Articles

Break Free from Sexual Addiction: Help from a Christian Counselor, Part 1

By Justin Monuteaux, MA, LMHCA, Seattle Christian Counseling, PLLC

Image-12This article is the first in a two-part series on the practical steps you can take to find freedom from sexual addiction. If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you, or someone you love, is struggling with unwanted sexual behavior. It is also likely that this has been a problem for some time. It takes a great deal of courage to admit that you are struggling with sexual issues, and even more courage to reach out for help. Sexual addiction brings immense shame, guilt and remorse – especially for those of us who are married – and can even make our relationship with Christ feel distant at times.

Yet there is good news for those who struggle with sexual addiction. The freedom that you desire is indeed possible. Compulsive sexual behavior, such as pornography use and masturbation, can be overcome. At the moment your attention is probably dominated by what is going on inside your head. What you need is the opportunity to slow down and shift your focus to the state of your own heart. By doing this, you will be able to begin to make the changes that can bring about the freedom you so deeply desire. And in this process you will discover that there is indeed hope.

Five Surefire Steps to Break Free from Sexual Addiction

The steps that I present in these articles are meant to help you begin to understand what you need to do in order to experience a fuller, freer and more abundant life. While these steps are definitely not a magic remedy, these ideas and concepts can provide a way out of the compulsive, cyclical behavior that makes you feel stuck.

Step One: Shift from Control to Surrender

Image-22This issue confronts us with our desire to be in control. We want to control who knows what about our activity. We want to keep our secrets hidden and maintain our reputation. We want to control our time and our money so that we can use them as we see fit. We want control over our devices and our vices, over our own behavior. We want to be the boss of our own life. We want to be our own Lord.

In order to find freedom from compulsive sexual behavior, you have to let go of your need to appear as someone who has it all together. You need to disentangle your value as a person from how you perform. Mistakes and shortcomings do not make you unlovable, but rather make you human. The key here is surrender. Surrender is the antidote to the sickness of control. You are invited to surrender to the opportunity to be truly known and truly loved. Surrender to the process of healing and recovery. Surrender to authority and accountability. Surrender your fears.

The Serenity Prayer is a simple, practical prayer or meditation that you can use to practice surrender. You can pray this prayer as a way to ask for God’s guidance each day. Many men and women who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior use this prayer as a daily mantra of sorts. It helps them to break free from despair and it gives them the clarity to stop their destructive behaviors. Allow this prayer to set the posture of your heart towards surrender.

  • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
  • courage to change the things I can; 
  • and wisdom to know the difference. 
  • Living one day at a time; 
  • Enjoying one moment at a time; 
  • Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
  • Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; 
  • Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your Will; 
  • That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
  • and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Step Two: Acknowledge How Your Behavior Impacts Others

Image-3Are you married? Do you have children? If so, consider how your sexual behavior affects them. One of the biggest lies that we are told about pornography consumption is that it is a victimless activity. We may think that our kids don’t know, but children are actually very attuned to their parents’ reality. They may not be able to name the behavior, but they almost certainly know at some level that something is not right.

Moreover, have you considered how your behavior affects your wife? The truth is that whenever you engage in sexual behavior of any type without your wife, you are stealing from your relationship with her. You are prioritizing your own sexual desires over your relationship with your spouse and depriving her of your intimacy, energy and availability. It becomes easy to make excuses such as “I’m not hurting anybody else,” “nobody else knows and nobody has to know,” and “my behavior is my business.” It is even easier to blame her for your own actions by thoughts such as “she doesn’t want to be sexual so I will look elsewhere,” or “if she were more available to me, I wouldn’t have this problem.” But these excuses only serve to mask the true impact of your behavior on your wife. Many wives feel betrayed, worthless, broken, ugly, lost and hopeless when they discover what their husband has done. Most wives will view pornography use as a breach of trust and many are traumatized by it.

Perhaps you need to spend some time alone in solitude, carefully considering what you have done. Reflect on how you have taken the love and compassion that is reserved for those closest to you and willfully given it to others, even if only in a fantasy. Allowing your time, attention and presence to become monopolized by pornography, lust and shame has isolated you and made you unavailable to your family. A key step on the road to healing is to honestly acknowledge the pain that your behavior has caused others.

Christian Counseling Can Help You Break Free of Your Sexual Addiction

In the next article, I continue to suggest practical steps that you can take to overcome your sexual addiction. However, if this article has stirred something in you and you have questions about what to do next, now is the time to act. It is very important for you to know that you are not alone. You are just one of the rare individuals who actually has the courage to be honest about it and to look for help! There is hope and change is possible.

Christian Counseling is an excellent place to start the process of healing from pornography addiction. A good Christian counselor can help you (and your spouse) to begin to find the solutions you are seeking. I would be delighted to partner with you as you enter this challenging and important healing process.

Photos

All images are from www.morguefile.com

Author: