When I began my journey towards sexual purity in 423 Men, I felt isolated from other men in my recovery group. I thought I was less of a Christian because of my struggle with same-sex attraction. The church did nothing to dissuade my way of thinking, and the world wholly dismissed or rejected me because I refused to abandon Christ’s teachings on purity.
About a year and a half after joining 423 Men, I was in the shower at my gym. Outside the locker room there were plenty of women in tight yoga pants, but I was more interested in the beautiful, totally naked men just on the other side of my shower curtain. I was pissed at myself, as a man, for desiring men.
I felt so much anxiety and shame. Deep down I believed it was far worse, in God’s eyes, for me to be tempted by a man’s body than by a woman’s.
God spoke to me in that shower stall, and His message was later affirmed by men in my 423 group… my way of thinking was hell’s strategy to keep me separated from my brothers in Christ!
My brothers in 423 and I all struggle with sexual addiction. Each one of us have historically used our addiction as a coping method to improperly deal with underlying negative emotions. My brothers and I were in this battle together. We were all tempted to objectify people’s bodies and turn them into a commodity to be used. I was not essentially different than my brothers in recovery. I was no longer isolated. I did not have to believe the lie that I was far worse than other believers because of the specific nature of my sin.
My anxiety, in that moment, turned to an anger, which would over months be tempered into a righteous indignation. How dare anyone, including myself, make a godless distinction between me and all my wonderful brothers in recovery. I am a co-equal heir of the love Jesus showed on the cross, and a full recipient with every other professing believer of the mercy of God. I do not need to isolate or separate myself from my brothers or, for that matter, any other human being. I am not that unique or different.
When I shared this revelation with the guys in my group, all of whom are heterosexual, they authentically rejoiced with me. It took a while, but in the months to follow, I would begin to overcome a life of shame and fear over my struggle with same-sex attraction. Today I am happily married to the woman of my dreams. My years in 423 Men helped me forever know who I am in Christ… a man of God, fully loved and embraced as a child of God with a story of redemption to tell the world.