Overcoming Sexual Addiction in Marriage
- Dr. Barry Leventhal for <i>Two Becoming One</i>
- 2003 3 Mar
The problem is so prevalent we have had to invent a new phrase for it: sexual addiction. Men and women, young and old, are being swept into the compulsive behavior of sexual addictions at an alarming rate. A recent survey of adults, ranging from ages 18 to 59, reported that 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction. And one the fastest growing dysfunctions in America is sexual addiction. It is estimated that sex addiction affects 3 to 6 percent of our population. Not surprisingly, this sexual epidemic has also lodged itself in the Church as well. From youth pastors to seasoned missionaries, among both men and women, pornography has invaded our sanctuaries, classrooms, and bedrooms. Whole ministries, as well as marriages, have reaped the whirlwind of this scourge and have gone down in destruction. Those involved in marriage counseling are aware of the devastation sexual addiction can cause.
But what can we do to prevent sexual addictions from invading our lives and wiping us out? Or, if we have been infected with the disease, how can we find the healing and deliverance from this sexual onslaught? Once again, we need to go back and recapture the basic biblical realities of God’s perspective on human sexuality and how it has degenerated into its present state of affairs. Jesus promised that if we would abide in His Word, we would become His disciples and that we would “know the truth, and the truth would set [us] free” (John 8:31-32).
First, all addictions, and sexual addictions in particular, are a judgment from God.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity (Rom. 1:24-29).
The operative word in this portion of Holy Scripture is, of course, “God gave them over,” mentioned three times. When we forsake God for other things, He gives us over to these things, thus creating a spiritual and moral vacuum in our lives. All of nature loves a vacuum. So it should not be surprising that something must rush into this vacuum. In fact, it is not merely something—it is everything!
God allows us to sink into sexual addictions in order to get our attention. It is the out-working of the law of diminishing returns: We need to have more and more stimulation to get less and less satisfaction! This can only end up in one place: in a spiritual and moral rut. Some-one has defined “a rut” as a grave with both ends kicked out!
[The immoral woman] gives no thought to the way of life; her paths [lit. wagon wheel ruts] are crooked, but she knows it not. . . . For [an immoral] man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths [lit. wagon wheel ruts]. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own folly (Prov. 5:6, 21-23).
When we finally realize that we are hooked and lying face down in our sexual rut (i.e., the wagon wheel rut), all we have to do is turn over and call out to God. That is the first step toward recovery.
Second, if God’s judgment is expressed in turning us over to sexual addictions, then the good news is that He will also provide grace to work our way out of the rut. But it will not always be an easy way out. It will require a committed and determined assault on the addictive enemy itself.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Rom. 8:12-13).
You have it heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matt. 5:27-30).
Sexual addictions will not retreat in the face of a half-hearted commitment and effort on our part. Rather, we must take nothing less than a cut-throat offensive against all sexual addictions. It is kill or be killed! That’s why Jesus used hyperbole or extravagant exaggeration in telling us how to deal with adultery in thought or deed. “Pluck out the eye” that commits adultery in mind! “Cut off the hand” that commits adultery in deed! That is strong language for a strong enemy. Nothing else will suffice.
So what steps should we take in order to dig our way out of our sexual ruts?
Begin by always confessing your sin to God. “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Become a part of a caring and confronting community, a small group of men with men and women with women. Memorize Scripture and pray together. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).
Whatever is dragging you down into your sexual rut must be dramatically and definitively extracted from you life: all pornography from whatever source, any person or thing that is sexually imploding on your life, etc. Keep this commitment before God and your support group on a regular basis.
© 2003 Christian Family Life
Two Becoming One publications and small group resources help couples understand God's purposes, principles and provisions for marriage. Many key concepts in Two Becoming One are taught in the popular FamilyLife Ministry marriage seminars.
If God created marriage, can He make it work? Click here to purchase Two Becoming One, by Don and Sally Meredith. You'll learn the five reasons why marriages fail, how to overcome trials and much more. (A workbook for small groups or self study is also available.)
FREE - Would you like encouragement for your marriage? Click here to enjoy the Two Becoming One email devotional. Receive a weekly email with principles and scriptures that will improve your marriage.