Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Many Faces Of Kirk Franklin

Early Wednesday morning on the Tom Joyner Show, J. Anthony Brown poked a joke at one of our assignments on our "things to do" list. He said, "Wives, if you are a Christian and your husband watches porn, don't watch Oprah today." It was quite a funny statement coming from one angle, but another angle pointed out a serious problem that most Americans have labeled the "big taboo". Pornography is a dark global obsession that pulls in over $57 billion dollars world-wide and $12 billion coming from the U.S. alone. It is the largest commercial industry in the world and makes more green than all combined revenues of the NBA, NFL and MLB. That's pretty big money.

Well, J. Anthony Brown didn't point out any concern about the porn industry affecting the world. We know its affects in our society, but what concerned him as it did most of us this week is knowing gospel superstar Kirk Franklin was being featured on the
Oprah Winfrey show as he discussed his addiction and obsession for pornography, which is old news to many since he publicly announced this bad habit a couple of months ago on Christian platforms such as TBN and CBN. But Kirk is very strategic in noting that he's been "delivered" and freed from porn and wanted to express the hypocrisy that surrounded what he did in private and what he did as a gospel singer and minister in the public.

Since the age of eight, Kirk was hooked to porn and even takes our ears where they have never gone; stating that he became sexual at the age of "nine and ten". He had an obsession with porn as well as sex at an early, young age. "Growing up, everybody's got a play uncle, a big brother... a friend that's got that big brother that has the stash [of pornographic magazines or videotapes] under the bed," he says. "From my first look, I was hooked."

Oprah then asks the audience if they had any uncles like that. Mixed emotions roared; the bulk of them couldn't relate. Shocked was the usual response.

Of course, every one knows the tough times of Kirk's early childhood. Having no father, no mother, being adopted at the age of four by his grandmother Gertrude. Many insecurities and poor self-esteem affected his choices in life, especially while growing up. But at the age of nine - it is too hard to imagine for a child to be sexually active at such a tender age, but the subject was pornography and Kirk was wise to stay on that subject. For a minute.

When he was 15, Kirks told Oprah that he began getting serious about his faith and went to his pastor to talk about his struggle with pornography. "He sat back in his chair and he took a puff out of his cigar," Kirk remembers. "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."

Oprah was shocked to hear of these things, as did we. Especially when he boldly mentioned he was the "h" word. "A ho' [hoar]?" Oprah asks. "Yeah, a ho'. Lots of women..." Kirk painted this picture of a confused young boy, growing up with no guidance and protection and living a loose life on the streets.

This was the beginning of the strong, hard emotions that started to brew up inside of us regarding the church and its role in our everyday lives. She then asked Kirk when and how was the height of your obsession. "Everyday...everyday," he responds. Moments later, Kirk revealed bits and pieces of his "rock bottom" experience - his moment of shame. When Kirk goes on and on about being hypocritical and "feeling dirty" (a term he used a whole lot during the interview, a whole lot), Oprah finally asks where was "rock bottom" in his life. He thought marriage would ultimately "fix" his problem and curve his addiction. After getting married, he realized how severe his problem when he craved porn like never before; turning to it even in the middle of the night while Tammy was asleep. Kirk once felt so much self-disgust over his porn collection that he drove far away from his house to throw it away. "I tried to go to sleep that night and it was literally like a drug calling me," he remembers. "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 [looking for my porn]."

During these moments of confession, Oprah knows how easy it is to find porn on the Internet. He claimed he was "not an Internet guy"; something that comes off as being hard to believe. Especially when he's very much an Internet guy - posting on his weblog [blog] on his website almost everyday, posting daily entries for weeks on the Blog while promoting his new project "Hero" and hitting places like Atlanta for MegaFest. Oprah reveals internet porn is the "crack cocaine" of pornography; it's easy, conveient and highly addictive. Stats prove that: 372 million pages on the Web are porn-related, 2.5 billion emails are pornographic and over $2.5 billion dollars go to the Internet porn industry every year. If Kirk was really addicted to porn and was not an "Internet guy" as he claims, where did he get it from? Did he go to the adult bookstores himself? He didn't order this stuff online since he's not an Internet guy, so did he have someone get this stuff for him? So many questions. He also mentions he hated going to L.A. and N.Y., saying they were easy places to get his "drug".

When Tammy appears on the set beside her husband, she was questioned by O on when she found out. "He sat me down and he said, 'Babe, I want to talk to you about a problem that I've been struggling with.' He had such sincerity in his eyes. You could tell that this pained him. For me, my immediate reaction was to just support him in it." They both agree this happened in L.A. She also believes that the obsession of porn ultimately affected their sex life.

Oprah always asks the big questions and never sugar-coats a drop of reality. She doesn't understand how exactly a wife can be so supportive of their husband in such a crisis. "You ain't Jesus," Oprah exclaims as Kirk and Tammy paints this beautiful picture that they got over the crisis easily. This is the nice, beautiful picture we all got: And in one prayer, he was saved and delivered and it will all work out in the end, "oh happy day..when Jesus washed...". Oprah is right, it's not that easy; which leads her to say these words, "I think the church is being hypocritical that its scornful of the behavior of sin, and they are doing it themselves." Amazingly, Oprah doesn't condemn Kirk during this "confession" on her show, since she mentions the awesome achievements he has done for the gospel music industry and for people across the globe through his music. She states that he literally transformed the face of gospel - this is a true remark. But understanding how they overcame this habit together was a hard one to digest for the Queen of Talk. "She's a strong woman, she's a soldier, she kept telling me "Boo, I got your back. Boo, I got you." When I fell, she stayed." Kirk's powerful words made it seem as if his wife was such a strong "God warrior". But the reality of all of this is - most married couples don't have that kind of a final outcome. Honestly, Tammy would have lost a lot, and money (let's be real), if she filed for a divorce. Instead, she decided to live through this with Kirk. Her choice.

But in my own form of commentary and in my experiences with women, I found out that they are not going to easily accept this kind behavior. They don't like to be cheated on, even though that's not to say that women don't cheat. But no one wants to be cheated on. Kirk admits he felt as if he committ adultery because he brought those images of other women and people into his mind and in his marriage. If this was the case for the average couple, most women wouldn't be as understanding as Tammy was. But just like Kobe Bryant and his wife, just like R. Kelly and his wife - both superstars engaged in lust and acts of deception - Kirk's wife remains faithful to her husband and refuses to let him go. Beautiful to hear that, but I'm wondering if Kirk had no money and no title, would the situation change? Would she be just as committed to staying with him as she is now?

Rob Weiss, a sexual addiction expert, approaches the issue in a very serious and realistic way. "I think of sex addicts as being drug addicts; only their drug is their neurochemistry, Rob says. "It's what turns them on. "I talk to guys who say that hours and hours and hours go by, and they're not even aware of the time change because they're so filled with adrenalin and dopamine and serotonin." When you're an addict, Rob says, you begin to notice the consequences of your actions. Kirk felt like a hypocrite on stage...those problems were born out of their excessive porn use, but he chose to ignore them, Rob says.

Controversy is already brewing over the Wednesday airing of the Oprah Show and even more beef is being raised on how Oprah views prayer. Her statement to Dr. Weiss was, "you cannot cure yourself" and "you cannot pray yourself out of this".

Religious fanatics see those comments as being a "no-win" for deliverance and the victory in Christ Jesus in the world of Oprah. But let's be realistic, a-prayer-a-day is not the solution to overcoming addiction to porn. If you think it's that easy, then you need to become an addict for real. Addicts whom overcome their struggle will tell you it's never easy, and we are pretty sure porn is no expcetion. Ask the 40% of clergy that have watched according to a poll stated on the Oprah Wednesday show. It was during the height of Kirk's career that he was obsessed with porn, even while he was married. While we jamming to "Whatcha' Lookin' 4" and "Stomp" and "Lean On Me" and "Revolution" and "Why We Sing" and "Silver And Gold", Kirk was bound to his addiction. I'm pretty sure it took more than a quick prayer to secure his freedom from porn. So I stand up with O to say that she is right. It takes much more than that.

In closing, I celebrate him in his victory and his boldness to address such a controversial issue. But I want to remind Kirk to think before speaking; you are "an Internet guy". You got an email address. We don't want you to feel like a hypocrite any longer.

The Oprah Coverage (Kirk on Porn)
"God Warrior" (Video - WMV - HI)
"God Warrior" (Video - WMV -LO)
(courtesy of FOX's Trading Spouses)
Profile on the Perrin Family


Berry said...

Great post on this topic. I too felt the interview didn't set right. You touched on most of the questions that were still going through my mind.

Anonymous said...

"I think the church is being hypocritical that its scornful of the behavior of sin, and they are doing it themselves." Amazingly, Oprah doesn't condemn Kirk."
Just to comment on this, who is Oprah to condemn anyone when she is living in sin herself(Shacking w/Stedman)She is not saint. What ever happened to believing in God who has the "Power" to deliver you out of anything. So are you saying that God cannot save and deliver? I beg to differ. Tammy does not have to stay with Kirk for Monetary reasons, what she is doing is in I Corinthians 7:13(And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.) Up until his time of repentenance, he was an unbeliever. She is commanded by God to not leave her husband. The Bible says to "Study to Show thyself approved". Your comments on this whole situation is wrong. And God is able to deliver you out of anything. Including the drug addicts that are addicted. They just need Jesus. God has Power.

Jizzle said...

FYI.... Kirk Does NOT type or submit his blog VIA internet. He has said time and time again it is done by BLUEBERRY while he's on the road. Actually take the time and READ his blogs my Brother!!!

God Bless

Kelis said...

Along that issue of being an "internet guy". I think he was being honest. You must be removed from the abundance of sexual content all OVER the TV. My cousin stuggle with this in a way that I think NO ONE can understand. He ordered his Porn through the mail. All you have to do is get someone to sign your name up on a "mailing list". This does NOT have to be done online. And HAVE YOU NOT been up late when Showtime, Cinemax, HBO and the readily available Playboy channels starting running amazingly distasteful stuff. You don't have to be an "internet guy" to have an addiction to porn. My cousin does NOT even own a computer and this stuff is just as accessible as if he did have the internet. I know this is your opinion and you are allowed that. But sit and think about it. Most black folk even in 2005 have no clue what to do with a keyboard, mouse or the internet, but yet they still struggle with this addiction. Maybe you can't accept what Kirk says about being free and not dealing with the internet. But just because you my friend are soooooo internet Savy does not mean the rest of our culture is! Get REAL! Get RIGHT! And Let's Go HOME!


For jizzle and kelis, some of Kirk Franklin's honorary fan club members...

Understand that in my article, I said he had two blogs, if he post anything on it, whether its on a Blueberry or a Blackberry, it's still on the Internet. If he posted anything, I'm sure he has an email account. We all know he does. So that means he's an Internet guy. He said he wasn't an Internet guy. That's all I argued.

Oh yeah, Jizzle, get you a REAL email address and website. Using fake ones as your own ain't cute at all.

Don't you just love Fan-atics!

Darren said...

Just as we've known women to 'up and leave' thier spouses at revealing of aweful truths, there are MANY women who have NOT left for reasons other than title, status, or money.

So often, we can catch a lifetime movie about women who stay with abusive husbands, about women who put up with addicted husbands for years. It's not unheard of and it's not the sole exception! There is alot that goes on in reasoning behind people's choices in a relationship. Remember, she wasn't TOO freaked out when he first introduced porn in thier intimacy, so to later realize that it was a MAJOR problem couldn't have been a complete shock.

My own mother lived for 23 years of my life with my father who was addicted to porn up until his death. I only heard the discussion of divorce once in that time and HE was the one who brought it up and dismissed it.

Also, reading Kirk's blogs, I don't get the impression of him being very internet savy either. One of the keys to addiction is that it be easy for the person seeking it. I know people who HAVE to use e-mail every day for thier job, however have to call for technical assistance to find a message in their trash can. This very well would create an ideal position for one to seek the simplicity of a physical tape or magizine rather than virtual file directories and secret accounts. Computers just aren't 'easy' for eveyone who may use one, and therefore they may not turn to it for thier addiction. (Just think of the last time you 'enjoyed' any internet video at 28.8k bit-rate?!

All that being said, I really enjoyed your discussion of the interview and would love it if you post a link to video from the oprah show (other than oprah's 30 commercial). Oh... and did you write your take on the "God Warrior" clip? That was something there...

Anyway, Keep up the good work!

coko121 said...

I agree but if you are going to comment make it right . I do not feel that Kirk and his wife made it seem easy but quite the contrary I felt like they said what they could in the time alotted... further more as far as prayer is concerned no one said it took a quick prayer a day... his wife said it became a serious struggle for her but ULTIMATELY they overcame ....... through the POWER of PRAYER dont ever diminish the power of prayer.... deliverance comes form Christ not through MAN..... he had to pray and fast and SACRIFICE his self respect to overcome...... PRAYER CHANGES EVERY THING!!!!! If prayers can heal deadly diseases it can HEAL A PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION!!!!!!!!!