Tangled in the Worst of the Web
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. Scott's high-school peers were amazed at a sermon he gave on a church missions trip. His parents were thrilled, as was Scott. "I think that was when I first felt some level of acceptance from them both that felt very significant," Scott says. Still, his immaturity made him an easy target for temptation.
After high school, Scott attended a Christian liberal arts college in a Western state. By day, Scott pursued his preseminary studies. But by night, he drank. "I was pretty wild my first year in school," Scott admits. He and Caroline married in the mid 1980s while still in college, and between a full load of classes and full-time work, they had precious little time to bond. One night on the way home from a college basketball game, Scott and a friend drove by a box apparently discarded in the middle of the road. Curious, they stopped and found it was full of porn magazines. They took it home and, as a joke, told their wives they had bought the magazines. When the joke was played out, they tossed the box into the trash.
But unbeknownst to each other (until years later), they each quietly returned to the trash bin that night to sneak another look. Scott prayed for God's forgiveness and threw the magazines back in the trash; he thought porn was out of his life forever.
After his graduation, Scott's career took off at a large church in the Plains. But his marriage was in deep trouble. Instead of dealing with their isolation, excessive work, and lack of communication, the couple threw themselves into ministry. "We would work 80, 90 hours a week, and that was our escape from each other," he says.
The couple gradually realized they needed help, but they avoided seeing a professional until the early 1990s, when they agreed to visit a Christian counselor. At their second session, the counselor said their problems stemmed from a poor sex life. He then showed them a sex video. Instead of saving a marriage, the counselor unwittingly reignited a smoldering temptation inside Scott. Within weeks, Scott was using porn again. "I rationalized," he says, "I made all the excuses: 'God, look at all these things I'm doing for you, working with all of these teenagers. Look, I deserve to have this. … because I have a wife who doesn't care.' "