One of the consequences of the fall is that shame makes us hide. It is the natural outcome of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we sexually act out, instead of turning to the Father and asking for help we run 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Moving out of the light to conceal our secret into the darkness to hide our shame and sin. We put on our fig leaves and hide our nakedness. We prefer the wilderness instead of remaining in the garden in His Presence. We know we have sinned and have done wrong and our first impulse is to hide. That is what shame makes us feel. We judge and condemn ourselves.
Then there is the self-talk: you did it again, how could you? Was it worth it, the bad feeling in the pit of our stomach? How dare you ask for forgiveness again? We can get depressed. We beat ourselves up. Often many of us will essentially voluntarily isolate ourselves, feeling unworthy and deserving of banishment. Our sex drive seems impossible to overcome. As rebellious reprobates, we deserve judgment and punishment for our failings and shortcomings. So we feel we have no other choice but to do what Adam and Eve did–we’re naked so we hide and cover ourselves. We stay exiled, self-imposed. Because of our shame we feel we have no other place to turn. Even though we know there is good news because of what Jesus has done on the cross, it no longer seems to apply. We may feel that we have already used up all of the grace from what Jesus had done on the cross. Even though mentally we know this is not true, it feels like it is true.
Let’s spend some time unpacking that spiritual truth in this context because what good is this truth if we can’t apply it to real life situations? And this qualifies as a real life situation. It takes trust to believe that we are forgiven. That this latest acting out or series of failures is under the blood as well. Particularly after we have failed for the umpteen thousand millionth time. The audacity to believe that God’s love for us can once again be extended to us takes real bravery of the most spiritual kind. It takes trust that His love is still greater than our self-condemnation. It takes faith that this is true. We know that mentally, but to let it minister to our hearts is more difficult.
For some of us, we can accept that the Lord has forgiven us. We can believe that alone with the Lord, but to share it with someone else can be frightening. It takes courage to once again confess our acting out and the resulting shame and humiliation time after time. Feeling hopeless and full of despair we often prefer to quit than to open up to someone else and risk humiliation. We feel like quitting since there is nowhere to turn, and we can’t seem to resist this powerful drive. We may feel that there is no hope, and we are to remain as an outcast. We can play church, but as a hypocrite, in our shame and guilt, concealed by our fig leaves. To be exposed in our naked state and remain there takes courage of the most spiritual kind.
We need to realize that we have gone as far as we can alone by ourselves in isolation. We have to choose disclosure. The isolation of trying to wrestle with this issue alone only result in more of the same, bondage. We have to come out of hiding. It is important to find other men that will provide a safe compassionate place for us to confess our sin and shame and allow them to be Jesus with skin on for our repentance. Being associated with Every Man’s Battle, the workshop, we have seen over and over again the power of God being ministered one to another because of the fellowship that takes place there. The information and tools that can help us move into recovery is important. But by far the most common feedback we get is how powerful it is to be in the fellowship of other men who struggle with this same issue. The experience of being with other men who love God and love their wives and at the same time are shamed by this bondage is extremely salutary. Almost to a man the report is that they thought they were the only one. The healing power of being in the presence of other men and finding a common bond in the sharing the shame and humiliation of this addiction and having other men confirm their own struggle is very redemptive.
It is sin that many of us act out in isolation, or if it is acted out with someone else, we dare not share with people who care about us. It is a precarious situation. There are men and groups that can offer that place of mercy and compassion. We may have to spend some time and energy to seek out these individuals or groups. Sex addicts need the body of Christ for support and encouragement to experience victory. At this point we cannot do it alone anymore. My prayer is that you will find such a place. If you cannot, maybe the workshop is the place to start. There is also a roster of men that have been to Every Man’s Battle, the workshop who are willing to make themselves available for contact. You can also call 1-800- NEW LIFE to find other resources.