The Gathering USA is a ministry of evangelism, discipleship and mission opportunities for men. One of the ministries offered at The Gathering at Palm Beach County is a fellowship for men who are seeking freedom from the bondage of pornography and other addictive sexual activities. The Conquer Series is a training, geared toward church leadership, pastors, ministers, teachers and any man active in men’s ministry, including small group members. The Gathering hosts Outreach Breakfasts, Authentic Manhood Series, Boot Camp for New Dads, and Lunch and Learn Series. The Authentic Manhood Series, limited to six weeks, focuses on:
- A Man and His Design
- A Man and His Story
- A Man and His Traps
- A Man and His Work
- A Man and His Marriage
- A Man and His Family
What does The Gathering do?
Expanding on the Authentic Manhood six-week small group series, they offer the tools, strategies and support for men to conquer their life-controlling activities. Men who have repented untold number of times from shameful and secret sins have found the power and the resources to live the life of victory and purity for which they were created. For those who may have an addictive behavior that they are not ready to disclose, the series offers teaching and guidance for those who “may not need it for themselves, but they need the teaching to be able to help others.” This is a non-threatening way to draw men into an accountability group setting, then when they see other macho men like themselves becoming open, honest and vulnerable, they will feel a release to let their guard down and open up about how they are really doing. There are a number of churches in the West Palm Beach area that have leaders and attendees in the small groups, including Christ Fellowship, Grace Chapel of Loxahatchee, and Grace Fellowship.
Men’s secret wars
The prevalence of pornography use is well-documented. Suddenly a man’s “harmless” pastime becomes a destructive habit.
- Every Second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
- Every Second 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
- Every Second 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
- Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
The Collateral Damage
Pornography addiction, especially in the day and age of computers and cell phones, is sometimes seen as a victimless habit and a harmless pastime. However, beyond the clear teachings of Scripture, which should be enough in itself, studies have shown that it is an insidious and pervasive addiction and does untold damage to those who indulge in this “innocent” activity. Those addicted to this habit find that it is increasingly difficult to find sexual fulfillment in marital relationships and even dating relationships. This statement does not condone sex outside of marriage; it is simply stating that the reasons that the behavior is destructive go beyond the direct commands of Christ, who expanded the concept of adultery to include lust and thought life.
I had the opportunity to interview Eddie Aiello, who is one of the small group leaders at The Gathering PB. His comments follow.
Good News: Why is this study so important?
Eddie Aiello: All men, including teenagers and older men, need this training so they are not blindsided when they are faced with choices and temptations. Everyone has a cell phone, so everyone will be faced with how they will handle the freedom that comes with that. Openness and honesty is contagious. Teenagers need the information to be able to resist peer pressure and have sound answers for those who claim that these activities are harmless and innocent.
Good News: What tools and tips can you give men to help them conquer the battle for sexual purity?
Eddie: Good advice includes staying in the Word, having a meaningful and consistent prayer life, remaining accountable, staying connected and not assuming that you can do it on your own. When lions and beasts of prey attack herds, they single out the stragglers and lone animals that are separated from the group, wherein lies protection against the enemy.
Good News: Are the materials that The Gathering offers available elsewhere? Many of our readers are south of Fort Lauderdale, from Miami to the Keys to Naples, and would not be able to get to West Palm Beach on a weekly basis.
Eddie: In addition to local groups that meet weekly, The Conference Series is available online, and the small groups are typically five to ten people, and one is able to call in by phone or Face Time.
Good News: Are “secret” sins really innocent?
Eddie: Scientists who study this subject from an empirical perspective have concluded that brain scans of the human brain during sexual arousal due to porn are markedly similar to those addicted to crack cocaine and other narcotics, as opposed to normal brain scans of healthy males free from any kind of addiction. In addition, we have found that once a person is able to confess their addictions in a loving and supportive atmosphere, that most experience a deep peace once their secret is out.
Good News: How do these habits damage spousal and dating relationships?
Eddie: Studies have shown that sexual addictions are always wanting to increase the boundaries to achieve the same momentary pleasure. It has been found that addiction to porn actually decreases the sexual drive with a living and breathing partner. Porn offers repeatability, no pushback, no rejection and no accountability experience. A recent study has found that teenagers, who should be at their prime from a libidinal standpoint, are increasingly needing Viagra to become aroused once they have become addicted to pornography.
Jesus said in John 10:10 NKJV: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Pure Life Ministries
For those whose bondage has been lifelong and life-controlling, there are residential programs available. If the impact of pornography, homosexual attraction, sexual brokenness, gender confusion and other addictive behavior has impacted your relationship with God, your job, your marriage, your family, and your whole life has become dysfunctional, you may need the intervention of a residential program such as Pure Life Ministries (PLM) in Williamstown, Kentucky.
30 years ago, Pure Life Ministries opened the first Christian residential program in the world. Their 75-bed facility has served thousands of men over the years who are now enjoying the blessings of a victorious Christian life. Living with and ministering to men in the grip of pornography and other life-controlling issues for three decades has equipped them with innumerable insights into the root of sexual addiction. While many addicts would be satisfied just to stop their out-of-control behavior, PLM’s commitment is for them to experience the complete life transformation the gospel promises.
Robert Woods has worked as an engineer at AECOM Technical Services and HBC Engineering, and is a published Christian author. He can be reached at [email protected]