Struggling to Cope
"I was a minister for about four years. I had been involved with youth ministry, helping teenagers deal with their own problems and struggles," David says. "I had been a pastor of a church for a year when I decided to go ahead and share my secret, the fact that I had been addicted to pornography. I really felt very compelled to be a minister, but felt so unworthy, and I knew the secret part of my life could not coincide with the ministry, and I finally felt like I just couldn't carry the secret any longer. When I decided to tell my wife, Vallarie, the depth of my addiction, she was overwhelmed."

"I was devastated," Vallarie says. "I thought maybe he wasn't attracted to me anymore. I felt he didn't need me anymore, that I wasn't good enough for him, that maybe I had done something wrong."

David grows tearful. "That's probably my greatest regret, is the way I made her feel, made her feel so unworthy and so ugly," he says. "I caused her pain that nobody else could cause her." David and Vallarie have two daughters. "I'm very thankful for my daughters. Very sorry that they had to deal with this."

[AD]"I know in my head that this, as an addiction, has nothing to do with me, but the pain is there," Vallarie says.

"And I fully admit that this is still a temptation for me," David reveals. "I know it causes pain, it hurts my wife, it offends my faith, and yet, there is still something inside of me that craves " and I don't understand that. I can't reason that away, that something that is so offensive to me is so attractive to me."
David tells Dr. Phil that he hates his addiction. "If I could take it away, and throw it away and never have those thoughts again, I would in an instant," he says.

"But you're still tempted today. This is not something that you feel you've escaped from in any way," Dr. Phil says.

"Well, I've escaped from it in a sense that I'm not giving myself to those things," he says. "But I believe I will always be tempted as a man, when I see something that is appealing to my flesh, to sexual desires within me, there's going to be a temptation to look longer than I should, or to do something I shouldn't do. That is part of my existence as a human being, as a man, but I don't have to give myself to those things any longer, or be a slave to them."

"Who explained that to you in that way?" Dr. Phil asks. "You say that as though that is a fact that defines your existence."

[AD]David clarifies that his addiction isn't a daily temptation; he may go weeks without being tempted. "It's because I've put into practice those things that have helped me to break free from that addiction. I don't consider myself addicted in the sense that I'm out of control, but I realize there is a potential to get back into it."

Vallarie explains the devastating effect David's confession has had on her, and Dr. Phil makes an important point clear to David.

"You have zero accountability for that."

Dr. Phil asks the couple, "Am I to understand that you have had no professional help with this whatsoever?"

"Correct. We've talked about it with ourselves, and we have accountability with some friends and so on. I've even written a book about my experience with pornography and how I believe I have broken free from the addiction," David says. He explains that just like an alcoholic who needs to avoid alcohol, he does what he can to avoid temptation.

"But it's clear to me that you have some flawed thinking about this, in my opinion," Dr. Phil tells him. "It's like you're trying to dig the Grand Canyon with a hand shovel, when there's a whole fleet of backhoes back here that you could get. And I understand your position on faith, and I truly respect that, but I'm one of those people who believe: pray for God, but row for the shore."

David agrees, saying he's put steps in place to help him when he's facing temptation, such as admitting it to his wife or friends and asking them to pray for him.

Dr. Phil tells him, "I think that's great. Let me explain a few things to you here: There's a big part of what drives you to this, in my opinion, that has to do with anxiety. You have a build up of tension inside, and one of the things that releases this for you was you would get this fix with pornography … There's a release of anxiety there that would go down, the same it would be if it was heroin or cocaine or something else. You know, you've got to have a fix. And until you come up with a new way to cope with that anxiety, that build up of tension, until you get some other tools in your arsenal, you're going to be subject to returning to what worked for you in the past. You need some new tools in your arsenal."

[AD]Dr. Phil points out that David's wife isn't doing so great, despite David's positive attitude about being on top of his addiction.

Find out why Vallarie can't get closure.

Dr. Phil offers David and Vallarie resources to help them both. He thanks his guests for being forthcoming about a secret that is becoming more prevalent in society. "It helps to open a dialogue," he says.