Asbury United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Sexual / Pornography Addiction
The facts ::
According to the Solution "We discovered that our problem was spiritual, emotional, and physical. Since our problem encompassed all three aspects of our personhood, healing also had to occur in all three areas."
Sexual addicts have reported experiencing the following:
Emotional abuse 97%
Psychologically, the need to medicate or escape physical, emotional or sexual abuse can demand a substance, the early addict finds the sex medicine usually before alcohol or drugs.
Spiritually, each one of us was created with a God-shaped hole, and while we attempt to fill it with people, careers, television, money, video games, or any variety of habits, in the end the hole remains. The addiction can at times become a form of spirituality in the sense that it comforts, celebrates, and seems always available and present, yet it never fully satisfies; it leaves the addict weak, hungering for more, and often ineffective as a Christian. Sexual addiction is perhaps one of the most subtle and effective weapons of our enemy, due in large part to the isolation and the shame of the addict.
The Physiological Aspect ::
' The chemical science of pornography addiction' by Robert Ellis, M. Ed., LPC
What is the lure of pornography, and why is it so compelling to some men?
Spiritually speaking, pornography lures the sin nature (flesh) into doing what it does best-pervert a normally pleasurable and pure instinct (sex) into a lust-filled, sin-laden, chemically driven compulsion. Pornography gives the sin nature a chance to really "flex its muscles."
Most people can comprehend a drug addiction when an outside agent like alcohol or cocaine enters the body and distorts the person's behavior and metabolism. But when addiction is caused by internal thoughts or actions, as in pornography, the addiction is harder to comprehend. This can be explained.
Our bodies are constantly preparing themselves with internal hormones and other body chemicals. For example, our stomach secretes gastric juices in anticipation of a meal, our muscles are fed adrenalin in anticipation of athletic competition or a speech we must give.
Internal "chemicals" are even responsible for the giddy feelings we get when anticipating a warm visit from family or friends. These warm feelings might last for days, or even weeks, surrounding the Christmas holidays or a much anticipated vacation. And, if you're careful to notice, the end of these anticipated events can result in a "hangover" or period of slight depression, which is actually the "coming down" from a naturally induced "high." In the same way, pornography stimulates the body to release powerful stimulants, hormones, neurotransmitters (nerve message senders), and other natural chemicals into the bloodstream.
Use of pornography creates an exotic combination of internal stimulants which cascade through the bloodstream like liquid flesh. They create a sense of relief, excitement, exhilaration or pleasure, and convey feelings of maleness, wholeness, power, thrill, triumph, omniscience, etc. When these pleasurable, relieving surges get grooved into associations with pornography, the flesh gains control over the spirit and the problem becomes one of addiction. It is not uncommon for pornography to elicit internal surges as addictive as cocaine.
To the addict, the mere thought of using pornography stimulates an internal rush of exhilarating, must-do feelings. Christ was way ahead of His time as an addictions counselor when He warned us that anyone who conceives sin in his mind is already in danger. By merely thinking about it, the body begins gearing up for the event with compelling, chemically-driven urges.
Although women can get addicted to sex and pornography, there is evidence to suggest that males have a greater physical component to the sex drive, which results in more compulsive response to the muscle-nerve stimulants. And, physiologically, males have greater skeletal muscle (flesh) to respond to adrenalin-like surges.
The addictive personality is a quick learner to the stimulus-response patterns (pornography associated with feelings of pleasure), and is usually psychologically vulnerable to the need for relief or wholeness, so the addiction is sudden and powerful.
How does a person defeat this addiction?
To the Christian, addiction can be seen in the concept of the flesh gaining control over the spirit, and victory consists of the spirit regaining control over the flesh.
Victory over pornography addiction requires a double-edged sword, one edge for the mind, the other edge for the physical body. The mind must be renewed and the body must be weaned off the grooved, habituated chemical surges associated with pornography. Specialized professional counseling, perhaps in an in-patient setting, is often required.
To address the mental component, understanding and following Biblical directives are crucial. The Bible is filled with scriptural remedies having to do with the mind. Principles like Christ lays down in Matthew 5:27-28; David in Psalms 101:3; the stern advice Paul gives in Romans 6:19; 12:2; 13:14, and Colossians 3:2; and James in James 1:15 are examples of renewing, spirit-feeding principles.
Physically, addiction is similar to muscle building. The more a person "works out" with weights and nourishment supplements, the more his muscles grow. If he stops the workouts and supplements, his muscles atrophy, or return to normal. The addict, by not working out his chemical responses and eliminating his nourishment sources, will also see his physical responses atrophy. But, like nicotine addiction, once the body has tasted the drug, it never forgets.
If he is successful in reducing his habituated responses, the growl and whip of his addiction will be reduced to a pleading whimper. And with a strengthened mind, renewed with scriptural memorization and Bible study, the spirit can be counted on to regain control over the flesh.
The Bible lesson in addiction is the power of the sin nature to assert itself and gain dominion over the spirit when given the opportunity by poor decision making. Only by maintaining a constant vigil, renewing the mind through Christ and weakening the flesh by avoiding the thoughts and actions of sin, can the spirit rule the flesh.
Robert Ellis is a therapist at Greenhouse Counseling Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, under the auspices of Fifth Reformed Church. He specializes in addictive issues.
He has authored the book 'Sifting Men - A Woman's Guide to Assessing Male Character' and is a Licensed Professional Counselor.
The Solution ::
We admit we cannot continue in the direction we were headed and our life was unmanageable. We see how our attempts to solve our problems and control the world and those around us have failed miserably. By accepting that we cannot fix ourselves, we reach out for help. As we abandon our need to control, we find the real solution: Surrender to God and his son, Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord is the key we are seeking.
By consistently meeting with others who were caught in a similar cycle and hearing the hope they have found, we will be able to achieve sobriety. As our sobriety grows, the fog of the fuzzy world we were living in will lift, allowing us to gain perspective on the source of our pain. As we continue to meet and turn our life and our will over to the care of a loving God, we begin to truly live life again.
We continue to work through our feelings in the safety of our group. We see the hope that God provides through his inescapable love. By continuing to share openly and honestly and by listening, we find new and healthy ways to cope no longer having to rely on our dysfunctional, compulsive and addictive behaviors as a temporary fix for our pain. We are here to help each other find our way to recovery through surrender, and in turn, develop stronger relationships with others and with God.
Celebrate Recovery has helped me to become me. I spent years in a waste land of addictive behavior: that of sexual misconduct and people pleasing. The genesis of this behavior was childhood pain and abuse. Although the behaviors helped me cope by dulling the pain, they also helped create a false self that was no longer me. Celebrate Recovery has given me tools that God has used to allow His original design for me to emerge. These tools include:
-- A Man in CR
Through Celebrate Recovery, I was finally able to face and find freedom from an addiction to pornography that had started when I was just a boy. The sin that I had been mired in for over thirty years had been lain down, but, God was not through. The relationship with Him that I had worked so hard to destroy, He restored in an amazing way! He continues to reveal weaknesses and surprises in me, but, more importantly, He shows me He loves me more than I ever could have imagined. My heart was empty; Through Celebrate Recovery, God replaced that emptiness with a joy that has created a desire to truly live for Him.
-- A CR Participant
God has taken the mess I have made in my life and is turning it into a message for His glory. In the middle of easily the worst year of my life, I learned that God still offers grace. He took a broken, humiliated, shameful, addicted, and hopeless person and is restoring me to much more than just mere functionality. He has given me new ministry in a great new church. My Pastor knows my story and wants me to minister and use my addiction as a tool for the Kingdom. I now have the real, tangible peace of trusting my life to the God who always does what is best for me. I don't have to try and manipulate circumstances in my favor ever again! For the first time as an adult, I am finding out what it is like to live without being ruled by my addiction. I am excited to say that I get to live the 2nd half of my life in a healthy fashion. I won't go to my grave ruled by addiction! I am a grateful and recovering survivor of sexual addiction who can testify that God and His word is true.
--A Man in CR