Objectified women in the pornography industry are not willing participants
While many never consider the damaging impact of the pornography industry on women, these women are not “willing participants,” they are victims of a culture that imprisons them. Today on Man Talk, Vince Miller interviews former politician Paul Zunker, a regional group leader for Pure Desire Ministries. Listen as Paul shares how he discovered the real story behind women involved in the porn industry and how this changed his perspective forever.
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Vince: This is Resolute, and Man Talk. I am Vince Miller, your founder and host. And today we’re in a series on sexual addiction, discussing the topic of objectifying women.
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Well guys, today I’m excited to introduce to you, Paul Zunker. This is a guy that I’m proud to call friend. He comes from many different fields of ministry experience. Today he works with Pure Desire Ministries. And also with Grace Church in Eden Prairie.This is a guy who’s been helping guys to find freedom from sexual addiction. You can find more out about Paul Zunker at paulzunker.org. I hope you’ll visit his website today. Paul, welcome to the show.
Paul: Thanks for having me Vince, you are the greatest guy on the planet.
Vince: That’s not scripted man, that’s– That’s heartfelt, I know it. Well hey man, I really appreciated last time, hearing a little bit of your testimony. Really what God has been doing in your life, and what he’s continuing to do, what he’s continuing to teach you. Today I want to dive into probably one of the things I think awakened your heart to really the truth about Jesus Christ. And it actually is a shocking realization. God woke you up to what was happening to women on the other side of the computer screen. And you’ve told me that this really was revolutionary to you. It took these women on the other side of pornography, and it made them very real to you. So can you describe to the guys why this was so pivotal to understand women on the other side of the screen?
Paul: Yeah. Because it’s – one of the biggest excuses that guys use is, “I’m not hurting anybody by what I’m watching.” One of my excuses was, “This actually could be something that helps my marriage.” ‘Cause it’s given me an outlook to look at things – or an outlet to look at things that I – they want to, without going outside of the confines of my marriage. So it’s keeping me from having an affair, which was one of my rationalizations, a way–
And as I’m on this side of things now, and hearing testimonies from women who have been in the pornography trade, and have come out. There’s videos out there. There is written statements from them, that I’d encourage guys to try to look for it and read. ‘Cause the first time I heard one, was actually when I was in treatment for this stuff. I had to go through some court ordered treatment.
And one of the things that they read, in one of the sessions – was a letter from a former actress in pornography to guys who watch pornography. And it was at least 3 or 4 pages – fairly lengthy – describing the things that she went through. And in between shoots of the videos, she would go and throw up in the bathroom and take showers – half a dozen showers in one day. ‘Cause she was being forced to be there.
And this particular girl – she had feared for her life, ’cause she was in captivity. And if she were to leave somehow, she was afraid that her pimp would come after her and hurt her. So she’s forced to be there all while you’re watching the video, it looks like they’re loving what they’re doing. So that was a pivotal point for me to realize that – no, most of them don’t. And every time I click on something and look at a picture, or watch a video – I am supporting a woman being held really against her will, doing things she doesn’t want to do. And most of those women have children they’re trying to support. There’s a financial aspect for them being in there. And that’s someone’s mom. So that was a turning point for me and my brain, that I said, “I can’t support it,” just for that reason.
Vince: Right. So we tend to think – and I agree with how you started. It’s – we tend to think nothing of this.
Vince: Right? Men think nothing of watching pornography. We just – we want to treat it like it’s art in some strange form or way. But really what we’re talking about, is we’re talking about videos of human beings. They’re not objects, they’re human beings. And they’re real people.
Paul: Someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, someone’s mom, right?
Vince: Yeah, so turn them into a character in your mind. Like they’re – turn them away from being a character in your mind, and just an actor on the screen – to these are real people, right?
Vince: So all of a sudden what happens in your brain is they – they turn from an object for your desire, to a human being that God loves, right?
Vince: And wants to rescue. This was a huge awakening for you, and I think it sounds like it caused you to empathize.
Paul: It did, it did
Paul: And it’s – I look now at – God is not just my father. If I’m married, God is also my father in law. Because my wife is his daughter.
Paul: And that helped me look at women in a different way. That these women that are on these screens, these are His children. He loves them – not any more, not any less than he loves me. And he made them in his image. So watching them and promoting them being in that type of an industry, is just something that I can’t – as a believer, I can’t do. Because I love the Lord. And he’s right there with me, watching what I’m doing. And I can’t be a part of harming one of his children as well.
Vince: Yeah, and you’re making a great point. That I think many men need to hear, and that is this. Is that, when we objectify anybody, any person – really, we are playing the role of God.
Vince: And we’re endorsing and feeding that thought, that we are God, we are God, we are God. I can get what I want, when I want it, at the times that I want it, in the privacy of my own closet, I can get it – right? And all of a sudden, you’re saying that – I had to wake up in treatment one day, where someone forced me to really hear one of these stories.
Vince: And all of a sudden, I realized, “Wow, I’m supporting that.” And of course, because you’re a believer and you’re a Christian, God started to redeem that mindset by the power of the spirit.
Paul: Amen. Vince: And you put God in the right place again. You aren’t God.
Vince: Right? It’s not your job to objectify women. It’s your job to love God’s creation. He’s God, these are His people. He’s loving them, and you need to love them in the same way that he does. And what’s the most loving response? Well the most loving response would be to not endorse their captivity.
Paul: Yeah. Preach it there brother.
Vince: So, but – it takes a lot to rewire that in our minds. We get stuck into these patterns, where we think it’s just okay to do it, and–
Vince: I’m sure you had plenty of days where you just thought it was okay to do it. And then maybe there’s a point at which you stop thinking about really what’s happening completely. You’re just engaging in it, doing it. And you’re wanting more and more and more and more. And you’ve turned off the ability to empathize.
Paul: For sure, it’s the searing of your conscience. That’s – it’s Biblical where that happens. Where when we’re engaged in sin habitually, and we’re wilfully in that. Our consciousness gets seared over to the prompting and the leading and the Holy Spirit. And he still wants us out, but we’re not in any way, shape or form able to heed his call in our life anymore at all. So that’s where I was for many, many years. And it just – it bombed my marriage. By looking at these things – I would watch pornography for hours, and then go upstairs and crawl into bed next to my wife, like nothing had happened. It just really wrecked it without me really being aware of what was going on. ‘Cause I had a beautiful woman upstairs, who I fell in love with when I was 14, 15 years old.
Paul: And just had so many things come up. And we had arguments, and there were hurts both ways that we both did. But I retreated into looking at pornography, instead of loving my wife the way I should – in a biblical way, and work things out. And in healthy ways.
Paul: So I really damaged her, and I damaged me too in my perception of my wife – in a way that I couldn’t really figure out. ‘Cause I didn’t see that it was happening. So when you talk about that – not even recognizing things, man that really hit me. And it’s just one of those things where now my marriage is – it’s – we’re going through the process of divorce right now, after 6 years of trying to work on things. And doesn’t – didn’t have to be there. And I was so blind to how I was treating her, and really my kids. While I was in the midst of that addiction, I didn’t even see it. And now I can see it clearly.
But man, I hurt her in ways that she just can’t come back from. And there is – you talked about empathy in the last episode. And I have developed a new empathy towards women that are in the sex trafficking trade, because of this. But also for women who are wives going through this stuff. ‘Cause I hurt her man, in ways that – it’s just – I can’t even start to think of how I did. And I see other wives going through the same things. ‘Cause we have – in our groups at Grace, we have wives that come through that – in their own groups, that are just devastated.
Paul: And they don’t know how to deal with it, and how to cope with it – and it wrecks them. And I did that to my wife too as well
Paul: And it’s – that’s a tough part for me to look at right now.
Vince: Well you, I – first off, let me just say this Paul. And I’m not trying to stroke your ego here. But I’m really grateful that you’re really honest with yourself and your laying claim to your sin. Like, “I did this wrong, and I know I did it wrong.” But it takes a while to get there, right?
Paul: It does.
Vince: It takes a while to really get to the place where you can say, “It was my fault. I did this wrong. I touched, and I shouldn’t have done it. I looked, and I shouldn’t have done it. I seared my conscience.” Which I think is a great point. Like – guys, I hope you heard what Paul said about his conscience. Like he allowed his conscience to be seared by his sin, right? We do that. We give permission to our sin. And then when we give permission to our sin, God’s going to let us have our sin.
Vince: If that’s what we want. He’s going to even give us over to it, and allow us to turn that into our God. If we want to be God of our life, and we want to keep the Holy Spirit out and the sensitivity to God out – God will say, “Okay, if you want that, I’ll give it. You can have it. You can have that way of life.” But unfortunately, it sears our conscience. And you’re also awakening guys – I believe – to the fact that it isn’t just a private sin. It’s a sin that impacts other people. And it has to awaken the conscience toward our wives again. Not only are we objectifying women, but we, unfortunately, affect everything in our relationship. Our soulful oneness, relationship with our wife, right?
Paul: That’s right.
Vince: This thing that we think is just a private thing, that we can go off and do in the private confines of our office and then go up into our beds at night and think that – oh, we can just hide or conceal that, and it’s okay – is wrong. We’re affecting the oneness of the marriage union and the bed. Because we have now taken our sexual libido, and we’ve fed it off to the computer and to pornography and behaviors there, right?
Paul: Right, right.
Vince: And we have not connected to that – to our wife, and our wife feels lonely by it, and shamed by it. And we’re committing an adulterous relationship, is what we’re doing.
Vince: It’s called – adultery is what we’re – we’re engaging in adultery. It’s a form of idolatry – a very, very strange form of idolatry. But it’s adultery, and God calls it that in the Bible. And so we have to really– There’s a lot of these dangerous emotional and spiritual threads that are tied to this. That we only see the ramifications after we get caught. Why is that?
Vince: Like Paul, what advice would you give guys out there today who are entangled in this hairball? Is there a couple of pieces of advice that you would tell them – if they’re entangled in this today, that they need to address right away?
Paul: Yeah, the first thing would be – just stop. But that’s easier said than done, and there’s psychological reasons why that can’t just happen, and just stop. But I think the biggest thing would be – find a brother. Find an accountability partner that you feel safe with, that you trust – and tell them what’s going on. Say, “Hey, I’m looking at pornography.” Or, “Hey, I’ve been having an affair.” Or whatever it happens to be. Get it out. Because where does sin thrive? Sin thrives in the dark, and Satan counts on us keeping this stuff secret.
So I can tell you, as soon as – if something were to happen when I would watch something or whatever, and I was going through my recovery – I would tell one of my accountability partners. And I would almost feel that shame break, as soon as I would tell them. So I guess if there is any bit of advice I would give – first of all – it’s just get it out. Find someone to share it with, shine the light on it. And then walk through the process of accountability, in order to start breaking free. ‘Cause if you do that, if you start working with a partner, or go with a group – but you’re not being honest and getting it out there, you’re not going to find freedom.
Vince: Yeah. And it is possible to experience healing with this, isn’t it?
Paul: Yeah, it is. And God promises us that we can. Confess your sins to one another, so what? So you may be healed. That’s what he tells us in James 5.
Paul: So that’s a promise – that if we do that, there’ll be healing that comes.
Vince: Yeah. And you’ve seen some of the major ramifications of this sin in your life. And so I would encourage guys – and if it’s okay to say this, Paul – don’t walk the route of Paul.
Paul: Please don’t.
Vince: Don’t walk down that route, it’s not that much fun, is it – 6 years later?
Paul: No it is not.
Vince: To have spent time in prison, to spend time away from your family, deal with divorce. None of that stuff is stuff that we want to experience.
Vince: And, but we do want the joy of freedom from our sin.
Vince: Right? We want it. And I love that call. First it’s stop Paul – it’s stop what we’re doing, just stop it. And then begin by confessing to a brother. Those are some good first steps for us.
Vince: Thanks Paul for being with us today.
Paul: Thanks for having me again, Vince.
Vince: Well that’s the show. Thanks so much for listening. As we close, I want to remind you of 2 things. First is this. Paul Zunker is hosting a conference with Pure Desire Ministries in Prairie, Minnesota on November 10th and 11th. This is going to be a great conference that will explain to you the evils and the concerns of sexual addiction. And also provide you with resources that might help. Whether it be you or someone you love. If you want to find out more about that conference, go to beresolute.org/paulzunker. Go there today, or you can go directly to Paul Zunker’s website, at paulzunker.org. Either way, you’ll find your way to these resources, and this conference.
Also, if you’re looking for content for your men’s groups, we’ve got excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Check it all out at beresolute.org/free-trial. That’s free-trial. And yes, I will see to it that you get a free trial and a Resolute Men’s Study Guide to go with it.
So guys, I hope you enjoyed this podcast today of Man Talk. But please know, that the time that we spent together today is worthless, unless you choose to act on it by doing something today – and getting off the bench, and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of Man Talk.