I SURRENDER ALL: Rebuilding a Marriage Broken by Pornography
Clay and Renee Crosse
When Clay Crosse married his high school sweetheart in 1990 he wore a white tuxedo symbolizing the fact that he and Renee (in her white gown) had remained virgins until marriage. "We saw this as a way of glorifying God in our wedding ceremony and telling other young couples that it is possible to wait for sex until marriage. As I watched my bride coming down the aisle toward me, I realized God had given me a great blessing in her. In that moment I knew more than ever before that I wanted our lives to be different. I wanted us to stand out from the world and shine for God. Unfortunately, eight years would pass before I would begin to do the work to make this desire a reality."
In those eight years Clay Crosse became Clay Crosse: Christian Star. His first single, "I Surrender All," climbed to the top of the charts and the Gospel Music Association named him New Artist of the Year in 1995. His first four albums went on to produce eight #1 singles. But the white suit came back to haunt Clay.
Even though he and Renee had remained virgins, Clay hadn't remained pure. He'd become dependant on pornography to sate his sexual desires until he was married. As his career took off, with accolades and money flowing freely, he become increasingly self-centered and his shallow faith couldn't support the weight of his success. He and Renee gradually loosened their standards --- using coarse language, laughing at crude jokes, and viewing movies regardless of sexually explicit content. He was able to justify crossing back into porn use because it didn't feel like that much of a stretch from what he viewed in mainstream media on a regular basis.
"When I watched a mainstream movie that contained graphic sexual content and nudity, something stirred inside of me. The old feelings I experienced when I watched pornography before I was married came back. I like them, and I wanted more. As I said a moment ago, the focus of my life increasingly was me and what would make me happy. Pornography fed this hunger, and I knew when I could find it," he writes.
That seemingly benign move started a spiral into lust that, two years later, left Clay perched on the edge of an affair. Thankfully, the Lord got Clay's attention and he started to do the difficult work of reorienting his life on God and others rather than himself.
It's that difficult work that fills the chapters of I SURRENDER ALL, the book Clay and Renee Crosse have written together about his struggles with pornography and lust, and her struggles to forgive and trust him again. The fact that this issue came to a head for them several years ago, in 1998, gives their advice weight. They've been in the marital trenches and have just enough distance from the dark days to offer light, but are close enough to still have compassion and a sense of urgency about the issue.
The couple offers a lot of practical tips for avoiding temptation and supporting a weak spouse. The Crosses also advocate male headship in the household, which some will have theological qualms with. But they and readers can agree that their most important move was to reaffirm their commitment to Christ and to rely on his strength to keep the marriage together when neither of them was able or willing to based on their own power.
Even though Clay and Renee's marriage faced unique opportunities to slide into danger because of his ego-driven profession, it's clear that the temptations Clay faced and the emotions Renee felt are universal. Anyone --- male or female, married or single --- who is struggling through issues stemming from pornography will find valuable information, understanding, and exhortation in I SURRENDER ALL.
--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel
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