The author of this post has asked to remain anonymous. His name and the names of those in this story have been replaced by other names to maintain anonymity.
Ben was born into a very respected family in a pleasant community in Northern California. His father was a minister at a small church in a neighboring community, and his mom was a kindergarten teacher at the local Christian school. These obligations, along with the ever present extracurricular church responsibilities that so often befall a pastor’s family, left precious little time for young Ben.
His mom had returned to teaching shortly after he was born and Ben was placed into a brightly colored day care around the corner. His mother would pick him up every day at 4:00 but quality interaction was intermittent. Ben’s father, in attempting to fulfill his immeasurable responsibilities as the senior pastor, was too often absent into the evenings and Ben’s mother spent her “spare time” dutifully fulfilling the responsibilities of a devoted pastor’s wife and tending to the “necessary” household responsibilities.
Neither of Ben’s parents grew up in a particularly loving family environment so they had little idea how to properly love and care for their own son. “I love yous” were seldom expressed between husband and wife, let alone to Ben. There was no notable physical expression of affection between family members, so Ben seldom saw or received this essential component for an optimally healthy life.
The Fantasy Woman
However, Ben’s mother’s best friend, Jenny, was embarrassingly affectionate with everyone she knew and whenever she came over to visit she would pick Ben up and smother him with adoring hugs and kisses. Ben pretended to abhor this attention and would run screaming from the room, but Jenny would always prevail in the chase sometimes sprawling on the floor laughing and wrestling Ben into submission. Ben was intoxicated by this attention and would eagerly await Jenny’s next visit.
Around the age of 11 Ben discovered physical sensations he had not recognized before. These sensations surpassed anything he had ever experienced. Somehow in his young mind, these feelings became intertwined with the intoxicating warmth he felt from Jenny’s open displays of affection. He even began thinking about Jenny when he intentionally pursued these “special” feelings.
In experiencing little appropriate loving touch or emotionally loving interactions, Ben began inadvertently searching for something that would fill the desperately lonely place in his soul. Unwittingly, Jenny was the person that initially filled this void in Ben—and so Ben began following this logical line of reasoning.
Medicating the Void
As time passed, fantasies about being “loved by” Jenny eventually consumed Ben’s thoughts. His adolescent “liaisons” with Jenny were the cherished times that he felt important and desirable. It was a thought process, a world he created that quickly consumed Ben.
Many people gravitate to drugs or alcohol to numb the daily scorching pain inside. The more excruciating, the more aggressive the pursuit. Ben was no different—except he was a young boy desperate for relief, with no one to diagnose and prescribe a fitting remedy. This obliging drug of Ben’s choice resulted eventually in numerous decades of “sexual addiction.” This “medication,” having become an essential component of his premature survival, very quickly seized control of his mind, body and soul, leaving him subservient to this perverse craving; with little hope for any appropriate and substantive female relationships.
The Taboo of Sex Addiction
Regrettably, there are thousands of Bens of all ages faithfully attending our churches, concealing this same pain-numbing secret—a secret that shrouds these precious men in shame, isolation, deception and pretense.
While other more respectable pain relievers (i.e. drugs, alcohol, eating, shopping, gambling, etc.) receive richly deserved public validation when mastered, pain relief through sexual pursuits is often taboo to speak of in some churches. Certain sexual addiction support groups even recommend that if members see each other on the street that they do not acknowledge they know each other for fear of those they are with being curious, which may cause awkward, uncomfortable dialogue.
Sexual Sin is Different
First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality, all other sins a man commits are outside of his body. Those who sin sexually, sin against their own body.” The Bible asserts that this particular sin is different than any other sin. In other words, every other sin in the world is put in one column and sexual sin is put in another.
If a drug addict has no access to their drug they cannot medicate. If an alcoholic has no access to alcohol he cannot medicate, and so on. A sexual addict cannot escape his access—he can sort through hundreds of well worn videos and photographs in his mind. I would never intentionally disrespect others struggles to escape their specific addictions, but sexual addicts have a more challenging time escaping the all consuming manner in which their drug can be accessed. Yet there is little fanfare or accolades when triumphed over.
The Waging War of Sin
Let me introduce you to Ben. Ben is me. This story is mine. I have slightly changed enough of the circumstances to deflect this story in my direction. There are still a few significant people in my life that do not know this dishonorable secret about me.
I have been successfully battling my way out of this anguish for several years, but I am convinced the war never truly ends. Our enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion” desires to devour me, destroy my life, steal all he can from me, and ultimately kill me on the battle field of sexual addiction. He will never stop pursuing me in my area of vulnerability, and I can never abandon the strategies that have renewed and transformed my mind, giving me more freedom than I ever thought possible.
Every war or game has a strategy for success, and the war against sexual addiction is no different. Not only do we have the world and the flesh to do battle with, we have an adversary who is experienced beyond our capabilities who has skills we have never imagined.
The Coach says, “It’s halftime gentlemen, and we need to make some adjustments before we go back out there, strategies based on what our opponent is doing. We can win this battle if we strategize appropriately. Don’t make ‘silly’ mistakes and work the game plan.” Our Coach is greater than He that is in the world. This specific war can be, and in fact is, won on a regular basis with aggressive strategies and strong supportive teammates. The biblical church needs to position itself as a part of the team and in partnership in these strategies.
The Church in the Battle Zone
I was considering all of this recently, wondering if there might be a benefit of each church having a “relationship” pastor or strong men’s leader, with experience and expertise in dealing with among other relational issues and sexual addiction. If this is in fact such a pervasive issue in our churches as the statistics clearly indicate, it seems that we should aggressively and unrelentingly hit it head on.
We have youth pastors, music pastors, drama pastors, administrative pastors, etc. Why not someone specifically assigned to help uncompromisingly deal with such an overwhelming preponderance of our Lord’s hurting flock? Wouldn’t it be most beneficial to put our resources where they can have an effect on the greatest numbers? Emancipating these brave men so that they in turn are able to use this fresh liberty as a springboard, furthering God’s kingdom, rather than hide those gifts behind a cloak of shame. With the biblical and relational strategies it takes for a man to achieve mastery over this most powerful of Satan’s schemes supercharging his God given gifts.
Our churches may very well experience stalwart leadership like they have never seen before.