Let’s talk about sex.
I’ve had it. More than once. With my wife. I’m married, so it happens. And I even have a child to prove this. However, I made a very different decision many years ago.
Before I was even dating or at all interested in my wife, I had sex with another man.
I’m not going to share the details. That’s neither helpful/beneficial nor necessary/any of anyone else’s business. But here’s what I will share.
Firstly, I was in a profoundly serious moment of weakness. I was struggling in school, alone, hungry, and exhausted.
Secondly, I knew what I was doing — or, at least, I thought I did. I knew what I wanted to do and, at that moment, I wanted to be with another man.
Lastly, I have regretted this decision every day of my life since.
Sex has power beyond what you can imagine. If you are a virgin, then you honestly cannot fathom anything about the long-term effects of sex.
I apologize, but you simply lack the capacity. The only fitting analogies don’t really make sense either, but I’ll give one a try.
Imagine tearing off a piece of your soul and giving it to someone else who, in return, rips off part of their soul and places it in the spot where you had ripped out yours. With sex, you’re basically exchanging pieces of your soul with somebody.
And it feels absolutely amazing in the moment. No wonder humanity has worshiped sex and almost always included it into pagan rituals whenever possible.
But just as sex is an absolutely amazing feeling, it’s agonizingly horrific when it goes wrong.
I learned the hardest way possible that the Bible has some good ideas about sex. After hooking up with that guy, I almost killed myself. The intense amount of feelings that swarmed me as I sat in my car alone drove me to a desire for numbness.
I wanted to feel nothing in the ocean of feeling everything.
But the side-effects didn’t end that night my life was spared.
My wife and I have had to wrestle with my decision to have sex before marriage — a decision I made YEARS before we even started dating! You would think there’d be ZERO consequences on our marriage due to my decision. And yet — well, it still causes us each to struggle at times.
Having sex that one time has impacted every part of my life — my career, my friendships, my health, my walk with God.
I’m haunted by the thought that there is a man out there who now knows me as a former sex-partner. This guy could walk into my office one day and recognize me there. He could walk into church while I’m serving and call me out. He could run into me while I’m with my wife and daughter.
I’m scared to death of exposing my present surroundings to my past mistakes. I want my past to stay where it is — in the past. But I realize that this isn’t a guaranteed thing.
Please understand, I don’t say all this to scare you sexless. Sex can be a wonderful thing when done properly; it truly is a gift from God, and I am thankful for it.
I say all this as a caution or warning or an FYI. Sex isn’t just sex. Sex is beyond what you can imagine if you haven’t yet had it. And it is still an abyss of learning if you have had it.
And, either way, we need to talk about it more.
You need not dive into specifics, but have you ever hooked up with another man? What led you to this decision, and what were your feelings afterward?
Photos courtesy ewanrayment , Creative Commons.
Wow! Some very strong feelings and ideas coming out of this, Dean. I don’t want in any way to demean your experience or your understanding of it, but I would never take such a line myself. One can make a god out of sex this way and I don’t want to do that. If I put sex on such a pedestal that’s when I really get screwed up (sorry about the pun – quite unintentional). I have inhibitions that ruin my sex life and it’s almost impossible to override them. They stem from an over-religious, moralistic, puritan kind of view of sex, which in many ways did just this – put sex on a pedestal and worshiped it in a perverse kind of way – and they’ve been implanted from childhood and through parents and church. I think one can give a part of one’s soul in sex, but only when it involves all of one’s being – mind, will and emotion. And it is good and right to do this in a committed relationship. But if one has done this outside a committed relationship one probably needs to break the soul ties, if that’s what has happened and one doesn’t want the tie. That can be done by repentance and prayer. Mostly sex outside of a loving, committed relationship is nothing more than a heightened physical experience, in my opinion. It’s hard to find a physical experience that gives one quite the high that sex does – perhaps drugs do that, I don’t know – which is why it really grips our imaginations, and if you do involve the emotions too it can increase the high enormously. But I certainly don’t want to make it into a god that rules my life. Enjoy the pleasure (inhibitions aside) and move on. For the record I was married for 40 something years and enjoyed a passable sex life for at least 30 of those years, entirely monogamous and no pre-marital or extra-marital affairs. Since then, in the last 4 years, I have had sex in some form or another with 5 men. Three of those have been in relationship (not generally deeply committed, but still relationship), the last of which I am hoping to deepen into a long, caring relationship. One was attempting to develop a relationship which I hoped would become long and caring (but it didn’t work out at all) while the other was a one-off casual thing which I would not care to repeat.
I appreciate that you didn’t demean my experience, Jeremy. Though not common, I have heard others say their experience in has been less spiritual/ emotional. I could wax many theories but I would hardly offer any valuable insights other than, as I always say, everyone has a different story. I have found the norm to be similar to my experience- sex being a very powerful bonding experience between people. But I have found otherwise. Thank you for sharing your story!
I know you wish that sexual encounter hadn’t happened, but hold fast to the truth that God delights in redeeming our messes. It’s clear to me that He is indeed redeeming that experience through your marriage, your fatherhood, and the rest of your life. So blessed by your story and willingness to bring darkness to light. You’re what this blog is all about!
Thank you, Tom. It has taken time, but I do know God can and has used this mistake of mine for the sake of His glory. It doesn’t excuse my mistake but it does redeem the mess I created as you stated. And thank you for offering a place to bringing darkness to light!
Definitely took different paths! I look forward to hearing more about your path- see if you can beat me to a follow up post about that. 😉
I never had sex with a man. Only with my wife, and only after we were married. That was one of the best decisions of my life. But I can attest to the soul-ripping/replacing metaphor you gave. My wife and I were together for about three weeks after we got married before I had to return to the States without her so that I could look for an apartment and a job. We ended up being in separate countries for ten months. Turning on the sex switch, waking up that beast, and then abandoning it for ten months was heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching, God-knows-what-else-wrenching. I don’t recommend it to anyone unless absolutely necessary as it was in my case. It’s better to never have sex than to have sex and try to give it up.
Sex is definitely harder to avoid once having had it. I’m glad, though it was difficult, that you have only shared that experience with your wife. Sex is truly a blessing in a marriage.
This is somewhat of a confusing arena for me considering that I’ve “experimented” with boys as a boy myself years ago, but it wasn’t implicitly sexual. However, a little over a year ago I did cross that sexual line but it’s a little more complicated than that. I don’t know whether to say I’m a virgin or not. But I do somewhat feel that soul ripping analogy and still being connected to the other guy involved. To begin with it was even worse because I saw this person on somewhat of a daily basis. Luckily for me it’s not as awkward anymore and he’s forgiven me but it’s still strange. I may write about this in a future post.
John, share this story if you want to, just don’t give details that might identify the other guy. I am having trouble writing some of my own stories in a way that keeps my friends anonymous but still lets readers feel the impact of what happened.
Yup, it’s okay to “lie” by changing any identifying details (names, locations, even the year or era of time). The main thing is what you felt and how it impacted you, not so much all those surrounding details. It can be daunting to tell a tale this way, but I like to look at it as a fun third genre somewhere between fiction and nonfiction.
Definitely share with discretion. I’m glad you have found forgiveness amidst the situation, John.
This was a hard one for me to read. So many emotions….I was raised that sex was meant to be between a married man and women. In high school, I took a purity pledge, I had the ring and everything. While dating, the most we ever did was french kiss and even that was rare. My first time, was on my wedding night to my wife. It was both great and hard, I felt guilty for the years of masturbation and porn that I endulged in. Once I confessed this to my wife, we were able to freely enjoy our passion. A few years into the marriage, I began to dabble in porn (gay porn, of course), I became addicted. I lived with a self righteous ideal of myself, I had these feelings and desires for guys, but I stayed faithful to my wife and kept the vows of our marriage. I’m not sure I can put into words what changed in me, but I reached a point where the temptation was too much. I ended up meeting a guy online and after meeting and texting for a few months, we ended up having sex. that moment changed me forever. I broke my vows to my God, my wife and my church. I will forever live with the consequences of my actions.
Thank you for sharing, Mike. Remember what Paul says in Romans- “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Yes you broke your vows but God offers forgiveness if you repent and embrace His grace. Healing will come- it takes time, but it will happen.
Thanks for writing about this Dean. So much of what you said I could have written myself. If there were one moment in my life that I could rewind the tape and not play it, it was the first time I hooked up with another guy. That began a sexual relationship that lasted 8 or 9 months. In the end, I understood that this was not love and not fulfilling. He used me to satisfy his lust. I walked away from that homosexual relationship almost 40 years ago and never had sex with a man again. I was vulnerable and has same-sex attractions because of my childhood and teenage experiences that left me feeling emotionally needy and like I was not OK as a man in a man’s world. Lots of shame and loneliness. Trying to fulfill those genuine needs with sexual connection just doesn’t work. The sex was at first exciting, but without the deeper love and commitment, it just tore a hole in me worse than the hole I was trying to fill.
I’ve often said that sex is like Jay’s potato chips: you can’t just eat one. If you don’t know that brand (Midwest distribution), it is their slogan. Even though I’m still a virgin, I have said this to both people contemplating pre-marital sex, and those wanting to stop. I don’t know how I knew this, but I have always suspected God showed it to me. I can relate because of masturbation. I wonder if this regret is part of the reason you hate yourself (a different blog that came later; I’m reading backwards). I hope for you’re self-forgiveness, but yes, the problem of how it affects your marriage can be a lasting consequence until you both find peace. I have heard other straight couples talk about their fear that if a spouse had sex before marriage, what will stop them from doing it again outside of marriage? I think trust can be built through trust in God that no matter what happens, God’s love is strong enough to make it through great hurt. I think it is the only way we can really have peace or trust in others.
I have never commented on this, but it seems my experience with SSA and sexual relations differ from many, many other men. I was never searching for another man in order to “supplement” my masculinity. I liked men I thought were similar to me. What I did value much was beauty, but who doesn’t? Also, I got around quite a bit and many times felt a very deep connection with the other man, but never felt my soul was involved because I consider my soul untouchable to other human beings — I hope that makes sense. What I did feel was a sharing of my heart, and my heart was broken many times. Many of those times my fault since I always waited for the other guy to call. I didn’t make the call myself and blamed them for not keeping in touch.
I don’t recommend sex outside the Sacrament or Marriage. Like others here have said, it is so alluring, but ther is a possibility it will haunt you for life. The times I have had to deflect thoughts on certain men I was with are numerous, plus I gained “knowledge” of men, a knowledge I’d be better off without. Additionally, the more beautiful the man and/or the greater the sexual experience, the emptier you feel afterwards. You have no peace or joy the morning after. Then by the night, you have to find another man to get high with on sex with again. It’s like a drug, a bad drug. Been free for seventeen years, not even masturbation or fantasizing. I’m a faithful Catholic, but regardless, it’s difficult at times — many times — very difficult. God helps me, though and I ask Him to help and bless all of you. Twitter:@skies_tx & @angels_texas
I read this one as soon as you posted it, Dean. I’ve been wresting with whether respond. The cautious, “safe” side of me wants to just avoid the issue, while the profoundly affected side of me suggests that I should respond for the benefit of the Community itself. Since you’re obviously now reading this, let it be known that I weighed those two decisions and chose what is, for me personally, the more difficult of the two.
“Firstly, I was in a profoundly serious moment of weakness.” I was vulnerable—struggling with all of the emotions of the betrayal I felt in having fulfilled my military service obligations to our country, and then being denied my retirement and forced to deploy to a war zone… for a third time during my career. I already felt angry, alone, confused, and spiritually exhausted, once I arrived in war-torn Iraq.
Secondly, I knew what I was doing. What happened was a conscious and intentional decision that I have to own-up to, and accept the personal responsibility for. And like you, at that moment, I wanted to be with another man—or at least I thought that’s what I wanted. Looking back, all I really wanted in that moment of tome was the exact same thing I’ve wanted throughout this journey… I wanted to feel loved and appreciated in my masculine personhood, and I just wanted all of the inward emptiness and pain I’d felt to come to an end.
“Lastly, I have regretted this decision every day of my life since.”
Even more than deceiving or betraying God and my spouce, I deceived and betrayed my own soul that day.
Facebook was still establishing itself as a social media platform, and MySpace was still the popular social media platform of the time. I sought the guy out there—another soldier like myself. I’d not done anything remotely like this before (or since), so the first thing I was so shocked to find was the number of other soldiers I actually found on the site, who were obviously also looking to “hook-up” with other men, as you put it.
Very much like going through the merchandise before making a selection on Amazon, I searched through their profiles looking for someone to reach out to. I found one… I did… he responded. And within the hour, we were together in my room.
The details of what took place are not important to relate, except to point out that when he asked me “if I wanted to go further” into the depravity of what we’d already “shared” with each other, I’m glad that I came to my senses and declined his invitation. And I count it as the only redeeming aspect of that evening that in the moment of that question, how God brought me back to my right mind, so that I denied myself that free opportunity to “go all the way” with another man, and I have no regrets that it’s something I’ve never experienced.
I’ve never spoken of this to anyone, except to confess it to another deployed soldier—a Christian friend whom I trusted—a few weeks later, when the guilt and weight of it just became way too unbearable for me to carry any longer.
Now I want to switch gears from confession, and focus my remaining comments upon the real point of what I’d like any potential readers of my words to take away from this… the negative impact and hellish torment that it became to me:
Leading into it, I’d literally used a Bible passage as the self-justification for the sinful path I’d already chosen. I read these words of Solomon, from Ecclesiastes 2:10,
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.”
I figured, “I just need to find out for myself. I need to know if ‘this’ can fill up this void I’ve always felt. I need to answer this question once and for all, for myself!” I see now how incerdibly foolish that was. I was rationalizing away the foundations of truth, plain and simple.
And then, for the remaining long months of the deployment afterward, wherever I’d see that other soldier out and about inside of the FOB where we were both assigned, I’d be forced to relive the guilt of the experience, all over again.
The anxiety I experienced after it happened was nothing short of horrible! I don’t ever remember crossing paths with the guy before we “hooked-up.” But then afterward, it seemed like I was always cautiously checking my surroundings, because I crossed paths with him again more often than I care to recall. And I can’t seem to simply forget his name as I’d like to, either. I even remember what month of the year it was, when it happened.
Following the deployment, I made the conscious decision to keep what had happened from my wife. I’d compromised our marriage once before, years and years ago, and it seemed that it took her forever to trust me again after that. I did not want to hurt her like that all over again, and I didn’t want to pile even more self-condemnation on top of the guilt I was already experiencing. The truth was that I wasn’t trustworthy… and I knew it! But I’d also repented of what I’d done, and I was just too afraid to resurrect the guilt of it all over again for the purposes of human judgement as well.
I did not feel truly “free” from the memory of it until I’d been back home for an entire year. And during that time, I even recall seeing other soldiers around the Army base occasionally, who reminded me of the guy, causing my anxiety to rise all over again. But I don’t think I actually ever crossed paths with the guy again, after the deployment.
That was nearly ten years ago, now, and even today as I’ve written about it, it is still difficult to admit that I allowed it to happen… that I willfully chose for it to happen!
Like my fellow “Dean” said, good brothers,
“Having sex that one time has impacted every part of my life—my career, my friendships, my health, my walk with God.” And you simply cannot count the great personal cost of giving yourself over to it with anyone other than your spouse.
There is pleasure in sin for a season… but I know the human heart is deceitful above all things!
– a combining of the principles found in Hebrews 11:25 & Jeremiah 17:9
Thank you for sharing your story, fellow Dean. I appreciate your vulnerability here. This post was definitely not easy to write- sharing my failures so openly definitely stings. But it does bring healing. I pray you have found the same through sharing here. I’m glad you decided to choose that option, having wrestled with it for a month or two.
Yes, brother, there’s definitely healing to be found in sharing here. No… it isn’t always easy (this one wasn’t). But I’m glad I chose to share it, as well.
Thank you for sharing, Dean. I’m sure it will save someone from a disastrous decision. You Deans are excellent writers and excellent men.