Christians deal with exposure to sexual content daily. It seems like it’s everywhere, and it can feel overwhelming when you recognize how much sexuality and sexual objectification permeates society.
It may feel like temptation is everywhere. With all this exposure, how can Christians prevent sex addiction?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure-all for compulsive sexual behavior. Paying attention to triggers and avoiding various situations where you’re exposed to sexual stimuli helps, but it may not prevent the behavior or compulsion from occurring.
Understanding Sex Addiction
Before assuming there’s a way to prevent sexual addiction, it helps to understand its potential underlying causes and symptoms. Addressing it and avoiding triggers are only possible once you know the signs.
Sex addiction is a type of compulsive sexual behavior. It consists of pornography and masturbation addictions too.
Symptoms of compulsive sexual behavior include:
- Sexual activities seem more important to your well-being than other activities
- Putting your sexual urges before other responsibilities and duties
- Feeling like you can’t resist sexual temptations
- Reckless engagement in sexual behaviors
- Inability to form or maintain healthy relationships
- Trying and failing to stop the adverse behavior
- Using sex to escape negative feelings
- Having multiple affairs, sexual partners, or one-night stands
- Feeling detached and unsatisfied by sexual activities
- Isolating to fulfill sexual urges
The origins of sexual addiction can be challenging to pinpoint because they are often deeply rooted in unresolved trauma. To fully understand why someone experiences this behavior, you have to know what they’ve been through. The trauma they experienced could even have occurred in childhood.
Regardless of the type of traumatic experience or when it happened, it will likely have resulted in extreme stress or other negative emotions that continue today. Attempting to cope with these negative emotions results in using sexual behavior to feel better. Once a person does that enough times, an addiction forms, and they can’t stop.
How Can Christians Prevent Sex Addiction?
Now that you understand that sex addiction is likely the result of a deeper mental health concern, it’s clear why preventing sex addiction is challenging. If addiction stems from unresolved trauma, then it will occur unless people recognize and treat trauma. And, just like anyone else, Christians aren’t immune to traumatic experiences or difficulty coping with them.
“Christians can’t prevent sex addiction because Christians are human beings and prone to sin just like everyone else,” said T.C. Ryan, author of “Ashamed No More: A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction” and pastoral consultant at Boulder Recovery.
“But, through a better understanding of addiction and coming at it from a place of grace, the Church can become healthier, create buffers for addiction, and better help those in need,” he continued.
Ways to buffer sex addiction include:
- Focus on your relationship with God and avoid doing things that are out of line with your faith
- Determine and follow your own standards of sexual purity
- Seek accountability by setting rules like not being alone with members of the opposite sex
- Manage urges with healthy coping like journaling or exercise
- Set boundaries in relationships
- Stick to healthy routines
- Participate in a supportive community like church peer groups
- Ask for help if you feel tempted to do something outside of your beliefs
It’s possible to do all of the things above and still find that you have an addiction. But avoiding any compulsive sexual behaviors right from the beginning will keep you from justifying these behaviors while an addiction forms.
Preparing for Tempting Situations
To prevent compulsive sexual behavior, it’s essential to know what you can do to prepare for temptations that might trigger you to behave outside of your beliefs or relapse if you’re healing from sex addiction.
Challenging situations you may face include:
- Traumatic Events. You can’t necessarily avoid trauma, but you can develop strong support, healthier habits, and coping mechanisms to deal with unforeseen events when or if they arise.
- Social Situations. Avoid situations with people who encourage sexual promiscuity, disregard your personal beliefs, or promote activities, like drinking or drugs, that diminish your ability to regulate your boundaries.
- Relational Conflicts. Relationships have challenges. Try to deal with those challenges as a couple instead of letting stress build that may result in negative behavior.
- Traveling. When travel disrupts routines, it’s easier to make excuses for things you may not normally do. Consider traveling with your spouse or significant other.
- Visual Environments. Certain restaurants, bars, and other settings may be full of sexually explicit content. Avoiding areas like this can help reduce sexual urges.
- Periods of Isolation. Too much time alone can generate adverse emotions and increase the likelihood of justifying stress relief or emotional escape via sexual behavior. Surround yourself with loved ones who share your beliefs and care about your well-being.
- Seasons of High Stress. Ongoing periods of stress aren’t always avoidable. Instead of seeking an escape, it’s important to develop and lean on healthy coping mechanisms for stress relief.
Preventing Sex Addiction
Preventing sex addiction is challenging. People often justify compulsive sexual behavior and don’t realize it’s developed into an addiction before it’s too late. The best way to prevent sex addiction is to never participate in any potentially damaging sexual activity, like watching pornography or even engaging in flirtation outside your relationship.
If you’re concerned about sexual addiction, Boulder Recovery is here to help. If you have questions or need help recovering, contact us.