can’t see it.
Jim: Can I go back? I mean, we touched on this last time, but I wanna go a little deeper to that response we talked about. When all of those instincts a woman has about her husband come to reality, “Boom. Now, I know,” either through his confession or what have you, you found it, what- whatever, that emotion that’s in you, I… i- i-… for some women, this is the dagger. This is the one thing that is betrayal to me. It’s putting a knife right through my heart emotionally, and I’m not enough, all those things that a woman is gonna think. Um, let’s revisit that initial response and the good things that you can do in that moment and perhaps the harmful things you can do. Hit it.
Rosie: I’m really glad that you’ve gone there. You’re absolutely right. 75% of wives of porn addicts think, at some point, it’s their fault. We really do, and the reason that it’s that dagger, that it really just guts us is because it’s a rupture in an attachment with your primary attachment figure. So, it doesn’t matter that they might not be physically acting out with somebody. Our br-… to our brain, we still register it as a primal survival threat. My primary source of attachment, there’s now a massive rupture because I have now discovered that our entire life together has been based on a lie.
Rosie: It’s not just the behavior. That’s bad enough. The thought of it is just horrific, but it’s the deception. It’s like you, you… Suddenly, your entire history has just been upended. Dr. Jake Porter uses this fantastic analogy of a filing cabinet, which is where you make sense of things, and it’s how you’re able to predict the future and feel safe because, by looking at the, the past, you’re able to predict the future, but what happens when your past has just been ripped up an-
Rosie: … thrown all over the floor? You feel absolutely unsafe. It r-… it really does register as a primal threat to your survival, which is why women have… You know, women of porn addicts report the same symptoms as veterans, the same PTSD-
Rosie: … symptoms, which is astonishing, and so for all those people who go, “What a wife doesn’t know doesn’t hurt her,” it’s like, “No, you cannot build intimacy on deception”-
Rosie: … because the wife, even before she knows what’s going on, she knows on a bodily level-
Rosie: … that something is wrong, and that betrayal trauma is real. Her brain is as addled by the trauma of this deception as his brain is addled by the addiction and this, you know, his, uh… the way he has rerouted his brain now to cope with anything by using pornography. They are both in crisis.
Jim: Right. They’re both dysfunctional.
Rosie: They’re both… and, um, so often, in the past, historically, we have labeled, um, the wife as codependent because she’s, she’s angry. She’s snooping. She’s doing all these things, but now, fortunately, um, we look at everything through a trauma lens. There is a reason why you are constantly asking questions, so if your husbands just disclosed that, “Actually, yeah, I have got a problem with pornography,” or whatever it is he’s, he’s disclosing, normally, when you experience something traumatic, your brain goes, “I don’t wanna think about that anymore.” But when it’s betrayal, your brain goes, “Well, hang on a minute. I now need to establish safety. I need to work out all the details,” and then ask questions again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And that gets labeled as dysfunction and, “You need to stop doing that,” and it’s like, “She needs to do that,” so this is why she needs help, he needs help.
Rosie: He’s not willing to get help, but she can.
Jim: Right. Well, of course, you know, just that gut-wrenching reality and, “Now, what do I do?” um, you describe the vital role Christian wives can play in helping their husbands, uh, recover from this porn addiction, and you point to 1 Peter 3, which instructs wives, uh, how to be a witness to their husbands. How does that apply?
Rosie: Great question. Why don’t I read that?
Jim: That would be great.
Rosie: Okay. So, this is 1 Peter 3. “In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.” Okay, so it’s definitely acknowledging that you need to submit to your husband. However, your primary submission is to God, and that is pointing to the fact that repentance can be brought through him observing your pure, reverent behavior. And I just think women need to hear that God hasn’t abandoned them. He hasn’t forgotten them. He sees their tears, and he’s already provided a-
Rosie: … solution. He said, “Just follow me. Do what I say, and I will do the rest. You don’t have to persuade him. You don’t have to convince him.”
Rosie: You know, cease your striving, you’re nagging. Just focus on what the Lord is telling you to do, which is keep yourself, and your family, and your household pure, and he will do the rest.
Jim: Right, and I mean, the summary of that is you, through your own godly behavior put the fear of God into your husband.
Jim: Yeah, and s-… I mean, some women will say, “Yeah, but I’ve been at that for years, and he doesn’t seem to fear God.”
Rosie: Well, that’s why I say you reach out to our community, and you get surrounded by other women who can-
Jim: Help you keep going.
Rosie: Help you keep going-
Rosie: … and also educate you because you need resolve.
Rosie: It’s really hard because, unfortunately, the reality is you’re probably gonna get pushback, not because he’s a bad husband, not ’cause he’s mean and he wants to hurt you, but because he is enslaved to this demonic bondage. Let’s call it what it is, and everything in him is fighting tooth and nail to preserve his supply because it’s the only thing that helps him cope with his internal-
Rosie: … feelings.
Jim: You, you have an example of Gideon.
Jim: E- explain that, how this circumstance, uh, applies to Gideon’s experience.
Rosie: I love the story of Gideon be-… especially because he was actually visited by an angel. He knew he was working for, um, the Lord when he told him to pull down this, um… the Asherah pole-
Rosie: … and where they were worshiping Baal. He was instructed. He saw an angel. He knew what he’d got to do. So, what did he do? He went at night ’cause he didn’t want anybody to know that he’d done it. Isn’t that just us?
Rosie: You know, God doesn’t need us to be perfect. He knows that we’re gonna be shaky and weak-kneed, but that’s okay. It’s through our weakness that he displays his strength and his glory. So, it’s okay to be wobbly. It’s okay. And then, he took… So, he went and did it at night, and then he took it down. He chopped down this Asherah pole that they were all worshiping at, and he used it to create a fire that he then, um, used as a sacrificial offering. So, he took down what was being used to glorify Satan to actually glorify God.
Rosie: And that’s what we’re doing here. That’s why I’m, you know, here publicly, you know, sharing what was one of the most potentially shameful things about me or my family and my husband, but I’m here to say this is such a Christian witness and why I believe that the greatest threat to the cause of Christ, which is pornography, could be our greatest tool of evangelism. We don’t have an incredible Christian witness because we don’t have a pornography problem. We have a great Christian witness because we acknowledge that we do, but we have a powerful savior who can turn it all around-
Rosie: … and that’s gonna draw people.
Rosie: People want the help. They want this out their marriage. Women are desperate. Men are desperate.
Jim: Yeah, and I mean, your experiences is, is right there in front of everyone-
Jim: … and your book explains that what you and Mark went through. Let me a- address the secrets. You alluded to that, this idea that secrets are unhealthy-
Jim: … in marriage. Uh, you d-… maybe not have to go into all your details of being a teenager or a twentysomething, but the idea that, you know, when you’re withholding-
Jim: … things because of shame or because of-
Jim: … um, consequences-
Jim: … that you might face, describe that why you need to keep secrets out of the marriage.
Rosie: Well, this is the whole hub, the whole nub, should I say, of addiction. It’s the secrets you… and why guys who want to, uh… who try desperately to defeat this on their own, they say, “Well, I confess. I confess in my prayer closet.” It’s like, “Uh-uh (negative).” You know, it’s still a secret. You need to, you know, go vertically, you know, horizontal as well as vertically because that’s scriptural, too, 1 John 1:7. “Walk in the light as he is in the light, and then Jesus Christ, his son, will cleanse you from all sin.” That is the whole foundation of recovery. Walk in the light. You have to… I- in order to kick this addiction, you have to fully share who you are with other people-
Rosie: … and if you take it from a completely different perspective, and they look at, um, why people a-… get addicted in the first place, and it’s all to do with, uh, uh, trauma, attachment trauma that they’ve experienced because, when they were hurting, there was no one there to soothe them. This is how we build attachment and build security. What happens in a group is they become that attachment figure, so you share who you really are-
Rosie: … what you really think, what you’ve really done, what you’re probably gonna do on the way home, and they still know you, and they still love you, and then you put that together with the wife, who now knows everything about you, and you know everything about her because she’s now sharing her heart that she’s hidden for so long because she’s so frightened. And, uh, you are both walking in the light, and it’s, it’s enticing. It smells irresistible. I really do think recovery is irres-
Jim: It’s freedom.
Jim: Mm-hmm. That’s what it is.
Rosie: And, and other people go, “Our barb-…” We have a community. My husband’s a CSAT, a certified sexual addictions therapist, and so we have now created a community of recovering, you know, couples. The freedom at those barbecues is incredible and the fellowship because you can go… you know, people you’ve just met, you can deep so quickly because no one is hiding.
Rosie: It’s beautiful. It’s what church should be.
John: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guest today is Rosie Makinney. Uh, she is, obviously, very experienced and very passionate about this topic of, uh, pornography and, uh, how to deal with it in a biblical way, and you can learn more in her book, Fight for Love. We have that. We’ve got, uh, links to podcasts. We’ve got other resources for you, including an opportunity to set up a time with one of our counselors. You can talk to them over the phone for an initial consultation. Uh, it’s all at our website, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Rosie, let me turn the corner on this. Uh, again, your emphasis has been, uh, husbands who are addicted to porn. We do wanna take the last quarter here, which actually fits the statistics, ironically. You know, about, uh, 75% of men, uh, are addicted to porn. It’s the men about 75% of the time, but one in four women are now in that category as well, so roughly 25%. In that context, uh, it’s just… uh, it’s not just women but women and girls. Um, describe what is… why are they being lured into that with their brain chemistry, and what’s happening for women and girls when it comes to pornography?
Rosie: Great question. So often, people a-… struggle to accept that women and girls are looking at pornography. They’re like, “Why? Why would they want to do that? That’s horrific. Look what’s happening to the women,” not appreciating that our brains work in exactly the same way, and we are just as susceptible to becoming addicted because of the hijacking of the reward center that we covered in the last-
Rosie: … episode.
Jim: So, it’s the same mechanism?
Rosie: It’s exactly the same-
Rosie: … and what they did, they actually put, um, men and, uh… they put men and women in e-… functional MRI machines and exposed them to, um, arousing material, and their lighted up in exactly the same way.
Rosie: It’s exactly the same, and so there’s a lot of, you know, misconceptions that women, you know, they’re not stimulated visually, i- it doesn’t work, and it’s, it’s just not true. The science is there-
Rosie: … now.
Jim: There seems to be a little greater barrier, though, a- and it would show in the data if only 25% of women-
Jim: … use porn, where-
Jim: … 75% of men do.
Rosie: Well, I think (laughs)… You know, I dread to think what’s gonna happen in 20 years’ time because the younger you go, so the younger demographics-
Rosie: … that numbers much higher. We’re in 30%, 30… I don’t know what it is at the moment, 33% or 35% depending on which country you’re in, actually. That is growing.
Rosie: So, I do feel that we have a diminishing window of opportunity to actually reach people because, a, you know, majority of guys are doing it. Our young women are doing it. Um, our children are just drowning in this stuff.
Rosie: There’s, like-
Jim: It’s in your face.
Rosie: There’s, like, a group of women who are… didn’t grow up with this that haven’t had their brains addicted to this who are able to stand up and fight-
Rosie: … and that’s who I’m speaking to.
Jim: Yeah, so the, the caution you’re giving there is that, in a couple of decades, we could see the number being-
Jim: … at parity with men-
Rosie: Why not?
Jim: … for women. Uh, you have a story about bringing a, a, a former porn addict to your church-
Jim: … to speak, and something happened that was very dramatic there. What happened?
Rosie: This is, um, Lily, who’s in the book, and she… How old was she? I think she was, like, 20 at the time when she gave her testimony, so she stood up and shared how, although she was an A student, came from a, a, you know, a good, loving family, she was on the ballet team, the swim team, um, you know, perfect little girl, she got hopelessly addicted age 10 to pornography.
Rosie: So, she shared this, and shared how it made her feel, and how she was so scared to come forward, and no one would understand, and I also have her mother’s testimony in the book about how they knew something was wrong but had no comprehension-
Rosie: … that this could be the issue, so they never asked the question. No… you know, “My 10-year-old little girl’s”-
Rosie: … “watching pornography,” you c-
Rosie: You wouldn’t think of it, would you? So-
John: And she was sitting in the audience listening to this. She was at the church.
Rosie: Well, th-… so this is, um… so Lily g-… stood up and gave her testimony, but we had a… in the audience, there was a 10-year-old girl-
Rosie: … sitting there, and her mom rang me up the day afterwards and said, “W-… as we were driving home, my daughter burst into tears and confessed that this was her struggle.”
Jim: Wow. What a very honest little girl.
Rosie: Yeah, and such freedom, and we’ve had, you know-
Rosie: … kids who’ve given… who’ve stood up, you know, age 14 and given their testimonies who got hooked at age six.
Jim: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Rosie: Um, and I, I think we underestimate the, the potential and the power of empowering our young people by giving them the truth because those that have been through this have, have seen the damage that it’s caused them and are now on the other side. They want to go and tes-… you know, give their testimonies to other kids and rescue them.
Rosie: You know, let’s empower the people that we have.
Jim: Yeah, and that’s where I wanna go toward the end here is, what are those next steps? Um, I’m sure this broadcast is going to stir the pot.
Jim: You know, some couples are gonna hear this. I can imagine a wife is gonna listen to this, and she’s gonna be at home tonight. The couple’s getting ready for bed. “Guess what I heard on Focus today?”
Jim: “Do you struggle with that?”
Jim: And now, he’s gotta answer-
Jim: … one way or the other. He may cover up-
Jim: … or he may say, “I do,” and when w-… when we look at the data, it’s likely he is.
Jim: And that’s what’s startling. The question is, what are those next steps? Let’s assume that conversation’s gonna happen-
Jim: … today because they heard this program.
Rosie: Yeah. Well, I would say a good way to start that conversation is to throw us under the bus and say, “Oh, I was listening to this podcast, and it mentioned that guys who do this are in bondage, and they’re really fearful of coming forward. When was the last time you looked at it?”
Rosie: Not, “Do you?” because, in their heads, they can go, “Oh, I don’t really struggle. No, I, I don’t really,” and you go, “No, when and how often?” But come at it from a, a position of, “I want to see whether we have this problem. There’s something wrong with the intimacy in our relationship. You don’t seem happy. I want to, I want to investigate whether this is a problem in our marriage.” So, the next steps are you need to find help. You need to find the right help. Your job is not to fix him. Remember. You didn’t cause this, you can’t control this, and you certainly can’t cure it. Your job is not to fix him but to get him to somebody who can-
Rosie: … and get yourself to somebody who can as well. So, um, there are tools. There’s a pathway. It’s a really narrow pathway. I always think of it like Lord of the Rings film. They’re going up the mountain, and there’s a fiery pit, and it’s really narrow, but you just have to stick on that pathway and follow the guide. You have to follow the guide-
Rosie: … up the mountain, and it is scary. However, many, many people have done it before, and there are tools in the book, like, it’s really important that you do a full disclosure, really important for both of them.
Rosie: There’s things like celibacy, and safety plans, and partner servi-… There’s all these things, but do them under the supervision of someone qualified, someone who has worked in this. Don’t just go to someone familiar. Although you’re gonna get grace, you might not get truth. You need both. You need someone who’s experienced in this.
Rosie: And I real-… and part of my whole ministry is to do that legwork for you because it’s really hard, and there is an amazing Christian recovery community out there that most people have no idea exists. Once you stick your head sort of under the water and see this recovery community and all these really amazing, cool people who are on the other side of recovery, its life changing.
Rosie: It’s liberating.
Rosie: So, we’ve done all the legwork for you, and we can point you in all the right directions.
Jim: Yeah, and that’s really good, and you hit a couple things at the end there about, uh, when you’re rebooting, celibacy at that moment, a safety plan-
Jim: … those are all things that are in the book. We can’t cover it all.
Jim: But Rosie, this has been extensive, and I think a very informative two days of discussing this topic of pornography. Um, you know the goal, again, at Focus on the Family is to provide you with all the tools you need to have the healthiest marriage you can have, and with the data that Rosie has shared and that many people, uh, are aware of now, uh, husbands and some wives that are addicted to pornography, this is a core problem in our Christian community, uh, let alone the world. And I’m so grateful to you for being vulnerable and talking about it. Uh, this isn’t something I’m sure you thought of on day one of your marriage-
Jim: … but on day eight, it happened-
Jim: … and, you know, you confronted it, and you have learned a lot, both you and Mark, about how to deal with it, and I’m grateful for digging in rather than giving up. Um, it says a lot-
Jim: … about who you are.
Rosie: It is… I was thinking about this this morning, and I was saying to myself, “Don’t cry when you get there,” because I can remember where I was-
Rosie: … you know, after the honeymoon. I can remember where I was and how alone and hopeless, and if I had someone to hold my hand and say, “What has happened to you is not right, and you don’t have to put up with this, and he needs help, and you need help, and there is hope, and you can have the marriage that you dreamed, he is your knight in shining armor, he’s just buried under this addiction,” if I could tell myself that then, you know, it would’ve made all the difference. So, I hope that’s what I’ve managed to do today, to just tell people that you’re not alone, and there is hope.
Rosie: There is such tremendous hope.
Jim: Well, it allows you to have breath.
Jim: It probably feels like the breath is squeezed out of you in that moment, and, uh, if you’re where Rosie was, uh, call us today. Get in touch with us. We have caring Christian counselors. We have lots of resources, including Rosie’s great book, Fight for Love. That’s what we’re here to do for you, fight for your marriage and for the intimacy that God intended for you to have as a couple, completely transparent, open, and honest. So, contact us right away, and if you can send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family, we’ll put a copy of Rosie’s book into your hands as our way of saying thank you for caring enough about your marriage or the marriage of someone you know.
John: Yeah, and our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or, uh, donate online, get the book, and connect with the many resources we have for you at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And John, we need to remind folks about the Give Families Help campaign we have going on right now. Uh, this is one reason why we’ve shared Rosie’s story with you today and, uh, why we’re inviting you to partner with Focus financially here at the end of the year. Some generous friends have provided us with a matching opportunity, which means that whatever you can give will be matched dollar for dollar over the next several weeks. It’s their way to help Focus inspire more giving so we can touch more families. And I’m so thankful to these friends who are committed to helping those families today. And I hope you’re inspired to support us as well and let me say thank you in advance for becoming a partner with Focus on the Family.
John: And once more, our number is 800-A-FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Rosie, again, thank you for being with us, and please be sure to thank Mark, your husband, when you get home. Uh, thank him for us as well. Uh, you have encouraged so many, and we really appreciate it.
Rosie: It’s been, it’s been my pleasure. Thank you.
John: Well, coming up next time on this broadcast, why mom and dad are critical to a child’s future success.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Because the concept of modeling is absolutely profound, and so these kids every day are taking spiritual notes on how you live your life, emotional notes, I mean, psychological notes. It goes down the way. You’re it.
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