Overcoming The Power Of Sexual Addiction
by Jay Allbright
The subject of Sexual Addiction is of a different nature that any other realm of addictive behavior. First, it is difficult because the scripture we try to use to deal with the subject of sexual addiction deals with lust rather than sexual addiction. You might say, "Isnít it the same thing or donít they go hand in hand?" No they are not the same thing, although they are closely linked. Lust is a subject that covers a broader spectrum than you might realize. For instance you can lust after inanimate objects such as cars, boats, houses, careers, etc. You can also lust after things that are not necessarily sinful. You can lust after a womanís beautiful face. I have heard women say, "doesnít he have beautiful eyeís?" Now let me ask you this question, is lust any less sinful because it involves a womanís face or a manís eyes rather than their exposed body. Letís take it a step farther. Is it any less sinful for a man to look at a woman who has a beautiful figure and lust although she has done everything she could to make sure that she was modest in her dress, than it would be for him to lust after her because she was unclothed. Sexual addiction really is a much different subject than lust although they can include many of the same elements. Second, it is a difficult subject because it is one of those secret sins. The other forms of addiction are public, the alcoholic is almost always known to be an alcoholic before he admits heís one himself. The person who is chemically dependent is almost always recommended to someone for help because they are aware of his problem. Yet with sexual addiction it is always known privately by the person himself before any one else finds out. The alcoholic is often disgusting in his behavior, the chemical dependent person makes people angry because he tends to put at risk those he loves just to get another fix. But, sexual addiction is different because it brings shame. Most family members are not aware of this problem because it is so easily hidden. Yet ironically it is probably the addiction that claims more respondents than all of the addictive substances combined. The following outline will map out a method for recognizing and dealing with this addiction.
I. How Does This Addiction Occur
The key in dealing with this addiction is to understand why it occurs to begin with.
1.God is the author of sex and the sexual drive. He intended that it be not only for the purpose of producing off spring but for the enjoyment of the couple that has been united in a scriptural marriage. I believe that every married couple should read the Song of Solomon together monthly or at least every other month. Sexual interest can be intensified when there is not a adequate sexual relationship between a husband and wife. That intensity then leads to fantasizing about people other than your mate. I Cor 7 :3 Ė 5 states, "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence:and likewise also the
wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."
2.There is also the lust factor. There are some who would disagree with me on this point but it is worth researching. Not all lust is wrong. I was recently dealing with a couple and the husband, whom we will call John was battling with pornography. His wife whom we will call Jane said, "I will not be satisfied until he doesnít lust at all anymore". I responded by saying, Jane he cannot make you a promise like that and if he did you would need to promise him that you would not lust for anyone either." Lust can involve more than just sex, it can simply involve the attractiveness of someoneís face, the way someone carries themselves or their physical stature. Everyone should have as their goal not to lust after someone else but to make that specific promise would be difficult. Beside that fact Jane, you really do not want what you are requesting because the other issue is that not all lust is bad. I Corinthians 10:6 say, "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." The problem here is not lust but lust for evil things. The word lust comes from the Greek word "epithumeo", which means to set the heart upon, i.e. long for (rightfully or otherwise). You see it is a good thing for a husband to lust after his wife. To crave her, to long for her, to set his heart upon her. It is when he turns that lust toward someone else that the problem occurs. Quite frankly, the fact that a man doesnít lust after his wife is more critical than the fact that he has lusted after someone else. This is true because when he doesnít lust after or crave after his wife he opens the door for sexual addictions that will leave him defeated and discouraged. Once sexual addictions take seed they are the most difficult of all addictions to overcome. You canít correct it by placing them in a hospital to dry them out or by locking them in a jail cell. So my response to Jane was, you really donít want him to be free of all lust because if he were then you would be coming for counsel for the lack of intimacy in your relationship. There are some things that God desires that we lust after. The word "Lust" in I Corinthians 10:6 is the Greek word epithumeo, which is the same Greek word that used in Luke 22:15, where Christ "desires" or "lust" to eat the Passover with his disciples. It is also the same word translated desire in I Timothy 3:1, where the man that "desires" or lust after the office of a Bishop desires a good work. Again we find the word "desire" or "Lust" in Hebrews 6:11 when we are told to "desire" or "lust" to show diligence. The problem occurs when we "lust" after the wrong things and in this case it would be to lust after someone that is not our mate. James 1:15, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
3.Another reason that sexual addiction becomes an issue is because of preoccupation† with the subject of sex itself. Unfortunately you cannot drive down the highway, turn on the television or pick up a magazine without sex being blatantly paraded in front of your eyes. If you go outside in the summer time you will be confronted with nakedness and sexual overtones. All of these media devices can create an avenue for preoccupation with the subject of sex. If you have a computer and internet activity is a part of your day, you will battle the temptation of sexual preoccupation. Understanding how sexual addiction is stimulated is a very valuable tool used in combating the addiction.
II.† Admitting You Have A Problem Is The Place of Beginning
Remember that anyone can develop excessive sexual desire. Those who are affected may engage in behaviors that include masturbation, phone sex, pornography, affairs, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, child molestation, incest, and rape. The list could continue but the issue is recognizing the addiction before it reaches such proportions. I know the point, "Admitting You Have A Problem" sounds as if it is the patented opening for every recovery organization that has ever been conceived. This statement becomes less generic in this subject context because sexual addiction is unlike any other addiction in that it is so private. It is harder to admit you have a problem when you are the only one that is aware that a problem exist.
1.You must admit that you are powerless over this sexual compulsion. Because it is unknown to almost everyone else it is very easy to convince yourself that you can somehow gain control of the problem before anyone finds out and most certainly before it produces any major, negative repercussions in life. The problem with this mentality is that when you fail to acknowledge that the problem is existent it continues to gain ground in your thought life which in turn lessens your ability to gain victory over the addiction. It is to your advantage to admit immediately that you are powerless over this addiction or compulsion.
2.You must make this known to someone, just one person besides yourself. It must be someone that you know you can trust completely. Someone you would entrust your life to. We will write a little more about accountability later but for know you must understand if you do not make yourself accountable to someone else, you stand very little chance of recovery. Remember it must be someone you can trust completely. If you put this kind of confidence in someone you cannot trust completely you will bring more damage to yourself than you could have ever imagined.
III.†† Tear Down the Self Made Wall of Isolation
We are finding that most sexual addictions stem from other "abuses" in life. Please understand that I am not blaming addiction on someone else because we all have a free will and choice and we are accountable for our own action.
1.What ever the abuse was that we suffered we learned to survive only by building a wall around our heart. Although this was a successful way to prohibit the abuse from destroying our heart, it also imprisoned us in our own walled city, cut off from outside influence.
2.In the process of building this wall of protection we also inadvertently isolated ourselves from God and His desire to sustain us. This results in spiritual death and that spiritual death is as real as our emotional death.
3.The one thing that seemed to breath new life into our existence was sex fueled by uncontrollable lust. That lust then became another wall around our hearting heart. Now we find ourselves in this magical world that leaves us with the illusion of acceptance and success. In this magical, mystical world we can be accepted by anyone we choose. The beautiful girl that we feel would have looked down her nose at us in real life is now a pawn of our desire. Now we are in control, anyone we choose will become a participant in our every sexual desire.
4.The longer we live in this artificial world the further we retreat from reality. We canít be harmed, laughed at, or ridiculed in this walled city. As long as we feel safe we will remain in our walled city. So what began, as an attempt to protect us from the fear of un-acceptance has now become our prison. Note: Not all sexual addiction is a result of some kind of abuse or isolation. All sexual addiction comes as a result of choice. In some cases that choice evolved from much free time or work environments. There are also times when friendships produce sexual addiction simply through osmosis. It is certainly true that you become like the people you spend the most time around. If sex is the subject that your friends and work mates speak the most about, it will be on your mind often.
IV.†† Overcoming The Addiction Itself
We spent most of the time explaining how you become addicted, now we need to learn how to recover from the addiction. Here are the TEN STEPS that we have adopted here at Recovery Ministries.
1.Be honest with yourself about the addiction
2.Understand that you alone are powerless of this addiction
3.Realize that victory over the addiction can only come from a personal relationship with Christ
As we develop a closer relationship with Christ, He points out those weak areas in our life that set the stage for the addiction. Satan has been the controlling influence in our thought life up until now. We identified our weakness for him and now he uses that weakness to defeat us. John 8:36 "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
4.Give up previous attempts to dissolve the addiction
You may have tried any number of things to control this addiction. For instance you may have tried behavioral changes like avoiding sexual contact with certain people, limiting your contact with people of the opposite sex. Maybe you have tried masturbating believing that this release would curb your desire yet you found that it only intensified the problem. The Bible does not specifically call masturbation a sin. As a matter of fact the Bible is notably silent concerning masturbation. There is no scripture that identifies this as a sin. We do know however that masturbating comes from lustful thoughts or produces lustful thoughts. Masturbating is often the way that a person can fulfill their most private sexual fantasies. We tend to hold on to past attempts to gain victory in hopes that they will work this time.
5.Understand that sexual addiction is a mental addiction
Remember this addiction is different from any other addiction because it takes place in the mind. Drug addiction comes from an outside stimulus. Addiction to alcohol comes from an outside stimulus. Addiction to prescription drugs originates from an outside source. But sexual addiction originates in the mind. If you are going to gain victory over this addiction you must change the way you think. Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. You can get away from the drugs to purge your body of the chemical dependency. You can abstain from alcohol to dry out but you cannot get away from your mind. You will remain defeated if you determine not to think about sex. Satan is already aware that you have this weakness so he will continually parade sexually stimulating objects in front of you. Your only defense is to think "pure thoughts on purpose". Try these steps in order to think pure thoughts on purpose.
1.Memorize scripture that focus on Heavenly things
2.Begin your day with Bible reading
3.Listen to informational tapes like preaching tapes while in your automobile or during idle time.
6.Live in an offensive mode not a defensive mode
We tend to spend way too much time defending ourselves from the fiery darts of the wicked instead of firing darts at the wicked. Here is an example, pick someone you know is lost and needs to be saved. Every time Satan tempts you t† think lustful or sexual thoughts begin immediately praying for that lost person to be saved. Notice you do not pray for the thoughts to be taken away, thatís defensive. You pray for someone to be saved, thatís offensive. Think about it, does God want that person to be saved? Certainly He does. Does Satan know that God will answer your prayer? Yes he does. Is Satan going to continue to tempt you if he knows that his tempting prompts you to do the thing that could cause him the most damage? Not likely.
7.Eliminate all the pornography or lustful material in your home
That may mean to eliminate pornographic material, magazines, Internet activity, or sales catalogs. You will have to limit what you watch on television. It may mean you have to eliminate all television until you have victory over the addiction.
8.Spend a lot of time with people who are NOT battling sexual addiction
Remember the osmosis principle. You tend to think like those you associate with.
9.Make yourself accountable to someone out of your family circle
You must be very careful here. You cannot make yourself accountable to just anyone. It must be someone you trust completely even with your life. If this person says one word about your addiction to anyone else he will do more damage than he could have ever done for good. I know of people that have been permanently scared emotionally because they confided in someone who could not keep it to their self. Do not be accountable to someone of the opposite sex. Simply discussing the subject with someone of the opposite sex will stimulate your sexual appetites. When you have made yourself accountable to someone you tend to work harder to abstain from sinful behavior because you are aware that you will be asked about your behavior.
10.Once you have victory begin helping others who are battling the same addiction.
Nothing will solidify your recovery like feeling the victory of helping someone else win the victory over sexual addiction. Remember you must have victory first and then you will keep yourself in check by helping others deal with the addiction.