I received a copy of Newsweek (a subscription that I didn’t sign up for, by the way. Everything happens for a reason-Proverbs 16:33-AMP). I don’t know how many of you caught it or not, but the main cover story was entitled, “The Sex Addiction Epidemic”. Understandably, I’m sure, it caught my attention. What I really appreciated about it, being that I am a woman, being that I’ve had my own struggles with porn and sex abuse/misuse, being that I am the Women’s blog editor for this site, was that it started off talking about how sexual addiction affected/infected *a woman*. Here’s an excerpt of the intro:
“Valerie realized that sex was wrecking her life right around the time her second marriage disintegrated. At 30, and employed as a human-resources administrator in Phoenix, she had serially cheated on both her husbands—often with their subordinates and co-workers—logging anonymous hookups in fast-food-restaurant bathrooms, affairs with married men, and one-night stands too numerous to count. But Valerie couldn’t stop. Not even after one man’s wife aimed a shotgun at her head while catching them in flagrante delicto. Valerie called phone-sex chat lines and pored over online pornography, masturbating so compulsively that it wasn’t uncommon for her to choose her vibrator over going to work. She craved public exhibitionism, too, particularly at strip clubs, and even accepted money in exchange for sex—not out of financial necessity but for the illicit rush such acts gave her.
For Valerie, sex was a form of self-medication: to obliterate the anxiety, despair, and crippling fear of emotional intimacy that had haunted her since being abandoned as a child. ‘In order to soothe the loneliness and the fear of being unwanted, I was looking for love in all the wrong places,’ she recalls.
After a decade of carrying on this way, Valerie hit rock bottom. Facing her second divorce as well as the end of an affair, she grew despondent and attempted to take her life by overdosing on prescription medication. Awakening in the ICU, she at last understood what she had become: a sex addict. ‘Through sexually acting out, I lost two marriages and a job. I ended up homeless and on food stamps,’ says Valerie, who, like most sex addicts interviewed for this story, declined to provide her real name. ‘I was totally out of control.'” (you can read a big portion of the rest of this article here).
Last night, I was watching an independent film with a friend about an uber-dysfunctional family (the title escapes me, sorry. I do remember that Ellen Burnstyn was in it, though). It was centered around a wedding. One of the grandsons, three months out of rehab, was stealing his grandfather’s Fentanyl and getting high off of it. While watching the movie, I got online to see what that drug was. Shoot, it scared me just reading about it. Therefore, there was *no desire* to “personally investigate” just how well the actor was acting. As my friend was viewing the film, she said, seemingly with a tinge of irritation and perhaps a bit of disgust, “I just don’t understand drug addicts”, to which I replied, “That’s a funny question: you don’t understand them while they’re high or why they get high in the first place?” She didn’t respond.
My father is a recovering “hardcore” drug addict. I had an uncle, one of my dad’s brothers, to die of an overdose. They’re both good guys. They’re both really hurting people as well. As I heard that 20-something, attractive and smart guy speak of the fact that he stole his grandfather’s drugs because it had the affect of Morphine, 12 times over, I heard something beneath the surface of what he said. Just like my dad and uncle, HE WAS IN A LOT OF PAIN. He was doing what he believed would take his focus off of his pain. His internal, emotional pain.
The fact that we, on many levels, especially within the Church, don’t look at porn and sex addiction from this *very same perspective* of not just *knowledge* but *compassion* often baffles me. Yes, oftentimes what people will do during a “porn or sex high” is, at best, degrading and at worst, horrific, yet, I wonder why more people don’t stop and think, “Man, to subject oneself to those kinds of acts and those kinds of risks must mean that person is in *a lot of pain*.” Because, indeed, in being like Christ, wasn’t it…*comforting* that when the woman was caught in adultery, when she was *caught* in adultery, he didn’t berate her with a million questions or call her a “homewrecker”. No, he asked the people who, perhaps like my friend looked at her and said, “I don’t get how someone can be sexually immoral”, he met her where she was and *comforted* her first. He didn’t give her sin “a pass”. He gave the sinner *some hope* (John 8:1-12).
The fact that sexual addiction is being called an *epidemic*, to me, speaks to the fact that not addressing it, ignorantly (pre)judging it, (simply or only) denouncing and ridiculing the people who yes, while they may victimize others, *they are also victims of it*, is not working. Because, indeed, I have to go along with another quote that I read in the Newsweek piece:
“Here’s what the experts will tell you that sex addiction is most decidedly not: a convenient excuse for sexual indiscretions or marital truancy.”
Valerie lost *two marriage* from her issue. You think that was due to an overabundance of *good sex*?!? To the point of being broke and suicidal? Oh, how we tend to oversimply. Especially when you get back to the fact that sex, in its original plan, was to *add to your life*, not destroy it.
If you have some thoughts on how we can more *responsibly* and *effectively* deal with porn and sexual addiction, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
AND WORDS OF SUPPORT. FOR THE HURTING.