I remember my excitement as a young boy when I saw pictures of women’s breasts in a magazine for the first time. I also remember a feeling of shame—that I was doing something wrong.

In the fifth grade, a friend told me about masturbation. When I got home later that afternoon, I tried it out. And I liked it—a lot. I thought about my friend masturbating, and I liked that, too.

Gradually, masturbation became a daily ritual. To intensify the experience, I would imagine the bodies of women and men that I had seen in magazines. I learned how to use my mind to create sexual fantasy. It was during this time that I realized I am sexually attracted to men as well as women.

By the time I was in high school, I was living with an overwhelming sense that sex was an immediate, core need. Excitement and shame had gradually become woven into one thread. Being spiritually minded, I frequently prayed to God for Him to cure me from sexual fantasy and compulsive sexual behavior. But God didn’t cure me of any of this. So I figured I had to take care of my situation on my own.

And I kept all of this secret.

After I left my childhood home for college, I began having anonymous sexual encounters with other men.

As I got to know the woman who would become my wife, our emotional, spiritual, and intellectual connections became very special and deep, and unique from all those I had experienced with other girlfriends. But I didn’t tell her about what had become a sexual addiction because I was afraid she would leave me if she knew. I hoped my unwanted sex addiction and same sex attraction would melt away after we were married. But instead, they continued to grow and progress. My pursuit of lust took me to porn shops, peep shows, gay bathhouses, internet porn sites, chat rooms, and other places where I tried to satisfy my sexual appetite.

Although prayer and self-control could sometimes provide brief periods of relative sexual sanity, the compulsions of sex addiction and same sex attraction would always return with overwhelming power, reinforcing my sense of powerless, shame and despair. This, in turn, fueled my drive for more sex, as well as for alcohol, drugs, television, work, and anything else I could use to try to numb my torment and pain.

The energy required to keep all this going in secret while maintaining the life I wanted with my wife and children was staggering. Emotional and spiritual connections were broken as I sank deeper into my addiction. Anger, resentments, and dishonesty became a part of daily life.

A core problem for me was that I believed sex was my most important need. And sex—as I knew it—was not something I was willing to give away to Jesus.

Ultimately, my wife stumbled upon my hidden stash of porn DVDs. My truth became known, and it devastated us both. However, that devastation became my turning point. It was then—in hopeless desperation—when I was finally willing to completely relinquish my sexual situation to Jesus. It was then that I began to practice living out, in a new way, a life of surrender to Jesus—to give him what I thought I needed most.

With both sex addiction and same sex attraction, I am on a journey. I have not arrived, and I am not “cured”, but I have found something even better than a “cure”—I have found a pathway to freedom from these unwanted compulsions. For me, the foundation of that pathway is complete and unconditional surrender to Jesus and is reinforced by the 12 steps of addiction recovery. This foundation also includes genuine, intimate, non-sexual connections with other men on my same journey who can affirm and care for me, and who help me remain accountable to a life of ongoing surrender to Jesus.

Some days are better than others. But this one thing I know regardless of the day: In Jesus, I am at peace and free. And every time a sexual temptation comes my way, I am reminded of His power and His grace.