We are pleased to introduce you to Jen and Craig Ferguson who recently wrote Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. I first met Jen through the blogging world, and she has been kind and gracious to me ever since. I am excited about Jen and Craig’s book because I know the intent behind it is to help couples find hope, and Steven and I are all about sharing hope.
While pornography and sex addiction are a growing reality in our culture, the topic is uncomfortable for many to talk about. So, where can you turn for help if you need it? Jen and Craig have been there, and they have bared their souls about their difficult journey to help others realize they are not alone. I had the chance to ask them a few questions about their new book, so enjoy getting to know them before you check out Pure Eyes, Clean Heart.
Jen, I feel like you’ve really chosen a tough subject to tackle in your first book. How did you and Craig find the courage to open up about such a personal struggle?
You know what’s interesting? I think I wrestled with God longer than Craig did when it came to deciding to write this book. It took me about ten minutes and it took Craig about five. Why? We just realized the amount of pain and shame we had worked through alone, and we didn’t want other people to experience that same journey. There are very few people willing to talk about porn – much less addiction – in the church. But hiding it all only gives more power to the shame, and subsequently, the enemy.
Did we have a time of anxiety about what people would think? Yes. But we both knew this was something God really wanted us to do. We had to let God’s voice speak more deeply and powerfully into our lives than the anxiety and worry.
Craig, are you afraid people will view you differently now, and did you worry about what others would think once they read your book?
I thought about that a lot as we were going through this process. I had the same questions you mention about how I would be perceived at work, church, among my friends, and by my family. It wasn’t a decision I entered into lightly. However, after prayer and reflection, I was left two choices. I could either give into fear and give up the idea of writing the book, or I could trust God and allow Him to work His will through me and the book. You can see which choice won out! I have a real peace about it now. I know that God wanted us to write this book. He wanted it to get published, and He will continue to be with us no matter what happens.
Jen and Craig, sex addiction is growing exponentially each year. Do you think there is hope, or do you think our culture is too far gone?
We believe that nothing is too big for God’s redeeming power. There is always hope, and we spell this out very clearly in the book because it’s spelled out very clearly in scripture, especially in Hebrews 6: 13-19.
Here’s a little excerpt from the book (pages 108-109).
“Our process of recovery is subject to human nature (i.e., sin). But God’s promise of hope is not. God’s character does not change based on our performance. This means that He will not change His mind about offering us hope. In fact, not only does He not change His mind, He has set it up so that He cannot. His perfect nature will not allow it. In Jeremiah 29:11–13, God says He knows the plans He has for His people, and He says, “… they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” In this passage, God is speaking to the Israelites who have been exiled from their land and held captive by a foreign king. God is promising them that despite their bleak situation and their lack of vision for how to get out of their current circumstances, He is going to bring them back home. Pornography is this foreign king holding your marriage captive, but God has plans to bring you back together to wholeness, for your home to be a place of safety. He gives you hope to hold onto until this deliverance becomes your reality.”
Jen, what would you say to the wife who is struggling alone right now even as she reads your words? What would you tell the person afraid to speak up about their secret struggles – whatever they may be?
Shame and fear will always fester in the dark. When we speak about our sin, we expose it to light, which means we expose it to Jesus (see John 8:12). In the book, we discuss why it’s important for both the husband and wife to be open with each other and be open with a safe group of people who will provide comfort, wisdom, and encouragement. The burden of pornography is too heavy to bear alone.
Craig, what would you say to the husband who feels trapped right now? How can you offer hope to the person who feels trapped in a cycle it seems impossible to break?
I would tell him first that he is not alone. Obviously, God is there and wants him to be healed. The first thing I would tell him is to pray. Jesus wants to heal us, but he won’t do it without our permission. Ask and receive.
Also, I would tell him that he is also surrounded by men who also struggle with pornography. We mention this in the book, but one of our greatest weapons against the enemy is the gift of speech. What gives pornography power is the inherent shame and secrecy that is associated with it. We need to talk about this. We need to bring it into the light and expose it.
Finally, I would encourage him to talk to his spouse. I would highly recommend that he be honest and open with his spouse. This is not a time to be timid! Be humble, open, loving, and patient. We have to allow others the time to grieve and allow them to help us.
Jen, can broken trust in marriage be mended?
Yes. It takes time, hard work, and a lot of surrender. When I first started confronting Craig with the porn issue, I spoke a lot in ultimatums like, “I’ll never be able to trust you again!” That then morphed into, “When you start following the rules, then I will trust you.” Finally, this turned to, “We’re both broken people who are trying to let God heal us. Let’s trust Jesus and see where we end up.” We need to remember that engaging with pornography is no worse than any other sin. As a society, we make a hierarchy for our sins, but in God’s eyes? A sin is a sin. It’s still separation from God. My attempt to control the situation was causing just as much separation from God as his porn use. I strapped on a label of “healer” that clearly was not my role. Once I was able to let go of control and let God lead this process, I was able to recognize where I could actually be helpful and not a hinderance.
Jen and Craig, why should readers pick up your book? How do you hope it will help them in their life journey?
In our book, there are no easy answers. There’s no quick fix. But what there is is hope. And two people willing to bare their souls and walk the path with them. We share how our relationship with Jesus is really the core of our healing as well as how the community around us is vital in keeping us healthy.
There’s also a lot of information – secular and theological – about topics every marriage faces: the intention and purpose of marriage, forgiveness, dealing with anger and control, and roles of each spouse. Even if your marriage isn’t threatened by porn, it might be threatened by another addiction. You can apply some of the same strategies we used to your own personal situation.