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 Gospelflava.com 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.
[MORE FACES TO SEE]
The Oprah Coverage (Kirk on Porn)