CONQUERING STRONGHOLDS CHALLENGE 4
10: Identifying The Cause
I spent over 25 years as a cop. It was all I’d ever done, and known as an adult. When I arrested a bad guy, I did what we always did. I dropped him off at the jai, and then returned to work to continue catching bad guys. Seems pretty simple right?
It’s basically the same once you identify the cause of your sexual bondage. Let's say you were sexually abused as a child. Now you fail to maintain healthy relationships because of the trauma and mistrust in others. So instead, you turn to anonymous sex because it allows a sense of power, control and the safety of not being wounded. I didn’t carry my arrestee around with me all day, nor did I take him home with me. I processed him, and freed myself from the wrongdoer. You must do the same once you capture the cause of your obsessive behavior. Process it, release yourself from it, and move forward.
The first phase in the processing, is forgiveness. Whoever or whatever it was that hurt you, there must be forgiveness. It took me a while to understand the concept as God intended. Most of us balk at the idea because we see it as letting the offender off the hook for what was done to hurt you. To the contrary, forgiving someone immediately frees you from the person and the harm they caused you. Make no mistake, God requires that we learn to forgive as He has forgiven us. God adds the caveat that if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us of our sins.
Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins.
So, not only does refusing to forgive keep us shackled to our hurt and our abuser, but we remain separated from God’s mercy and grace. Warriors, that’s no place and no way for us to live.
I’ll throw this in to help you get through the first attempts to forgive others, and drop the hatred and rage you may still harbor.
1. You don’t even have to say, “I forgive you,” to the person who hurt you. You can say it in private. But, God does want you to speak the words of freeing forgiveness out loud. Say it until you feel the supernatural unlocking of your spirit from the offense.
2. Once you forgive someone, you now have God’s authority to decide how much or how little of a relationship you chose to have with that person. People think that because there is forgiveness that the relationship picks up where it was. Nope! You have the authority to slide the marker along a scale of whether or not you want them in your life.
Warriors, continue to pray that God reveals what caused you to launch along the path of sexual bondage. Be persistent and patient because sometimes He withholds revelations until you are in a position or have a spiritual maturity to understand or accept the dark realities. Don’t grow weary in petition. Once you receive the truths about the causes of your behavior, then begin the process of forgiving. There is incredible power and authority in “letting go.”
11: Pain, Trauma and Abuse
What hurt you?
I always begin with that question because asking who sometimes shuts us down, or distorts the accuracy of the past as it conflicts with opinions about the person.
Do you know what hurt you? Was it neglect, rejection, fear, bullying, sexual, verbal, psychological abuse, something else? Warriors, I know it’s tough, but this is the time to press into Christ and pray for full disclosure. As I began to recall what had damaged me, I wasn’t sure what was happening or why my past had begun to come more clear. I’m not saying that it was a foggy blur, but once I started to pray and focus on exposing my darkness to the healing light of Christ, I was given a new pair of goggles. I started to refer to them as God goggles. Things I’d done in my past and blew off as youthful indiscretions or macho shenanigans were seen differently. Once I confessed sexual sin to my wife, and focused on unpacking the causes that created a lifetime of bondage, I began to re-examine the events of my early life. Little by little God revealed what I thought were normal experiences were actually harmful actions that hurt me deeper than I could have ever imagined.
It was only because of my confession and prayers for healing that I was allowed to understand the darkness that I’d created because I was first placed in darkness. It was also because of the God goggles that I began to experience His healing light. In my conversion from darkness to light I began to understand several dynamics about sexual bondage.
While there are numerous and complex variables associated with an addictive, obsessive or compulsive behavior, I’d be willing to say that most of us men act the way we do because of past pain. Often, the sexual sin is a search for validation. As I shared, my dad dominated the household through silence, and physical intimidation. No one was allowed to discuss how they felt, or show weakness. That caused rejection that haunted me almost my entire life. Of course, I didn’t see it as rejection, but my spirit knew it and was deeply wounded because of it.
I spent most of my life seeking validation. From sexual conquests, to athletics, academics and career, I had an insatiable need to be acknowledged. Not for the pride or ego, but to save me from feeling so horrible about myself.
I also needed to know or at least feel as if I belonged. Whether it was in a relationship, a sports team or specialized unit of law enforcement, I sought the bond of belonging to validate me. Is this an issue for you too?
Another result of pain from trauma and abuse is using sexual sin to reclaim control. Men speak the language of respect. Often that respect is linked to a sense of being in control. Abuse, rejection or trauma strikes at who we are as men. Helplessness is our kryptonite. Although false, sex allows us to feel like we’re in charge of our own lives. Porn can be watched on demand, and searching for just the right actors, scenarios, fetishes and any number of search variables allow us to hold the power over the visual fantasy.
Soliciting prostitutes affords men a sense of control through the giving of money and demanding what sexual acts will be performed. Consensual sexual also allows the men to feel as if he is in control of the who, what, when, and where. Of course the why is because he’s hurting and needs to sooth the pain. Sex releases a powerful chemical cocktail in your body leading up to and during sex. These neurochemical rewards are addictive, and like drugs or alcohol, help us temporarily escape from the cause of our bondage. Serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline ramp up our feelings of pleasure and create a high we begin to chase either for the euphoria or as a medication to sooth the pain. Unfortunately, like the drug addict, subsequent highs are never as high as the first one. The best way to avoid chasing it instead of chasing your dreams, is to make the commitment today to break your chains and live free.
Warriors, how do you cope with what hurts you most? No matter how you’re dealing with it right now, you are not alone. Matter of fact, some of the most heralded heroes from the bible have also suffered as a result of sexual sin. Too often we miss the full value of God’s message in the bible because we automatically elevate the people to an exalted position.
The beauty in God’s word is that He uses folks just like us to do miraculous things. Not by our own ability, but by His. Let's look at David. You might recall Jesus was born of King David’s lineage. He was a skilled musician, and gained fame from killing Goliath. He was personally chosen by God to become king of Israel. Unfortunately, David suffered greatly from past pain, and turned to sexual sin as a way of coping. This is called medicating. Many of us do it as a way to either make us feel better, or just not hate ourselves so much. Either way, it solves nothing about our core cause of pain. David’s pain was rooted in the rejection by his father. He wasn’t considered worthy of meeting the prophet Samuel who came to anoint a ruler. Yet, there in that rejected, messed up boy, Israel had a king. David’s rejection stung and stuck. Have you been hurt by a parent, and never forgave them? This injury doesn’t heal in time.
I’ll share that as a kid, I’d gotten a red warm-up suit with white stripes. It looked just like my hero, Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man (Not the wrestler.) I wore it everywhere. One day my dad called out to me, but I was mixing it up with the neighborhood kids. Then I heard his words very clearly, “Hey, idiot in that red suit, I’m talking to you.” I was about ten years old. I stuffed that track suit in the trash, and forty-two years later, those words still hurt.
David also endured trials as most of us do, and the eventual result was an addiction to the flesh. His most notorious affair was with another man’s wife, Bathsheba. Not only did David impregnate her, but he schemed to have her husband killed in a war he fought on behalf of David.
Do you think you’ve messed up because of using sexual sin to medicate your hurt?
Using sex to medicate our past pains also prevents us from establishing healthy, legitimate relationships. We find ourselves asking what’s wrong with us as we lose one potential relationship after another. We have a great partner, yet we can’t stop cheating on her or thinking about other women. Some guys even justify this by believing their standards in women are just too high. To the contrary, they have no standards by which to realistically judge their relationship with a woman. This is like only taking ibuprofen for cancer. You may not ache as bad, but you’re doing nothing to heal. Medicating prolongs the healing process by allowing the root cause of your personal pain or rejection to continue below the surface. While it might not hurt as bad, it’s still there doing major damage.
Here’s a little more about how David’s addiction. It not only affected him, but also his entire family. We’ve already talked about the lie that sexual bondage being a victimless sin. As David’s life exposes, there are many innocent loved ones who get hurt. We’ll talk about two of David’s sons in the next two days, and you’ll clearly see how the flesh affects more than just the consumer. Most of us medicate. I did for years, but now is the time to stop. But the only way to stop medicating with sexual sin is to begin the healing process. Remember warriors, only God’s light can chase away the darkness of sin. You must expose your hurt to Him before that light touches your heart. Now is the time, and you’ve got the support of prayer warriors all around you.
You may be asking why then did God pick such a guy as David to lead His people, and become part of the family tree from which Jesus was born? God himself, chose David to be king over Israel because of what He saw on the inside.2 This is how God also looks at us. We’re not broken or evil or irreconcilable – we’re wounded. God is the great Healer.
Man looks at how someone appears on the outside.
But I look at what is in the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b