Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dark Night of the Soul

An ongoing transition from bondage to freedom

Any fellow recovering addicts feel as if they're going through a dark night of their own? Scott Owings has a great article, with a surprising link to a blogger over at heartlight

...the "dark night" is a profoundly good thing. It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live more freely. Of course, this doesn't mean that the dark night isn't painful — for loss and grief do bring pain. The good news is that in obscurity and uncertainty — two realities most Americans do everything to avoid — God is present. And not only is he present, God eventually brings about a dawn; a dawn that is characterized by liberation of love, deepening of faith, gratitude, and awareness of our union with God.

To guide us toward this union with God — to the love we most desire — we must be taken where we could not and would not go on our own. And though the dark night can be quite troublesome and frustrating, it is when we cannot chart our own course that we become vulnerable to God's protection and the darkness can even become a guiding light.

I begin to experience how close the love of Christ really is. Thankfully, though the "dark night" is healing and liberating and humbling, it is not an end in and of itself. It is rather an ongoing transition from bondage to freedom in prayer and in every other aspect of life.

The whole thing is here. Be sure to check out the blog referred to at the bottom of the article. Scott's Blog from Prague is indeed a blessing if you can take the time.

Jimmmaaa, who writes his way out of his dark night, has some good poems and musings on this subject. Here's one. Give him a visit.


Update: Mike Russel at Eternal Perspectives is emerging from his own dark night. This is a post worth reading as well. I especially like the way he describes his journey as identifications with LOTR characters. Another Numenorean! But really, I identify more with Frodo. More on that later.

Homosexuality - Sanctioning an Inherited Nature

Family.org has a great answer to a common question


You've seen Hollywood embrace "gay pride." You've been told that homosexuals make up 10 percent of the population (the actual number is less than 3 percent). Perhaps you've struggled with troubling thoughts, causing you to wonder about your gender identity, or maybe you've even sought to meet your needs for companionship and acceptance through a same-sex relationship. If so, you need to know that you do have a choice in the matter, that you're not simply "wired that way." Indeed, you don't have to be gay — there is hope for those who want to change.

Check this page from time to time. There are good question and answer sessions posted there along with related articles and resources. I especially liked the response to this question.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Numenorean

And an Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

Hmmm, so I'm a Numenorean, Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan? Yeah, me and Wesley riding across the plain, shouting "Men of the West...unite!" Ugh! I've GOT to get that "Dyslexics of the world...untie!" out of my head.

Numenorean
Numenorean


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

89%

Neo orthodox

64%

Reformed Evangelical

64%

Fundamentalist

64%

Emergent/Postmodern

50%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

46%

Classical Liberal

32%

Roman Catholic

29%

Modern Liberal

14%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Long Way Off

Phil's Story - Part 1

One of the biggest surprises of my Christian life was when I started divulging the problems I was experiencing with homosexuality and drugs. At the time I was separated from my wife, (she had asked me to leave our house) and I had plunged headlong into the "gay" scene. It was anything but, of course.

I had been having anonymous sexual encounters for some time by then. There was a lot of heavy sexualization in my childhood, both long-term abuse and exposure to hardcore pornographic films and magazines. I'd dabbled with homosexuality as well as "straight" sex from my teenage years. But at this point, I fell off the edge: I started going to the bathhouses, bars, public parks, etc. My entire life revolved around sex, whether it was on the Internet or some local gay hangout.

I finally let my Pastor know what was going on - pretty much all of it. I hadn't been attending church all this time, but I realized I was going down and I needed help. He was wonderful about setting me up with an elder who had been through some of the same issues, albeit on the heterosexual end. Turns out we weren't really that different. (Freaked me out.)

I also let some of my close Christian friends know. Of course, my wife knows absolutely everything - and I mean everything. Without exception every one of these were compassionate, gracious and forgiving. I never once received any shallow or trite religious advice. On the contrary. That was also a shock to me. I expected rejection and horror.

I didn't dump my shame onto my wife in a selfish escape from guilt and remorse. She wanted to know the details (she kept saying she wanted to know what she was dealing with); she prayed that God would help her through it, and I really believe He did. Lord knows she needed heavenly grace to get through it. She was devastated. I mean devastated. I only shared the truth with her because of the extent of my problems. In a case like this, she deserved to know, of course. And she insisted on knowing. Her life was threatened every time we slept together.

For me, disclosing to safe, compassionate, spiritual men and women made all the difference. Just getting it off my chest and bringing it into the light took a huge load off my shoulders and seemed to make it easier from the beginning. It was also the beginning of my being able to get some real help.

Keeping our addictions in the dark only feeds them - especially this addiction, where the dangerous, secretive, taboo element is part of the excitement.

I know that our relationship is firstly with God, and the Lord Christ Jesus is the only mediator between ourselves and the Father, but there's something about confessing our faults to one another so that we may be healed, y'know? The guilt and shame associated with my situation only subsided after I confessed truthfully and fully my faults to another Christian. They were to me sort of like "Jesus with skin on". The more I brought things into the light, the better I got.

Let me reemphasize something in case this is misunderstood: disclosing to safe, compassionate, spiritual people is liberating, healthy, and biblical. Disclosing intimate sexual issues with physically present and prospective partners is somewhat risky at least if not plain foolish. Don't let the lure of "connecting" and creating intimacy draw you into making a mistake you'll regret later. Choose healthy, safe, spiritual people for your disclosure. They're the ones who'll really be able to help anyway.

Oh, one more thing: the shame of the confession and the yieldedness of the repentance helped begin a breaking process in me that was crucial. I had gotten so hard, so hard to the things of God - spiritually dull and insensitive, I mean - totally in darkness.

I should say that disclosing to my wife was HER choice. It resulted in our separation. Which, in turn, was the beginning of my coming to terms with some real consequences in my life. My wife is not my ongoing accountability partner. That is way too hard on her. But she does insist on knowing several things: am I in relationship with other men who are pursuing wholeness - pursuing God; am I practicing my devotions - am I in prayer, worship and study; I'm back in church now, and that is a must, of course; am I being honest with my counselor and men’s group; am I reaching out to other people. All of these things are fruits - evidences if you will, that I'm in relationship with my heavenly Father.

If I'm not doing these things, it's a red flag that something is really wrong. I've told my wife as much: "If I'm not doing these things, you know that something is wrong. I'm not doing well." We don't suddenly fall into sexual sin. We move away from our relationship with God first. We don't just go out and commit adultery or wallow in pornography one day when we where burning with the passion of the Holy Spirit a minute before.

We first have had to move away from God. That's usually a slow thing. My relationship with Him is an indicator that I'm doing well sexually...or not. So, I do disclose those things to her. And, of course, she can see if I'm there or not pretty easily. I tend to close off when I'm angry, depressed, lukewarm or otherwise not walking in the Spirit.

I got worse before I got better. I eventually got a live-in lover, and stayed with him for over a year...the last guy, for three months. All the while I was still frequenting the bathhouses and porno movie houses, bars, porno booths etc. I ended up being arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer at a local park.

My wife eventually served me divorce papers. I started struggling in my job - I couldn't concentrate, all I thought about was acting out, and I started having anxiety attacks. After spending a few weeks in the State Hospital for depression and thoughts of suicide, I finally realized that the "gay" lifestyle wasn't really what I wanted. The spell had somehow worn off.

I had hit bottom. I'd lost my relationship with God, my church, my friends, my family...I felt like my job was just around the corner. I agreed to sell some property we had acquired, and I went away to a resident program for Christian sex addicts for nine months. I got back over three years ago.

Since then, I'm reunited with my wife and two children. I'm in church again; I attended a Bible College after I got out, and a Living Waters program (a program for what the founder of the ministry calls "sexual and relational brokenness"). To date, I've spent years in counseling, other rehabs, and meeting with groups of men who are recovery sex addicts themselves - some of them former homosexuals, some former offenders.

I consider community and writing two of my pillars. I am immensely blessed to get these things out in black and white, and I can't do recovery without the community of other recovering addicts who are seeking healthy spirituality, healthy relationships and are able to be honest. I greatly appreciate my fellow ragamuffins. Your struggles and triumphs, your encouragements and your exhortations are all a vital part of my recovery.

Things aren't perfect. Of course I still struggle. Sometimes my mind is a sewage pipe, and I literally rage with lust. But it's not like it was. I haven't had a perfect record since returning. But I'm not enslaved to my lusts like I was before. I don't have near the intrusive thoughts I use to. (I couldn't read, think, write etc. without having a fantasy smack me like a two-by-four right in the middle of a totally unrelated activity.) I don't feel like a bull with a ring in my nose -- my lusts don't pull me around anymore, or hold on to my coat tails like some overgrown child demanding my attention.

This thing isn't pushing on me all the time anymore. Things really are different, and I can tell the difference. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I no longer believe that I'm a homosexual who can only be happy in a relationship with another man. I have truly returned to my First Love - He was faithful when I was so unfaithful. I'm learning what it means to be His disciple. My life no longer revolves around sex. My mind is clear.

I'm happy with my family. My wife and I are committed to each other. And I am committed to faithfulness in my relationship with her. I really didn't think that was possible at one time. I'm tellin' ya - I really thought I was lost forever with no way back.

And I know if things can be this different in a few years time, they'll get better in another year. The following year will be even better.... Hang in there, brothers! There are a lot of men who relate to you. There are a lot of men who don't particularly relate, but truly love and accept you all the same. Heh. I know it's hard to believe when we feel like scum, but it's true. There are a host of men who've come out of situations like ours. It is being done; some of the men are here where I live. There are groups here for men struggling specifically with homosexuality (you wouldn't believe how many groups meet here in my state) and many of them are experiencing real victory. It's amazing.

When our marriage was falling apart, my wife and I reacted very differently. She ran to God. I ran to my old means of coping. And for reasons I don't quite understand yet, I ran away from God when I began to struggle. I believe she was able to hang in there with me for this reason - she always ran to God. Lord knows, after an admission like mine, she must have realized that He was the only hope for our marriage and for my redemption.

Sometimes I wish we could get just a glimpse of the Father's love for his children, and love each other the same way. Jesus prayed just for that. He sees us all. A sparrow doesn't fall from the sky that our heavenly Father doesn't know it. How much more does He take notice of you? Do you realize that every hair on your head is numbered?

And just like a father who sees his son fall down and stumble, He doesn't pull away from us - He longs to help us all the more in our failure. His father-heart is moved with compassion when He sees our brokenness. He runs to us with compassion, longing to bind up our woundedness and comfort us in His strong arms of mercy.

Remember the parable of the prodigal son? Have you ever noticed the part that says, "when he was yet a long way off"? I know sometimes it seems as if we can't find the way back home. I didn't think I'd ever find it. I gave myself up for lost - forever lost. I didn't even know how to start on my way back. I couldn't read the bible; I couldn't pray; I couldn't worship.

My heart had hardened so. I hadn't been to church in years. I quit caring. All I wanted was my sin. And by the time I wanted out I had dug a hole so deep for myself that I couldn't make it out. I needed someone to reach down and lift me up, y'know? I really was a long way off.

If you'll just take that initial step toward the Father, even if you're so far away from him you don't know how to get back, maybe you don't believe you'll ever find your way back...He's going to find you. When you're way down the road, a long way off, desperately limping toward home in humility and repentance, He'll see you. He sees you now.

You think He is ashamed of you? Oh, no! He'll rejoice that his child has come to his senses - that he's come home again! Don't you realize that there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who turns from his ways back to God? He will receive you. He'll revive you. He'll save you from your poverty and despair. He'll stand you on your feet, place a robe around your shoulders, and crown you with loving kindness and tender mercy. And not only that, He’ll hug your neck and cry with you. He'll run to meet His son. He'll run to you with a strong embrace and tears. He'll lead you back step by step, His arm around you all the way.

Take that first step. You don't have to know the whole way. You don't have to have the answers. You just turn to Him, start back, and let Him come and get you. He's so faithful to His children. He's a wonderful Father. He's a good shepherd. He loves us.

"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20).

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pedophilia: General Comments

Last night I was watching a documentary program about four female high school teachers who were brought up on charges for having sex with their male students, the youngest 13, the oldest 17. Most of you have probably seen something about it. However, even though this has received nationwide attention, one has to question if this is just the tip of the iceberg. Teachers or store clerks, male or female, there seems to be more of a public awareness of this phenomenon these days. Parents steadfastly insist that they send their children to school for the purpose of learning the three R's and not a premature Sex 101. And of course many a church has defended itself against charges of child molestation by those who wear the collar or the veil..

Is this a case of making a mountain out of a molehill? Or is there substance to it as a spin-off from pornography? It's an ugly word, but - like it or not - its name is pedophilia.

If someone is fearful of rejection and lacks confidence in his own abilities, he/she will naturally seek out those who have the least experience in the field in which they seek to participate. Since pedophiles lack confidence in their sexuality, who better to have sex with than someone who hasn't had enough experience to realize that they lack expertise? If all a child or adolescent knows is what the molester has shown them, that makes the molester the expert and increases their feelings of success.

It all feeds from an obsessive need to be accepted be a certain age group. For the perpetrator, the ultimate sign of acceptance is to be allowed to have sex with a young person. In this way the pedophile tries to make up for an inability in his own childhood to be accepted by the age group that his victim represents. He, in essence, is trying to prove how valuable he can be to an age group that has rejected him in the past, and he has come to idolize (or hate). He uses money, affection, affirmation, praise and pleasure to accomplish this goal.

If the pedophile was seduced or molested by an adult during his childhood, he may have entered into a pattern of seductive behavior even while still a child, and now, as an adult, may be subconsciously attempting to recreate those early events in order to process them in a way that helps his mind alleviate the pain and confusion that they caused. At the time of his own molestation, the trauma probably overshadowed any ability to understand or maturely process what was happening to him.

This is part of the phenomenon whereby personality characteristics and behaviors of trauma-bearing adults become fixed into the psyche of children and are later repeated by them, unconsciously or consciously, and sometimes for the rest of their lives.

The person who has been molested or abused as a child will often play out the memories of that past into his childhood, only this time in the role of seducer or abuser.

The ability to seduce children does not depend on good looks but on skillful psychological manipulation. A pedophile receives pleasure just by virtue of the fact that he has the power to cause pain or arousal in a child. It's as if he is using the child to portray himself in a re-telling of his own past (or in a reenactment of a world spun into the fantasies of pornography). He may be doing this because he feels as though he deserves to be treated that way, and is, in effect, trying to punish himself through the child who now represents his former self. Would that he were only punishing himself.

Child molestation can also be a kind of shaking of the fist at God -- an acting out of retribution (by defiling one of God's innocent ones), for God having allowed the destruction of the pedophile's innocence. The cries of pain or pleasure of the child are his cries of pain or pleasure from the past, and reconfirm in his mind the reality of his own abuse or seduction and the rightness of his anger and rebellion against God.

The difference now is that the pedophile is the one with the power to seduce or abuse. He has recast himself in the power role as a way to overcome the feelings of powerlessness that have plagued him as a result of having been a bused in the past. Having been the victim, he must victimize; having been powerless, he must render powerless. It is very much a process of trying to manufacture power in the only situation where the person feels experienced enough to succeed. This kind of pedophile is not primarily concerned with his own orgasm, but with causing one in the child (or by causing pain in the child). His lust is satisfied by causing and witnessing the arousal and orgasm of the child, because in his mind he is the child.

If the pedophile was rejected and made fun of in the past and is particularly bitter, his revenge is often exacted by abusing and torturing his victim. Perverse mentality lusts after virgin flesh, unconquered territory -- the greatest thrill being to prove to God and all mankind that purity and wholesomeness cannot survive the wiles of one's own sensual or coercive power. The presence in the world of uncorrupted innocence is a testimony against man's evil actions, and so in an attempt to rid himself of the guilt that eats at his very soul, man will try to corrupt this innocent, accusatory witness.

Pedophilia is one of the least understood of sexual dysfunctions, and as such, could be almost characterized as incurable. This is the psychology of most of the world. On the other hand, a pedophile who knows something of his own perversion, who is a believer, and is very much aware that Christ can heal him if he actively pursues such healing, is indeed a fortunate man.

Jesus, living in all of us,

Tony

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

PBS and Kinsey

In 1948, the publication of a book cataloging the sexual habits of American men sent shockwaves through the nation. The result of over a decade of research and nearly 8,000 interviews, Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male dominated the news, inspired pop songs, and became an unexpected bestseller. "Every magazine, every newspaper, carried banner headlines, huge reports," recalls biographer Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy. "The effect was extraordinary; it was compared to the atom bomb."

"Few scientists before or after Kinsey have so galvanized the American public on issues related to sexuality," says Mark Samels, executive producer of American Experience. "Kinsey's pioneering research of the sexual habits of American men and women in the 1940s and 50s initiated a conversation about sexual behavior that continues to this day."

American Experience presents Kinsey, a 90-minute biography of a scientist whose repressed childhood, personal struggles, and obsessive nature propelled him to break through the silence on human sexuality, and conduct the first full-scale study of the sexual behavior of Americans.

Produced and directed by Barak Goodman (Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, The Fight) and John Maggio (The Fight), Kinsey is the first American television documentary to be granted full access to the extensive collection of research materials at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, bringing to the public a wealth of never-before-seen archival material.

"Having these resources at our disposal allowed us to craft a very complete, honest portrait of Kinsey," says Goodman. "What emerged from our research was the picture of a highly contradictory man: an objective scientist who was also a passionate rebel; a conservative who pushed the boundaries of his own sexuality."

Kinsey drew both praise and ire when he published his research, and he continues to be a lightning rod for controversy even today. Born into a repressive family, Alfred Kinsey defied his father by leaving his New Jersey home to study biology at Bowdoin and Harvard. Following a brilliant academic career, he took a post as a professor of entomology at Indiana University in Bloomington.

There, Kinsey began to refine Darwin's theory of natural variation by studying the tiny flightless gall wasp. Decades of studying the insect revealed to Kinsey that no two specimens were the same -- that infinite, subtle differences existed in every living creature. This theory would inform his later research on human sexuality.

It was at I.U. that the twenty-seven-year-old Kinsey met and married Clara McMillen, a twenty-one-year-old undergraduate student. But it was months before Alfred and Clara finally realized that a physiological problem had prevented them from consummating their marriage. Frustrated, Kinsey, sought answers about sexuality in available research, but was astounded to find that no reliable information existed. He took it upon himself to fill the gap in knowledge, and, in turn, share it with I.U. students by offering a marriage course.

"He equated ignorance with pain and the absence of joy," comments biographer James H. Jones in the film. "What he wanted to do in the marriage class was to give people information, to give them what he saw as the tools, the equipment they needed to understand their own sexuality."

By the mid-1930s, Alfred Kinsey had become I.U.'s resident expert on sex. What Kinsey learned through his research and interviews with students was that, like gall wasps, people's sexuality seemed to defy neat categories. Wanting to reveal the vast variety in human sexuality, Kinsey envisioned a major national study and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, established the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University.

Together with a team of researchers -- Harvard anthropologist Paul Gebhard, prison psychologist Wardell Pomeroy, and I.U. graduate student Clyde Martin -- Kinsey traveled to small towns and large cities, conducting thousands of interviews at sewing circles, bowling alleys, gay bars, fraternities, teachers' conferences, and prisons.

Kinsey's research, however, was not limited to interviews. In time, he came to believe that personal experience was the only way to understand the full range of sexual activity brought to light by his growing data. Kinsey encouraged his team to follow his lead and experiment in a range of sexual relationships outside their marriages.

But Kinsey's insatiable desire to collect more and more information proved to be his downfall. After a careful review, the Rockefeller Foundation, which had long funded his research, found Kinsey's methods flawed and pulled its support. Facing shifting social mores in 1950s, Kinsey was unable to secure another source of funding. Despite the success of his two groundbreaking books, Kinsey feared that if he didn't press on in his research, his work would be forgotten.

He died in 1956 at age 62, a broken man who would never witness the sexual revolution of the 1960s. "If Kinsey could have made it to the 60s, it would have been a different world for him," Jones purports. "He would have seen women's lib, he would have seen the civil rights movement, he would have seen, most importantly for him, the gay liberation movement. "His work, however, has not been forgotten. In 2004, interest in Alfred Kinsey was renewed: a feature film starring Liam Neeson was released on the heels of T. C. Boyle's new novel,The Inner Circle, based on Kinsey's life. American Experience's Kinsey features interviews with biographers James H. Jones and Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy; Dr. John Bancroft, former director of the Kinsey Institute; Kinsey's daughters, Ann Kinsey Call and Joan Kinsey Reid; T. C. Boyle, author of The Inner Circle; Paul Gebhard and Clyde Martin, members of Kinsey's IU research team, and several people who participated in the original interviews in the 1940s and 1950s.

Posted by Tony at 5:20 PM 0 comments

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Masturbatory Meanderings

Taking things into your own hands

The truth about masturbation is that most men do it, it can be exquisitely pleasurable, and it is not hurting anyone. With the exception of the last statement, the "five finger exercise" (as it is known among the clever) , can be the purveyer of infinitely more than merely two sources of gratification: one can claim ownership, indulge without payment, and enjoy the sweet awareness that it's always there when needed.

That it gives consummate physical and emotional release from the stressors of this world is unquestionable; however, as with all forms of escape from reality, it is temporary and laden with guilt; shame negates the ejaculation before it is even complete; and the jolt back to reality leaves one feeling diminished, lonely, and thirsting for intimacy.

God gave us sex for procreation and pleasure - but both within the boundaries of marriage. It is not only the Christian who tries to remain loyal to this dogma, but there is an inherent, if undefined sense within all of us, that anything else is unacceptable. Thus ecstasy rides in the saddle of a queasy emptiness. The search for God consumes us all, consciously or unconsciously.

Masturbation is not a roadmap, and the fact that we even need direction merely emphasizes our personal sense of loss and our willingness to take any road to "feel right" about ourselves.

Of course if one isn't Christian, there is no problem. Or is there? Does the search for significance slither within the believer, also? Is the major distinction between believer and non-believer one of ignorance, wherein study of Scripture in order to develop an intimate relationship with God creates a modicum of theological superiority in one and not the other?

Believer and non-believer sleep in the same bed, and both have only a personal grasp (pun intended) on what the masturbatory brouhaha is all about. They are limited in their concept by ignorance of the harm that is perpetrated on self and others. Both have the opportunity to understand and accept that selfishness motivates masturbation, and grows ever darker and more tenacious as one indulges. Spouse and others are often deeply hurt by the increasing withdrawal and self-centered attitude of the man who worships at the altar of sexual idolatry.

Thus, we damage ourselves and those who love us through focusing on the selfishness of masturbation instead of God as the one who will fill that emptiness within us. The act itself will not send us to hell, but it will make personal relationships difficult if not impossible in this world.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Need to Talk with Someone?

Addiction Resources


Counseling for trauma survivors, sexual addiction and marriages.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What is Sex Addiction?

Definition

Patrick Carnes, author of Out of the Shadows and In the Shadow of the Net, defines addiction as having a pathological relationship with a mood altering chemical or behavior. Simply stated, sexual addiction is the lack of control of some sexual behavior or relationship to the point of compulsivity or obsession that continues regardless of negative consequences. Perhaps the most helpful definition is a practical one: compulsive sexual behavior that has a negative effect on one's life.

Like with alcohol or drugs, sex addiction fits the classic, four-component model of what comprises an addiction:
  • compulsivity - the loss of control over a behavior. An addict continues in the behavior or relationship despite repeated attempts to stop.
  • continuation despite negative consequences
  • preoccupation or obsession
  • tolerance - more of the same behavior or an escalation of progressive behaviors is required to get the same "high".

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

One Flesh Union

Thought you'd like to see this

Linda Belleville, over at Cornerstone Magazine, has written a series of articles on sexuality entitled "One Flesh Union".

Part I The Old Testament on Sexuality

Part II The New Testament on Sexuality

Part III The Same Sex Challenge

How Do I Know if I Am a Sexual Addict?

Shameful, Secret or Abusive

For many Christian adults healthy sexuality is a holy, blessed experience they share with their spouse in what we call a one-flesh union. We affirm that God created sex in all its wonderful spirituality and sensuality. After all, He’s the one who put all those sensory nerves in those special places. We believe the marriage bed is not only “undefiled” it is the inroad to transparent, fully open and celebratory intimacy. It is an intensely pleasurable act of giving and receiving, of vulnerability, an act of choice.

Sexual addicts experience sex in different ways - more often as compulsive, hidden, shameful, even unlawful, predatory and abusive. They are driven in a way most non-addicts, with their unaddicted will still intact, can’t relate to. “Addiction is the process of decreasing choice.” Unlike healthy sex that is integrated into spousal relationships, sexual addicts use sex as a means to cope, to handle anxiety, fear of rejection and other powerful feelings. They may feel a compulsion to repeat a past trauma, or they may be medicating the pain of sexual abuse. Others have simply been trapped in the alluring world of online pornography that has escalated into uncontrollable behaviors. Sexual addicts “use sex as a way of feeling important, wanted or powerful”. Many addicts describe their “acting out” as the only time they feel fully alive. Sex is their way of feeling “like a real man”. Sadly, this behavior often turns on the addict, ending in the crippling of their faith and the devastation of their families and the lives of innocents around them.

While sexual addiction cannot be defined by a single sexual act, it is useful to describe sexually addictive behavior by the feelings, activities and consequences surrounding it. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. in his groundbreaking 1978 book on sexual addiction, Out of the Shadows, helps to define sexually addictive behavior as sexual activity that often falls into one of three categories: Shameful, Secretive or Abusive.

Shameful

David looked up towards the ceiling, tears filling his eyes as he shared his story. He recounted the abuse he’d experienced as a small boy. His face flushed red as he described staring up at a grown man laughing at him after he’d finished using this five-year-old boy for his own pleasure. He went on to describe his ongoing exposure to hard-core pornographic films and magazines starting at nine. His experiences as a young man were typical of the age we live in. However, after his marriage to the girl of his dreams, a devout woman to whom he’d divulged his past, he began to get into trouble. Marriage problems, again typical for most, brought out deep issues of rejection and shame David hadn’t yet dealt with. He began spending more and more time away after fighting with his wife. He’d started by driving around the neighborhood ‘till he’d “cooled off”. Eventually, he was spending the night at hotels viewing pornography. One day, when the inevitable opportunity presented itself, he said “yes”. That started a downhill spiral of sexual addiction, culminating in homosexual sex in porn theater booths. Like many addicts, David couldn’t believe how far he’d gone, “Two years ago you couldn’t have told me I’d be doing the things I’m doing now.”

Secretive

Sean is a lawyer by trade - a successful, hard-working husband with a wife and three children. He works many a long night at the office, and many a long evening at home in his study. His wife doesn’t know he’s been spending those hours lately staring into the incandescent light of his monitor deep into the night, masturbating to images he knows aren’t pleasing to God, would devastate his wife and compromise his marriage, and seemed to be leading him further and further into the dark world of online porn. Lately he has to work twice as hard to make up for lost time. His family is seeing him less and less. Still, he can’t stop himself from slipping out of his bed at midnight for one last time. He tells himself he’ll quit soon while he turns on his computer, all the while listening for the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs.

Abusive

Mark was a local pastor. A graduate of a conservative seminary serving as an associate at a large congregation, he was well on his way to becoming a senior pastor when the scandal broke. Mark had been having sex with several women in the congregation. When the truth came out, he was called on to account for his behavior. He described a life filled with pornography and compulsive masturbation during his youth which continued throughout his seminary days. The stress of his pastorate seemed to exacerbate his problem. He tried sharing his struggles with a man he admired, and was disappointed when he didn’t get the answers he needed. Who could he talk to? He couldn’t risk his job. Mark spent many hours “counseling” members of his church, mostly women, and many more fantasizing about them afterwards. After years of crossing his moral boundaries with no apparent consequence he became more bold, eventually targeting what he described as vulnerable women from the congregation.

Where do we go from here?

As the examples above indicate, sexual addiction is not characterized by one type of sexual behavior. Neither is it based on a single incident or experience - sexual addiction and adultery, or a single moral failure, are not synonymous. When reviewing their past, most sexual addicts will uncover long histories of various types and levels of sexual acting-out behaviors, often going back to adolescence. However, fantasy, pornography and masturbation are almost always at the foundation.

The Christian man caught up in sexual sin after many years of giving himself over to his every fantasy - “yielding himself as a servant of sin” - has a long and challenging process of recovery ahead of him. And while we make no excuse for this behavior, it is common for the sexual addict to have been involved in sexual abuse themselves as well as cross-addiction to other substances. This makes recovery a task best undertaken with a multi-phased, holistic approach including – repentance and discipleship leading to spiritual renewal, ongoing support of other recovering addicts, and possibly treatment by specialists trained to work with addiction. Small group work and 12-step or “Freedom Groups” meeting weekly can also be extremely beneficial. There are good online recovery groups whose community can also greatly benefit the sexual addict. Overall the primary key to recovery from years of religious hypocrisy, hidden sexual acts, betrayal, and lies is a willingness to reach out for help and take the necessary risks of honesty in facing these painful issues.

When we pursue our recovery with the same passion we’ve pursued our addiction with there is hope. If you think you may have a sexual addiction problem, please take the time to review some addiction self-tests online. These may be the first steps of honest self-evaluation necessary to begin your road to recovery. You are not alone. Many of us have gone down this road before you. There is hope. Nothing is impossible with God.

Ideas in this post are taken from an article at www.sexualrecovery.com by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CAS

God's Slave

My God!

I am enslaved to you and sin.
A pupa of slime,
tethered to Your Majesty
with indestructible chains.

In an orgy of masochistic love,
whip from me
impurity, licentiousness, idolatry and self.
Lash me into blessed sanctification,
a pulverized larva
on which
never again can Lucifer feed.

Seize me, Master!
Bind me to the pillar of Christ
that I, too, might suffer scourging.
Excoriate my self beyond self,
Let me cling to Christ in crimson bliss,
my degradation
bleeding, spurting.
Let His carcass
embrace me
absorb me
infusing everlasting life.

Then shall I stand
in the radiance
of His humiliation
before Pilate and the world.

tending no more toward death.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Double Life

The average man who has faithfully attended church services for many years, reads inspirational books, listens to Christian radio, and attends special men's church events, has probably been deeply involved in pornography for years.

Unfortunately, the fact that he has been involved in so much religious activity has very possibly hurt him more than it has helped. Sitting in church on Sunday and viewing filthy images of pornography during the week only tends to harden a man's heart and deepen his spiritual delusion. Sin always deceives. The more wickedness a person is involved in, the blinder he will become to his true spiritual condition. Because he senses God's presence in meetings, it is easy for him to imagine that he truly is walking closely with the Lord. This is compounded by the spiritual reality that the Lord is not quick to judge sin.

This double life of outward Christianity and hidden sin distorts reality and brings confusion. Darkness of mind signifies the lack of light in a person's thinking. The more a person gives himself over to the power of sin, the harder he grows toward God. He may still attend church, sing all of the songs of worship, and even enjoy some good preaching, but there is a thick callous around his heart that keeps him from feeling the Holy Spirit nudge him toward repentance. The more a person sins, the thicker that callous grows.

Eventually he will find himself so hardened that he can no longer discern truth for himself. Although he is likely to still have some comprehension for doctrinal truth, the Truth has been effectively shut out of his heart.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Addiction Self-Tests

Think you might be an addict?

I know. "Addiction" is such a heavy word. And I realize there is some controversy with applying the addiction model to sexual compulsion. But let's not get into that now. Perhaps you're here looking around because you recognize you or a loved one has a problem. Whether you call it addiction, compulsion, or temporary madness these tests may help you come to grips with the possibility that you may need some real help.

Admitting we have a problem is a pretty good first step. Try reading the article How Do I Know if I'm a Sexual Addict? It offers some insight into the feelings and behaviors that surround sexual addiction.

What is Sex Addiction? provides a brief definition.

There are some tests available online that may give you some insight. To take a test, click on a link below. We'll add more links as time goes on. If you know of any not listed here - please tell us!

  • Addiction Self Test from Patrick Carnes, Phd, noted author and pioneer in treatment of sex addiction
  • Self Addiction Help
  • Addiction Risk Self-Assessment from "KAVOD" recovery
  • PureIntimacy.org has a self test for those whose Internet sex habit has become addictive.

  • To find a counselor in your specific area

    Here are several things to get you started. Make some phone calls, and do your homework....

  • Visit Christians in Recovery.
  • 1-800-therapist.com can help you choose a therapist.
  • Dr. Carne's website, sexhelp.com, offers a self test. After you take the test, he has a on-line method where you can find a counselor in your specific area.
  • New Life Ministries operates as a clearing house for Christian counseling across the U.S. You can check out counselors in your area at the Christian Counselor Locator, or call 1.800.NEWLIFE.
  • If you're involved with homosexual behavior and want out, Exodus offers a referral list.