I started using social media when I was 12, which was already considered late as many of my friends and classmates were already active on several platforms. I didn’t want to be left out of the fun they were having – or being a part of their posts – so you could say FOMO got the better of me.

It was all fun and games for most of our time on social media – until in one moment, everything changed.

One day, I was mindlessly scrolling around when I came across a picture of an attractive male model. He was showing off his six-pack abs and was very fit. For some reason, I found myself clicking on the photo to find out who he was.

As it turns out, there were plenty more photos on his page of him modelling either underwear or swimwear, at times with another man whom I deduced was his partner. What I didn’t know then was that simply by spending time clicking around on these posts, the algorithm had picked up on my supposed “interests” and soon similar accounts were being suggested to my feed.

It wasn’t before long that this led to an addiction to homosexual pornography and awakened a same-sex attraction in me.

It was the grace of God that kept me from acting on my desires with other guys, but having been sexually awakened at such a young age, I was caught in a cycle of pornography and masturbation that went on for most of my teenage years. 

Believing that sexual sin was something would be greatly frowned upon in church, I was ashamed of what I was doing in secret and often thought that God must have hated me for this. It lurked at the back of my mind, and the guilt would sometimes be so strong that I wouldn’t be able to worship.

There was no shame in His presence – just so much love and healing of the pain I’d hidden within for so long.

But I reached a turning point at the end of November 2017, when I attended the FOPx Surrender conference. I was only there because I had nothing else to do, but on the first night of conference, speaker Ben Fitzgerald talked about his lifelong struggles and how God had shone a bright light through his darkest times.

At the end of his session, he had an altar call for those who had backslided from the faith and whoever wanted to rededicate their lives to Jesus. Something in me nudged me to go forward, and I couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.

Making my way to the front, I broke down in tears as a wave of relief washed over me, as though I was finally coming clean before God and opening myself and my struggles up to Him. There was no shame in His presence. Just so much love and healing of the pain I’d hidden within for so long.

A little while later, I asked God what He wanted me to learn from such a season. He answered me with another question instead: “What was your attitude towards people with sexual sin before?”

I replied: “I thought they were shameful because what they were involved in was disgusting.”

“What is your attitude towards them now?” 

“I can understand why they do such things and how it feels to be caught in sexual sin. I don’t despise them like that anymore.”

Through this conversation, God showed me how He was redeeming my area of brokenness into a calling to help others who have also fallen in the same way. Something inside clicked, as I’d been wondering what my calling and ministry was for a long time. It felt like a rainbow had finally appeared after the storm.

To those out there who struggle with sexual sin, God loves you no matter what, and He’s waiting for you to come back home. Take courage to ask for help by confiding in people you trust, such as your cell leader or church friends. Accountability is liberating, not shameful. 

This journey cannot be walked alone. I succumbed to old temptations even after my experience at the altar, but this time, I confessed this to one of my mentors in church. He had also struggled in a similar way, but he told me that the many times he faced temptation were often when he was not walking closely with God. He had been feeding the flesh and not the Spirit. 

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

An article I previously read on Thir.st, “A young church leader’s journey through sexuality and lust”, also encouraged me in times of sexual temptation, especially this part of the story:

“Early on, every time I faced temptation I would get afraid. I would think to myself, ‘Oh no! It’s happening again!’

“I was so afraid I often forgot I actually have authority in Christ! Because of Jesus, I can say to the spirit of temptation, ‘I cast you out in Jesus’ Name.’ The spirits should cower in fear — not us. We are children of God!” 

If you’re a friend to someone who’s struggling in this way,  please don’t shame them. If they’ve come out to you, it took a lot of courage – approach the situation with understanding and love. In 1 Peter 4:8 it says: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I believe that if God was able to pull me out of that season of secret sin and shame, to further make me His vessel of love and hope, He can do it again for you too. Come to Him without fear. Come home.

The writer’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

Hear from real men and women who have journeyed through the pain of porn addiction and join a national conversation on pornography. Happening on March 15-16, 2019, the Unveil: Breaking Free conference features speakers Dr Josh McDowell, Dr Donald L. Hilton Jr, Jessica Harris, Quek Shiwei (Kallos Magazine), Rev Dr Chua Chung Kai (Covenant Evangelical Free Church) and Pastor Ian Toh (3:16 Church). Find out more and register here.