Ready to Step Out?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what the next step is for this website and the ministry it represents. As a freelance webmaster (and pastor), I’ve been working on marketing effort for another ministry of which my wife is a part. She is public on that website at the level of first name and general location. I’ve been considering coming out of incognito in order to promote the Sexual Integrity in Ministry website more effectively. I have access to some of the same marketing and promotional tools as the other ministry. That ministry’s efforts include promotional videos which are kind of hard to do anonymously. I’ve also been looking into ad placement in ministry magazines or other ministry websites. Why? It’s certainly not to get rich. This has been and probably always will be a labor of love. The main reason comes directly from the fifth of the 12 traditions: to carry this message to those in ministry who still suffer (adapted). Of course, should I choose to promote this website and ministry publicly, I would break the 12th tradition about anonymity.

Goodbye Jiminy Cricket!

Have you ever been caught? Most of us have. Maybe you’ve been caught doing something you are ashamed of like looking at porn or masturbating—or sexual behaviors with even greater consequences like having an affair or an anonymous encounter. Getting caught in such activities brings serious consequences: a broken marriage, loss of a ministry position, or even arrest. Even our most “minor indiscretions” can damage relationships and cause an almost irreparable loss of trust.

For a long time, I thought exposure was the worst thing that could happen to me and that the key to avoiding consequences was to not get caught. This way of thinking drove me deeper into hiding and forced me to great lengths rationalizing behaviors and justifying deception.

An Addiction Song

Sometimes a song speaks to our condition better than a sermon. When I heard the song, “O That the Light,” by Jenny and Tyler, I thought the songwriter must have been a fly on my wall. Listen to the track as you meditate on the words.

O That the Light

You surrendered your body to the lust of your eyes
Persisted in the wicked and corrupted your mind
Addicted and masking those habits with lies
You petitioned to death and objected to life

You spent all the money you borrowed and stole
Called the demons your friends and loved ones your foes
How we tried to love you, but we didn’t know
the depths of the evil, the extent of its hold

So you boarded your windows to shut out the day
Hid in the darkness your sins and your shame
You seized and devoured, you drove away
all the lovely and beautiful, but still there remains

…Grace

O that the Light might find you
O that the Light might find you
O that the Light might find you
And open your eyes
And open your eyes

O let it open your eyes
Open your eyes

O that the Light might find you
O that the Light might find you

O That The Light – Jenny & Tyler – Open Your Doors – Copyright 2011 One Eyed Cat Music (BMI). Music & Lyrics by Tyler Somers (BMI) & Jennifer Somers (BMI)

Ashamed No More: A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction

Ashamed-No-More-covrThere are some things we just don’t talk about. Things like sex, particularly when our sexuality is a matter of personal struggle. Things like the vulnerabilities of our pastors, who must maintain a façade not merely of respectability but of moral and psychological superiority. We don’t talk about things that make us feel insecure, that make us feel unsettled. But the nature of spiritual growth, even the story of Christian faith, is a matter of being unsettled from the comfortable compromises we’ve made and set on a course together toward wholeness and mutually supportive community. Pastor T. C. Ryan takes us on an unsettling journey through his lifelong struggle with sexual addiction, one that predated and pervaded his pastoral ministry—one which for far too long he faced in secrecy and isolation, separated from the brothers and sisters in Christ who were called to bear one another’s burdens. Ashamed No More doesn’t cast blame or argue for looser moral standards. It does, however, call us to the unsettling ministry that a God who is love calls us to—the unsettling grace that is the audacious gospel of Christ.

From the webmaster: I read this book a couple years ago and hope to right a review of it for sainministry.org in the near future. If you want your own copy, it is available through Amazon here.

Focus on the Family Offers Free Counseling

I received an email recently from Focus on the Family informing me of free counseling and other resources. Here’s information about these services:

  • Online Help Center. Find FAQs, helpful videos, and online communities. Chat live with a Family Help Specialist from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MST).
  • Counseling absolutely free of charge. If you need to talk to someone, call 855-771-HELP (4357). Counselors are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MST). They also offer referrals to licensed Christian counselors. Learn more.

Only 2 Kinds of People?

How many kinds of people are there? Many would say only two. For millennia, reaching back into Bible times, Jewish folk have viewed themselves as God’s chosen people and everyone else as gentiles (or simply non-Jews). Evangelical Christians usually view every person as either a believer (saved) or a non-believer (lost). From a purely biological perspective, we might divide the human population into male and female, but now that gender is often considered a fluid thing, that isn’t a given anymore.

In my experience as a sex addict, I too act as if there only two kinds of people in the world: those that I find attractive (the “hot”) and those that I am not attracted to (the “not’). When I see someone, long-standing mental habits direct my eyes to take in outward appearance: hair color and style, body type, weight, clothing, etc. With this data, I quickly categorize each person a either attractive (a lust object) or not attractive (no eye candy material here). Upon entering a crowded room or walking through a busy mall or airport, my eyes dart from one person to the next—judging each “hot” or “not” before moving on to the next. Often those that are “hot” get longer looks—probably second looks, third looks, and more. With this visual inventory, I analyze, categorize, and eventually objectify many of the people I see. I don’t know how long I’ve been doing this. Seems like it started at or before adolescence, but I find this habit weakens sobriety and slows down recovery. Some call this activity “street lust” or “losing custody of the eyes.” I call it frustrating because no matter what tools I use to overcome this habit, the next time I’m in a crowd, I start doing it again.

Some find it helpful to pray for those they are tempted to objectify. I think that’s a good plan, but I must pray faster than my mind can categorize. The shorter the prayer the better. On a recent trip to the city, I found myself on the freeway next to a park. As an attractive, scantily dressed jogger rounded the corner and my eyes began to lock on, I prayed a very simple prayer, “God bless you, goodbye!” At 55 miles an hour, that prayer was just long enough to break my eye-lock and dismiss that person from my thoughts. Since then, I’ve been trying the GBYG prayer in other situations and it usually works when there no time for longer prayers.

I’m not changing my theology, but I think that as far as I’m concerned God didn’t make two kinds of people, the hot and the not. He only made one kind of person—the kind that He loves. I have no need to sort out the human race on God’s behalf. My hot/not categories are useless and objectification is demeaning to the Creator of all. I haven’t broken the habit yet, but I’m learning to look at people a bit differently—the same way God looks at me—through the eyes of His love.