Nine sweaty guys in a room. A small church library located right off of the sanctuary. We can hear the church worship team rehearsing next door. No air conditioning. And it is very hot. We are all sweating.
Several Dunkin Donuts cups, Snapple bottles, blackberries and bibles are scattered across the table.
Tonight is story night (I wrote a bit about this here). Whether you have ever struggled with sexual sin or not, you have a sexual history. We all do. And so we are sharing our sexual histories with each other.
Most of the stories start around age 7. Some include horrific tales of abuse. But not all. Some include sordid tales of shameful acts. But not all. Almost all include talk about “our first time” and discovering masturbation and the depths of porn.
The stories are filled with shame and guilt and pain. The shame and pain comes not just from being broken or being caught, but by all the people that have been hurt by our sexual sin. Spouses, families, former partners, churches.
It is painful to listen to. Yet there is also a grain of hope — of redemption — in all the stories. After all, we are here. Together. Opening up. Changing. Growing. Healing. Dealing. Admitting. Acknowledging. Confessing. Praying. Owning.
So there is hope.
All of us are Christians. All have been deeply involved with church. Me as a pastor. Others as elders or board members. Some as worship team members and committee leaders.
A lot of the shame comes at the dissonance between what people see in us and what we know about us.
And in most churches, there is a sentiment that people who struggle with these issues — sexual sin, porn, etc — are somehow less Christian or weaker Christians than those who don’t.
At the end of our 2-hour meeting — one filled with a lot of sharing, some nervous laughter, some tears — the leader said something that really struck me.
“You know, some people will say that you are a lesser Christian or weaker Christian because of the stuff you are dealing with. But you know what… you are here and you are fighting for and contending for your faith in ways that most guys in the pews are not. We are wounded, yes. But wounded warriors. So don’t let anyone look down on you or tell you that you are less of a Christian or a weaker Christian than anyone else. I don’t care what your church thinks about these issues, but you should hold your head high because of what you are doing on behalf of your family, your church and Christ. Hold your heads high. Always.”
I couldn’t agree more with what the leader said. He is 100% correct. From my years as a pastor, I know that their are huge numbers of men (and women) dealing with these issues who are still hiding in the pews and hiding their own struggles with porn and sexual sin — and these folks are often the most judgmental of other people’s sins.
I know because I have seen it happen time and time again — and I know because it has happened to me.
So I want to echo my small group leaders words to anyone out there who finds themselves caught in sexual sin, obsessive porn use or any other secret sin or struggle.
Own it. Find someone you trust and confess your sins and struggles. Contend and fight for your faith and your family and your church. It is worth it. It is really the only way. And know that the only shame is in the secret — there is no shame in seeking help, coming clean, and standing up.
Whatever your issue… take the next step… today… now. And if you have no one to talk to, email me… you can use the link above. Give me your number. I will call you. I promise.
And a special word to anyone out there who is gay and struggling… whatever your theological take on the issue — staying hidden and hiding is not healthy and not good. It will destroy you. Trust me.
Whoever you are… whatever the issue… OWN IT and join the throng of WOUNDED WARRIORS. It is where new life can begin for you. So hold your head high… and join us.