"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." – John 3:20-21
I'll never forget that night over twenty years ago. After working late as the assistant manager of a grocery store, I locked up the store and walked toward the bus stop. I had noticed the nearby adult bookstore many times before and had chosen to stay away. But this night, the pull was relentless, and I yielded.
Emotionally reeling from losing my position as a youth minister, physically exhausted from a long day of work and tormented from the pressures of my unpromising new career, my soul was longing for comfort. My heart raced in anticipation as I opened the door and stepped in. Rational thought disappeared as I spiraled out of control into the darkness. Hopelessness and isolation pounded in my soul.
As I left that place of darkness, the cold Chicago air and a flood of fear shocked me back into reality. Instead of finding the comfort I was desperately seeking, I was sick to my stomach, and my mind was full of questions that I was afraid to answer.
"Did that really just happen?"
"What have I become?"
"How can I go home and tell my wife?"
Sitting in Darkness
The visit to the bookstore was the first destructive decision I made that night. But the second was far more debilitating to my marriage and my relationship with God. In my fear, self-disgust and shame, I decided that I could not tell my wife, or anyone else for that matter, what happened. For five lonely years, I chose to sit in darkness – held by the chains of shame (Psalm 107:10-11).
Like most men, I wanted to find a route out of this mess by myself. Ultimately, my secrecy left me powerless to overcome the "darkness" of sexual sin. It simply perpetuated what would become a 20-year cycle of impurity, followed by remorse and occasional confession.
Eventually, Robin reached her own breaking point. Devastated by my numerous breaches of trust, she began losing hope that we could ever enjoy a pure marriage relationship. Some of her friends even encouraged her to leave me. I didn't blame them. I was nearly convinced (through Satan's lies) that I could never change.
From Darkness to Light
When we remain in darkness, Satan's lies enslave us. But when we come into God's light with whatever struggles we have, He helps us expose and dismantle Satan's deceptive strongholds:
|Nobody can forgive what you've done.||"If we confess our sins, he … will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).|
|You'll never change.||"… Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).|
|You'll lose the respect of friends, family and acquaintances.||"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10).|
|You need to fix this problem on your own.||"Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13).|
Over time, I've realized that coming into the light isn't reserved solely for our conversion. On the contrary, this transparent lifestyle is the only way we overcome addiction or any perpetual sin (1 John 1:5-7). Light isn't just the destination, it's also the path out of darkness.
Thankfully, the darkness of my sexual sin wasn't too great for God to handle. When I finally committed myself to radical honesty before God and others, Robin and I were then able to move forward. Robin also learned how to live in the light by vulnerably sharing her needs and deepest fears. Living in the light, a lifestyle I once dreaded, turned into one I deeply desired; I reveled in the joy of a clean conscience.
Keeping the Lights On
Though it has taken many years – and tears – to get here, Robin and I now have a very specific plan for keeping our marriage in the light. Our covenant with one another includes:
- Open Communication.We talk about boundary breaks, temptations, feelings and needs.
- Maintaining Oneness. We won't come together sexually if there is unconfessed sin.
- Ongoing Recovery. I have daily accountability with a brother in Christ, and Robin meets with women for consistent input.
- Honoring Humility.We create a safe place for either of us to confess sin or share hurts.
By far, the most important step to continuing to walk in the light is moving past the shame that seeks to keep us in darkness.