Prayer saves marriage
By John W. Kennedy
Steve Gallagher repeatedly told his girlfriend Kathy about
her need to have Jesus Christ in her life. Steve had been raised in church, and
he knew the right words to speak when evangelizing. But Steve hadn’t really
made a commitment to Jesus in his own heart. Steve, 26, and Kathy, 18, lived
Yet Steve’s words brought tremendous conviction upon Kathy
in August 1979. So much so that she made a profession of faith and decided to
move out. Her decision resulted in an immediate end to her smoking, drinking
and partying lifestyle.
Soon, Kathy wanted Steve to truly know the Lord, too. Steve started
attending church with her and suggested the Lord wanted them to marry. Kathy
agreed in January 1980. But right after the ceremony, Steve not only stopped
going to church, he began mistreating Kathy. He turned into an angry,
disgruntled, critical husband. He verbally abused Kathy, telling her she was
too skinny and not pretty enough.
Kathy learned Steve had a pornography addiction and realized
why she didn’t measure up to his expectations of what a woman’s appearance
should be. Although devastated, Kathy determined to make the marriage work. She
tried to bring her husband to repentance; instead, he convinced her that she
needed to participate in his evil lifestyle as a way to keep their marriage
“I was needy and weak, so I stuffed my feelings of guilt,”
Kathy recalls. “I agreed to do anything because I wanted him to love me.”
Kathy eventually figured out her husband had been visiting
prostitutes, going to massage parlors and engaging in an adulterous
“Sin is never satisfied,” Kathy says. “Long term,
pornography only increases the danger of hollowing out the souls of both
Kathy left Steve, stopped listening to God, became involved
in an adulterous relationship of her own and filed for divorce. At that point,
Steve finally repented and asked God for forgiveness. He pleaded with Kathy to
talk to her parents about coming back to him.
Kathy’s Christian parents knew all about Steve’s
tribulations, yet her father advised Kathy to return to her estranged husband.
“I couldn’t fathom why God would tell me to go back to that
perverted mess,” Kathy says. “But it was no longer just about my marriage; it
was about obeying Jesus Christ.”
The return didn’t mean instant bliss. The emotional pain
took an excruciating toll for months. Although Steve truly had turned to God,
he still occasionally fell to pornography temptations. Yet when he did, it
really devastated him. Kathy saw him repenting on his knees, crying out to God
Slowly, God enabled Kathy to respect, then love, her husband
Steve resigned as a deputy in Los Angeles, and the couple
moved to Sacramento, Calif., where Steve started attending Bible school. The
Gallaghers opened up their home to others struggling with sexual addiction.
That developed into a support group at Capital Christian Center, an Assemblies
of God church in Sacramento. Steve wrote a book, Sexual Idolatry, which
resulted in television, radio and speaking appearances around the country.
In 1990, the Gallaghers moved to Dry Ridge, Ky., where they
started Pure Life Ministries. Today, the 55-bed facility located on 45 acres
admits addicts who have lost their jobs — and sometimes their families
— for a minimum of six months of residential treatment. The 35 staff
members include 10 biblical counselors. Beyond sexual integrity issues, the
ministry teaches an intense discipleship program.
The Gallaghers find that, just as happened to them, many
enrollees have been involved in church but aren’t really committed to living
for Jesus. Stepping into the world of porn is an easy line to cross for those
who have no boundaries about what they watch on TV or look at on the Web every
“There is a great deal of spiritual leakage in the lives of
Christians who aren’t consecrated to God,” Kathy says. “There is the carnal
attitude of ‘Sin now, repent later, everything will be OK.’ ”
The Gallaghers say the Pure Life Ministries live-in program
helps men break sexual addiction habits.
“But the deeper work is what God is doing inside them as
they go through this intense discipleship program,” Kathy says. “Those who
truly respond to the Lord leave with a stronger walk and fresh passion for
Pure Life Ministries also offers counseling to wives whose
lives have been shattered by their husbands’ sexual sin.
“It’s really difficult for a woman to stay in a marriage
with a man enamored with other women, even if it’s a magazine or Internet
porn,” Kathy says.
On the other hand, more and more women are calling for help
for their own porn addictions, although usually not for the same reasons as
men. While male addicts are drawn by visual stimulation, women tend to be drawn
by the hope of an emotional connection, even if it is a shallow one.
After getting over the initial shocking graphics, in many
respects women have been desensitized by the warped ideals of porn. The
accessibility and anonymity of the Internet has played a key role in keeping
In a culture overrun with sexual images, many women caught
up in porn tend to suppress innate feelings that it is wrong. Yet a woman
inevitably finds, as Kathy did, that she will never measure up to glossy images
in magazines or on celluloid.
Lonely women, both single and married, are hungry for
affection, and they often consider Internet porn a substitute, Kathy believes.
“For many women, once they have been introduced to a certain
level of soft-core pornography — whether it’s soap operas, romance novels
or fashion magazines — the heart is open to wanting more,” Kathy says.
“Once they’ve crossed what had been the cutoff point it’s a quick jump into
chat rooms and X-rated sites.”
Although women traditionally haven’t been as visually
stimulated as men, Kathy thinks the nudity barriers that formerly kept women
disinterested have dissolved.
“The women struggling now wouldn’t be involved if they had
to go out and buy it at a porn shop,” Kathy says. Because of the shame
involved, most women won’t seek help unless the addiction escalates into a
life-controlling problem, she says.
As she learned herself, Kathy believes a more active prayer
life is key for those wanting to break free from the lure.
“I’m not just talking about going to church on Sunday
morning,” Kathy says. “People need a daily, vibrant relationship with the Lord
to have the strength to withstand it.”
JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of Today’s Pentecostal
Evangel and blogs at Midlife Musings (jkennedy.agblogger.org).
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