All Men Are Desperate Whether They Admit It or Not opens with a number of sobering statistics about ‘man issues’ in the U.S. That is followed by the introduction of five desperate men with whom you will connect or identify in some way as their stories unfold. As I always say when introducing such ‘numbing’ numbers, you must read them as names, not numbers. Insert your name, names of your sons, father, brothers, fraternity brothers, golf or hunting buddies. Only then will such statistics hold your attention.
The focus of this lesson is addiction, so I decided to share just one of these staggering numbers.
- More than 11,000,000 men in the U.S. battle alcohol, drug, pornography, and other addictions.
To put this in perspective, that is more than the combined populations of New York City and Chicago!
Many men struggle with these demons in secret. All of us know men among these numbers. Some of us have been there or fight that battle now. Other men live in denial.
The Lesson Title. What do I mean when I assert, “the addict is the Christian man”? It does not take much of a web search to find highly discouraging statistics to support this. That is how I came across the following grim pornography statistics on Christian men.
- 50% of men viewed pornography within one week of attending a Promise Keepers event.
- 54% of pastors said they viewed porn within the past year in a Pastors.com survey
- Focus on the Family poll (2003) revealed 47% of respondents said porn is a problem in their home.
These are old stats that have only worsened since these surveys were taken. Because men are prone to hide or cover up these sins, the numbers are typically lower than reality. These facts also cover only one of many issues that hook, ensnare, and trap men—leading us into desperate places.
Divine appointments. A couple of weeks ago, I met with two strong men of God who, like me, are passionate about ministry to men. One is senior pastor of a mega church; the other the men’s pastor at a large, highly diverse church. Both men, and their ministries, have big hearts for broken men who have taken hard falls from the favor of men, but not the grace of God.
The common thread of both pastors is each has his own desperate man story-the results of which often lead men into addiction. In my own menistry, I have seen God use two types of desperate men to reach other men searching for help, healing, and hope that can only be found in a right relationship with Jesus Christ.
(1) Men who recognized the deadly path they were on in time to turn around or get help. Or
(2) Men who have themselves been restored from the stronghold of addiction.
Uncommon Denominators – Identifying with the Addict. James is the first young man introduced in the book. He is one of too many kids from the ‘hood’, born to a crack-mom with no dad in sight. This horrible home life (if you can call it that), and desire to please people at all costs, led him into gang life, the recreational use of drugs, selling them to support his ever-increasing need, and, ultimately, addiction. So many bad decisions, born of a young mind that had no role model or mentor to guide or influence his life.
I developed the character, James, in part, because his life is in such stark contrast to ours. I wanted readers to say, “I feel bad for those kids, but we have nothing in common, and I cannot identify with them at all.” Certainly, most men reading this did not come from crack houses or ‘hoods’ like James. We cannot identify with his journey. But that does not mean we are not more like him than we will admit.
Addiction comes in many forms. The most typical forms that come to mind are drugs and alcohol. Historically, they dominated the addiction landscape. Perhaps a better image is that of carnage strewn across a battlefield. Broken, wounded men like the walking dead, lost or going aimlessly through life, without direction or hope. Some carefully try to hide their issues; others have reached a point where they do not care anymore. I hear their stories at the rescue mission or from men in prison or aftercare.
But wait. I also hear stories that begin differently but end up in the same place (addiction) from broken, wounded pastors and other Christian men. Most were once highly regarded in their churches, workplaces, and communities. Such men are much more likely to try to hide, mask, or deny their issues—too embarrassed to come out of the closet of shame and admit their issues. This denial group led to the title of the book. The men I meet and work with at the mission or prison are desperate and admit it.
Too many Christian pastors and businessmen are afraid to admit their issues, nor do they want to talk about them…until it is too late.
By then, they have bottomed out. Sadly, only men who admit they have issues seek the help they need to climb out of the hole Satan so agreeably helped them dig.
There is also a set of what some consider “lesser addictions”. Men battle addictions to work, money, power, food, gambling, the Internet, anger, and even coffee (among the top ten). They may be lesser compared to the effects caused by drugs and alcohol, but many of these addictions have devastating effects on families and work lives. Marriages are severed, families crushed, jobs lost. And there are known ‘generational’ effects on children.
Addiction results from continuous attempts to fill a hole in your soul or heart with something that cannot satisfy the true need. Jesus alone can do that.
The harder we try, the more likely we are to replace Him with something chemical, physical, or visual that only leads down darker paths into even more desperate places. It is a vicious cycle—one that Satan delights in as God’s army of Christian men are rendered impotent and removed from battle, often falling on our own swords.
Drilling Deep into the Well of Encouragement.
God has answers. Because too many Christians today can be guilty of hyper-spiritualizing answers to the problems of other people, I gave considerable thought to writing something as simple, yet profound as “God has answers.” He does. But telling someone that or suggesting they just pray about it, and it will go away is, at best, half-hearted and, at worst. blowing them off. Funny how we do not want to hear that when the issues belong to us.
I do not know about you, but when I have a problem that needs fixing or a solution, I do not want you to sympathize with me, nor do I want you to tell me about how you once had that or something worse. I want you to tell me how or where to find relief now! You do not put a band-aid on a bleeding cut. You first help stop the bleeding. Neither do you tell someone with poison ivy to keep scratching. You help them find a salvo or med that gets to the root of the problem.
When God healed people in the Old Testament, directly or through a prophet, we always find the one with the issue in a desperate place with nowhere else to go AND humbly turning to God for the answer no one else could provide.
In each situation, God gave the person (or people) instructions on what they had to do to receive the healing. It involved faith and their acting on that faith.
Jesus heals people with addictions. Likewise, Jesus healed in the same way His Father did.
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”
(Matthew 4: 23 NASB)
Jesus heard the pleas for healing and (almost) always gave the person instructions to receive it. “Stretch out your hand”, “Rise up and walk”, “Go wash…”, “Come out of that tomb”. He closed most of those encounters with powerful words we need to lock onto. “Your faith has made you well.” Faith is the key to our healing whether swift or a long arduous process that encounters set-backs along the way.
The Bible is full of the stories of desperate men. The truth is all men all have a story because we are all desperate. The question is will we realize our desperate place and look to the only One who can heal us?
I take some comfort and solace when I read the stories of biblical men of God who had issues just like me. As we begin to put a wrap on this lesson, consider a truly great man of God, the Apostle Paul, and his well-known, introspective dialog recorded in Romans 7. Consider these excerpts.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… (Romans 7: 15, 18b,19 ESV)
Desperate man indeed! The great Apostle was talking about sin in his life that he could not or over which he had no control. That by definition is addiction. I love it when he cries out,
“Wretched man that I am!. Who can set me free…?” (Romans 7: 24 ESV)
Most of us have done that at some desperate point in our lives. Paul answers his own question by giving thanks to God because he knew his only hope for deliverance was Jesus his Savior.
You may be amazed to find that the culture of Jesus’ time under Roman rule was as sinful and full of evil as ours. That’s easy to explain—same enemy (Satan). The Apostle Peter hit head-on the issue of cultural sin that makes “feel good” promises that lead only to addiction.
“They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a (man), to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2: 19 ESV)
Words of Warning
My dear brother, if you are flirting with addiction, living on the edge, thinking you have it all under control, God has a word for you.
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10: 12 ESV)
You know verses that warn of the sin of pride and the resultant falls—often hard and deep. Look yourself in the mirror and admit you need to make changes in your life. Find someone to hold you accountable.
Words of Encouragement
My dear brother, if you are in bondage to some form of addiction, my telling you the truth and pointing you to the Truth will not get you where you need to be unless you do like so many who ran to Jesus for help and healing. You need to take action. Step out in faith, not in yourself, but in Christ alone and get help. God has provided many Christian resources to help you overcome addiction and reclaim your life. He has a place of service with your name on it!
Addiction is a war without end. But I have great news for you. We never go into battle alone.
If you are in Christ, God is our Unrelenting Father, Who…
- meets us right where we are
- loves us unconditionally
- covers my sin with unfathomable grace
- extends to us unfailing mercy
- forever remains our source of unquenchable hope.
Come now, brothers. Stretch out your hand, rise up and walk, or come out of that tomb−whatever you need to do to receive your healing from Christ Jesus our Lord. Do it today.