What does a sexual addiction cost? Everyone’s experience will be different, of course; there are so many variables. Will you tell a prospective mate about it before you marry? You might lose them as a result. Will you keep it a secret from them? You might lose them later, when it eventually comes out, as it’s almost certain to do. I guess the bottom line is, total up everything you have – spouse, kids, other relationships, trustworthiness, self-esteem, respect from others, jobs, ministries, all your worldly belongings – that’s what a sexual addiction may cost you. Everything. God can and may redeem it and bring it all back (plus some), but do you really want to get there by the hardest route possible for everyone you love, and for you?
My wife thought she was marrying a God-fearing, trustworthy man from a solid Christian home. She was devastatingly wrong. She had no idea how messed up I was. Yes, I knew Jesus as my Savior, but I didn’t live for Him. He wasn’t my Lord. I had these awful attractions that I didn’t understand. She had no idea I had them until we’d been married for 20 years. I’m starting to understand how hurtful it was for her to find out she’d been married to someone she didn’t even know the deepest parts of for that long. I’m beginning to understand, also, how the outward expression of those attractions (the porn, masturbation, chatting and camming) were less of a problem than the lying. I imagine it was like, in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s house fell on the witch…my wife was blindsided by an incredible force that seemingly came out of nowhere. So, cost number one: the trust of my wife. Gone.
God has tended to use finances to get my attention throughout my adult life. He did that in a painfully enormous way when it came to my sexual sin. We sold our house at the height of the real estate bubble in Florida, giving us a very large down payment on the house we bought in Oklahoma – a brand-new house we could never have afforded in Florida. It was much larger and nicer than anything we’d had before. In addition to the money from the sale of the Florida house, we had money inherited from my mother after her death. In short, we were in a financial position that we had only dreamed of in the past. I struggled at a commission-only job after the move to Oklahoma and regularly committed sexual sins while working from home using my new laptop computer. The money started running out, due to the lack of income. I took out a home equity line against the house to pay the bills, thinking I would start earning money and it could be paid back. It was a desperate move, and done only after I maxed out my wife’s credit cards to pay the bills. The equity line erased much of the equity in the house that we had from the large down payment. I maxed out the equity line in a few months. At that point, we had no choice but to sell the house. By the time we had to lower the price a few times, the sale of the house covered the first mortgage balance and the real estate agent’s commission, but only part of the equity line. The lender took a loss. Cost number two: our house, ridiculous amounts of money (lost to us and a lender), the security of home ownership and the possibility of a bright financial future without my wife having to work. All gone.
The financial implications of my sin were many and far-reaching. When we sold the house, we moved into a rental house. Even in the tumult I had created, God was merciful. He provided a rental house through a man in our church. I met our new landlord when he was assigned to be my mentor through our church’s men’s mentoring program. Because he knew me, he didn’t require a credit check before he rented us the house. He already knew what it would show; I’d told him. Well, the house was a blessing, for sure. But it was not without its problems. It was a few steps down in quality and size from the house I lost. There were things about it that we wanted desperately to change, but we couldn’t, since we were renters. The worst part of this was that it was my wife who suffered with that house the most. She wasn’t working (she was going to college online), so she spent more time there than any of us. This house, which she hated so much about, she saw all day long. But it wasn’t just that it needed a lot of upgrades and old fixtures replaced. What was so difficult for my wife was that, every single day, she had to live in a house that we only lived in because of my sin and betrayal. She was reminded at every turn in that house how we got there. It became a huge symbol of everything I had done. Cost number three: my wife’s ability to live in a home that wasn’t full of painful memories (for they weren’t even memories yet – they were our current situation).
My sin cost our kids big time. It cost them the relatively normal upbringing they had enjoyed previously. It cost them the stable mother they had, because the hurt I caused her changed her into someone else. Her joy was gone. Her moments of happiness were short-lived, until the realization of our situation came back to her mind. With the funds we had, we could have helped them out with college. We could have bought them clothes, shoes and occasional non-essentials without it being an urgent financial need every time. It cost them a dad who was fully-engaged in being a husband and dad. Cost number four: my kids’ stability, sense of well-being and their ability to have parents who could love them without unneeded obstacles.
I’ve committed a lot of space to the financial costs, but the relational costs are so much greater. Many tears have been shed by my wife over what I’ve done (and not done). It’s not worth that. I don’t want to be alone at the end of my life, and I very nearly made that happen.
The bottom line is that the costs to those around you, and to you as a sexual addict, are gigantic. They are costs that don’t have to be paid. If you’re already addicted to sexual sin, please, I beg you – get help. And, if it hasn’t gotten to the addiction level, I beg you – get help before it does. No amount of shame and embarrassment is too much to pay to get out of it. Jesus Christ can get you out of it or help you avoid it. But, it’s up to you. He doesn’t force Himself or His power on us. We have to ask. We have to ask sincerely. We have to live for Him and let Him know we mean business. He cannot be fooled, even if everyone around you is – for now.