On September 13, 2005, I walked into my first group for men struggling with sexual addiction. Four days earlier I had resigned my position as a Senior Pastor, and confessed to my wife and our children (ages 16, 18, 22, and 24) that I had an addiction to pornography and had been unfaithful to my wife. I had lost my job, ruined my career, and deeply wounded my family.
What I didn’t know was if I would be able to recover. Can someone who has struggled with porn for over 30 years and been addicted to it for at least 8 years ever break free? Was healing possible? Where does that journey begin and how does one start?
I walked into the church that evening a broken man of 52 years, filled with shame and depression. It was hot and I wore an old pair of tattered shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of sandals. I was a fallen pastor in disguise.
That night I met Gus. It was his first night as well. He was older but just as broken as I was. He was a senior partner at a large engineering firm nearing the end of a successful career. That relationship has continued to this day. We became accountability partners, part of the same recovery small group, and have walked together for more than six and a half years.
Today, Gus and I are walking in freedom from sexual sin. We know a lot of men who have tried and not succeeded. They still fall on a regular basis. They go to the same group, hear the same teachings, receive the same prayer and support…but they keep falling week after week.
Early in our recovery God gave me an image of what I would need to recover. It was not the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, Marlboro-macho self-made man. It was me standing in between two other men. Gus was on my right and Craig was on my left. I needed two men who would stand with me. Sometimes they would hold me up and other times I would hold them up.
As I have grown in my recovery I realize that this image of men standing shoulder to shoulder with locked arms is both effective and biblical. Nowhere are we taught that we are meant to stand alone. It has been isolation that makes us vulnerable to attack from our flesh, our world and the demonic. Alone we are easily fooled and lied to and quickly lose our ability to recognize truth.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In Hebrews we read;
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13
Your recovery will be strengthened if you become accountable to two other men. In our ministry we like to use the 90-in-90 concept from AA. AA has new people try to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. Our version is to connect with your two accountability partners everyday for 90 days. From Hebrews we learn that we need to be encouraged daily. So daily calls for encouragement are essential.
Lastly, if looking at porn online is a stumbling block for you, one of the best ways to be accountable is to have your accountability partners receive a report from Covenant Eyes of your web browsing history. This is locking arms. Your partners will know when you are struggling even if you fail to make the call.
So here are three essentials to help you get started in recovery.
- Stop Isolating – connect with two other men.
- Get Accountable – use software to show others where you have been.
- Be Encouraged Daily – use your phone to stay connected daily.
The journey of recovery is long and one day at a time. It helps a lot to walk it out with a brother on each side.