In 2012, through my friend – the late Shelley Lubben – I met a courageous and selfless young man named Mark Houck. Back then, I was trying to write a short book about my experiences in the gay male community during the 1990s in San Francisco. At the time, I was a practicing Roman Catholic, so Shelley suggested that I contact fellow Catholic Mark. She said that we had a lot in common. For the most part, Mark, and I both grew up as pornography addicts, but as adults – that’s where our stories diverged: my life went towards homosexuality and his as a heterosexual male who was seriously into sports. At first, I was trepidatious about contacting a straight guy who I regarded as rather macho looking. But I called Mark on the phone and he couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful. Having already self-published his own book, Mark guided me through the process. I could not thank him enough and despite our differences, we became friends. Then in 2013, on my way to appear on the Howard Stern Show in New York City, I spoke at one of Mark’s “King’s Men” events. He gave a presentation before mine. I had never heard a straight man be so vulnerable in front of a group of guys before; talking about his own childhood pain and how it affected his late life and relationships. I thought, if only men could share with other men such pain, perhaps we wouldn’t be so haunted by the scourge of depression, drug abuse, and suicide. In Roman Catholicism, I met a number of people who I would some-what disparagingly refer to as “professional Catholics.” They were often sincere, but overly preoccupied with selling their latest book, mug, or t-shirt. Mark wasn’t like that. He wasn’t in it for himself – but all for God.
We are only as intimate as we are honest. As I read Joe Sciambra’s autobiography, I couldn’t help but continually remind myself of the benefits of this timeless wisdom. Transparency and vulnerability are one of the primary keys to freedom from the bondage of any addiction. Joe, much like our Lord does post the Resurrection, bears his wounds for all to see; for it is in the exposition of wounds that we find our healing.
This story is an incredibly intimate and brutally honest look at how the culture of death enslaved and consumed one man in an age when porn was not just a click away. In Joe Sciambra’s story, I found many parallels from my own journey, yet much was a revelation of what I was spared in my own time with porn. For that alone, I give thanks for this book.
Joe Sciambra has spent much time reflecting on his past life and choices. In our hedonistic Hollywood culture, his witness needs to be heard. Mind you, this reading is not for the faint hearted, but a most illuminating one if you have the courage to take it up. I found myself gaining much insight into the pain and struggle of those caught up in the dark world of active homosexuality. The depravity of pornography that I only glimpsed from my own experience, was profoundly and horrifyingly revealed to me and yet, I know I am the wiser for it.
Joe Sciambra’s story is a message of great hope. In these times, we need to remind ourselves how God’s light shines all the brighter in the midst of great darkness. We need to read stories of redemption and how lives can be transformed by the power of Christ’s love and forgiveness. Joe’s journey is a living example of St. Paul’s words to the Romans, ‘Where sin is great, grace abounds all the more.’
All who read this autobiographical work will be forced to confront the reality of the true presence of evil in the world, challenged to rethink same sex matters and its effects on traditional marriage, and how a faithful and loving God continues to patiently pursue all of his children, no matter how lost they may be.
-Mark Houck, Co-Founder & President of The King’s Men