ONE Magazine, produced by the Free Will Baptist denomination, recently published two articles dealing with sex addiction among pastors. The first is an anonymous article written by a pastor who identifies himself as a sex addict. The second is his wife’s response. These articles include links to resources helpful to both the addict and spouse.
We appreciate the link to the Sex Addicts in Ministry website.
Confession is the first component of recovery. As followers of Christ, we know that confessing our sins to God brings us back into a right relationship with Him (1 John 1:9), but according to James 5:16, we should “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, so that we may be healed.”
Confession brings our sins out into the open so we (and others) can deal with them. If we confess to another believer and receive the grace and forgiveness of Christ through that person, we will find it amazingly liberating and refreshing. The first time I shared my struggles with another brother, I felt like “Christian” in Pilgrim’s Progress dropping my burden at the sight of the cross. As I imagined the pack of my sins rolling into the empty tomb to never be seen again, what joy filled my heart!
When I confessed my last relapse to my church’s leaders (the first they knew of my sexual addiction), a short time later, I arranged to have time alone with each of them so I could receive an honest, unfiltered response. One deacon told me that what I had done (my confession) really took courage. I agreed but responded by sharing a truth I discovered a while back. Yes, confession takes courage—sometimes lots of courage because the stakes are enormous. But truth is, my sin took courage too. When I acted out, I sinned boldly. I had gone places and done things that I had never done before. Sure, my fear of bringing home an STD kept me from physically engaging with another person (at least to that point), but I had unwisely discarded other fears of exposure and of my wife’s reaction to yet another betrayal.
I don’t know where the courage came from for me to sin—perhaps it was just blind stupidity fed by my addiction—but I do know where the courage came from to confess. Courage to do the right thing, to lay our heart open before God and another trusted servant of God, must certainly come from the Holy Spirit who fills us with boldness as we confess Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Take courage, my brother. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).
Next time—Who do we confess to first?
Here’s a great passage of Scripture to meditate on today:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11-14 ESV)
Praying that you will have a safe, sane, and sober day.
Let’s face it. We pastors have a lot to lose if the wrong people find out about what some of us do (or have done) in private. Publicly, the church and much of society have placed us on a pedestal. We are “Reverends,” clergy, “men or women of the cloth,” “God’s chosen leaders,” and so on! Yet we are human. We are sinful. Just like anyone else we deal with temptations, day in and day out. Some of us continually succumb to temptations in areas that most people find difficult to talk about: Internet pornography, masturbation, sex outside of marriage, same-sex attraction, and other sexual behaviors inconsistent with the biblical values we commonly preach.
So when we are caught up in sexual sin, where do we turn? Many of us don’t have anyone holding us accountable in these areas. If we tell our denominational leaders or the other leaders in the churches we serve, we will likely lose our jobs. We should be able to trust other pastors in our community, but most of us don’t. We continue to hide, isolate, and bury ourselves in what may very well be or become a sexual addiction.
There’s the recovery community, but can we trust our reputation to those who willingly admit to being sex addicts or “sexaholics” after they find out what we do for a living? As one who has spent over 13 years “in recovery” and almost 10 years involved in recovery ministries and 12-step groups, I can honestly say that the level of honesty and confidentiality in these groups is light-years beyond the average Christian church. Sadly, I’ve heard more soul-barring confessions and seen more grace extended and received in secular support groups than I have found in churches that claim to “preach grace.”
As a pastor, I respect your desire for anonymity, especially if you have not yet achieved victory over your temptations (or “sobriety” as they say in the 12-steps). This site and the phone meetings that we hope to launch soon are designed for you. We are not here to “out” you; we are here to help you. Please trust us to respect your anonymity and maintain confidentiality regarding what you share with us.