This article is the first of a two-part series that documents one man’s struggle with sexual addiction, the effect this had on his marriage, and how he and his wife were able to find healing with the help of Christian counseling. What follows is a true story although the names have been change to ensure the anonymity of the people involved.
“I love every February that comes because it means another year of sobriety.” For Josh Smith, ushering in the New Year in 2014 marked six years of sobriety from the distressing crush of living a life filled with sexual shame.
The Foundation of Sexual Shame
It all started innocently enough when, at the tender age of twelve, Josh came across his father looking at pornography in his den. “He was not clothed and he yelled at me, ‘Josh! What are you doing here? Get out!’” After Josh had closed the door, his dad never mentioned the incident again, leaving an impressionable young boy confused about his own sense of masculinity.
“My twelve-year-old mind worked out that this was simply what men did. From that day on, I would sneak into my dad’s room when he wasn’t home to look at the pornography that he kept there. I wanted to be a man. And I wanted to do what men did.” The desire to embrace his new-found masculinity led Josh down a dark and lonely path of sexual secrets, lies, attitudes and behaviors, all of which he despised and which made him begin to loathe himself.
A Guilty Secret
When he became a Christian in his teenage years, Josh found that this shame became even more deeply embedded. “I realized that it was sinful but it wasn’t talked about in our church culture, and so I feared being laughed at or rejected. I just kept it all a secret.”
The secrets mounted and the curiosity and occasional glances at the female form morphed into hours, days and eventually years of being mesmerized by pornography. Along the way, Josh married a Christian woman and thought that enough prayer and Biblical conviction would “will” it away. But he was wrong. “It got progressively worse and worse until I had a one night stand with a complete stranger. My life was completely out of control. I was living two lives!”
A Marriage Shattered
Josh found that his mind became distorted. His daily thoughts were consumed with sexual fantasies, secrecy and online searches. His wife, Rosie, had seen the obvious warning signs for years but was also in full-blown denial.
“I had seen porn on his computer a lot, but I never had the nerve to ask him about it. I wasn’t sure if this was normal, if this is just what men do. I wondered if this was my problem, or if it was my fault and whether I was enough for him.”
The sexual addiction affected their own intimacy as the two had less and less sex and Josh’s lying behavior increased. “There were a lot of lies, I didn’t know where he was, I couldn’t get a hold of him, he wouldn’t call me back and a lot of time wasn’t accounted for,” Rosie recalled.
An Unsuccessful Attempt at Recovery
With his conscience seared by the totality of his lies, Josh finally had the courage to acknowledge his problem to Rosie. She was devastated by the truth. In the years that followed, they tried earnestly to put the pieces back together in their relationship and focused on raising their five children.
“I had periods of sobriety but I never went to counseling, nor did I seek real help. I never got to root of the problem as to why I was going to porn. I really didn’t want to go back to pornography, but when the opportunity arose I did go back to it. I was desperate to stop but had no idea what to do. I prayed and fasted for forty days, I even memorized a couple of hundred bible verses.” Yet nothing worked and so Josh resigned himself to thinking that he may never get over it.
Christian Counseling Can Help You to Overcome Sexual Addiction
In the following article, we hear how it was an ultimatum from Rosie that finally forced Josh to seek help for his sexual addiction. The good news is that healing from sexual addiction is possible. But, as Josh discovered, we cannot simply rely on our own willpower. Christian counsellors are trained to help people address the roots of their addiction so that they may find true healing and be able to experience the abundant life that Jesus came to offer us.
Anxious Man-1.jpg courtesy of morguefile.com; Light Path Stock Photo by dan courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net