A Gospel Exhortation
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31).
Heartwork: Am I A Sex Addict?
1.) Sex dominates my life to the exclusion of other activities. True____ False_____
2.) I engage in phone sex, go to sex chat rooms, use prostitutes, porn, etc. True____False_____
3.) I habitually masturbate, and cannot control myself to stop. True____ False_____
4.) I obsessively pursue all forms of media to view pornographic material. True____False_____
5.) I have had multiple sexual partner. True____False_____
6.) I have engaged in sexual activities to satisfy my cravings including stalking, rape, incest, and child molestation. True____False_____
7.) I feel shame and guilt after engaging in illicit sexual activity, and then return to it. True____False_____
8.) I feel helpless to change my sexual practices. True____False_____
9.) I go to great lengths to provide for every insatiable sexual urge. True____False_____
10.) I engage in risky behavior that might cause me my friends, and family. True____False_____
In His matchless grace, God has established three Divine institutions: marriage and the home, government, and the church. When these Divine institutions are protected and honored, there is personal freedom, happiness, and prosperity. Unfortunately, each of these institutions is under attack. Of particular concern is the attack on marriage, which is designed by God to be the means of procreating the human race through the sacred act of intimacy. After God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). To ensure the earth would be replenished, God honored the act of intimacy. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4).
A Wonderful Idea
The libido, or sexual appetite, is God’s idea, and it is a marvelous gift designed to bring incredible pleasure, while fulfilling God’s larger plan which is to populate the planet. What is not God’s idea is the abuse of the sexual appetite leading to sexual addiction.
The Manifestation of Sexual Addiction
Sexual addiction manifests itself when a person cares more about the act of sexual satisfaction itself, and not the other person involved. In cases of auto-eroticism another person does not even need to be present. A fantasy world becomes sufficient to find release of sexual tension.
When sex is substituted for love, then different, varied, and extreme sexual activities are pursued that focuses on the sex acts alone. Because of the ever increasing need to find new ways to find pleasure in the sex act, a new vocabulary has been created to label the perversions of the heart that go far beyond fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. Sexual perversions include nymphomania, sadism, masochism, and bondage. Because the human heart knows no limit to its depravity, there are other shocking manifestations of sexual addiction to include paraphilia, apotemnophilia, masochism, urolangnia, emetophilia, galactophilia, bestiality, and pedophilia.
Permissiveness: A Major Cause of Sexual Perversion
One major cause for sexual perversion is sexual permissiveness. Simply stated, sexual permissiveness can lead to sexual perversion, which certainly leads to sexual addiction. The appearance of the Internet has certainly exacerbated sexual permissiveness through the protection of freedom of speech, and the right to privacy. An unintentional consequence is sexual perversion, which too is being condoned, approved of, and even defended by many in high places of influence. Some doctors, psychiatrists, teachers, church leaders, and ministers, approve of the various acts of perversion.
One current example is found in the ministry of Mark Driscoll, founder and former pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle and author of The New Calvinists (2014). Driscoll is not opposed to using perverse and crude language when teaching the Bible. Nor is he opposed to openly talking about sex in the most sensuous and irreverent way. His book Real Marriage (2012) deals with self-stimulation, the use of sex toys, and various forms of cybersex.
What is happening in many churches is that the grace of God is being turned into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4). This should not be done. “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).
The Path to Sexual Addiction
The path to sexual addiction is broad and smooth, due to the magic of the Internet, and the iPhone. The most provocative and alluring images are just the touch of a finger away. In the privacy of a person’s home or apartment, in any spare moment, a person can find sexual stimuli. Countless millions of men and women worldwide take advantage of this, and become addicted to sex. This in turn means that “something” is going on within individuals that makes them seek out excessive sexual behavior.
No One Factor
Unfortunately, that “something” that causes sexual addiction is not easy to understand, despite countless studies by secular and religious institutions. There are various views as to the cause of sexual addiction.
Biological. Endorphins are associated with the release of sexual tension. Endorphins are a group of substances formed within the body that naturally relieve pain. “The bio-chemicals acetylcholine and dopamine are known as endorphins, and have a similar chemical structure to morphine. They are also known to lower stress, and boost confidence. They are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. There are at least 20 types of endorphins found in humans. They can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system” (Stacy Lloyd, Endorphins and Sex: A Good Combination). The feeling of happiness that a person normally feels after experiencing the release of sexual tension is due to the body’s production of endorphins.
Some believe the sex addict simply wants to feel that natural “high” time and again. Others are not so sure the explanation is that simple, and look to psychological factors.
Psychological. In the matter of sexuality, the mind is of great importance because it controls the imagination and a person’s view towards sex. If a person is exposed to negative patterns of sexual behavior, such as permissiveness, or pornography, at a young age, that can lead to sexual addiction. Feelings of unworthy, low self-esteem, and a desperate search for love, are also believed to be contributing factors of sexual addiction. It is believed that depression, anxiety, and the presence of a learning disability, increase the risk of developing a sex addiction as well.
Social Factors. In the making of sex addicts, society bears a large responsibility. Every business knows that sex sells. Movies are given an R, or restricted, rating to make them more alluring. Television programs promote casual sexual relationships, and show as much as can be provocatively shown. DIRECTV, all the movie channels, HBO, Cinemax, Netflix, and the porn channels leave nothing to the imagination. Usually, there is no social shame or penalty that has to be paid, even if a person’s addiction is exposed. Society calls it a mental health issue, and moves on. When looking for a cause of sexual addiction, one major cause is a sexually satiated society, from billboards, to books, to daily conversations.
Augustine noted, “Sin is looking for love in all the wrong places.”
There is something else that happens in society, and that is the tremendous amount of sexual abuse that takes place. People who are sexually abused are at a higher risk of developing a sexual addiction. Society places a lot of sexual pressure on young people, with its emphasis on looks, and diet, beauty pageants, and talent searches. Worst of all is the world of child pornography. Part of this sexual abuse is related to the fact that individuals with a sexual addiction, almost without exception, struggle with anger. That is because their constant sexual desires are often frustrated.
A Message from God
While society wrestles with the cause of sexual addiction, the Bible explains what is going on.
Vain imaginations. The mind was made for God. The Fall has perverted every facet of the soul, the will, the intellect, and the emotions. The mind is affected by sin, to the point that the imagination is perverted. The sex addict allows the mind to fantasize on images that are inappropriate and unwholesome. Prior to the Flood, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) If sexual addiction is to be understood, then it must be recognize that the imagination is being influenced by the Fall. When the mind is renewed, there will be the power to reimagine holiness, and think better thoughts, thoughts that are pure, lovely, and praiseworthy. (Phil. 4:8)
A determined will. Sexual addiction is a form of rebellion against God. It is a matter of exercising one’s personal will to power. Despite knowing the will of God, the sex addict is determined to have their own way, and pay whatever price needs to be paid. Even the wrath of God is no deterrent. The sex addict is wise in his own eyes, believing that it is better to burn with lust, and burn in hell, than to bow before the Creator.
The sex addict is determined to be the Captain of his own soul, and the Master of his own fate. And so it is that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Rom. 1:18-22) If sexual addiction is to be understood, then the will to power must be comprehended.
Suppression of the truth. It is not unusual for a sex addict to pretend not to understand why they do what they do. Society encourages this narrative in order to ascribe motives, and labels to the sex addict, and to make money off of the sex addict in various recovery programs. The Bible declares that individuals do know why they do what they do, but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness which God has shown to them (Rom. 1:18-19). Individuals hold the truth down.
Why? Because, as Jesus taught, individuals love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. (John 3:19) Evil may be defined as injurious behavior to self and others. It might seem illogical to think that individuals choose to harm themselves and others, but that is reality. Evil is done because of a love for what the Puritans once called a “darling sin.” The Bible calls it a “besetting sin”. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” (Heb. 12:1)
In a moment of honesty, sex addicts will confess their absolute love for their sex addiction. They might not like the results of their addiction, but they do love doing what they do, for their behavior brings a feeling of power and bliss that is enjoyed when they have their own way.
The principle of pleasure. The world has convinced individuals that they deserve happiness. People want to be happy. God wants individuals to be holy, but people want to be happy. It is believed that happiness is fulfilling every imagination of the heart, and every impulse of the body. “If it feels good, do it.” “You only go around once in life, so get all the gusto you can get.” “You deserve it.” The mindless, worldly slogans, are endless. However, they do communicate a message that connects to the point that the principle of pleasure is endlessly pursued.
While there are many mysteries to sin, sexual addiction is not one of them. The sex addict enjoys a fantasy world that stimulates the deepest emotions of the soul in order to exercise a will to power, and find pleasure. Feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse never come before illicit sexual behavior. They are not allowed to. Thoughts and feelings that might arrest sexual behavior are suppressed in order to perform that which is injurious to self and to others. But, the sexual addict simply does not care in the moment of burning passion.
Finding Freedom from Sexual Addiction
Finding freedom from sexual addiction is not easy, but, by the grace of God, there is a way out. The way to freedom begins with being born again, for “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Then, the mind has to be renewed (Rom. 12:2). The sexual imaginations of the heart must be replaced with new thoughts, new images, and new ideas. Hiding the Word of God in the heart in order not to sin is essential (Ps. 119:11).
There must be a commitment to stay away from people, places, sights, and sounds that lure the heart into inappropriate sexual behavior. The sex addict must stop making plans to do wrong. No provisions must be made for the flesh (Rom. 13:14). This means the sex addict must stay away from the computer or iPhone, or become more accountable when using the modern means of aiding sexual addiction. Inappropriate relationships must immediately be terminated. Evil companions, and an evil way of life corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33).
A renewed fear of God must be cultivated. This is done by believing God when He says that He will punish the wicked. “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). The judgment of God is severe. Those whose sins have been publicly exposed know that God is serious in judging sin. Those who are full of self-loathing and self-hatred, for succumbing to their sexual addiction know that the Devil is paying them what they have worked for. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). There is the death of a good self-image. There is the termination of fellowship with God. There is the end of wanting to worship, engage in godly conversations, and serve the Lord. There is a cessation of a trusting relationship with a spouse. Fear replaces faith. The hope of eternal life is lost. The heart desperately wants to believe there is no eternal conscious punishment for sin. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
With new habits, new relationships, and a renewed fear of God, the sex addict becomes more willing to be held accountable. Sin will be confessed and the intervention of a trusted friend will be allowed. Christian fellowship will be sought and the heart will finally say, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1).