In June of 1991, I was a mess.
I had barely been married a year and a half, and was binging on porn and masturbation at least once a day. Like most naïve young men I had thought that getting married would solve my lust problem, but the opposite happened. Six months after our wedding day, I fell off the cliff again.
The guilt and shame from being a married Christian and binging on porn got to me, and I finally decided to get help. The church was out; back then most churches weren’t talking about porn, and the one time I’d opened up to a pastor with my struggle he reamed me. No more of that.
I opened the yellow pages (remember, 1991 was B.G. – Before Google), found a 12 step group that focused on sexual addiction, and got the meeting times. The meeting was going to be held in a rented room in a mental hospital. Great; now I’ve got to go to the funny farm.
Next came hard step number one. I told my wife I needed to go to the group “because I need help.” She gave me a look of concerned pain… and barely said a word. I think she was afraid to ask how bad it was.
On the half hour drive to the meeting, my imagination went wild. I pictured a bunch of sleezy looking guys in dirty clothes, hunched over an old conference table in a dimly lit room, sharing all the sick stuff they’d done. Would child molesters be there? Rapists? Convicts?
What I encountered shocked me.
More than 90% of the men who were there were Christians, and not just pew-warmers. The guy who led the group was dressed in natty business attire, and was a one-time pastor. There was also a former music minister. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing—why wasn’t this problem more out in the open?
As the meeting started we went around the room, with every man stating his first name, the sexual sin he struggled with, and how long it had been since he last acted out. When it came my turn, I lied. I had binged on porn just hours earlier, and told them it had been three days.
In spite of the lie, I discovered something wonderful that day. I wasn’t the Christian Freak Pervert I thought I was, and wasn’t the only one in the church who struggled with sexual sin. It was an incredible relief to know I’d finally found a place where I could share my shameful junk without the fear of taking a beating.
There are three major reasons why we keep ourselves from confessing our sin:
The fear of rejection; if others know the truth they’ll condemn us. While it’s true the church isn’t always a safe place to confess sin, there are many safe people out there.
Shame; the sins we’ve committed have a wilting effect on our soul so we want to hide. While the enemy pounds us with the lie that “you dare not tell others what you’ve done,” the truth is that shame fades away when exposed to the light.
Pride; “I’m the good Christian everyone looks up to and I will not take off my mask.” Blecch. The blessings that come from the joy, life, and peace from being transparent far outweigh anything pride has to offer. Besides, pride only drives us deeper into sin and away from God.
David knew well of the joy that comes from confessing sin when he exclaimed: “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalms 32:1-3).
If you’re “groaning all day long,” maybe it’s time to go to someone who’s safe, or a support group, and unload your burden. Such men are blessed, as David wrote.
Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net.