|Porn King Finds Peace
Steve Lane produced hard-core pornographic magazines and Web sites
for two years. But in 1998 he left the business and dedicated his life to
warning people that porn can destroy lives.
Warning: This story contains sensitive material, which may be offensive
to some. If you do not view pornographic material, you may not want to
By Andy Butcher
Steve Lane made an excuse when his daughter asked him to visit her
school and speak about his profession. In a previous year he had delighted
the kids by bringing a lion cub from the zoo he helped market. But he didn?t
want her to know that he was now selling a different kind of exotica?as
Surrounded by sex, deep into drugs and on the brink of making millions,
Steve had discovered that, like the supposedly domesticated wildlife he
had once promoted, the wild life he was now pushing seemed appealing, but
had claws that could maim or kill.
As a promising new "entrepreneur" in the multibillion-dollar
industry that has paraded from the back alleys to the main streets as a
legitimate enterprise?complete with its own trade shows and
"Oscars"?Lane proudly defended what he considered to be his
First Amendment rights?and privately ensnared some of the tens of
thousands of Christians believed to be in the grip of pornography.
It wasn?t hard. Fueled by cold business acumen and hot personal
hatred, he used hacker software to snatch e-mail addresses from Christian
online chat rooms. Then he would bombard them with pornographic messages
and links to his XXX-rated Web site.
Christians were good targets because they usually held down solid jobs,
which meant the credit card details they supplied were trustworthy. And
they reminded him of his stepfather-preacher whose own private pornography
collection Lane had discovered as a small boy.
"It was a vendetta," he recalls. "I hated them, and I
wanted to show the hypocrisy. I kept a record of how many of them
subscribed to the site?probably five out of 10. All of them would at
Following a dramatic personal encounter with God two years ago, Lane
now travels the country speaking about the dangers of pornography and the
deliverance to be found in Christ. And he wonders how many of those in
bondage are in chains he helped forge.
"There are Christians out there who know exactly who I am,"
he says. "And to be honest, I make some of them a bit nervous."
At 34, Lane is unusual on two counts: as a man who admits how
pornography affected his life and damaged his relationships; and as
someone who has seen the inside of the industry and has turned his back on
the scene because of his new relationship with Jesus.
Sharing his testimony, he exposes the real world of pornography with a
passion and a personal vulnerability that unsettles some but encourages
more that there is freedom in Christ?if they will be honest. Altars fill
regularly when he challenges those gripped by porn to step forward to
confess their weakness and need for God?s power.
Associate pastor and counseling director Euell White believes that Lane?who
has visited his Florence, Alabama, church to speak about pornography?is
"anointed, perhaps more than anyone else in the nation, to expose the
evil of pornography in the world as well as the church."
Senior pastor "Doc" Shell observes: "When a man?s been
there, he can talk to someone who is there better than someone who says,
?Don?t go there.?"
Lane has been there. He takes us along for an insider?s tour of the
online porn scene that has exploded in the last couple of years,
multiplying the number of Christian men fighting private battles of lust
and despair because of the Internet?s seductive cocktail of easy access
A Lethal Seduction
Within a few clicks of the mouse we had moved from naked women and
straight intercourse to galleries celebrating the kinds of sexual
activities many people have probably never heard of?and wouldn?t want
to. Child porn. Bondage. Self-mutilation. Bestiality. Amputees. Rape. And
more. It?s ugly stuff, but it isn?t going to go away by being ignored,
Lane says. Change is only going to come when the church cleans house
"We won?t be able to convince people in the secular world they
need to come to the church to get right if we are not right
ourselves," he says. "If they see we are just as sick as the lot
we are trying to reach, where are they going to go for healing?"
Lane believes Christians have lied to themselves about this for too
"We have considered this whole thing to be a taboo subject. But
God has addressed sexual immorality throughout the Bible," he says.
"I?m trying to right the wrongs I have been a part of," he
adds. "I am compelled to do this. I love the church now, but I want
it to be well, and the only way that will happen is if we get honest and
tell the truth.
"I have known churches where everything looked good: the worship,
the tithes, the new seat covers and the banners?but no one in the church
had a clue that their own pastor was defeated for 20 years by pornography.
He would fall at his own altar when the church was closed and say, ?God,
I know that I am going to hell.?"
Not surprisingly, no one really knows the full scope of the problem.
But everyone involved in ministry in the area of sexual brokenness agrees
that it is huge and?thanks to the Internet?s seductive tentacles?growing
all the time. Those in counseling ministries estimate that probably 1-in-3
Christian men have some sort of struggle with pornography or other sexual
"Sexual sin has been one of Satan?s main weapons since Old
Testament times, but I think the age in which we are living is one of the
most depraved times in the history of the universe," comments Mark
Laaser, director of the Minneapolis-based Christian Alliance for Sexual
Doug Weiss, who runs a Christian counseling program in Forth Worth,
Texas, contends that breaking the chains of sexual addiction is crucial
not just on an individual level within the church, but corporately.
"If you really want to have revival in your church, you will heal
the sex addicts, because once they are free from guilt and shame, they are
going to want to fulfill their calling and their ministry," he says.
It wasn?t long ago that being a preacher was the last thing Lane
would ever have contemplated. He hated the hypocrisy he had seen in the
church while growing up in small-town Arkansas. His parents? marriage
broke up after his mother was drawn into an affair with the local pastor,
who had led Lane in saying the sinner?s prayer.
At age 8 his world fell apart. He began skipping school, dappling in
drugs and alcohol. Then he discovered the magazines under his stepfather?s
mattress. Tame by today?s standards, they still touched a deep need
somewhere inside the lonely and hurting youngster.
"It made me feel powerful," he remembers." No matter how
bad things were, I could always look at porn."
During a happier time, Steve Lane (right) says his
world began to fall apart at age 8, when his parents divorced and
he got hooked on pornography.
Confused by the mixed messages sent by the man who "preached
fire-and-brimstone on Sunday and the rest of the week was addicted to
porn," Lane assumed double-standards were just part of the Christian
life. "It looked like the perfect Christian home from the outside,
but from the inside my life was hell."
He would play in a gospel music band while high on marijuana. Then his
mother died of cancer when he was 17. "I went outside, looked up into
the sky and shook my fist and shouted, ?God if this is You, then I don?t
Leaving home for the Army, he went on to drift through a series of jobs
in sales and marketing. His marriage, which produced three children, broke
up. He and his older brother, Mike, teamed up and started publishing a
community newspaper that championed First Amendment rights.
They began to attract advertising from strip clubs and other adult
businesses, and soon produced a Florida tourist guide featuring nude
dancing venues. Seeing the money it generated, they decided to plunge
full-time into the pornography business. From a beachside condo they
launched a Web site, a bank of 900 tele-sex lines and began planning a
"We considered ourselves businessmen," Steve says. "We
used to say we could never be as cheesy or scummy as some of those other
people. We said porn was art, and that we wanted to produce a magazine
that was so classy people would have it on their coffee tables."
They hit on the idea of a magazine featuring explicit shots of dancers
from local strip clubs. Most pornography featured anonymous models; these
would be naughty girls-next-door whom men could go and see literally in
the flesh, boosting revenue for the clubs. The brothers shot their own
pictures?in their home, and even on a public beach, just before dawn.
Lane drove a sports car, wore "more gold chains than Mr. T"
and enjoyed being a rising celebrity. He was troubled, though, by an
encounter with someone from a child porn site who wanted to run an ad on
"I told him we weren?t like that, but he just laughed and said
we were in exactly the same industry. I couldn?t just see myself as a
businessman anymore. It bothered me," he says.
Today: Steve Lane has True Joy
and True Peace.
But not enough. He used liberal amounts of cocaine?once snorting
every day straight for a month?to silence the internal questions.
"In the porn industry, it comes to a point where you either have
to kill your conscience and all you morals, or you have to get out,"
he reflects. "I viewed women as a product."
Any qualms he may have had were eased by the promise of big money?an
even bigger turn-on than the over-abundance of naked flesh. The brothers?
tested-and-perfected magazine won an offer of distribution by a national
company, pushing the pair to the threshold of a potential
The Chains Are Broken
Then came the morning the two brothers were channel surfing, looking for
The Andy Griffith Show. They happened across a talk show as the host
mentioned the word "porn." Intrigued, they switched back to find
out more and discovered it was TV evangelist James Robison, talking about
how pornography destroyed people?s lives.
What impacted the pair was how Robison spoke compassionately, not
condemningly. "As I listened, I realized that the very thing I was
producing was the very thing that had devastated my home as a child."
He stumbled into his bedroom and tried to pray.
"I felt something cover me from head to toe, like someone had
taken a giant fan and frozen me with 30-degree water. At the same time I
had chills from my head to my feet, I started sweating. My heart began
palpitating. It wasn?t chest pains?my heart was hurting. I had never
felt so empty and dead; I was just hurting from grief."
Lane dialed the Robison show?s number, spoke haltingly with a
telephone counselor and gave his life to Christ. "Peace flowed over
me like someone dragging a cloak over you." He went back into the den
to find Mike on his knees, after a similar experience. They decided to get
out of the porn business there and then.
Within days they had closed down the phone lines and suspended the Web
site. They declined to sign the distribution contract, and ended up
storing 30,000 copies of the magazine in their home for weeks while they
decided what to do with them.
Eventually they put the magazines in storage, where they sit to this
day. Unwilling to declare bankruptcy because the magazines could be sold
as an asset to defray debt, Lane is hoping to one day raise $50,000 so
that he can buy out the brothers? only other investor, and then legally
do what he wants to do with the magazines?destroy them.
He believes that his dramatic TV encounter came not a moment too soon
and that it not only changed his life but possibly saved others.
"These were not girls you would never be able to see," he
observes quietly. "These were girls who could very easily have been
traced and stalked."
He has certainly saved some from embarrassment, at the least. The young
centerfold of the magazine?s first edition had been alarmed to learn of
its potential coast-to-coast sales.
"She got real nervous," Lane says. "She said that she
hoped her youth minister didn?t see it. She told me about growing up in
the church and being very active in the youth group."
Many of the girls Lane came into contact with in the industry had some
sort of religious background. "You?d be surprised how often
Christianity came up as a topic of conversation in strip clubs," he
Most of the young women he knew were involved in or had previously been
in some form of abusive relationship. "They think it?s pretty much
normal to be exploited?and accept it. Now (they think) at least they are
getting paid good money for going through the abuse."
But it is still not without its toll.
"Before the night is over they pretty much have to be under the
influence to take what happens to them in these clubs," Lane says.
"That?s why I get upset when I hear Christians out to bash them
with their picket signs and wanting to mistreat them, abuse them, and call
them sluts and whores. These ?sluts and whores? are somebody?s
little girls. They have grown up in dysfunctional homes. The last thing
they need is somebody abusing them in the name of God."
Although he believes that pornography should be fought and obscenity
laws enforced, Lane has been reluctant to lend his name to anti-porn
crusaders because he believes that those who produce porn need to hear
about God?s love for them as much as those who consume it.
"There are many people in the industry who would accept Jesus if
we would just introduce them to Him with a message of love and compassion
instead of hate and condemnation," he says. "So many groups are
fighting fleshly battles. I have found no Scriptures where Jesus carried
Yet he does do some anonymous cleanup work of his own. He trawls Web
sites and Internet chat rooms for child pornography?using the software
he once employed to trace Christians to track pedophiles. Then he turns
the information over to authorities. Lane estimates he has helped in more
than 100 arrests.
"Some of the stuff out there you would not believe," he says.
"Some of the worst is coming out of Russia right now. Pictures of
soldiers with children as young as 5."
By the time he encountered God, Lane?s lust had been sated: "It
got to the point where I didn?t want to go into work and see another
He also knew just how far removed from reality pornography is. Computer
editing would alter the girls? appearances.
"There?s no perfect body. No perfect anything. All these girls,
even the prettiest, had flaws," he says.
Attending a support group for sex addicts as part of his early
Christian growth he also saw the ugly reality of how porn consumes its own
consumers. One of the men there had introduced his wife to porn, and they
had invited another man to join them in a sexual encounter. She became
pregnant by the stranger, and the couple aborted the child.
After later appearing on Robison?s TV show to tell of his remarkable
transformation, Lane received a telephone call from one-time hero Larry
Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. The infamous porn king, whom
Lane had revered for his First Amendment "defense" of
pornography, told him he had been brainwashed by Christians.
"I told him that my brain had been washed?in the blood of
the Lamb," Lane says.
When Lane speaks in churches he calls himself "a mirror"?recognizing
that many people can see something of themselves in his story of a broken
home, religious hypocrisy and the search for false comfort in sex and
Recently remarried and devoting himself full-time to his Tupelo,
Mississippi based Freedom Ministry, Lane says that he would like to see
himself "out of work, eventually." But judging by the phone
calls and inquires he gets?from pastors and Playmates to deacons and
dancers?he knows that will not be any time soon.
And he has told his daughter about his new job. She proudly completed a
school project on his efforts to combat child porn.
Reprinted by permission, Virtue.