The Collateral Damage of Sexual Immorality
In a world of Christian leaders focused on not offending others and making the church feel as welcoming as possible, sexual immorality is something we don’t hear about enough. In case you’re wondering, that’s key for this is a huge stumbling block for me. For years now I’ve tried to use the excuse I opened this article with. While there’s plenty of truth in what I said, I’m no longer willing to use it as an excuse for my actions.
Just a heads up, my plan is to be both honest and descriptive with the next few articles I’ll be writing for this ministry. This is an area where I need repentance. Once again, sexual immorality has become a daily struggle for me. There’s been more than one night in the previous few weeks, I have literally cried myself to sleep out of shame and remorse for allowing my thoughts to dominate me.
No, these thoughts haven’t led me to take sexual actions with someone. Still, when I say my thoughts have dominated, I can’t put enough emphasis on the word dominate. There’s been no sex. That being said, I engage in conversations I have no business being a part of. I say things I don’t mean to other people, just wanting to know they think of me how I do them.
I want to sit here and say I wouldn’t ever take this further than a text or a Facebook message. There has definitely been plenty of opportunities to meet up with someone. I’m always quick to find a reason why I can’t or how my schedule is too busy. Still, after the conversation ends, this is all I can think about.
There’s definitely been a lot of improvement. A few years ago, my schedule would have been out the window. More than once, I’ve traveled halfway across the country for a wild weekend, knowing I could repent on Monday morning. I allowed that thinking to create collateral damage not only in my life but the lives of plenty of others. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you.
Again, I’m not blaming anyone for my mistakes, but too many leaders are willing to say just bring your sins to the altar. Try harder and come back next week. I get it. There’s plenty of truth in that. But too many people like myself start to believe this false notion that Jesus is completely ok with me bringing the same bull crap behavior to Him. week after week.
I’d tell myself on Friday night, I’m taking this to the cross, and I’m serious this time. Sunday would be great. I’d lift my hands and even close my eyes during the worship music. I’d go up to the altar and mumble a few words. I’d be on fire for God all day long on Sunday. By noon the following Tuesday, I was making plans for Friday night. Sexual immorality was destroying me.
There would be discussions with Christian mentors. I’d talk to pastors and deacons. People would pray for me and we’d all beg for my soul to be healed. But, as long as I had faith that Jesus was the Son of God, that He came to this earth to be killed for my sins and rose from the dead three days later, as long as I had this faith, I was saved and everything was fine. “Just keep doing you, Jeffrey. Everything will work itself out in God’s timing. The fake you is doing just fine.”
For the record, I believe we are saved by faith and faith alone. That being said, I think too many of us Christian men take full advantage of this. We use it as an excuse to live however we want to live. We’ll hurt whoever it is that gets hurt in the process. On Sunday, we’ll go to church and everything is fine. We’re forgiven. Jesus was murdered and hung on a piece of wood just so we knew it was ok for us to live how we’re living. I need to share something real fast just to demonstrate what is wrong with this behavior.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
That’s a pretty serious list. If you notice, when John mentions the sexually immoral, he doesn’t say nonbelievers who are sexually immoral. That distinction isn’t made. Regardless if you are a believer or nor, if you’re sexually immoral, your portion in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. In other words, you’re going to hell.
I’ve already made it clear this specific area has been a constant struggle for me over the years. In the previous two years, though, I’ve had a firm grip on this issue. It hasn’t been a problem. A while back, a publisher reached out to me asking me to write a daily devotional book on the topic of men struggling with sexual immorality. They didn’t necessarily ask me because I’m this amazing writer. I was asked because I’ve learned some valuable lessons through this struggle over the years.
I also mentioned my wife. My sexual immorality has made life a living hell for her. I’ll discuss some of the specifics more in the coming articles in the next few weeks. While there hasn’t been a divorce, we have been separated and living apart for almost three years now. Now, I can sit here and use the excuse all I want that if my wife and I were still having sex, I wouldn’t have been acting the way I have the previous few weeks. But, John doesn’t include this qualification in the verse I just listed.
Ever since I was asked to start writing about this topic, the enemy has been using it against me full strength. Spiritual warfare has never been my cup of tea. I give in too easily. In the past, regardless if it’s with alcohol or women, I’ve given in to temptation instead of doing what needs to be done to withstand the fight. The devil knows this and I’ve made easy work for him over the past few weeks.
I can’t deal with this anymore. I’m no longer comfortable with my sin. I know I know. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Before you run off to the comment section, that’s not an excuse to give in to any temptation the enemy throws your way. Again, John is very clear about this in Revelation 21:8.
Through Jesus, I’ve been able to repent of this behavior in the past. Maybe, I‘ve done this well enough over the past two years it’s caused me to let my guard down too much. Possibly, writing this book and these articles will have great effects on the lives of other men. All I know is, I’m tired of telling Jesus I’m sorry and I’ll try harder tomorrow. Writing about my struggle is a part of this process for me. Here are a few things that have helped me in the past I have to start using again. Maybe, you’re like me, and they are needed in your life also.
Flee sexual immorality
As Christians, we’re called to stand up and go toe to toe with the enemy. We’re to put on the whole armor of God and march into battle, ready to destroy the enemy. Some of you Christian men need to read that again. We’re in a fight. Your concern isn’t offending others. It’s destroying the evilness of our enemy.
That being said, there’s one area where we’re not called to fight. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we’re told to flee sexual immorality. We don’t pray for strength to overcome the battle. We don’t stare down the devil with the intent to whoop his tale. When it comes to sexual immorality, we flee.
We don’t flirt with danger. We’re not to try and manage our sin to the best of our ability. We run and distance ourselves from the temptation as far as we can. This has looked different at specific seasons in my life. I had to use an old flip phone for a while a few years ago. This was so I wasn’t able to use it to watch pornography. I now have the software installed on my phone and computer that emails my accountability partner if I use my phone, computer, or tablet to visit a website I shouldn’t be looking at.
There are still certain women I have no business saying good morning to or asking how they’re doing. This doesn’t mean I’m rude or nasty towards them. I simply have no business engaging with them whatsoever. We’re not Facebook friends. There’s no communication at all. Sure, if paths happen to cross, I say hello. Not a word more. This isn’t because they’re a bad person or have done something wrong. It’s because the Bible tells us to flee sexual immorality.
Repentance and confession
I mentioned earlier that I’d become comfortable taking the same sin to the altar week after week at church. If you struggle with something as much as I have this, I can see where this helps. As long as the sin is in your life, keep taking it to Jesus, week after week.
That being said, eventually, you have to be willing to do something different. I needed an authentic confession. Not only someone who’d sit and listen to what I was doing wrong. A group of men who would hold me accountable for my actions. Men who loved me enough they would call my wife and warn her everything we’d built was about to be destroyed.
After confessing, I simply had to do something differently. I had to allow my sin to destroy enough of me that I would do anything and everything I had to for things to be different. I learned the hard way you don’t think your way into acting differently. You act your way into a new way of thinking. Think about that for a minute. Let it soak in. That’s important. Nothing about my thought process was ever going to change until I began behaving differently.
No more telling myself it was ok to masturbate as long as I wasn’t watching porn. Having sexual fantasies as long as they were only about my wife wasn’t going to work. I lacked the self-control to prevent my mind from wandering to another face. I had to stop everything about the way I acted until I could relearn how to think.
Healing from my sin
This is still an area where work is needed. This work I can’t do. It has to be done by the Holy Spirit. I have created a lot of hurt and pain. The majority of this pain has been felt by other people. I didn’t feel the pain the same way they did. They experienced this right away. It instantly created effects in their life. My wounds have grown deeper as more and more time has passed.
The fleeing, repentance, and confession are each step we take. It’s the effort we bring to the table. The healing is accomplished by God, on His time. Again, sexual immorality has collateral damage. I know how it feels to wake out of a dead sleep to tears running down my face because of the pain I have created.
I know how it feels to beg God to let it work just one more time. Give me one more opportunity to show her I’m serious. I won’t hurt her again God. Just give me what I want and what I think is best for me, and I won’t mess up. Man, I just hurt right now. I hurt because of all the pain I have caused others. That’s what sexual immorality does. It’s not a secret that works great as long as no one knows. It’s a sin that kills. Again, ask my wife.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.