In today’s Christian culture, many believers, both male and female, struggle with sexual addictions.
We are now in a time where the norm is that a Christ follower has already viewed pornography in some form or another. For example, we no longer teach parents what to do if your child looks at porn, but rather how to handle it when your child views porn.
When it comes to treating sexual addictions such as habitual and compulsive porn use, there are a handful of truths we can learn from God’s word. When we look in Genesis, the first thing that Adam and Eve did after eating the forbidden fruit was hide. They hid from each other and they hid from God.
Pornography use is a form of hiding. We do it in secret. We hide our behavior from others. We turn to it to escape reality and hide from our pain, loneliness, and boredom. One of the first steps in treating this hiding, is simply to come out of the hiding or to walk in the light. (1 John 1:7)
One way we can stop hiding is to confide in someone we trust (James 5:16). Just opening up this part of ourselves that we are so ashamed of has the power to weaken the stronghold that hiding has. As we begin to learn to open up, becoming part of a group is also vitally important. Opening up to someone close is one thing, but opening up in community is another. The power of community cannot be underestimated.
Another way we hide is in our prayers. I have often heard clients say to me, “Rick, I’ve been praying and asking God to take this away from me because I hate it so much.” When I hear this, I usually shake my head and ask my client, “Why are you praying that prayer?” I usually get cross-eyed looks of confusion in return.
Praying such a prayer, though heart felt, is simply not honest. A more honest prayer is telling God how much you actually want to keep looking at porn and how you can never see yourself giving it up. In my experience, this type of prayer is more honest and vulnerable.
Hiding is a form of denial. And according to Patrick Carnes, one of the leading researchers in sexual addictions, breaking through the denial is the first step towards recovery.
The Bible also addresses how we are to manage our thought life. There are many verses that speak to this such as renewing the mind (Rom 12:1-2), taking every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5) and think about things that are true, honest, and pure (Phil 4:8).
Oftentimes, clients who come into my office seeking help with porn have low views of themselves. This low view of self typically results from what I refer to as their brokenness. Throughout life, people do and say hurtful things to us. Sometimes, we (consciously or unconsciously) form beliefs about ourselves and the world because of these things that happen to us. We sometimes believe that we are unlovable or that we could never rely on someone.
The belief can sometimes sound like this: I am a horrible person. Because of this, I could never allow myself to get close to another person because if they found this out about me they would reject me. Therefore, I can never trust anyone to meet my needs so I will have to find ways to meet my own needs.
But these beliefs have consequences. And for an increasing number of people, the way to meet these needs are through addiction. But all of this stems from an unhealthy and inaccurate view of oneself.
Replacing the lies that we believe about ourselves, and the hurt, shame, and brokenness that results from addiction, can only be changed by inserting truth, especially the truth of God’s word. Ultimately, what God thinks about us is of greater importance than what we think of ourselves.
Finally, addictions on a very basic level are about numbing. We use this substance or do this behavior to medicate our pain.
Like the woman at the well, who kept thinking that relationships would truly satisfy her, the addict continues in his addiction thinking the next time will finally give him what he has been looking for. The unfortunate thing is it has let him down.
Bringing our pain to Christ to receive healing and restoration and find true relationship will ultimately give us what we are looking for. When we drink from the Living Water, we will truly be satisfied.
Bio: Rick Manabat is the clinic manager for the MTS Counseling Center. He graduated from Trinity International University with a masters in mental health counseling, and is a certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT). He is a native of Chicago, is married, and has three children.