Joel’s story of Victory and redemption
My marriage was in deep trouble, due to the sexual immorality in my life. I was a model Christian and very active in the church. But I secretly lived with a paralyzing fear that my struggle with sexual sins would reveal itself and I would be rejected by the church. Because all that I cherished was slipping away from me, I finally risked telling a pastor that I needed help. Surprisingly, he did not judge me. Instead, he lovingly guided me to other Christian men who had faced similar struggles. This is where I began experiencing freedom through Christ. I was no longer alone. I was finally ready to do business with sin at the deepest level of my heart and ready to be changed from the inside out.
This is my story. By God’s grace, I was called out of despair to begin living a Proven life, exactly the model established in the Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Before I found Freedom
I grew up believing that men don’t cry and that emotions were a sign of weakness. It was also unthinkable to ask anyone outside the family for help. If I couldn’t do it myself, it didn’t need to be done. Therefore, it seemed much safer not to be open or vulnerable, lest someone might think I was not perfect. My father was not affectionate and, busy providing for a large family didn’t spend much time with me. Although my dad loved me, he never verbally or physically expressed it. I grew up believing that men don’t say “I love you” or hug each other.
When I was about twelve, I found Playboy magazines hidden in a room. About that time, I also learned about masturbation from friends. As I looked at the pictures of the naked women, I began fantasizing about sex. In high school, I began viewing X-rated movies, going to topless bars, and buying pornographic magazines and hard-core pornography. Sex was always on my mind and I could easily find sexual images and purposefully keep them in my mind for later. During college, these actions led me into having sex, which fueled my sexual desires. Each relationship ultimately ended without satisfaction but I held on to the belief that marriage would fix everything.
During law school, I accepted Jesus into my heart as Lord, and soon met the prettiest, most wonderful woman in the world. We were married within a year. Everything was falling into place. But the lustful thoughts and temptations to masturbate didn’t go away. I was married Christian but I still maintained my former fantasy thought life and other impure sexual practices. I was fixated on beautiful women in TV shows, commercials, or magazines. Even on the way to work I noticed (and fantasized over) sensually dressed women. Giving in to lust only heightened my desire for sex, making me think I needed it every day.
By now, my wife and I were involved in many activities at church and were viewed as a model couple. She would become a staff member and I would be active in many ministries for the church. I simply was too proud and ashamed to seek help. Yet my world seemed to be closing in on me and I needed to find a way of escape. I knew it was just a matter of time before I would drive my wife away, and she was too precious to lose.
I tearfully begged God to take away the temptations. I wrote out every verse in the Bible about sexual immorality in the hope that my actions would conform to what I read. I even went to a purity event and confessed to a counselor on the football field that I masturbated. However, no matter what I tried, after about three weeks I would begin masturbating again. In fact, my thoughts and actions continued to grow more and more impure.
Repentance and commitment to change
My mind was so constantly plagued with lustful thoughts that I was totally consumed with sex. I finally became so afraid of acting out some of the fantasies or actually committing adultery that I went to the pastor of the church. I admitted that I had a sex problem that I could not overcome. Although the pastor was shocked to know this about me, he did not reject me. Rather, he cried and poured out his heart for me. He reassured me and told me that he loved me. That marked a new direction in my life. I continued the road towards God by having a repentant heart, and in confessing to my wife all my sins — sexual, selfishness and pride.
For the first time in my life, I actually felt free. After linking up with an accountability partner, who himself overcame sexual addiction, I knew that I could live in freedom. It was going to take work, but I knew there was hope. And I was 100 percent committed to being changed by God, willing to do whatever it took to live a pure life in dependency upon Him.
MY WIFE’S REACTION
Early on in the process, my wife was not so sure that I would change. After all, I had been unfaithful to her from day one of our marriage. I still remember clearly one thing she told me that helped change the course of my life. She said, “You are just sorry about the consequences, but you don’t really see your conduct as wrong.” I wanted to lash out at her. But she was absolutely right. I hated the consequences but didn’t really want to stop. I had not seen lustful thoughts or masturbation as something that grieved God or was evil. Besides, I secretly enjoyed certain aspects of the false intimacy of fantasy, lust, and masturbation. Yet, I knew I needed to die to lust and live for the Lord.
By the grace of God my wife didn’t abandon me. She stood by my side every step of the way. Of course, it took a long time to regain her trust. But for the first time, I truly was willing to do whatever it took to stop sinning and start living for purposes greater than my own selfishness. I received biblical counseling weekly from another Christian man who had been addicted to sex. I also read several good books relating to freedom from sexual sins. I began to see that my thinking was backward and that my selfishness and pride fueled the lust. I finally realized that the only hope I had was in turning over all areas of my life to Jesus. I needed to adopt His plan for living. I spent hours on daily Bible study and prayer. I began to understand the root sin issues beneath the sexual behavior. I confessed my struggles to a trusted Christian friend who helped hold me accountable. This time, I really wanted to be totally free from the bondage of lust and sexual impurity. But more than that, I wanted to return home to God, to live out love, and to live for Jesus. It was only then that I finally began living a victorious life free from the addiction of lust and masturbation.
THE ROOT CAUSES OF SEXUAL BONDAGE IN MY LIFE
All my life, I lacked real and intimate relationships with God and others. These things were not modeled to me as a child, nor sought after by me as an adult. Instead, I allowed the pridefulness in my life to lead to self-centered desires. For instance, masturbation, pornography, and sexual fantasies were fueled by my selfish way of thinking. Because I refused to permit emotions or feelings to exist in my life, I also used artificial intimacy in place of real relationships. In fact, all of my relationships were shallow including the ones with God and my wife. The Lord was there simply to meet my needs. And my interactions with my wife were based upon sex and the fulfillment of my desires; not hers.
When I accepted the Lord into my heart, my selfish desires and patterns did not miraculously disappear as I had selfishly hoped they would. Because my prideful way of living, including lustful thoughts and masturbation, spanned 20 years, they had become ingrained habits that were done almost automatically and without reflection. The repeated conduct also numbed me to sin. Moreover, I had never learned how to be vulnerable, open or honest with my feelings or with people. I needed to learn how to replace my former ways with new Christ-like thinking and conduct. It took time and hard work but I did not give up. I was committed to being a Proven Man.
What about now?
I have not looked at pornography or masturbated in more than 15 years.
“I am convinced that the only road to freedom from sexual bondage begins with a close and dependent relationship with Jesus.”
I am convinced that the only road to freedom from sexual bondage begins with a close and dependent relationship with Jesus. It includes incorporating each of the elements of a Proven life. By having the right relationship with God and others, I no longer chase after false intimacy and sexual impurity in my life.
Will you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ right now and trust Him to free you from sexual bondage? Begin a transition to a Christ-centered life right now. Live a Proven life. Then stay the course and never give up. Jesus promises He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Instead, He promises that if you completely trust in Him you will not be tempted beyond what you can bear and that He will provide you with a way out so that you can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13). So stop using your own strength and turn over complete control of your life to the Lord each and every day.
I hope that my testimony is an encouragement to you and that you join me in living out purity as our spiritual act of worship by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2).
Your fellow Proven Man, Joel
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