When God created us, He created us as sexual beings. This was good. Sex is good. Not only is sex good, but sexuality and sexual pleasure is a good gift from our Creator.  Unfortunately, many “religious” communities often cast sex as inherently shameful—as though God winced His way through His creation of human sexual passion. These shame narratives have made talking about sex uncomfortable and complicated for many people.

We no longer live in the “before,” when all was right in the world. We live in the times beyond Genesis 3, where the world is broken, sin enslaves our flesh, and self-control is not the rule. In this new situation, our appetites run rampant, and instead of being under our control, they often try to dominate us.

Addiction to sex and pornography can negatively affect relationships, and many who struggle with this often have the added burden of secrecy and shame. You may be struggling with sexual addiction, you may be the partner of someone with sexual addiction, or you may be the parent of a teen with these struggles.

Perhaps you think that unwanted sexual thoughts and behavior are something one can never be free of. Perhaps you are correct, so long as we live in these fleshly bodies. Yet, Christ has given us His Spirit, and promises us a better life when we walk in it.

How do I know if I have a sex or pornography addiction?

When something is an addiction, you struggle to control it.  The addiction may appear to have mastery over you, and you feel as though you can hardly resist giving in to certain impulses. Depending on the family and communities you came from or are presently a part of, the narratives about sex and sexuality can compound the shame and sense of isolation that result from these addictions. This makes it harder to look for help and can drive you deeper into the addictive behavior.

Sex addiction and porn addiction are not the same thing. While neither have been classified as diagnosable conditions under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) as of yet, both have similarities to chemical dependencies in how they develop and in their adverse effects on the individual.

Porn addiction is a type of sex addiction that manifests differently from other sexual addictions such as addiction to masturbation, exhibitionism, prostitution, voyeurism, sadistic, or masochistic behavior.

Addiction to sex and pornography is something that afflicts both men and women, Christian or otherwise. With the rise of the internet and streaming services, access to pornography and pornographic material – images, videos, or literature that is sexually suggestive and intended to titillate – has never been easier and has led to a pandemic of porn addiction.

You may be addicted to sex or pornography if you:

  • masturbate compulsively and frequently
  • engage in illegal behavior like soliciting prostitution
  • are preoccupied with sex
  • easily become emotionally or sexually involved with people, regardless of how well you know them
  • view porn, or use virtual sex services frequently
  • feel unable to control how you act sexually
  • feel immobilized due to sexual obsessions or fantasies
  • hide your sexual behavior from your partner or spouse
  • find your sexual choices making your life unwieldy
  • are unable to stop inappropriate sexual behavior
  • use sex to feel loved, accepted, and enlightened
  • use sex and sexual behavior to affect your mood

There are many negative effects of sex addiction, including:

  • a decline in productivity and focus at work
  • development of sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unwanted pregnancy due to risky behavior
  • deterioration of personal relationships, including family and friends
  • anxiety
  • feelings of shame and guilt
  • depression
  • substance abuse

What causes sex and porn addiction?

Sex and porn addiction can take several different forms, and there are several different root causes for compulsive sexual behavior. These include but aren’t limited to:

Psychological factors – Issues such as anxiety, depression, personality disorders, past abuse or neglect, and other conditions such as bipolar disorder may be issues one struggles with that may incline you to engage in excessive sexual behavior. Further, if you were exposed to sex early in life either through abuse or seeing sexual material, this can also drive adverse hypersexual behavior.

Biological factors – having higher levels of hormones like testosterone and estrogen affects your libido, and in combination with impulsive behavior can make you likely to engage in excessive sexual activities. Additionally, you may have a genetic predisposition towards impulsivity and sensation-seeking behavior that inclines you toward developing sexual addiction to get a neurological high from the addictive behavior.

Social factors – through either social isolation, rejection, or social learning, one can assimilate excessive or risky sexual behavior to cope and find ways to be sexually gratified.

Sex and porn addiction work in much the same way as an addiction to drugs. The brain releases chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine which create pleasurable feelings. Engaging in the sexual behaviors that underlie sexual addiction releases endorphins, creating a rush and the desire to do the same thing again.

People become addicted to the brain chemicals that are released during sexual behavior, and that creates a vicious cycle of engaging in the behavior to get the reward of pleasure.

Treatment for sex and porn addiction

The great news is that treatment and recovery from sex and porn addiction are possible. The treatment for sex addiction and addiction to pornography will depend on the factors that are at the root of the addiction. Christian counseling for these addictions can help you. You don’t have to struggle with sexual addictions alone; healing and restoration can be found in Jesus, for you and for your family.

There is hope for recovery by coming into the light and beginning to address the addiction and its underlying causes.

Christian counseling for sex and pornography addiction will help you (and your loved ones):

  • Better understand sexual addiction
  • Discover the issues underlying your addiction, to help with your healing
  • Form healthy sexual habits and a positive sexual identity
  • Nurture loving and intimate connections with God and others
  • Connect with others in healthy ways

Whatever your story may be, your counselor can understand the complex feelings and pain that surround sexual addictions and is dedicated to creating a safe and compassionate space for you to deal with addiction. Your counselor will offer you support, accountability, and a non-judgmental space to find the healing and redemption found in Jesus Christ and His promises.

Different types of therapies to address sex and pornography addiction

Some treatment options to address the underlying factors that maintain and drive your sex or porn addiction include:

Group Therapy – Led by a trained therapist, you and others who are struggling with addiction learn to replace negative behaviors and thoughts with positive ones.

Individual Therapy – In a private session with a professional therapist you can focus on your sexual behavior and other comorbid conditions (such as anxiety or depression) you may be dealing with.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This helps people manage harmful thoughts and behaviors by becoming more aware of how thoughts, feelings, and actions contribute to depression, and by replacing negative perceptions with healthy ones.

Psychodynamic Therapy – PT seeks out the root cause of your depression by helping you learn more about yourself and by working through past issues and memories, including your relationships, to arrive at better self-understanding and move beyond guilt.

Couple’s Therapy – Aims to improve communication and trust in the relationship, and to address the concerns and struggles of either the addict or their partner.

12-step recovery programs – A group therapy that works much like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. It is a 12-step program for recovery for sex addicts that helps them to live a life free of addiction.

Without help, it is difficult to stop the vicious cycle of addictive behaviors. Don’t continue to walk alone and struggle with sex or porn addiction. You can find freedom and walk in the light. Seek out counseling for sex and pornography addiction today.

Photos:
“Shame”, Courtesy of @felipepelaquim, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Regret”, Courtesy of Meghan Holmes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Guilt”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Victory”, Courtesy of Junior Moran, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

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