While I’m accustomed to receiving a lot of email from men all over the world asking questions about the girls we photograph, that volume is but a trickle in comparison to the deluge of feedback I’ve received since walking away from porn production.
In another blog entry I’ll share some of the things written to me on adult industry message boards for contrast, as those range from being supportive to being very “rude” (to say the least). This blog entry will focus on email, with a few MySpace messages thrown in for good measure. Almost every message that arrives in my inbox has been positive.
I really appreciate reading this stuff. It definitely helps strengthen me. Here goes:
so encouraged by youhi donny, im —–. i read your story on xxxchurch and have been following your blog ever since. you seem to be getting a lot of encouragement from people so im not sure how i could add to that. however, i had to send a message and just tell you im encouraged by you.
i know porn. what man doesn’t? i am winning the battle everyday and my marriage and life and relationship with God is better for it. i don’t know it in the depths that you do however. but im familiar with the destruction.
i admire you donny. you’ve made some strong statements about porn in the past in support of it. and now, you’re making strong statements against it. im impressed and encouraged that there are people who feel compelled to change their mind and aren’t afraid to do so. thank you for being vulnerable. thank you for speaking out. thank you for the encouragement.
if i can do anything, if you ever need to chat, if you ever need prayer…just message me. im a prayer whore.
I have to give you alot of credit man.
I’ll make my story that could be quite long, very short.
I am a 28 year old professional with 2 degrees. Grew up in a “Christian” home, work part time as a pastor, spend the rest of my ‘working life’ working as a lawyer somewhere in the midwest, and your website has been a favorite of mine for many many years. In fact, I think I found it not long after you started if I remember right. Anyways, from what I remember reading in your past it sounds like we were raised somewhat similarly, even from the same denomantion. Unlike you though, I was never “brave” enough to walk away no matter how sick “Christians” made me. As i’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize it’s not about the Christians, and it’s more about God. Pretty much, ignore the stupid people. Somehow I kept some involvement in the Church no matter how two faced I would feel.
The past month or two I’ve been struggling with a ton of things in my life, my direction, etc, and quite frankly, haven’t had enough time to visit your blog/site, so, I’ve not even had a clue about what you have been experiencing.
Tonight I got home from work and popped by your blog to see what was new and interesting on your sites. And there it was. The first thing I saw was “former pornographer” and instantly I was thrown aback…”what’s going on here, I thought his business was doing so well?”
As I started reading your words, and got the picture of where your life has gone, I myself found myself crying.
One word. Wow.
I could go on and on, but, I won’t as I’m sure you are getting bombarded with emails from other people. So I will say this much:
I will be praying for you and your son/family situation. Things are not going to be easy with Belinda I know. I’ll be praying for God to speak to her heart. Don’t give up man, nothing has ever been scripturally promised to be easy. Especially when we’re being led to change our lives so drastically.
Your change has inspired me as well. My secret lifestyle has been heavy on my heart lately, and, as soon as I’m done with this email, I’m going to be cleaning my hard drives off. I’m done. I’m thankful that God took my favorite photographer, changed his life, and therefore, leading me to change my life.
I wish you the best, I’m praying for you, and will continue to do so. I hope to continue to hear how God is working in your life.
Saw your story on XXXChurch. Reading your blog has been such an encouragement to me. I have had struggles with a porn addiction since Jr. High (I’m 29). XXXChurch has been such a great help, and your story is so huge. Hearing how empty that the industry leaves the people working in it is eye opening. So thank you!
I am praying for you. I hope that God continues to bring authentic Christians into your life. Keep talking, asking questions, conversing with God. I’m sure so many people are giving their advice, so take this for what its worth, but there is a church in Los Angeles called Mosaic that the pastor, Erwin McManus, is in the middle of a series where he is just trying to address questions that the congregation sends in during the week. They post them on itunes. I would highly recommend them, because he addresses some really tough issues, and its not just more “religious speak.”
I am so excited to see where God takes you in your life.
by the way, don’t let any “christian” try and force you into mindless “religion.” Following God is not all about rules and codes, it is relationships, with God, His creation, and People (Christians and not).
I read your story in the XXXChurch newsletter tonight
and I am happy for your decision to get out of the
porn industry. I have been struggling for the last
year to get pornography out of my life and have been
very successful. I do slip from time to time but
those instances are getting farther apart as each day
You will be in my prayers as you begin this new
endeavor in your life. With every door that closes in
your life, God opens a bigger and better one for you.
You must believe this. I have lived through many of
these doors being closed in my life and it is hard to
have faith during hard times. You will look back one
day and see what God did to get you through this time
in your life. When I do that and think back about
hard times and how everything just “works out,” it
makes me laugh at myself to think that I thought that
I knew what was best for me. Trust God and know that
you will be ok.
I just wanted to encourage you and let you know that I am impressed at your willingness to not only be willing to make a change and trust God to provide, but also to be willing to put yourself out there for your fans and friends to see what has changed for you. I don’t know you, but I will be praying for you as you learn to put God first in your life.
I have so much respect for you bro, you don’t even know. The men that rail against you on your blog only do so because they are protected by the anonymity the internet affords them.
I prayed a similar prayer to yours, and it changed my life. I got in with a group of christians very much like Mike and Craig. Actually they have spoken at our church before. One of the things that burned me up about christianity when I was not a christian was the hypocrisy of it’s membership. Let’s just say that the christians I knew weren’t exactly ringing endorsements for God or Jesus. Once I was out of the hypocritical christian environments, I was able to evaluate Christianity on it’s merits. And the more I read about Jesus, the more I respected him and liked him. Not as a real historical figure… but as a philosopher, or defender of the disenfranchised.
If anyone, ANYONE shared my disdain for the religious hypocrites, it was Jesus. Story after story in the new testament describe Jesus rising up against the religious hypocrites of his day.
I spent ten years as an atheist. The transition from atheist to christian is way beyond the scope of this email. I just want you to know that today, on my best days I am certain God exists. On my worst days I hope he exists in all the ways the bible details. I’ve come to believe that everyone has a “spiritual kryptonite” if you will. A propensity towards certain sins above the others. For some it is porn (sexual fornication). For some deceit. Some, pride (count me in here) Etc. But my biggest temptation, and my spiritual kryptonite, is doubt. I acknowledged to God that this is my temptation and that I would do my best to defeat it. I also asked him for help. He has been faithful to me on this over the years, but it has been a slow process.
I read a blog by a preacher that struggles with this. You will love it. Many don’t like him because he lets the occasional 4 letter word slip out. I like him because he is authentic.
I got baptised this may. I go to a big church so they record all that stuff and make a production out of it. I want you to see it. I give a brief testimony in the beginning and the preacher makes a few good comments at the end.
You got nads of steel dude. I applaud you. Stay true to yourself and don’t swallow everything people throw at you all at once. Christians aren’t perfect, and any one of them that claims to have all the answers is precisely the one you ought to avoid. Just take things one day at a time and know that people are praying for you because we genuinely care about you and your well being.
God made a fool out of me in 2003 when he decided to let me know, under no uncertain circumstances, that he exists. But it was only after I had laid down my arms, so to speak, and let him know I was willing to find him on His terms, not mine, that he reciprocated.
It makes sense to me now. If I were God… that’s how I would want it. My way.
Blessings on ye.
I visited your blog, and I just wanted to write and make a feeble attempt at encouraging you in your decision. The move you have made is a big spiritual punch thrown against a cunning, fallen warrior who will not take your actions, lying down. He will use whatever he can in attempting to defuse the unsettling witness against him and his business, that you are currently communicating. (And, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new here.)
If you are old enough, you may recall when Bob Dylan made his dramatic public confession of Christianity. Talk about instant ‘poop in the punch bowl’ … I mean, he was formerly the poet-laureate for the entire ’60s generation–and then, overnight, he fell off the charts, effectively never to be heard from again. Don’t get me wrong … I am not doomsaying against your future–God will certainly take care of you and all that concerns you. But, the ongoing repercussions against you will inevitably wear on you after awhile. I remember when I first became a Christian (back when the earth was still cooling, in Austin TX in 1974). My old friends kept calling me in order to procure their marijuana. In every instance, my response was, “Gosh, I just don’t do dope anymore–I’ve asked Jesus into my heart.” And, naturally, the dynamics of all those relationships changed dramatically after that. Word was put out on the street, that I had lost my mind; had become a religious fanatic and psycho. It wasn’t so much the predictable snubbing that occurred from those individuals whom I had notified personally, that bothered me … it was the impromptu responses from the rippling ‘webs’ of people who had heard of my ‘breakdown’ through the grapevine. (I remember waiting for nearly 45 minutes for service in a friend’s restaurant, until I finally realized that neither he nor his staff had any intention of doing business with me.)
At any rate, bless your heart as you continue your sojourn in God’s Son’s gracious righteousness. The Bible says that ‘God places the loners in amongst loving families …’ (my paraphrase)–and, you and I are brothers now. We are a family where there once was none.
Also, there is no way that you could have been involved with the business you were, and not walk away still bearing the tendencies and temptations towards all that stuff. In other words, when your past life occasionally rears its ugly head and you find yourself falling into some old habits of thought or action … satan will want you to beat yourself up with feelings of failure and condemnation. But, don’t fall for that. When Jesus died for you, all of your sins were future. Jesus knows that you are but flesh, and we are all weak and vulnerable to the old nature. That is, after all, why he died for us.
I will stop with the sermon now.
Suffice it to say that I will be praying for you. You have made just a whole ton of people really happy and encouraged (most of whom you will never even meet in this lifetime) by your bold stance for the truth. Therefore, you can absolutely expect to be one of your former lord’s favorite ‘targets.’ But, God will work great good and glory out of any and all assaults against you, his beloved adopted son. And, rest assured, that he who has begun a good work in you is totally faithful and reliable to finish it.
God bless your heart!
Good things are on the way (even though it doesn’t always look like it).
Bye for now.
Love, your brother in Christ …. —–
Donny…never read your blog before. Never knew you existed till today. Saw the story in the XXX newsletter and just stumbled over and felt an urge to write you.
I’m a preacher’s kid myself.
I went through a major period of my life where I chucked it. I had all this bible, and as you can see from the focus of my dad’s ministry, I had not just bible knowledge, but a practical phd in the Christian World View.
But, I was fueled by anger. At all the Christians who were human (for some reason, I didn’t want to admit that it didn’t change who Jesus was). At my parents for being so fucking honest about their faith and down to earth. I mean Dad, didn’t you ever just let it rip, chase girls, and get laid? (yeah, he did, but then got saved)
So, I chucked it and went on a binge of sex, drugs, rock n roll. Had a whale of a time. Until I got through. And got no juice anymore from it. Then, with nothing in this world left to try, I almost pulled the trigger…because to go back to “Jaysus” was killing myself too. I was really stuck. But I guess that was the point. There is death in re-birth. And it hurts. Scary. Embarrassing to my running buddies. But I couldn’t do it anymore.
Gotta say something though. I didn’t face your circumstances and stare down my livelihood with your courage. So I just gotta tell ya. You have my sincere respect, my sincere best wishes, and my sincere prayers.
If you’re ever in Dallas, we’d be honored to have you and your wife over to drink beer, smoke a stogie or two, and hang.
Hey Donnie –
I have been following your blog over the past week after getting a bulletin from xxxchurch on myspace (what a weird sentence – strange times we live in). Anyway, I am 34, married with 3 kids, and a former pastor. I am also a pretty down to earth guy. To this day I like beer, rock and roll, and cigars, but I am pretty serious about being a good father and husband and I am am pretty settled in my Christian beliefs. I also struggle with pornography by the way. When I left the ministry several years ago I didn’t know if I’d still be a Christian when I got through the process I was going through. I was so disgusted with the subculture I was in. I became an assistant pastor at 24 years old at a church in Brooklyn. After being there for a few years I just felt like “these people would walk by a guy who was starving to death but fire me if they saw me smoke a cigarette – that is so screwed”. Years later I can say that I’ve learned not to distance myself from God because he has some obnoxious followers. I’ve also learned to look in the mirror and try to
treat people with the grace I’d like to be treated. I decided a couple of years ago that instead of distancing myself from the church or being overly critical of it, I would embrace it as God’s chosen instrument in the world and try to be the kind of person I wish churches were full of – open, honest, unpretensious, and the same guy inside the church as I am outside the church. Anyway, seems like you are in for a ride and have a lot of people watching you. My advice to you would be keep your eyes on God, not so much on his followers, and don’t let people put you up on a pedestal or use you as a “war trophy”. I’ll be praying for you, and if you are interested in any kind of dialogue, feel free to write back.
I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but what you have done is a great thing. This road you traveling on will be rough at times. I’m sure you already know that. Tomorrow may bring you all sorts of problems. But I have just one piece of encouragement to give you tonight. The Lord has already conquered tomorrow. The Bible says that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the first and the last. So, the Lord already knows. And He conquered it just like He conquered that wonderful day in September when you gave your life to Him.
Thanks again for the blessing that your testimony was to this 26 year old husband, future father and youth pastor from Alabama.
In Him that is coming soon!
Hey, I saw this link on your blog. I just wanted to say that you have tons of people behind you and we’re stronger than the fools who are against you.
I read your blog last night and this afternoon. Your struggles seem so much more than mine and mirror mine all at once. I am a sex addict and have struggled on and off for the past 6 years. It ain’t easy, but it can be done. My wife and I recently went through barely keeping our house out of foreclosure and by the grace of God we were able to pull it out. (My brother called out of the blue and offered to help) My addiction was probably due to some of your pics…ha, ha! I’m not gay nor am I trying to gain any sort of attention. I just want to help. I know how hard it is and can be. Like I said, your struggles are so much more, but I can at least be a sounding board.
Anyway, I am writing this to offer some help. I’m sure you have Craig’s help on some level, but I’m offering accountability. I don’t have much of one, myself. I have friends that ask me from time to time how I’m holding up, but no one to connect with on a daily/weekly basis. I’m learning the Bible for the first time through discipleship at my church. I’m a drummer for the worship team and have played many a Sunday to come home and check out some porn. (Damned Limewire) Check out my blog at —– and think about it. I’m sure there are tons of other offers and who could be offended if you have someone to connect with.
Take care and God Bless,
I found your blog through xxxchurch.com. I am a recovering porn addict with a B.A. in Biblical Studies. I just want you to know that you are an encouragement to me. Stay strong and just remember the best thing about being with God… Grace brother, nothing earned, everything given, just receive it.
God Bless and Take the Grace
Hey Donny, I’m a long time listener first time caller. Just wanted to say that you have my respect for making this kind of decision. It shows guts to stick to what you think is right, even if that means a change in your life. I know you have had problems with religion in the past and I wanted to pass on a bit of a soundbyte I picked up in college. My favorite professor told us that studying philosophy was much like theology (both of which were my focuses). Both are like laying badly cut carpeting or wallpaper. You do your best to smooth out all the big bumps and be okay with the little bumps that are left.
I hope nothing but the best for you and look forward to seeing what comes from your blog.
i’m —–…but you’re a smart boy and have probably gathered that by now : )
i thought i might explain myself a bit…but have been thinking over the last few days and i’m not entirely sure how…
i am completely unable to express my appreciation for you…not because i have a past filled with pornography.. ..but more because God has used your story to realign my focus. i love your honesty and faith and courage…i don’t know quite how to explain it…but it is this feeling i have..like when you pray. it is God that i feel…and i haven’t in a long time…i know he’s there but just haven’t felt him like this in a while…it is refreshing!
and that is why i requested your myspace friendship 🙂
so thank you for inspiring my to live the transparent life i so desire!!
That was just a small sampling of the literally hundreds of emails I’ve received. These are encouraging, of course. But just wait until you read the varied reactions from my former colleagues. They’re very colorful, to say the least…