I’ve been learning about a great organization called – Harvest USA. They specialize in helping people who experience sexual brokenness to have hope in Jesus Christ. They started by primarily helping those with same-sex attraction, but now they also help in situations of pornography addiction, gender dysphoria and other kinds of sexual struggles. For those of you who are struggling, and are not getting enough help through our prayer group, and would like some face to face interaction, or email correspondence, I highly recommend getting counseling help from this organization. It is a really solid and Christ centered organization.
You can get very quick help through their hotline phone number or email – Get help. Their services for you are also free! They run on support from donors and churches, so please take advantage of this free care.
Here are some of their books and short pamphlets which I would like to read when I get more time – Books and Publications.
They have a blog with excellent articles and resources – Harvest USA blog. Or choose a topic here. And some great – Videos. And – Podcasts. Over the next few weeks I’ll be reading through the blog posts and watching the videos and recommending some to you.
Here is their page on resources concerning transgenderism.
Here is their statement of belief, particularly what they believe about sexuality –
“Human Sexuality and Free Will
We believe that our sexuality and its expression was designed by God at creation, and that our sexuality and its expression was part of God’s original and good design for mankind, and is clearly communicated to us in the Scriptures. Male and female were both created in God’s image, and we affirm that God’s perfect design for all sexual activity is between one man and one woman in the context of the marriage bond. We recognize that, as a consequence of the Fall, all men and women are sexually broken and thus relate in twisted ways to God, self, others, and nature. Therefore, all expressions of sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage are sinful and are a distortion of God’s good design. This includes all involvement with pornography, sexual fantasy, sexual addictions, adultery, homosexuality, gender distortions and any other sexual activity outside of marriage. All sexual sin grieves God and is offensive to His Holiness, and all sexual sin ultimately harms people, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual sin.
As we all continue to struggle against our sexual addictions here are some helpful articles from The Gospel Coalition, particularly helpful for those of you who struggle with pornography. Wake up, stop sinning, and read these articles to get help. There is freedom to be had. You don’t need to live in addiction and despair.
“At its root porn is about worship. I want to be worshiped. I can click between women, all of whom offer themselves to me. Or I can think of myself as the stud sending women into an ecstasy of desire. Or I can think of myself as the romantic heroine, relentlessly pursued by my admirer. I enter a world in which people worship me. Freedom begins when I stop trying to be at the center and let God be at the center. It begins when I stop serving myself and start loving other people.”
“Pay close attention to how you move toward porn. Think of your predicament as a kind of “voluntary slavery” in that you’re victimized by porn’s allure but intentional in its pursuit. Consider the details of the path you take (Prov. 7). What are the lies you believe that blind you? “God is not so good”? “Sin is not so dangerous”? Think about what else is happening. Are you angry? Indifferent? Stressed, feeling you deserve a break? What do you really want? When do you think you actually made the decision to pursue porn?”
“I knew my sin grieved God, but my confessions were aimed more at hushing my guilt than getting the help I needed. Every two or three months I would indulge in a binge of pornography. This was followed by grief, private confessions of how much I hated sin and how much I loved Jesus, and personal resolutions to never do it again. I remember feeling like the Israelites on spin cycle in the book of Judges. Sin. Grief. Weeping. Peace. Over and over and over again.”
This article is really about adultery, but a lot of the lessons will help us, especially the facts below:
“Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship. After interviewing each man, Hendricks compiled four common characteristics of their lives:
- None of the men was involved in any kind of real personal accountability.
- Each of the men had all but ceased having a daily time of personal prayer, Bible reading, and worship.
- More than 80 percent of the men became sexually involved with the other woman after spending significant time with her, often in counseling situations.
- Without exception, each of the 246 had been convinced that sort of fall “would never happen to me.”
For those of you who would like to see a professional counselor about your gender dysphoria or crossdressing addiction or homosexuality, I would like to recommend Jerry Armelli at Prodigal Ministries. The website is here – Prodigal Ministries. See my blog post about this ministry – here.
I’ve been talking to Jerry for some time now as well as reading his blog and I can highly recommend him to you. Even if you are not in the same region as him, you could chat through video discussion online.
For many of us, finding a good counselor is difficult. Some are not Christian. Some, even some of the Christian ones, embrace transgenderism and crossdressing as good things to be explored and developed. Jerry is a Christian and will show you care and compassion while also helping you to heal from this brokenness, rather than telling you to embrace addiction or brokenness.
Jerry also follows this blog, so you can comment below to reach out to him as well.
Because of the nature of addiction, you cannot fight your addiction alone. You will need help. I’ve said this so many times on this blog, but you need to find an accountability partner! In this post I want to talk about the merits of having an accountability partner, and then give some guidance for how to have a good and fruitful accountability partnership with someone.
So why do you need an accountability partner?
- You need someone who will speak to you the truth.
- Someone who will help you see what you are actually doing and help you to see it in a clear light.
- Someone to help you see how your addiction harms others in ways you don’t notice.
- Someone who will call you up on the phone or email you in times of struggle to remind you why you don’t want to fail and give in.
- You need someone who will regularly encourage you and give you hope and strength to keep on going healing from your addiction.
- You need someone who you can safely vent your frustrations to.
- You need someone who will be there to pick you up when you fall. Your accountability partner should regularly speak the Gospel to you, to remind you of God’s grace and forgiveness.
I’ve had several accountability partners in my life. They are some of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me in my entire life. Their steadfast friendship and their encouragement and help to me so that I could live a holy and free life have been incredible gifts. I would not be where I am today without them. Likely I would be in the throes of addiction and not be in ministry. They kept my secrets in confidentiality, and I turn kept theirs. We mutually helped one another. I cannot say enough how awesome the gift of a true accountability partner is. There is so much freedom in telling someone everything crappy in your life and having them still love you and be your friend and give you the help you need to overcome addiction and other sins. Please trust me on this. An accountability partner is a treasure greater than gold.
This is a bold statement, but you are a fool to think you can fight these sexual addictions without the help from others, just as it is extremely unlikely for a drug addict to give up their drug addiction on their own. Here is a funny satire article about that – Man Chooses Self as Accountability Partner. We need the Church for help. We need fellow Christians to walk with us.
Many of us Christians are afraid to confess our sins to other people. We rightly think we can confess our sins directly to Christ and don’t need to go to a priest. But although Christ is the one who forgives us, there is great power in confessing our sins to someone else. It is also a command from God that we do so (James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.). When we confess our sins out loud to another person, it brings that sin out into the light in a way that it doesn’t do when we only keep it between us and God. I have found from experience that as soon as I confess it to another person, the sin loses it’s power over me and it becomes 10 times easier to resist. I’m also able to see clearly my sin for what it is and the rationalizations die away. Further, my friends and accountability partners cannot help me bear my burdens, comfort me, help me to fight sin, and encourage me with God’s grace, if I do not first confess to them. I’ve talked about this a bit in the post – Telling the Truth.
The accountability partner should not be your wife, though your wife should absolutely know about your sexual addiction. See my blog post here – Article – The role of a wife in your recovery. Your wife has enough of a burden to bear already, dealing with being married to someone with some kind of sexual addiction. She has to work on her own healing from hurts and forgiving you. If you made her your accountability partner, the information you will share with her will damage her in deep ways. And such information would not hurt a male friend, a neutral accountability partner. You should share with your wife the truth about your struggle in general terms, but your accountability partner can be the one to constantly think through with you every day how to resist temptation, how to fight it, and he can be the person you can vent to. You wife will not want to be reminded constantly of your sexual depravities. This might sound harsh, but I know there are wives who think they want to know every detail, but I still contend that at the end of the day this will only make things worse for them and they don’t realize that it’s not good for them nor their husbands. Here is another article podcast about the role of a wife as accountability partner and the pros and cons – Should my wife be my accountability partner? I like how this podcast makes a distinction – A wife should not be a husband’s accountability partner, though the husband is accountable to the wife. This is a really good audio article, please give it a listen, especially if you are a wife who feels a desire to know everything and want to be an accountability partner.
How do you find an accountability partner? It’s not always easy. It should be someone of your same sex. For me, I just started with my best friends and my brother. It took great courage to tell them, but it worked out well. It helped that they were also struggling with sexual sin, though I didn’t know that when I first told them. As soon as I told them, they also told me. These days, I assume that 90% of men, and at least half of women, are struggling with some kind of sexual sin on a full-time or part-time basis, so I think you are pretty safe in assuming the person you choose to tell will also have a need of accountability. And even if they are not struggling sexually, they are not perfect, and will have sins to fight. Perhaps they will need accountability with loving their wife well, or spending their money generously and wisely, or taking care of their body, or fighting pride and self-glorification, or giving up drinking, or growing in their relationship with God. There will be something they need accountability for as well. Ideally, it would be someone who you feel is a peer to you spiritually. But even a spiritual mentor could hold you accountable. I’ve already written a post about how to choose someone and how to go about telling someone about your crossdressing or transgender feelings for the first time – How do I tell my wife, a friend, or a pastor about my crossdressing?
Another article – 10 Steps to Finding a Great Accountability Partner
We do have an accountability option through this website. That is our Email Prayer Group. This is a great way to get some accountability at very low risk. No one will even know your name. On the other hand, it is not as effective as someone who can see you in real life. And you only get what you put into it. It’s not very effective for accountability if you join the group but then only check-in with the group once a year. A real accountability relationship will have check-ins once a week minimum. A real accountability partner is able to call you whenever he wants to ask you what you are doing at that moment. It’s always a pain to have an accountability partner call you on the phone right in the middle of crossdressing or masturbating, (I can tell you from experience), but after the call, even if you don’t answer, you do feel the conviction, you do stop, and you do confess to them, and you very much appreciate them for getting you to stop before your sin escalated even more.
Accountability partners should check-in with each other regularly. If the addiction is fresh and strong, daily check-ins or even more often might be necessary. If you are having some good success fighting your addiction and are not failing every day / every week, then the check-ins should be weekly at least. It’s good to send each other quick reminders of hope and reminders not to give in. But it’s also important to meet face to face regularly to talk in detail, and to pray for one another. Accountability partners can also benefit from security software, so that they get reports of sexual websites that each visits. I’ll save those recommendations for another post in the future. It’s called generally – “accountability software” and there are many good Christian companies who offer it.
Below are some of the questions accountability partners should regularly ask one another. The list is not exhaustive, but gives you some general ideas. Note that these apply not only to sexual addiction, but other ways that we need to help one another grow in the Christian life. Note also that the idea is not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, but rather questions that draw out detail and discussion. The first two questions may be the most important, because if there is no honesty, then the accountability relationship has completely failed, and trust needs to be rebuilt through a tough discussion and prayer. But if they admit to lying, always be ready to forgive, and thank them for their honesty in that difficult admission. The accountability relationship should be one of abounding grace and forgiveness, and extensive reminding of God’s grace and forgiveness. Remind people of who they are in Christ.
- Have you failed this past week with sexual sin?
- Are you lying to me right now when I asked you that first question?
Sexual Addiction Questions:
- What temptations did you conquer this past week? What helped you to overcome them?
- When you failed this past week, what specific triggers or events led you down the road to that temptation and then to the failure?
- Did you masturbate this week?
- Did you look at anything online that you shouldn’t have?
- Is there something you need to confess to me or share with me?
- How can I help you succeed in healing from your addiction?
- Do you give me permission to continue to hold you accountable and call you at any time?
- Would you be willing to see your counselor or pastor about what you are dealing with?
- Are you feeling more freedom in Christ and freedom from addiction?
- What is your detailed plan and strategy to fight the addiction in your life?
- Are you ready to share your testimony about your addiction with someone else?
- How am I doing as your accountability partner? What can I do to improve and help you better?
- How are you feeling today / this week?
- What are you looking forward to?
- Is there anything making you feel depressed or hopeless this week?
- What good things are you doing with your time?
- This week, what have you done for rest and what have you done with friends?
- What are you life goals in the next 5 or 10 years?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you afraid of anything?
- How are things going at work?
- What can I pray for you about?
- When will we meet again?
Relationship with God:
- Explain how you felt about God’s love for you this week?
- Have you spent time in prayer and Bible reading every day this week? Why or why not?
- What has God been speaking to you through his Word or in your prayer times?
- What do you need to repent and confess about from this last week?
- In what way are you depending on God for help this week?
- What has God done for you or given to you this week?
- Are you certain of God’s forgiveness for your sins?
- Are you stuck in guilt and shame? Are you trying to earn God’s favor through your works rather than accepting grace?
- What are you most thankful for right now?
- How are you growing in the area of your worship of God?
- What prayers have you seen God answer this past week?
- Who are you taking time to pray for besides yourself?
Relationships with Others:
- How have you shown love and service to your wife this past week?
- Does your wife know about your sexual addiction? Are you hiding it from her?
- Do you and your wife forgive each other for the sins in your lives?
- Have you lied to your wife or children this past week?
- Are you taking your anger and guilt about your sin out on your wife or children?
- Are you experiencing regular times of sex with your spouse? If not, why not? What can you do to work on change and growth in that area?
- During sexual times, are you placing your wife’s pleasure above your own?
- Have you talked to your wife about what she can do to limit temptations for you around the house (clothing lying out, location of computer, etc.)?
- What fun things have you and your wife done together this week?
- In what way are you giving love and care to your children?
- What fun things do you have planned to do together as a family?
- Are you taking time away from people to be by yourself sometimes?
- Are you being a good friend to others and keeping up your relationships?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What hurting person among your relatives, church, or friends, are you taking time to care for?
- How are you serving your church and community?
- Is there anyone you need to forgive?
- Is there anyone you need to apologize to and ask for forgiveness from?
- Are you angry with anyone right now? Why?
- Who can you take time to encourage this week?
- Who are you discipling?
- Who can you share the good news of the Gospel with this week?
This next idea might be a bit more controversial, and may depend on the nature of the relationship. But a good accountability partner might need to be firm, and my accountability partners did so for me and it helped immensely at times. This can be something like, “if you keep failing without trying to fight this sin, I will have to tell your wife about what you’ve been doing” or “I will have to tell your pastor.” This is similar to perhaps an intervention with an alcoholic. When an addict refuses to try to change and is destroying their life, it’s far better for us to be firm like this than to sit by and watch them destroy their life. When friends said these kinds of things to me at critical times, it was very helpful and led me away from sin that would have probably become public and destroyed my life.
An accountability partner can also give rewards and incentives for victory like – “let’s make a plan that if you can make it for a whole month without a failure, we go to Six Flags together and I’ll pay for your ticket.” Or it can be something as simple as going out to eat at a restaurant. It’s very important to celebrate every victory and give a lot of encouragement and hope. Change is possible, and freedom from addiction is coming.
Other articles on this:
One of the temptations I have faced, and I’m sure many of you also deal with, is the desire to use photo editors and phone apps to change photos to make yourself look like a woman. Some apps these days are so advanced that all you need to do it upload a photo and it will show you what you would look like as a female. Other editors let you change your body in the photo so that you see your face on a female body. Other editors let you add makeup. Some programs I’ve used in the past even let you mess around with changing clothes over top of the clothes in the original photo.
Resist the temptation to do these things! While in some sense I might be convinced to say that such activities are harmless fun for normal people (though it would be very hard for me to say that), I can say with strong clarity that such activities are NOT harmless for us who have issues with our gender and with crossdressing.
In past years, especially in my youth, I gave in to these temptations many a time. Sometimes it was out of intense desire. Other times it was a sort of compromise, a way to give into sin without fully giving in to sin. In other words, such things seemed lame in comparison to actual crossdressing, but I would rationalize that the photo editing was not really sinful in the way crossdressing clearly was. It seemed like harmless fun without much risk of consequences. But in reality it was far from harmless, and was only feeding my gender dysphoria and/or giving me sexual pleasure. What’s worse is that just about every time I gave in to this borderline activity, it led me down the road to crossdressing fiction or crossdressing in real life.
Don’t compromise! If you give in to such things, you are only a step away from much worse things. I have realized, the hard way, that the only way to beat this addiction (or any addiction) is to have no compromise. Not only do you have to resist things that are clearly sinful such as pornography and crossdressing itself, but you have to resist anything that gets even close, anything that is at all related, anything that will trigger you into further temptation.
Seriously, we have to be careful sometimes even reading newspaper articles about transgender issues, if such things will lead us down the rabbit trail of sin. I’m not being legalistic and saying we should never do those things. I’m being honest. We are weak and such borderline things are just foolish for us to do. I imagine it is similar to how it would be foolish for an alcoholic to drive home past the bar he used to frequent. It’s not inherently wrong for him to drive past that bar, but if it’s causing him to be tempted to drink and then to give in, then it does becomes foolish and also sinful for this particular alcoholic to keep driving home that way because it is causing him to sin and yet he does not stop driving that way.
Don’t mess with these editors! Don’t download these apps. Resist the temptation. Be strong. If you want to get better, if you want to beat your addiction, if you want to heal, and experience freedom in your life, the only way to experience that freedom is to have no compromise. Don’t fool yourself that these kinds of activities are harmless. Be strong, don’t do anything foolish that leads you to other sins.
Here are 4 very good articles from the organization “Desiring God” about how to think about, fight against, and deal with pornography.
A good quote about measures we need to take if we want to take sin seriously – “I have a friend who memorized the whole book and a few months ago he recited it to his church, the entire book, in order that he wouldn’t become an Esau. Dare I suggest to you, friend in Hong Kong, dare I suggest: Memorize Hebrews in your warfare. Your life may depend on it.”
This is one of the first articles I’ve seen talking about “fighting the haze” you feel after a failure, the meaninglessness, the hopelessness, the feeling of being numb and you have a hard time thinking of anything else. Overall, a really helpful and hopeful article.
**Alec is a recovering crossdresser who attends Sexaholics Anonymous meetings in person, over the phone, face to face, and through an email discussion group.**
There are different groups for sex addicts. There is also Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, etc. Sexaholics Anonymous came about first though. The excerpts I copied are from the “White Book” a 200 page booklet that was written by the group’s founder back in the 1970’s. The author’s name is not listed. Because this book was written four decades ago, it spends most of its time talking about strip clubs, sex partners and looking at pornography. It was before crossdressing became a fad, before the LGBT movements, or other newer methods that are being used for lust and acting out, including crossdressing.
Attraction only to beautiful people