Honesty in Recovery

Clint Thomas

Imagine you are sitting in a group of men. You have been asked to be honest with this group of men and they have been asked to be honest with you. Then the question comes up, have you acted on a desire to masturbate this week? You feel it deep in the pit of your stomach. It’s that urge to bury it, to hide, to play it cool and hope nobody notices you shifting in your seat. You know you need to be honest to get anything out of this group. You’ve even asked them to ask you this question. You just never expected to have to answer with a yes.

This urge to hide is all too familiar. In fact you’ve used this very thing you’re ashamed of, masturbation, to medicate this feeling.

This urge to hide is a naturally occurring urge, which is hard-wired to the emotion of shame. We see this urge acted out in scripture by Adam in Genesis 3:8-10.

When we feel and act on this urge we tend to hide behind a mask we want people to see. Ultimately we don’t believe they would truly accept who we really are. Therefore, we go through life lacking in true intimacy, not being truly known by anyone. As a result of this we begin to feel alone, isolated, and trapped behind that mask. We begin to think thoughts like, I have built my reputation on this mask I wear. If they knew what was underneath it my reputation would be ruined or I will lose my livelihood, family, friends. What we fail to realize is that this mask becomes a prison and blocks us from understanding who we truly are and blocks us from being authentically known by others. We ultimately become isolated and lonely. We truly become as sick as the secrets we keep.

The good news is that God has given us a remedy for this problem. The hard part about this news is that his solution is not easy.

We see the concept of confession first introduced in Genesis 3:11 where God gives Adam the chance to confess his sin. In 1 John 1:9 we read if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, indicating our need to confess our sins to God. James tells us to confess our sins to each other (5:16). We come to understand from these passages that the prescription for sin and shame is to confess (be honest) to God and others.

One of my favorite examples of confession in scripture is found in John 13:2-10. This passage explains how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Passover Feast. His washing their feet is an example of cleansing their sins and is a metaphor for the way confession works between an individual and his accountability group, accountability partner, or therapist. By confessing our sins honestly we get freedom from the prison of shame and gain a level of intimacy with God and others.

Need some accountability help? See Every Man’s Battle or call 1-800-NEW-LIFE and ask to set an appointment with a New Life Christian coach.

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 3

David Wever

Sex was good from the beginning. And it is still good for one reason: Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus Christ, you and I can be redeemed from our sexual sin, and, believe it or not, restored to enjoy sex in a way we have never imagined. We definitely know how sex can be misused. We have seen both its sinful use and the consequences. For men who have been wounded sexually, and who have sexually transgressed for years, to know there is hope for sex renewed and a paradigm to hold onto is vital. This new hope and paradigm is found in Jesus. We talked last month about God’s initial design for sex and some of the effects of sin upon that design. Now let’s look at four basic principles for renewed and reclaimed sexual intimacy for our marriages.

First, due to the Fall, there was no equal-ness between Adam and Eve. Suddenly they were polar opposites. This unequal-ness ushered in an ability to objectify one another. The advent of sexual sin turned compassion and concern for our spouse to objectification. This objectification damages the equality in the relationship ultimately hindering true intimacy. That equality is renewed in the marriage bed through Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:28 Paul writes, There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.’ It is because of Christ we can see our wives differently. Not in an objectified way but with eyes from our heart that see their true value.

Second, false intimacy often results from our sexual sin. This false intimacy keeps us from truly being known by our spouse. It many respects we stay hidden in the bushes or behind fig leaves due to our shame from our sin. The good news is that Jesus has also taken our fig leaves away. We need not be naked any longer. In Christ Jesus, we have new clothes. Galatians 3:27 says it all, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ We have a whole new wardrobe that does not have as some of its acumens: shame, fear and nakedness. Although we may fear this new nakedness of being truly known, we can trust that because of Jesus, we have a whole new wardrobe in our identity in Christ Jesus.

Third, one of the most comforting aspects of our sexuality being restored and reclaimed in Christ Jesus is that we have a restored covenant relationship with God. In Ezekiel 16:8 God says, ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.’ This same restoration is needed for healthy sexual intimacy with our wives as well. We have to re-pledge our fidelity to our wives just as God has done the same to us through Jesus Christ.

Fourth, this new paradigm around our sexual intimacy being restored can be held and acknowledged by us. No need to fear that this cannot happen. Now some of this healing may happen over time and our wives may heal at a different rate than we do. But, it can be held by your heart due to Christ’s death and resurrection justifying who you are. The Message says it well, ‘Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.’ Take a few minutes and meditate on this passage. Do you truly believe you are no longer on that ‘list’? In Christ Jesus you are no longer on that list. It is true, and this truth will be foundational to you living in true intimacy within your marriage and marriage bed from a renewed heart.

Jesus has truly changed our lives forever. And because of him our sexual intimacy and marriage bed can be restored as well. 

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 2

David Wever

As we begin the journey of examining holy and healthy sex in marriage and we allow for our perspectives about sexual intimacy in marriage to be challenged, one of the key places to start is to study what was God’s true design and intent for sex. A healthy understanding of His design and intent is crucial to the healing of our minds and hearts around sexuality.

An understanding of His initial design gives us a platform by which to move safely and confidently towards holy and healthy sexual intimacy in marriage. You are probably familiar with two common understandings for God’s purpose for sex: procreation and pleasure. These are the most common reasons we often give for God’s purpose for sex. And they are valid and worthy reasons. However, within these general reasons lie, I believe, further tenets of God’s design and intention for sexual intimacy.

One of the prime tenets of sexuality and sexual intimacy is that He created you and me to be sexual. This was no mistake. You may feel at times like it was a mistake due to the difficulty we have in our sexual sin condition. But God was intentional when he created us to be sexual. Biblically we see evidence of this in two prime ways. First sexual oneness began as two. Two individuals: male and female. Genesis 1:27, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ Not only was God intentional in designing us to be sexual but his fingerprint on this is found inherently in his design of male and female. We don’t have the space to go into a full anatomy lesson on the differences between men and women, I will trust you have some knowledge; we are made uniquely different by gender. But, He had in mind that sexual oneness would begin and end with two people uniquely designed to be connected.

Second, it is that connection that would ultimately be celebrated in sexual intimacy. We see this in Genesis 2:24‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ God’s idea of emotional, spiritual, and relational connection is captured in the sexual union. Not that the sexual union is the connection (though I often thought it was this way from my old, hyperstimulated perspective) but rather that the relational oneness is ultimately celebrated in that physical union. This sexual union is further blessed by God for procreation in Genesis 1:28‘God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” There is no denying the sexual union was meant to occur and to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Another tenet of God’s design for sexual intimacy is that in that oneness we could be fully naked with our spouse. Genesis 2:25‘The man and his wife were both naked.’ The biblical translation refers literally to their physical nakedness. However, their nakedness also suggests other aspects of their connection. One aspect is that nakedness suggests sinlessness. Their sinlessness prior to the Fall allowed nothing to stand between them. Sin distorts how we see ourselves and others. They literally had no blemishes or flaws to hinder or impede their connection. Eve didn’t have to worry about that ugly mole on her belly or a slight deviation in her nose, and Adam didn’t have to worry about his love handles or his penis size and performance. Their sinlessness allowed for them to be naked and connect spiritually, emotionally and sexually without worry or fear. Boy, did they have it made! This is where the concept of oneness really takes its form. Oneness basically means to be fully known by our spouse in spite of our blemishes and flaws. To be fully known ultimately means to be naked.

Lastly there was no shame in sex. In Genesis 2:25 we see that not only were Adam and Eve one flesh and naked with one another, but they also felt no shame. Without flaws and blemishes due to sin they didn’t feel a sense of something being wrong with themselves and one another. They ultimately felt safe with one another and it felt right and good just the way God intended. They were equal and together and that left no room for shame. Sex was not created to be one-sided but rather an equal partnership in union. Unfortunately due to sin this is one of the shortfalls to healthy sexual intimacy. You can see it in the way a man may objectify or deify a woman, especially sexually. When we do this we do not put her as our equal nor do we then enter into a partnership where true intimacy in sexual intimacy can develop. Due to shame out of our sin we push one another away rather than accept and feel safe in that union.

As we walk along this journey of recovery and healing it is comforting to know God truly had a great plan in mind around our sexuality and sexual intimacy. Although we live and interact within a fallen state that includes sin leading to shame and isolation, we do have hope in experiencing God’s initial design for sexual intimacy because of Christ Jesus. We will look next at how sex is reclaimed in Jesus Christ setting the stage for healthy sexual intimacy in marriage.

Would you and your spouse benefit from a small group weekend? Join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.