By Mark Ellis
The secret shame of sexual addiction may be carefully hidden for years, but about 70 men gathered at this workshop are ready to bring their failings into the light and find healing in Christ.
“We are a no-shame zone,” says Jason Martinkus, national speaker for Every Man’s Battle. “We are committed to not judging you, condemning you, or shaming you,” he tells the men gathered before him.
Living up to its title, the men in this room seem to be from every age, socio-economic and racial group. They all have something in common: highly destructive personal behavior that threatens their relationships at home and at work.
Reflecting the Apostle Paul’s plaintive cry in Romans chapter seven, they are here because they can’t stop doing the thing they don’t want to do. They need help and they know their only hope lies in Christ.
“There is no magic easy button,” Martinkus informs the men, who barely stir. “Can God take this away?” he asks. “Yes…will he? I don’t know.”
The hard news is the temptation toward sexual sin will always be with them, but they will be challenged in the next two days to adopt a new framework and perspective that will bring their hidden lives into the light and begin the journey toward healing and wholeness in Jesus.
“You are not Rambo,” he tells the men. “You can’t do this fight alone.”
Martinkus bonds with the men by telling them about his own downward spiral into sexual sin. He discovered pornography playing in a friend’s fort at age 11. While he didn’t attend church and no one around him told him it was wrong, his conscience told him otherwise.
At 16, he gave his life to Christ. Now he had a moral compass in place to guide him, but he couldn’t overcome his growing addiction. When he began to date girls, the sum total of his father’s advice was this: “whatever you do, don’t get a girl pregnant.”
In college, he found more ways to indulge his lusts. “I was isolated, alone and heavily into chat rooms and pornography. I ended up meeting someone from the internet.”
But Martinkus settled on a fix. “My last semester of college I was engaged to be married. I believed getting married would cure my problems. Sure enough it did…..for about 3 months.”
While married, had several affairs with co-workers as he launched a promising business career. “I was becoming more divided. I was Jekyll and Hyde. With each encounter, with each degrading picture, I was becoming further divided. Around my wife and people we knew I was one man; by myself or out of town on business I was someone completely different. I hated the duplicity. But I couldn’t seem to stop it,” he recalls.
At one point Martinkus became suicidal and almost drove his truck off a north Dallas highway after midnight.
His addiction began to rule his life. “I would fly into a city on business at 7 a.m., spend the day with clients and arrive at my hotel at 9 p.m. Within minutes, I would be online looking at pornography and chatting. In the middle of the night I would leave and meet someone from the internet. When I returned, within minutes, I was back online looking at pornography and chatting.”
“The sun would come up, I would get ready for the day, and do it over again. Sometimes for several days in a row.”
Yet even in the depths of his depravity, God’s great love, grace, and mercy was pursuing Martinkus like a hound from heaven. “The truth always comes out. God loves you too much to stay in your secrets for too long,” he notes.
One day Martinkus came home from a business trip and his wife confronted him. “What happened with the woman at the mortgage company?” she asked. “I spent two hours on the phone with her and I know everything.”
Martinkus felt impelled by the Holy Spirit to come clean and tell the truth. During a six-hour car ride, he confessed everything about his affairs, chat rooms, and 18 women he met online.
His wife sat there in shock, absorbing the blows. “She seemed more hardened and numbed by each new piece of information.” Martinkus was convinced his wife would leave him when she heard the whole truth.
At a subsequent meeting with his pastor, he was told, “You are a sex addict.”
“My confession began recovery for me. I got connected with a phenomenal counselor, became accountable to godly men who cared about my life, recommitted to church and the Lord. I began the process of uncovering why, for so long, I hated what I was doing but couldn’t stop. I got to the root of what was driving me to be this way. I finally started to close the divide between who I was and who I wanted to be.”
Miraculously, 13 months after his confession, his wife decided to forgive him and stay in the marriage. She also drew a clear line in the sand. If Martinkus looks at pornography, visits chat rooms, or engages in another affair, the marriage is over.
He’s glad she took a hard line approach. “Zero-tolerance is great for me,” he says. “It’s a motivator.”
Martinkus has not had a lapse in nine years. “I can’t promise my wife I’ll be faithful to her forever, but I can promise her today I’ll do everything I can to be the man God is calling me to be.”
The ‘Every Man’s Battle’ conferences are held monthly at different cities around the U.S. More than 10,000 men have completed the program. About 60 percent enter a follow-up program after their conference known as the ‘Sustained Victory Program.’
“We work on heart and character change,” Martinkus notes. “It’s not about what we’re not doing, but what we are doing.”
“I’ve been washed clean by the blood of Christ. I’m no longer bound by the yoke of slavery that is sexual addiction. But, I know I am one bad choice away from being right back in the middle of it. Today, by the grace of God, I am free.”