A large research group recently set out to discover what helps families function well and stay healthy. They found that the determining factor was not race or religion or socio-economic status. The one thing that makes families functional is that healthy families regularly take issues out from “under the table,” put them “on the table,” and talk about them. It’s not a big jump to apply this advice outside of families: in general, people are healthier and function better when they talk about what’s really happening.
What’s “really happening” for many is sexual compulsion.
Over the last ten years, more and more Christians have been reporting that they desire to walk closely with the Lord but that they are struggling with sexually compulsive behaviors. We are not just talking about pornography. More and more, we see believers, both men and women, struggling with pornography, sexually explicit chat rooms, phone sex, masturbation, same sex attraction and, in general, living outside the biblical guidelines on sexuality. Many people report that they want something different but that they are “stuck” in those behaviors and, as a result, feel distant from God. (Perhaps this all sounds familiar to you.)
In our experience of walking with people through these struggles, we have found that being stuck often has to do with looking at just one aspect of the problem—behavior. Just focusing on external behavior alone and “trying harder” is not enough. It doesn’t work. This is because the behavior is not the problem. It is just the symptom. The deeper, bigger issues are the lies we believe about God, ourselves, and others and the painful things we carry with us. Sexual compulsions are a kind of “bad medicine.” They are a way to deal with this pain, but the heart of the problem is the pain and the lies. As you journey through your own recovery or accompany another as they walk through theirs, take a good look at the lies and unresolved pain that is underneath the behavior. The hope of the Gospel is this: dealing with the deeper issues will eventually lead to real freedom.
Book Recommendation: Surfing for God by Michael Cusick
Take the next step: Visit The Navigators Sexual Health and Wholeness website. Sign-up and sign-in for some recommended studies: Walking In The Light for men, Living In The Light for women