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Clay and Susan Allen
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Secret Addiction

By Tim Branson
The 700 Club

CBN.comClay Allen -- a successful businessman, husband, father, and avid churchgoer. Everyone wanted a life like Clay’s. But Clay had a secret: He was addicted to sex.

The seeds of sexual addiction were planted at an early age. Clay’s father abused him and his mother. When he was 12, Clay found his dad’s Playboy magazine. He didn’t think much of it then, but those images would shape his future.

"It’s almost like it branded my brain so that I had actually a searing effect occur, so that when I had stress later in my teen years, 18, 19, I remembered that and I thought all of a sudden that that was a pleasurable thing," Clay recalls. "I started to think about it, fixate on it, and be preoccupied by those thoughts."

By 23 Clay had become a very successful real estate agent. In the meantime, his desire for pleasure grew. He engaged in phone sex and had frequent sexual encounters with numerous partners, including prostitutes. But deep in his soul Clay knew it was wrong and felt ashamed. Seeking a way out, he thought marriage was the answer.

Clay as a young boy"I actually thought getting married was going to solve the problem," Clay explains. "I thought, 'OK, I’m going to get married and this is going to go away." Unfortunately, not only did it not go away, it got a lot worse."

His wife, Susan, knew some things but had no idea the depth of his addiction.

"I only saw the surface," she says. " I didn’t see everything else about what was going on. I would only see the little things that he wasn’t able to cover, so I didn’t realize how it had really taken a hold of his life."

Clay’s behavior intensified and so did his guilt, so he blamed Susan for his problems.

"I would make her dress a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way in order to have sex, and then it was never good enough and it was always a moving target," admits Clay.

"I was pretty beaten down," says Susan. "There was a lot of pain inside, feeling like I didn’t know what else to do to make him want what I had to offer as a wife and a woman."

Susan’s life and marriage were falling apart, so she went to church looking for answers.

"I was so done and tired with how I'd been living my life and making decisions in my own strength and mostly out of fear that I was ready to listen to God," she says.

Surprisingly, Clay went with her one Sunday. In time, he, like Susan, gave his heart to God. He also made fast friends with the pastor, who gave him the courage to confess his addiction. But Clay didn’t tell all.

Clay, Susan, and Ivy"I only confessed a third of what I was involved in," he explains. "I figured this man is not going to be able to grasp and understand and forgive me for the other two-thirds, and I know God is not."

Clay thought he could beat the problem on his own. He was wrong.

Says Clay, "I relapsed. And when I relapsed, I couldn’t tell anybody about it. I had more inappropriate sexual behavior than I had in the prior 12 or 13 years combined, and it literally was living hell on earth."

Not only did Clay return to his addiction, but he went thousands of dollars into debt to support it. By now they had a daughter, Ivy. Clay knew the only way out was to come clean, but his friend and pastor had moved on. It was time to tell Susan everything.

"I met with her at night and I told her the whole truth," says Clay. "The only way I can describe it to you is it was as if I took a red-hot lance and slowly put it through her heart. That’s what the experience was for me."

Susan was shocked.

"Immediately I experienced numbness, just a deafening paralysis of emotions, and it quickly escalated into anger," she says

"She told me to stay away from our daughter, to move out of the house. I thought my whole life just crashed in front of me," Clay recalls. "I just thought everything was over at that moment."

The next day Clay was scheduled to usher at his church. He showed up, but he was still in a daze from the night before. He was standing in the aisle when his new pastor came to say hello. That casual greeting would change the course of Clay's life.

"I saw a nice looking guy with a suit on in the back ushering. I could tell he was ushering because he had his badge on. It was Clay," Clay's pastor, Ron Pinkston, explains.

Clay recalls, "He put his hand on my shoulder in full stride and he looked me right in the eye and he said, 'So how you doing?' My life was so ruined at that point, I blurted right out to him, 'My life is over.'"

"I said, 'Sit down right here with me," Ron told Clay. "You’ve got two minutes to tell me why your life is over because I’ve got to be on the platform in two minutes, so spill it all right now."

Clay told Ron his story.

"He did an amazing thing with me at that point," Clay explains. "He knelt down with me on a step and we prayed. I literally felt a hedge of angels, a ring of angels, come down as we were praying and embrace me and say, 'No matter what this looks like, feels like, it’s going to be OK. I’m going to take care of you." It was God’s voice."

Instead of leaving her husband, Susan decided to work it out, but the healing process would be long and take months of intense counseling and prayer. God slowly peeled away the layers of hurt and anger and replaced them with trust and love.

"I remarried my wife all over again, re-fell in love with her all over again," Clay says. "But this time it was based on the foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was rich. It was beautiful. It was passionate. It was everything I had hoped for but never experienced."

Clay and Susan Clay and Susan have since started a ministry they call Avenue. It’s designed to give men and women a safe place to find healing from sexual sin.

"We hope to see the local church in every community become the beacon of God’s hope and healing, literally, to sexual sin that’s permeating every aspect of our society," Clay states.

Clay has this specific message for men: "No matter what they’ve done, how long they’ve done it, who they’ve done it with, God’s got a plan for their life. There’s always hope. All He’s looking for is for them to draw closer to Him. The way you do that is to reach out and get help through a trusted friend, through your pastor. Reach out and get help, and hopefully that will lead that man to the destiny that God has ordained for his life."

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