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Shedding Light on Sexual Addiction

Last Spring, Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh released, Pulling Back the Shades. They want to pull back the shades of Grey for you to see God’s truth about how Fifty Shades of Grey and other books and movies in this genre can be destructive to your life.

Today’s post from Juli isn’t about the movie, but is about a common struggle for women: sexual addiction. Juli’s approach is biblical and helpful and I hope you’ll use her content here if you’re in bondage or to minister to a sister you know that may be struggling with this.

Here’s Juli ~

Sometimes I joke about things I am “addicted” to. Coffee and dark chocolate are definitely on the list. Honestly, we are all addicted to something—there are things in life that we just can’t seem to get by without. You may be addicted to your husband’s affection, a daily workout, talking to or texting your best friend, or spending time in prayer. At the most basic level, we are all addicted to things like food, sleep, human interaction, and oxygen. We simply can’t live without them.

So why are some addictions normal, and others deadly? Why is it okay to joke about my need for a daily soy latte, but there is great shame surrounding a daily need for sexual stimulation?

Because sexual addiction is no joking matter. It has ruined millions of marriages, and keeps Christian men and women shackled in chains of self-contempt and fear. The roots often begin with children as young as eight or nine. When Satan gets a foothold, it seems as if a lifetime of struggle and failure is certain. Yet, many men and women have discovered freedom from sexual addiction.

What is sexual addiction?

A neuropsychologist could give an eloquent detailed explanation of what happens to the brain during sexual addiction. In layman’s terms, your body was designed to experience pleasure. There are areas of your brain and body that are wired to bring excitement, euphoria, and feelings of peace and elation. Some people call these the “reward” centers of your brain—God wired your body to reward you and motivate you toward certain actions. For example, after exercising, your body often gets flooded with endorphins that release stress and make you feel great—a.k.a. a “runner’s high.”

A lot of your body’s natural rewards are associated with sexuality. The body’s response to sexual excitement and passion is stronger than practically any other natural experience. I believe God designed powerful sexual feelings and rewards to draw us into relationship. If we never had sexual drives and feelings, who would ever want to get married? As Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 7, sexual desire is a primary reason why we are drawn to marriage.

An addiction occurs when we learn to go after the reward without doing the work that the reward is designed to be linked to. Sexual pleasure is designed to be a catalyst and reward for the hard work and risk required in relationship. Enjoying great sex over many years of marriage requires commitment, communication, humility, and effort. Pornography, sexual chat rooms, and erotic novels all allow for a person to experience the physical euphoria without the effort and vulnerability of relationship. They provide a “shortcut” to the powerful reward that God designed for marital intimacy.

Why is sexual addiction a problem?

The desires that lead to sexual addiction are not wrong. Women who find themselves caught up in porn, reading books like Fifty Shades of Grey, or in a sexual chat room, got there because their healthy God-given desires have been twisted. You are supposed to desire sex, intimacy, an escape from stress, and so on. . . . But the enemy has offered you a shortcut that has now taken over your life.

A hallmark of addiction is tolerance. This means that what brought excitement and euphoria last month isn’t enough. Now you need something more. Perhaps you began with romance novels. That led to erotica, which led to Internet porn. Now you want to act out on what you’ve seen and read. You recognize that your appetites are getting out of control, but life without the reward feels dull, empty, and even hopeless.

The tragedy of sexual addiction is that it steals your ability to enjoy the natural rewards God designed you to experience. I’ve talked to committed Christian women trapped in sexual addiction who have no sexual desire for their husbands and can’t enjoy simple things that once brought great pleasure. One woman put it this way:

I became more unsatisfied in our marriage. I was not satisfied by my husband sexually. He couldn’t satisfy me, and it was my fault. And, I cannot tell you how much I love my children. I have always wanted to be a wife and mother—more than any career life could offer. But I began to feel like my life was boring and mundane. I had thoughts of packing my bags and living a different life.

Tomorrow Juli continues this post and offers real help to women who want to get victory over their sexual addiction. 

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Are you struggling with sexual addiction? If you are, please don’t remain in the dark, reach out to a trustworthy and spiritually mature friend. Step into the light and experience the freedom and deliverance Christ can bring. Please come back tomorrow to hear more from Juli on this important topic.

How can we pray for you?

Adapted from Juli’s post at Authentic Intimacy

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Comments

  • Terri

    Thank you for having this website. I feel like I can’t undo the bondage I am in. I am addicted to lesbian pornography. I try not to look at this stuff, but sometime it comes up “by accident” when I am looking at something else. I feel hopeless, helpless, trapped and want the images in my head to go away. I don’t look at it a lot, but sometimes I give in if something comes up in front of me. My husband and I have had problems….I was molested when I was 6 years old by some relatives and have gone through lots of counseling, but do not want him to touch me or have relations with me. We have been married for 44 years and it has been this way for quite a while. I had always had this attraction to females, but have never acted on it and don’t plan to. I have been a Christian for years and am involved in my church. But this problem is getting the better of me….I am so ashamed. I feel there is no way for me to break free. I know God can set me free, but so far I am still struggling with this. Another problem is that my husband has been into porn and I’m not sure if he has stopped or not….because we don’t have any type of intimacy. I feel so very sorry for him and have even told him if he wants to leave, he can. He has decided to stay. But I feel guilt and many negative feelings about the entire situation.
    Thank you again for making this available because I am sure there are many women who are also trapped like I am and would be humiliated if anyone found out at church. Thank you for listening to me. If you have any suggestions on how to help me, I pray that you will tell me. Thank you and God Bless.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Terri ~

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. I know you are struggling and this has been a long, hard, road to walk. I am so sorry for the bondage and pain you’ve experienced. Although this has been a temptation and battle for many years, there is hope. You cannot break the bondage you are in, but God does provide the grace and power to live in freedom.

    Although you’ve been through years of counseling, I hope you’ll look up the website and check out Pure Life Ministries (I’m including a link below). They have been helpful to many people. One friend of mine told me that this ministry literally “saved his life.” They have resources that can help and you can talk with them by phone.

    One practical suggestion is for you to have your computer “cleaned.” It sounds as though your computer is sending you pop-ups because of your browser history. Do everything possible to cut off any source of temptation.

    You and your husband are both in a vulnerable position because of your lack of a healthy, God-glorifying sexual relationship. God designed us to express our physical intimacy with our mates, it is a beautiful things, but sadly Satan seeks to rob us of that joy.

    Terri, please go to the link below and contact them. Let me know what you think about the ministry and specific ways we can continue to pray for you:

    http://www.purelifeministries.org/home

    I am praying for you NOW!!! (Eph. 3:20–21)