By: Allie Joy Hudson
6 min. read
Struggling in Silence
For many of us, especially those of us who grew up in the Church, it can be easy to live a double life. We can act one way on Sunday mornings and then be a completely different person during the week. We can be outwardly pursuing God and serving others, but inwardly, we care much more about our own selfish pursuits than about Jesus. Often, we struggle in silence, not letting anyone in. Sexual sin provides such an opportunity for this; it’s secret and it thrives in the dark.
Like so many of us, this double life, this secret struggle, was a reality for “urban Gospel” star Kirk Franklin. Franklin has been putting out Christian albums since the early 90s. But while he was making music, living the church life, and serving the Lord, he was quietly drowning in a porn addiction that consumed him for twenty-one years.
Franklin says, “I was doing albums, albums that people were getting blessed by, and I was struggling with pornography. ‘Why We Sing’ came out in ’93, and I was struggling with pornography. ‘Stomp’ came out in ’97, and I was struggling with pornography. These albums God was speaking through and everyone was getting their victory except for me. I used to question and almost began to wonder, ‘What’s going on?’”
Unfortunately, Franklin’s story is not uncommon. So many of us grapple with sexual sin alone, never letting anyone know about the ways it’s tearing us up inside.
Now, here’s the story of Kirk Franklin:
Deep Roots in a Dark Past
Like so many that struggle with an addiction to lust and pornography, Franklin’s porn addiction had roots in a difficult upbringing. His family environment was toxic. Abuse, incest, and rape were all part of Franklin’s home. He was adopted at age four, but he still knows his birth mother, and he struggled a lot with feelings of not being good enough or wanted.
Kirk Franklin was first exposed to porn at age eight, and he was hooked. In porn, he found a counterfeit acceptance and a female intimacy that he had lacked because of his nonexistent relationship with his birth mother.
As a teen, Franklin often got into trouble. Despite his strict upbringing and the influence and position he had in his church (he became a minster of music at age eleven!), he walked away from God. He describes himself as being very promiscuous during his teenage years.
At age fifteen, after the death of his friend, Kirk Franklin began to take his relationship with Jesus more seriously, and he opened up to his pastor about his porn addiction. Franklin describes what his pastor told him: “He said, ‘Oh, you’re young—you’ll grow out of it.’ He had no idea that he spoke death into my life. That shut me down because [I thought], ‘Well, someday I’ll grow out.’ [Instead], I grew in—and I grew in deep.”
We see in Franklin’s life a saddening lack of proper, loving guidance and mentorship. It was easy for porn to creep in and latch onto his mind and heart. Sadly, his story is like so many of ours.
Bringing in the Trash
Franklin’s porn addiction continued for years to come, and he carried it into his marriage. Franklin went into marriage expecting it to “fix” his porn problem, but he soon discovered just how dependent he was on pornography. One day, desperate to be rid of his addiction, Franklin threw away his porn magazines in a dumpster and drove away. He says, “I tried to go to sleep that night, and it was literally like a drug calling me. About 3 or 4 in the morning, in my flip-flops and boxers, I got in my car and drove back to that dumpster and dug.”
Kirk Franklin’s wife, Tammy, could feel the impact of his porn habit on their sex life before he even told her about it. She comments, “It started not to be special. You’re not expecting to feel dirty with your husband.”
Franklin realized that he had to tell Tammy about his addiction. He knew he had a problem. He didn’t see porn as something he would grow out of anymore, as a rite of passage, or as an aid to his sex life. Franklin reflects, “I see pornography as such a sexual act that I saw it as cheating. I [was] bringing images of other women into my bedroom with my wife.”
Jesus talks about lustful thoughts too, and He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When we carry thoughts and images of other people into our marriages, this only creates a wedge between us and our spouse.
Building Each Other Up
In the second year of their marriage, Kirk sat Tammy down and told her about his porn addiction. Because Kirk approached it as sin, as something that he hated and wanted freedom from, Tammy’s heart was soft towards him. Tammy came alongside of her husband in support and began to pray for him often. Porn addiction hurts both the user and his or her loved ones, and that’s not something we should dismiss. But I love that we see Jesus’ grace in Tammy’s heart for her husband. She fought for their marriage.
In addition to great support from his wife, Kirk Franklin sought out mentorship in his pastor, Dr. Tony Evans. Dr. Evans is a father-figure to Franklin and keeps him in check. Through his relationship with Evans, Franklin learned humility and discipline.
Franklin talks about how important accountability is: “I get evangelically ticked off by the fact that I wished somebody would have taught me a long time ago about the repercussions of sex and flesh and lust and vanity and pride and ego. I wished somebody would have been holding my little behind accountable years ago.”
The “N” in PROVEN stands for “Networking with other godly people.” It’s hugely important for us to have people around us that care for us enough to ask us hard questions, pray for us, see how we’re really doing, and encourage us along the way. And we are called to be those people for others. Kirk Franklin’s life has been changed for the better because of the influence and accountability of Dr. Tony Evans and of his wife, Tammy.
What would it look like for you to follow his example?
Related: The Science of Confession
Making Us More Like Jesus
I’m so inspired by Kirk Franklin and his life story. Yes, in him I do see a “church boy” with a really horrific past who was ensnared by lust. But I also see a man who Jesus loves and died for, a man who has found healing and freedom from lust, who has shared his journey with Jesus in hopes that it might encourage others. I see a man who, even in the midst of his struggle with porn was willing to be vulnerable, to not give up despite overwhelming hardship, and to fight to know freedom.
Franklin’s life teaches us a great deal about sanctification. Sanctification is the lifelong process of Jesus making us more like Himself. He lovingly chips away at our sinful, selfish ways and replaces them with His – with His heart and His holiness.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, God already sees us as holy, righteous, and as His redeemed children. Let’s thank Him for that now! And let’s also thank Him that, though He already sees us as righteous, He wants to work in us to remove sin that only hurts us.
Today, surrender to Jesus. Let Him work in your heart and in your life. Surrender your lust, your greed, your anger, your selfishness, your worry, and your pride. Let Him in now because He truly cares for you.
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She has worked with Proven Men for two years and serves as the Content Manager. Allie graduated from Liberty University with a B.A. in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. She completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the viola, running, singing, and photography. Allie is passionate about her ever-growing C.S. Lewis collection, cultivating relationships, and proclaiming truth in the twisted arena of postmodern sexuality. Allie lives in Pennsylvania and is overjoyed to be married to the love of her life.