The Secret Sin of the Church


Have you ever been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? If you’ve been or even heard of what goes on there, then I’m sure you’ve probably heard how each person introduces themselves when he or she gets up to speak. “My name is [insert name here], and I’m an alcoholic.”

It doesn’t matter if they quit drinking yesterday or 20 years ago; the introduction is the same.

They recognize that it would only take one drink to get them back into the habit. Only one drink to shatter their lives once more.

Drug addicts are similar in their meetings and understanding of how precarious their sobriety really is. It is said that someone who has been off drugs and begins again doesn’t start back slowly. Oftentimes they start back with even more than they quit with.

I experienced this hard reality when I was in preaching school. A good friend of mine had been clean for years, but with the influence of another student got back into drugs. I didn’t know until I had to go visit him in the hospital because of an overdose. Thankfully The Lord spared us all from having to mourn his death.

There is another addiction people struggle with even (maybe especially) in the church, but no one seems to be talking about it.

My name is Jonathan Dobbs. I’m a preacher, and I struggle with pornography.

The first time I ever saw inappropriate images such as these was the day after church camp when I was a boy. Those images have never left my mind no matter how hard I try to get rid of them.

When I went to Harding University (a Christian university), I got really exposed. There was a computer lab in the physics building that didn’t have a firewall or filters, and a row of computers didn’t face the door. Plus, no one hardly ever went into the physics computer lab at Harding when I was there. That opportunity coupled with the influences of the young men in the dorm all around me allowed me exposure to things that rid me of whatever innocence I had left.

I understand the urge to look even against my better judgement. I understand the feeling of disgust after having participated in such viewing. I know the dark places my mind would go when I went on a pornography binge. I understand the mental gymnastics used to justify such actions. I know that it only takes one weak day to take me back to those places of mental, sinful bondage.

Such things are rarely talked about in churches, yet this particular sin affects almost every young person today and in many generations recently past. We talk often about homosexuality, abortion, adultery and “shacking up” yet many more people are participating in a much more harmful sin. The problem with porn is that it is so subtle in the ways it destroys you that many people believe it’s not hurting them at all.

Porn addicts are much like alcoholics and drug addicts. They need accountability. They need to be away from the temptation. If they fall back into the habit they often fall hard. Porn addiction controls its victim.

As a church we need to be people who understand this problem. We don’t need to shame people for having struggles with this – they feel shame enough. We don’t need to sit in condemnation for their sin is no worse than yours. We need to love them and befriend them and hold them accountable.

As I’ve been in recovery there are a few things that have helped tremendously. First, I immersed my life in the presence of God and his word. I strategically placed key verses around my computer like Philippians 4:8. I made sure that I had purpose for the time I spent on the computer. The most important thing I did, however, was find accountability partners. The most important accountability partner I have is my wife.

This struggle isn’t just for dirty boys. It’s for men and women. It is for singles and married people. It is for young and old. Just this week I read an open letter to Christian churches by an 18 year old girl recounting how her first experience with porn was at age 8. I’ve personally known of children not much older than that who struggle with pornography. Don’t be deceived. It is everywhere, and we as a church need to be a place of recovery.

If you struggle with porn you are not alone. I can help you find resources to battle the temptation, and I am an understanding ear. If you don’t struggle with porn, then present yourself as available and accepting to those who do. You make an excellent accountability partner. I pray for the women and men exploited by this industry. I pray for the church as she learns to deal with this issue in a more open way. I pray for you in your struggle. Please pray for me as I continue to overcome. Don’t keep your struggle a secret. You are not alone. Jesus still loves you, and so do I.


About Johnathan Dobbs

I'm a Christian first. I'm a husband and father second. Then I am an avid outdoorsman (hiking, camping, climbing, canoeing, fishing, etc...). Right now, I have a passion for climbing and card tricks. I am the minister for the Aztec church of Christ in Aztec, NM. I look forward to meeting new people and hearing from all. View all posts by Johnathan Dobbs

9 responses to “The Secret Sin of the Church

  • Anthony Lino

    I appreciate you putting yourself out there. I have struggled with the same thing for 20 years. It’s the primary reason I lost my wife. It’s NOT something that I share and it’s not something that I feel like the church, society or my congregation can handle. I feel very persecuted and rejected everytime someone finds out about it in the church.

    There are a few people that understand it and are as compassionate about it as other sins and issues but in my 20 year experience with it, it is a very dangerous issue to expose around Christians. They start assuming certain things and treating you certain ways.

    I don’t believe I can and I don’t believe I ever will be completely honest and open as I should be. It’s a very sad and terrifying topic.


  • Anthony Lino

    actually…30 years if I am being honest.


    • Johnathan Dobbs

      I love you bro. I’m glad God introduced us so many years ago. May He bless you as you continue to minister. May He help the church to be as forgiving as they claim to be. May He transform us all through His Spirit.


  • Anonymous Boy Mom

    What advice do you have for moms of teenage boys on how to discuss this? Maybe you should write another blog post just on that subject matter. Would it be to overbearing to encourage my college age son to have accountability software on their computer (in other words I, or someone else, would always be notified when they looked at porn)

    What about youth pastors and talking to theiir youth group about this.?

    Here is a minister in Lubbock, Texas sharing his struggle and I thought you might like to hear this: (Click on “I have to work hard to avoid sexual sin”)


    • Johnathan Dobbs

      Thanks for the suggestion. I may just write that article! As for your situation remember that mobile devices are becoming one of the largest sources of pornography viewing. I know a teen that became so disgusted with himself in this realm he threw his iPod touch against the wall to shatter it…but the struggle continued.

      As far as your role, you should let him know that you love him even if he struggles with this problem. You should make sure that all computers in the house are in public places (living room, dining room, kitchen, etc…). Teens should never have their computer in their room…there’s just too much room for secrecy. Android devices have filtering software available. You can also check to see if browser history is deleted often. That’s usually a sign of hiding things. How to do all these things are easy to find with some quick google searches. American family association has great suggestions for filtering software.

      The thing to remember in all of this is that it is no different than lying in terms of severity. The wages of sin is the same for all sins, so our role is that of love. If he is involved in porn and understands the break that causes with his relationship with God then he will already feel guilty for looking.

      A great book for young men that’s been around for a while is “Every Young Man’s Battle” or even “Every Man’s Battle” though the latter does deal with topics that should be appropriate for older generations beyond those still living with mom and dad.

      Also, XXXChurch is an organization trying to help people overcome porn addiction and battling the industry itself.

      This is a messy place to be. There is no clean, easy way to overcome porn addiction. It has taken me years to be able to be strong. I’m in tears now as I think of the struggle it can be to overcome. I’m praying for you, and I’m available for specific help as the need arises. Feel free to contact me via Stay strong. You’re beloved. You are going to do great. Keep your head up. And pray…most of all.


  • DG

    I’m a 28 year old woman who has struggled with porn since I was 11. I hear male Christians confess this sin all the time, actually. It isn’t surprising to me to hear when a man struggles with porn. However, I never hear the women confess anything. I feel so afraid to ask for prayers and accountability because women are supposed to “hate porn and be angry at their husbands for watching something so disrespectful to women,” etc. In fact, my husband hates porn for that reason! So, it’s hard to confess to him, too. I have decided I need to though, so please pray for me to take action to rid this from my life.


  • Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud

    […] of the Week: This article from a preacher who struggles with porn, was inspired by this open letter from an 18-year old girl who shares the […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: