For those of you who made it through five days of entries about our story, please just take another five minutes or so and hear from the man who is truly my hero. Ladies and gentlemen…Chris Beall. Over the last couple of weeks reading my precious wife’s blog and your comments I find my self thinking, “What a soap opera of a story.” Then I remember…that’s my story. A girl who serves on staff with me at LifeChurch.tv sent me an email on the day of Cindy’s first post of our story. She was thanking me for being willing to allow Cindy to share such personal information. Perhaps there are some of you who have thought over the last couple of weeks, “I wonder how Chris is with all of this?” Here was my response to my fellow staff member. “You are welcome. I really have no other option (in my mind) than living out loud and allowing God to use our story to help people who are also struggling. I don’t deserve what I have today and I gladly deal with what comes with the masses knowing what I did because then they will truly appreciate what God has done in response.” I am still tender, still amazed that I haven’t lost my family, and overwhelmed that I get to serve a leader, Craig Groeschel, who took a huge risk in bringing me back into full-time ministry. But mostly I am speechless because when I look into Cindy’s eyes, there is life, hope, and love. We are crazy about each other. I want to briefly speak to an issue that some of you may be curious about or potentially living through. How do you get to multiple affairs, fathering a child with another woman, and creating an entire second life and becoming addicted to porn? To answer this I want to acknowledge an assertion that a good friend of mine, Jorge, made this week in his belief that this struggle is a symptom of a man not satisfied at home. I believe that there are situations where this is the case. Scripture is clear that husbands and wives are to only refrain from sex when it is a mutual decision and only for specified reasons so that no one would be tempted to sin sexually (1 Cor. 7:5-9). This is an incredible passage that basically tells us who are married to have more sex! I have always loved the apostle Paul 🙂 This, however, had little to do with my struggle. I saw my first Playboy when I was young. I can still remember in exact detail the images in that magazine some 26 years ago. At that moment, a door of weakness was opened; a door that in the coming years, my spiritual adversary would methodically exploit. I do believe in my situation, that porn was not the end to anything but as Jorge suggests, a symptom of something deeper. I was sexually satisfied at home and yet consistently and progressively filled my mind with pornographic images. What was my disease? I had grown to believe a lie about who I was. Now before you write me off for giving you some ambiguous spiritual answer as the cause of my sexual addiction, I want you to ask yourselves this question. Why does anyone sin? Why does someone who is a follower of Christ consistently commit acts of commission or acts of omission that are clearly out of line with God’s standard? For years and years my life and choices reflected a strong disbelief in who God says I was as a follower of Christ. Think about it for a minute. If we all truly believed with everything in us that we are God’s workmanship, the righteousness of God in Christ, that we are chosen by Him for works of ministry, and that we are seated with Christ in the Heavenly realms and completely accepted and forgiven, would we continue to live consistently and progressively in sin? I am not suggesting that we can become sinless in our daily lives, but it is extremely hard to live in such blatant and growing rebellion to God when through faith we truly believe in who He is and who He says we are in Christ. How did that play out for me? For years I struggled with accepting God’s forgiveness for my sin and at the same time deeply desired the approval of people. I needed the affirmation of others aside from Cindy. Why? Because I really didn’t believe that God accepted me as I was. And part of me thought that Cindy’s love for me was just because she was married to me. This is where the progression happened. Looking at those images made me feel (for lack of a less cheesy phrase) like a man. Maybe there are other guys out there who deep down wrestle with the questions, “Do I measure up? Do I have what it takes? Am I respected and successful?” When I felt like a failure, I looked to a counterfeit source of validation and that was found on the internet. No addiction is static, it will always progress from one thing to another. If a shot of Cuervo (Tequila) gives you a buzz, drink one shot every day and see if it still has the same effect after that year. Chances are, you will need progressively more tequila to feel the way you felt that first time. (That was the first illustration that came to my head. Don’t go drink Tequila 🙂 This is the nature of addiction. You look at an image, then a video, then you start chatting with people who have the same struggles and one day you wake up wondering how on earth you got there. Sin always progresses. ALWAYS. If there is something you are battling…if you find that you are sinning in the same areas over and over again, are you believing a lie about who God says you are? He wants to set you free. Free indeed. If you’d like to see the message that Chris preached on Bitterness, click here to view…message #5. He shares our story in this message.