Myth #9 No Such Thing
Surprisingly, there is a common myth that often persists among christians that says that there is no such thing as addiction. The argument says that we are all free to make choices. Therefore the individual just needs to choose to stop acting out sexually, drinking too much, or gambling too much. This position would go on to say that through intense Bible study and prayer you can stop the destructive behavior and never go back to it.
I tend to think we’re all vulnerable to something. It may not be as scandalous as porn, but as fallen humanity we come to the table already warped, susceptible to things that allow us to cope with this life. I’m not dismissing the reality of a God who, by his Spirit, sets people free. Nor am I downplaying the effectiveness of scripture and prayer. And I absolutely believe that we are free to make choices.
But the reality is that the very nature of addiction is such that it impacts our ability to make the appropriate decisions when we need to. That’s what makes addiction so powerful. The addict can’t rationally assess a situation and make the choice to cope with it the way a healthy, sober, person can. That’s why it seems insane when we see people who appear to be able to do the right thing doing incredibly dumb things. That’s why when someone is “sober” they’re not really sober they’re just not high at the moment. It’s only a matter of time until they find their next fix. And their brains are already making a plan. In an article from www.covenanteyes.com talking about our brains it says, “People hunt porn because they taught their brains that it is arousing, an outlet of sexual expression, and a means of escape.”
I remember hearing gospel singer Kirk Franklin’s story of porn addiction. He describes how one evening after a bit of a binge he felt bad and went and threw out his porn magazines in a nearby dumpster. Then later that same night he returned to the dumpster and fished those same magazines out of the trash. Seems crazy, right? Well, yes, and it is a bit insane! But again what the addict knows is that there is a way to get high, a way to find release, comfort, and pleasure. What the addict can’t decipher or is able to rationalize away is that the behavior is inappropriate, truly satisfying, or hurts someone else.
I’ve come across a number of definitions of porn/sex addiction and they generally sound pretty much the same. Something along these lines, “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexually acting out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” The definition that my friends at xxxchurch.com give offers a more poignent spiritual insight though since they describe addiction as, “turning sex into an idol.” They go on to explain what that means, “turning sex into an idol means that we have come to rely on sex or sexual activities as a source of unconditional love instead of friends, family, community, or God himself.”
That really is the issue at the heart of any addiction. Setting something up in place of God. False worship, idolatry. As Dr. Tim Keller suggests in many of his writings we make sex or some thing the “ultimate” thing replacing God as the center of our world.
The reality is as long as we face uncertainty, anxiety, and pain in this life there will be the temptation to look to something other than God to rescue us and relieve us. Unfortunately people do get “hooked” on doing life that way. Our brains get altered in order to respond to life by seeking the easiest, and least emotionally costly way to cope. That’s why Romans 12:2 is such a powerful promise, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you rmind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If you’re wondering if you are addicted or if someone you know is check out this SEXUAL ADDICTION SCREENING test.