I lost my sexual sobriety a few weeks ago.

Just cutting right to the chase — it’s been a hard few weeks.

From the start, I knew how risky it was to write so openly about my journey through sexual sobriety. I don’t regret doing so, but I feel all kinds of yucky confessing my pitfalls of the last few weeks: the masturbation, the online promiscuity, the repetitive search for “connection” that never fully fulfills.

I feel knots and sores in my stomach, and I haven’t slept well for weeks. How did this happen? How did I go astray, how I did I fall back off the wagon after five long months?

Is it even possible to stay on the wagon?

On the one hand, I’m so incredibly blessed by this online brotherhood. It’s a brotherhood extending even beyond this blog. Our new Patreon campaign is introducing me to readers — fellow brothers — on an individual basis.

Yet on the other hand, I continue to feel invisible and unknowable among men where I live. This pursuit stretches back three decades as I’ve searched for men in churches and places of work who will hear me, know me, love me — beyond the same-sex attracted friends I’ve made from the Internet.

It used to be that road trips and long conversations and hugs from my same-sex attracted brothers filled this deep longing inside me — now, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. It still does something, and I do love my same-sex attracted brothers. But the reality is this: those SSA connections just don’t “do it” for me like they used to.

Does that make sense? Does that make me awful?

I lost my sexual sobriety because I went in search of shortcuts to intimacy with other men. I knew it wouldn’t satisfy. Just like all the other times. But it was something, at least.

I need to eat something. I can’t just not eat. If I can’t consume a bountiful meal of true brotherhood, then the garbage of a promiscuous chat room will have to suffice.

I’m at the crossroads of several struggles right now: sexual frustration, relational barrenness, emotional insecurity, and spiritual wandering.

How can I join a church if every prior experience with church has resulted in fracture and failure?

How can I hope to stay sexually sober the rest of my life if the longest I’ve ever lasted is just 5 months?

How can I find and nurture genuine brotherhood if I’ve never experienced it for longer than a few weeks or months?

How can I trust God to provide solid opposite-sex attracted men when, to be honest, I feel like He’s failed me for 29 years?

I like to think in my car, and I like to pray in my car. Maybe “like” is too strong a word — but I do it. I do it a lot. I talk to God, and I say I’m sorry. Sorry for going to garbage, time and time again. Sorry for filling my heart with things that never satisfy, things that make His heart ache. Mine, too.

And yet as my patience runs out, I’m also not sorry. I grow indignant toward God, because here I am staying faithful in what I believe to be His sexual plan for my life — not looking for a boyfriend or running around with sexual promiscuity beyond a chat room — and He isn’t providing me the ground troops necessary for my survival. He isn’t surrounding me with willing men.

In short, He isn’t making this easy.

As the cofounder and editor of YOB, I feel definite pressure to be an “example.” For all the progress I’ve made in “coming out” and growing with my story, I feel woefully bankrupt in so much life experience.

I’ve never dated a girl.

I’ve never kissed anyone.

I’ve never had a male best friend.

I’ve made straight guy friends and lost them.

Like, I’m 29 years old. Shouldn’t I have just one redemptive story of opposite-sex brotherhood to share?

Shouldn’t I be able to celebrate this reality rather than mourn over such a fantasy?

Shouldn’t I be further along than I really am?

I don’t know where this new chapter is going. I don’t know who will enter my life or whose life I will enter, and I don’t know if the brotherhood I’m seeking will actually heal the deep dark parts of me that currently throb in my gut.

Is Jesus really “enough,” are brothers really “enough,” will there ever really be “enough” this side of Paradise?

I’ve lost my sexual sobriety. It was a good run. If nothing else, the last 5 months of sexual sobriety taught me I can indeed abstain for long stretches.

But it’s just one thing to abstain. You also have to fill the void with something.

I figure that if I can last that long without a solid network of face-to-face brothers, I’m hopeful that I can last longer with them. I do hope. In the meantime, I want to remain painfully honest on this blog, my other blog, and social media.

I want my Internet persona to translate more and more into my “real-life” person. I want my online accountability and connection to bleed more and more offline. I’m praying I somehow rediscover real-life masculine connection.

I just want to be real in every facet of my life. No facades. No faking.

Just Tom. All of him. Take him or leave him.

How do you stay sexually sober? Do you experience real-life accountability and connection with other men, opposite-sex attracted or otherwise?

  • I just want Tom. All of him. No facades. No faking. You don’t have to try to be anything you’re not, anything more than you really are. You made a mistake. It happens to everyone. You’re in no lower of a status now than you were a month ago. I’m glad you can at least talk about it.
    In a time like this, it’s easy to complain about everything we want but don’t have in life. It’s easy to blame our weakness on the lack of this or that, and then blame God for allowing us to go on lacking it, yet still expecting us to be good, strong Christians. God doesn’t shame us for our weakness. We can get discouraged and resentful at a time like this, or we can agree with our accuser that we are weak, but remind him that God is strong and that he loves us and forgives us. We can thank God at a time like this and find greater strength for the next round.
    You’re marvelous, Tom. I’m proud of you.

  • It’s easy for the married guys on this forum to say, “Hang in there”, when the wife is just laying next to them. We who have ZERO interest in women, have to contend with our bodies screaming for affection. Even as perfect as Eden was, even God said, “It’s not good that the man should be alone”. What is alone in a world of perfection? Going to church, keeping busy with things godly, fellowshipping with the brethren, bible study, prayer, with all of that it’s still not good that the man should be alone. I have done all of that and I am still horny, and alone. I can’t go to the left for gay sex, I can’t go to the right to the opposite sex because there is no desire, so it’s just straight on. I have stopped resenting God for all this because I see the purpose of it all. However, many do not. Even knowing that, I still need companionship. I am thankful for the LORD for Chris who is in my life. We have a great time doing things together. And he is a man who enjoys a good platonic cuddle and I NEED that sort of affection. Sure, I get aroused at the onset, but it’s a normal reaction when any one comes that near, but it subsides. Tom, I would give thanks daily and I hope you find a fellow in your community that you can be with in the platonic sense.

  • It’s easy for the married guys on this forum to say, “Hang in there”, when the wife is just laying next to them. We who have ZERO interest in women, have to contend with our bodies screaming for affection. Even as perfect as Eden was, even God said, “It’s not good that the man should be alone”. What is alone in a world of perfection? Going to church, keeping busy with things godly, fellowshipping with the brethren, bible study, prayer, with all of that it’s still not good that the man should be alone. I have done all of that and I am still horny, and alone. I can’t go to the left for gay sex, I can’t go to the right to the opposite sex because there is no desire, so it’s just straight on. I have stopped resenting God for all this because I see the purpose of it all. However, many do not. Even knowing that, I still need companionship. I am thankful for the LORD for Chris who is in my life. We have a great time doing things together. And he is a man who enjoys a good platonic cuddle and I NEED that sort of affection. Sure, I get aroused at the onset, but it’s a normal reaction when any one comes that near, but it subsides. Tom, I would give thanks daily and I hope you find a fellow in your community that you can be with in the platonic sense.

  • I join Kevin in my total acceptance of you, Tom! I celebrate your 5 months. I grieve the slip up with you. I hurt for the the painful things that you listed that led to your break with sexual sobriety and I understand how very real they are. Kevin also wants that close male friendship and yet it seems illusive. I have no explanation why God hasn’t answered your prayers yet.
    I made it 7.5 months with sexual sobriety from pornography and then got news that I had cancer. Then loneliness set in and I felt I was all alone as I tried to deal with my fears. Then I got hit with a sexual trigger too. I went back to porn addiction and only recently have I been able to stay sober more than 2 weeks. Day 51 if you must know. And I celebrate this!
    We are all on the path that our Savior and Lord calls us to–a path of holiness, purity, righteousness. And all of us (gay, straight, SAA, whatever) slip up on this journey and He Loves us through it all! Romans 8:38-39.
    I know I’m only one of those online guys you are friends with, but for what it’s worth, I do feel love for you Tom. And I’m glad to be on the road together with you taking this journey. I am also thankful for your authenticity, vulnerability and honesty. You’re my kind of guy.
    I gave up acting out (‘cept porn) years ago and so all my male friends till about 3 years ago were all straight hetero guys. Yes, they have been a blessing to me. A bunch of them know about my SSA since 2015 and they continue to love and support me. More recently I discovered a new world of male friends with unwanted SSA. They are also a blessing to me. They “get me” without much explanation needed and they know my shadows. I even have gay friends that I love deeply. Funny! I don’t care so much which camp my friends are in. I just want to be genuine with them, love them as deeply as I can, to know them and be known by them. The journey continues!
    Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t. But one great thing my SSA has shown me in the past 3 years is the awesome love of my Savior like I never experienced before. I pray that He will meet you wherever you are, Tom.

  • Hey Tom, you have a good heart brother. Reading this, I’m thinking most of us here know the pain of screwing up and feeling like the ground has given way and going on with God is feeling like a dead end. I’m not trying to rationalize my sin, but I’ve found that all my repeated failures have only made me know that it’s only grace that will get me home, not how well I do. My heart is set on going on. . . going on with God and having my eyes on Jesus, not my successes or failures. That includes other guys, straight guys, brothers who love me in Christ but who can’t emotionally go where my damaged/screwedup/beaten heart needs them to. They’re not supposed to. But I have found that when my heart is set on Jesus that my soul can be filled in Christ and the other stuff is just stuff, and I can be with guys where that stuff isn’t pressing down and I can just be a guy. I haven’t been commenting for a few weeks cause I was screwing up here, but just want you to know that I can’t be the only guy here that looks up to you cause of who you are. I don’t care as much that your sobriety only lasted 5 months, I care more that you’re my brother.

  • Thanks man. I for one, really appreciate your honesty. It challenges me in a good way. I get it. No judgement here. And I get what you mean needing to have those face to face needs met. Readjusting to the States has brought a lot of all of this to the surface. I dont want to say “hang in there” in the cliche way, but don’t give up hope. Nothing but love for you brother

  • I’m so sorry, Tom. I’ve also experienced most of what you’ve written here (and am even 29 as well). It sucks. Just this week I ended a month’s worth of sobriety, which was the farthest I’ve gotten in a year. It hurt more than when I would fail after a week.
    I wish I knew what started it so I could share. I had looked through some of Reclaim Sexual Health’s website and I think it was good to see understand the mental aspect of it. It also helps when I can remind myself that the men I see can’t be my friends so it’s useless to worry about them. I think a lot of what helps (both from my own experience and from what I’ve read other places) is replacing addictive thoughts with other things. Sometimes this is the aforementioned realizing that friendship won’t come of it. This last time I spent a lot of time thinking about real touch and real friends and all those things (perhaps a bit obsessive but at least better ordered). Video games or reading or other hobbies also help. My longest sobriety stretch of recent years was when I had school and work full time and didn’t really have time for anything else.
    I’m still at a point where SSA interactions really fill me (kind of like a church retreat) because I only get to visit my SSA friends once or twice a year. But I have a problem with accountability. It doesn’t seem to stick with me. People don’t seem to know what to say. Plus most of them are in the hole as much as I am. And I’m not really out to OSA guys to get much from them in that regard.

    • One month is amazing, Steven. I have a renewed perspective on addiction and sobriety, and I commend you for your striving. Thanks for sharing that with us.
      I hear you on the SSA fulfillment. I only get to see my SSA friends on an irregular basis, and it’s a blessing and a curse. Yearning for more consistent community with SSA and OSA friendships alike.

  • Geez Tom, you really do have the most heart rending articles. But you know, 5 months is way better than I’ve ever done. I’ve only ever gone a couple of weeks until those inevitable lonely evenings come up and ruin everything. So, you’ve done really well in this area honestly. Just dust yourself off and start over again.
    I totally understand those feelings of trying hard to make friends, praying to God for those friends and still getting a fistful of nothing to work with. SSA friends are very beneficial, but affirmation from masculine straight friends can really make you feel so much stronger. In these past 5 years, I’ve only been able to make good friends with 2 straight guys but sadly its been extremely difficult to turn those friendships into intimate ones. Its very very hard, and its worse when the current social attitudes to male friendships just beat you down further. Its so very hard and I’ve hit so many devastating disapointments and let downs. Gone through so much hurt and rejection. I still believe that like you God is leading us to something greater.

    • I always aim for the heart-rending stories. Or the heart-rending stories just have a knack for finding me.
      In any case, thanks for your words of comfort, Brian. Thanks for sharing your own perspective in your search for male intimacy. I feel you hard.
      To the journey. To something greater.

  • Tom, I hear you loud and clear. This has happened to me time and again. I am married and have been fighting this for 50 years and it doesn’t show any signs of lessening at times. I love my wife, but there’s something about the embrace of another man that I personally long to have. I was never hugged by my father, who was also unavailable in my young years plus being raised by three strong willed domineering women didn’t help in my masculinity.
    I continue to this day trying to find male connection, albeit in not so healthy ways….it’s just the connection that I crave….to be held.
    That might sound weird, but it’s my reality and maybe someone else can relate to this.
    Blessings to you my brother.

  • Tom, I’m gonna join the rest in thanking you so, so much for your openness and honesty. If you really desire to be known well, you are making some great strides, brother. Even if you feel let down by God in all of these experiences, He is using your message in a healing way. Maybe you feel like you aren’t reaping the direct benefits from it, but you are blessing us all, and God is going to bless you for that. Personally, you give me hope! The hope that I don’t have to be a slave to my sexual addiction.
    Be encouraged by all of these messages from your readers. Take time to let the words soak in. You are making a difference. You are helping us, and we want to help you too 🙂
    I love you in Christ..

  • Tom, this breaks my heart. I’m so sorry and i feel your anguish. I LOVE you “other bro”! And would theoretically/literally be more than happy to move to Asheville just to be there for you. Accept the unconditional love and infinite Grace! Yahweh is Good!

  • Thanks Tom – for being honest and being you. 5 months is awesome. Remember that you don’t lose those days! I understand the pain of being alone. And even in marriage there can be great isolation. Indeed filling that void with God and/or godly people/brothers seems the way out. But man I am so far from that place.

  • Hey Tom You are to be commended for your honesty and vulnerability sharing as you have here. That is the example you are called to set by doing this work. As bluzhauk said so well, it’s all about God’s grace plus nothing. Only his grace and mercy allows us to call ourselves “side b’s”. Only his grace and mercy keeps us on “side b”. For me having a church family and accountability partner has been my life support. My church lives out grace through faith alone and teaches nothing else. Do the people in my church identity with the ssa struggle ? Nope. Do they celebrate celibacy! Nope. But they do love me and extend grace. I would encourage you first and foremost to find this kind of church. Tom we love you and what you are doing and pray that God will strengthen and encourage you as you press on with Him.

    • Thanks for your support and perspective, Chris. Finding a local church/community is key, and it’s something I’m (finally) actively working toward where I live. I’m sure I’ll have more stories to tell the deeper I venture down this course.

  • Tom, we love you! Even among OSA guys, this struggle is real. I’ve talked with enough of them to know that they feel the ache for companionship, the distance that porn/ masturbation creates, and the need for brotherhood.
    Trouble is, at large, we don’t reach out.
    I’m so glad you reach out- to us, and I encourage you- to those around you.
    These are ‘human’ needs- not SSA needs. Everyone struggles with purity- sexual or otherwise. And everyone struggles with “the shadow”- these desires that scream out to us from our depths. Just like when we hide our sin, it loses its power when we bring it to light.
    So, talk, share your heart. Take risks. Because, there is no way to authentically connect if you are hiding.
    I have a couple of OSA guys I call brothers- the common trait is that I don’t hide from them. I share it all, expose my guts, am shamefully, emotionally naked in front of them. I am real. They are real, too.
    They are a blessing, and few and far between. But ultimately I still look for connection, brotherhood,

    • Thanks, Anon. The reaching out is key. I’m definitely one to hold onto my secrets and shame as long as humanly possible. Even writing/publishing this blog post took longer than anticipated. Baby steps. Telling myself over and over that the risk is worth it.

  • I love you, Tom.
    Have you gotten in touch with the young man who recognized you from the time he spent at the camp in the forest?

      • Okay. First of all, congratulations on the five months of sexual sobriety. What’s possible for five months is possible for much longer periods. A lapse does not have to be the end, just an interruption.
        How do I stay sexually sober? One thing is that I’ve never considered sex with other men something that was a possibility to be considered. It would be immoral, and I wouldn’t do it. So intimacy could not be achieved through sex. Frankly, I haven’t achieved any close intimacy, but that may in part be due to thinking for a long time that even intimacy would be wrong. (Then there was Mike, but I drove him away by trying to force the relationship.) What I have had is plenty of meaningful things to be involved with. My job was worthwhile and mostly enjoyable. My involvement in local government was also satisfying, as is my activity in my church. So I consider myself living proof that lack of intimacy is something that can be lived with if there is enough other good stuff in one’s life.
        It seems to me that there a lot of guys, at least in my corner of the internet, who are very unhappy about the lack of intimacy in their lives, however they word it. The problem is that you can’t force Mr. Right — whether one wants a boyfriend or an intimate OSA friend — to appear. All that happens is that they make themselves miserable by fixating on what they don’t have. Instead of this introspective self-diagnosis, these guys might do better to try to think about what they do have: the good things, the activities they’re involved in, their work.
        Don’t look for intimacy in all the right places. Church is important, but it’s not there to give you intimate friends. Same goes for work, and everything else you’re involved in. Let them be what they’re supposed to be. If you find the intimate friend you want, he could show up anywhere. Don’t make it one of your expectations for any of your involvements.
        The friend you want could even be that young man. Why put off responding to his outreach with a vague “perhaps somewhere down the road?” Whether or not anything big comes of it, he could be hoping you’ll show up at the restaurant before he goes on to another job. And even if a close friendship doesn’t develop, he’d probably be happy to have a friendly acquaintance in Asheville.
        One final thing: why restrict it to OSA’s for intimacy? An SSA guy committed to sexual sobriety could also be an intimate friend.

        • P.S. A propos therapy: I was in group therapy for about three of years, and it helped me overcome extreme shyness. One example: I used to get stuff in a store, bring it to the checkout, pay, and get my change without a word to the cashier; now I can have a little conversation (except when I’m in Japan, where I don’t speak the language). Maybe if I had had it earlier, I might have been able become a friend at some point. Maybe it could be useful for you.

        • To be honest, I already have plenty of “intimate” SSA friendships. I’m grateful for them, don’t get me wrong. So grateful. But there’s a residual reality that these guys inherently can’t give me what an OSA guy can. As I replied in another comment, I’m sure I’ll get around to elaborating on that notion in another post someday.

  • Thomas, I know this sounds unorthodox. But I am glad I fall. We have heard the saying, “Fall from grace” I think this is a stupid saying. Jesus Christ would concur with me on this one. How can we fall from grace when grace was established for the sinner? LOLOL. Paul said, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” “Where iniquity is abounding, grace MUCH MORE abounds”.
    I am glad I fall. I am not proud that I fall. To be honest, I don’t like it, but when I think I am getting to big for my britches, falling is the best thing for me. I need to see the pavement at close range. The greatest wisdom and knowledge seem to come right after I just sinned. I have often asked the LORD, “What the………” I don’t deserve this knowledge. But He sees that I need it, so I can stop perishing in my mind for a lack of knowledge. This is the best time to give something to someone is when they are humbled and down for the count. With that, I am glad I fall. Very unorthodox I know, but I am walking upstream against the current of this current Christianity which I have no love for.

    • “It’s all grace,” as my dad often says. The only thing that fuels me forward, pitfalls or not. I’m glad I fall, too, if only to recognize this power beyond myself. Thanks for all your thoughts on this post, AP. Such good stuff.

  • I had something else for this discussion, but the heck with it. Tom, if there is anything we ask for in this world it’s got to be honesty. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability. Five months or 5 minutes — we still love you brother. Peace & love.

  • Tom, as I said to you more privately, I love you the same as I did before the end of this time of sexual sobriety!
    Also, I fully get your words, “I need to eat something. I can’t just not eat.” We can’t just say no to the pleasure of sexual sin, we have to replace it with something better! I believe that “something” is passionately loving God and loving others.
    Why not courageously resist your fears and patiently pursue the friendships you crave with straight guys?
    It does take patience, because some will reject you and those that don’t will take work to maintain a friendship.
    It will cost you but it is well worth it!

    • Thanks always for your support and love, Marshall. It’s easier said than done, pursuing this craving for friendship with OSA guys. Looking for healthy ways to do this, as I feel especially prone to emotional dependency these days. Though the long process ahead intimidates me greatly, I know I’ve got to start moving that direction.

      • Tom, “start moving in that direction.” That’s all I was trying to say. I know it’s not easy at all and it probably won’t happen fast.
        It is worth it, though!

  • One thing we know thanks to research is that relapse is normal. It does not matter if that relapse has to do with substance use or other behaviors; across the board, relapse generally happens. I want you to know that you are not as alone in your experiences as you may feel. As someone who has done work on her own addictive behaviors and been generally successful, I have relapsed. When it happened, I picked myself back up and started over again at day one and kept moving forward. That’s all you can do.
    Along that train of thought, I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest (if you haven’t already) that you consider therapy, even short-term therapy. Groups are great (I’ve done the 12-step group thing, which is what started me on a full recovery journey), individual social support through friends and family is wonderful and necessary, but honestly the best work I’ve done was done in the context of a one-on-one therapeutic relationship where nothing was out of bounds. If it were not for therapy, I don’t think I would be anywhere near as functional as I am now. It was a life saver.
    Keep fighting. You’re doing okay.

    • Thanks for this, friend. So good to hear from you. I’ve accepted relapse as a part of life…but, of course, I’d like to see it happen less frequently.
      Therapy/counseling has been on my heart for a while now. It’s helpful to hear your perspective on it. Gonna start looking more into it.
      Much love, friend. You’re so great.

  • I love you Tom!!!!!! Sure you’re the founder of YOB and yadda yadda, so I get why you feel pressured to be an “example”. But dude, even your honesty in times like this is SUCH an example, and a blessing for me (and I’m sure many others too!). I could barely have the guts to be so honest like you. You inspire me!
    Now I have no idea if what I’m gonna say next will help in any way but the way I see it is this. I’ve messed up so much on sexual sobriety (seriously, so many times, I feel like I’m not even allowed to call it sobriety anymore) but I am so determined to not quit. Yeah it feels awful in the moment, but I take hold on what it says in Romans. There is no condemnation. None. Nada. I just refuse to feel guilt and shame anymore.
    You have this WHOLE community to pick you up in times like this. And GOD LOVES YOU ALL THE SAME. No less than your best ever Christian “omg so close to Jesus” day. Just keep going! It is a journey. Journey. When you trip up on ground, you don’t stay fallen flat on your face. You get up, brush the dirt off your clothes, and keep on walking.
    Continue your journey. Keep on walking bro. Love you so much, and still praying for you.

    • In light of eternity, yes He is. But obviously we’re not in eternity yet. In the meantime we need things like food and water and shelter and flesh-and-blood relationships. It doesn’t make as snazzy or appealing a hit worship song, but it’s the reality we all face on this fallen earth. Praying God supplies you with enough until that long awaited day arrives, Christian. Thanks for being honest here.

  • That you made it to 5 months is to be commended. That you slipped up demonstrates human frailty. That you are open about it shows courage and rightly draws support from personal friends and caring strangers. But that you are vulnerable not to seek attention but to genuinely wrestle with deep, important questions, to want to grow and mature, and to ultimately want to be real not just for your own sake but for His sake – words cannot properly express how much you are respected. Look in the mirror and see not someone who has failed, but a man continued to be wholly loved by God.
    And as others have said, your openness has helped others, me included. I have 3 particular accountability partners, two of them male. The two guys know about this part of my life, include some of the ways it has manifested itself into not good things. When they do bring it up (or when I feel the need to discuss it with them), I have to give them real, honest answers as part of my accountability agreement with them. It sure isn’t pleasant for either of us, but to have them help me with this part (and other parts) of my life has been invaluable and I know I am really fortunate to have such good and caring friends.

    • Ernest, thanks for encouraging me. I’m humbled and glad that my confession can have a positive impact on your own journey. Glad to hear you have some solid accountability in place. Keep pressing into that. So vital.

  • This took an incredible amount of courage to write and I’m very proud of you. The beauty of the Gospel message is that it’s okay to not be okay. Your testimony is still powerful and credible and inspiring. Hang in there, Tom.

    • Thanks so much, Jacob. My initial reaction to your “it’s okay to not be okay” message is “no, it’s not okay to not be okay.” But the negative compunction isn’t as strong as it once was. It’s easy for me to confess failings of the past; it’s much harder to confess current ongoing struggles that I’ve yet to overcome. Thanks for reminding me to keep bringing darkness to light.

      • Always. Anytime we share our stories we want to end it with a, “And we lived happily ever after in perfect purity and in complete victory over everything we’ve ever struggled with”. For me, I almost always desire to wrap it all up with a beautiful bow because I fear losing credibility or the validity of all previous triumphs. It takes a lot of humility to do what you did and I think it serves as an excellent example of what it means to live in authentic and honest community.

  • It’s 10:10 PM Central time and I need to sleep, but how can I when I have just found what I hope to be a support site for Brothers who are just like me. I am excited because each of us are at the same or different mile markers in our journey, and what the Holy Spirit hasn’t shown me might have been revealed to another Brother. Priceless.
    It was at our Annual Men’s retreat that the trio was again to sing, but this year I was also to give my testimony. Eight minutes was all the time I was allotted. Arriving at the retreat I was frightened to think I would again lust after the flesh of other men. The very moment I was faced with this temptation felt as if I was tossed back into the homosexual lifestyle. As usual I cried unto the Lord Jesus to help me through the storms of life. Never failing He quiets the storm as described in Psalms 107: 28-32. This time, I found myself meditating on Galatians 2:20. I was reminded of my realities, the effect of the cross over my life. As I remembered once again that my sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, I was flooded with understanding of His life in mine. Having faith in the Son of God this retreat weekend I experienced being complete in Him, and the torment I felt vanished. I was standing on Rock strength only felt by kings. I was reigning in victory, fully confident, girded with precious life experience, and armed with the fullness of Christ. I successfully rendered an example of God’s love in my life to a bit more than two hundred men. As I began to close as planned I would touch briefly on the fresh experience with the Lord Jesus, His Spirit who showed me that it is not I who live, but Christ in me, and no matter how many times the enemy tries to discount the power behind my restoration, we can rest fully trusting that our individual sin natures have died and the risen savior to whom we are complete in, lives, bringing victory over what is meant to destroy us. Two hundred men not at all familiar with the plight of a man such as my self gave a standing ovation, their applause thundered in the meeting hall for at least twenty seconds. I never expected such affirmation. Glory be to God that He can use someone such as I was.
    I so much resonate with you Tom on the struggle for sexual sobriety. I am almost entering into my second month, and in the back of my mind I fear what will come at the standard breaking point. This go around I have a bit more hope that what the Spirit of God revealed to me will finally put an end to this roller coaster ride. I love these times when in sobriety. I have found myself finding righteousness by what I do not do, but I think this is a trap. I recount the righteousness of Abraham. It was faith alone that was counted to him as righteousness. Faith that what God had told him would come to pass. Regardless of Abraham’s unrighteousness it did not nullify God’s promise. Abraham believed and this was righteousness imputed unto him, even before circumcision.
    Not long after the retreat I was faced with an evil desire, and I cried out unto the Lord and asked why I was struggling. He spoke to my heart and said, “you are in unbelief.” Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
    I know what Jesus is asking me to do. It is His sobriety that lives in me. It is His life that gives me longevity. It is His Spirit that gifts me with long suffering, it is His life in me. I trust that trusting in His life, His righteousness, and being rooted and grounded in the acceptance of this translation from death to life will lead me past the two month mark. If I keep my spiritual eyes on Him. Knowing that even one degree away from His heart will find me miles from His face.
    The early church is described as striving in this faith. It takes a fellowship of encouragement to win this race. It takes a striving to believe that what Jesus has done in us, is complete, true, and tangible. I pray this group I have found will bring light to my darkness, as is His light in each one of us.
    Each man in my church is under this striving. I am no more different than they, but one thing I have found. Because of my desperate plea, I work to seek Him. When I fail in this command, I am weakened in the faith. I begin to loose sight of His face and wander through the back alleys of my sinful desires, but when I seek once again, I find Him. When I find Him, He tells me to keep my sinful nature under the blood. He has said to stop resurrecting what has died, and in doing so He will anoint me for works of service, if I allow Him to. I have to stop thinking that the Lord God is like those men who have failed me. I must fail them too I guess. I feel like David sometimes, because even his father, brothers, and friends rejected him, but look at David he is described to be a man after God’s own heart…. I wonder how? He drew near to the one who loved him and became like his Father in Heaven. David found grace and received righteousness because of His belief. His heart was drawn to God and God’s heart to his.
    Well, I have been lost in the stories I have read. It is now 11:56 PM CST. This time I will go to bed.
    It is finished,
    Chris Rose

    • “If I keep my spiritual eyes on Him. Knowing that even one degree away from His heart will find me miles from His face. . . when I seek once again, I find Him.” Thankfully Jesus is never far away, even when we make it harder on ourselves to see him.
      Hey man it’s encouraging whenever anyone sees this journey as being in Christ and I really enjoyed what you wrote. Welcome to the fellowship Chris Rose.

    • Glad to have you with us, Chris! Thanks for sharing your story. Hope to hear more from you as time goes! And I hope our extensive collection of blogs don’t keep you up too late for too much longer. Have you heard of our new podcast? Those first six episodes could keep you up a little longer…

  • I just see somebody making the same mistakes I did at your age because of religious guilt, and long before I realized that the religious figures of my childhood was total hypocrites. You’re in the prime of your life, Tom. Don’t waste it.

    • Thanks for commenting, Rick. We’re all hypocrites in some way. I’m not disillusioned to think there’s any perfect person out there living a perfect spiritual life. That’s why I’m grateful for this community: one that lays our darkness and shortcomings down before God and one another. Don’t know where I’d be without these brothers!

      • You clearly never heard of –, Thomas. Just Google the name in quotes, and throw in — for good measure. And I suspect that without these “brothers” holding you back, you’d actually be living a real life. You’re…how old? Pushing 30, I believe? And how long have you been at this? Doing your psychological and spiritual therapy in a public forum, always analyzing and agonizing? Oh wait, you contextualize it as “one that lays our darkness and shortcomings down before God and one another.” The thing is, Thomas, I’ve been there and done that. I am only grateful that the Internet had not quite been around when I was in my late 20s, otherwise I’d have this nonsense shadowing me today. This has nothing to do with “evolving” as a Man of God or anything, Thomas, but a lot to do with a very painfully evident longing for attention which you are attempting to satisfy by wallowing publicly in drama (“I struggle with SSA…I acted out…I fell…I stumbled…I had a painful childhood…I am insecure about my body…I fell in love with a straight male friend, though I shouldn’t have…I am always rejected” and so forth and so on). But guess what? Because you love the attention (as far as I can tell) that problems bring more than any solution, which has the risk of losing your audience, you can become very addicted to this BS and before you know it, you are in your 40s or even 50s, recycling the same drama that you are currently processing in public right now. Basically, everybody who “supports” you now will be bored by then and will have moved on, but don’t worry, you will find a new audience, or so you think, of people who might believe you’re a new Saint Augustine for our time, writing a modern-day “Confessions.” One very wise Christian — Clive Staples Lewis, no less — wrote that the surest sign of Hell is the focus on the self. Think about that for a moment. You truly do not seem very outer-directed.

        • Respectfully, you don’t even know me, Rick. If you poke around the blog, you’ll see that I write about both sides of the coin — the messy and the miraculous all the same.
          As for my brothers. They are NOT holding me back. We blog together and road trip together and hang out and laugh and talk and eat and pray and sing and love together, and it’s the furthest thing from being held back. They give me life, and they remind me of what it is I’m fighting for. I love these guys with every fiber of my being, and it’s a miracle we even know each other let alone hang out in person as many times as we do.
          If you have an agenda to push, please don’t respond to this comment. But if you’re curious about learning more about our community, I hope you’ll follow us along.

          • Like I said, I’ve been there and done that. Believe me, I DO know you. But hey, I also know youthful idealism and what it is like to be committed to a cause which carries with it the impression of giving one a meaningful life. I had to earn my awakening the hard way. Good luck.

        • I can attest as a member of the YOB patreon group that Tom cares about all of us in the group and is not self directed at all.

  • Thanks Tom, for being brave enough to share your vulnerabilities. To answer one of your questions, no, you haven’t failed. We only fail when we give up! And thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we CAN be made whole again. I like to think of our time here on earth as a refinement process. Self mastery and improvement takes a life time of practice so don’t be to hard on yourself especially since you’re still young 😉

  • Tom…I have nothing less than deep and profound respect for you in sharing these things. It makes me respect you all the more. Through all your posts I have read, I can see the hand of God on you, and you have inspired many lives…even if we can only see through a glass darkly right now as we live in the hurley burley of life. I believe it is the humble person that God delights to use, not the self righteous, holier than thou person who pretends to have it all together. You have a great heart that reflects our Father’s in such a powerful way…just wanted to encourage you in some small way today.

  • Thanks for being honest, Tom. It’s not easy to overcome addictions and it’s not easy to get the connections you need. As you know, the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety; it’s connection. I wish I had the magic answer, but I struggle with the same thing (as I assume many in our community do).
    In regards to your disappointment in yourself as the founder of YOB, it would be far worse if you were deceiving us by promoting a facade of perfection rather than authenticating yourself as a fellow journeyer. I love what you do and I’m so grateful for your transparency and your devotion to Christ.

  • I have been celibate to men for twelve years now and since I rarely (if ever) have sex with my wife I am essentially a eunuch. I went celibate towards men out of self preservation, due to the threat of AIDS (finally got tested in May of 2016), the harsh words of my exboyfriend, and a sever injury to a coworker during sex. It was very hard, and I very nearly fell a few times. Since the stroke and coming back to the Lord, it has gotten a lot easier for me. Had to deal with porn addiction amongst other things (imagine finding out you are gay TWICE in your life).

  • Hey Tom, I’m late to the game, but I wanted to write my first ever comment here. I just discovered YOB this morning and never thought I would find so many like minded men on the same path I am. I began my recovery in 2012 with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT – yes, they actually exist! lol) and continued my recovery through celebrate recovery. They are several methods to staying sober for me – mindfulness meditation, hobbies, distractions, etc. The one that works for me is HALT evaluation based on 4 main triggers – Hunger, Anger, Lonliness and Tiredness. The moment I feel triggered, I evaluate my mood and distract myself by solving the trigger. I think we’re alike in that fact that loneliness (lack of male bonding) acts as a trigger. I too have not had a best male friend, but I pray and renew hope that God will provide when the time is right. To prepare for that, I am working on my codependency and identity. I often look to others to define my personality. I changed like a chameleon and never really form a real relationship based on my projection. I have to be comfortable and know who I am before I establish my forever male friendship. I’m taking applications, btw!!

    • Welcome to YOB, Jeremy. Congrats on your first comment! I hope we get to see more of your story unfold in the time to come. Loneliness is definitely my biggest trigger of the four you listed. Sometimes I remember to reach out to others in my times of loneliness; sometimes, I do not. Constantly needing to remind myself that I am never alone. Grateful for the brothers I’ve found here.

  • Hey Tom, I was reading through some of your older posts again like this one. I’m curious to know what the update to it now is, a year later. Do you still feel the same way about evething you mentioned? Has God come through yet on anything? How has your journey with sexual sobriety been since this post?

  • I’m already in contact with you Tom, but I want to say that this post is what helped me find YOB. Dealing with my recent failing of sexual sobriety, I searched the internet for answers and reassurances. While searching, I stumbled across a blog post on YOB called “Losing my sexual sobriety”. Your confession of your relapse has been the very catalyst that helped me find YOB. Surely God causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him!

  • Tom you are awesome. Without you realising it, you are an super cool person. I live on the other side of the world and i want to salute you. Having the balls to talk about things that we all feel and have a need for. So many times i just want to hook uo with a guy and kiss him untill i had enough Lol. Then realising that I have worked so hard in saying away from such temptation.
    Its been 7 months clean. But…. People…. Dont get me wrong…. Im sooo sexualy fustrared i can die. Lol

  • On a road less traveled you still meet some fellow venturers. On my journey I have stumbled, fallen, and crawled forward relying completely on the knowledge that all that is good comes from God. Now, with my nose in the dirt, I look up to see a mile marker put up by Tom. A stack of stones to give me hope. Your pain is shared. Your cries are heard though from afar. I send all my love and pray God would use whatever strength I have for you when your arms grow weary. Let me set aside my metaphors for a second and just say thank you for doing everything you do Tom. You may never understand or feel the full reward here on Earth, but a record is being kept. I volunteer to be your character witness whenever you face a trial. So be it for all the brothers out there who are determined to press on.

  • I see so much of myself in this brother’s story. And No it’s not easy. Honestly, I feel like the Lord wants me to be alone for a season. And I’ve been squirming and wandering and resisting His will. Of course not completely alone. I still get to be with mom and family and others but just not with a man/men. Can these deep needs within me even be met by another man. Somehow, I don’t think so. I think the Lord Himself wants to take me up into Himself and heal me and fill me with Himself. Wouldn’t it be great to be 100% satisfied in Christ alone. On fire for our first love. I think that’s what He’s up to and silly me is resisting His perfect will. Thank you JESUS for this brother and Thank you for his light that’s shining to where I can see myself more clearly. Thank you brother. Blessings to all here. CHADD

    • Blessings back to you, Chadd. To be 100% satisfied in Christ alone…I can truly say my heart hasn’t burned for such a reality than it does now after being burned by so many other pursuits.
      To this burning journey.

  • Since you wrote this, have you found the brotherhood you spoke of? Is God still not providing you the “ground troops” you expect and hope for? Or, is it business as usual, nominal relationships, seasons of sobriety, seasons of failure…?

    I’m asking because this is my story, too. I want lasting sobriety and a full life but I can’t sustain either. I’d like to know if you’ve experienced anything more on this subject of sobriety and brotherhood.

    Relationally I’m challenged so if the answer to my personal instability is brotherhood, then I’m screwed. From what I’ve observed, this brotherhood theory that so many people say is necessary yet very few actually possess to the degree they preach, is too elusive. I can’t put my weight on this pie in the sky theory.

    Like you, it’s been a long life trying to form a brotherhood only to fail time after time. Also much like you, I have come to the conclusion that, since I don’t have ground troops, this is by God’s design. It stands to reason that if I NEED it, He would supply it. Since I don’t have it, I must not need it. If this is true, what options does a guy like me have?

    I would appreciate any insight you have. I’ll especially appreciate insight that doesn’t tout overhyped pie in the sky theories that few christians actually live or tiresome psycho-babble like my counselor tries to feed me. Ha.

    I failed today and I can’t figure out why.

    • Thanks for commenting on this older post, Xiao. It’s an ongoing struggle! One of my huge life lessons in the last couple years is the simple but difficult task of living presently. I have insane expectations when it comes to friendship and community, and 99.9% of the time those expectations fall short. There’s beauty in the mundane and life in the valley. Doesn’t mean mountaintop moments or relational experiences aren’t still to be desired. But I want to do a better job stewarding what is rather than yearning for what may never be.

      It’s a balance of realism and optimism, not necessarily cynicism. Still on the journey!

  • Thomas Mark Zuniga

    I'm a storyteller and story-liver in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I'm YOB's cofounder and editor, and I also host our bimonthly podcast. I've written a couple books, including a memoir in 2013 where I first came out to the world. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, "twoBeckonings." I'm an INFJ, an Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. My favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.

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