Q & A About Train Yourself Ministry’s Purity Summit
An Interview With Bear Clifton
Is the Purity Summit only for those struggling with porn?
Absolutely not! The sin addiction of porn is only used as a template for how Christ works to strengthen us for holiness. Anyone who struggles with sexual temptation of any kind will benefit from this teaching. Having said that, because porn is such a massive problem in the church, it is essential that church leaders begin to wrestle more openly with how to combat this sin threat.
Are your messages only for men?
Again, no! Besides the fact that with a problem like porn, a growing number of women are getting caught in its grip, our desire is to teach a wholistic “theology of purity” that will encourage any follower of Christ.
How does your message and ministry differ from other discipleship approaches?
Most churches’ discipleship programs focus on what I call “spiritual training”, which provides doctrinal and skill-building instruction (e.g. Bible reading, prayer, evangelism, etc.) I believe this type of training must be the very heart and soul of any discipleship we do. (Underline this last sentence!) However this is where most churches stop, and if their people continue to struggle, the next step is to provide some sort of clinical assistance. TYM encourages the idea that we build on our spiritual training by then moving on to targeted “discipline training” which focuses on not only on a person’s spirit, but their body, mind, emotions and will as well. Much like a physical therapist does in treating a crippling pain by shoring up all the smaller muscular systems around it. In a way, we’re trying to do that with sexual purity.
Is there anything wrong with clinical approaches to sin-struggles?
Not at all. Many of these programs are a blessing to the church – provided they are built off of a “spiritual training” foundation. I heard someone once say: “Since the spiritual approach doesn’t work, let’s try this.” Excuse me! (Try saying to Jesus, “Thanks for your death on the Cross, Lord, but we need something more.”) Not everyone struggles with a sin-addiction like porn in the same way. Some people need a pep talk. Some need a pop in the jaw. Some need a prison cell. Putting everyone in a support group of some kind is not the answer. TYM exists to provide what is often a missing piece in many churches.
What else would you say is unique about your ministry?
We’re trying to advance the idea that Christ wants to bring us to freedom. That a follower of Christ doesn’t have to run from the world, but that Christ’s power gives us “everything we need for life and godliness” in this world (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). The goal is not to load up every computer in our house with porn filters, and make sure every person has an accountability partner peering over their shoulders. That’s not freedom; that’s coercion. Those things are almost always necessary early in a person’s training, but the goal is to help a follower of Christ learn to walk through this digital world and not get burned.
One porn recovery ministry I knew of required that husbands sign a letter to their wives that contained the line, “You understand that I will never be able to erase those images from my mind and will always wonder when we are having sex if I am thinking of you or ‘them’.” The letter ends, “Things will never be the same.” Such an approach is void of hope. Besides the fact that it’s simply untrue. I know from my own experience that the mind can be renewed just as the Bible promises. A person who can’t go even one waking hour without facing agonizing temptation can learn to go days, weeks, then months with a mind at rest.
What’s do you hope happens through Train Yourself Ministry?
Obviously, I want to see as many followers of Christ as possible learn to walk in purity and freedom. To that end, one thing that needs to happen in the Church is for us to get comfortable talking about sexuality. I want to stir up the birth of thousands of what I call “holy conversations” about sex, within marriages, families, and churches. The more talking the better. Our silence or discomfort with sexuality is one of the reasons among many why our culture is where it’s at today. We need to start thinking and speaking about sexuality as one of the greatest gifts that a good and loving God has given the human race.