It was September 13, 1994. An eventful day that began like any other day. That day I had an unexpected meeting with our ministry director—a meeting that would change the direction of my life forever. The director, David, who oversaw our branch location in Jacksonville, FL, had an ashen appearance on his face, embarrassed by the new information about my behavior.
David informed me that he had discovered I was unfaithful to my wife and I could no longer work there due to my sinful behavior. Ironically, I felt a huge weight had been removed from my shoulders. My 30-year-old secret was out in the open. I sensed bringing my sin into the light would help me find some answers and get this habitual addiction out of my life.
I drove straight to my pastor’s office and proceeded to tell him everything. He was so kind to me. We set about a plan to tell my wife in his office. I brought my dear wife to his office after she completed her teaching duties at the local elementary school. She was very concerned—all my “running around” had seemed odd. In my pastor’s office I confessed to her about my termination and the reason the ministry had to let me go.
After I partially confessed my transgression to her, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking. I offered to leave, but she said no. “I want to observe you.”
She had a short list of things I needed to do to rebuild trust. One was daily prayer and couples devotions. Another was to tell her brother and sister-in-law and our daughter and son-in-law, as well as my mother (ouch). She wanted to be present at every one of those admissions. Also, she said I was to be “present” and “engaged” with her in meaningful conversations.
When I told my Pastor everything, I also told my best friend, a church deacon. I had confessed all of my sinful habits. Pornography at the age of 8, fantasy and masturbation during my teen years, hard core stuff 6 months after my honeymoon, along with xxx theaters, topless bars, and my first “one night stand” in my early thirties. From early on I had believed that if I went to church a lot and married the perfect woman, my problem would go away. At least that was what Playboy taught me.
My friend encouraged me to tell my wife everything and so we returned to the Pastor’s office. I answered every question truthfully, and my wife was assured (by our loving pastor) that she now knew everything. I was fearful of telling her everything because she might leave me. What I learned from her that day was that the sexual sin was bad enough—but lies and deceit would destroy our intimacy.
Unearthing the Root of My Addiction
I sat down with my counselor on day two of my dismissal from the ministry. He had known us for many years and helped us with our marriage. He was a real help to me. However, he felt I needed more intensive help and He sent me to see Dr. Mark Laaser. Mark and I developed a deep bond and close friendship over the years.
Dr. Laaser has taught me a lot, but there are two significant things I take away.
1. I acted out alone. I didn’t call my church buddies up and invite them to watch porn together (obviously). I was always alone in my sin, even when I was with another woman.
2. I was using sex and the internal pharmacy in my brain to medicate painful feelings I could not recognize. Often, God does not just “remove pain” in our hearts we do not recognize. God could have chosen to heal me without any effort or maintenance on my part, but instead God took me on a journey to uncover that pain.
Reflecting back on my first exposure to porn when I was 8 years old, I can see what a wretched sinner I was. A neighborhood friend showed me his dad’s “stash.” When he and his parents left for the evening, I went back into the garage for a second look. I looked up at the huge pile of magazines and decided my friend’s dad wouldn’t miss one magazine, so I stole it. I hid my “prize” in my bedroom only to have my mother find it that same night. So I did what every little boy does when he gets caught in sin…I lied. “I don’t know how that got there,” I said. I didn’t have a brother or sister to blame…I was an only child.
I had no awareness of Satan, nor of the origin of sin or the depravity of man. I plotted and schemed all by myself. That 8-year-old brain had a plan to commit awful acts of disobedience. At that young age, I became painfully aware of how lies will eventually get revealed. Unfortunately, I learned how to be a better liar instead of being a good little boy.
The Journey of Recovery
After I confessed everything to my pastor and my wife, I withdrew from all of my public responsibilities in church. I sat in the pew and just soaked in God’s Word, preaching from God’s servant, and the choir’s Heavenly music. I joined a 12-step group and met some wonderful friends who have been a part of my life for 16 years. I met my sponsor there and we have been together for 15+ years.
In 1996, Dr. Laaser started the Faithful and True support groups for men in the church. I decided, along with another friend to start meetings. Faithful and True of Jacksonville, Inc. quickly grew at a steady clip. We added meetings, got a telephone hotline, had a webpage donated by my church and a lot more. We have seen over 800 men come through our doors.
Often, when I reflect on my life, I would never wish for anyone to have suffer through 30 years of lies and sinful sexual behavior. However, I would never trade my recovery experience for anything.
Jerry Sinclair is a Marriage Missionary working for Faithful and True of Jacksonville, FL. Follow Jerry in LINKEDin.