Anne Marie Miller speaks freely about traditionally taboo issues

Photo courtesy of Calvin Sexuality Series.
Photo courtesy of Calvin Sexuality Series.

Author and speaker Anne Marie Miller spoke directly and honestly about overcoming sexual immorality and porn addiction in her lecture “Speaking Freely about Sex, Shame and Grace” at the Chapel Tuesday evening.

Seeking to overcome the “awkward and uncomfortable battle” for sexual purity, Miller spoke from her own personal experience with sexual abuse and porn addiction, using Biblical text to drive her point home.

“It is in our nature to hide when something goes wrong. But when you read the Bible you begin to see a pattern of God’s faithfulness, that God wants us to open up and be vulnerable with him,” Miller said.

Miller’s lecture, cosponsored by the sexual assault prevention team (SAPT) and campus ministries, was the first of this year’s Sexuality Series.

“We try and address porn every year in conjunction with the SAPT that’s cosponsoring [Miller’s] talk because porn, sexual assault and rape culture all go together,” Sexuality Series Director Julia Smith said.

“We have to educate ourselves and hear people’s stories and try and live differently. Try and push back against these forces in culture that try to objectify women — and men. It goes both ways,” she said.

Miller, the daughter of a Southern Baptist pastor, shared how she suffered sexual abuse from a youth pastor after moving to Dallas at age 16.

Amid such abuse, her lack of knowledge about sex only led to more questions.

“Sex was a taboo topic in my house,” Miller said, “so I turned innocently to the Internet to figure out what was happening.”

Yet after typing “sex” into the search bar online, simple biology and basic definitions was not what she found; and the more she found, the more she searched.

“I began to regularly look at porn,” Miller said. “I found I could project myself into the pictures of these beautiful women, filling my loneliness by living through them.”

Miller’s curiosity led to a secret addiction that would last for the next five years. Eventually, however, a friend dismantled Miller’s shame when she confessed her own similar struggles with porn addiction.

Such vulnerability encouraged Miller to share her own story, and set her on the road to recovery.

“Something tangible and palpable in my chest happened that night,” Miller said. “When you confess to another the way it talks about in James 5:16, the healing that happens means a spiritual heaviness is removed.”

After confessing her hidden hurt and addiction, Miller and her friend entered into a relationship of prayer and accountability, “allowing God to enter into that community to bring about change and healing.

“Confession is the beginning of transformation,” Miller said.

And confession has led Miller to where she is today — traveling, sharing her story and encouraging people, particularly young adults, to talk openly about sex, shame and the hope that exists because of God’s grace.

Junior Jeremy Smith, who has heard Miller speak three times, expressed how her lectures open the door for honest communication.

“I feel free to be human, and I can be honest and love God with my struggles,” he said after Tuesday’s talk. “She covers some really difficult topics in a way that is very graceful and honoring to God … in a way that shows our humanness.”

Julia Smith also expressed her thoughts on the possible impact of Miller’s work.

“There are not many women that will speak publicly about porn addiction,” Smith said. “And now that whole story of pain and abuse that she went through is being used for good.”

Senior Kandin Unger echoed Smith’s thoughts.

“For the large majority of women who probably feel pretty alone in issues like this, it’s pretty incredible to hear someone speak so vulnerably about it.”

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