Recovery and How We Think of God

For those of us who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior disorder(CSBD) and are spiritually oriented people, we have a particular challenge to our recovery. It’s our view of God. 

Do we see God as judge or healer? Indifferent or attentive? Close or far away? 

Having faith and at the same time suffering from csbd can cause a lot of thoughts like these: 

  • I need to stop this because it is bad.

  • If other people find out they will…judge me/look down on me/turn away from me.

  • If the people closest to me find out they will be so disappointed in me, life will never be the same.

  • If my wife (husband, girlfriend, boyfriend) finds out they will leave me.

Most of these fears are relational. They’re all rooted in our deepest sense of how God sees us:

  • God is deeply disappointed with me that I’ve not changed my life since I know better.

  • God is disgusted with me about the things I think about and the things I’ve done.

  • There is something wrong with me and God isn’t helping me.

All these views directly lead to and nurture a negative and shamed view of ourselves.

And these views do not help us recover. Actually they make it much harder to recover.

A lot of us who’ve been shaped in conservative Christian circles are familiar with a narrative like this one. My life was challenging (or disappointing or rebellious or aimless). Then I met Christ. Since then my life has steadily improved. 

I am willing to believe this fits a lot of people. But I do not believe this is true for everyone. I don’t even think it’s true for most people.

Faith is a wonderful thing. But it doesn’t necessarily make life easier or better. Oftentimes it makes life harder.

I know a man who’d grown up in relational chaos. In early adulthood he moved from one relationship to another, fathering several children along the way.

In his middle years he had a sincere spiritual awakening. A speaker came to his church challenging all the men to become better Christians, emphasizing that men estranged from their children’s mother should do everything possible to reconcile to the point of marrying (or remarrying).

This man felt convicted and wanted to do the right thing. But he had three children by three different women. Who was he supposed to reconcile with?

Faith just made his life more complicated, not less.

Reality is that life is hard and faith is challenging. 

And it’s made harder when faith whispers that God is disappointed with us.

The truly great news of the Genuine Gospel is that God is not disappointed with us. God is with us. 

God’s approach to our sin is to heal it.

“As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; heal my soul for I have sinned against you!’”(Ps 41:4)

I believe that for recovery to take hold in our lives—recovery that lasts, recovery that truly makes a difference—we have to confront that deep image of ourselves as unloved.

We are not unloved; we are truly loved. For some of us this is a difficult transition to make. But God is with us especially in this struggle.

The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah quotes God, the Holy One of Israel, as saying “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”(Isaiah 30:15) 

Jesus tells us of our Father in Heaven who loves to give good things to his children. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

If we see our God as angry, disappointed or distant, then we feel like we’re alone and our recovery is up to us. 

This will never work. It was never meant to work.

The truth is God is loving, wooing and near. It’s us who are angry, disappointed and distant. 

Genuine, lasting recovery is turning around and heading home. 

How do you think of God?

How do you think God thinks of you? 

When you read these words, what stirs in your heart? tcr