Confessions of a Fallen (and Restored) Minister

I was ordained to ministry in 1974 and received a Ph.D. in counseling in 1981. In March 1987 I worked in a small Midwestern city directing a Christian health center. I also taught at the local college, preached at a church on weekends, and was a member of the local school board. My high school sweetheart and I married, and we had three wonderful children. Life was good.

But underneath the exterior, a raging addiction to pornography, masturbation and occasional sexual encounters was present. The addiction began early.

I was sexually abused as a child and saw my first porn magazine at age 11. Becoming a Christian, professing a call to ministry and getting married had slowed the addiction down at times only for it to return. Irrational anger at God, life and my wife was a regular visitor in my life. As a Christian counselor, I was lost and lonely like the blind trying to lead the blind. Anxieties about losing ministry and my family kept me silent about my struggles. I crossed many sexual boundaries with several women who trusted me and who seemed to idolize me.

Unbeknownst to me, the Board of Directors of the counseling center discovered my activity, and on March 17, 1987, I was fired from every job and responsibility I had. By the grace of God, one board member who was a recovering alcoholic referred me to a treatment center for sexual addiction. My wife, Debbie, was devastated and afraid. But she chose to walk the journey of recovery with me.

On March 17, 2012, I celebrated my 25th “Sobriety Birthday.” It has been a journey. In the process I discovered that Paul’s words to the Philippians (1:6) were actually true. God was not finished with me so long ago. He had only just begun to allow me to be humbled and broken so as to refine and deepen my faith in him. God showed his grace to me in many ways. My wife’s forgiveness and the understanding of friends, family and Christians along the way have been unbelievable.

God slowly led me back into the true ministry for which he called me — helping others equally as lost as I was find a way out of darkness. As I write this, I am in the process of being restored to the full privileges of ordained ministry. God is good.

This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.

Mark Laaser

Mark Laaser is president and director of Faithful and True and the host of The Men of Valor Program, Faithful and True’s online radio show. Laaser is nationally recognized as the leading authority in the field of sexual addiction with over 27 years of recovery experience. He has written a dozen books on the subject, lectures around the world, and teaches at colleges, universities, religious organizations and treatment centers. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.