- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thinking his wife is asleep, a husband quietly gets out of bed and heads downstairs toward the computer. His wife, who is wide awake, rises, puts on her robe and follows him.

A prosperous husband, driving home at night in the family sport utility vehicle, passes a neon sign advertising X-rated showgirls. He turns the SUV around and drives into the strip joint’s dark parking lot.

A curious mouse roams the floor. It senses the cheese in the mousetrap, and although it wanders away several times, it is slowly drawn back, closer and closer. When the trap snaps shut, the lights go out.

These images are part of “Somebody’s Daughter: A Journey to Freedom From Pornography,” one of several videos shown at the Smart Marriages, Happy Families conference, which just concluded in Orlando, Fla.

“Somebody’s Daughter” features four married fathers — all sincere Christians — who were exposed to pornography as boys and slowly became obsessed with it.

Not even going to seminary or marrying a beautiful, loving woman ended their appetites for X-rated images, they said. In fact, running a business from home, which ostensibly kept him close to his wife and children, escalated his Internet porn problem, John Cozart said. “There was no peace. I was living a double life.”

Without detailing their deviances, the four men explained how their addictions almost destroyed their marriages, families and careers. Then somehow, even as they struggled with self-loathing and shame, they each found the will to live without pornography.

“The only way to freedom is to commit to being free,” said John Mandeville, an award-winning Christian singer-songwriter.

The men disengaged from pornography with support groups such as Sexaholics Anonymous, clergy who counseled with compassion and “accountability partners” who took daily reports on the men’s activities. The husbands also were fortunate that the real women in their lives — their wives — cried, prayed and struggled, but decided to stay and help them fight their fights, instead of abandoning them at “the abyss,” as Mr. Mandeville described it.

Today, the men all speak out against pornography. Mr. Cozart and wife, Joy, started Unshackled Ministries in Orlando to help others escape the “bondage of sexual addiction.” Bernie Anderson, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Utah, wrote “Breaking the Silence: A Pastor Goes Public about His Battle With Pornography”; the book tells his wife’s side of the story, too.

Michael Cusick, an ordained minister, started a counseling ministry called Restoring the Soul in Golden, Colo., with his wife, Julianne.

Mr. Mandeville recently released a new recording, “We Belong to Heaven,” which was inspired by his journey out of pornography addiction. His wife, Shelli, appears in the “Somebody’s Daughter” video; she tearfully explains her revulsion, bewilderment and anger over her husband’s secret pornography habit. In the end, though, she says to other wives in similar situations, it’s important to let go of resentment and other negative emotions.

“If you can’t forgive, you can’t walk in freedom together,” she said.

“Somebody’s Daughter,” which includes a CD of songs that echo the documentary, was produced by Steve Siler. He is the founder and director of Music for the Soul, a nonprofit group in Nashville that uses music and video to help people address “unspeakable” events such as suicide, eating disorders and cancer.

Hope always begins with telling the truth, said Mr. Siler, who, several years ago responded to Mr. Mandeville’s call for help with sexual addiction. Together, as fathers of daughters, they wrote a song reminding men that all women are somebody’s beloved child, and their bodies are intended to be “a temple for the soul.”

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