by Gerard Terry
I found a new TV series the other day and have been watching several episodes to relax. The program is rated PG at worst, so I thought it was ok to watch. Although there is no nudity, the content models moral values inconsistent with the standard of Godly living I want for me and my family.
I have been amazed that during the day I unconsciously think of the program, its characters and its fictional small town setting. I daydream of what it would be like to live in that town. Surprisingly, I am even starting to imagine doing some of the immoral things which the characters do – not just in the fictional setting, but in real life, with real people. The show is affecting the way I think.
The Building Blocks of You
I once heard an old saying that you and I are the people we are based on the books we read and the people we meet. To modernize the quote, we become like the people we hang out with. Today, we hang out with our friends, family, authors of books, and producers of videos, TV, music and movie shows. These are the people who influence us and shape who we become.
Regrettably, I often let influencers into my life without first screening them to ensure the message they will be sending is consistent with who I want to become. In other cases, when my conscience tells me (or my wife, who has better instincts) I should not be watching a video or show, I ignore my conscience’s alarm and move forward anyway, certain I can screen out any improper influence. Anxious for some excitement in my sometimes boring life, I allow myself to be influenced and programmed by men and women with opposing values. Looking back, I am only fooling myself if I think I can avoid their influence in shaping who I am.
Defining a New Reality
If you are not yet convinced, consider the fantasies, dreams and thoughts you have. Where do they originate if not from those you interact with? Why else would advertisers pay a million dollars for a 30 second football game ad? Who inspires you to take risks and try new things? Who fuels your thought life? What do you see in your mind when you close your eyes?
What we see portrayed by others becomes our reality. We start to formulate our goals and conduct based on our interactions with others. When these interactions occur with movies and television, we are unconsciously being programmed to adopt their version of what is real and acceptable.
In the powerful world of sexuality, where our brains release chemicals with sexual pleasure, we can quickly learn a false reality. After seeing hundreds or thousands of nude women whose only desire seems to be to please men, we start to think every woman wants us and our body. We eventually think we deserve a woman who will engage in extreme sexual acts. Eventually, we act on these false assumptions, and experience conflict with our wives, or the destruction of an affair, illicit sex or even a sexual crime.
While society is permissive with those who send us these destructive messages, it is unforgiving once we act as programmed. Courts are filled with men caught sending nude images of themselves over the Internet or who met with an underage girl. Men expose themselves to women and are truly surprised to find themselves in handcuffs. I have seen the epidemic of men living this false reality paraded through courts and sex offender treatment centers. They wonder how they could have drifted so far.
Shame and Guilt are Your Friend
I know many anti-porn groups teach that shame and guilt are bad. I disagree. Shame and guilt result from the collision of your true reality (Godly living) and the false reality (worldliness). Working hand in hand with shame and guilt, our conscience is designed to convict us of our ungodly behavior. This God-given emotional / mental cue is trained and strengthened through years of Godly living and Godly influences. Yet, like ignoring a smoke alarm, you can become conditioned to ignore your conscience’s warning and eventually not hear it.
Pornography will quickly dull your conscience, shame and guilt. Continued involvement in this destructive habit is perilous and sure to result in harm to your family, career, and freedom. Only by retraining a Godly conscience can you again hear the warnings of this essential defense mechanism, put in place for your protection.
There is a reason we don’t let our children hang out with kids who do drugs, use profanity or engage in premarital sex. We know that our children will be influenced and eventually fall into these same destructive habits themselves. Isn’t it time that you and I follow our own advice to our kids? What business do men who love their wives and children have hanging out with destructive porn producers, actresses and actors?
Be intentional about what goes into your mind. You are the product of your environment. Make it a good and Godly one.
by Dorothy Maryon CMHC
In most cases, there is nothing that can prepare you for when you find out your spouse has a pornography and sexual addiction. To be on the receiving end of addiction leaves many women dealing with a deep sense of betrayal, uncertainty, and hurt. Addiction hits at the core of a woman’s relationship, often at the center of her soul, and damages the marriage. After learning of their husband’s addiction, many women have reported their relationship feels false and empty and many find themselves asking, “who can I trust?” and “who will be there for me now?”
As the betrayed spouse, women often don't know where to turn and often struggle with the deception alone. This type of trauma shatters the internal world of the spouse of an addict and affects all aspects of her life. The betrayal disrupts her ability to function with the day to day aspects of her life, alters her sense of self, and can have a huge impact on her spirituality.
What many fail to realize is the experience of pornography and sexual addiction falls into the category of trauma for the spouse. Responses to trauma can vary widely, and may include any of the following symptoms:
Partners are sometimes surprised that reactions to the trauma last longer than they expected. It may take months or even years to fully regain a sense of balance and equilibrium. You may feel you need to just “get over it” when in reality you need a strong support system to get through the hard and challenging times. Research has shown that one of the key components of successfully navigating through trauma is the level of support an individual has.
Most women feel isolated when confronted with their spouse’s addiction. The statement, “when an addict comes out of the closet his partner goes in,” rings true for many dealing with addiction and because of that, it is important for the spouse to find a safe place to talk about her feelings.
Self-care is another tool to use while navigating through the trauma. Self-care involves finding helpful, coping strategies that assist in nurturing oneself at a very difficult time of life. Some examples might include:
Just like anyone who has been through a traumatic event, it is important that you treat yourself with gentleness and patience. If possible, try not to make major life changes at this time, as thinking and judgment may not be as clear as usual. And again, seek support and information about sexual addiction as this is a very difficult experience to navigate by oneself.
About the Author: Dorothy Maryon CMHC, is a licensed clinical mental health counselor who specializes in partners' issues associated with sexual addiction in marriage. She has worked as a counselor in the LifeStar program for 15 years, focusing on addiction and relationship issues. She is in private practice and has presented at several conferences on addiction, codependency, creating safety for partners, and grief and trauma issues.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Since 2003, Be Broken Ministries has existed for a singular purpose: "Helping individuals and families move from sexual brokenness to wholeness in Christ." It is a simple mission with profound impact.
Our desire is to see every person desiring freedom from sexually addictive patterns to realize that desire through recovery. And we are delighted to say that we have seen many hundreds gain the freedom they desired.
Over the years, however, there have been many distractions to us maintaining focus on our mission. Trendy recovery methods might come along, enticing us to elevate form over function. Comparing ourselves to other similar ministries has, at times, caused us to think we were doing ministry "wrong" (or "right"). Opposition from those who disagree with our stance that porn and adultery are wrong can hurt and upset us. And there has also been just weariness, fears, and the struggle to persevere.
But time and again we return to the core values that God placed in this ministry from the very beginning: Grace, Honesty, Purity, and Community. These are the foundation from which we build every resource, every podcast, every workshop, every website, everything.
We believe for anyone who wants to effectively minister to someone sexually addicted, these are the core values that must exist. Therefore, let me share what these core values mean; to us, and to the process of recovery.
"No one is too broken to love."
When a sexual addict reaches out for help, the most important response they need is one of grace; the undeserved kindness of a friend. We believe this grace originates from God, who loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin (including addiction) that we couldn't. God didn't wait for us to get "sober" or cleaned up or "on the right path." Instead, "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8b) That's grace!
Many addicts, however, are not greeted with grace when they finally decide to seek help. They are often met with condemnation, rejection, or rigid rules. This causes the addict to falsely believe that their worth is based on their performance, so if they just learn how to "behave" they will find the love and acceptance they long for. But that's not how grace works.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, you must lead with grace; extending compassion, kindness, and warmth even while they are still drenched in the muck of their addiction. It is a soft touch, not an iron fist, that draws the addict out of the dark and into the light of recovery.
"Everyone's full story is worth hearing."
Sex addicts (or any addicts) are excellent liars. They often have a history of not only telling lies, but also being told lies. In fact, every sex addict I have ever met learned to tell lies by being told lies, whether from a parent, older sibling, or the media they consumed in childhood. And lies beget lying.
The predominant teacher of lies for sex addicts is usually pornography. It teaches a young person a host of lies; about sex, about love, about relationships, about life. Once a kid has bought porn's lies, it becomes easy to travel down the road of deception -- of others and self. Eventually, this person wakes up in their late 20's or early 30's and realizes "I'm living a lie!"
Therefore, to help a sexual addict break free from a life of lies, you must introduce them to truth. Truth comes from God, for Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6a) For an addict to overcome their self-deception, they must encounter Jesus. This requires getting into His Word, the Bible, and reaching out to Him in prayer. As one draws closer to Jesus, the line between lies and truth becomes clearer.
But freedom for a sex addict doesn't just happen because they come to see the difference between the truth and a lie. Real freedom only begins when they honestly share their full story and commit to a life of brutal honesty. There is no true freedom if an addict never shares their whole story. All of it must come into the Light in order for them to experience total release and hope.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, create a safe place for them to share their story; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Encourage brutal honesty in a "shame-free-zone," reminding them that their worth is not based on their behavior, but on the God who loved them enough to send Jesus to the cross even before they ever acted out.
"A journey of better reflecting Christ."
No one is perfect, except Jesus. The Bible says, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Ecc. 7:20) It also says of Jesus, "For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21) Jesus was perfect in every way, without sin. In other words, He was pure. We, however, apart from Him, are not.
Certainly someone wanting to break free from sexually addictive patterns must take steps toward purity. After all, pure is the opposite of impure. However, these steps are not toward a purity that we can conjure up within ourselves. Remember, there isn't a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Therefore, purity must come from the only One who is pure: Jesus.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, lead them to a deeper dependence on Jesus for their purity. A life of sexual integrity is one that reflects the image of Jesus.
"Enjoying the fruit of healthy relationships."
The ultimate vision we have for sex addicts in recovery is "True Lovers in Joyful Community." We believe God made us to be great lovers, not great lusters.* And the environment for developing as a great lover is in community. We desire addicts to one day adopt the very heart of God, a heart which loves.
It is hard for anyone to get close to an addict. They hide and lie and naturally push people away with their self-absorbed lifestyle. Everything about them points inward, to their brokenness, their pride, their lust. In essence, their lives are always and only about themselves. Not only do they not engage in real community, they can't because their eyes never look away from their own image.
When a sex addict finally has the "rock bottom" experience that jolts them awake to the reality of their self-centered life, they must (re)learn to connect with others in healthy ways. This involves telling the truth, listening, exercising empathy, serving with proper motives, and accountability. This is no small task for someone whose life has only been focused inward, but it is still the path to total freedom and joy.
If you want to effectively minister to a sexual addict, welcome them into a loving community where the truth is told in love and faithful friendships can blossom. The eventual place an addict needs to arrive for their freedom to be realized is a place where giving and serving others is of higher importance than receiving anything in return.
The greatest joy in recovery is investing these core values into a weary addict just looking for help...
*(thanks to Stephen Cervantes for coining this phrase)
by Gerard Terry
What do Bruce Willis in Die Hard, John Wayne in his Westerns and Sean Connery as James Bond have in common? They are all men of adventure. Prior to modern society and the taming of the west, having an adventure (and getting killed in the process) was much easier. You could take off on your horse with a rifle and a six shooter, and adventure was sure to find you. How about today? Will I find adventure as I take off in my Honda for work in an office building?
Men are Made for Adventure
Manly men need adventure. We were made for it and crave it. Yet today, adventures don’t come as naturally as they once did. While it is true we can still hike a mountain, scuba dive beneath the ocean, or sail across the sea, we are busy. Finding adventure takes work and we are exhausted after a tough day at the office. So, we turn on the TV or the computer, sit back in a stuffed chair and live adventures vicariously through actors on the screen.
An Unhealthy Substitute for Real Adventure
Pornography serves the same purpose. It gets my heart racing as good as any movie action scene. It fills my mind with endorphins. In a sense, it involves adventurous conduct as my mind meets hundreds of women committed to filling my sexual desires. Fantasy can be like that – ready to fill my wildest dreams.
What is not advertised is that porn’s fantasy world carries devastating consequences, as it changes who I am on the inside. I begin to think differently about relationships, about love and about a productive life. It has a possessive and addictive quality which keeps me longer than I want to stay and takes me further than I want to go. It controls me.
Adventure Still Exists Today
Our desire for healthy adventure is not as hard to fill as it seems. Anything with an element of danger, exhaustion, newness, competition or which pushes the limits of routine conduct will do. Take a new route to work. Get up early and hike a nearby park. Dare a friend to swim across a lake with you. Learn outdoor survival techniques. I took one of my Ruckus mopeds across town to work in rush hour traffic the other day, just for fun.
Or, try one of these on for size: