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  • Writer's pictureEdmund Ng

B05: Set Free from Sexual Sin and Bondage

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Robert is an itinerant preacher and Bible teacher well sought-after by many churches. At times, he is away from home for a couple of months, traveling from city to city to deliver workshops on weekdays and sermons on weekends. Christians are amazed at the depth of his biblical knowledge and intimacy with God. He is highly anointed by God and multitudes of Christians look to him as a present-day real-life model to show them how it is to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.


However, unknown to the outside world, Robert leads a secret life of sin through his indulgence in having sex with prostitutes. After many years of struggling with his immoral escapades, he was sick of his sexual misconduct but still unable to break free from his addiction. By the grace and providence of God, Robert met me one day and after finding out what I do as a psychotherapist, he approached me to help him.


What is fundamentally wrong?

Why would an established and well-respected preacher and Bible teacher who knew so well the Word of God persist in sexual misconduct and live a double-standard life of hypocrisy? What is there in his internal psyche which is so compelling that drove him to keep doing what he knew as sinful, felt guilty each time, and still risk destroying everything that he believes in and proclaims? As we are witnessing in our times an increasing number of high-profile servants of God falling into moral failure, Christians around the world would want a handle on the answers to come to terms with the vast discrepancy between the Christian faith that one professes and the personal conduct of one’s personal life.


Fundamentally, we must understand that transformation is not a matter of the cognitive or intellectual understanding and acceptance of spiritual truths. Rather, all spiritual truths require a process of sanctification which involves embracing, internalizing, and working out personally over time before they are fully translated into our psyche and manifested in our character. Through the integration of theology, psychology, and related research in neuroscience made possible in our times, we now know that we are what we are in our memories. In particular, our thinking, feelings, and behavior are affected by the internalized memories of our past experiences residing in our unconscious.



The cycle of psychological dynamics

While exploring Robert’s life during therapy, a typical cycle of psychological dynamics begins to emerge. Back in his hotel after speaking the whole day, he is tired but still worked up and restless in his room. He feels bored and miserable. However, Robert told me that he cannot lay a finger on what’s troubling him or comprehend how these feelings can become so unbearable that he would succumb to the temptation of reaching to the telephone to engage the services of a prostitute in his room.

I explained to Robert that when he is back in his hotel room, he usually tries to relax and so he lets his guard down. As he takes the lid off his conscious awareness, what is in his unconscious will surface. All of us are inherited with corrupted shame since the day that Adam and Eve sinned. Indeed, our entire human nature was corrupted and it was passed down to us.


As we were growing up, we suffered more shaming experiences, and those shame that were more intense, unless they were resolved, were suppressed into our internalized shame memories in the unconscious. The more collages of shame we have in our internalized shame memories and the more intense are these memories, the greater their tendency to erupt to make us feel its shame from within, even when there is no external source of shame to trigger it. So, when Robert lets his guard down, his internalized shame is allowed to surface.


The habitual defense mechanism


When the internalized shame surfaced, Robert would feel its discomfort. As the root of our corrupted shame is our rejection and inadequacy, he perhaps felt a certain defectiveness and emptiness in him, like he was just an impostor. These are the sure signs of corrupted shame rearing its ugly head from within him. He desperately needed something to distract and soothe himself from the pain so that he could relax, go to sleep and be well-rested for the hectic itinerary of his ministry the next day.


He then got connected with another set of his internalized memories. The memories of his past tell him that he could get both distraction from his disturbing shame memories and the relaxation he needed through a sexual act. Thus, when he is alone in his room with the circumstances permitting, he would be tempted to give in to sexual misconduct despite knowing full well the adverse consequences if found out.


Point of no return


Initially, the servant of God might feel remorse for his sin but as he began to cross more boundaries of his conscience, his sexual adventures became his habitual defense mechanism to cover his internalized shame from surfacing. Then he came to the point of no return when he would create the circumstances and lies to protect what he perceived as needed for him to continue functioning effectively as a Christian leader used by God for His ministry purposes.


All throughout these psychological episodes, Robert might not even be able to pinpoint the central role of shame, as shame is often hidden behind his many other felt emotions and motivations such as the momentary excitement of lust or the relief of anxiety and restlessness. However, shame is undergirding and orchestrating its corrupted manifestations on him at the root of it all.


Only God can set us free


Following the Fall, Adam and Eve made coverings for themselves to cover their nakedness and shame (Gen 3:7) but God provided them with long tunics made from animal skins (Gen 3:21). God did for the couple what they cannot do for themselves adequately concerning their shame. If Adam and Eve as the first homo sapiens are representatives of humans, then the narrative of the Fall tells us that only God can deal adequately with humanity’s corrupted shame. To get the animal skin to cover Adam and Eve from their shame, a sacrifice is required, thus foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for both our sin and shame.


That is why when Jesus died for our corrupted shame on the cross, He hung there naked. The shameful exposure of His genitals symbolizes the immoral nature of our fallen sexuality that He would conquer and set us free from our lustful desires.


However, even though Jesus had died on the Cross as atonement for our sins, He still instituted the symbolic act of the Holy Communion because all spiritual truths require a process of sanctification before they are fully translated into our psyche and manifested in our character. Likewise, even though Jesus has also died for our corrupted shame, we still have to appropriate by mental imagery and symbolic acts the spiritual victory to cleanse us of our corrupted shame and corrupted shame memories.


Holistic remedy


After Robert is convinced of the insights he received from me as part of the psychoeducation during his therapy, he started to embark on performing the transactional prayer on a daily basis to appropriate to himself the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross over our corrupted shame.


Since sanctification is a lengthy process before the spiritual truths are fully translated into our psyche and manifested in our character, Robert also committed to me two other practical safeguards. First, he agreed that he would start to travel for ministry with his wife, and if she is not available, with another male companion to share the same room with him. Otherwise, he would request to be hosted in someone’s house. Second, he is committed to account to me once every two weeks about his moral well-being. It is almost a year since this took place and Robert has been on track to be set free from his sexual sin and bondage.


11 Oct 2022


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