Above, Kesha and Stephen Lewis in a YouTube video titled Peculiar Parenting.
August 2018 – When Stephen’s high school and college sweetheart became pregnant, he shamefully confessed his years of sinful sexual activity to his father. As time passed, the idea of fatherhood and a loving, happy marriage such as he had witnessed through his parents excited and settled him. He bought a wedding ring in preparation to propose.
But he was shattered when he learned the child growing in his girlfriend’s womb was not his. The trauma and betrayal carried him toward a path of destruction.
Stephen began seeking out sexual encounters absent of any emotional connection, giving him perceived power over potential rejection and betrayal. His new way of living was more than a lifestyle – it became a full-blown addiction.
“It controlled my time, my life, my everything,” Stephen told AFA Journal. “Lust grows in the dark and it has no cap. It was like a drug. I realized I was out of control, which led me to sex addicts anonymous meetings. I didn’t find any relief because the meetings had nothing to do with Jesus. I knew the only way out was Jesus.”
Stephen grew up in New Orleans, attended a performing arts elementary school and a high school specializing in the arts. He majored in film, theater, and communications in college where he formed an entertainment company with four peers. The team of five successfully delivered an educational message in an entertaining format that appealed to the millennial mindset.
Stephen Lewis was an actor, writer, and producer for an award-winning sketch comedy series and later starred in an HBO series about life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
“We were the representation of young people in our city,” he said. “I was calling myself a Christian – and I believed I was. Things didn’t change for me until I met a particular person who discipled me. I never denied Jesus, but I was living like the world. My life was sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel conviction at the time, but I also didn’t know many other Christians who weren’t doing the same things.”
Stephen soon met Kesha, a beautiful, young actress who had recently moved from Los Angeles. She had moved to LA to pursue acting, but it was in the city of angels where she recognized and responded to God’s pursuit of her heart.
“I had been living in LA for about two years,” Kesha told AFAJ. “And the Lord told me to move to New Orleans. He told me my heart’s desire was there. I thought He was leading me to some kind of ministry. I met Stephen a year later. We connected so much emotionally.”
Still struggling with sexual temptations, Stephen hungered for a deeper relationship with God. He began attending a home Bible study with Kesha, led by her pastor, Abraham Hamilton III. *
“I remember our first date,” Stephen said. “She appeared to be further along – at least in her knowledge of Scripture. We just talked about God the whole time. It catapulted me more into Scripture, and, eventually, I joined her church.”
As they drew closer and began considering marriage, Stephen opened up with Kesha about his temptations and failings. She did the same and also told him about uterine fibroids that would possibly impede physical marital intimacy.
“Kesha was actually the first woman I dated who wanted to wait until we got married,” said Stephen. “I thought that was incredible. We waited, and I was so proud of myself for waiting until marriage. I thought God was proud of me, and I just knew God was going to reward me on our wedding night.”
But Stephen was wrong. Kesha’s medical condition prevented the marriage consummation that night and every other night for nearly three years.
“I thought God hated me!” Stephen said. “I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t know anybody who could relate to my situation. I felt like God was punishing me.”
Kesha’s ongoing communication with male friends from college compounded Stephen’s insecurities. His frustrations grew and his sexual addiction reignited through pornography. Meanwhile, the couple was leading a Friday night Bible study in their home.
“I was thinking, I can’t tell anybody. I’m leading a Bible study. People are coming to me for prayer. Who can I tell? I just kept it to myself. And I didn’t want to tell my wife certain things because I didn’t want to hurt her. But the Lord was constantly exposing me to her, whether it was through dreams, visions, whatever.”
Though he tried to change and immersed himself in Scripture, Stephen couldn’t seem to break free.
“I would get to those places like Malachi 2:14,” he explained, “where it talks about being unfaithful to the wife of your youth or where it says that if you are in unrepentant sin, God won’t even listen to your prayers (Psalm 66:18). So I was constantly in a place of feeling guilt, shame, unworthiness.”
“Stephen really wanted to change,” explained Kesha. “He wanted out. I learned that I couldn’t be his conscience. I didn’t want him to change for me. People don’t want to have the addiction, but they don’t know how to be free. When someone tries to force them, it only makes it worse. It was powerful when I realized prayer can change any situation.
“God also gave me a revelation that I needed to disconnect with my male friends. I agreed to call them in Stephen’s presence and tell them I would no longer be speaking to them. That was huge for Stephen.”
One Sunday morning before the church service began, Hamilton, who was about to preach, noticed Stephen’s despondence and inquired. Stephen blurted out, “I need to be rebuked.” Time and schedules suddenly became irrelevant, and within seconds, the two were sitting on the floor in a closet.
“I was asking for rebuke and expecting rebuke. But I just received so much grace, and it began to transform me. Abe exemplified Christ. He gave me truth in the power of grace. Through further conversations with him, action steps, and confession of my sins to my Bible study group, deliverance began. That changed everything.
“Then God gave me a revelation of Satan’s nature as the father of lies. I realized anything the devil was telling me was an absolute lie that would leave me empty, ashamed, and guilty. And he was laughing at me because he made a fool out of me.”
The couple has since been involved in ministry to troubled boys and, under the name of Peculiar People, they operate a YouTube channel addressing marriage and family issues from a position of vulnerability and grace, with the creative and engaging style that won national awards over a decade ago.
Kesha had surgery to remove the fibroid tumors, and they are expecting their first baby in the fall.
*Abraham Hamilton III is now AFA general counsel and public policy analyst. His radio show Hamilton’s Corner airs on American Family Radio (afr.net) weekdays, 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Videos by the Lewises
sexual addiction ministries
▶ Pure Life Ministries
▶ Restoration Path
This post first appeared in the AFA Journal and was reprinted with permission.