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Scott was finally alone in his office. After another jam-packed day at the church, he was exhausted but pleased. His hard work was paying off. The youth group was exploding in size, and people said he deserved the credit. Before turning to the stacks of papers and phone messages that demanded his attention, Scott decided he had time for a quick reward. He shut his door and sat down at his computer as it hummed quietly on his desk. I deserve it, he thought. He clutched his mouse, and then—click, click, click—the images of women, posing erotically, smiled back in seeming agreement.

By all appearances, Scott, barely into his 30s, had it all. A popular and energetic youth pastor at the largest church in his denomination, Scott already was in demand as a speaker and writer all across the country. He was married to Caroline, a beautiful and loving wife, and lived in a comfortable home they shared with their baby girl. Yet somehow, full satisfaction eluded him. Scott—like a small but increasing number of pastors today—was living a part of his life in seductive secrecy: He had become a cybersex addict, and his thirst for Internet pornography seemed unquenchable.

The road to getting caught

Scott's earliest childhood memories include sexually explicit images. When he was 6, Scott found a pornographic magazine tucked away in a board game.

Scott's family—like his father's military career—was more about rules than relationships. That tendency carried over into the family's religious life. For his family, following God meant being faithful churchgoers. As a teenager, Scott decided he could win God's approval just as he had tried to win his father's approval. After failing to excel in athletics or academics, Scott realized he was best at religion. ...

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In the Magazine

March 5, 2001

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