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Rick Billingsham of Wheaton, Illinois, spent the first 14 years of his marriage addicted to pornography. Over that span, he graduated from magazines to video tapes and ultimately to computer pornography. As his addiction grew, he began to expect his wife to meet a voracious love-making schedule. If his wife was too tired or ill, he would sneak to a locked room in the basement and view Internet pornography — “virtual sex” — until he satisfied his urges. Though his sexual drive had temporarily been satisfied, he became increasingly unable to share emotional intimacy with his wife. Even when they made love, Billingsham never felt his wife was vivacious enough; she left him unfulfilled. Billingsham became resentful and angry. His obsession with sex not only strained his marriage, it alienated him from his three children — and from God.
- From Computing Today, Jan/Feb 1998
Does it concern you that millions of people are not believing the warnings being issued about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? The incidence of syphilis has increased 29 percent in the past year, and a new strain of gonorrhea has recently appeared that is resistant to all antibiotics. Twenty to 30 percent of all college-aged women are infected with genital herpes and will suffer from it for the rest of their lives. And did you read the article in the recent April 4 issue of Time magazine, entitled “Another Sexual Blight to Fight?” It described the HPV virus which is suddenly rampant among young girls, causing genital warts, cervical cancer and tumors of the sexual organs. Time concluded, “. . . no solution is at hand. The prospect is for another sexually transmitted epidemic that will take many years to contain.” Indeed! The number of major STDs now spreading through our population stands at 38 . . . and rising.
From a James Dobson letter
I desperately need someone’s help. I am a sixteen-year-old boy. My dad just got an Internet service and a terrifically fast new computer. IT’S VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO STAY AWAY FROM PORNOGRAPHIC SIGHTS.
Letter to the editor of Christian Computing
A man becomes romantically involved with a female employee, commits adultery with her, passes on a sexually transmitted disease to his wife, and then is discovered. He calls me and says that he doesn’t want to lose his family, but he’s not sure that he wants to give up this other woman either. “What can I do, pastor?”
Recent counseling situation
The battle is raging and Christian people are losing the war against lust and sexual immorality. More than half the men surveyed at a 1996 Promise Keepers stadium event confessed to using pornography during the prior week! Perhaps you are losing the battle too.
DON’T DESPAIR! If you are a Christian, you CAN defeat this enemy! God has given you weapons of warfare to fight the enemy of lust and sexual immorality. Many people in our congregation have used these weapons and are now walking in purity and peace with God. Let’s start with some basic principles which are necessary for fighting any war.
This is a picture of the cycle of addiction. The model holds true whether you are addicted to alcohol or rage or lust. Actually the addiction cycle is really a spiral, not a circle. The more round you go, the further down you go. Addiction is a downward spiral.
Here is an explanation of the six parts of the addiction cycle:
Love Hunger — Love hunger is usually an emotional vacuum or a missing piece of your spirit. This is the triggering mechanism that starts the battle. It is like the first domino in a circle of dominos, each stage bumping into the next.
Love hunger is a “hole in your heart.” Many sex addicts start their addiction with a poor self-concept. They perceive themselves as shameful, bad, evil people. They often view themselves as failures. Addicts are ashamed. People who fall prey to addiction are missing something and they desperately try to fill the void in their heart with something else (even the wrong thing).
Most sex addicts grew up in an unhealthy family. Sexual addicts attempt to escape family wounds and associated painful feelings through sexual activity. One addict may be convince he is a failure (perhaps like his alcoholic father). An incident at work or home causes him to question his competence again. He suffers emotional pain, and then the downward spiral begins for him. Another addict may fear loss of control. This person’s identity may be wrapped up in being able to manage things. Most addicts are controllers. A crisis occurs. The addict feels insecure, and the spiral begins for them. For another the triggering mechanism may be fear of rejection.
Jesus is the only one who can fill up the “hole in your heart.” He is the answer to every emotional and psychological need. However, most people do not know how to practically experience His ability to meet emotional needs on a daily, practical basis.
Emotional Pain — This love hunger (emptiness, hole in your heart) will eventually manifest itself in symptoms of anxiety, depression, panic attacks or other types of emotional pain. Very early in the life of most sex addicts, sex became a solution to painful situations.
Let’s say that the triggering mechanism for one individual is fear of change. Perhaps he lived in an unstable household — and as a child he never knew when the house might be in a uproar or when the family might have to relocate or when a policeman might show up at the door. Fear of change is the triggering mechanism. Perhaps as an adult he has done everything that he can to create a stable environment. He has tried to protect himself against chaos. But life is full of change, so along comes an unexpected visit from dad, or the car blows a head gasket, or the company decides to downsize. Emotional pain ensues. Change causes insecurity and uncertainty and punctures past memories and feelings. Because of the pain, the sufferer searches for an anesthetic to dull the agony of the crashing dominoes.
Addictive Agent — In searching for a way to cope with the pain, people look for something that will anesthetize it, even for a short time. They start with becoming preoccupied with the addictive agent. Preoccupation creates a desire to act out the thoughts. Before acting out can occur, some planning is necessary. This is called the ritual. Rituals may take 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 years. Just like the fantasies in the preoccupation stage, the ritual may itself be exciting. Once sex addicts have reached the ritual stage it is almost inevitable that they will go on to the next stage: acting out.
Sexual addiction seems unmanageable because acting out just seems to “happen.” Sex addicts must learn that this is really not the case. The reality is that you have been preoccupied and working out rituals long before you reach for the addictive agent. Addictive agents come in many forms: sex, alcohol, drugs, rage, food, power, uncontrolled spending, busyness, or the compulsive need to reach to outside relationships — anything to fill the emptiness and stop the pain.
For the sex addict, sex is a way of escaping, a way of altering mood. Sex is a way of coping. An addictive behavior fills a need in an individual’s life. The addictive agent is expected to act as a tranquilizer, pain killer, antidepressant, stress-reliever, or emotional and spiritual comforter. It’s expected to do something it was never created or intended by God to do.
Fall Out — These are the unpleasant consequences of having turned to the addictive agent. For those who deal with lust, it can be the natural, physical downtime after endorphins are released in your brain by ejaculation. Add guilt/shame/despair (the next step) to this natural “low” and you move into sadness and depression. Fall out will also occur in your relationships, i.e. the way you feel around people knowing what you have done. Fall out could also be “getting caught” and the consequences of people finding out or the disease that you catch from a sex partner.
If you are a food addict the fall out can be weight gain, nutritional damage, or purging yourself to get rid of the over abundance of food. For the alcoholic fall out is waking up in a strange place, discovering that you hit your child in a drunken stupor, nutritional exhaustion, a hang over, missing an appointment, or embarrassing yourself in front of others.
A great paradox arises. You’re hurting, and you turn to sex, or food or something else to ease the hurt. But now the addictive behavior itself brings new hurt to your life, and the consequences of the addictive behavior accelerate you into the next stage.
Guilt/Shame/Despair — You now experience not only the unpleasant consequences of the addictive behavior but also the despair of desires out of control. You wanted to stop but once again you didn’t. You committed this shameful activity, and now you feel weak, perverted, and helpless. Negative self messages flood over you. “If I weren’t so weak.” “If I weren’t so worthless.” and the “if’s” go on and on. “What kind of a person am I?” “Look at me keeping secrets, lying, and covering my tracks. What have I become?”
You may also be full of anger and blame. “It is God’s fault, He didn’t help me again.” Or “It was their fault, they seduced me again.” Perceptions of truthfulness or views of women will often change in order to avoid responsibility and to justify blame.
The battle against sexual immorality is a battle with your own sin nature. But it is more than that. It is also a battle from outside. The apostle Paul told us: For ours is no struggle against enemies of flesh and blood but against the master-spirits and cosmic powers that control and govern this dark world. Against the host of wicked spirits from the very headquarters of evil that are arrayed against us in heavenly warfare. Ephesians 6:12. You must understand that there are personal forces that are directing and ruling you through pornography and sexual immorality. You are making bad choices, but you are also being MANIPULATED AND CONTROLLED by evil forces! There are spiritual influences that do not want you to win over lust and immorality and they are doing everything in their power to see that you stay in this addiction. Are you going to put up with that? NO! You are going to fight them! Recognizing your real enemy is an effective key to winning your war against immorality.
Are you talking about possession? Can a Christian be possessed? Actually, in spite of what you see in your English translations, the Bible never uses the word “possession” when speaking of demons. When talking about demons and their hold over people the actual Greek word used is not “possessed” but “demonized”. So let’s rephrase the question. Can a Christian be demonized (tormented by demons)? Yes and to varying degrees. You don’t need to draw a pentagram on the floor to be demonized. Pornography is a form of idolatry. We worship it, we devote ourselves to it, we pay money to it, and we seek for it to meet our needs. Demons love to encourage idolatry and to torment the idolater. Face your enemy: demonic influence is a part of your struggle against lust and sexual immorality.