You cannot watch this and NOT know there is hope!
Sexual addiction is a progressive sin. It will get worse. One bad sexual decision leads to another, worse decision – not at first, but eventually. Some men and women assume they can plateau with porneia at a certain point of acceptableness. They hope to find and maintain that level of sin which is high enough to routinely get a small ‘hit’ from their sex drug, but low enough to avoid detection, or at least major disapproval, by God and their own conscience. They actually think that, in so doing, they can effectively manage their sin. They cannot. They have to kill it. Strong, decisive action must be taken to eliminate the addiction.
You cannot argue, debate, or negotiate with a terrorist. Satan is a terrorist with one, and only one, aim… your complete annihilation. His objective is destruction and his strategy is addiction. Kill or be killed. Kill your addiction, or it will kill you.
Some men and women excuse their sexual fantasies and carnal exploits as harmless and normal. The pursuit of porneia is accompanied by a myriad of creative rationalizations:
- “I’m a man (woman). It’s what we do.”
- “God created me to want sex.”
- “I’m not hurting anyone.”
- “It’s OK to look, as long as I don’t touch.”
- “I can’t stop. I’ve tried. It’s not possible.”
- “I can stop anytime I want to.”
- “I am an extremely sexual being.”
- “The woman’s (man's) body is a beautiful thing to be admired.”
- “My wife (husband) doesn’t seem to mind.”
- “I can’t imagine life without sex.”
- “I don’t have a wife (husband). What am I supposed to do?”
- “I can control it. It’s not getting any worse.”
- “It helps me be a better lover to my wife (husband).”
- “Everyone else is doing it.”
- “Our culture throws it in my face. What can I do?”
- “It’s summertime and it’s hot. The girls are wearing less.”
- “I have an overactive libido.”
- “Spandex! What can I say?”
- “Don’t those women (men) know what they do to me?”
- “It’s fine to watch the birds fly by, as long as I don’t let them build a nest in my hair.”
- “The devil made me do it!”
As foolish as some of these statements sound, every one of these excuses contains an element of truth, making it easy for addicts to lie to themselves. They are avoiding the real truth which is simply this… they must have illegitimate sexual experiences. The more dangerous, risky, exotic, explicit, and forbidden, the better. Nothing else offers the exhilaration, intoxication, and release they crave. The lure of the thrill is just too much to bear. It’s an irresistible rush of dopamine promising (and delivering) immediate and indescribable pleasure. It’s coming at them with the unrelenting sexual force of a Category 5 hurricane. Addicts cannot stop their pursuit of porneia. They want it and will have it at any cost.
What the addict doesn’t know, or refuses to believe, is that sex addiction is progressive. It will spiral out of control and plummet depths of horribleness that would sicken the sex-drug user if he or she could view their future. They are on a path that eventually leads to a dirty, dark destination, terminating at violent sex, orgy sex, public sex, animal sex, child sex, or in extreme cases, death sex by methods too disturbing to describe in this post. On the threshold of unspeakable acts such as these, the mere mention of which should cause anyone’s stomach to churn, it’s too late for the addict. He or she is now near the end of the joy ride and faces public humiliation, loss of family and income, incarceration, and death.
I shall never forget meeting a young man whose sin escalated to the place where he sexually fondled his own little girls. He was on his way to prison, and he knew it was the right place for him to be. He wondered if he would ever see his precious children again. Please do not say, “I would never do anything that bad.” Every man or woman who ever did “anything that bad” once believed they never would.
The problem of people becoming insanely stupid when preoccupied with bad sex is not new. It was the subject of 3,000 year old warnings like the one below:
Self-validation in the face of sin is a form of deception, leading the addict further down a path of devastation and ruin. Every man or woman’s behavior points them in a specific direction. Direction determines destination, and our destination eventually becomes our destiny. Our destiny defines us to the world and leaves a posterity we can never change.
Are you a man or woman of God? Then you are determined to leave the world a better place than your found it. You are concerned about your influence on those who will follow in your footsteps. You consider the future and work backwards from there. You reverse engineer your life plan by making wise decisions today which will define the future you envision.
Question: What should be inscribed on a man or woman’s tombstone?
Answer: That which is memorialized in the hearts of those they left behind.
What will those words be? The good man or woman imagines their destiny and makes choices today in keeping with their grand and final goal.
One of Israel’s worst leaders, King Jehoram, “passed away to no one’s regret” (2nd Chronicles 21.20 NIV), a sad but predictable fate for the person who lives without regard for the next generation. Nearly one thousand people attended my wife’s funeral. Adonica “passed away to… [the] regret” of many because she showed great love and concern for those she was leaving behind, even before she knew she was dying of cancer. We all die, and what we do with our short, allotted time matters. It matters greatly. The wisest of all men, King Solomon, once said, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7.8 NASB) or, as my friend Greg Wright, says, “Live your epitaph, not your résumé.” A wise man or woman fully comprehends the fact that everything about their decisions this day will impact their future and the futures of those they love, so they choose wisely and act accordingly now.
Bad sex never satisfies. The pursuit of porneia has no endpoint beyond death. Addicts cannot snatch the carrot swinging on the stick just inches beyond their grasp but, against all reason, they keep on trying. They imagine there must be something more, a sexual nirvana, the ultimate fantasy, the climax to beat all climaxes. They will find it or die trying, and die they will for “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14.12 ESV).
This is the ‘novelty effect’ in action. Internet porn overstimulates the brain by providing an unending supply of sexual novelty. Perhaps it is not sex alone that drives an addict, but rather the search for new and exciting forms of sex yet to be imagined. Unopposed and given enough time, this addictive quest can prove deadly... death to careers, death to relationships, death to integrity, death to hope, death to dreams and their future fulfillment, death to love, and even death to the gifts of temporal and eternal life.
I know a man who sat in front of his computer screen trying to locate the perfect sexual image all night long. Time passed without his notice, until it was 6:00 a.m. and he had to get ready for a day’s work with no sleep.
I know a family doctor who lost a successful fifteen year practice because he could not stop viewing pornography at his medical office.
I know a woman who considered suicide when she discovered her husband was viewing pornography.
I know a man whose wife threatened divorce if he did not stop his porn habit. He didn’t stop. He just got more secretive. She found out and divorced him, just like she said.
I know a young man who actively masturbated to online porn for years, but could not get an erection on his wedding night.
I know a grown man who wept uncontrollably when sharing his story of being sexually abused by an older relative when he was a pre-teen.
I know a man who crashed his car because he was staring at a woman on the street rather than watching the road.
I know a man who stripped at a nude beach while conducting his favorite pastime of voyeurism. When he returned to the parking lot, his car was stolen. (That last guy was me.)
Make no mistake, porneia steals life, energy, and happiness, and yet, there is hope!
Join a 423 Community of recovery today!
 From comedian Flip Wilson’s (1933-1998) character Geraldine Jones’ famous lines: “The devil made me buy this dress,” “When you’re hot, you’re hot; when you’re not, you’re not,” and “What you see is what you get.”
 Seven Pillars of Freedom, by Dr. Ted Roberts, Pure Desire Ministries, © 2009, p. 41.
John Mayer is a seven time Grammy award winning songwriter, music producer, and performer. His honest self-disclosure in a 2010 interview with Playboy magazine epitomizes this generation’s affinity with online porn. Soon after it was published, Mr. Mayer humbly and publicly apologized for his remarks in the interview as an attempt to be “witty” or “clever,” stating his ambition to become a “possible future grownup.”
After reading some of John Mayer’s comments below, try to cut this celebrity a little slack. He was a young man at the time of the interview, and dealing with fame of the sort you and I will likely never experience or be forced to endure. If you follow his music, you will detect his personal growth as an artist in the evolution of his craft (e.g., “Shadow Days” and “Love is a Verb” on his 2012 “Born and Raised” album). I am impressed with this man’s honest journey of self-discovery.
John Mayer’s moral standards are not mine, but I respect the man. In the Playboy interview, he unapologetically told it exactly like it was for him in that moment, and probably for countless other men who would rather enjoy solo-sex with pornographic images than go to the trouble or risk the unhappiness of pursuing, creating, or fixing a real, live relationship with a real, live woman.
Today, internet pornography is no longer the exclusive domain of men. Over twenty percent of the world's population view pornography, and one third of all porn users are women. That's over a half a billion women who are potentially addicted to internet porn!
Besides the fact that Mr. Mayer is not a professing follower of Jesus, what’s the real difference between this celebrity and many Christian men and women in unhappy, sexless marriages who secretly use porn? The answer is simple… John Mayer is honest. “According to the research approximately 64 percent, or two thirds, of U.S. men admit to viewing porn at least monthly, with the number of Christian men nearly equaling the national average.” The majority of Christian men are doing exactly the same thing as John Mayer, but keeping it a secret. They are lying to themselves and to their significant others. Men and women Jesus followers who use internet porn have become two people in one… the outside person they wish to portray publicly, and the inside one they presume will be rejected if others knew the truth. Therefore, they must hide their inner selves at all costs. Transparency and intimacy required for authentic relationships becomes a forgotten ideal. The irony is that millions of inner women and men would love to come out of hiding and meet each other; to embark on their journeys of self-discovery and together gain the confidence to quash porneia once and for all. Instead these precious souls live independently, keeping intimate company only with the other side of themselves. Their dual personalities are systematically killing them emotionally and slowly destroying any hope for real relationships.
This incongruity between persons' belief system and their behavior patterns is a setup for mental instability. Fear of exposure drives them deeper into isolation and, of course, widens the gap between opposing inner forces. They perceive themselves as liars and social outcasts. They hope for, but remain unassured of, God’s love and forgiveness. These Christians are overwhelmed with feelings of hypocrisy, a condition that hamstrings a person's efforts to effectively serve his or her family, church, and community.
Christians, who are active in their sex addiction, may seek to resolve the inner conflict by forming separate personas as the occasion requires. They assume their ‘bad self’ character when they choose to view pornography and masturbate, yet identify as a ‘good guy’ or a 'nice girl' with their brothers and sisters at church. If a man or woman's contrasting value systems begin to function independently, this person is in danger of becoming ‘two-people-in-one.’ Addicts may choose not to recognize their duplicity by living in denial for a time but, in moments of clarity, they conclude that it is not possible to satisfy both their desire for porneia and their hunger for God. This realization pushes them to the emotional brink where the dark pit of despair and utter alone-ness beckons like a siren of final destruction. Could God’s concern for our mental well-being be, in part, the reason Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6.24 NAS)?
Women and men of God addicted to porn are trapped in an impossible situation. They cannot boldly proclaim Jesus who sets captives free when they cannot get themselves untangled from the tentacles of porneia. How can they inspire their sons and daughters to be sexually clean when they keep a hidden stash of favorite pornography on the laptop? In 423 Communities we say, “You can’t get clean until you come clean.” Everything starts with the truth and, of course, Jesus promised, “The truth will set you free” (John 8.32b ESV).
The pursuit of porneia brings death. You will die in your never-ending hunt for hedonistic pleasure. God’s plan brings vibrant, abundant, everlasting, and joy-filled life.
Perhaps you agree, or want to believe, that nothing satisfies like the real thing, but you have fallen under the weight of sexual addiction and toxic shame. You have concluded (prematurely) that you can never wrench yourself free from porneia's deadly grip.
Join a 423 Community now. There is hope.
 World population 2018 projection = 7,634,758,428 X 47% of world population on Internet X 43% of all Internet users viewing porn = 23.45% of world population (or nearly 1.8 billion people) using porn. Sources:
Webroot Smarter Security (https://www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/internet-pornography-by-the-numbers)
Hell Bound Bloggers updated 4/23/2017 (https://hellboundbloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Intenet-and-Pornography.jpg)
Internet World Stats (https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm).
 “Christian men view porn almost as much as non-Christians,” Joseph Pelletier, ChurchMilitant.com, January 18th, 2016.
I grew up in a first generation Christian home. Neither of my parents were raised in Christian families, and both came to know the Lord before they were married. Ours was not a perfect household. My parents' mistakes or shortcomings were not malicious, but our home environment was rigid. There was little affection. Our small family unit was ruled, operated, and controlled by one member... my dad.
I love my dad. He’s a hero in my book, but he’s far from perfect. He did not know how to demonstrate his love for my brother and me. Dad fought in the Vietnam War when he was only nineteen years old. When people say, “Veterans served their country,” I like to add, “And so did their families.” The three of us served and sacrificed for our country too.
My brother and I were ruled by threats, and consequently, the most well behaved kids on the block. My parents regularly received compliments when we went out to dinner, "How well behaved your children are." But those complimenting us did not know that two adorable kids were required to repeat the following words to their dad before heading out the door, “If I misbehave, you’ll break every bone in my body.” He wanted to be sure we were listening.
I knew he didn’t really mean it. I was never actually afraid my father would hurt my brother or me. While he never hit us, still, I was fearful of him. Dad was a man of few words, but had a commanding and scary presence. To this day, I’ve never heard my dad say the words, “I love you,” to me or my mom. My beautiful mother was just too young and fragile to make an impact in my dad's development as a parent. I am certain Mom and Dad did the very best they could.
As I remember, Dad wasn’t always careful about what he watched on TV when I was in the room. I recall seeing 007 sex scenes at a very young age. This exposure to sex, coupled with the lack of love and attention from my dad, caused me to search elsewhere for comfort. In early grade school, I developed the practice of masturbating, and it worked! The habit gave me the sense of security and comfort I desperately longed for.
I did not realize I was playing with fire. No human on the planet knew my secret. Of course, Jesus knew, and I’m quite certain the demonic realm knew, but I was too ashamed and embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. The masturbation habit continued into Junior High when I made the connection (on my own) that what I was doing was sex. Oh no! I had previously concluded that sex was bad. This thought was due, in part, to my rigid, conservative upbringing and my private Christian school education. I believed that sex was wrong, dirty, and evil. Since I was engaged in solo-sex, then I too must be wrong, dirty, and evil.
Then began the dark fantasies. To justify my acting out sexually, I mentally played the role of a rape victim. This helped to soften my sense of guilt and shame. My fantasies usually began with being kidnapped and then raped. They always ended with being rescued and brought to a safe place by whatever boy I currently had a crush on. Sex, a good gift from a loving God, was being corrupted in my mind and experience. In addition to these horrific fantasies, I would occasionally creep out of my bedroom at night and to find something dirty on cable TV. I rarely succeeded and I’m still shocked my parents never knew, or if they did, they never said anything about it.
My dark fantasy ritual continued into college. After receiving my first laptop, I added soft porn to my private sexual routine. I began to believe the absolute worst about my identity. I thought of myself as a monster. I was a poser, a fake Christian. I feared going to hell when I died.
I needed help and it came to me through a simple question from a trusted friend. We were in the park blocks at Portland State University when she inquired, "Do you masturbate?" I was so painfully sheltered, I had never even heard of the word. I did not know what "masturbation" was. My friend was a nursing student and described the word in formal terms. I willingly admitted that I struggled with masturbation, and she and I agreed to become accountability partners. I remember the relief I felt right after disclosing my secret sin for the first time. By sending me an honest friend, God began to pave a way of escape for me. My brokenness was exposed to the light and the dark bondage began to lose its grip.
From that moment forward, the "rape and rescue" fantasies ceased. The Holy Spirit kindly convinced me that sex is a gift. Sex was not gross, nor was it evil. I began a journey of repairing my wrong thinking about sex. My long road toward self-discovery and healing consisted of accountability, counseling, and even prayer sessions renouncing generational sin. The transformation and physical recalibrating of my brain has been such a sweet experience. The true Healer and Comforter has brought me to Himself for powerful times of refreshment and forgiveness. Jesus has been patiently changing my life, leading me into seasons of peace and freedom.
Today, my life is so much brighter and closer to victory than ever before. I now know that freedom is possible. This new mindset is a miracle. For years I believed that healing was forever out of reach, but now I know there is hope. He is leading me "beside the still waters" and is restoring my poor wounded and damaged soul (Psalm 23.2-3). Jesus is taking His time to ensure we don't miss a thing. He wants to restore everything... my mind, heart, soul, body, and even my family relationships. There is so much joy, and I'm smiling at the future.
About five years ago, my church asked me to help start 423 Women for my sexually broken sisters. I had no structured recovery program when I needed it most, so I was passionate to provide this resource for other women like me.
Shortly after starting 423 Women in 2014, I received prayer from an older couple at a church in Vancouver, WA, where I was visiting with a friend. The woman said she saw me holding a very large sword. A sword so big that someone of my size (4’11") should not be able to budge or lift it. The woman with the vision said that, not only could I move the sword, but I would learn to wield it forcefully.
Soon after, I was worshiping in downtown Portland at a Bethel concert where I met a young married couple. During worship, near the end of the gathering, the man tapped me on the shoulder, explaining he had just received a word for me. We crouched down and he proceeded to yell into my ear. (The music was blaring loudly all around us!) He told me that there was something from my childhood that Satan intended to use to destroy me. God had stepped in and handed me a sword, a sword I would use alongside of God while we saved many women from the very same thing that was meant to destroy me. He ended with warning me that Satan has found out about the sword and is not happy about the ground he’s losing. I knew this vision was speaking of the work Jesus is accomplishing in women’s lives through 423 Women.
These encounters with faithful members of the body of Christ remind me that what Satan means for evil, God can (and will) use for good (Genesis 50.20).
Please pray for us! We have an real "enemy... who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1st Peter 5.8) and seeks "only to steal and kill and destroy" our freedom in Christ (John 10.10). Satan will do all he can to keep us in sexual bondage, so we must fight back.
Pray for 423 Communities, and especially 423 Women. Pray for me. Pray for our leaders. Pray for 423 Men, and all our 423 Communities! Join us in taking a confident stand against the works of the enemy for "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1st John 4.4).
Thank you for reading my story.
If a married man working toward recovery in 423 Men is experiencing marital disharmony, he accepts responsibility to do his part to fix his marriage, or die trying. Does that sound overly dramatic? It shouldn’t, because that’s what the Bible teaches:
Jesus died for the church and we are to love our wives in the same sacrificial way Christ loved the church; that is, to the death. I used to tell my wife, “I’d take a bullet for you.” My promise to die never seemed to overly impress my her. “I’d rather have you take out the garbage once in a while.” What my wife really wanted was for me to listen better and help more around the house. Not a very dazzling or manly job description. I’d rather get kudos for being a hero than for washing the dishes, but serving my wife unselfishly was God’s way for me to die – die to self.
One day my wife observed in my hearing, “There are clean clothes at the bottom of the stairs.” I knew it was my job to listen to her, so I trotted right over to the steps leading to the second level of our home and confirmed what she told me, “Why yes, dear. There are clean clothes at the bottom of the stairs.” I thought I had fulfilled my husbandly duty. I listened to and even affirmed my wife’s statement. What she actually meant was, “Please find the clean clothes in the laundry basket at the foot of the stairs and take them up to the bedrooms.” My first thought was, “Why didn’t you just say so?” but I somehow understood the folly of that course of action. As dense as I was, I had to admit that even I knew the meaning of her words. In this instance, I deliberately missed an opportunity to love my wife “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” I was unwilling (at first) to die to self on her behalf. (I eventually took the laundry basket upstairs.)
It’s occasionally good to revisit your marriage vows:
take you, _______________,
to be my wedded wife,
and I do promise before God and these witnesses,
to be your loving and faithful husband,
and to cherish you, in plenty and in want,
in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health,
for better or for worse, as long as we both shall live."
Do you feel differently today than you did on the day you first made this pledge? Visualize your woman whose “worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31.10 NAS) and quietly repeat these vows in your mind to her now. Have you fulfilled them, entirely, partially, or not at all? If you have been in pursuit of porneia at any time since your wedding day, or even since the first day of your engagement, then you have not entirely fulfilled your intended or actual vows to be a “loving and faithful husband.” Unless you have already told her of your infractions, you have something to confess to your wife. Learning to love your marriage companion is a lifelong adventure, and part of the journey includes full disclosure.
Your wife should expect, and certainly deserves, singular and exclusive sexual devotion of the kind described by Solomon:
If, instead, you have chosen to “embrace the bosom of a foreigner” (Proverbs 5.20 NAS) bearing the name porneia, don’t you think she deserves to know?
Many men with sexually addictive behavior patterns try to keep their wives in the dark. “I can’t tell my wife about my porn use because I don’t want to hurt her” which more likely means, “I can’t tell my wife about my porn use because I don’t want her to hurt me!” You may have good reason to fear. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” As a husband, you have probably learned that your wife has the power to inflict pain, and your failure to disclose may be driven as much by your need for self-preservation than by a sincere desire to keep from causing grief to your “wedded wife.” The charade will not last. Wives will eventually learn the truth for one simple reason… secrets don’t work.
Occasionally, a woman will cooperate with her mate’s misbehavior by choosing not to pry. Perhaps she is afraid to learn of the truth she suspects, but as she willingly closes her eyes to the facts, she involuntarily closes her heart to her “wedded husband.” His dirty little secret is, “I use porn.” Hers is, “I don’t want to know,” or worse, “I know and don’t care.” This unwholesome arrangement undermines their covenant of love to the detriment of both marriage partners.
My wife and I made an agreement early in our union… “No secrets.” My beloved and I always believed this policy was in the best interest of our marital union, so I told her everything. I’m pretty sure she did the same. We kept no secrets.
There are no secrets with God. He sees all, and eventually, so does everyone else. Speaking on behalf of God, the prophet Jeremiah stated, “For I am closely watching you, and I see every sin. You cannot hope to hide from me” (Jeremiah 16.17 TLB). Secrecy is an illusion. To think otherwise is the porn addict’s folly:
Wouldn’t it be better to proactively inform your wife of improprieties than reactively defend yourself when she learns of them? Jesus said, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8.17 NKJV). Of this you may be assured… the person you are on the inside and the things you do in secret will someday be known by anyone who cares to know, including your wife.
Some guys tell me, “My wife is my accountability partner.” Personally, I think that is a bad idea. Allow me to illustrate. Let’s pretend your closest friend is a ‘violence addict’ with a particular affinity for stabbing people with a sharp knife. Periodically, he is overcome with blood-lust and thrusts a blade into your back. When you awake from surgery, your friend is at your bedside and ready to confess. “I’m so sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me. When you get out of the hospital, we will start all over and pretend this never happened. I know I have a problem, but I am trying to get help. I still love you. You are my best friend. Would you be my ‘accountability partner’? Every time I feel the desire to stab you, I will confess and you can hold me accountable. If I stab you when you are not looking, I promise to quickly admit my sin and you can help me not to do that again. Agreed?”
I think you can see the foolishness of such an offer. You may not intend to hurt your wife, but your pursuit of porneia does exactly that. Unlike the members of your 423 Men group, she cannot remain ‘arm’s length’ or objective. Your woman is bleeding emotionally because you betrayed her. She is not sure she can trust you. Her ears are deaf to your hollow assurances. She wants change, not promises. You must confess and fully disclose to your beloved if you intend to properly recover, but do not expect her to make you better. That’s your job, not hers. Find followers of Jesus who, like you, struggle with sexual sin and and are fighting the good fight of purity. Take the recovery plunge with them.
 Paraphrase of line by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII of “The Mourning Bride” (1697) by 17th century English playwright, William Congreve. The actual quotation is “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell as fury like a woman scorned.”
 Johnny Cash “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” from posthumous album American V: A Hundred Highways, released 2006.
*This is a true story about a real man currently in 423 Men. "Jack" is not the author's name. Names and locations have been changed for the privacy of involved parties.
This dark account contains shocking and graphic details of mental illness and abuse. Please be forewarned... this post is hard to read. The article is not included here for its "shock" value. Rather, we hope to demonstrate that the light of Jesus Christ penetrates even the darkest realms of bipolar disorder, BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism), and extreme erotic role-playing. A changed life, as in the case of our brother Jack, is the fruit of God's mercy.
There is hope. Read on...
When I was in fifth grade year, my grandmother, was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Even though she was given a lifespan of four to five years, my grandma died only five months after her diagnosis. Within two weeks of her death, my grandfather became ill with terminal lung cancer. Today my psychiatrist believes that my own father's bipolar disorder is due, in part, to these traumatic events, and contributed to his emotional breakdown when I was just a child.
My father was both physically and verbally abusive to me. He once burst into my bedroom with an ax and nearly destroyed everything in the room. Dad was a big man, able to bench four hundred pounds. He even tried to strangle me one time and so, as a boy, I learned how to disassociate from emotional and physical pain. I developed trichotillomania (hair pulling) at the age of twelve, tearing out my hair in large clumps. It was at this young and tender age that I became addicted to the endorphin response to pain.
Our next door neighbor was one of my friends and a safe place to hide out from the abuse at home, of so I thought. One day, he mentioned his father’s pornography stash and wanted to use me to “practice for his girlfriend.” My neighbor violated me with both oral and anal sex.
My father continually berated me, telling me that I was a disappointment to him. He constantly reminded me that I should be a better athlete, especially since I had bulk and a muscular body type. I achieved third in the nation for my age group in the discus throw, but it was never good enough for dad. I suffered a serious knee injury and had three significant reconstructive knee surgeries by the age of sixteen.
Although I graduated as a valedictorian and with ten varsity letters, I was never came back from the knee trauma. I still tried out for sports in later high school, but remained mostly on the sidelines. I so badly wanted to my teammates' approval that I willingly gave myself away sexually to many of the other guys on the team. I would agree to do anything, just so I could feel a part of the team.
After college, I married my wife, Jane. In 2009, we adopted two children from another country. Our adoption agency misled us by failing to disclose Adam's history of severe trauma. During the initial five years Adam was in our house, he had three mental health hospitalizations, one lasting for over a hundred days. Adam broke Jane's wrist during an altercation, and he was verbally abusive to her. I, too, was physically assaulted by Adam... bitten, punched, hit with baseball bats, rocks, shovels, and rakes. Daily, my adopted son threatened to kill me or my biological son.
My doctor placed me on Adderall for my inability to focus. I was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and, as Adam's emotional and physical blowouts escalated, my mania levels also increased. Slowly, my Adderall dosage was increased from 10 mg to 70-80 mg per day. The high intensity of these amphetamines, significant home and work stress, and an inability to sleep greatly impacted my inability to emotionally self-regulate. Additionally, my father re-entered our lives and became verbally abusive to my wife and me.
While I had briefly experimented with BDSM early in college, the desire to dive into this form of erotic-role playing and self-harm now became a very real temptation. In 2013, I entered the dark world of BDSM.
Sadly, it’s wasn’t difficult to find and join the BDSM “lifestyle.” Portland has numerous underground dungeons scattered at private residences, as well as bathhouses where people can subject themselves to torture. I knew I was in trouble when one of my dom sirs (the dominant person in bondage role-playing) stopped torturing me because he stated “no one could endure that much pain and not react.” The level of suffering they forced me to “experience” made it almost impossible to disassociate from the pain as a coping mechanism.
Although I had been seeking help for years, I was not in the right state of mind to recognize the type of help I needed. On December 10, 2015, I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began a four month detoxification process off amphetamines (Adderall). On a daily basis, my mind told me I was worthless and should give up my fight with my mental illness. I would create morbid mental slide shows, sometimes many times a day, in which I observed myself die by a variety of methods. Initially, I thought I had the “will power” to manage my mental illness with medication and therapy. However, that false sense of security set me up for a few instances of failure and regression. I learned firsthand the importance of having a strong support network and accountability system in my life.
I refused to let my mental illness become the final chapter of my life “book.” I tried often to remind myself that I was the author of my own story. My psychiatrist once told me that I needed to let go of the "Superman" self image, and become content with being "Batman." She explained that, although Batman was human, he still accomplished amazing things in this world. I never thought I would become a sex addict or mentally ill; however, my condition forced me to become reliant on God to simply survive one day at a time.
On Saturday, February 25, 2017, I was introduced to Westside A Jesus Church because I was invited to a Men’s Breakfast event. That evening, I began to explore the church’s website and came across the 423 Communities page. In my previous church, they viewed my bipolar disorder as a character flaw instead of a medical issue. I thought to myself, "At last. A church that understands."
I am blessed now to live more in the present and to focus less significantly on my future or my past. There are so many amazing opportunities that I missed during my various manic episodes. Now, I am trying to live out each day as if it was my last. After about six months in the 423 recovery program, I was offered a position of support leadership. Today, I co-lead a 423 Men group and have discovered renewed purpose and sense of fulfillment. Jesus and my brothers in recovery saved me from the horror of my addictions, and now I get to help other men.
Attending worship gatherings and my 423 Men group has empowered me say goodbye to the the guilt and shame that characterized my many manic episodes of the past. My wife is also receiving significant help through 423 Betrayal & Beyond. I cannot possibly thank my new church family enough for its willingness to create an organization like 423 Communities to address the painful issues associated with sexual addiction. Where there was once brokenness, mental illness, bondage, and addiction, 423 Communities has offered me hope, redemption, and grace.
I was standing in church somewhere around the turn of the millennium. We were preparing for communion at Sunset Presbyterian Church. I was active in my recovery group and enjoying a new level of sexual sobriety for the first time in thirty-five years. My beautiful wife, Adonica, was standing by my side as we held the bread and cup in our hands, ready to partake. In that holy moment, I noticed two young ladies in front of me. They were wearing tight jeans and had nice figures. Don’t ask me how I knew that. I did not look at these Christian sisters in a sexual way. But somehow I knew.
Like many men, I have been cursed with sexual radar and can quickly locate all gorgeous ladies in any large crowd. Attractive women, tight jeans, low lights, soft worship music. I don’t mean to sound sacrilegious, but the setting was positively seductive. Would there be any harm in a quick glance? It was a familiar question. I considered doing what I had always done: to sexualize these young women in my mind. Then, I heard the voice of Jesus:
“You can look if you want, or you can have a ministry with men. But you can’t have both, and the choice is yours.”
I knew precisely what He meant. I had a decision to make at the crossroads of sobriety. No one could make it for me, not even Jesus. No one, besides Jesus, would ever know if I made the wrong decision. It was my choice, and mine alone.
Nearly 1,500 years before the first coming of Christ, Moses presented a similar choice to the people of Israel.
At this critical point, early in my recovery, I chose life. No one could have made that decision for me, but I could not have made the right decision alone. I needed help from God and my brothers in recovery. I did not look down to ‘check out’ the beautiful sisters in Christ who stood just inches away. Instead, I kept my gaze forward.
I made the right choice that day. It wasn’t easy; in fact, it was downright painful. I wanted my sex hit and self-denial felt awful. Yet, inside I wore the smile of godly satisfaction. I knew angels leapt for joy over my victory in that moment. I passed a small test and proved to myself that I wanted effective ministry more than porneia. It felt good. I was energized in a new way. I partook of the Eucharist on that eventful day with a clear conscience.
My pastor, Dominic Done, once encouraged our congregation in a Sunday sermon. “The best way to conquer an old passion is to be conquered by a new one.” My new passion began eighteen years ago on Communion Sunday at Sunset Presbyterian. There and then, I chose to conquer an old passion with a new one. Today, I am still motivated to serve men and women caught in the web of sexual addiction. Call me “Driven Scriven.” I am unashamedly and passionately devoted to assisting people in the pursuit of healthy sexuality. If I can find freedom from sexual bondage, then anybody can. If Jesus can use a fallen and broken guy like me, then He can use anyone for His redemptive purposes.
The springs of living water about which Jesus spoke cannot flow freely through a woman or man who is consumed with lust and driven by uncontrolled fantasies of forbidden pleasure. Proverbs 4.23 commands every human, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” There is a reason to guard your heart. The reason is the promise of life.
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel of the battle for dominance between opposing inner forces, Dr. Lanyon recounts the horror of virtuous Dr. Jekyll’s resolve to rid himself once and for all of the malicious Mr. Hyde.
“He put the glass to his lips and drank at one gulp. A cry followed; he reeled, staggered, clutched at the table and held on, staring with injected eyes, gasping with open mouth; and as I looked there came, I thought, a change – he seemed to swell – his face became suddenly black and the features seemed to melt and alter – and the next moment, I had sprung to my feet and leaped back against the wall, my arm raised to shield me from that prodigy, my mind submerged in terror.
“‘O God!’ I screamed, and ‘O God!’ again and again; for there before my eyes – pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death – there stood Henry Jekyll!”
My “mind was submerged in [the] terror” of sexual addiction. I too “screamed ‘O God!’ again and again” throughout my many years of bondage. I emerged from the painful ordeal “like a man restored from death.” I am a new man, the man I was destined to be before I drank from porneia’s dirty cup. I “put the glass to [my] lips and drank at one gulp” of the water Jesus and my brothers in recovery offered. I was given a second chance at life, a chance to drink deeply of the pure, eternally thirst-busting water Jesus freely held out for me.
I am a new man. I am conquered by a new passion. I am forever grateful to Jesus Christ and my brothers and sisters in recovery.
Plato said “An unexamined life is not worth living.” The Biblical equivalent to this maxim is Proverbs 4.26: “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.” Honest self-examination has helped me make sense of things, and move toward a more abundant life.
My story begins like so many other guys who started using pornography at a young age. Porn was tantalizing and seductive, forbidden and difficult to access. Before long, it would lead me down a long, dark spiral stairway to the very doors of hell.
I was introduced to pornography when I was six or seven years old at the home of a friend who delighted in revealing to me his father’s stash of dirty magazines. It was my first taste of forbidden fruit, my first 'hit' from the drug of sex. I knew I wanted more, but I didn’t know why.
In eighth grade, a friend showed me how to play 'strip poker' on the computer. I couldn't wait to jump to the end of the game and collect my prize... a glimpse at what I knew I should not be allowed to view. Even before I was a follower of Jesus, I somehow understood that looking at naked women was against the rules. This same friend introduced me to more pornography in progressively more depth and detail. In those days, the Internet was slow and you were lucky to download just a few sexual images. Today the sewer drain is wide open and pours directly into our living room computers and pocket phones.
When I was a freshman in high school my family got our first computer, and I willingly entered an incredibly dark spiritual place. Late at night, I would log into chat rooms and request nude photos of other members and trade supposed photos of myself (which I had solicited from other chat room members). Lying came easily to me, and I would do whatever it took to get as many photos as I could in a day. But, It was never enough...
The preceding verse of Scripture would describe my modus operandi for the next sixteen years. As our access to the Internet became faster, so too did the speed at which I downloaded sexual photos and videos. These images depicted what I now know to be inexcusable, sinful, and for the most part, completely artificial acts of sex; and all of it was available free of charge in the privacy of my family home!
To this day, over two decades later, I don’t know how I kept my unquenchable thirst for porn a secret from my family. I had some close calls and, although I was extremely careful, there was no way I could have consumed the volume of internet pornography that I did without causing suspicion.
Later in high school I was able to afford my own computer, which I kept in my room behind a door that was all too often closed. Why my parents thought this was acceptable, I’m not sure. My father was and still is a devout Christian man, but I abused his trust. During this period, and until I was twenty-two years old, it was a no-holds-barred, free-for-all access to as much of my drug of choice as my internet connection could provide. I would sometimes spend entire afternoons downloading porn and masturbating to the point of exhaustion. It was a very dark time and I was becoming more and more of an introvert; so bold with my use of pornography, but seriously stunted in my ability to hold actual conversations with people of the opposite sex. This relational limitation would later develop into social anxiety and very real self-esteem issues, even after I became a Christian.
Through God’s grace, I met Jesus when I was twenty-two years old, a miracle I’ll be forever thankful for. I know without question that this was the result of someone's, or multiple someones', prayers for me. Even though I had grown up in the church, it took me twenty-two years to realize how much I needed God’s forgiveness. I could no longer rely on my dad’s faith to save me. It was now apparent that I had to stop my porn habit, but it would take another ten years of trying and failing in my own strength before I finally believed I could not succeed alone. I pleaded, begged, and cajoled God to give me the strength to say "no" to my drug of choice. I had seasons of victory, some lasting as long as three months, but I always went back to porn.
I was that Biblical "fool." One failure after another slowly convinced me that freedom from sexual addiction would be impossible. I would never stop my sexual misconduct. It could not be done. The scariest moments for me were when I eventually told myself I was okay with my secret sin. It was no longer worth fighting. There could be no victory over this sin.
I had wrestled with pornography for way too long and had heard way too many sermons offering false hope: "All you need to do read your Bible more and pray more, and then God will give you the strength to beat your addiction." Of course, I didn’t call my use of porn an "addiction". I had problems, but I wasn’t an addict. It was this proud attitude that kept me out of recovery groups for years; my pride was such a hindrance to my recovery that it’s a wonder I recovered at all. But God, being rich in mercy, allowed me to come to the end of myself. Finally admitting that I needed help was the first step on my recovery journey.
I shared my ‘struggle’ with a few select friends over the next few years, and even joined an "accountability group." I figured I’d 'go for broke' and be totally honest. Why shouldn't I? What did I have to lose? My true and full disclosure earned me the sympathetic nods and pats on the back I expected, but also the old refrain from well-intentioned group members: "You just need to read your Bible and pray more.” Traditional accountability did not help me. I decided to find another group.
I joined Celebrate Recovery, a Biblically-based 12-step recovery program that really worked! I attended group for over a year and a half, and at the same time, sought individual counseling (something else my pride had never before allowed me to do). For me, the combination of recovery and therapy can be described as nothing short of miraculous. Once I laid down my pride, said ‘yes’ to the methods Jesus would offer for my personal redemption, the process of healing became remarkably easy. I stopped my pornography and masturbation habit and found real and lasting hope. I constantly thank God for this true miracle of healing. Having tried and failed so many times in my own strength, I know that it is only the power of God that has allowed me to get and stay sexually clean for as long as I have. I could overcome sexual sin, but I could not do so alone. I needed my brothers in recovery, as well as the faithful support of my counselor, to whom I am forever grateful.
Eight months after completing the twelve steps in Celebrate Recovery, I learned about 423 Communities International. This sexual recovery program began in 2009 at Westside A Jesus Church, which planted my home church, Emmaus, in Cary, North Carolina. Its Executive Director, Dave Scriven, visited our church in July, 2017, and helped me start 423 Men in our congregation. Since that time, this group has yielded amazing results with guys who have had found the humility and courage to deal with their sexual sin. Leadership in 423 is my opportunity to 'pay forward' the kindness, grace, and understanding I received during my recovery journey. I have so enjoyed getting to deeply know the guys in my own 423 Men group, and to build friendships with people in the larger 423 community in Portland, Oregon.
When I contemplate my journey of recovery, and see what God is doing with 423 Communities, the phrase ‘beauty from ashes’ springs to mind. I am in awe, and truly humbled at the new community God has allowed me to be a part of.
You can recover, but you cannot do it alone! There is hope!
Asking the “Why?” question is beneficial in two ways. First, this self-reflective process slows the addict down. To ask ourselves in moments of temptation, “Why am I doing this?” may interrupt the addictive cycle long enough for us to gather our mental faculties as the intensity of the temptation lessens. If we come to our senses during a moment of thoughtful self-probing, we earn a small victory which we can file away and later report to our brothers or sisters at the next 423 Men or 423 Women meeting. There we may be greeted with applause and high fives. A win like this is empowering and provides a foundation of success recovering addicts can build upon.
Secondly, we get to know ourselves. There is no better time than just prior to engaging in the addictive behavior to delve deeply into an exploration of self. When every part of a man or woman’s being cries out for their sex drug, a little self-denial will force them to feel the pain of withdrawal. This crisis becomes the perfect occasion for the addict to start the investigative process of discovering the personal issues which historically have been the driving force behind their addiction. This approach is the addict’s version of the biblical mandate, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4.7-8a NAS). Unpleasant feelings exist for a reason, and it’s the addict’s job in recovery to find out why they exist. “What am I feeling right now?” and “Why do I feel the way I do?” and finally, “What can I do about it?”
As we confront ourselves, our feelings and our behaviors, prayer becomes our best friend. One of the most effective is the “Serenity Prayer” in conjunction with personalized lines from the “Lord’s Prayer” and guidance from Apostle Paul.
This process of self-analysis is not intuitive. It’s much easier to run into the comforting embrace of our beloved porneia, but godly resistance is not futile. The Bible says, “Flee porneia” (1st Corinthians 6.18a). It can be done. Your recovery plan works, if you work the plan. It takes prayer, practice, patience, perseverance, and most importantly, time spent each week with supportive sisters or brothers in recovery who are on their own journeys of self-discovery with you.
 Attributed to American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, published in 1951 and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step recovery programs.
 Adapted from the words of Jesus in His famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ recorded by gospel writer Matthew (6.13 KJV) and Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church (10.13 NIV 2011).
We commonly use our perception (or should I say misperception?) of God for our own purpose and to our personal advantage. The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse” (John 1.18 The Message), and yet we plaster God’s face all over our private agenda by wrongly crediting Him for the plans of our own making, and later blaming Him and others (anyone but ourselves) when they do not work out. Dependency on God is tricky because of the obvious truth contained in this (and every) myth. I must depend upon God, but not to the exclusion of taking the action He requires of me. God-dependency becomes a false precept when used as an excuse for inaction in the face of clear and godly direction.
When Peter stood on the boat’s edge in the dark morning hours on a choppy Galilean sea, Jesus issued a command to “Come!” Matthew records, “And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matthew 14.29 HCSB). God did not push Peter out of the vessel, nor did Jesus grab the disciple’s hand and pull him into the turbulent and murky deep. It was Peter’s call to faith and action, and his alone. No one, not even Jesus, could take that step of obedience for him.
When I was in college at the University of Washington, I took a class in Geology. I did not care for the subject matter, and so chose not to study. As a new Christian, I assumed God was going to take care of everything for me. I still cringe at the memory of what I am about to tell you. During the final exam, I prayed asking God to guide me to the correct answers. I guessed on every single test question. To add to my pitiful academic laziness, I decided to “witness” to the professor and wrote notes in the test margins: “God bless you, teacher” and “Jesus loves you” and “God is good.” Why I thought that type of messaging would be helpful, on any level, is still a mystery to me. I hate to think of what must have gone through my college professor’s mind as he placed the large red “F” on my final exam. My religious stupidity must have made for a good laugh at the faculty cocktail party.
Whatever happened to simple obedience? I am not playing a chess game with the Almighty. There is no need for me to create a strategy, analyze my moves, or anticipate His. I am not equal to God. Why should I consult myself or consider my preferences before taking the action He requires of me? According to the Bible, “…whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4.17 ESV). Christ’s query resonates in my soul as both a fair question and one that inspires fear: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6.46 NIV).
As it pertains to sexual sobriety, could God’s will for a man or woman be any clearer?
“For this is the will of God… that you abstain from porneia.” I do not need to think about it, I just need to do it. “Abstain from porneia.” How much easier it is to hold to my pseudo God-dependency, making Him responsible for my obedience, or blaming him for my disobedience.
Consider, for example, Paul’s infamous “thorn in the flesh.”
I’ve heard men and women explain that porneia was their “thorn in the flesh.” These people justified their sin by attributing it to God. “I pleaded with the Lord three times to remove my overactive libido, but I still want my sex drug. Obviously, God has not taken this ‘thorn’ from me, so pornography must be my ‘cross to bear.’ I wish I didn’t have sexual addiction in my life, but Jesus allows it to remind me that His ‘grace is sufficient’ and His ‘power is perfected in my weakness’ for sex. Giving in to temptation is God’s way of keeping me humble by reminding me I am still not perfect. Therefore, I guess I will accept this defect as a part of His plan for me.”
Does this interpretation of Scripture sound suspect? Well, it should because it is; and I should know, because I’ve used it myself.
It has been said, “Without God, I can’t. Without me, He won’t.” I have a responsibility which I cannot shirk. It is mine, and mine alone. Jesus cannot obey God for me. Obedience to the will of God is the role I am called to play in the story of my own recovery.