A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction: A Q&A with T.C. Ryan

A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction: A Q&A with T.C. Ryan August 31, 2012

In Ashamed No More, former pastor T.C. Ryan shares his personal story of struggling with sex addiction for more than forty years, illustrating not only the facts about sex addiction but also what is necessary for recovery. Pastors and church leaders are not immune to sexual addiction, and those in ministry who want to know how the church can offer help and healing— instead of silence and shame—will find answers in Ryan’s compelling story. [Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation about this book.] 

Why did you decide to share your story in Ashamed No More?

I have two motivations. First, after experiencing the particular grace of God in our journey over these past several years, my wife and I were mutually convicted that we wanted to share our story for the benefit of others. Second, the call on my life now is to strengthen my brothers and sisters. This book is an act of obedience to that call.

The need I am seeking to address is for the church to change the way she approaches human sexuality, and sexual brokenness. We must learn to speak openly, honestly and unapologetically about the wonder of God’s gift of sexuality, how our sexuality and spirituality are linked, that there is no shame in struggling with our sexuality, and that hiding our struggles only intensifies their hold on us.

What is at the heart of Ashamed No More?

Our society misuses and abuses sexuality for entertainment, marketing and selfish gratification. The church also misuses and abuses sexuality by not talking about it openly and honestly, being silent about how to deal with sexual issues in healthy and honest ways, and cloaking the topic of sexuality with an unbiblical, moralizing message that forces clergy and laity alike to stay hidden with their struggles. We have to drop shame for grace to be operative and truth to be effective in our lives.

Because of the Internet and because of the human predisposition to distraction, arousal and avoiding personal exposure, we are facing a cultural tsunami of arousal addiction, intimacy disorder, broken relationships and fractured souls convulsed by emptiness. The answer to the current cultural crisis is what it has always been: Jesus coming into the world, full of grace and truth, establishing a community of his followers empowered by his Spirit. The church has the opportunity of meeting the challenge we face with the honest and open gospel.

What do you hope people, and the church as a whole, learn from this book?

  • Jesus never shames anyone about sexual brokenness—there is no shame in having problems around sex.
  • Society abuses sexuality by misusing it, and the church abuses sexuality by ignoring it and not giving legitimate information to those trying to follow Christ in a sex-crazed culture. We are as sick as our secrets.
  • We have to change the way we talk about sexuality in the church, and we have to change the way we train and equip church leaders to understand sexual brokenness and help those who struggle.
  • There is a profound, God-given link between our sexuality and our spirituality, and compulsive behaviors are always symptoms of deeper spiritual issues.
  • Our Father in heaven is never surprised that his children struggle with their sexuality; rather, he loves his children and is intent on helping them no matter what their struggles are.
For nearly twenty years T. C. Ryan was founding and senior pastor of a large church. He resigned in order to concentrate more fully on his ongoing recovery from a lifelong sexual addiction. Dr. Ryan now has a ministry of spiritual direction with individuals and groups, preaches, and writes and leads seminars on achieving spiritual wholeness in a sexually broken world.

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