Kay Warren: ‘I Struggled With Porn Fascination’

How by God's grace and a good counselor, Pastor Rick Warren's wife overcame her very personal struggle.

By Nancy Flory Published on July 5, 2017

Kay Warren grew up in a Christian home, a good Christian girl who loved Jesus. One day when she was 12 or 13, she was babysitting and found a pornographic magazine. She knew she shouldn’t look at it, but she did. And she kept looking at it when she babysat later. She developed a “porn fascination” that plagued her into adulthood.

Kay is the wife of Pastor Rick Warren. She shared her struggle with pornography and how she overcame it with The Stream.

The Beginning

Kay was very young when she was sexually abused. She was not treated at the time. When she found the pornography, she saw a problem with it immediately, but felt she couldn’t talk to anybody about her struggle. She continued to look at the magazines when she babysat.

“I was pretty sure I was the only person alive who struggled with it besides really bad people,” she recalled. “I had to figure it out on my own.”

She didn’t see such magazines anymore as she got older, but she found other inappropriate material through television or books. “I don’t call it a porn addiction,” she said. “I call it a porn fascination. I would view it or read it.”

It wasn’t something she did all of the time. It was an occasional foray into sin. But the guilt was enormous. “It was such an internal battle. It was accompanied by shame and regret. I failed God so miserably.”

A Stronghold

In her 30s, she finally arrived at a place where she realized that Satan had a “stronghold” in this area of her life. “He was exploiting it,” she remembered. “But I didn’t have to cooperate. I could become a slave to righteousness.” When she was in her 40s she began to work with a counselor. It was “to confront sexual brokenness and to fight for myself. To fight against Satan’s determination.”

As she began counseling and faced the earlier sexual abuse, Kay felt a different kind of shame. “I was overcome with shame of who I was. I was somehow shameful of my very existence before God. I couldn’t look up at Him.” She was literally laying face down on the floor.

But something incredible happened. All of the Bible verses and sermons that she’d heard of His love, acceptance and grace for failures came rushing back to her. “I was an irreparably broken person. His response to me was to draw me close. To know and to feel it — to be met by God’s grace was unforgettable. … He opened the doorway of hope. He gave me the ability to choose holiness.”

Her Calling

Kay now helps other women who are struggling in many areas, including porn fascination and addiction. Her message is straightforward: “Sister, there is hope. … Healing is real.” She offers a few options for women who struggle with pornography. “There are great tools today. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to be real about your brokenness. It helps people work on any hurt, hang-up or habit. People help hold you to your goals — freedom.”

Pornography fascination or addiction can start from abuse or trauma. That’s where personal counseling can help. “I was 40 before I had the courage to say, ‘Yes, I’m broken and I need some help.’ I learned what had happened to me as a little girl affected choices I made as an adult. I was then fully able to accept God’s grace and forgiveness in my heart.”

Kay stresses that while God can heal miraculously, often healing comes slowly. “The battle might be a lifelong battle. Sometimes we don’t find that a struggle completely goes away. It’s so amazing when God chooses to heal outright. We all wish we could be that person. More often than not, it’s a process carrying us when we’re too weak.”

‘Don’t Give Up’

But she also says those who struggle don’t have to be alone. “We all struggle. Please don’t struggle alone. Satan has fooled us that we have to keep our sin a secret. We have to let others walk with us in the journey.” That way, we gain strength from each other.

More importantly, God will never leave us in our struggle. “Be willing to continue to depend on Him for strength every day. Don’t give up.”

If sin is still appealing? “It’s not evidence of failure if sin is still attractive. Our job is to bring temptation to Jesus. Practice new habits that we learn. That’s His plan for us. Day in and day out rely on His strength.”

 

Kay Warren is the author of Sacred Privilege: Your Life and Ministry as a Pastor’s Wife

To find a Celebrate Recovery meeting near you, click here.

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  • KC

    Thank you for sharing Kay. When you allow the Light into the darkness that we try to hide – the healing can begin.

    • Gary Griffenhagen

      I fully agree with you, KC. Her comments about God and His great love for us, even while standing in our sin, are so right-on. As you say, when we bring Light into our, or any, darkness, healing, health and freedom result.

  • Jeannine

    I hope that Mrs. Warren’s counselor helped her to see that the sexual abuse she suffered was not her fault.

  • Daniel de Oliveira

    Such a disgrace! A lot of teenagers suffer too much in their struggles with things like that because they believe in the adults, preachers and preachers’s wives, that all the time and relentless denounce what they themselves practice in secret.

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