Tag Archives: sexual addiction

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Bloody Marriage

Marriage is messy business. So much so that Jesus allowed Himself to get messed up for us. He shed blood to reveal our starting point as spouses: ‘O God, the love I desire to give, I do not!’ Or more accurately, I cannot. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Annette and I just finished leading a round of Beauty and the Breach, an 8-week course in which we invite frustrated couples to discover the Cross together through merciful exchanges of blessing, sin, and need. Each couple bore distinct wounds but faced a common block in offering themselves freely to the other. We placed a big Cross in the middle of our gathering as a reminder that Jesus’ covenant with us—His commitment to the marriage–supersedes our own; we stirred up the faith that somehow His blood could bore through the debris obscuring our true selves from the other. His Cross also reminded us that when it came to expressing hard stuff to the other, or hearing hard stuff, we could pick up our little crosses and endure shame and pain for the joy set before us.

Some of the couples could point to big historic sins as contributors to the current breach. A few had thought ‘marriage’ might cure sexual addiction or same-sex attraction or deep-seated fears; in truth, they realized that a good marriage exposes before it absolves. In a previous group, one woman expressed how her husband’s confession of a litany of sexual sins may have been in his words ‘a resurrection’ but for her, it was the beginning of a slow, long crucifixion. She had to die to what she thought her life would be. A source of security had become a threat; her closest walking partner, a dangerous sinner. How to love? ‘Lord, have mercy on me, sinner…’

I am not being romantic here. All sin is not created equal and certain betrayals require solid boundaries in order to protect the betrayed and provoke genuine repentance on the part of the obvious sinner. But it also invites the offended party to reckon with his or her limited love—the way (s)he loves according to contract, because the other keeps his or her end of the marital deal and thus justifies one’s love. When that contract is broken, one feels justified in breaking vows. But we marry based on covenant, the truth that we invoked the ONE who shed blood to grant us the mercy needed to extend mercy, especially to the sinner we’re sleeping with.

During our last night at Beauty and the Breach, the Spirit directed me to Luke 18: 9-14 where Jesus gives wise counsel to any ‘confident of their own righteousness’ (v.9), namely the Pharisee who thanked God for not making him an adulterer. Next to him at church was such an adulterer who simply cried out for mercy. God saved only the latter (v. 14). My prayer? That the Cross reveal to all spouses our inability to love the other as we should. May mercy come quickly to meet former Pharisees and former prostitutes who marry; may the bloody God be glorified on such broken, level and ultimately beautiful ground.

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Magdalenes-in-the-Making

As I looked out at the Latinos who had come forward to ‘clean house’, I was struck by their radiance. Though time-worn, their faces looked new; defilement underfoot, they beamed like virgins. Pure gratitude shone from hearts washed afresh by the blood, water and Spirit. I marveled at this corporate witness of our faith’s most basic truth: Jesus makes all things new…

Such cleansing required good hard work from all who attended our Living Waters Training in the flowering hills just south of Mexico City. Natural beauty hid a slew of demons—lay leaders and clergy from around Latin America had resumes of sexual abuse, sexual addiction, adultery, and religious abuse, with generational sins empowering shame and lust. Young ones among us bore the mark of ‘gay’-affirming mandates from nations like Argentina, and Mexico which approved ‘gay marriage’ just days before the US Supreme Court did.

Our international leadership team entered into the battle being waged for souls, and had to contend with irrational forces seeking to weary and divide us. God sustained us through His Spirit; we responded through constant prayer. We offered ourselves at Jesus’ altar on behalf of all who had been sacrificed on the altar of lust—an altar constructed by a culture of honor that neatly hides the violence of sexual sin committed against the most vulnerable.

I thought of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. In His delivering Spirit, I called all who already had confessed their sins to renounce the demons that had empowered those sins. Like Jesus, we were taking authority over our own temples and casting out robbers who had desecrated our ‘homes.’ The Spirit, the blood, the water— gifts that confirm what Jesus has already done on our behalf —converged to renew us in the almighty tenderness of our God.

When He draws close, the demons tremble and we must act decisively. He is holy. Intimacy with the holy God requires that we refuse the idols around which demons congregate. We did just that. God came in power and cleansed us powerfully so He could dwell with us. We are His; virginal sons and daughters.

Like Mary Magdalene, we embody His witness. Jesus makes all things new!
‘What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule.’
(Gal. 6: 15b, 16a)

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Death or Liberty

‘You took your sons and daughters whom you bore to Me and sacrificed them as food to the idols…you slaughtered and sacrificed My children.’ (Ez. 16: 20, 21)

Unthinkable. A father leaves his 22-month-old son in a hot car to die while he exchanges nude selfies with six women. Monstrous.

Think again. The monster lives in us, tempting us to abandon our own dignity and the lives of those we love most. The end of sexual addiction—in truth of all illicit sexual acts—is death. Few among us have not experienced the lure of sexy images or love objects whose presence promises a rush of pleasure so intense that we might just forsake all others for its demands.

Two things become clear in the tragedy that came to light in a Georgia courtroom last week: first, addiction enslaves desire. It takes our good and normal longing for love and twists/perverts/intensifies those desires by attaching them to false objects. Neither the real woman who conceived that child, nor the child left to die, was on the father’s mind as he trembled with anticipation for the next disembodied image on his I-phone.

He had entered the dreamy, demonic world of phantoms—unrealities far removed from bills and diapers and human need. Vengeful deities promised him relief at the cost of real life. These demons demand blood.

Besides enslaving our desires, addiction blinds us to impact of our compulsions. Addicts cannot recover while they live in the lie that their enslavement impacts no-one but themselves. Thus the wake up call to self-consumed addicts is a loved one who stumbles upon the affair or the thousands of websites on the home computer.

Whole-enough spouses and friends sound the alarm: ‘What kills you kills me too. I will no longer participate with our slow death. Get help. Not getting help means you are making the choice to seriously limit, if not end, our relationship.’

Heather King says it best: ‘We try to be pure because someone else needs us to be pure. Someone in pain needs us to refrain from using another, whether in reality or fantasy, to anesthetize our own pain. Maybe that person is standing in front of us in the grocery line with three screaming kids. Maybe that person is our spouse.’

Sound the alarm. Wake up to the nightmarish impact of your dreamy gods and goddesses. They enslave you and demand the blood of persons you love most. Remember the real faces of the one you married, the ones you sired or conceived, the faces of the kids your lover has abandoned to dance with you. Our God is just and will punish persons who stumble ‘little ones.’ See their faces and repent while you still can.

I marvel at the darkness that hovers over Christian families today in which the mother or father facing same-sex attraction is given a ‘pass’ to explore his/her gay destiny because the poor one cannot help it. So a parent abandons his/her family for a gay ‘spring break.’ In the name of compassion, we are sacrificing our children to the idol gods. Justice has stumbled in the streets.

Wake up. You have a choice. Get help. You cannot overcome this alone. It takes a village. Find a group desperate for God and for a daily commitment to loving real people. Like any drug addict, be prepared to go through withdrawals. Cry out for mercy constantly. God always hears that prayer and at some point that mercy will invade your heart. Worship Jesus. Turn off ‘Blues in the Night’ and sing ‘Amazing Grace’. You are both a wretch and a beloved child of God. Your destiny is love.

‘If I choose to act in such a way that separates me from my infinite destiny, I move closer to the abyss of not being free, that is, of not being able to love any more. I can be rescued only when the attraction of infinity wins over whatever is attracting me away from it. That is the redemption of my freedom.’

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, as quoted by Christopher West in The Heart of the Gospel

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