Pastor Fired For Porn Addiction Offers Help To Fellow Strugglers

Greg Oliver, a former worship pastor for 11 years at a Birmingham-area church, was fired in 2009 for pornography use.

Going to church provides no immunity when it comes to a society saturated in pornography.

“It’s a very significant problem in the church,” Oliver said. “The problem is getting worse not better.”

Beneath the surface, the porn problem is there. “If you compare evangelical Christians and those who don’t go to church, the stats about porn use are virtually identical,” Oliver said. “You get as many people in the church looking at pornography as outside the church.

 

Greg Oliver, a former worship pastor for 11 years at a Birmingham-area church, was fired in 2009 for pornography use.

Two years ago, he started Awaken Recovery, an addiction recovery ministry.

“In early 2009, I was exposed, I lost my job, but I began recovery,” Oliver said.

He and his wife, Stacey, worked through the crisis. “We got into counseling, got into a recovery process,” Oliver said.

After they went through counseling and recovery, they started counseling others through weekly support group meetings at the Church at Brook Hills. “I’m a recovering addict; I know the shame people feel,” Oliver said.

With internet pornography so easily available, the problem of porn addiction is widespread, including among pastors and church staff members, Oliver said.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” he said.

‘Addicted to Porn’

On Sunday, Aug. 20, Awaken Recovery will present a documentary, “Addicted to Porn: Chasing the Cardboard Butterfly,” at 6 p.m. at Rosewood Hall, 2850 19th St. South in Homewood.

The target audience is parents, church leaders, counselors, teachers and coaches who work with older elementary, middle school, high school students at risk for exposure to pornography.

“God has a design for sex that’s awesome,” Oliver said. Pornography inhibits and interferes with that plan, he said.

“This is a counterfeit; it cheapens it, reduces intimacy; this is going to hurt your ability to have healthy sex later in life,” Oliver said.

About 70 percent of teenagers say in surveys that they’ve been exposed to hard-core pornography, Oliver said. “There’s kind of no escaping it,” he said. “We’ve got to get over the naive way of thinking. If your kid’s 10 years old, he’s probably already seen some type of pornography.”

Can parents protect kids?

Parents are often behind the technology curve that allows their children to be exposed to pornography.

“We want to focus on the next generation of our kids that are not yet addicted,” Oliver said.

“When you see how early kids start to see it, it’s a big problem,” he said. “Sexuality is awesome and porn cheapens it and undermines the ability to have healthy relationships.”

Children have increasingly unfettered access to internet pornography through smartphones and home computers.

“A majority of parents would agree their kids don’t need to be looking at it,” Oliver said. “Kids have all the savvy but not the discernment to use the technology wisely.”

But sometimes the parents are being outsmarted by their savvy kids.

“A lot of parents get embarrassed to let them know they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Oliver said. “The technology is changing faster than you can keep up with it. There are so many new apps.  A lot are designed to protect covert web activity. Impulsivity is developed.”

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