Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Dirty, Deadly Secrets

I spent about five years doing substance abuse counseling before I moved to the Philippines. Recovering addicts have a saying: “secrets keep you sick.” I’m inclined to agree, and I think this statement can help all of us.

As I’ve mentioned before (in Basta LoveLife), sexual sin brings with it a measure of guilt and shame unlike any other transgression. This in turn causes another problem: we dare not tell anyone about our hidden struggles.

It looks something like this:

Scene 1: A young man is involved in the music ministry of his church. The members recognized his gifts and encouraged him to join the praise team. He loves it—he’s always dreamed of using his talents to glorify God. Soon he will be asked to lead and mentor others.

His private life, however, is a different matter. He is struggling with internet pornography, a sin he just can’t seem to conquer. He’s been caught up in a vicious cycle of sinning, repenting, and falling back into sin. He realizes the hypocrisy, but fear keeps him from asking for help.

Scene 2: A college student has earned the respect of all her friends, relatives, and church family. She is a straight-A student and is also involved in a local campus ministry.

But there’s a problem. She and her boyfriend have begun to compromise, crossing the line from innocent affection to sexually intimate behavior. They haven’t “gone all the way,” but it is only a matter of time before they take this final, irreversible step. She cringes every time her pastor mentions sexual immorality. But she is afraid to ask for help—afraid to let anyone know things are not what they seem.

I believe these scenarios play out in churches and parishes all across the Philippines. Why? Because I get emails that sound just like these two fictitious accounts.

Tragically, the enemy tricks us into keeping secrets from the very people that could help us break free. He whispers the following lies:

“Everyone has his act together except for you.”
“No one else struggles with this—only you. You are alone.”
“Don’t say anything—just keep up appearances.”
“Ask for help? How embarrassing!”

I want to make something clear before I go any further: I consider it a privilege and honor to be a “cyberpastor.” I love helping students with their questions and problems.  My email and blog will continue to be a safe haven for those needing advice.

But an email exchange is only the first step in the healing process. I encourage students and young people to look for face-to-face accountability when it comes to issues of sexual sin. Let’s consider a couple of Bible verses:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
-James 5:16

He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
  but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
-Proverbs 28:13

Here’s my advice for those of you who are struggling with some type of sexual sin or temptation: find a mature believer whom you trust completely. It should be someone of the same sex (you may need to find someone a little older if you feel you need an extra dose of wisdom). Tell him/her you need someone to be accountable to, and start meeting regularly. Talk about whatever is troubling you–your past failures, current struggles, etc.  Sin will begin to lose its grip through the power of accountability.

“But Kevin,” you argue, “the person I have in mind would lose all respect for me if I shared this.”

Not true! Some of my closest friends are the ones I’ve shared my most intimate struggles with. Our respect for each other grew a hundredfold the moment we put down pretenses and got honest about what was happening in our lives. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the way a true friend responds to such raw honesty.

Don’t let secret sins destroy your life.

5 Comments

  1. Hi Kuya Kevin (I like calling you Kuya: it feels good)

    Anyway, i went through this personally. I was struggling about something before and yes it was a roller coaster ride. i was hesitant at first because what would the church or my friends think. i’m a leader. but i decided to really just spill the beans and my friend (indeed) didn’t reject me at all. in fact she became my prayer warrior and “reminder girl”. true it’s time to break the silence

  2. I miss posts like these on your blog. I know you’re very busy but this is really what helps us, your readers. Doesn’t matter if the subject has been taken up before and it’s repetitive. we need to be reminded as often as possible 🙂

    God bless.

  3. What Thess said. Though, if you’re super busy, maybe you can invite guest bloggers.

  4. I can actually identify to this….an accountability really helps. Instead of losing their respect, they will be blessed for your honesty and willingness to be open, vulnerable and be healed. This where the grace of God truly comes in. 🙂

  5. I miss reading your “lovelife” advices. Keeps me on toes. Thanks for being a cyber pastor to the youth.

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