Tim Peterson leads our 8 week groups for men who want to break free from sex and porn addiction. He is a married pastor and counselor who had his own struggles with pornography. He has a heart for God and a love for broken people that shines through. He has counseled men, women, and couples for years and watched the Lord bring many to healing and freedom.
by Tim Peterson
I grew up in a pastor’s home; we attended church multiple times a week throughout my early years. During that time a friend of mine sexually abused me; that event started me on a path of lust that eventually turned into an obsession. Not long after that, I was introduced to porn and masturbation.
This began a war inside of me. I knew pornography was wrong but I couldn’t get my mind off the images. I lived two lives. I wanted to please to God but also wanted the pleasure that lust provided. I would battle with the sexual thoughts and cry out to God to take them away, but kept falling headlong into porn and masturbation.
After a binge I would be filled with guilt, knowing that I wanted more out of life than porn. I felt like I was trapped in a maze that I knew I should be able to escape from, but couldn’t find the way.
In college, the war was between wanting to live for God and using women for my own pleasure tore me apart. I pursued God and tried to follow Him but kept falling back into sin.
The books I read were too shallow and didn’t provide answers. When I attended men’s groups, I heard, “That’s the way guys are. We all struggle with lust… You just have to keep your nose clean.” I kept learning more ways to hide what I was doing; I knew it wasn’t right and that God wasn’t pleased.
Lust, pornography and masturbation continued in my marriage, and in seminary, which was where I was introduced to the internet, which opened up a whole new world of temptation, and deepened my bondage to lust.
As I entered my first church as a pastor, I knew I could not lead these people without being close to God and hearing from Him how to lead. So, by God’s grace, I decided I needed to be consistent with taking time with Him daily, praying, studying and meditating on His Word. It was during this time that I learned to speak to God, not how I thought a pastor “should,” but as the shepherd boy David did in the Psalms, crying out, screaming, and pleading with God, his Savior.
For two years, I plead with God to destroy my bondage to porn and masturbation, until He gave me a deep desire for intimacy with my wife, that broke my desire for porn and masturbation.
After months of abstinence from porn, I cried out to God and asked Him to show me what was standing in the way of my relationship with Him. Something was wrong; why couldn’t I grow closer to Him? One day while praising God in my car, an overwhelming sense came over me that He wanted me to tell my wife about my past with porn.
I responded by arguing with God by telling Him that such a disclosure would ruin our marriage. The Lord spoke once more: “Okay… but our relationship will not go deeper.”
I wanted more of Him, no matter what it cost, and made a conscious decision right there to trust God with my marriage. Out loud in my car, I said, “I trust you with my marriage. I don’t know if my wife will divorce me but even if she does, I trust you. I believe you put my marriage together and I believe you can keep it together and I’m going to choose to obey.”
I wasn’t sure if the marriage would stay together after I told my wife. It was very painful for her… I wasn’t sure whether she would stay or leave. She told me later she wanted to leave, at least temporarily, but our two small children kept her from going further. She asked me many questions, especially about lust. I gave her truthful answers… to some of her questions… but lied about others.
Later, the Holy Spirit later convicted me of the lies, and I had to go back and tell her the truth. Now I’d heaped more pain on top of her heart; she said it was worse for her because she didn’t know who I really was.
Thankfully, God provided Biblical counseling for us that took us back to our root issues, including ways we’d both been hurt and sin we’d committed. We experienced great forgiveness and healing both individually and in our marriage.
I knew I needed others around me. I prayed for a brother, a man who could walk with me in integrity and mutual respect. One who would love me so much that I couldn’t stay where I was in my relationship with Jesus and had to grow. God showed me who I should ask for through a suggestion of my wife; that man is still my closest friend and brother.
I’ve been sharing with brothers in Christ openly since then and have been seeking for groups that would challenge me to grow in my faith.
In all this, I realized that the desire God put in my heart for Him was what led me to pursue Him. His faithfulness kept pulling me back to Him and over time the other desires are being eclipsed by His great love. I am still on a journey and God keeps revealing the places that stand in the way of our relationship. I love His grace and His mercy for me. He loves me too much to let me stop seeking Him.