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At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry Review by Violet F.

Steve Gallagher
Pure Life Ministries
14 School St.
Dry Ridge, KY 41035

I was making dinner when the text came in on my husband’s phone.  I picked it up to hand it to him and I saw a partial message from someone asking if he was stopping by later after work or would tomorrow be better.  I would later find out that she was a prostitute from Craigslist.  And that this type of behavior was a weekly occurrence for the past 6 years.  I would also learn that at the age of 5 my husband began watching porn and this among other things was his secret to hide from the world.  He thought he could hide from me, but the Lord brought him to his knees and his rock bottom was beneath him that evening. 

A lot happened that first week, more than I can honestly share in just a few paragraphs.  But, I will say that my husband did find the Lord, he did make peace with his demons and I held on tight to him as the Lord flushed all his sin away and carved out a new path for our family.  We immediately sought specialized counseling and joined an outpatient treatment program and a weekly Christian 12 step program.  We wasted no time and surrounded ourselves in scripture and any book recommended to us from our groups or programs.  To say I have read 100 books regarding Sex Addiction or the aftermath of finding out is no understatement, which brings me to the following book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry.  This book is written by Steve Gallagher who knows firsthand what it’s like hiding in sexual sin.

My husband is coming up on 5 years of sobriety and we decided to read this book together.  The book is divided into helpful sections.  The first is regarding the problem, Gallagher wastes no time getting straight to the point.  The increased sexual obsession, rituals, behaviors and characteristics are all pretty on point.  In chapter 3 the downward spiral of sexual bondage is tearfully eye opening.  Much of what we read we have already studied and knew about.  But, my husband said there was one thing that stood out to him that he had not heard described in this way before.  It was regarding the lust of the flesh…. about owning up to our own lusts.  Sure, the devil can entice you with a shiny object, but it is ultimately you that deep down desires that object.  He is more than happy to appeal to that lust we have, but he did not create it, it was already there. We were born with it.  This can be terrifying to come to terms with.  I mean we read that passage like 4 times just to let it sink in.  The struggle of serving to masters causes so much turmoil that the addict usually spirals so far out of control that they hit rock bottom with now where else to go, but to look up to Jesus.  This was what happened in our situation and the stories shared throughout this book also speaks of similar situations.

One of my favorite chapters was on the process of sin.  When I was going through the discovery and recovery process with my husband I wanted to understand the process.  I needed to understand how we got to where we were.  And one of those ways I did this was to read recovery books just like this one together and the Bible.  God told me very early on that I was to stick by my husband and that our lives would truly be blessed for our commitment and faith.  And it has been a blessing our whole entire lives have done a complete overhaul.  I believe it’s important for significant others to understand the process, their spouse did not just wake up one morning and decide to sleep with a prostitute or start watching porn.  Quickly, here is the process that took my husband from a 5-year-old boy to a pit of sexual sin.  It starts with temptation and fantasy, even as a very young boy with pornography.  Then physically moving towards the sin, even casually to not make it seem as bad as the actual sin is.  But, once the action is in motion it’s hard to stop and routines and rituals around the sin form.  Once the act is achieved, disappointment, anger, hopelessness and despair are sure to follow and the sin itself looks more clearly wrong than any other time.  This time frame the author describes as death to one’s self-respect and feelings—the addict is now left empty inside.  And this is where finally resolution and repentance come in to place.  The addict must have a true repentant heart in order to develop a godly sorrow and truly overcome his addiction.  Once this cycle is complete then temptation will be reintroduced, and this is where boundaries, a support system and a plan is imperative for success.

As the book continues you are walked though several root issues that are the common so-called reasons behind addiction.  Like spouse, parents, emotional issues…. but, the real reason is we are sinful beings and the last section of the book gives us a better understanding of the lure behind sin.  Our biggest take from this last section was how to separate ourselves from the world.  Not to be bound with unbelievers, keep our eyes on the Lord and how to guard our marriage.  And to remember that this fight is a spiritual battle and there are spiritual forces which we battle against daily.  We changed so much in our daily lives, from how we view tv to where we go to eat.  My husband learned how to protect my heart and live a transparent life and I learned how to give up control and let God lead our family.

I have to say my overall feel for this book is positive.  I like the straight forwardness that the author uses while backing all the facts with scripture and real stories from other people going through the same situation.  This is perfect for a struggling Christian with sex addiction.  My husband said that he was shocked he had not heard of this book before and plans to pass it along to some of the men in his group.  This book should be in the hands of so many people, many don’t even know they have a problem.  Our society is so desensitized by the sexual immorality that’s going on in our own homes it’s heartbreaking.  While reading you are clearly shown that you are not trapped and forgotten in your addiction, there is a way out.  I would suggest reading along with your spouse if possible.  I think it’ very healing to walk together through the recovery process.

-Product review by Violet F., The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018