The Silence of Sexual Sin

Part of 8 of in
by Justin Lee
Illustrations by Liana Bak
Jan 01, 2015 | min read
Part of 29: Do Good
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It only takes one person to break the silence, but it takes a multitude of people to have a conversation. I did not understand the sheer power of confession and testimony. Yet it was in the context of conversation that God brought me immense healing and transformation. It was within community that He changed my life forever.

I struggle with sexual sin. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been addicted to this toxic drug, and it has plagued my spiritual life even before I understood what it was. However, I also had this beautiful dream of testifying about God’s great work in my life. I told myself that I was going to defeat this sin one day. When I finally found freedom from sexual sin, I would tell my story of redemption to everyone.

The Loud and Dreadful Silence

For some reason, the church has exaggerated this particular sin and put it on a pedestal. It’s “the big one”. If you go to an Asian American church, perhaps you’ll understand when I say that the topic is tabooed. Seldom does one dare to venture into the deep waters of this particular discussion. 

The loud and dreadful silence begins when many would suffer quietly. Perhaps one of the worst things about this silence is that the people in it believe they are the only ones suffering. I had thought I was the only one who struggled with sexual sin in my church. It was in the midst of this silence that many more lies from the enemy would fester and grow in my heart — seductive lies that I ate up voraciously. In the community that I grew up in and called “family”, I felt utterly and hopelessly alone.

Perhaps one of the worst things about this silence is that the people in it believe they are the only ones suffering.

Throughout middle and high school, I lived a double life. In one life, I was actively serving at my church, doing all of the things that “good Christians” did. I was “on fire for Jesus”. But in another life, I was feeding my addiction to sexual pleasure. I could not begin to explain the amount of shame I felt living this life. I felt horrible playing on the worship team the morning after I masturbated. Overwhelming shame and guilt shadow over my heart and my instinctive reaction was to hate myself. I used to hurl my fists and slam my head against the bathroom walls. I felt like God was just as disgusted with me as I was with myself. It was a living hell.

The Breakthrough

When I entered college, everything changed. I quickly immersed myself in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a multiethnic campus ministry. Immediately, Jesus started prompting me to take risks, which included attending Fall Conference (FallCon). 

From the start, God was already working powerfully; others’ lives were being transformed before my very eyes. I witnessed God’s Word piercing deeply into my friends’ hearts as many of them experienced Him in extraordinary and undeniable ways. I was bubbling with excitement after seeing my friends receive divine revelation and healing, but I was not expecting anything for myself. My complacency from growing up in the church kept me from believing that God could do the supernatural in my own life. But little did I know that I was next in line.

On the last night of the conference, we had a time of worship and reflection. It was a lot more intense than anything I had experienced growing up. People were screaming, wailing, and trembling. 

Amidst the spiritual pandemonium, I heard a still, quiet voice call out to me. God was calling me go to the front and kneel. In that moment, I felt a pressing urge that seemed to emerge out of nowhere. In hindsight, I know that it was the Holy Spirit stirring within me. After what seemed like an eternity, I walked to the front, knelt on the ground, and cried out to God.

In that moment, I was kneeling at the foot of the cross. Immediately, the guilt and shame of being a dirty sinner resurfaced. But this was the first time I really felt like I was giving my sexual sin up to God. It felt like I was tearing the sin from my heart and placing it at Jesus’ feet.

But this was the first time I really felt like I was giving my sexual sin up to God.

“Take it away from me! I don’t want it anymore!” I screamed in desperation. The desire for freedom from my chains was never as real and strong as at this moment. 

Afterward, we debriefed our personal experiences in our small groups. My heart pounded violently in my chest because I was not ready to share my experience. I didn’t want to share it. Then I felt that strange feeling again, like something was gently prodding me. It was the Holy Spirit. 

By the grace of God and the power of His Spirit, I found the strength to confess everything to them. Finally, I spat out the truth: “I have been struggling with sexual sin all my life. I am in so much pain.” I poured out my heart to them, making myself vulnerable to rejection and condemnation. I was ready. 

“We love you” were the first words that came from their mouths after I shared everything. Wow. All my fears extinguished in one powerful message. My small group leader affirmed me for sharing, my friends spoke words of truth and encouragement, and everyone prayed for me. 

After years of suffering in isolation, I finally broke the silence and they responded by showering me with love. Never before had I tasted this type of love. After sharing, a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders and I instantly felt like those in the room were my family. 

Community. I was a part of it and I was loved by it.

Community. I was a part of it and I was loved by it.

The Healing Begins

I thought I was done sharing after FallCon. There wasn’t anything more that could happen after that, right? Wrong. I had no idea how much more God had in store for me. He invited me to take risks and confess to even more people. Though initially hesitant, God gave me the strength to be vulnerable again and again. 

I began to realize that the more I confessed my sin to others, the easier it became to confess the next time. 

For many years, shame had kept me from confessing my sin. It was a vicious cycle —shame fed the silence and silence fed the shame. It became clear to me why God had been pushing me to confess to people this whole time. He was setting me free.

FallCon was just the opening chapter to a long journey of inner healing. Yes, I still struggle with sexual sin. But it no longer defines me. My identity is not found in my porn addiction. God calls me His child and that is who I am. How liberating it was to hear such a truth after a lifetime of lies!

Today, I can testify that God has fully healed me from self-hatred and shame. Though I still fight the battle against sexual sin, I no longer have to fight it alone. I have a community. No longer do the debilitating and isolating chains of shame keep me silent. I can tell my story even to people I have just met. God no longer needs to prompt me to tell my story and I can do it willingly, because I have been healed. Just a year ago, I never would have guessed that Jesus would transform this dark and broken area of my life into a story of hope and celebration of His glory. This is the nature of His redemptive power.

The Conversation Continues

It only takes one person to break the silence, but it takes a multitude of people to have a conversation. In true Christ-centered community, God does not merely call for the silence to be broken; healing and miracles happen when we have an ongoing dialogue with Him and others and invite Him to reign over it.

It only takes one person to break the silence, but it takes a multitude of people to have a conversation.

Many people fight in silence. As much as we may feel alone when dealing with our own issues, we are surrounded by others who feel the same way about the same things. If you are in this position, my heart yearns for you to also find your voice and share your burdens with others. I encourage you to find brothers or sisters in Christ whom you can regularly open up to. 

For those who have experienced Jesus’ phenomenal healing, I urge you to tell others. It breaks my heart that even the healed are staying quiet. Are we going to be a community that lets shame and silence reign over the church, or are we going to let Jesus, the righteous King, sit on His throne? 

The church, of all places, should be a place of authenticity, but it starts with you. Break the silence. Start the conversation. Let us be a community that is willing to engage with one another in our pain and allow Jesus to perform his miracles in us.

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