Counselor Recommendation

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.

Get an Accountability Partner

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 5:16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.   Proverbs 28:13He 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 recoveryYour 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.

  1. Have you failed this past week with sexual sin?
  2. Are you lying to me right now when I asked you that first question?

Sexual Addiction Questions:

  1. What temptations did you conquer this past week?  What helped you to overcome them?
  2. When you failed this past week, what specific triggers or events led you down the road to that temptation and then to the failure?
  3. Did you masturbate this week?
  4. Did you look at anything online that you shouldn’t have?
  5. Is there something you need to confess to me or share with me?
  6. How can I help you succeed in healing from your addiction?
  7. Do you give me permission to continue to hold you accountable and call you at any time?
  8. Would you be willing to see your counselor or pastor about what you are dealing with?
  9. Are you feeling more freedom in Christ and freedom from addiction?
  10. What is your detailed plan and strategy to fight the addiction in your life?
  11. Are you ready to share your testimony about your addiction with someone else?
  12. How am I doing as your accountability partner?  What can I do to improve and help you better?

General Questions:

  1. How are you feeling today / this week?
  2. What are you looking forward to?
  3. Is there anything making you feel depressed or hopeless this week?
  4. What good things are you doing with your time?
  5. This week, what have you done for rest and what have you done with friends?
  6. What are you life goals in the next 5 or 10 years?
  7. Are you getting enough sleep?
  8. Are you afraid of anything?
  9. How are things going at work?
  10. What can I pray for you about?
  11. When will we meet again?

Relationship with God:

  1. Explain how you felt about God’s love for you this week?
  2. Have you spent time in prayer and Bible reading every day this week?  Why or why not?
  3. What has God been speaking to you through his Word or in your prayer times?
  4. What do you need to repent and confess about from this last week?
  5. In what way are you depending on God for help this week?
  6. What has God done for you or given to you this week?
  7. Are you certain of God’s forgiveness for your sins?
  8. Are you stuck in guilt and shame?  Are you trying to earn God’s favor through your works rather than accepting grace?
  9. What are you most thankful for right now?
  10. How are you growing in the area of your worship of God?
  11. What prayers have you seen God answer this past week?
  12. Who are you taking time to pray for besides yourself?

Relationships with Others:

  1. How have you shown love and service to your wife this past week?
  2. Does your wife know about your sexual addiction?  Are you hiding it from her?
  3. Do you and your wife forgive each other for the sins in your lives?
  4. Have you lied to your wife or children this past week?
  5. Are you taking your anger and guilt about your sin out on your wife or children?
  6. 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?
  7. During sexual times, are you placing your wife’s pleasure above your own?
  8. 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.)?
  9. What fun things have you and your wife done together this week?
  10. In what way are you giving love and care to your children?
  11. What fun things do you have planned to do together as a family?
  12. Are you taking time away from people to be by yourself sometimes?
  13. Are you being a good friend to others and keeping up your relationships?
  14. How would your friends describe you?
  15. What hurting person among your relatives, church, or friends, are you taking time to care for?
  16. How are you serving your church and community?
  17. Is there anyone you need to forgive?
  18. Is there anyone you need to apologize to and ask for forgiveness from?
  19. Are you angry with anyone right now?  Why?
  20. Who can you take time to encourage this week?
  21. Who are you discipling?
  22. 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:

8 Steps for Accountability Partners

How to be the Best Accountability Partner Ever

Your Brain on Porn – Get an Accountability Partner

Tips for Beating Pornography Addiction: Get an Accountability Partner

Christian Accountability Partner: A Beginner’s Guide

What Should I Look for in an Accountability Partner?

10 Reasons to have an accountability partner

How to Develop Effective Accountability

Beware Photo Apps and Editors!

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.

Desiring God versus Sexual Sin

Here are 4 very good articles from the organization “Desiring God” about how to think about, fight against, and deal with pornography.

Can Pleasure in God Really Compete with the Pleasures of Porn?

Four Steps to Kill Nagging Sins

Has My Sexual Sin Made Me Unsavable?

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.”

Seven Things to Do After You Look at Pornography

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.

 

Guest Post – Sexaholics Anonymous / Sex Addicts Anonymous

By Alec

**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.

Most of the men in my meetings have a similar problem; they are alone, widowed, divorced, incapacitated, most are over the age of 50 and retired.  Most afflictions deal with pornography and strip clubs.  More than a few have been arrested for acting out in public.  Most are free to do as they please and temptation can make life difficult.  Well, you know the saying, “Idolatry is the Devil’s Workshop.”

 

I think it helps to have both the Christian and 12 Step viewpoints.  But you don’t want one without the other.  After much study and some prayer though, from the Sexaholics Anonymous perspective, crossdressing by and large of itself is not a sin but it is how one responds to it that gets one in trouble.  That is where the Bible comes in, with its scripture, telling us not to follow the ways of the world and to deny oneself.

 

As far as how Sexaholics Anonymous has helped me, it helped me control the acting out (the masturbating). I first got into the program in June 2015.  Things didn’t change for me overnight.  The natural thing was/is to rebel and lust and act out more.  I would say about 12 days into the program I stopped acting out, as I developed an understanding of lust. Also trying something new, something fresh-hearing new things for the first time made Sexaholics Anonymous interesting.  Each time I went to a meeting I was allowed to “share” about my addiction and my response to it, and we were brutally honest. (I heard men break down and cry several times).

 

It was the first time in my life I could share my embarrassment of being a crossdresser in front of a group of 20 men.  We shared for how long we have been sober. I found it best to say, “I’m sober today”, or “I am sober one day at a time.”   At the beginning of each meeting we give our names, say we are Sexaholics and state our length of sobriety, if we wish.  I would introduce myself as Alec, I am a sexaholic, I am addicted to being turned on by crossdressing and looking at transgender females.  If I am working any steps today, I will say I am working Step ______.

 

In the beginning I stayed sexually sober for a few days at a time, one time went for six weeks and my longest tenure was four and a half months.  Basically I didn’t touch myself for those lengths of times but I must have also controlled the lust, which is the thinking that leads to the acting out.

 

I grew more excited with it, meeting other men like myself and couldn’t wait for the next meeting.  In every share I had something new and fresh to say.

 

But something else happened.  As I began to share more and more, I began to analyze more and more and that lead to me over thinking.   I started to rationalize new reasons for my crossdressing.  I said to myself that addiction to crossdressing will go away if I surrender to it and just live the life because once I am out in public my fantasizing will become reality, I will have fulfilled an unmet desire and the sex addiction part of it will go away. I told myself I will sleep better at night too.

 

Shortly after that I quit going to meetings after I moved back in with my wife.  That immediately sobered me up and stopped me.  I moved to the country, away from the internet and went to church too.  From what I learned in the program I did not act out for almost 5 months.  Still though there was this burning desire to put this new hypotheses to the test, once I would be able to be alone again.

 

Last June it happened.  I was alone for almost two months. And upcoming was the local pride festival, including a separate day for Transgender people and a Trans march, with many activities at our local Transgender Resource Center, less than a mile from where I live.  All alone, close-by, all too convenient.   Over tempting.  The lust to get out of the closet was tearing me apart.

 

Even with all the Sexaholic Anonymous meetings going on, it was not enough to combat my stubbornness.  In the program we say, “It works when you work it because you’re worth it.”  Well, I wasn’t working it when I got out of the closet.  When I did, I found my hypotheses to be working – at least some.  As I got around real people and real situations I did quit masturbating.  That can be attributed to not wanting to do so and get myself arrested.  I did have, while being out in public, a tremendous hard on and when I get home I continued to have a “boner” for the rest of the day, and had continued insomnia.  Except for going out in public I had 14 anxiety attacks in a two and a half week period.

 

I paid the price too, my wife discovered photos I had taken from my time out in public which lead to horrible embarrassment and shame and I have not been out of the closet since and that was last September.  Following the online Sexaholics group has worked to control the lust.  Here I share below some text from the White Book for Sexaholics Anonymous. Pay particular attention to lust (bottom of this email) and how it applies to you:

 

I will begin by listing the 12 steps of Sexaholics Anonymous:
1. We admitted that we were powerless over lust that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Need a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continue to take personal inventory and where we were wrong we admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sexaholics, and a practice these principles in all our affairs.
From page 202 in SA White Book:
What is a sexaholic and what is sexual sobriety?

 

We can only speak for ourselves. The specialized nature of Sexaholics Anonymous can best be understood in terms of what we call the sexaholic. The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with a sexaholic, or sex drunk, you can no longer tolerate and cannot stop.

 

     For the sexaholic, any form of sex with oneself or with Partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive. We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and sobriety includes Progressive victory over lust. These conclusions are forced upon us in the crucible of our experiences and recovery; we have no other options. But we have found that acceptance of these facts is the key to a happy life, enjoying freedom we could otherwise never know.

 

     This will and should discourage many inquirers who admit to sexual obsession or compulsion but who simply want to control and enjoy it, much as the alcoholic would like to control and enjoy drinking. Until we have been driven to the point of despair, until we really wanted to stop the good night, we did not give ourselves to this program of recovery. Sexaholics Anonymous is for those who know they have no other option but to stop, and their own enlightened self-interest must tell them this.

 

LUST, THE FORCE BEHIND THE ADDICTION
What is so wrong with sex?

 

We hear this question often, and it was one of our favorite expressions of denial that we had a problem. We could ask similar questions for other addictions, the workaholic, for example. What’s so wrong with honest labour?  Or with compulsive overeating: What’s wrong with it?  We have to eat to live! What was the use of alcohol and drugs: what’s wrong with a little help to relax and escape? And finally, with the sexaholic: What’s so wrong with sex? It’s God-given! People asked similar questions about the use of television, movies, music, exedra. Usually those of us trying to rationalize our addictions are the ones coming up with these responses. When the questions are asked in such a manner, it is easy to see how we can be misled and sex, perhaps, carries the most confusion. We find it confusing and difficult, if not impossible, to see the physical manifestations of addiction has caused enough for surrender. Knowing we must stop, we go to Great Lengths to find reasons for quitting:

 

“I might get VD or the wife will leave me.”
“I’ll have a heart attack if I keep on eating like this.”
“I just know this weed will give me cancer sooner or later.”
“I’ll wind up with hypertension if I keep on working like this.”
“I’ll get cirrhosis of the liver and brain damage if I don’t stop drinking.”
“If I don’t unglue myself from this tube I’m going to turn myself into a vegetable.”

 

Such reasons are seldom enough to make the true addict stop because they deal only with external. The clue here is that we must differentiate between the physical action and the spiritual action (attitude) taking place at the same time in the same individual. Because he lives inside his attitudes, the individual doesn’t see them; he sees only the physical activity and thinks he’s feeling guilty for that. It is truly puzzling to him. Hence the confusion on the proper motivation for wanting to stop any given addiction. When we look only at the activity itself, most of those final sufficient motives to stop, but if we can see its spiritual consequences, this can help us despair of it sooner and surrender. That’s why we must look behind the physical to see what’s really at work in our sexaholism. But first, let’s take a look at lust, for it is this concept that serves as a bridge between the physical and the spiritual aspects of our sexaholism.

 

LUST

 

Why in Step One do we say we are powerless over lust instead of sex? Is not some form of sex what we are addicted to? Yes, we answer, but our problem is not simply sex, just as in compulsive overeating the problem is not simply food. Eating and sex are natural functions;  the real problem in both of these addictions seems to be what we call lust – an attitude demanding that a natural instinct serve unnatural desires. When we try to use food or sex to reduce isolation, loneliness, insecurity, fear, tension, or to cover our emotions, make us feel alive, help us escape, or satisfy our God hunger, we create an unnatural appetite that misuses and abuses the natural instinct. It is not only more intense, the natural becomes something totally different. Eating and sex bring us into a different dimension; they possess an unnatural spiritual component. The addiction is just to lust and not merely to the substance or physical act. Lust-that attitude itself-becomes the controlling factor in the addiction.

 

This may be why people exhibit lust in more than one area. Often, those of us addicted to substances or forms of behavior discover we are also addicted to negative attitudes and emotions.

 

I remember that when I came off lust, alcohol, and tranquilizers, resentment burst forth like a damn volcano. I remember thinking that controlling lust must be like trying to control a piece of jello; you press in here and it bulges out there. Or like trying to rout a gopher; you plug up one tunnel only to have the beast go to work in another.”

 

People having sex in the sense of some people are allergic to pollen, strawberries or cats, that we do become “allergic” to lust for food and sex. Misusing the natural instinct of sex for an unnatural use and over and over again increasingly sensitizes as to the association, until the simple thought it’s the compulsion. For the sexaholic, lust is toxic. This is why we need recovery, and not merely physical. This is so crucial.

 

WHAT IS LUST?  A personal point of view

 

It’s pretty tough to get a handle on it, but here’s what lust looks like in my life.  It’s a slave master that wants to control my sex for its own ends in its own way whenever it wants. And it’s like a mental-spiritual noise that distorts and perverts sex, much as a raucous radio interference distorts a lovely melody.

 

Lust is not sex, and it is not physical.  It seems to be a screen of self-indulgent fantasy separating me from reality – either the reality of my own person in sex with myself or the reality of my spouse.  It works the same way whether with a girlfriend, a prostitute, or my wife. It thus negates identity, either mine or the other person’s, and is anti-real, working against my own reality, working against me.

 

I can’t have true union with my wife while lust is active because she as a person doesn’t matter; she’s even in the way; she’s merely the sexual instrument.  And I can’t have true union within myself. That fantasy partner I’ve conjured up in my mind is really part of me!  With lust, the sex act is not the result of personal union; sex doesn’t flow from that union. Sex energized by lust makes true union impossible.

 

The nature of the lust-noise interference I superimpose over sex can be many things: memories, fantasies ranging from the erotic to revenge or even violence.  Or, it can be the mental image of a single fetish or of some other person. Seen in this light, lust can exist apart from sex.  Indeed, there are those who say they are obsessed with lust who can no longer have sex.  I see my lust as a force that apparently infuses and distorts my other instincts as well: eating, drinking, working, anger….I know I have a lust to resent; it seems as strong as sexual lust ever was.

 

In my experience, lust is not physical; it is not even strong sexual desire. It seems to be a spiritual force that distorts my instincts; and whenever let loose in one area, it seems to want to infect other areas as well. And being nonsexual, lust crosses all lines, including gender.  When energized by lust, my sexual fantasies or acting out can go in any direction, shaped by whatever I experience. Thus, the more I indulge in sexual lust, the less truly sexual I become.

 

Therefore, my basic problem as a recovering sexaholic is to live free from my lust. When I entertain it in any form, sooner or later it tries to express itself in every form.  And lust becomes the indicator of not only what I do, but what I am.  But there is great hope here. By surrendering lust and its acting out each time I’m tempted by it, and then experiencing God’s life-giving deliverance from its power, recovery and healing are taking place, and wholeness is being restored – true union within myself first, then with others and the Source of my life.

 

Lust is…
Not being able to say no
Constantly being in dangerous sexual situations
Turning my head as if sex-starved all the time
Attraction only to beautiful people
Erotic fantasies
Use of erotic media
Being addicted to the partner as I would be to a drug
Losing my identity in the partner
Obsession with the romantic-going for the “chemistry”
The desire to make the other person lust

 

Another Personal Perspective
Lust Kills –
Lust is the most important thing in my life; it takes priority over me.
Captive to lust, I cannot be myself.
Lust makes me its slave; it kills my freedom; it kills me.
Lust always wants more; lust creates more lust.
Lust is jealous; it wants to possess me.
Lust makes me self-obsessed; it drives me into myself.
Lust makes sex impossible without lust.
Lust destroys the ability to love; it kills love.
Lust destroys the ability to receive love; it kills me.
Lust creates guilt – unavoidably; and guilt has to be expiated.
Lust makes part of me want to die because I can’t bear what I’m doing to myself and my powerlessness over it.
Increasingly, I direct this guilt and self-hatred inward and outward.
Lust is destructive to me and those around me.
Lust kills the spirit; my spirit is me.  Lust kills me!

 

One more thing I will include from the Sexaholics Anonymous White Book is 20 questions from the introductory chapter.  Try replacing where you see the word sex, with “crossdressing” or “trans porn.”  You will see A LOT of relevance.
1.  Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
2.  That you’d be better off if you didn’t keep” giving in”?
3.  That sex or stimuli are controlling you?
4.  Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?
5.  Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can’t cope?
6.  Do you feel guilt, remorse, or depression afterward?
7.  Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive?
8.  Does it interfere with relations with your spouse?
9.  Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex?
10.  Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes the overtures or sex is offered?
11.  Do you keep going from one relationship or lover to another?
12.  Do you feel the right relationship would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous?
13.  Do you have a destructive need -a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone?
14.  Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others?
15.  Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive?
16.  Do you lose time from work over it?
17.  Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex?
18.  Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act?
19.  Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others?
20.  Have you ever been arrested for a sexually related offense?

 

As you can see it talks a lot about sex partners, etc.  More than self-sex, crossdressing, which has to do with the time when this was written and back in the 1970s this would have been all that sex addiction would have been perceived to be about (a sex partner, watching XXX movies, porn, frequenting strip clubs, etc..). Hopefully a new edition of this book can be written someday soon.  But in the year and a half of being associated with Sexaholics Anonymous, I meet more and more crossdressers and trans people.

Resentment, Compromise, and Escalation = Failure. Yet I rejoice in Christ!

This is not a blog post I want to write.  It really sucks feeling like I am letting people down and making people lose hope by writing it.  And beyond that, this blog is so public, so making a confession here is not a simple thing.  It’s not like confessing to my accountability partner privately, or just praying a prayer of confession to God.  To think of so many people in this world knowing the most intimate details of my life fills me with embarrassment and shame.  But yet this blog post must be written, so as to speak the truth, and so as to help others who struggle by sharing the lessons that I’ve learned.  When I worry about guilt and shame, I keep looking to my Jesus who washes away my guilt and shame by his blood, and I remember his deep love for me.  In that I rejoice!

I just recently failed and actually crossdressed.  It’s been a long time since that has happened.  If I ever fail, it’s usually by thinking impure thoughts, or by looking at websites I should not look at.  I am extremely disappointed in myself.  I will tell you the story.  Beware, lest is happen to you as well.  I write this post so that when you deal with temptation or with the feelings I was feeling, you will go to God, you will go to a friend and get help, rather than falling into sin like I did.  Trust me, it’s not worth it!

 

It was during a time of being home alone, since my wife was away.  We are not together quite often because of the nature of her work.  So while being alone was not new, the temptations were quite potent this time compared to other times.  The days before the failure I already was feeling temptations and stupid thoughts were coming in my mind.  I had begun to pray about it, and asked God for help.  But foolishly I did not notify my accountability partners (though I did tell the prayer group connected to this site to pray for me).

Lesson #1 – Don’t neglect your accountability and prayer partners at the most crucial time.  I should have let the prayer group know I was struggling with temptation, so they could have stepped up their prayers for me and also give me some reality checks.  I should have let my real-life accountability partner know, so he could regularly call me and check up on me, as well as pray for me.

Galatians 6:1-5 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

 

On the day of the failure I started thinking thoughts of resentment towards my wife.  This is not new, though I’ve been free of such thoughts for months.  We don’t have a perfect marriage, and especially struggle with sex, romance, and affection.  It can be very painful for us, because we both wish things were not as they were.  But otherwise, day to day, we have a very healthy and happy marriage and wonderful life together.  But the lack of sexual interest and romantic love can get to me.  I started to feel resentful and bitter that day.  Satan and his demons I’m sure tried to build on that resentment and twist it towards giving in to even more sin, besides the sin of resentment itself.  Soon I was thinking thoughts of resentment about the way my wife dresses, that she is not willing to dress femininely enough and attractive enough.  That led me down the road of making excuses for myself and gave me a rationalization for allowing myself CD thoughts.  Did I take this resentment to God?  Did I confess it to Him?  Did I ask for his comfort and strength to keep on going in my marriage even though it’s tough?  No, I did not.  That was foolish.

Lesson #2 – Put bitterness and resentment to death!  Take them to God.  If you don’t, they will eat away at you, and take you down a dark road that you will regret later.  Go to God for comfort and strength and love.

Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

So already in my mind I was dealing with the resentment and with very clear temptations, fantasies I was trying to force out of my mind.  But let me tell you of one thing I did well.  Before my wife even left, I had known the temptations would be coming.  It was very hard not to imagine exactly what I would to do to give in and sin as soon as she was gone.  It was like I was planning on sinning.  I knew this was bad and that there was no way I could resist when alone, unless I made a conscious choice to not give in at all, prior to her leaving.  So I spent a day struggling with my thoughts and praying, until God helped me to put him first.  In my heart and mind I made a clear decision that I would not fail with crossdressing.  I knew I would not give in.

Lesson #3 – If you “know” that you will fail, or plan on failing, you WILL fail.  You must make a choice prior to the time of temptation.  Don’t wait until the temptation and opportunity comes to make the decision.  You have to make the decision even days before that you will NOT give in.  Choose to serve the Lord now.  In my experience, this makes a crucial difference.

Joshua 24:15 – But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

 

So I was alone, and dealing with resentment and temptations, yet also knowing that there was no way I would give in to crossdressing, I decided I should play video games to distract me from the temptations.  This was a wise move actually.  The problem was that it soon became counter-productive.   Why?  Well, I compromised with sin.  I rationalized.  I decided it would be okay if I tried to make it look like my character was crossdressing in the game itself.  I knew that this was messed up and wrong too.  But I figured it was better to do this than to give in to the real temptations that were in my mind.  So I compromised and did so.  Foolishness.  Utter foolishness.  The sin escalated, and I kept giving in and giving in, until I turned the game off.  Then I rationalized another stupid activity that wasn’t crossdressing technically (not women’s clothing), but still resembled it.  But that compromise led to more escalation.  Finally, I fell into the sexual frenzy of sin, lost my head, and plunged headlong into debauchery.   After so long of resisting, after knowing I would not give in to actual crossdressing, I gave in to actual crossdressing.

Lesson #4 – Do not compromise with sin!  Sinful actions easily escalate.  Think of sin as a deadly beast.   It might start out looking very small and harmless.  Maybe you even want to pet it and say “ah, what a cute beast.”  But looks can be deceiving.  When you feed sin, it will grow bigger exponentially.  Soon it will no longer look cute, but it will devour you.  You cannot “tame” sin.  You cannot tolerate it.  If you give in, you will only want more and more.  If you give in a little, you will give in a little more, and give in a little more, until you are doing things you never wanted to be doing and never thought you’d be doing.  The only options are to feed sin and let it grow beyond your power to contain it, or instead, put it to death.

James 1:13-15 – 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Ephesians 4:17-19 – 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

 

So I gave in.  Did it satisfy?  To be honest, it seemed to be quite satisfying during the moment, especially after so long without having crossdressed.  I had fun feeling feminine in the moment, and felt the thrill of sexual pleasure.  But such pleasure is fleeting and leaves you feeling empty.  Rather than filling me with life, I feel like it sucked away everything good inside of me, leaving me feeling tired, wretched, and ugly.   After, I was immediately filled with regret and repentance.  It’s amazing how such a short event, a blip in the scheme of my life, can be so devastatingly awful.  Wow, not worth it.  I wish I had a time machine.  I wish I had more self-control.

Lesson #5 – Sin promises satisfaction but it can never satisfy.  It does not give, it only takes.  Its promises are empty.  There is no true joy or satisfaction to be found with sin, only empty fleeting pleasure.  Sin is a dead end.  True satisfaction is only found in God.  And in God we not only find satisfaction, but deep rich abundant life and joy.

Romans 6:20-21 – 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

Luke 9:25 – “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Lamentations 3 –

22          Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

23          They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

24          I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

25          The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.

 

 

The failure was a wake-up call for me.  As strong as I’ve been these last years, as much as I write and try to help others give up crossdressing, I’m still a very weak person.  I’m human, I struggle with sin.  I’m messed up.  I don’t have it all together.  I’m a sexually immoral pastor and unbelievably at the same time I struggle with pride.  Oh the evils of the human heart!  “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).  Jesus is so good to me.  And how I long for Jesus to come back and make me new, to bring to an end my struggles with sin.  I wait for that day with eagerness.  In the meantime, this was another reminder that I need to be on my guard and be more careful so this kind of thing happen again and take me unawares in the future.  I don’t say that I need to be on my guard out of fear of God’s judgment.  I want to be on my guard because I myself want to obey God and please him, and I myself really don’t like doing this stuff.  I want to live a joyful free life without CD as I was before.

Lesson #6 – Keep up your guard, be vigilant.  You never know when temptations will come.  Even if you’ve been abstinent from a certain sin for 5 years, or 10 years, you could suddenly be in danger of falling.  Continue in regular spiritual disciplines.  Read the Word daily, pray daily.  Keep in close communication with an accountability partner.  Always be ready.  Remember, you are at war.

1 Peter 2:11 – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 – 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I should have heeded the wisdom of this post that I wrote recently!

Persevere!  It’s going to be a long struggle

 

The end of the story is that I fell on my knees, literally, and confessed my sins to my God.  I repented, lamented, and yelled in frustration about my stupidity.  Yet in the end I have peace.  I am loved by God because of Christ.  I am forgiven. I don’t live in shame and guilt.  I am a Man of God.  I may be a weak one, but that is what I am.  I am God’s child, in his family, and this sin does not take that away from me.  When I first sinned, it felt like the weight of the world crushing down on me, I felt so bad, so full of guilt and regret.  Now, after going to God, I am back to my regular joyful self.  I love my God so much.  Only he can take away the weight on my heart, and make me again free to love and serve him each day.

Lesson #7 – Go to Jesus for forgiveness and grace.  There is nothing else you can do, and nothing better for you to do.  Rejoice in your salvation and your forgiveness, and go back to living for Christ and sharing in the joy of being his disciple.

1 John 1:8-10 – 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

I cling to this verse.  Firstly, I don’t want to be like those people in verses 8 and 10, who think or pretend they have no sin.  Above all else, I want to speak the truth.  If I were to hide this sin and pretend I’m all good, it might make people reading my blog more hopeful about their ability to give up crossdressing too.  But I would much rather minister out of reality, truth, and my experience of God’s grace, then to be a hypocrite.  At this point, I think you all know that you can trust the things that I say on this blog.

I also cling to the beautiful promise in verse 11.  I confess to my Lord, and even do so publicly, that I have sinned, and I am so thankful for his forgiveness and for him purifying my heart.  Because of Jesus taking my place, I stand in God’s sight as a righteous man.  I have nothing to fear.  I am full of joy.   I rejoice in Christ my savior!

So that is my confession.  I hope my lessons have helped you.  I now go back to living in victory, I go back to living a joyful life with my God, and I continue in this ministry.

Prodigal Ministries Blog

One of the good Christian organizations on my links page which cares for people with sexual addictions – Prodigal Ministries – I recently found out also has a good blog.  It is called – The Prodigal Ministries Blog.  By the way, I recommend this organization to those looking for some counseling help to deal with their crossdressing or other sexual problems.  They do not do reparative or conversion therapy, but are committed to helping you grow in your relationship with Jesus, and help you to heal from hurts, and overcome harmful behaviors.  There are a lot of good posts if you look back through the history of the blog.  But I want to highlight a few in particular in this post.

First, the author of the blog, Jerry Armelli, has given his testimony about his struggle with transgender feelings.  It’s in three parts:

My Excursion Through Transgenderism Part 1

My Excursion Through Transgenderism Part 2

My Excursion Through Transgenderism Part 3

What struck me is how much contempt he had for men.  Many of my brothers in this community who have shared with me about their struggles, also have repeatedly voiced how much they have been bothered by men.  Or they feel that women seem to be much better than men.  And that this is part of what drove them to want to be with women and be a woman.  My little thought right now is that we have to deal with our contempt of men by being the best men we can be.  Instead of retreating from masculinity because we see the problems in it, we must be the men that God created us to be, and help to redeem the notion of masculinity in our culture.  We must be strong courageous men who are also sensitive, gentle, and full of love.

Here is a great post on what compassion is all about: not affirming sin, but loving people enough to want to help them – True Compassion.

A good post on the power of Confession – Preventative Confession.

There are also many good posts about homosexuality and how the church should love those with same-sex attractions.  I won’t list all the posts here, but I recommend reading through the whole blog.