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Pure Sex – Questions & Answers

 

How do I know if I am getting addicted to sex or pornography?

If there's one lesson boys learn when growing up, it's the value of being tough, the value of winning.

The heroes of the big screen portray the ideal man as rough and rugged. James Bond never gives up. Neither did the characters played by John Wayne. And Rocky always won the big fight - or if he didn't win, he at least “goes the distance.” Those guys never gave up. And we don't want to give up either.

That resistance to raising the white flag serves men well during war or in a job situation that requires perseverance. It can help us hang in there when times are tough in a relationship. But when it comes to compulsive behavior, a refusal to give up only prolongs our agony. It leads to greater enslavement and harm.

Of course, most of us won't surrender until we know we're beaten or we know defeat is on the way. Maybe you're not convinced you even have a problem, or if you are, you're not sure how serious it is.

 

How to Know If You're Hooked

It's important to understand that sexual addictions don't happen overnight. They take time to develop. But when they're full-blown, a man won't be able to resist the repeated urge to enter into a love relationship with a sexual object or experience that gives him pleasure and the illusion of intimacy.

That last sentence defines an addict:

  1. He's hooked and can't say no.
  2. The object of his addiction gives him two things: pleasure and an illusion of intimacy.

Not everyone who struggles with sexual compulsions is an addict. Some men abuse their sexuality for a period of time and then grow out of it. Many men with a regrettable sexual experience in the past put it behind them and move on.

But not everyone is so fortunate. Some men block emotional pain with sexual pleasure. Over time they have to try increasingly risky forms of sexual behavior in order to deaden the pain. Eventually their world revolves around sex. Their obsession has taken over their life.

The Sexual Addiction Test

Patrick Carnes suggests a series of four questions aimed at helping us discover if we have a sexual addiction and if so, how far it's progressed.[1] While asking yourself these questions, it's crucial that you are brutally honest. The first step in dealing with a problem is admitting we have one.

ONE - Is Your Behavior Secret?

Are you doing things you refuse to tell others about? Do you feel that if those closest to you knew what you were doing, they would reject you or strongly disapprove of your actions? Are you telling lies to cover your behavior? If so, you're isolating yourself from those you love and entering into a potentially addictive relationship with an object or event.

TWO - Is Your Behavior Abusive?

Does your sexual behavior create pain (emotional or physical) for you or others? Is it degrading or exploitative of others? Do you find yourself performing increasingly abusive acts? Do you derive pleasure from watching others being abused in some way?

THREE - Is Your Behavior Used to Deaden Painful Feelings?

Are your sexual actions an effort to change your mood rather than express affections? Do you masturbate or search for some other sexual outlet when you're depressed, bored, or angry? If your sexual behavior is used to erase pain, it's part of an addictive process.

FOUR - Is Your Behavior Empty of Genuine Commitment and Caring?

Are you substituting the illusion of intimacy provided by an object or event for the genuine intimacy found in a healthy relationship?

If you answered yes to even one of the four questions, your sexual behavior is either compulsive or addictive.

Addictive Stages

While the four questions help determine if we have a problem, they don't tell us the extent of the problem. In order to determine that, we need to familiarize ourselves with the levels of addictions.[2]

Pre-addiction

Pre-addiction describes people who begin to find themselves sexually stimulated through impersonal objects, like pornography, or events, like strip clubs.

If you're at this level, your life is probably under control. You're holding down a job, and your relationship with your wife or girlfriend is intact. However, you realize that while your fascination with pornography, strip shows, or erotic talk lines isn't compulsive, it is dangerous. You may be troubled by the feeling that your slumbering lust could awaken and take over at any moment.

Level 1

At level 1 a man's lust has begun to exert its control. He's compulsively involved in such things as masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, or demeaning heterosexual relationships.

When a man reaches level 1, something significant has happened. While before he always struggled to keep his lust under control, now it's running wild. In his bookThe Addictive Personality, Craig Nakken notes that the single most important aspect of level 1 addictions is the emergence of the addictive personality.[3] A man's lust, like a great dragon, has awakened from its slumber and threatens to take over his life.

I experienced this the night I looked through my neighbor's window. It reminded me of the first time I got high on marijuana. I entered a new world and wanted to return to that world. There's something about that first high that people want to recreate. Similarly, a man who enters level 1 awakens his lust in a powerful way. And that initial experience is one he wants to recreate. When we enter level 1, the addictive part of our personality has been stirred. And make no mistake about it, the beast has an insatiable appetite that can slowly take over our life.

Level 2

When a man reaches level 2, he's taken a bigger and more dangerous step. Now his behavior involves victims and violations of the law. His activities include prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, and touching a person intimately without consent. Most of the time he's considered more of a nuisance than a criminal, but unfortunately his behavior can inflict deep emotional pain on his victims.

Men who are exhibitionists or voyeurs will carry out their secret behavior for years. Living double lives, they're in constant fear of being caught.

All kinds of “good” people reach level 2. Hardly a week passes without a news story about a politician, teacher, or Hollywood star picking up a prostitute or making an unwanted sexual advance.

Level 3

By the time a man reaches level 3, his behavior involves serious crimes in which severe damage is done to the victim. Rape, incest, and child molestation occur at this level.

The Moment of Truth

By now you should know if you're hooked. You should also have a feel for how far your sexual compulsion has progressed. While most of us would prefer avoiding the truth for as long as we can, eventually the moment of truth will arrive. Something will happen to force you to admit that your life is out of control.

  • You'll accidentally leave a pornographic image on your computer monitor, and someone at work will report it to your boss.
  • One of your kids will find your stash of X-rated videos.
  • A policeman will arrive at your place of work because a neighbor has identified you as a Peeping Tom.
  • Your wife will leave because you've had another affair.
  • The school counselor will call because you've been reported to the child care agency for improperly touching a neighbor child.

For Samson, the moment of truth arrived near the end of his life. Blinded by lust, he slept in Delilah's lap while a Philistine barber cut his hair. A moment after the last strand fell, his enemies burst into his presence. Isolated from God, he was powerless to resist. Israel's champion became a bald-headed clown who entertained the Philistines.

Samson had fallen. He would never gaze at another Philistine woman. His enemies had made sure of that when they gouged out his eyes (Judges 16:20-21).

Many people believe that Samson's story ends on a tragic note. I don't. Although he was blind and imprisoned, his hair began to grow, and so did his relationship with God. The Lord forgave Samson and used him one last time. The hero of Judah pulled down a Philistine temple, destroying himself and his enemies.

Samson learned firsthand what every man must know. God is the God of a second and third and fourth chance. He never gives up on us.

References

    1. Patrick Carnes,Out of the Shadows, (Minneapolis: CompCare, 1983), 160. [up]
    2. Ibid., 27. [up]
    3. Craig Nakken,The Addictive Personality(New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 24. [up]

Author: Bill Perkins, text excerpted from his book When Good Men Are Tempted. This Web page supplied by Eden Communications with permission from Zondervan and the author.

Copyright ©1998, Eden Communications, All Rights Reserved - except as noted on attached “Usage and Copyright” page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes.

 

 

Why should I save sex for marriage? Is it really adultery if we are in love or engaged?  What are the consequences of sex outside of marriage?

When God creates something, He creates it with purpose and design. The Genesis account of creation makes it clear that God's creation is “good”(Genesis 1:31). But mankind has a history of distorting what God has made, whether out of ignorance or just plain stubbornness. The goldencalf (idol) of the Israelites, for example. Goldis beautiful to look at, but God clearly did not want His people worshipping it.

Sex (and yes, sex was God’s idea) is no different. God created it, and therefore it is reasonable to expect that it is good. But when man distorts it by ignoring God's specific standards, it becomes harmful and destructive. So the question we've asked “why save sex for marriage” is really a question of understanding God's purpose and design for sex. We can choose to do things God's way, and experience the beauty of His plan, or we can choose to do things our way, and experience harm and destruction (Proverbs 16:25).

So, let's talk first aboutwhy God created sex. One reason is obvious: procreation. When God toldAdamandEveto “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), they probably figured out that He wanted them to have sex. But God also wanted them to develop intimacy with one another, and He knew that sex would help them do that, in a way that nothing else could.

God also knew that because sex is so powerful in creating intimacy that there must be some constraints on how it was to be used, so He specifically relegated sex to the arena of marriage. The kind of intimacy that God desires between a married couple cannot occur between one person and several others; it can only be experienced between one man and one woman. Hence God has specifically said, “Do not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), and “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That is, do not have sex with someone who is not your spouse. Obedience requires that sex be reserved for one’s spouse.

So far we have two basic reasons to save sex for marriage: (1) God tells us to, and (2) God's purpose and design for sex cannot be fully achieved any other way. Many, though, have argued that non-marriage sex is not all that harmful. Let's look carefully at the potential consequences for this particular area of disobedience.

Sex outside of marriage causes damagein at least two areas: (1) physical consequences, and (2) relational consequences.

The physical consequences are becoming increasingly obvious and increasingly dangerous in today's society. AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases are frightening realities. “Safe sex” is more accurately described as “reduced risk sex.” The only truly safe sex is abstinence. There is also a very real risk that children could be born — and possibly grow up without two parents. Your actions affect your life, your partner's life, and the lives of your family. They can result in handicapping an innocent baby's life as well. Worst of all the willful destruction of human life often results from pre-marital sex.)

The relational consequences are just as real, though they may be more difficult to grasp. First, sin always damages a person's relationship with his God. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." Intentional disobedience of God's command to not commit adultery dishonors and displeases God. Conversely, God is pleased when His children choose obedience and self-control instead of the immediacy of pleasure.

Second, relational damage happens between a Christian and those who are watching his life. The sin of adultery (i.e., televangelist scandals) causes a person's friends and even “outsiders” to view the adulterer as less committed to obedience, and more prone to hypocrisy. But a Christian who saves himself or herself in obedience to God wins the respect of those who see his or her life.

Sex outside of marriage also damages the relationship between the persons involved. Trust is the main issue here. If two people do not cherish sex enough to wait for a marriage commitment, how can they trust one another for fidelity? Conversely, a man and woman build trust and respect for one another when they both survive the struggles of self-control — each will have the confidence that the other respects them, and cherishes their intimacy.

Similarly, if a person has not carried sexual purity into marriage, his or her marriage relationship is affected by the past. If a man or woman has previously had sex with someone else, their marital intimacy has already been affected. One or both spouses will have to deal with real or perceived comparisons with “former lovers” and feeling that intimacy was not important enough for the other person to wait for it. But if both have waited for their wedding night, the intimacy has already begun with a solid foundation.

Why save sex for marriage?

We've discussed several reasons: (1) God commands us to, (2) God's purpose and design for sex can only be achieved within marriage, and (3) the physical and relational consequences of sex outside of marriage are painfully real.

"But we're in love!"

Some might say. Maybe so, but if one believes in God's definition of love, he must realize that love is patient and kind; it does not seek to please itself, nor does it delight in evil, but is always hopeful (1 Corinthians 13). True love would be patient in waiting for the proper time for sex.

It would be kind to future spouses by not pre-harming marital intimacy. True love would be unselfish in placing God's desires and the needs of others above itself. It would not delight in the evil of disobedience, nor would it force another to disobey God. Love could never be a reason for premarital sex; rather, it should be one of the greatest reasons toavoid premarital sex.

"But we're going to be married anyway"

Is another common excuse. Along with being presumptuous, this stance will almost certainly leave one question unanswered: If one gives in to moral temptation before marriage, what's to stop him or her from giving in to moral temptation once married?

"What if it's too late? What if I've already forfeited my sexual purity?"

Good question! Certainly a person cannot reverse the past, but there are a number of steps one should take to keep from further damaging his or her intimacy with God and others.

First, acknowledge your actions as sin. For those who have accepted Christ's payment of the penalty for their sins, He asks only that they confess - agree with God that they are sinful.

Second, maintain purity from this moment forward. Jesus told the woman caught in sexual sin to "go and sin no more" (John 8:11). You cannot change what's been done, but you can keep yourself and others from any further damage by avoiding situations which might cause you to compromise your commitment to sexual purity. Paul advised Timothy to run away from temptation (2 Timothy 2:22), and Joseph is famous for running from moral danger (Genesis 39:7-12).

Third, be honest with anyone who is a “potential spouse” — don't wait till your wedding night to discuss your sexual past. Some intimacy problems may be averted if you address them early on.

Sex is a good thing. It must be, if God created it! The only way to keep it a “good thing” is to follow God's guidelines. God will reward you if you choose to honor Him, and save sex for its proper time and place — your marriage.

Author: George Martin and Scott Myers of Summit Ministries

 

Pure Sex – Additional Resources

If you need help or prayer support, please utilize this resource to help you get started:

David Rimoldi - drimoldi@bethanylb.org

Christian Therapist Specializing is Sex Related issues:

(The Center for Individual and Family Therapy {CIFT} – ciftcounseling.com)

Ramon Ivey:  714-558-9266 x972

Tony Ramynke:  714-558-9266 x259

Christian Therapist Specializing in Sexual Trauma:

(The Center for Individual and Family Therapy {CIFT} – ciftcounseling.com)

Lisa Dunn:  714-558-9266 x963

Megan Williams:  714-558-9266 x264

Jaclyn Yorkey:  714-558-9266 x243

Celebrate Recovery – 12 Step Christ Centered Program

Every Tuesday at Bethany Church – 7pm

Contacts:  Dana Davis - ddavis0122@verizon.net or Suzanne Caverly - rebsuzcav@yahoo.com

Book Resources:

Singleness:

Marriage:

Family:

  • How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child's Sexual Character by Brenna and Stan Jones

Homosexuality:

  • Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friendsby Mark A. Yarhouse

General – Lust, Pornography and Sexual Addiction:

  • Eros Defiled: The Christian and Sexual Sin by John White
  • At the Alter of Sexual Idolatryby Steve Gallagher (based on biblical counseling / founder of Pure Life Ministries which deals with sexual sin)
  • Breaking Free:Understanding Sexual Addiction & the Healing Power of Jesusby Russell Willingham and Bob Davies (good, biblical treatment of sexual addiction)
  • Faithful and True:Sexual Integrity in a Fallen Worldby Mark Laaser (a former pastor who was trapped in sexual addiction and recovered) (workbook also available)
  • False Intimacy:Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addictionby Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg (experienced counselor on sexual addictions / works with Christian leaders)
  • Out of the Shadows:Understanding Sexual Addiction, Third Edition, by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D. (speaker and clinical director of sexual disorders at The Meadows, Wickenburg, AZ)
  • Pure Desireby Ted Roberts (a pastor that overcame addiction to pornography) and Jack Hayford
  • Sex, Lies, and Forgiveness:Couples Speaking Out on Healing from Sex Addictionby Burt and Jennifer Schneider (used only--no longer in print)
  • The Struggle by Steve Gerali (Focusing on the issue of masturbation
  • The Sexual Manby Dr. Archibald D. Hart (based of nationwide research / refutes myths surrounding male sexuality)
  • Secret of Eve:Understanding the Mystery of Female Sexualityby Dr. Archibald D. Hart (used only--no longer in print)
  • She has a Secret:Understanding Female Sexual Addictionby D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Web Resources

Faith & True Ministries - www.faithfulandtrueministries.com

Focus on the Family – Life Challenges - www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges

Focus on The Family:  Sex and Intimacy Series - http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/sex_and_intimacy.aspx

Focus on The Family: Forgiveness Issues http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/divorce_and_infidelity/forgiveness_nd_restoration.aspx

Addressing sex addiction in teens and adults – Lots of good resources - http://www.xxxchurch.com

Citizen Link: Overview of Faith Based Issues Concerning Homosexuality - http://www.citizenlink.com/2011/05/19/quick-guide-homosexuality-and-gender/

Mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality. - http://exodusinternational.org/

Understanding the factors that predispose people to Homosexual temptation - http://www.homosexuality101.com/