Sexual content and displays of sexuality are seemingly everywhere, and Christians aren’t immune to the temptations and impacts. So, how do Christians deal with sex addiction, especially in today’s world? Overall, not very well, but there are clear ways to improve and support each other.
If you or someone you know has experience with sex addiction, it’s difficult to know how to address it. Faith can add layers of guilt and shame on top of the addiction, which makes it even more challenging to be open about your problem and focus on recovery. But healing is possible, and Christians can support each other through it.
The Challenges of Sex Addiction as a Christian
Sex addiction, or the inability to stop destructive, consuming sexual behaviors, is difficult for anyone. Dealing with sex addiction as a Christian has unique challenges.
Common challenges of sex addiction for Christians:
- Perfectionism. Many Christians struggle with an expectation of perfection and feel ashamed when they fail to live up to this standard. This idea can make it even more difficult for Christians with sex addiction, who may feel something is wrong with them.
- Shame. Because Christians believe their actions are inherently sinful, they may feel there is no hope for them after committing a sexual transgression. This immense shame can lead them to give up on themselves and their recovery. They may even think they aren’t worthy of God’s love.
- Fear. When you believe what you’re doing is wrong and sinful, you’re afraid that people won’t accept you. You tie your self-worth to your addiction instead of realizing that you can be a good, Christian person and still be flawed. Christians often hide sex addiction because they fear losing their church community.
Many of the challenges of sex addiction are similar for those who deal with it, but the feeling of being an amoral or bad person tends to be stronger for Christians. It’s vital for them to understand that they aren’t bad people. They have a problem.
How Should Christians Deal with Sex Addiction?
How do Christians deal with sex addiction? Individual Christians often deal with sex addiction by hiding it because of the fear and shame they associate with sin. Sadly, the Church often isn’t a lot of help in dealing with sex addiction either, simply because they don’t know how.
“When Christians come forward and seek help, specifically from the Church, church leaders don’t deal well with sex addiction,” said Matthew Wenger, Clinical Director at Boulder Recovery.
He said church leaders aren’t equipped to help people with compulsive sexual behavior because they don’t fully understand the issue or how to address it.
“They have the best intentions, but they make unintentional mistakes that can harm those that come to them for help,” he stated.
Therefore, Christians tend to suffer in silence. They’re afraid of letting others down or being judged or abandoned by the Church.
“Addiction discovery can result in the loss of family, home, and sometimes even employment. And a loss of connection to their Church can be devastating,” Matt noted. “This can also feel like abandonment or disconnection from God, especially when their status as a Christian is called into question.”
Instead of coming forward, Christians with sex addiction often:
- Experience guilt and shame
- Act out compulsively
- Deal with confusion
- Face paralysis
- Feel fear
This tendency to try to hide, condemn, and deal with addiction alone is the opposite of what results in effective recovery. It’s also counter to what the Church believes and stands for.
The Christian Approach to Recovery
Christians can better help those in need by understanding more about addiction, including sex addiction. For example, many people in the Church may not realize that addiction is almost always the result of unresolved trauma. The person with the addiction needs support to understand this trauma, heal from it, and then address their behavior.
“The church is not bad or wrong for attempting to help members struggling with addiction. Sometimes an issue is simply out of their realm of expertise. It’s OK to ask for help,” Matt said. “Being a spiritual leader is not about knowing all the answers. It’s about having the humility to go and try to hunt them down for the people you care for.”
Ways for Christian leaders and churches to adequately address sex addiction include:
- Seeking Knowledge. The more people understand addiction and how it happens, the better prepared they are to help those in need. Christians would serve themselves and their church communities better by having a greater understanding of trauma and addiction.
- Acting with Love and Respect. A person with sex addiction is a fellow Christian and human being. They should be treated with love and respect.
- Providing Support. People working on recovery need support. The Church is uniquely positioned to provide that faith-based community they need.
- Training. Giving church and Christian leaders the tools to truly help those with sex addiction is part of equipping them “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). If a person is in a position that makes them a resource for others, they need training on addiction. That way, they understand how to respond when someone comes to them for help.
- Referral Resources. Church leaders should encourage people who come to them with addictions to get the help they need, even outside the Church. Healing should always be the desired outcome.
If you or a loved one is living with sex addiction, it’s possible to seek support without sacrificing your faith. It’s challenging, but recovery is possible.
Seeking Help at Boulder Recovery
Boulder Recovery helps men with sex, pornography, and intimacy issues who want to recover from addiction in a faith-based environment. Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive helps men face these issues and deal with the root causes, including unresolved trauma. Contact us to start your journey to recovery.