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Porn to Purity: Christian Couple Bares All

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
June 11, 2009|5:47 pm

It's a story many Christians can probably relate to or at least empathize with – a Christian couple serving in ministry together is suddenly thrown into a loop when the husband's secret addiction to pornography is discovered.

For the past two years, Jeff and Marsha Fisher have been recovering and reconciling their marriage since the dreaded discovery was made by their denominational leaders.

They've relocated from Buffalo, N.Y., to Raleigh, N.C., and are currently working non-ministry jobs. The Fishers, married 11 years, are still in counseling and are attending separate SA groups – one for husbands and one for the wives of husbands with a sexual addiction.

Although the months have been tough, the couple says their marriage is the healthiest it has ever been.

"Even though it's been the hardest period of our marriage, it's really turned out to be the most fruitful as far as our intimacy and communication," Marsha said in a podcast meant to provide hope for others struggling with or affected by sexual addiction.

While the Fishers have stepped out of ministry during this recovery period, they started their own personal ministry on the Web to encourage and help other Christian couples who may feel isolated as they grapple with what Jeff called "the silent sin" of pornography.

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Just as the Fishers have discovered, they want to tell others that they are not alone.

"There are people all over – in our congregations, in our world – that have struggled with pornography," said Jeff. "The more we've shared our story, the more we've seen how many people are dealing with this.”

Various surveys, including one by ChristaNet.com, have shown that half of Christian men, including pastors, admit to struggling with pornography. The addiction is also seen among Christian women.

Overall, there tens of millions of addicts in the United States and sexual addiction is the most prevalent, according to the International Bible Society.

"It's just the silent sin and the thing people don't want to talk about,” said Jeff.

Furthermore, he added, “It's really a lie to believe you're alone in this battle."

To prevent Christian couples from experiencing the isolation, hopelessness and shame they experienced when their world fell apart, Jeff and Marsha share their experiences frankly and openly on their new website, porntopurity.com.

"[W]e always felt encouraged when we read about other couples who had been through a similar journey and had experienced victory. Yet there wasn't a lot of those types of stories out there," the Fishers told The Christian Post in an e-mail.

In their site, the Fishers recall how Jeff had assured Marsha – who was aware of Jeff's struggles with pornography – that the Internet was no longer a temptation just weeks before he was caught.

When the day of reckoning came, Jeff was confronted by the director of the local denominational office and the pastor of the church that was helping to sponsor his new church plant.

"They had a folder full of questionable websites that I had searched while in the office alone," he recalled. "It was an intervention."

"When my mentors intervened and confronted me, I was thrown into a tremendous shock. I was numb. I was cut. The Truth of God exposed the nasty truth of what I really looked like on the inside."

At that time Jeff was no longer working at the denominational office and was a full-time pastor leading a newly planted church, which was about to celebrate its one year anniversary. The Fishers did not disclose the name of the church in order to "protect the work they continue to do."

After he was caught, Jeff was told that the state convention would no longer be able to continue funding their ministry and was asked to leave the ministry and also the area.

The Fishers were also asked not to reveal Jeff's pornography addiction to their church and to instead request a leave of absence for "family issues" and then later report that they would not be returning.

"I think they were afraid that if this became public it would stigmatize Baptist churches in the area," Jeff said.

They decided to reveal their entire story to the core leaders in the church but left details out when addressing the rest of the congregation, which was simply told that their marriage was in trouble.

"We didn’t want that church to be forever known as the one whose pastor was into porn," Marsha wrote in a blog on the website. "We didn’t want to provide the skeptics in our community yet another example of a minister who had been caught in spiritual sin."

Both Jeff and Marsha, who served in ministry together for ten years, reveal the slew of emotions and thoughts they had during that rocky patch, including leaving the marriage (Marsha) or even contemplating suicide (Jeff).

But in hindsight, the Fishers realize the experience was both the worst and best thing that happened to them.

"The worst because it was extremely painful and the consequences were intense ... but the best thing because we were finally living in truth," said Marsha, who realized their marriage was shallow before this.

The Fishers currently attend a church in North Carolina, where pastors there have been supportive and encouraging. Since the launch of their blog in April and “Porn to Purity” website in May, the Fishers have received e-mails regularly from couples expressing their gratitude and asking questions.

"The people who visit our site are looking for help," they said.

The Fishers don't claim to be professionals, but just wanted to provide an avenue for discussions on the prevalent problem of pornography and to pass along resources.

"Think of this as a 'one flesh' problem," Marsha tells listeners and readers. "The Lord in his loving kindness gave me the ability to see Jeff’s pornography problem as OUR marriage problem."

"Without Christ, our situation would have been helpless," she added. "But because we know the Great Physician, the Surgeon Healer who can make all things new, we had all the hope of Heaven."

"And our One Flesh is now stronger than ever before," she concluded.

 

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