54: Nick Stumbo | Finding Freedom From Pornography

Nick Stumbo

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Pure Desire Ministries

As a third-generation pastor, Nick Stumbo started his ministry career at the East Hills Alliance Church in Kelso, Washington. Serving as their lead pastor for more than a decade, Nick observed the fallout of sexual brokenness and devastation in the lives of men and women in the church and recognized, like never before, the need for a culture of grace in the Church.

Confronted with his own addiction to pornography, Nick and his wife, Michelle, found hope and healing through the counseling and group ministries of Pure Desire. It radically changed their lives!

His public disclosure to his church body lead to a revival of forgiveness and healing, launching Pure Desire groups—of hope and freedom—for men and women.

Following his healing, Nick stayed connected to Pure Desire through group leadership and has authored two books, Setting Us Free and Safe.

Today, as the Executive Director for Pure Desire, Nick continues to believe that the Church can become a place of healing and that Pure Desire is leading the way. His passion for the Church and this ministry is evident.

Nick and Michelle have 4 kids and live in Gresham, Oregon. Nick is an avid runner and a huge fan of the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Seahawks.


Nick and I chat about his journey of discovering freedom from pornography, dealing with negative sexual history, normalizing the conversation in our churches and homes, behaviors vs. core beliefs, and how Pure Desire ministries helps people find freedom from sexual addiction.

Pure Desire Ministry

4:20 As we begin, will you share with our listener’s a little of your story.  When did you come to know Jesus?  How did you end up working at Pure Desire? 

“My little brain responded to it the way God has designed our brain to react to that, which is a sense of curiosity, intrigue, drawing, even maybe to level a bonding to what I’m seeing.  I’m wanting to see more and yet, at the same time, this repulsion of this is wrong. I can’t tell my mom and dad. I don’t know what I am doing…Sex came into my life in a way that was both secretive and shameful.”

“No one really knew what freedom and hope and lasting transformation looked like, so you go away thinking, ‘Okay, this time I am going to try really hard not to go back there,’ but because nothing on the inside has really changed it comes back.”

“I remember her saying, ‘It’s not that I hate you, but I hate the way this makes me feel and because I don’t know if it is ever going to change…I don’t know if I can stay’….Because of that moment of real pain, by God’s grace, He used that to direct us into Pure Desire Ministries, where we went through a year of being in groups, both for myself as the one who struggled and for her as the betrayed spouse. And also a year of counseling, that was the first time in my life I sat down with someone who knew the Bible and also understood the human brain and addiction and how all of that didn’t have to be contradictory, but it all fit together.”

“This was never our plan, but it became, by far, the best discipleship program we ever had”

Setting Us Free by Nick Stumbo

“It does feel like people are making a moral choice, and they are. I don’t want to in any suggest that because we understand the addictive nature of it, because we start to see what happens in the brain, that doesn’t in any way excuse us from responsibility, that doesn’t mean we can blame it on someone else…But it’s trying to help believers see that there’s more going on than just try harder and believe more.”

“What happens in the church is we see someone’s behaviors and we say, ‘Stop that! Don’t do that anymore! Read your Bible and pray and don’t make that decision.’ But if we don’t help them see the thoughts and feelings that are driving it and even deeper, the core beliefs that in our family of origin or trauma that we’ve gone through or places we’ve been wounded….”

16:40 How do you define sexual addiction?  What all does it entail?

“When we use the word addiction, we’re not trying to excuse someone’s behavior, we’re not trying to blame someone else….In simple terms, there is a craving that we have that we make choices, but overtime those choices begin to make us.”

Nick was asked 3 questions when he was confronted with addiction for the first time:

  1. How long has this been a problem?
  2. How many times have you tried to stop?
  3. Is it causing you or people you love significant amounts of pain?

“In my mind, addiction was a category that a Christ-follower couldn’t be in, but when he brought it up that way and I began to understand that I could both love Jesus with my whole heart (as best as I knew how too) and be struggling with a behavior that had become addictive in my life was actually a freeing concept.”

“The chemicals involved in acting out sexually are as powerful as cocaine only the problem is the dealer is in our own brain.”

21:32 I am going to share some statistics. 

    1. 33% of all Americans seek out porn at least once a month. 

    2. 68% of Christian men struggle with unwanted sexual behavior. 

    3. 25% of Christian women struggle with sexual dependency issues.

    4. 57% of pastors admit to struggling with pornography

    5. 30% of pastors report they have had an affair or a sexual encounter with a parishioner

With all of the statistics, why do you think porn, masturbation and sex is still so taboo in our churches?  

“Men and women get into ministry and we assume that because they are mature spiritually they must be mature in their sexuality, only no one has trained them any more than the rest of us….The home is hoping the church is talking about it. The church is hoping the home is talking about it, but really no one is. It really keeps us all isolated and feeling like I must be the only one here…We can hear those stats and think that must be somewhere else.”

“I honestly believe this is one of Satan’s master strategies. He wants to inflict everyone with the same disease and yet somehow convince them that their unique version of it makes them uniquely bad.”

“If you want to have a healthy home….deal with your negative sexual history, becasue as you deal with your brokenness you become equipped to turn and start having conversations with our kids.”

“Someone will create the framework for sexuality in your kids life. If you want to wait until they’re exposed to start having conversations your basically saying, ‘I’d rather let media or movies or the world created the framework, then I’ll try to help them understand it’.”

30:05 For a person who is struggling with sexual addiction what is their first step toward freedom?

“Healing happens best in community.” Pure Desire offers community and curriculum for both men and women.

  1. Find someone safe to start to be honest with
  2. Find a group
  3. Counseling may be needed. A counselor trained specifically in the area of sexuality

35:10 How can a woman create a safe environment for her husband to communicate his struggles

Let your husband know you don’t expect perfection, but growth and health.  

“God designed your brain and your soul to want to be your husband’s one and only and it is fair for you to ask that of him.”

“You can’t be the one that fixes your spouse….If we get it in our minds that if I’m responsive enough sexually, I’ll fix him, it’s not going to happen.”

40:53 We talk a lot about safe community and walking with others through betrayal, but how do we do this in our own marriages?

“Learn to connect emotionally and to understand  what true intimacy is all about.”

“Intimacy is not sex…It is very possible to have sex without intimacy and it’s possible to have intimacy without sex…Intimacy is really a place of being fully known and knowing that I am fully loved.”

F.A.S.T.E.R. scale

Connected Workbook

45:15 If I’m a 14 year old and I’m involved in pornography right now, looking down the road 15 years what can I expect to be going on in my thought life, in my marriage, in my work life as a result of years of pornography use.

“God designed your brain to bond to anything you have sex with. That can be physically or mentally or in your lust. If we have a sexual climax in our thinking and in our behaving, our brain and our chemistry bonds to that thing and we have these chemicals released that say, ‘This is mine. It belongs to me.’ Now, in a marriage that is an awesome thing….”

“We start to have tolerance. What excites you today won’t be as exciting tomorrow.”

49:47 Pure Desire exists to provide hope and freedom from sexual addiction by educating and equipping church leaders in the development of a healing ministry. What are some of the programs and resources Pure Desire provides to help accomplish that mission?

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