One of the things I have had to do these last few months is to identify and separate a bunch of different issues in my life — all of them together have created this current situation that I have caused.
In some ways, of all the issues, the hardest to untangle have been the issues around sexuality. Namely, being gay and being a sex addict. For so long I have worked hard to run and hide from the first and deny the second. And often these issues became conflated in my own mind.
Even now it is hard for me to acknowledge and name both issues. Having been in the evangelical sub-culture for the past 17 years, neither is good.
If I am 100% honest with myself, I have to admit that both issues are true: (1) I am gay; and (2) I have a sex addiction.
But I also have to acknowledge that these issues are fundamentally different and must be dealt with differently.
For me, the addictive sexual behavior dates back to late middle school and early high school and has been predominantly around the areas of pornography and masturbation. At times, it has also included other forms of sexually acting out. Ultimately these issues and addictive behaviors have conspired to destroy my ministry, my closest friendships, and my faith community.
I am currently in a recovery group and also getting counseling to help me deal with these issues. And while I have come to understand that they really are an addiction, they are also a choice — and I am 100% responsible for the choices I made to feed and fuel the addictive behavior. Period.
As I unpack the addiction, I am aware of certain things that helped contribute to the addictive behavior. The list is longer than I can detail here and will probably take a lifetime for me to really work through. But I am working through them and I am committed to continuing to work through them — in group, with my accountability partners/team, in counseling, in my faith community (when I find one again that will take me)… and all with and in Christ.
One of the complicating factors was that because I was running from and hiding from being gay, I was living with lots of secrets, small lies, guilt, shame, fear, and a good dose of self-hatred. All of these certainly made the addictive behavior and subsequent spiraling disaster much more likely — and maybe even inevitable. But that is not the same thing as saying that the two issues are the same. They are not.
I am beginning to work this all out for with Christ. To be honest, I am not yet 100% sure what it will look like to live as a gay follower of Jesus Christ. I know it will entail no more hiding and running. It will entail openness and transparency. And it will demand that I ask a lot of hard questions that I have been avoiding for a long time. All I know right now is that (1) what I have been doing (hiding, pretending, lying, denying) has been a disaster, and (2) I am willing to stake my life on the love and character of God. Apart from that? I guess you’ve got to stay tuned…
I also know that if I don’t face the addiction head-on, it will rob me of everything. In many respects it already has. But I cannot allow my past to dictate my future. Jesus is bigger than that. The cross matters.
Both these issues are part of my story and my journey. To be honest, I wish they weren’t. I wish I could undo what I have done and, right now, I wish I wasn’t who I am. I know I can never undo the damage I have done, and I pray for the day that I can learn to love myself as I know Jesus loves me.
As I said, I still have a lot of issues to work out…