For those like Frank and Janet (pp.1-2) who have become entangled in destructive sexual relationships, the way back isn’t easy. It is never easy to admit your sin, accept responsibility for your own choices, and admit that without the help of God and others you will not be able to overcome desires that you have allowed to run out of control.
It is always painful to admit that the problem is not simply a lack of self-control or a few instances of bad judgment. It is disturbing to admit that your problem has roots in idolatry—that you have worshiped sexual intimacy more than God, and that without a willingness to be radically changed by God your problems will continue.
The Bible does not deal with sexual sin as a small problem that can be resolved with some counseling and a few “adjustments.”With respect to the sexual desires that leveled someone like King David, the Scriptures tell us that there is a time to humble ourselves and run. Realizing the power of sexual temptation, the apostle Paul wrote:
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18).
To a young pastor named Timothy, Paul wrote:
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).
Sexual sin cannot be corrected by promising yourself to do better next time. It can be dealt with only by honestly getting to the root of your heart’s desire, coming clean with God and those you’ve hurt, and then redirecting your heart to God.
Most important, we need to use the awareness of our sin as a reason to run to the arms and scarred hands of Christ. Run to His cross. Cling to the truth that when Christ died He paid the price for every sexual sin and every other kind of sin that you have ever committed. Claim the forgiveness that God offers to those who trust in His Son.
As you trust in Christ for that forgiveness, make sure that you are doing so with a desire to replace sexual sin with righteousness and love. Don’t treat forgiveness itself as another means of avoiding pain. Test your love by seeing if you are willing to share in the pain of those you have hurt by your sexual choices. If your repentance is real, if you really want to live in the strength of God’s forgiveness and in the cleanness of His Spirit, if you really have been broken by your sin, then you will not demand that others forgive and forget what you have done to them.
If your experience is like Frank’s, whom we mentioned at the beginning of this booklet, you will have reason to care that those who have been hurt by your sins are struggling daily with the harm you’ve inflicted. To demand that they forget is to inflict further punishment and burden on them. Pleasure and passion for life will be rediscovered not by forcing others to forget but by showing others the transformation that God has made in you. Change will come as you become far more concerned about the pain others feel than about your own immediate satisfaction.
This is the path of real love. This is the path that allows us to walk with the One who lived not for Himself and not for the moment, but for us—and for our eternal pleasure with Him. This is the path that shows the highest sense in which we have been designed for desire.
False Intimacy: Understanding The Struggle Of Sexual Addiction by Harry W. Schaumburg (NavPress, 1997).
The Gift Of Sex: A Guide To Sexual Fulfillment by Clifford and Joyce Penner (Word Publishing, 1981).
Love Without Shame: Sexuality In Biblical Perspective by David Wyrtzen (Discovery House Publishers, 1991).
Understanding Who You Are by Larry Crabb (NavPress, 1997).
Desiring God by John Piper (Multnomah Publishing, 1996).
Wild At Heart by John Eldredge (Thomas Nelson, 2001).
The Allure Of Hope: God’s Pursuit Of A Woman’s Heart by Jan Meyers (NavPress, 2001).
The Journey Of Desire by John Eldredge (Thomas Nelson, 2000).
OTHER RBC BOOKLETS ON RELATED TOPICS
When The Flame Flickers—rekindling intimacy in your marriage (CB012).
When A Man’s Eye Wanders—overcoming addiction to pornography (CB991).
When We Just Can’t Stop—overcoming addiction (CB961).
When Passions Are Confused—understanding homosexuality (CB962).