Tim Davis (M. Div. and M.A), is the founder and director of Pureheart Ministries.
Like many Christian men struggling with sex addiction, I knew that sex outside of marriage was wrong, but I managed to justify my addiction to masturbation, fantasy, and pornography on the basis that I was just another red-blooded American male. Unfortunately, Scripture doesn’t mince words. Jesus clearly states that lustful thinking is the same as lustful living. Revelation states unequivocally that the sexually immoral will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. More than anything else, I wanted to break free of my addictive cycle of sex addiction, but back then no one, and I mean no one, talked about sexual sin, much less how to break free of the pit and live in purity.
Compare your story to mine. In what ways have you justified your sexual sin?
I was probably 11 or 12 years-old the first time I saw pornography. It was hardcore, lesbian pornography and I was instantly entranced. I can still remember the jolt, the incredible high that seeing those pictures gave me. I had already started masturbating habitually years before, using sex scenes from books and pictures from catalogs and magazines like National “Ohsographic” to enhance my fantasy life, but seeing porn for the first time immediately took me to the next level in my addictive journey.
What was your reaction the first time you saw pornography?
Of course at the time, I never paused to reflect on why these pictures of perversion impacted me so powerfully—or for that matter, why I had started masturbating well before puberty and why I was already so attuned to sexuality. As a missionary kid, I grew up in nearly complete innocence (or so I thought). For most of my early life, I lived on tropical islands—there was no TV, no movies, no bookstores, and obviously, no Internet. As far as I knew, I had had a normal childhood, raised by parents who loved me and never mistreated me. Well into my late twenties, if you had told me back then that I had been both sexually and ritually abused as a child, I would have laughed at you in disbelief.
As a teenager, still on the mission field, I rarely had the chance to see porn, but I became an expert at finding authors who described sex in their books. I used these sex scenes to fuel my secret fantasy life and habitual masturbation. However, when I left home to finish high school at a Christian prep school in the States, I soon discovered that almost all of the guys in my dorm were hooked on porn. I would steal their pornographic magazines and books (after all, who were they going to tell?), so I could look at them and masturbate. Porn was far more exciting than dry old sex scenes in books, and I soon reached another milestone in my addictive journey by buying my first pornographic magazine (while in an airport traveling between school and home).
Have you been living a double life?
I was living a double life. I became the “Big Man on Campus,” I was the student body president, an honor student, a varsity soccer player, active in Bible studies, choir and barbershop—I even spoke to the entire campus on several occasions, urging them to follow Christ. I had already learned the truism (still just as prevalent today) that no matter how many millions of people struggle with sexual sin, we Christians must always pretend it doesn’t exist. Since no one else talked about their problems of sex addiction, I was left to flounder in my hypocrisy, despairing of ever being free of my sin/confess, sin/confess cycle.
Praise God, however, there was at least one man willing to go against the tide of silence. Way back in 1983, this pastor wrote an article in Leadership (a journal for Christian ministers and leaders) where he described his personal descent into the hell of sex addiction. My health teacher (God bless him!) at the Christian prep school must have discerned I was struggling with sexual sin because he gave me a copy of “An Anatomy of Lust: The War Within.” Even though it was written anonymously, it is no exaggeration to say this article saved my life. I know that without this man’s courageous decision to expose his sin, I would have been dead a long time ago, a victim of insanity or murder or suicide.
I read this man’s story and immediately saw, in the progressive nature of his addiction, the parallels between my life and his. By the time he wrote the article, he had been married for many years, but his wife knew nothing of his struggle. Nor did anyone in the church he pastored. He had long since moved beyond porn magazines and was now at the point of going to live sex shows. In the article, he tells how he finally worked up the courage to confess his sins to a pastor friend, a respected colleague and leader of a large church. Sitting in this man’s office, he poured out his story for the first time, skipping over his worst offenses. Rather than accept his confession, however, his pastor colleague began sobbing uncontrollably. This respected pastor pulled a list from his jacket pocket—the piece of paper contained all the prescriptions this man needed to treat all the sexual diseases he had acquired while engaging in every kind of perversion imaginable. In order to keep his behavior secret, this pastor would only buy the medicines he needed while traveling to other cities.
What lines have you crossed in your addictive behaviors?
The minute I read that story, God spoke to me through a mental vision. I clearly saw a sort of flaming, spiral staircase winding down to the pit of hell. God said very clearly that if I didn’t break free from my sexual sin, I would end up in hell. I resolved at that very moment to do whatever it took to break free. I didn’t realize, however, that it would take me many years before actually achieving this goal. Back then, there were no books, no videos, no conference speakers, or anything else to help someone trapped in sex addiction, only a couple of men (literally) crazy enough to share about their struggles. I had nothing to guide me as I wandered through the wilderness, inevitably sinking ever further into the morass of sexual sin.
For the sake of brevity, I will compress the next half of my story. Many of you will recognize in my story the same pattern of heading down that spiral staircase of sexual sin to hell. Like many of you, I thought that marriage and a good sex life would solve all my problems. It didn’t. Even though I was honest with my wife about my addiction prior to our marriage, none of this stopped my addictive behaviors. I did find several brothers to hold me accountable and began to confess my sins regularly, but it was still the blind leading the blind. I continued finding porn (mainly in bookstores) and masturbating as before. After college, while training for my first job, I watched my first “soft-porn” movies at the hotel where I was staying. This was also the advent of video and video stores like Blockbuster—I was soon renting “R” movies—anything that I thought might turn me on. Around this time, I had the bright idea of getting “Cable” TV, yet another trend sweeping across America. I soon ordered porn via Cable. Even though I always confessed my sins to my wife and my accountability partners, I could only manage a month or so of purity, and then I would find some new way of relapsing. Nor could I break the habit of masturbation and sexual fantasy.
The Internet was next on the scene, and as an early user of computers, I was soon looking at porn on the Internet. By this time, I had finished up my first degree from seminary, but I was starting to buy pornographic magazines with ever increasing frequency. Even when I was pastoring a small, house church, I twice bought pornographic videos. This was the end, praise God, of my career as a sex addict, however, because all of the work I had been doing to break free and get healed finally started paying off.
Again, I am barely skimming the surface, but looking back, I can see how God, in His wisdom, healed me in stages. He knew that what I had gone through was so traumatic and awful that I could not have remotely handled dealing with all of it at once.
Stages of Healing:
1) Reading the “Anatomy of Lust” article and making a commitment to get pure no matter what it cost!
2) In seminary, God brought Neil Anderson’s books (Victory Over The Darkness and The Bondage Breaker) across my path. I took myself through the “Steps of Freedom” and, despite having been saved at the age of 7, truly understood my identity in Christ for the first time in my Christian life. Dr. Anderson also taught me the importance of understanding the importance of ancestral sin and curses, and making sure that I had repented of all occultic influences in my life. (At the time, I still had no idea I had any occultic involvement).
3) The next stage was dealing with the fact that I had been sexually abused as a child by my grandfather. I had completely blocked out the first 6 years of my life and I had always wondered why, since as far as I knew, I had a happy childhood. I had no memories whatsoever of any kind of abuse, save for a very strange early memory that seemed half dream, half reality. The truth of what my grandfather had done came out independently of my healing process as several of my cousins remembered being abused by this man. I had several flashbacks before and after learning of my cousin’s memories where I remembered instances of abuse. I went through the grief, anger, and depression phases typical of someone confronting their abusive past for the first time.
4) The next stage of healing was actually breaking free of sexual sin. The stretches of time I was staying pure were growing longer and longer, especially once I learned the critical importance of killing the habit of masturbation and meeting regularly with someone had already broken through to consistent purity. Ironically enough, however, once I kicked the sin/confess, sin/confess habit, things got much, much worse in terms of my overall mental health. Looking back now, I realize that I was the classic “medicate your pain,” type of addict. Whenever the pain from my repressed trauma would bubble up inside of me (usually once a week), I would stuff it back down with my drug of choice (sexual sin). Once I stopped medicating my wounds, my past came back with a vengeance. I had assumed that I was done with my past; I had successfully processed the abuse from my grandfather. However, my time in hell was just beginning.
5) Now that I am a counselor, I have learned that repressed trauma often comes back when the victim has children of his or her own. When those children reach the same age as the victim, when as a child, he or she was traumatized, this triggers flashbacks of the actual events. My son looked very similar to me when I was a child and when he turned 5-6, I began having horrific nightmares. I am not talking about your normal see a scary movie have a scary dream kind of nightmares, I am talking about nightmares that were so bad they would leave me in a depressed state with emotional pain so strong it was almost a physical sensation. I kept a dream journal for two years and during that time, I recorded over a 100 of these kind of nightmares. It got so bad, I didn’t want to sleep at night. During these years I had to deal with a major amount of anger at God over what had happened to me, but praise God, I was able to find someone who had experienced similar things in her life who counseled my wife and I during this horrific time. I also praise God for my amazing wife who has stood by my side all these long years—I would have never survived without her.
6) Praise God, I am now in a place of real internal peace and practical, consistent purity, having utterly broken the habit of masturbation and defeated the pull of porn. I can honestly say, despite living in the most pornographic city in the US, I no longer feel any cravings for porn. Even my thought life is radically different—and while I may still struggle with bouncing my eyes from time to time, I have rid myself of the sexual fantasies that were my security blanket for so many years. I still have the occasional nightmare, but it is nothing like it was before. When I look back on how I used to live my life, it is no exaggeration to say that I have experienced a miraculous, night-to-day transformation!
God bless you if you read through my entire story. It’s hard to summarize a lifetime in a few pages. I am living proof that even in the midst of severe addiction, heartbreaking loss, and terrible evil, God will keep His promise to bring good out of evil—the greater the evil, the greater the good! Everything I have gone through, good and bad, has been incorporated in my counseling and writing. In my teaching you literally get 35 years of experience boiled down to the key truths you need to know to break free and stay pure. If I can break free, by the grace of God, than anyone can. Therefore, you have no excuse to remain in your sin. You don't have to just take my word for it, click here for more testimonies from men who have gone through the Pureheart Process! Don’t put it off one day longer, brother, contact Pureheart here and start the process of purity!