HOUSTON (BP)—In nearly 20 years of being a pastor’s wife, Angie Dennis said she doesn’t remember a single instance of a young woman coming to her and saying, “Miss Angie, my husband is struggling with pornography.”
Perhaps they have been ashamed, scared, embarrassed or too paralyzed to take action. Or maybe they simply didn’t know what to do.
Dennis, whose husband Jay Dennis launched the Join One Million Men movement at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 11-12 in Houston, is hopeful women will pray up, speak up and join the fight against pornography in a way that will capture hearts and minds for generations to come.
“As moms and grandmothers, we should be angry—righteously angry about this,” Dennis told Baptist Press where Join One Million Men staffed a booth in the SBC exhibit hall. “These pornographers are trying to steal the purity from our sons and grandsons. Every woman should be doing whatever we can to stop it.”
In recent years, Dennis said she sensed a growing drive within her husband, pastor of the 9,000-member First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., to minister to families struggling with a “snowballing” effect of online pornography.
“It was new, the Internet was new, and we evolved into all of that,” Angie Dennis said. Unfamiliar with confronting the issue on a personal level, the longtime pastor’s wife said she quickly learned young men and women are sometimes overwhelmed with the toll of pornography and the effect it has on their relationships.
“They are embarrassed and humiliated,” Dennis said of couples struggling with the issue.
Wives who know their husbands viewed pornography may ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me?” Dennis said, noting that self-doubt can occur whether the husband confesses or the wife discovers his sin for herself.
“I think we just haven’t addressed it,” Dennis said of women’s response to pornography. “I think there are some real barriers we need to break down.”
Although numerous men stopped to chat with her husband and other men at the SBC exhibit, few women stopped to talk to Dennis except to express support.
One woman who did stop told of her son, a student at a large Christian university who said virtually all of the male students there struggle with looking at pornography. The young man will connect with her husband, Angie Dennis said, to look at ways to minister to and provide resources to collegians—many of whom are afraid that if they reveal their struggle, they will be expelled from school.
She urged pastors’ wives and other women in the church to educate themselves with the resources for women available through the initiative in order to understand the issues and pray for men and women.
“We need to find a way to break this down and not castigate people,” Dennis said.
Still, she acknowledged, the road ahead is rocky for ministers’ wives, who can be hit by a “double whammy” when they consider that their entire livelihood could be dramatically affected if their spouse confesses his problem and seeks help.
More challenging still may be a situation in which a woman discovers her husband is looking at pornography or is involved in an affair and won’t “come clean.”
“Absolutely,” the wife should lovingly confront her husband, like in any situation, and get help, Dennis said. “Maybe he’s just been waiting for someone to ask.”
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