Jesus

Adventures in Faith

I'm Straight and Still Beg God to Reinvent My Sex Life

It started with Miss Piggy and her pretty pink curves at age three.

Then our baby sitter, then Debbie Gibson, a girl in my 4th grade class. I’ve got a list of crushes into the hundreds. From my earliest memories I was strongly attracted to many different women.

My first female obsession.

My first female obsession.

I was not born a "one woman man."

Maybe its genetic, I'm not sure, I just know my attractions, should I follow through on them, is not God's plan for me.

I was born in "original sin." 

In high school I wrote poems about women. In college, I took philosophy of art, beauty, and aesthetics courses and a figure drawing class where I'd sit for hours drawing naked women three years in a row. 

I waxed poetic about the lusts of my flesh as justified, natural, productive, a celebration of God's penultimate creation. 

Despite my parents stern warnings against sex before marriage, the allure of women was too much, my roots in the gospel too weak, and I not only succumbed to a life of sexual sin, I dove in proudly.

My world got ugly fast.

Me prowling the streets of Philadelphia circa 2010.

Me prowling the streets of Philadelphia circa 2010.

Deception in relationships, broken hearts, barely dodging pregnancy and disease, embarrassment and walks of shame, all as I slid into a pattern of companionship that left me ever lonelier. 

I often self medicated to enable myself to do what, in the depths of my heart, I knew was wrong. It was a raucous and wicked downward spiral. 

I had no idea that with each woman I slept with an imprint was being left on my soul that would not easily be washed away.

By society's standards I was a stud, playboy, lady killer, the character many men aspire to be. I fed on the attention.

My sin was about to be exposed.

Then I found a Godly woman.

The high of meeting a good woman, one who seemed to emanate light and goodness, was quickly followed by dread. As I learned of her strong faith and remembered what I knew about the tenants of my own, I felt like a stained rag. 

"What was I thinking?!?" I lamented. The gravity of it all hit me at once.

A long road of pulling myself out of the pit of  doing sex my own way instead of God's way was before me. 

Hard conversations. Shock by her at how calloused I had become. The effects of so many tangled relationships constantly popping up in photos, old social media posts, phone calls and texts I didn't want to get. 

It was a terribly painful process.

I had trouble not resorting to deception or half truths. It was hard to discern what to reveal and when. I subconsciously wondered how I could let the depths of my depravity be known.

We worked through it--this Godly woman and I--as she showed me unending grace. 

Marriage = doing sex God's way! (or so I thought)

Once I entered into the freedom of the marriage covenant with a woman I was wildly attracted to, I finally had sexual freedom! But the twisted tentacles of sexual sin began to pull at my new marriage in unexpected ways.  

As I drove home from work one day, knowing my wife would want to be intimate, I dreaded that I would not respond appropriately.

How could this happen? Never in a million years! This is a curse!

I gripped the steering wheel and pleaded to God, "Lord, please reinvent my sexuality!" Right away I heard God whisper, "Ryan, be selfless and make this about her, not you." 

I was learning how to love in a very different way, my very sexuality being reprogrammed from that of a predator on an unending hunt to someone willing to love unconditionally and sacrificially. 

Encouraging bumper stickers as I worked through my stuff. 

Encouraging bumper stickers as I worked through my stuff. 

Paying for my past.

My old life reared its head with certain triggers, like staying in hotel rooms while traveling, staying up late drinking, seeing old flames around town or online.

They were all major challenges that I've had to attack in repentance, prayer, talking with Whitney and other men who hold me accountable. 

A thousand times I've asked God to wipe clean my memory, to delete the images that are stored in the depths where I no longer want them. Over time, he seems to be hearing my plea. 

I've also found myself incredibly sad for the woman I was with. Many probably have deep wounds I can never fix. Even as I know I'm forgiven, it grieves me to know what I did to these young women who are made in God's image. 

Further, I've come to realize that in my sin my whole way of thinking about sex had become warped, self-centered, and in need of a complete overhaul. 

An awful nightmare woke me up.

The good news is that, as I battle to do sex God's way, the trajectory of my sex life has moved closer and closer to His plan. There was one instance, however, that resulted in a giant leap forward.

I had dabbled in sin, I can't remember what it was, probably looking at porn online.

One night I had an awful dream. I was being seduced by a woman and as I eagerly pursued her I was also aware of my wife calling out in search of me nearby.

I awoke terrified at what I was doing and in that moment God exposed my patterns of deceit, bitterness when I don't get what I want, bartering and manipulation for sex, game playing, all the effects of separation of sex from God's plan. 

I had a wave of fear hit me--fear of the coming wrath of God. So much so that confessing to my wife seemed like the easy thing to do!

The next day, while at work I texted my wife that we needed to talk so I couldn’t chicken out later.

My wife and I have come a long way since we were married in 2012. 

My wife and I have come a long way since we were married in 2012. 

I repented and asked for her forgiveness, and it led to a several week long conversation that was uncomfortable, and yet freeing.

Something changed in our marriage, I couldn't put my finger on it, something spiritual and good and necessary. This ugly sin that was confronted and lifted before God had somehow drawn us closer. 

It's a lesson I haven't forgotten. 

Stopping sexual sin in my family.

I take this sin seriously now, especially since as a society we openly invite sexual sin into our eyes and hearts, and we drift further from God's plan for sex and marriage. 

King David, a man after God's own heart, saw his sexual sin wreak havoc in his family. So I pray over my boys weekly, "Lord, please don't let my sins in this area affect them, please protect them."

I'm much more open about this issue now than ever before (this blog as a case in point). I talk regularly to other guys about this, a community that has bolstered my defenses.

My wife and I actively work to guard my heart, for example, we don't watch racy movies, and she thumbs through magazine's I get and tears out the soft porn that now comes in health, technology, even cooking publications. 

Regular immersion in God's word and in prayer is a hedge of protection. I also avoid the circumstances where I know I am weak and tempted, such as drinking too much, exhaustion, or mindless web surfing late at night.

Victory is possible.

I wish I could tell you God wiped away my whole past, but He hasn't. The pictures in my mind and perversions in my thinking have regularly eaten away at our intimacy.

I have a daily battle to take captive every thought and hold it up against God's plan for my life. Often after months of victory the ugly sin of lust will rear up from out of the darkness to try to devour me. I've had to learn to be vigilant and ready to do battle at any moment.

And yet, I feel increasingly that I'm no longer a slave to my physical urges. I've become mostly rewired to recognize that sex, even in marriage, is not about me, but is as is described in 1 Corinthians 7, where we learn that our bodies are not our own, but are given to each other. 

I yearn for the day when I have complete victory, when the thought of sex outside of God's plan repulses me, and when I see women not as objects for my own pleasure but as wonderfully made daughters worthy of love and respect. 

Even the fact that I can write that last sentence as a goal for myself, and not be so blind to the err of my ways, is a testament to what God has done in my life, and what he can do in yours too. 

And wildly, as God is apt to do, he's taken this weakness of mine and redeemed it as men now seek me out for counsel for sexual sin. Sadly there are so many who are lost. 


A quick guide + a sermon packed with truth.

After talking to lots of men about this very issue I created this short guide on what's worked for me to overcome sexual sin. 

If you want a biblically sound eloquent dive into this topic, watch this sermon by my pastor, Paul Anderson, of Grace Valley Fellowship, framed by his conversations with a gay Texas millionaire.

In closing.

When I first started to get serious about my faith, I remember hearing that some of the guys at church didn’t even masturbate, and I remember thinking, “I don’t think that’s even healthy!”

I never imagined that one day I would earnestly seek to save all sexual energy for my wife alone. And if someone had told me I needed to do that to be a Christian, I might have turned and run.

The point is, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Start by reading the Bible, and pray and ask God to reshape your thinking. Ask him to put people in your life you can talk to about this, someone with a Godly perspective. He answers when we knock.

Over time, through Christ alone, victory over sexual sin is possible.

...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6

Other posts on sex...

Adventures in Faith

#metoo - Here is how we combat sexual harassment

Let me join the chorus of those who've been harassed. 

The owner of a fine dining restaurant, and my boss, would often get drunk and grab at me from all angles. She'd say vulgar things to me and the rest of the crew.

When I bartended in Key West more than a few times I'd have wealthy gay men come in and proposition me or otherwise put me in an uncomfortable environment. 

Another time a married woman gave me her room key and kissed my neck as she walked away. 

As a part-time model and actor, I've often had extra sensitivity to my environment to ensure I don't get caught in a bad situation by someone with ill intent. Fortunately, my agents do a good job screening out shady people, and I've never been abused like some of the stories we're reading about in the news now.

Why do I share this now? What's my point? It's this...why is anyone surprised?

I thought everyone knew Hollywood was full of aggressive sexual behavior and abuse? I mean, even if ya don't know the industry gossip, just look at the product they're creating.

I thought everyone knew that as a society we have been fighting for our freedom to express ourselves sexually, even at the expense of what others see as morally right and wrong?

I thought everyone knew that we flat out accept overt sexual references, derogatory language, and uncomfortable displays of nudity in the public sphere? Whitney and I can hardly find a sitcom or live comedy show to attend anymore.

If we are foolish enough to think that throwing out modesty and traditional marriage as a society has nothing to do with the abuse we're seeing, then we're in for a very difficult shock to reality in the years ahead. 

This behavior is not going to get better, it will get worse, and our country needs Jesus and God's plan for sex more now than ever. 

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
— Galatians 6:7-8

Adventures in Faith

I Did A 180 In While Praying In Bed

Check out this turn of events last night as I sought the Lord for wisdom and peace in the face of anxiety...

Here is the text from the Oswald Chambers devotional for July 7th:

Coming out of this devotional, my attitude is very different. I'm embracing Scriptural truth delivered precisely at the time and way that I need it.

But then, as I often do, I say to God, "This is great, I would love to hear from you from your own Word, from the Bible." So I open my Bible app, and I read this:

You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
— Psalms 4:7-8

I mean, come on, I'm laying in bed wide awake with a sort of anxiety, God shows me truth directly applying to my hardships, then reminds me what He's given to me, and who is in control. At this point, I'm feeling amazing, and just 30 min. or so after feeling faced with insurmountable odds.

It doesn't end there.

I feel like there's one last thing I should check, at the end of the day, I was introduced via email to a guy that, I'm thinking now, might be worth looking into before I fall asleep.

I do a quick check, and after a couple of clicks, I find myself reading this article. If you're an entrepreneur, you need to read that article. But for me, this article addresses the precise issue that I'm wrestling with in the start-up at my firm, which is this, there is a typical team that is looked on to solve tech problems, and we don't have that team, so how do we proceed. The article, very pointedly, talks about a new kind of team--what are the chances of that?

So in under an hour, all of my anxieties are addressed, i'm reminded of who's in charge with incredible lasting wisdom to remember, and the cherry on top, i get a new framework to think about my business problem in a practical way, so practical, it reshapes my plans for the next day.

How's that for answer to prayer?!

Adventures in Faith

Why I Got Baptized Again As An Adult

On this day in 2011 I was baptized again.

I say again, because like many people, I was baptized by my parents when I was little. I'm really thankful that my parents took that step to make the public statement that they were going to raise me as a Christian.

I also felt it absolutely essential that, as a thinking adult, I chose Jesus for myself. 

I literally got to a point in my journey to know Jesus where I felt like I needed to get baptized as soon as I possibly could. I literally had come to see my life as a filthy rag, stained with the effects of my rebellion against God. And I needed to be washed clean, which I knew I could not do on my own but only through Jesus the Christ.

Then, one day while attending church, the pastor got up to make an announcement, he said, "some of you have reached a point where you need to get baptized, and we're going to do that on July 3rd." And he looked right at me.

That was it, I was getting baptized. And in so doing, here's what I wanted to say:

  1. My faith is in Jesus as my personal Savior.
  2. However crazy it is, I believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead.
  3. I am sincerely and totally repentant of my old sinful life—this is my "burial" of that sinful life.
  4. And baptism pictures my rising up to a new life of spiritual obedience to God.

It is an outward acknowledgment of the realization that the old self must die in order that the new self might rise again to live—this time really live—by God’s laws and commandments as made possible through His Holy Spirit.

And, as I hope this blog gives some credence to, it is indeed a new life surrendered to the will and authority of God, albeit imperfectly most of the time. I could never have imagined then what a different life it is when you walk with Jesus. 

I'm so glad I did this, it's been so important in my "walk with Jesus" and if you have not done so, I would strongly encourage you to consider making such a statement yourself.

Adventures in Faith

This is How to Confront Evil

In Scripture Jesus demonstrates his power over the darkest evils, he confronts the demons! And yet, the modern world, and especially in the USA, we ignore the spiritual realm--this is a HUGE mistake. Scripture is clear: we are not in a battle of flesh and blood but of the principalities of evil! And Scripture provides the toolkit to deal with these things, it's called the full armor of God. While we're arguing over gun and immigration control and more, we're ignoring the flood of evil our country; in our ignorance it has cloaked us. 

 

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Be connected to the vine, know Scripture, fight temptation, be a person of prayer, be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, walk out GOD'S plan for your life, not what you want but what God wants for you. 

Adventures in Faith

I'm Not A Good Dude, Christian, etc.

After coming to a place in my faith where I realize there is "stuff" in my heart that is wicked, that I don't want there, that I can't remove, and which I need to Lord to literally do heart surgery, I feel compelled to share this with you all. 

Also, I reference this Scripture...

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
— The Apostle Paul Speaking in 1 Timothy 1:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
— Paul in Romans 7:15
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

And this sermon by Tim Keller, which is seriously too good not to hear.

Here's a post by a brother in Christ I really respect, a real warrior and disciple-maker, David Watson, that touches on the gravity of this issue we have as Christians projecting this image that we have it figured out, that we're not battling demons, that we're not trapped in sin as much as anyone.

Adventures in Faith

Speaking to Students at Alma Heights Christian School

A teacher at Alma Heights Christian School in Pacifica, CA, reached out to me to talk to the high schoolers. I was super blessed by her invitation, and felt God prompt me to accept it followed by His preparing me to deliver a message. This is what I shared:

Pretty new to talking to students about my faith. Some were clearly engaged, while others were just as clearly sleeping. I trust God for any impact. Sowing seeds, letting someone else water, knowing God Himself is responsible for growth.

I was super encouraged that one student came up to me after the talk, after the room had cleared, to say he felt like I was speaking directly to him. He said he was nervous to come talk to me, but he just had to since he felt so clearly that I was speaking directly to him. He told me why he felt that way, and it was clear that the Holy Spirit had moved in that room. We exchanged info and I encouraged him and instructed him as best I could.

After I left, I got a message on Twitter then text messages from students--this is what they said: 

can I ask for your opinion on homosexuality? do you think its wrong? last year i accepted who i was and i knew i was attracted to boys since i was little... i believe i was born like this and it wasn't my choice.

Your whole message resonated with me. i'm going through a rough patch with someone i've been dating. i feel like God has placed you in my life because i don't know what to do. How do you listen to God and hear his voice?

Suddenly my offer to be a brother in Christ to these students became very real. Amazingly, I felt very equipped to respond to the inquires I got, not because of my own wisdom, but because I was literally sitting with brothers in Christ when I got the questions, and was able to talk through them to confirm what I was thinking. 

One improvement I will make when I talk to groups in the future is I will provide a handout or visual that includes my contact info, as well as a few trusted local resources if I know of any. 

When you're walking with the King of Kings, you never know when a life is going to be changed in an instant.

Adventures in Faith

Healed A Man at Penn Station in NYC?

This guy comes up to me at Penn Station NYC, wanting help, not knowing I'm sensing in my spirit the extent. I'm hungry, he says. Okay, I will feed you. Grab $ from pocket. Tell me your name... Tell me your story. How did you get here? Kidney failure. Two strokes. Heart attack. How old are you? 50; I stroked in my truck at UPS. I do dialysis 4 days per week for 4 hours. Wow man, that's tough. Look at my veins. Okay. Touch it right here, there's a machine in there. I feel it. But!! I get a new kidney in two days. Praise God I react. Then I say, where is your family? Another country, but they are coming for the surgery. Okay brother, I will give you 2 things: 1. The rest of my $, 2. A prayer to God for you--is that okay? Oh yes, I believe in God... Always have... Let's go over here he asks... We go... Jesus, oh Jesus, my hand on his arm, oh Jesus, your name, wash over this all now, heal him, accept the kidney please, strengthen, renew, give him a vision of the purpose of this long trial. He looks at me: yes, yes, there's a reason.... I look him in the eyes--there's a plan for you--before I walk away knowing he will be healed I give him a big old hug, then on my train...

 — at Amtrak - Penn Station, NY.