Continuing the Conversation with Grant & Laurel Fishbook

The Porn Identity: From Harm to Hope

March 24, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
Continuing the Conversation with Grant & Laurel Fishbook
The Porn Identity: From Harm to Hope
Show Notes Transcript

Content Warning: This podcast episode will cover sensitive topics, including pornography & human trafficking.
 
We are joined by Dr. Mitch Whitman to discuss the link between human trafficking and pornography, continuing a conversation that started when our friends at Rescue:Freedom came to CTK Bellingham.

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Grant has been on staff at Christ the King Bellingham for the last 20 years and currently serves as the Lead Teaching Pastor. Laurel works alongside him in various ministries, including Global Missions and providing support to the pastoral team across the CTK Network.

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MENTIONS

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Grant Fishbook:

Well, Hey, everybody, and welcome to the podcast. In the studio today with Laurel and I is Dr. Mitch Whitman. And Mitch has been not only a close personal friend, but also a person who has really helped our community in so many different ways. You're a therapist, you're a counselor, I have referred a significant number of people to you. And I always appreciate your heart to help folks. And today we're going to dive into a conversation, it's going to be a deep dive. And we are encouraged today, just to hold this with it with an open hand. Let me tell you kind of where we're at: our church has been doing a project on human trafficking, we're actually building a restoration home for victims of human trafficking in Belize City. And the more we've explored this area of human trafficking, we have made this connection between human trafficking and pornography. And unfortunately, it's an area that you're very familiar with, because you help a lot of people that are struggling in this particular area. So welcome to the conversation, we're so excited to be able to help some folks along the way. We're not only concerned about the victims, we're very much concerned about understanding the consumer, and the person that is exploring areas that we know they probably shouldn't be exploring. And so we want to provide some help today.

Laurel Fishbook:

And I'm entering into this conversation with a bit of trepidation and lots of prayer. What I want the listener to know is that this isn't about condemnation. I want them to hear a message of healing and hope. We are we're going to jump in really fast, really quick here. So hold on. But first of all, I think it's really important that we define pornography, sexual desire is a beautiful gift from God. We are wired to respond physically to visual images. But at what point should we feel more guilt than gift? When does that line get crossed?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, we start out with a deep dive, indeed, we have all as sexual beings, desire, a natural propensity and desire toward another who we've attracted to. And so while we acknowledge that as healthy, it can also take directions that are unhealthy. So one of those is to create a sexual desire outside of the context of relationship of which pornography fills that role in a variety of different ways.

Laurel Fishbook:

Well, and I know for people that are have struggled with pornography, and are on the recovery part, there's just guilt and shame, even in certain images, if they see a Victoria's Secret model, and their head turns, you know, they feel Oh, my goodness, I'm sinning again. Can you just speak to that? I mean, that is just a normal physical response, right?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Yes, some people do feel guilty simply by being attracted to somebody who maybe they recognize they shouldn't be attracted to. But again, that's a normal kind of response. And what a healthy person does instead is say, well, that person is very attractive. But it's not somebody for me to pursue, either in my mind or in my behavior. And so we monitor that control that experience, self efficacy and control and manage those thoughts and impulses.

Grant Fishbook:

Yeah, I think there's a beautiful piece. I think there's a beautiful piece that comes with understanding. Pastor Wendy Powell, one of our one of our community outreach, pastors often says this, she uses this line, she'll say, sex, or God puts boundaries or fences around things that are both sacred and dangerous. And sex is both and when you cross a line, and begin to objectify someone that it seems like we've we've tripped over the line where God says, No, I want you to keep this right. pure and holy.

Laurel Fishbook:

And I think there's, you know, that first glance, like we said, it is just a physical response. It's what you do with it after, right? Like, do you take the second look, or at least that's that's kind of what I how I view I do you, as a counselor have a different perspective on that?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

No, I have a similar perspective on that. Some people, especially since I see a lot of Christians have a theology that says, Wow, I think of Jesus and he said, if you think of someone or out of your heart, lust after another, then you have committed adultery in your heart and they think, Oh, no, by the mere, desire that I have, I've already sinned. And guilt and shame often follows from that. So I differentiate and I think Jesus did when he was talking about that. That is when you pursue an image in order to cultivate it, and to pursue it and enhance your own sexual desires at the expense of the other, that would be my paraphrase of what Jesus was talking about there, because he was well aware that we're all tempted. And temptation is not a sin in and of itself. So that distinction can be very helpful for those who are unnecessarily guilt ridden simply by having normal, healthy sexual urges and desires.

Laurel Fishbook:

Yeah, I think that differentiation is really important to make. So we had talked last week, when we chatted about this previously, just how social drinking doesn't mean, you're going to become an alcoholic and chronic dieting doesn't mean that you've got an eating disorder. But the same perspective does not apply to pornography. Why is it so damaging at any level?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, it's damaging in that there are several different parts that we could say are of concern to us. So one of them would be as a consumer of pornography, there's somebody at the other end, that's where you started out grant earlier in your introduction is that there is an industry there is a production capacity in the world that involves people, children, teenagers, and adults, who are used for the purposes of creating pornographic images and experiences. And those aren't just in film media, but they're also live events at this point because of access to the internet. So part of the issue with pornography is that it enhances and feeds and fuels an industry that in and of itself, is a huge travesty of human dignity and justice. So what

Laurel Fishbook:

about just even from the consumer perspective? What does it do to them just bite because they're their social everything, right? their social drinking, their social, whatever. And I think porn is not only accepted, it's expected, you know, it's kind of a boy's world. And I think so many people can enter into it that way, that they're just they're just checking it out. There's just curiosity. But why is that so dangerous in and of itself?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I think that the curiosity is a starting point, interest or curiosity, when we come across something that we weren't expecting, there's an excitement, there's a shock to it, like, Whoa, I haven't seen that before. Most of us can look back into our past. And remember the first time we saw some kind of sexual image or some kind of sexual event. And we remember it vividly because it wasn't something that we were probably prepared for, or thinking about. So that the problem, in part can be that there's a potential for addiction with pornography, but it starts out as an interest, but an interest can also move to a preoccupation thinking about it all the time, how can I get more of this, which could become a process of ritualization, meaning that I am thinking about how I can get it, and I organize my life and make a habit of accessing it. And then the problem can be and I think that's the open door to the possibility that I needed in my life. It's part of, of a process of rewiring the brain and accessing something that is highly stimulating for the brain.

Grant Fishbook:

That's where I run into it. As a pastor, often I have, you know, young men, older men that come to my office, and they are at their wit's end because they have oriented their life around and they never pictured their life being that way. But they spend an inordinate amount of time either consuming pornography or orienting their life around opportunities to be able to access it. And then they also, I mean, they begin this descent into a darker and darker place. And I think you're probably as familiars, as anyone in this room, have all of the different stories of you know, the chemicalization of the brain and how it actually becomes an obsession chemically. And they begin to look for that fix over and over and over again, I see so much desperation, especially when young men come because they're just like, I don't know what the rest of my life looks like. Without this, and then trying to help them separate out their identity that what they are doing is not necessarily a definition of who they are. That differentiation can be really difficult.

Laurel Fishbook:

Well, and I've I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, so it sounds like it's it's a curiosity, insects, it is starts off with a sexual interest or curiosity. But what I've heard is that it's often the addiction part of it has less to do with sex and more to do with just a reality. Escape. So what emotional vulnerabilities are often at play

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I think there are a couple of parts to, to that. So one part is that the it's not necessarily about nudity, because there are things that are not definitively pornography, but are images that are used to pornographically. There are some people who come to me who say, Well, my my main interest is Facebook, or Instagram and images that are on there, and they're not naked images. And the issue is not so much nakedness as novelty, what am I going to find when I click? Or what do I anticipate the next experience is going to be, and part of what you were pointing to is that, that deep descent can be that what was exciting at one point is not so exciting anymore, because now it's not so novel. So with the with access, that is so easy, and so alone, and so affordable, and anonymous, at least partially anonymous, we can go to places and whatever our mind imagines, we can go find it and actually view it. And at that point, then we're, we're likely fixated on that dopamine hit. So that's a neurotransmitter in the brain that activates and it is both exciting, and it's attaching us to that experience. And so when that is habituated, again and again and again, it becomes very strong. And that's the point at which we might be looking at an addiction.

Laurel Fishbook:

And so do you find in most cases, the addiction does come as they just want to a quick escape from reality, and whatever, if it's stress, if it's, you know, does that seem to often be a trigger for people to view porn? Or is it

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

when people are asked why they use porn, it's generally for sexual arousal, okay, but there are other reasons for doing it. And probably the non conscious reasons. And this is what I think you were asking about before is trying to meet non sexual needs sexually. And so there may be an emotional need, or there may be depression and anxiety. And this is a way to ameliorate that. A person who's depressed might use it to field more in touch with experience rather than the deadness that they're experiencing for a person who's anxious to reduce that anxiety and have some amount of call.

Grant Fishbook:

I know, I definitely experienced that when, when someone comes to my office looking for spiritual help in that area they're looking at, the first thing they start start talking about is the pain that they are experiencing. And it can be familial pain, it can be stress related to work. It can even be a spiritual devastation that they've gone through where they're stuck in questions that they can't seem to find victory over. And so I find that, you know, it's always directly in proportion to the level of pain that a person tends to be in. And then they find their way to try. And I think you use the term when we were talking on the phone, a compensatory behavior. So they're trying to compensate for something. And often when we get to really touch the heart of that pain, that's when you start seeing the humanity pop out inside of the person. I mean, they just like, I'm just I don't know what to do with this pain. So I've retreated inside of a fortress that I don't want to be inside of anymore. Now it's become a jail.

Laurel Fishbook:

Well, and so do you find when, you know, for both of you, when people come to this point, is the general consensus that nobody wants this. sexual addiction like that they do see a sense of it's wrong, or it's all consuming or it's controlling instead of it is just as accepted as society portrays?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, the general acceptance of pornography because more than half of the population thinks that there's nothing wrong with looking at pornography, actually. Don't feel guilty about it. But once we start lifting the lid on that, then we find as we're talking about that there are other things that are going on that aren't so easily admitted, like feeling shame or feeling guilt or keeping things a secret from other people. So in that particular state where I have this hidden thing that I'm afraid that if someone knew me, if they explored inside of me more about what's going on, they would see this terrible thing and I would be rejected and I would be shamed by them. So Grant, part of your experience and mind together that we offer people is a listening that's non judgmental and critical and condemning and rather Invitational. You can talk about this. There is an opportunity here for you to bring into the light something that was hidden in darkness because in that secrecy and darkness you is where the power of being held to it and feeling and slave to it really is cultivated. And that's what we want to free people from.

Grant Fishbook:

Yeah, I think that we as people begin to come into the light, I like that phrase, they come into the light, often, they'll begin with a defense of how they started, like, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. But, and then as soon as they say that what you know, one of the questions that I often follow up with is, if you believed in the beginning, there was nothing wrong, when did it cross the line into a secret because as soon as secrecy becomes a part of it, then we know we're on a fast track towards sinful behavior that we don't want. And that's when they end up in this place of regret and pain. And I think that's one of the key questions to ask people. If this has become secretive in any way, shape, or form. Not that it's right, if it's if it's done, like in concert with another person, but when it becomes secret, we have really, we've started to exchange darkness for light in those moments.

Laurel Fishbook:

So is there a certain demographic that is more prone to sexual addiction?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Yes, the highest percentage of users are male, and young, male and non Christian. Those are the three primary factors that George Barna and Josh McDowell found in their seminal study on pornography. So those three factors, so we start with guys who are young, and who are non Christian has a highest percentage, and that's about 71%, according to their research. And so the it goes down from there, depending on those demographics. So older males who are Christians, of at least males, are represented to a lesser degree. But we should remember that pornography use is not those who access pornography are not just males, but also women. And the same applies age, and also Christian faith.

Grant Fishbook:

I think one of the difficult things to talk about with regards to this topic is the fact that it is prolific not only outside of the church, it's hard to say, but it's prolific within the church. That's the reality of it. And so if you listen to some of the latest statistics, there's actually a high percentage of senior pastors, which breaks my heart, a higher percentage of youth pastors, who are compensating for whatever they happen to be trying to work through that have actually found themselves into the evil of this objectification. And it's really one of those areas in the church that has become more and more difficult to talk about simply because it's so widely accepted outside of, and it's so secretive inside of the walls. And it's heartbreaking for me as a pastor, to sit with a fellow peer. And they talk using the same type of language that people do that come in from the outside saying, I'm just trying to get this addiction fixed, or I'm trying to not do this anymore. I'm trying to manage this behavior. And then you take a Christian believing pastor who knows Jesus very deeply, and yet has tried to, to find a place where they can hide. And now they're, now they're caught between darkness and light. And they feel hypocritical, they feel broken, they feel disqualified. And we could have a probably have a long conversation about whether or not they actually are disqualified, but the level of pain that is built in as well, I think it's something we have to talk about inside of the church as well. Because if we could, if we could simply stop Christian believing men from doing this, the incidence of pornography in our country would go down exponentially. And so it's a difficult issue. But I think it's one that I'm very proud of the fact we're actually having this conversation, because it needs to be talked about. We have a class here at cDk, called standing firm. And it's run by a group of guys who have all worked very, very hard to live victoriously over this issue. And I watched them have this sharing time at the end of each one of the classes where they have an opportunity for those that are new into the class to actually share the victorious moment that they have been through. And when you hear the stories, you see the tears and you hear the joy, like I never thought my life could be free of this, but I've had X number of days clean, and how that has benefited My heart, my family, my time suddenly they have this. They have this flush of time that they're not, you know, using to be consumed with anything else. And they they talk about literally walking lighter through life. I think it's a beautiful thing. And I'm so thankful that we have an opportunity to actually talk about it. We'd love to see more people get set free.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I think that that experience of relief is one of the primary feelings that someone has experiences when they first tell me their story, the relief that I can finally unburden myself from what I've carried a relief that someone is listening, and a sense of hopefulness. Now, maybe a healing journey can begin.

Laurel Fishbook:

So how long is that is that process from? Because it sounds like within, you know, faith based person, it's that it's that very faith that convicts them, right? This is wrong. But then shame because of that, because they should know better, or do you know, if you love Jesus, you shouldn't have this problem, right? How is his does it take a long time for them to make that leap from, I have a problem, I need help. And, you know, to where they're actually reaching out to you. And having that moment of sharing, you know, the struggle that they have?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I often find that for a person that has been has gone deep in a sexual compulsion in its various forms, will often need about a two year process, which sounds like a lot. But in walking the journey, there are a number of parts to that. So in some sense, just managing behavior at the level of I am reducing the frequency of what I have been doing, that oftentimes happens in initial stage. But as you were pointing out before, because it's not primarily even a sexual problem, so much as it is a problem that goes much deeper and is more comprehensive in a person's life, for them to begin to rebuild a life and become healthy. That's part of what that journey is. And then there is not a need for that compensatory kind of behavior. So there's a range of issues. I have found having run groups I, I did a therapy group for sexual compulsions for about 26 years. And it was an amazing time because I saw just in the context of trust in the context of honesty, in the context of self disclosure, people experienced a willingness and an openness to explore these other areas of their life that they found, oh, well, that's why I'm going and doing that. Well, let's work on that. So the shattered relationships, or the inability to manage emotions, or other kinds of issues are what begin to unfold.

Laurel Fishbook:

So kind of following up on the shattered relationship, when a pornography addiction is within the confines of a committed relationship. What effect does that have on the other partner?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, it generally has a fairly profound effect. There are some spouses, I should say, who may initially think, well, it's not that big a deal, and are not so disturbed by it. But I would say more common than not is that the disclosure of a secretive life looking at pornography or other kinds of things like that, elicits a response of shock and dismay, it feels like a betrayal. It is, in fact, a kind of betrayal. It's a betrayal in one's mind, objectifying somebody else who's not one spouse. So it normally disrupts the relationship and is really disturbing for a couple and yeah, it's like an affair, I find that in working with a lot of affairs and those who disclose pornography, that oftentimes the spousal response is almost identical.

Laurel Fishbook:

Well, I can imagine it would raise just a lot of, you know, insecurities. Without getting explicit or graphic, but you would think, you know, wow, how can I measure up to what this person is viewing in a sexual sense, right? And you question, am I not enough? You know, am I not good enough. And I know that just in talking to friends whose husbands have struggled with this, they've said to it, it came as a shock because their, their sex life was very healthy. And so right away as they arose questions of, you know, what, what's wrong? What, why? Why are they going to pornography if sexually they're being satisfied?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

What I have found that that is that those who had some kind of sexual addiction prior to getting married thought, Well, when I get married, and have someone with whom I can develop a sexual relationship with, it will be fine. But in inevitably, they return to looking at pornography or whatever They were doing before after a bit of time. So it's not automatic, because self control and fidelity, which we could look and use a really old word, chastity has to do with a fidelity to oneself, or excuse me to one spouse, or fidelity to God, if one is single. And so living that out is an exercise of self control. It's an exercise of devotion to the other, it's a self giving. And so all of those are at jeopardy when, when there is the secret. And then, of course, when it comes out, okay, what happened? And those are the kinds of questions as you raise Laurel, that oftentimes a spouse will ask,

Grant Fishbook:

I think it's fascinating as well, during this COVID season, a lot of people in our, our global online audience have been reaching out with different kinds of questions. And it's always amazing, because you can usually tell by their email, whether or not it's a real person or somebody like, you know, I'm asking for a friend type of scenario. And I've been walking with a person who has just come to grips with the fact that they believe that they're addicted to pornography, their life is oriented around it, they have no way of managing it, they're not living in balance whatsoever. And so we had this opportunity to really have a conversation, and he was stuck in that place. I don't know how to tell my wife, I don't know how to, like it will crush her, it's going to ruin everything, I will be out in the street. And I remember that kind of the breakthrough moment, alongside of this person was just simply having them understand that, that, you know, your secret is what's holding you prisoner right now. And you have an opportunity, this will not be easy. It's not going to be easy. But think about what it would be like if you had an opportunity to, to get real help. And to do it together to ally yourself together, knowing there's no guarantees, but to actually pursue purity together in this relationship. And he actually did, he took a huge risk. And he fully confessed everything to her and was actually shocked by Yes, she was very angry at the beginning, and she retracted for a while. And then actually walked alongside of him, I think there was an appropriate level of distance there. But he talked about the fact that he didn't think he deserved any help from her at all. And instead, she chose a path of redemption, that was a beautiful thing to actually have him, you know, email and share about. So there are stories of hope that walk alongside that. And, you know, one of my prayers as long as we have this conversation is that people don't just get stuck in the secret. The good stepping into the light is a huge part of the story of Jesus for all of us.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Yes, it is.

Laurel Fishbook:

I think I'm still curious as to the why so even in that situation like it This seems like another pandemic on a far grander scale the the addiction that's out there. And so, so why is it affecting so many healthy relationships?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, we live in a hyper sexualized culture, where creating images that we want others to have, and fueling those images by pictures and film, I think there's been an expansion of all kinds of expressions of sexualities, so that it's become normative to accept the level of, and dissociation of sex from a relationship in the variety of ways that we experience it. So with that disconnection, so the other person is not so much a person, but an object for self gratification or a pleasuring of self with is, which is one of those cultural messages, or the message that sex is your most important need, or you have a right to sex. There are multiple messages that I think contribute to a kind of disinhibition, to engaging in sex, sexual behavior in various ways for one's own pleasure. Now, that's completely contrary to what a committed relationship and a devotion to one's partner needs to experience where there is a protection and a context and a reuniting of sexual desire for the other person in a given take reciprocity of relationship. And that's the genuine and real thing that we long for, because it's that combination of intimacy at an emotional level, and intimacy on a sexual physical level, because we are embodied beings and it's a very powerful experience. And when you meet, not just mind to mind and body to body, but eye to eye as self to self. There's something very amazing about that and all other things are just an approximation of that, which is why people are left empty with those other attempts at getting that kind of intimacy need met.

Laurel Fishbook:

And I think that's so important to acknowledge because it is, you are left empty, and you're left feeling guilty and shamed, right. I mean, I don't think I don't think many people are, are proud of, of what they deal with, you know, and or even desiring to watch porn, again, I think it is, it's a quick fix, like we use alcohol for whatever, it's a numbing fix. And, and it is, it's void. And that's what Satan does with everything, right? It's just this false, false sense of, of security or fulfillment. And this falls into that category. For sure.

Grant Fishbook:

I think one of the words that we hear a lot is counterfeit, right, it's not the real thing. And when you have experienced the real depth of intimacy that God desires for his people as a gift, once you've experienced that, the counterfeit is simply not acceptable anymore. And so it's inviting people into an understanding of how God views relationship, purity, even singleness, you know, the beauty of singleness and being satisfied as a single person. To me, that's the beauty and the depth that God invites us into. And it is sad that so many people accept a counterfeit, because culture says this is what you need, that's all you need. I love the fact that we serve a God that takes us so much deeper, it says, Oh, I have so much more for you.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

We long for community, we long for relationship, and that can be with another individual or several individuals who are part of our social network. And part of why this is an in has been an increasing problem over time is that we have a an epidemic, really of loneliness. And that epidemic of loneliness, even was identified in the United Kingdom as such a problem that they actually have a minister of loneliness in the government to address the issue. And of course, that was preceded COVID. And so COVID exacerbating the sense of disconnection and kind of dystopian experience for some and, and not having the normal kind of in person relationships is just exacerbated that. So in that context, because of that contribution, people look for some kind of approximation or, and it is a counterfeit, but nonetheless, it at least temporarily kind of meets the need of feeling connected to another person.

Laurel Fishbook:

Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, even just on a lighter scale, what Instagram does, right, so many people feel they've got all these friends that really they've never met. They feel really involved in their lives. So, so acknowledging just the brokenness from all perspectives, how do they get help? Where can they go to get help? And is counseling best done together separately?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I think that if a person is in the marital context, and I was thinking about what you said earlier, Grant, the expectation is if I bring this out and tell my spouse, then something really bad will happen. But in most cases, it is fairly traumatic, even very traumatic. But and, and a response might be anger and hurt, because it's a betrayal. But generally speaking, the relationship is stronger than the failure. And so all of those other things that connect a relationship are really important. So it may open up actually the possibility of addressing areas that have been neglected in a relationship sometimes for a very long time. Because loneliness is not just a singles kind of issue. It also is experienced by married people. And it's a peculiar kind of loneliness because of, of the possibility of relationship but yet unsatisfied. And now where do I go with that? So I recommend that a couple come in together and talk about that if they get stuck. And so that's a starting place, oftentimes, a person may come in as an individual and be thinking, I need to talk with another person about this. And so they start with, well, actually, most people pursue a pastor before they pursue a counselor. So you're likely Grant when they hear from those people before I do, and so I'm really glad that you're there and that's part of community within the the Christian community is that we have brothers and sisters and pastors and friends and others that we can go to that we at least hold in the position that I think this is a person that's safe enough that, that they'll listen to me.

Grant Fishbook:

Yeah, I, I find that you know, the verses this where people get really uncomfortable, it doesn't just say confess your sins to God, it actually says confess your sin to each other. And normally the question is, why do I have to do that? Why do I need to bring in another human being the sin is between God and I? And often, you know, my answer is because you actually involved another person involved another person via a screen. And now it's important that you reestablish real human contact with someone who can speak truth to you, who can walk you through this journey, because it's not going to be a short journey. And to be able to find that level of connectivity and to really engage with another person, I think is a part of the healing process. It is important that we find that community in each other I love, you know, often they come to me, and I'm very quick to refer here at CTK. We, we use this line a lot. We're pastors, and that's what we are. But we want to bring in professionals who can truly walk with somebody over the long haul. And, you know, often people will say, Well, I can't afford that. And our answer is always you can't afford not to actually involve someone who can really walk with you every step of the way. So it's wonderful to be able to do these things in partnership, we can help care for the soul. But when you're plumbing the depths of those deep, deep emotional needs, you need somebody who knows what they're talking about, who can really, really walk alongside of you. For that very long journey. Two years is not a short amount of time. Some are longer.

Laurel Fishbook:

So what about for the person that you know, is maybe nervous about being exposed to their past or pastor or even a local counselor? Where else could they go is there you know, places online or you know, where there is maybe they could be feel more anonymous in reaching out

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, one of the most healing contexts is a group. That's why AA when thinking of alcohol and substance addictions is so popular and very helpful, because you have a group of peers that have similar kinds of stories, and are in different places in their healing journey. So I strongly encourage a person to join a group of which there are some voluntary groups, you mentioned one that is here, in this church. Yes, and there are other ones that are online or online based. And there are some sex sexaholics, anonymous 12 step type groups that are available and Christian versions of that I think pure desire, for example, is one of those resources. So one doesn't have to pay for a therapy group or a therapist to get help. So starting with an individual who will listen and moving toward, who is someone who can walk alongside of me, and part of that, because we talk about accountability, and the need for accountability. Sometimes that's gotten a bad name, because it has to do with a top down, you know, I'm going to ask you the dreaded question, you know, how is your week implying that you better tell me about all of your sins. And that's helpful to a degree, but what we really need is, I think, a depth of genuine friendship, where we want to tell the other about what's going on with us. And there's a reciprocity of relationship where the other opens their life to us also. So we don't feel like we're quite carrying this alone, as we were doing when it was in secret. So a depth of relationship of which that can be in groups, but also with another individual or a couple of individuals, is, I think, an important part of this journey.

Grant Fishbook:

One of the things that's amazing, especially during COVID has been not only the standing firm class here, which is kept going throughout COVID, but also with pure desire. There's a number of different web based organizations now that are working specifically because they're like if if the internet is what pulled you in, why not use the internet to pull you out. And I think it's fantastic that I know, I've been reading testimonials in on a certain website that talks about how the percentage of people who start in the group without an acting their video, so they only connect with audio to begin. And then over time, you know, they'll have like, you know that the red circle with the R in it, which represents who they are their little avatar, and they celebrate the disproportionate number of people who by session number four, step out from behind the blank screen and actually allow their face to be shown, and how they celebrate that each and every time that you have now chosen to at least grace us with your face. With your presence. We're glad that you're here and they celebrate the courage that it takes to step out of the darkness into the light and I think those things are incredible. I think they're incredibly noteworthy and worth celebrating with someone's on that journey of healing.

Laurel Fishbook:

So I know that children are exposed to pornography at a very young age, what role has our society played in opening that door?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I think at this point, the average age of exposure to pornography is about eight years old, maybe it's down to six right now. And part of that is simply because there's so much screentime. Now, that was a problem prior to COVID. And now, we have kids on our after our facing screens. So the accidental exposure is the most common way that that happens. So it does help to have some kind of internet accountability software. And the accountability part is not in all software. So there's blocking software, so you can't get to certain sites. And that's helpful, especially for kids. But that kind of software, which also sends a report to somebody else is really helpful, because then someone can respond to it. So if, if we just looked at that it as if I bump up against that threshold, and I just simply can't find what I'm looking for the all of the processes of getting to that point are still in place. So you want to get at that. So I don't want to cross that threshold, or the next threshold or moving forward. So that's where that kind of software can be helpful. And that can be helpful for kids to a certain extent.

Grant Fishbook:

We also use, so I know it's for it's designed for kids, but we it's also designed for adults. So here at CTK, we actually have software that we use on all of our computers, in order to create a safety net for all of our people. Because when we bump up against these things, and inevitably, I, you know, I talked with a lot of young men in my day when I was younger, if you wanted exposure to pornography, you had to go looking for it, you had to go to a gas station, you had to go to a corner store, you know, steel around that back corner, behind the curtain or

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I remember those remember those days, long ago

Grant Fishbook:

Yeah, exactly. Now it comes looking for you in your home, it's there and it will it ultimately it's going to find you at some level. So we provide that type of safety here amongst our own staff. Because we understand there's incidental contact is purposeful contact, we believe it's our responsibility to help someone as best we can by building that brick wall and keep them close. And it ripples into other areas as well. You know, all of our offices have windows and your windows are not allowed to be covered around here. We've experienced a different kind of pain, even here in our history, the history of our church with that. And so we were we tried to be very, very diligent. But someone needs to make those decisions on their own. I know s3 watch is a fantastic program, covenant eyes.org is fantastic. And you can set up various levels, but the accountability piece of knowing that someone else is going to get your accountability report. And they're going to actually ask you the question, hey, I saw you went here. And some of them are so sophisticated, they will actually, they will register and send the report instantaneously. So if a friend is struggling, their accountability partners phone will buzz and say your friend is looking for this make the phone call. And so I love the fact that with sophistication, we've been able to actually get even more proactive. And I think it's so unbelievably important for everyone to protect themselves. We can't be naive about this problem.

Laurel Fishbook:

Well, and I think just for parents to be asking questions to right, not just assuming everything's safe, but really asking their kids what they're doing, what they're watching what they're being involved in. I think just communication is huge. And what you touched on before community is so important, and that takes effort. And I think as a society, we've gotten really lazy with that we want easy community and like I mentioned before Instagram, a lot of people that's our friendship group and it that truly is a counterfeit. So I think we need to, to work really hard to have those people in our life that are asking us the tough questions. So you know, we we can be addressing the loneliness and depression and stresses in our lives before they lead to all these things that that we use to numb those feelings. So I think it's, we need to see the value in that and encourage each other and reach out to other people to not just for ourselves, but for the sake of protecting others as well.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I think that you're pointing to another important part of this as we think about raising kids, and that is that we have healthy, pro sexuality kind of messages and conversations with them. Because if they know the genuine thing and understand their sexuality in the version 80 of ways that it is expressed, then when they come across, or they experience something like this, like accidentally come across something, they are more likely to go and talk with you as a parent and say, here's what I found, and have a conversation about that. And I think if I extended that even a little bit further, one of the great opportunities for our Christian community in all of this is to have a very healthy view of sexuality, to have a perspective of sexuality, where it's a part of who we are, and is meant for thriving for health and for our betterment. And that's a positive message. It's not a against sexuality message. And I think that that starts early with our kids, and particularly important now when we have a sex education kind of program in our schools, reaching kids at younger and a very young ages, where it actually promotes a lot of confusion around sexuality.

Laurel Fishbook:

So for a lot of parents, that's a really hard thing. I think we all know, we're supposed to talk to our kids about the birds and the bees, but that age is coming a lot sooner. So at what age do you think we need to start talking to our kids about that? And and where do you even begin?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, it would appear that if they're hearing about it in the school system, in first grade, we better start before first grade. So part of that, I think, is how do we as part of a general safety issue for our kids, how do we talk about our bodies? How do we use healthy language? How do we present our bodies as honorable and good at how are they to be used? and under what conditions is it misused? And I think that that's a very early message. It entails I think, parents looking for opportunities to talk about that. And in the normal course of things, and to be very intentional, even if it's not in the normal course of things to maybe bring that up.

Grant Fishbook:

We have a lot of young dads here that are that are on our staff as pastors. And there was a conversation in the lunchroom about shifting the focus of feedback inside of a family. And I believe it was Pastor Brian may have been pastor Ryan, but one of them was talking. And they said, What if we could shift the mentality, especially with our kids, that when they run into something, and maybe even make a bad decision? What if we could make the shift from I did something wrong? I hope my dad doesn't find out what if we could make the shift to I did something wrong? I better go tell my dad. Like, what if we could just make that that that quantum shift inside of a family to understand that your parents are safe, you can have the conversation, this is a place of safety, where you can come and say, inadvertently, I bumped into something or I did it on purpose. But to be able to create that safety net inside of our own families where, where the where our children actually felt like they could initiate a conversation like that, I just, I think of how transformative that would be because of the number of young men that I talked to about this issue who say I just simply didn't have anyone to talk to about healthy sexuality at all. So it was dictated to me by culture, and we know that culture has a very twisted picture of what this actually looks like.

Laurel Fishbook:

So how would you create that dynamic within a family unit? And how would you, you know, so that your kids knew you you were a safe place?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, maybe I would broaden it to all the different ways that we tried to make it safe for our kids. It's not just when they do something bad, but engaging them in conversation in wonderment in the world around them, cultivating a sense of curiosity and of interest, and integrating that with our theology, our faith. How has God been at work? How is he demonstrated in the everydayness of life? I was having a conversation recently, actually, with my wife about this, about the sense of everyday life being sacred, and how we can find God in our vocation, in our activities, our adventures. And by opening things up to that kind of wonderment and viewing God in the other as part of that, and honoring them and looking at what is dignified and what is healthy, emotionally and behaviorally and in engagement intellectually. And I think that's one of the really important ones. We have all kinds of very confusing issues to sort out and where do you begin to do that so conversations around tables around meal And other opportunities to kind of sort things out through an ethical decision making kind of grid and integrating that healthily. Those are all different ways that I think, as we engage kids at a developmentally appropriate age, we start right at the beginning, doing and advance it in our time with them, which seems to go really quickly before they're out of the house.

Laurel Fishbook:

So yeah, conversations need to be modeled for sure. And that there's no boundaries, you know, anything can be talked about, and, and it's a safe place, no matter what good questions to be asked. I mean, it's just, it's important. I know, I think sometimes our kids that we asked way too many questions.

Grant Fishbook:

I think they thought that but now I hear them express appreciation for the fact that there were things that there was nothing that we could not talk about as a family. And Laurel is an amazing, she's a questioner. So she will ask the question like, just I want you to process I want you to be able to walk through this together. And if I've learned actually something from my wife about parenting is that sometimes parents actually have to parent. And so many of us I think, in our culture default to I just want to be my kid's friend, I want to be their buddy, I want to be their cheerleader, their coach, but actually being a parent who is willing to challenge while creating a safe, a safe boundary and a safe atmosphere. It's so unbelievably crucial, especially I think it's one of the best ways to actually protect our children

Laurel Fishbook:

We're going to take a big turn here. But Grant had mentioned, we were doing a project on this weekend at CTK, for a restoration home and beliefs that rescues girls that are caught in human trafficking, sex slavery, and the more conversations we had about this, sadly, we realized there is there's a big connection between human trafficking and pornography. And I think that's not a bridge that most people want to make. But there isn't a big chasm between the two. And I think it's something that we need to acknowledge that people that are watching porn are actually supporting a really sick industry, where girls are being so abused. And can you speak to that and give just more accurate information than I probably deliver here?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I'd like to approach that in two ways, in in a person considering whether pornography is even a bad thing that maybe they don't feel guilty about even, and the ambivalence that they might feel, meaning guilt feelings, but oh, this really isn't so bad. I think part of reducing the ambivalence and increasing motivation to change is to go to this very place and look at who is at the other end of this pornography? How does this support a hundreds of millions of dollars, actually, it's in the billions, it's, it's in the it's in, I think, $97 billion a year kind of industry depends on you know, what you're looking at. But in any case, it's a huge industry. And there is an insatiable demand for new material. And so with that demand comes a, an offering, and an industry that provides those consumers with what they're asking for. So at this point, because and I mentioned that a little bit earlier, there is an increasing problem with the production of live pornography with children in certain third world countries where because of poverty, and lack of opportunity for education and exacerbated at this point by lockdowns, you have huge numbers of people who are very, very desperate, and those who would prey upon them are doing that and providing on demand kinds of sexual actions that they can view live on demand as just one type of pornography or where we've gone with that. So that connection of the vulnerability of these populations together with wanting to exploit that is very, very big and very problematic. There is a connection between them.

Grant Fishbook:

That's just heartbreaking to me. You know, when you think about that, we had this conversation this weekend with our friends from rescue freedom. And making that connection to me, the hardest thing is, is simply looking at the fact that that that person has inherent value because they have God's fingerprints on their soul. And for someone to objectify them to to victimize them in that way, is actually no matter where it's being accessed is perpetuated. A brokenness that's targeting someone that Jesus loved enough to die for. And it's, it's difficult. It's horrific. And yet we want to continue to offer hope to people to say there is a way out. There is a way I think one of the things, and Mitch, maybe you can just add one little one more little piece here at the end, which is you said something about the fact that when you think about pornography, there's no inherent value to it at all, it doesn't create value in anyone's life at all. Can you can you just share a little bit about that?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I think that the value in terms of sexuality is that sexual expression is in relationship, and anything short of that does not contribute to thriving and to dignity and to fulfillment and satisfaction. And I think that when we're working toward sex contained within a devoted relationship, where it should be, there's the possibility of very good things happening, all of this, that we're talking about, is, I think, a real social justice issue. I feel fairly strongly about this, that the slave trade is not just a historical event that we point back to a couple 100 years ago in this country. It is also what is ongoing in so many parts globally, as a massive trade. And part of our Christian message has always been grounded in the value of the human being and dignity. And how do we promote that? How do we protect the vulnerable? How do we stop those who perpetrate things that are unjust. And that's part of our tradition. And I think that when we take that seriously in our heart and in our actions, not just at the personal level, but importantly at the personal level, but then encourage each other to look at issues like you're doing, which I really think is great, then we brought in it because Together, we can make much more of an impact than just individually. So we're banding together to promote human dignity and health and something that's good. And darkness does have to recede. If we do that. Yeah.

Laurel Fishbook:

So where is the hope in all of this? How does healing happen? For someone? I mean, we talked about counseling and stuff. But what what does that look like in a practical in a practical sense?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, we can habituate our brain in the wrong kind of way and wire it in a way that demands a new and novel experience. The good news is that you can unwire that you can develop new pathways in your brain that are healthy. So all of those things that contribute to being honest and being open with others being in relationship, devoting oneself to thinking differently, to actually behaving differently, because in the end, you can't continue doing those things, you have to do something different. And I really appreciate the Bible's perspective of put off these things, and put on these things. So our message is positive, like work this direction, do these things, not just don't do these other things? And I think filling in Well, what does that look like to live a healthy life. And part of that is all the ways that we have good brain health by getting enough sleep by eating well, by exercising, by those things that we know are good for us. If we apply the discipline of living life, well, in one area, it's going to impact other areas. If we allow for a particular area of undisciplined and doing whatever our desires dictate or demand, we're going to likely start letting go in other areas also. And if we do that enough, we find this cascade downward into disintegration, rather than what we really want, which is integrating life well in healthy ways in all of these areas of life.

Laurel Fishbook:

I heard a really wise man that struggled with pornography and he said that the biggest difference for him is when he learned to start pursuing God instead of running from sin. So he said he spent so many years just trying to you know, stop and run from it run from it and he said, it just his perspective changed when it was it was more about chasing after God then then running from sin. And I think that does that makes a really big difference when we're when we're actively pursuing God and filling our hearts and minds with What is good and true? And I mean, what is the verse the spirit is willing but the body is weak. So we need to keep filling that spirit.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I think our gospel is a message of hope that we can change that we can be transformed. I mean, as followers, followers of Jesus, that's inherent in the message that you're no longer slaves, but you are free and free, how do we work that out, it's not an instantaneous freedom, it's a step by step over time slow process of being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. And we help one another, do that that's part of that community. But it's also a part of our overall aspect that the kingdom is not just of this world, or citizenship is not here. But it's something bigger. Our belief in God has to translate very, very practically. Or it is, as the critique goes, you know, it's just super spiritual and is not particularly transformative if it is too super spiritual.

Laurel Fishbook:

We covered a lot of information here today, but you are the expert on this. So is there is there something that we missed that we should touch on? Is there anything you want to add?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, I like the idea of, of hope. And hope is something you hold in mind as looking forward to something. But there's a historical part that kind of looks backward and says, Okay, there are things in my life that may hold me down. And now's the time to trust another person with my secrets with myself with what is actually happening with me, and open up the possibility of relationship and in these areas, and increasing amount of, of, of integration of health. So

Grant Fishbook:

That's the whole, that's the hope that we actually want to bring to people there were so many parts, that hastened in my brain back to what we talked about on the weekend with the fact that this issue of pornography and its bridge to human trafficking is really a man made issue. And if it's man made, when we think about the power of Jesus stepping into it, it can also be divinely broken off of people. And we don't need to live in bondage. I say that to young men all the time, you do not need to live with your eyes on the floor, and you're heartbroken. God wants so much more for you than that. That's why he created this beautiful gift called intimacy. And it's going to take courage for you to step out of the darkness into the light. But it can be done. There are success stories walking around our hallways here all of the time, and to see them victorious, to see husbands and wives together, who you know, have this story, watching them look at each other in a different way than they used to is such an incredible gift. And Mitch, I just want to thank you. Personally, I have sent many clients your direction. So they start with us. They often come in and we get to be the frontline. And then we say look, well, you need someone who can take you deeper, someone who's going to walk alongside of you. And so I know people, clients of yours, both in a group atmosphere individually, one on one, who you have helped in that beautiful transformation. And I want to say I want to say thank you, not only only on behalf of our faith community, but on behalf of the entire community. It's nice to know there is someone here with your level of expertise. And the fact that you love Jesus to is an incredible, that's an incredible bonus on top of everything. So for all of the people that you've helped, thank you, on behalf of Christ, the king, thank you on behalf of laurel and I as well. Thank you so much for coming and spending this time together with us. I do want to to just give this is not a shameless plug. It's actually an opportunity. For real help. Can you just give us your website so that there's somebody out there listening? And they're like, I don't know where else to turn. But I'd like to at least have a conversation. How would they get in touch with you or your counseling practice?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

I could be found at Mitch whitman.com. So MIT ch whitman.com. Fantastic.

Grant Fishbook:

Awesome. Well, once again, we thank you. And we're so excited to be able to continue these conversations that we're going along. Thanks for taking the time. And to those of you that are listening right now. We hope to see you next time. Thank you so much for joining us.

Laurel Fishbook:

Hey, before we cut, just listening objectively, is there anything that you think we missed or we should add or talk about? Or is there anything because we can still edit in if you have stuff?

Grant Fishbook:

Yeah, we can splice it if we have to.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Yeah, I was thinking that what I said sounded kind of too large and closing to your your last question that last thought I'm not. Well, that could be Feel free to edit that one. When you ask me the question, Do I have a final It felt to me a little bit wide ranging or obscure. Maybe it didn't you know,

Laurel Fishbook:

is there something else you wanted to add? Because I mean, you can?

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

No, not really. But I do, I did have one thought is that, taking two ends of the spectrum, where you in your awareness and ministry in human trafficking and the individual because you have this global issue, but you have the person in front of you, when you put those two things together, part of the courage of an individual come in and saying, I need help with this. And part of recognizing that pornography is that sinking hole, and there is this other side of the, the supply side, and how horrible that is, the courage that it takes to change is also a courage to turn away from that, and not be a part of that. And I think that that's a contribution to changing this, when we don't cross those thresholds of moving further and further into this realm of pornography in whatever form because of what happens at the other end that we are participating in, that may be very helpful for a person in the present to say, this is something really bad, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't want to defile myself with this, God give me a sense of repugnant for what I'm doing, that I need, that is a motivator to no longer do this, and instead to seek help and change it.

Laurel Fishbook:

So just based on that, I have another question that's coming to mind is, so I think there There seems to be such a differentiation between pornography and human trafficking, because people see the human trafficking as person to person, right, you know, more prostitution. But how far apart? Is that? Like? How it does? Do people that are addicted to pornography? Can they stop there? Or do they desire more? You know? Well, it's

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

a really interesting question, I think, because part of what pornography does is it's a rehearsal in one's mind of a sexual act with another person. And the next step can be to actually engage another person for sexual reasons. And with the availability, for example of massages, that aren't limited to medical massages, but are more than that. That's a common problem. Prostitution has always been with us. So there are a variety of other forms that we should pay attention to that involve people. And another reason why pornography can be problematic in that rehearsal kind of idea is that we set up and allow for thinking about another person. And that can be a de sensitizer, to actually engaging in some kind of usually starting an emotional relationship as friends, but then moving into an affair, which can become sexualized. So if I broaden it a little bit from pornography, and the desensitization that that entails, and the desire for increasing experiences with it, it can move to actually engaging real people. And that's a bridge toward this whole area of human trafficking, because those folks often our traffic here in our town, and in our state, and and our country, it's not just out there in another country.

Laurel Fishbook:

How common is that, though? Because I think for the, for most people that are watching pornography, they would say I do this, but I would never do that. You know, so how, how far apart is that? Well, I

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

recall what you said earlier, grant that whenever you've asked, well, where did it start? It started with it being inconceivable to cross a threshold, and yet they crossed one threshold, and then another threshold, and then another one. So it can be a slippery slope that direction. Now, fortunately, that's not true for all people that they go to this end of, of engaging and behavior with a real person. But thresholds are crossed and why are they crossed and what to do about that? It's much easier to deal with that at the front end than at the other end, where the consequences can be very severe.

Grant Fishbook:

And the integration of it has become more and more prolific with regards to it starts with you know, watching a video, no contact whatsoever, then graduates now to this idea of webcam where you can live and interact with a person and they've made They've made the steps closer together and more integrated than they've ever been before. And that's the story I hear over and over again. I never ever, ever thought that I would find myself here, I walked through a door not thinking it was that big of a deal. But then I just I just continued to move darker and darker. It's the typical addiction cycle of I needed something more, in order to create either a numbing effect or excitement. Whenever that happened to be at the level of regret and pain that you hear when someone finally comes forward, is often encapsulated in that sentence, I just never thought I'd be here. Well, if we could stop, if we can stop before we get to the threshold of the first door. To me, that's the beauty of where I think Dell said it this past weekend as part of rescue freedom, because you know, the best stories of human trafficking are the ones where trafficking never even happens. I think it's the same thing with pornography, the best stories about the eradication of pornography is when it never even starts in a young person's life. So that to me is a place where we start a place of hope and a place of purity that God invites us into.

Laurel Fishbook:

Okay, so back to what I was asking you listening through, is there something that

Unknown:

from from an outside perspective, I've

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

really enjoyed

Unknown:

the conversation that I think it went really well. I guess, if, if it's okay, if I ask a question.

Laurel Fishbook:

Yeah, sure.

Unknown:

So and if it's, if it's too explicit of a question, feel free to veto it. Yeah. But what would to be very specific, like, what would the step be like someone engaging in pornography? How does that how does that specifically mean to human trafficking? on like, individual, like, like an example? If that's, if that's Oh,

Laurel Fishbook:

no, do you understand the question, I'm trying to totally understand the question. So are you asking more what the link is? Like, what the connection is between pornography? Cuz I and I think that's a really good question. Because that's the conversation that we were really struggling with is nobody wants to acknowledge, really, that there is a connection to them, you know, watching the videos, it's these girls are paying their way through college, or they chose to do this. And what they're not realizing is most of the videos that they're watching. It was not by choice, of course, yeah, these they were tricked into it one way or the other. Or, and they're being forced, you know, to to act out in front of the camera. And I think that's a really, really hard concept for people to understand, because they don't they want that separation in their mind. Because for whatever reason, one seems more okay. And the other everybody acknowledges as horrific, right. sex slavery is horrible. That's a very easy thing to for everybody to agree on that we need to put an end to that. But it is really difficult, I think, for people to make that connection, that by engaging in pornography, you are actually supporting the sex trade.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

Well, there is normally a victim at the other end of this, the greater percentage of those who enter into pornography who might give an apparent consent to doing it are largely those who have early and premature sexual experiences some kind of sexual abuse or sexual assault. And so this is next extension, as a consequence of how they experienced that and didn't resolve it well, and what they felt vulnerable to saying yes to. And that's an exploitive process, it doesn't. It doesn't immediately mean that if one who's looking at pornography is who is doing that is automatically going to be engaging in or be a part of this x trade. It's just that those folks there who supply those images, live or otherwise, are there because there's a demand and we have to at some point, say it's not just generalize to people doing it, but even to oneself or in our community, who is it that accesses this and what does that mean at the other end? So I think it's a it's a, it's a mental connection, even if it's not technically a physical connection. It's not likely to move from one to the other. It does. In some cases, all the sex offenders that I've worked with have looked at pornography but Not all people who look at pornography become sex offenders and molest children. It's just simply not true. So I think your question is really good in terms of being more precise. Does this cause that or lead to that? No, but there is a relationship between them.

Laurel Fishbook:

Yeah, well, good. Thanks for the question. And always like in the future podcast, too. If you have input, please say, because sometimes it I think you get a better perspective of what's going on by listening to it than we do in the midst of it. So we value your input.

Dr. Mitch Whitman:

And you're also a millennial, and we're old people. Yeah. There are ways that you hear things that you think about things that are different, that we want to understand, but we may not know as much as we want to listen, well. We don't necessarily think in the same way. So your input, and questions are really important in that way, I think.

Laurel Fishbook:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Good.