Reality Sets In

Wes Mason

This past weekend I helped teach junior high boys at our church’s Disciple Now weekend. The group was made up of kids of all shapes, sizes, and levels of maturity, but all sharing the awkwardness common to the age and matching bright yellow t-shirts that bore the retreat’s theme in big, black letters across the chest: Reality Sets In. These young men were challenged to respond to the reality that they needed God in their lives. For many of them this reality apparently did set in, as several of them accepted Christ during the retreat.

As the retreat progressed my thoughts strayed to another group of men more than a thousand miles away. At that same time 74 men were gathered in the Washington, DC area for our monthly Every Man’s Battle workshop, having traveled from more than a dozen states and as far away as France and Russia. It occurred to me that some of these men may have also made their decision to accept Christ way back in junior high, just like these retreat kids. But now they were challenged to respond to a new reality they were facing. It was a sobering thought. These young guys at a retreat in Melissa, Texas have no idea the kinds of struggles that may be headed their way in the years ahead; these men in Washington probably could not have imagined when they first became a believer that years or decades later they would become so ensnared by sexual temptation.

When it comes to sexual temptation, there isn’t just one reality that sets in, but a series of them; in the workshop we call them crises of truth. As a man moves down the path from small-scale flirtation with sexual temptation to sexual addiction, these realities get more difficult to face; the consequences become less controllable. In this way sexual addiction is like cancer. Most are not terminal, and even the bad ones can often be conquered or managed if caught early enough. If left too long without attention, however, the options to control the outcome become more limited.

So, what do you do when you’re finally serious about working on your sexual integrity and then discover that there are consequences to your past actions that don’t easily erase? Maybe you’ve done all the right things: surrendered, disclosed, gotten into a program, taken actions to make amends, and gotten an accountability partner. You felt the freedom that comes from finally seeing the burden of your secrets lifted. You had reached the darkness at the bottom and are on your way up and out. Unlike your failed attempts in the past, which had an action plan consisting of willpower alone, this time you’re taking this seriously and you’re finding success. Nice feeling.

But it’s at this point, when the battle’s momentum seems to finally be turning your way, that you may face one of the most difficult realities and least nice feelings of all: the consequences of that past behavior. Sexual sin damages relationships most of all, so it is not surprising that relationship repair is one of the most difficult steps in the road to recovery. How do you face this reality and repair the damage to these relationships? Here are some ideas on how to start with the two most affected relationships a man in this situation faces: with God, and with his wife

Relationship to God: We are fortunate that God has a long history of restoring broken relationships. He is well-practiced at it after interacting with us over an entire human history filled with our failings. Our failures, no matter how serious, do not shock God. He is also committed to relationship restoration, going so far as to send his Son to the cross to demonstrate that commitment. We see the historical examples of men who have fallen much further than we have, such as David, who was restored to be a man after God’s own heart. We relate intimately to the words of the apostle Paul in which he shares his pain with the believers in Rome, where he says,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do’I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord’Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In your desire to restore your relationship with God, you have the benefit of God doing much of the work. You have a guarantee from God that if you want to restore the relationship with Him, and take the steps toward restoration mentioned above, restoration is yours. No exceptions, no concern that God will reject your repentance and heartfelt commitment to change.

Relationship to Our Wives: Perhaps you’re on that steady path of recovery; you’re action plan is in place, you’re reassured by the knowledge of God’s still loves you and forgives you despite your failings. But your wife isn’t sure she loves or forgives you; worse yet, she may be convinced that she is no longer capable of either. What do you do?

First, it’s important to understand that your wife is not obligated to simply put the past behind her, and isn’t likely to do so, at least not quickly. Worse yet, she may never be able to get over this completely, or at all. Recently on our radio program Steve Arterburn was talking to a caller who was involved with this kind of problem. He asked the caller to go through a mental exercise that is worth sharing. Imagine that you are standing on a floor with your feet together. Draw a line on the floor around your feet, about two feet out. Inside this line is everything in this world you have control over. Talk about reality setting in; you can only control what you do with your recovery, not how someone else responds to it. That small circle of control can make a man feel a bit claustrophobic, especially if he’s the controlling type, a common characteristic of the sex addict.

The good news is that what you do with your recovery is likely to be highly influential in how your wife responds. If she is listening to good counsel, she’ll be giving little attention to your words and a lot of attention to your actions. She needs to see with her own eyes, over time, a man who is living a life of sexual integrity. Very slowly, depending on what she sees in your life, the trust may begin to return.

This slower approach may be difficult to accept, and there may be a temptation to pressure her to come along at your pace, rather than her own. Professional counselors will tell you, however, that if she is too quick to forgive and forget, without resolving her feelings of betrayal, her anger will find its way back into your relationship in less obvious ways.

The challenge for a man who has fallen but now strives for sexual integrity is to demonstrate, over time with consistency, that he is a changed man. If he does that, the reality is that everything else is in God’s hands; not such a bad place to be for a believer, regardless of whatever other consequences may come his way.

If you would like additional help in restoring your marriage, we encourage you to prayerfully consider attending one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.

Get Busy Living

From what movie is this quote?
If you’re not busy living, you’re busy dying.’

Answer: Shawshank Redemption.

Spiritually, we are busy dying when we continue to feed our sexual addiction. You know that. And we can easily testify up close and personally, it is the nature of the flesh to war against the things of the Spirit. We know that God intended us for relationships. God has ordained us for love and passion. Lust is the perversion of that God intended desire. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, lust of the world. Lust becomes the substitute for not having that legitimate God-given desire fulfilled. It is the counterfeit for what God intended and becomes overpowering when we haven’t found a way for God to meet us at our deepest needs.

Sexual lust is one of the most destructive forms of the garden varieties of lust. For sure, it has been the week of weeds in my garden! It is destructive and can end up controlling our lives. The personal pain, shame and humiliation, and the devastation it causes ourselves and our loved ones is a tragic reality.

The more we succumb to this activity, the weaker and more defeated we feel. The sense of hopelessness and despair from this sin can be crushing. That has led to more than one brother, myself included, to such a sense of despair that it seemed easier to give up and quit than to keep going. I even had thoughts of walking away from the Lord altogether. To chuck this Christian gig and concede defeat, to quit and accept spiritual death. Enough said. That was then, this is now.

O.K., so now you have read the book Every Man’s Battle, you’ve been working the program, and you are beginning to experience some periods of sobriety. There are days and maybe even breakthroughs and you are gaining victory over this area of your life. There are some breakthroughs and you are feeling that maybe overcoming this activity that was ruining life is a possibility. Sexual purity becomes a happening thing. The tools from the book and if you went to the workshop the action plan developed are beginning to translate into a lifestyle that is leading to sexual purity and a sense of self-respect that is gaining momentum. So now what? How to go to the next level.


*************************************

There is more
to sexual sobriety
than not acting out.
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As you are beginning to move through the stages of recovery, it becomes more evident that there is more to sexual purity than just turning away from the old sin; you need to replace it with something more fulfilling and truer to God’s original design. There is more to sexual sobriety than not acting out.

Now that you are gaining some momentum, you may be ready to start looking towards the hills and mountains of God’s kingdom again and need to redirect.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know what God’s purpose and calling is in your life? What is God’s path for you now, at this time? What adventure has God set before you?

This is a common theme of many of the men that I have worked with and been a part of my break-out groups at EMB. Once the sexual sin has taken hold and the destruction takes place, if you have a sense of calling, of dreams that God has placed in your heart they’re can be shattered, becoming a casualty from the lost battle.

Even though the destruction has occurred, the war has already been won by our Lord so do not despair. There will come a time, maybe now, when it is indeed time to renew this important piece of our lives again. It may be that this brokenness and reconciliation is all a part of God’s larger plan and a major piece in your calling from here forward.

It certainly has been true for me.

After my fall, I was certain that God would not use me again. I thought I would have to resign myself, that I had blown it sufficiently enough that I would have to be content with the back of the line, in the basement of the Kingdom. No more Christian goodies for me, only menial tasks like taking out the garbage or changing toilet paper rolls for the body of Christ. I had blown it. I had ruined God’s perfect plan for my life. God would never trust me again with anything important ‘ so I thought. I had lost sight that God uses everything, nothing gets lost, nothing is wasted. So do not give up hope. God can use this weakness to make you strong. What we view as failure can be used mightily by Him. That is His job you know!

So pick up your cross, get back into the mix. Talk to the Man, check it out. God, where do you want to take me with this from here? Which way to the mountains. You might be surprised. Get busy living!

If you haven’t already attended Every Man’s Battle, what’s keeping you? See Every Man’s Battle and register for the next weekend!

Sam Fraser

Bringing It Out of The Dark

Joe Dallas

Addictive sexual behavior is no joke. It includes lust and poor self-control, of course, but it is much more than that. It is a repetitive, constant form of sexual activity that a person feels compelled’not just tempted’to indulge in. Usually this behavior is acted out in the secret use of pornography, prostitutes, anonymous sexual encounters or adult bookstores. It’s bondage of the worst kind because there’s so much shame and remorse attached to it, making it terribly secretive and usually dangerous. It leads to isolation, broken marriages, and untold humiliation. And if you’ve been hooked into it, you know by now that willpower alone won’t stop it. The addict makes countless attempts to stop in his own strength; countless times, he fails spectacularly. It’s bondage of the worst kind because there’s so much shame and remorse attached to it, making it terribly secretive and usually dangerous. It leads to isolation, broken marriages, and untold humiliation. And if you’ve been hooked into it, you know by now that willpower alone won’t stop it. The addict makes countless attempts to stop in his own strength; countless times, he fails spectacularly.

  Addictive sexual behavior is no JOKE and willpower alone won’t STOP it!

That’s partially because the problem thrives in the dark. Sexually addictive behavior is highly secretive. When you are caught up in it, you’re not prone to discuss it with anyone, so friends and family members seldom know what you’re going through. It’s a double life of sorts, involving a public image of normality versus a long-held secret. Usually the man discovers his ‘drug’ (pornography, masturbation, etc.) relatively early in life, becomes dependent on it, and incorporates it into his behavioral makeup. If that’s true of you, you’re carrying quite a burden. You haven’t felt good about your behavior or yourself, but have had no idea how to change. What you do know how to do is hide, and at that I’ll bet you’re a pro. The years of secret-keeping, excuses for prolonged absences from job and family while you’re having sex, and lying to cover your tracks have taught you to conceal your actions and feelings. Besides the destructiveness of your actions, then, you suffered from an unwillingness to let anyone in. When you develop a private world centered around your addiction, it’s the privacy that’s keeping it intact. Disrupt the privacy of your world, then, and you weaken both it and the addiction it protects. You’ll be less inclined to repeat the behavior you’ve given up if you know someone else is involved in your struggle with you.


The PRIVATE world centered around your addiction is what keeps it intact.

A trained Christian professional with experience treating addictions will be valuable to you. As always, you should get a referral from your pastor or a trusted friend if possible. But do find qualified help. With it, you can understand the roots of your addiction and build up the defenses against destructive actions that have been torn down over the years. You also should get into a support group’a Christ-centered one’that’s geared toward this problem. This provides you with a legitimate emotional outlet for the conflicting feelings you’ll experience while you withdraw from your addition. And finally, get some accountability. To be accountable to someone means to let him in on your struggle and to keep him up on your progress. It’s a giving over of your right to privacy to at least one person who has your permission to question you about your day-to-day activities and encourage you when you struggle.


INTEGRITY cannot be maintained apart from ACCOUNTABILITY!

You may balk at this ‘ I certainly did when I was first told that I’d never maintain my integrity unless I got some accountability. But don’t kid yourself’your own history by now has taught you that can’t deal with sexually compulsive behavior by yourself. If you could have, you would have.

Also See:
<a title="Every Man’s Battle Resources” href=”https://secure2.convio.net/nlm/site/Ecommerce/?store_id=1201&FOLDER=0&NAME=every%20man%27s%20battle”>Every Man’s Battle Resources
<a title="Every Man’s Battle Workshop” href=”http://www.everymansbattle.com”>Every Man’s Battle Workshop