Understanding Sexual Addiction 

God’s plan for sex
God, as our Creator, is the author of sex.  He made people with a unique capacity to enjoy great sex! Because sex is very powerful, God gave us specific guidelines about it that when followed will yield the best results.  Too often Christians allow the world’s take on sex to corrupt their thinking.  Somehow things got flipped around and the pornographers, porn stars and tabloids are now considered the experts on sex in our culture, instead of the Creator.  Let’s examine God’s plan for sex and discover why it’s best to stick with that. 

God didn’t create sex to be a free-for-all. God created us as sexual beings.  He gave us a sex drive and provided a way for our sexual desires to be satisfied.  The Bible reveals God’s provision for sexual fulfillment:

           But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own
             wife, and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:2 NIV

God specifically designed sex to be enjoyed between a husband and wife in marriage.  It was a special gift of God, to be enjoyed within a special kind of relationship.

Consider Hebrews 13:4: 

Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous. The Amplified Bible

We honor marriage by keeping the marriage bed “pure”; i.e. by only having sex with our spouse.  This verse warns of consequences of judgment and punishment for those who commit sexual sin, such as adultery.   

Why would God restrict sexual activity to marriage?  There are several reasons, but perhaps the main one is because of how sex affects the participants’ bodies, souls and spirits.  Genesis explains the effects of sex:

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man."  24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:22-24 NIV

People who have sex “become one flesh.”  There is more to it than the simple physical act. The union that occurs is not only physical but also spiritual.  Consider Malachi 2:14-15 (NIV), which states: 

14You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 

God makes the husband and wife “one” in both flesh and spirit and we can assume that sexual intercourse is instrumental in bringing this union about.  Experientially, we can see evidence of this union both in the joy of a healthy marriage and in the painful misery of divorce.  Nothing is quite so fulfilling as cultivating and enjoying a strong marriage.  Conversely, nothing is quite as devastating as the break-up of a marriage, which brings deep emotional and spiritual wounds.  The very presence of the wounds attests to the strength of the bonds that marriage and sex can create between people. 

Why does God care about sex?

This may seem obvious, but it’s good to remember that the gift of life is a major part of sex.  From the Malachi passage above, we see that one of the reasons for marriage was to raise godly children.  When a marriage is built on love and fidelity, it makes an ideal environment for raising a child.   

Why else does God care about human sexuality?  Many people may not realize that sex is one of the most powerful ways we can honor or dishonor God.  Obeying God sexually is a form of worship from the deepest part of our being.  Let’s examine the basis for this idea which is found in 1 Corinthians 6:13-15 NIV:

 

13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 

When a person places faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, God becomes “co-owner” of their body.  His or her body literally becomes an instrument for God’s purposes.  As such, these holy bodies are not meant for sin, and especially not sexual sin.  Paul explained further about sexual sin in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NIV

 18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Sexual sin is sin against one’s own body.  It is a mystery as to what exactly that statement means, but it seems reasonable to assume that sex sin involves deeper consequences than those sins committed outside the body.  Such consequences are lifelong memories, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual addictions may well be what Paul was referring to.   

Paul highlighted another important fact about the believer’s body:  the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit literally lives in each believer.  Sinning sexually with our bodies therefore is essentially equivalent to desecrating God’s temple. 

God’s will for our sexuality
God’s will for human sexuality is clearly explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NKJV):   

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God

Consider three components of God’s will from that passage:

1. That we be sanctified
            2. That we avoid sexual sin
            3. That we know how to live in our bodies with sanctification and honor, not lust 

Webster’s Dictionary[1] defines sanctify as “to set apart for a sacred purpose.”  Abstaining from sexual sin is a major part of being set apart for God’s purposes.  Additionally, God desires that we know how to possess our bodies (“vessels”) in sanctification and honor, not in lust.  This brings up the point that God designed sex to be grounded in love, not lust.   Paul wrote, “Do everything in love”(1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV).   

Sex addicts often have confused the difference between love and lust.  Sexualized material like pornography has effectively re-programmed many sex addicts’ minds to equate love with lust.  The problem with that notion is that love and lust are opposites! One of love’s definitions is "unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”[2]  Love’s keynote characteristics are detailed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and include kindness, humility and concern for others.  In contrast, lust is a self-centered craving that involves feeding the appetites of one’s flesh.  It is defined as “Intense or unbridled sexual desire.”[3] Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of lust is that it will grow stronger when fed and “choke out” a person’s spiritual life.  We’ll discuss lust again in a moment. 

Sex has the greatest potential for enjoyment and satisfaction when a husband and wife practice it in love.  Consider these passages on sex and love: 

 18 May your fountain be blessed,
       and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
       may her breasts satisfy you always,
       may you ever be captivated by her love

       Proverbs 5:18-19 NIV

 9Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.  
Ecclesiastes 9:9 NASB 

Sexual sin

 

 

 

 

 
Our culture and in some cases, The Church, is awash in sexual immorality.  Let’s take a moment to clearly identify what constitutes sexual sin.  As the Creator of sex, God gives us important guidelines for healthy sexuality.  As we saw earlier in this study, sex is to be contained within a heterosexual marriage relationship.  Perhaps the most basic form of sex sin is adultery, i.e. sex outside marriage.  Several scriptures identify adultery as sin, including Genesis 39:6-12, Leviticus 18:20, Deuteronomy 22:22, 1 Corinthians 7:2-3, Galatians 5:19, Hebrews 13:4.   In addition to adultery, there are several other types of sex sin, which include:

Bestiality:  Sex with animals  (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 18:23; Leviticus 20:15-16) 

Fornication: Sex where at least one of the participants is not married; sex outside of marriage  (Genesis 34:1-7; Deuteronomy 22:13-28; 2 Samuel 13:2-22; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 13:4; Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:2,8-9) 

Homosexuality:  Sex with member of same gender (1 Corinthians 6:9; Leviticus 20:13, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 7:2-3, 1 Timothy 1:8-11)  

Incest:  Sex between family members  (Leviticus 18:6,7,10,22; 2 Samuel 13:2-22, Deuteronomy 22:13-30) 

Pedophilia:  Sex with children; a form of fornication.  (Mark 9:42; Luke 17:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 13:4; Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9 (see Strong's #3120 for effeminate))

Rape: Sex forced against the will (Deuteronomy 22:24-25, 2 Samuel 13:12-22)

Lust and sexual idolatry
While the above examples are sexual acts, lust and sexual idolatry are sins based in people’s thoughts.  We could classify them as “mental sex sins.”  They may or may not be coupled with sexual acts.  Lust and sexual idolatry are important because they are perhaps the most common sins involved with sexual addictions.   

Lust defined:[4] 

(n) Intense or unbridled sexual desire, lasciviousness...an intense longing: craving

(v) to have an intense desire or need, crave   

As we discussed earlier, lust is an opposite of love.  One of the Greek words for lust in the Bible is Epithumia (Strong’s #1939), meaning the "desire for what is forbidden."[5]  It is based on the lie that the forbidden pleasures are worth the cost of transgressing God’s commandments.  There are many scriptures that identify lust as sin. Perhaps the most famous verse is Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV): 

 27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

Jesus equated lusting after someone with our eyes and thoughts with the act of committing the sin.  The notion of "thought sin" not only applies to lust, but also to other forms of sin, like anger and murder (Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 7:20-22).   

Job talked at great length about lust and sexual sin in Job 31:1-12 (NLV): 

 1"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman. 2What has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? 3It is calamity for the wicked, misfortune for those who do evil. 4He sees everything I do and every step I take.

    5"Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? 6Let God judge me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity. 7If I have strayed from his pathway, or if my heart has lusted for what my eyes have seen, or if I am guilty of any other sin, 8then let someone else harvest the crops I have planted, and let all that I have planted be uprooted.

    9"If my heart has been seduced by a woman, or if I have lusted for my neighbor's wife, 10then may my wife belong to another man; may other men sleep with her. 11For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. 12It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.

 Job described lust as “a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished” (vs11).  Job compared lust to a consuming fire that would destroy his life and wipe out everything he owned.  The consuming nature of lust cannot be underestimated.  The primary danger of sex addiction is that the lust it feeds could ultimately destroy families, marriages, finances, jobs, reputations…everything in a person’s life.  Lust should be taken seriously and recognized as the evil that it is!

John linked lust with loving the world in 1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 

Lust (and loving the world in general) blocks God’s love from being in us and operating through us.  This is a very dangerous condition, because without God’s love operating in and through us, our own selfish, corrupt desires can easily take over our thoughts and actions.   

Note that there is a difference between God-given, healthy sexual desire and lust.  Lust is purely focused on gratifying oneself.  Healthy sexual desire is focused on expressing intimate love for our spouse.  To be able to fully express true love, we have to be in touch with God’s love, because he is the source of love (1 John 4:16).  The difference between love and lust can easily be blurred, especially when at least one partner has been feeding on porn or other sexualized material.  One of the goals of sex addiction recovery is for the addict to learn or re-learn what healthy sexual desire is and how it is different from lust.   

Here are definitions pertaining to sexual idolatry: 

Idolatry[6]

Idol[7]

You might notice that pornography has many characteristics of an idol.  It is the likeness of sex…a form of it, yet without substance.  It often contains false conceptions about sex and it easily can become an object of extreme devotion - so much so that some people will spend hours on the internet gorging themselves on it day after day.  We should mention here that sex itself could be the idol behind pornography.   

God is very specific about the sin of idolatry in the Bible.  Consider this passage from the Ten Commandments: 

3 You shall have no other gods before me.

 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me
     Exodus 20:3-6 NIV

It is significant that God mentions that he is a jealous God.  Having sacrificed his Son on the Cross and placed his Holy Spirit in us, he certainly has good reason to jealously desire our devotion.  Idolatry carries a serious consequences – much more than many other types of sin.  Note that the possible consequences for the perpetrators included punishment on their descendants up to 4 generations.  We’ll discuss this concept of generational sin later in the study.   

How the sex industry is exploiting sex
It’s no secret that sex sells.  It is a powerful, God-given drive in people that can be corrupted. When taken out of God’s designed context of marriage, sex (and its associated pleasures) can be used to enslave people to lust and idolatry.  As mentioned previously, a person’s lust is never satisfied; it compels the person to continually look for more things to consume.  Similarly, someone who idolizes sex is always looking for more ways to worship sex. To tap into this potential boon, the sex industry has used technology to pander its goods to the widest possible audience.  Thanks to the internet, personal computers and wireless devices, what used to be restricted to adult book stores is now easily accessible in the comfort and privacy of wherever you are.  

The sex industry basically has ripped sex away from the sanctity and privacy of marriage and laid it bare for all to see. Pornography, perhaps the most typical product, has:

Newer forms of sex products such as phone sex, cybersex and chatrooms promote pseudo-intimacy in attempt to help people participate in sexual fantasy more realistically.  This veritable smorgasbord of sexual entertainment is changing the way people think in profound ways, including:

Perhaps the most significant effect of sexual entertainment is the advent of “sex addiction,” which is a broad term used to describe obsession with sexualized material, illicit encounters or some other sexual activity.   

Typical lies about sexuality
The sex industry changes the way people think through the powerful lies that are projected through the entertainment it offers.  As people consume more and more pornography, for example, they begin to adopt the values (or lack of values) displayed therein.  Here are some examples of the lies that the sex industry promotes:

Hopefully you will recognize the above as the lies that they are, and perhaps you may have noticed that your spouse has adopted some of them.  Truth destroys the power of lies, so if you are unsure of why the above statements are false, please visit our page at http://www.porn-free.org/lies_sex_addiction.htm 

Gray Areas of Sexuality? 
There are some other forms of sexual activity that may seem to be "gray" areas because the scriptures may not specifically address them.  Two examples are anal sex and oral sex. These are popular themes in pornography and it’s possible that your spouse may want you to perform them.  Though there may be a lack of direct scriptures addressing these acts, we can ask three questions to determine if these should be part of our marital relations: 

Is the act being done out of love or lust? 
As we’ve said already, God intended sexual acts to be motivated out of love and not lust.  Unfortunately, porn has inspired many people to fantasize (i.e. lust and idolize) about performing sexual acts for self-gratification.  If an act is motivated by and/or feeds lust or sexual idolatry, we would be wise to abstain from it. 

Is the act mutually enjoyable?
Common sense suggests that a loving approach to sex will include a concern for mutual enjoyment of the experience.  This is in line with Paul’s passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which mentions that love is kind and it is not self-seeking.  Love involves being mindful of the interests and needs of others, and not just our own. Consider this passage:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better   than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

This loving attitude is especially appropriate for marital sexual relations.  Perhaps the best sex occurs when two people are most concerned about each other’s interests instead of their own.   In contrast, when lust motivates a sexual act, there is often little or no concern for the other person’s well-being and enjoyment; it is self-centered and lacking in love.  

Do both persons have a clear conscience about the act?
The scripture gives us clear guidance that we are not to violate another person’s conscience (1 Corinthians 8). Our conscience works in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of sin and righteousness (John 16:7-9).  When we heed the convictions of the Spirit, we have peace; when we disregard them, we lose our peace (Colossians 3:15).  Sexual acts should not violate a person’s conscience.  A loving approach to sex will respect the feelings and beliefs of the husband and wife. 

One of the indicators of trouble in a relationship is when a person pressures his spouse to perform a sexual act against her will.  Unfortunately, manipulation by guilt or pity is often used to weaken an objecting spouse’s concerns about questionable sex acts.  This is both unloving and potentially abusive. Granted, married persons are obligated to lovingly share their bodies with their spouse, but that should be in harmony with their conscience.  If you feel uncomfortable about an act or that it is just plain wrong, then you should not do it.  God has given each of us a conscience for good reason.  Unless both people are “at peace” about a particular practice (Colossians 3:15), it should not be done.  

Anal Sex
Though traditionally associated with homosexuality, anal sex is an increasingly common theme in mainstream porn. As a result, many people who have seen anal sex in porn are inspired to try it in real life.  While scripture openly condemns gay sex, it does not address anal sex within marriage. Some people would consider this an open door to do it, but there are plenty of reasons why anal sex should not be practiced. 

From a physiological perspective, anal sex is a perversion of anatomical design and function.  Consider that the vagina is designed as a “bi-directional” passage, which accommodates the penetration of a penis during sex, or the expulsion of a baby during birth.  In contrast, the anus and rectum are designed for unidirectional passage, i.e. for expelling waste out of the body.  Since there is no natural lubrication in the anus or rectum, intercourse can cause fissures in the wall of the rectum, leading to infections and diseases such as AIDS. Additionally, the urethra in the penis can become infected from the abundant, harmful bacteria in the anus and rectum. 

A less-known problem with repeated anal sex is that it can cause “Gay Bowel” Syndrome, where the sphincter muscle in the anus loses its elasticity and can no longer close.  This condition presents some unpleasant and inconvenient difficulties related to bowel movements.  The anus was designed with a limited degree of elasticity – only for accommodating bowel movements in one direction.  In contrast, the vagina is made with much more elastic muscles – so much so that they can accommodate birthing a 10 lb baby and yet still returning to normal size and function within a few weeks!

One final design point is that the anus and rectum lack the concentration of nerve endings found in the erogenous zones of the both sexes.  It seems logical that if God intended people to have sex this way, he would have equipped the recipient with nerve endings to enable an orgasm, but this is not the case.

Now let’s consider the three questions we mentioned earlier in this section. 

Is the act being done out of love or lust?
Given that anal sex involves a substantial health risk for both participants, it is difficult to see how this practice could be construed as an act of love.  It seems more likely that anal sex is motivated by lust and is driven by a man’s desire for self-gratification at the recipient’s expense.  Additionally, since anal sex is apparently a perversion of God’s design for human sexual function, it could also be characterized as “delighting in evil” instead of rejoicing in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:5-6).  This is another telltale sign that anal sex is not motivated by love. 

Is the act mutually enjoyable?
Contrary to porn’s erotic depictions, anal sex is not mutually enjoyable. The lack of erogenous nerve concentrations in the anus and rectum virtually guarantee that anal sex will be an uncomfortable, if not painful ordeal for the recipient.

Do both persons have a clear conscience about the act?
The authors’ convictions are that anal sex should not be practiced under any circumstances.  We hope that our readers will feel the same way.  With the pervasiveness of porn these days, we realize that there will be many people who are being pressured by their spouses to have anal sex.  We encourage our readers to stand by their convictions and not to submit to this practice.

Oral Sex  
Oral sex is another practice often promoted in pornography.  It has traditionally been thought of as a form of sodomy and indeed Webster’s Dictionary lists oral sex as one of the meanings of sodomy, along with anal sex.[8]  We have yet to find scriptures that specifically address oral sex, but there some explicit metaphors that possibly refer to oral sex in Song of Solomon.  The metaphors use the pleasures of eating and drinking to describe marital sexual intimacy (Song of Solomon 4,5,7). The fact that such imagery is used could be interpreted as a biblical endorsement of oral sex, however, there other things that should be taken into consideration. 

One issue is health and hygiene.  With the sexual organs located near the excretory openings of the body, a lack of personal cleanliness could expose oral sex participants to harmful bacteria which could cause infection and disease. Even in cases of perfect cleanliness, couples may find that oral sex increases the prevalence of yeast infections and/or vaginal irritation. 

Another issue is that of design.  Some people may contend that the mouth and throat were not designed nor intended for sexual intercourse.  Others may hold that a husband and wife are free to enjoy each other orally.  Without knowing definitive medical evidence for either view, it may be an issue of the heart, which leads us to the three questions we considered earlier. 

Is the act being done out of love or lust?
As with any pleasurable act, there’s a chance that oral sex may become an idol of sorts.  With the prevalence of oral sex in porn, people may become obsessed with the act, even to the exclusion of traditional intercourse.  Unfortunately, we have heard from many wives whose husbands are allegedly impotent without oral sex.  Additionally if oral sex is performed too frequently, there is a possibility that a person will become more sexually “tuned” to oral sex than “traditional” intercourse.  If it becomes an obsession or a mandatory part of sexual relations, it may be wise to abstain from it.   

Is the act mutually enjoyable?
While some people may find oral sex pleasurable, others may find it unpleasant and/or uncomfortable.  When one person finds oral sex more enjoyable than his or her spouse does, there is a possibility that a “sexual imbalance” could result as in the situation mentioned above where oral sex becomes mandatory in order to achieve orgasm. Another possibility is that one partner might find it so enjoyable that a pre-mature climax could rob the couple of a mutual orgasm. 

Do both persons have a clear conscience about the act?
As with any sexual act, if both partners do not have clear consciences about it, it should not be practiced. 

Masturbation
Masturbation is often a key element of sexual addiction.  Some people consider masturbation as healthy and harmless, while others are convinced it is a sin.  Masturbation is often used to provide a release of energy arising from abnormal sexual stimulation through pornography.  Though scripture is silent about masturbation, there are several good reasons why it should not be practiced.   

Assuming that God designed sex to be a relational experience between a husband and wife, masturbation would detract from that relational experience because it involves only one person.  Instead of strengthening the marital bond, masturbation may reinforce a person’s attachment to self-stimulation and any material used to compliment it, such as pornography.  The end result is often that the person who masturbates is more sexually responsive to masturbation than to real sex with his or her spouse. 

Something else to consider is that masturbation may heighten a person’s appetite for sex.  It stirs up a person’s sex drive and trains his or her body to expect sexual release more frequently than a reasonable spouse may be able to accommodate.  This sexual imbalance of sorts will produce tension in the relationship, and could lead the person into a masturbation addiction, pornography or illicit sex in attempt to meet the increased demand for sex.  The sexual imbalance can also affect other areas of the person’s life, as he or she diverts energy, time and resources into sexual activity apart from his or her spouse. 

Christians who are serious about living for God have some compelling spiritual reasons to refrain from masturbation.  We'll discuss these reasons in the following paragraphs. 

 

Masturbation promotes “carnal mindedness”
Masturbation is typically practiced in conjunction with lust and/or sexual idolatry. The repetition of the act reinforces “carnal-mindedness,” which Paul described as having one’s mind set on gratifying the flesh.  Paul wrote:

 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8 NKJV

 

The fruit of such a mindset is death, which in turn destroys a person’s relationship with God and his or her ability to please God.  It also destroys a person’s ability to repent and live a pure life. 

Carnal-mindedness is part of the world’s overall pattern of thought, which involves lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).  God desires that his people no longer be conformed to the world’s pattern of evil thinking, but to be transformed:

 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:1-2 NKJV

Transformation requires that we no longer practice patterns of sinful thinking, including those associated with masturbation. 

Masturbation gives evil thoughts a protected place in the mind.
The rehearsal of evil thoughts that accompanies masturbation is exactly opposite of what God wants people to do.  Consider this verse: 

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV

When we give evil thoughts shelter in our minds, we open the door to further deception and corruption of our hearts.  This is brought on by the deceitful nature of sin itself, which the author of Hebrews explained:           

but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  Hebrews 3:13 NKJV

Additionally, sin continually corrupts, as Paul wrote:

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 NKJV

The solution is to “put off” sinful desires and attitudes (including masturbation) and “put on” the new mindset of righteousness and holiness that comes from God. 

Masturbation defiles God's temple
As previously discussed, a Christian’s body has a special purpose for the Lord – it is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).  Masturbation’s defiles this temple through its use of lust and sexual idolatry. 

Consequences of sex addiction
In order to understand the consequences of sex addiction, we must first call sex addiction what it truly is:  slavery to sin.  Consider what Jesus said in John 8:34, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin” (AMP).  Accordingly, the more a person yields to sin’s temptations, the more control the sin gains over that person.  Peter confirmed this, writing, “By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19 NASB).   Ironically, it is the sinner who gives sin the power to enslave himself (Romans 6:16).

Sex addiction, as a slavery to sin, causes spiritual, emotional and physical consequences affecting both the individual and his or her family.  Let’s first examine the spiritual consequences. 

Spiritual consequences
Any form of habitual sin will grieve the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:31, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (NASB).  Paul also instructed us not to “quench” the Spirit, i.e. put out the fire of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  I believe that grieving the Holy Spirit is a way of quenching the Spirit, and this can lead to feeling separated from God and cut-off from his life-giving Spirit. 

Habitual sin can harden a person’s heart and defile their conscience.    Paul mentioned these effects in his letter to the Ephesians:

17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Ephesians 4:17-19 NIV

Paul was encouraging these Christians to no longer live like the Gentiles who had been living in sin.  The Gentiles had given themselves over to sensuality and lust, indulging in every kind of impurity.  As a result, they were:

·        Darkened in their understanding: They no longer could properly discern between right and wrong

·        Separated from the life of God

·        Hardened in their hearts

·        Desensitized to sin

All of these effects could be categorized as results of a defiled conscience.  Like the Gentiles in Paul’s time, sex addicts will suffer similar, if not identical consequences in practicing sexual sin.  Once their understanding is darkened and hearts hardened by repeated sin, people will repeatedly indulge in attempt to satisfy the insatiable appetite of lust.

One of the dangers of a defiled conscience is that the path back to God and freedom from sin’s bondage is obscured.  Consider this passage:

15Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled. 16Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are despicable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.  Titus 1:15-16 NLT   

A person in this condition may fully believe that he is still following God, but his actions will demonstrate that he has gone astray.   

Habitual sin weakens a person’s “spiritual defenses” against the Enemy. It gives the devil opportunity to bring new forms of evil into the person’s life.  Solomon wrote, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV).With our defenses weakened through sin, the enemy can invade in a variety of ways.   One of the Bible’s most vivid descriptions of such invasions is found in Romans 1:28-32:

 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV)

Such evil can be personified through sinful tendencies or evil spirits which may operate from without or from within the person.  Regardless of whether one believes that evil spirits can influence Christians, the point is that sexual sin opens a person up to other forms of evil.     

Finally, sexual addiction activities have the potential of bringing curses on a person and his or her family.  God Himself revealed this to Moses on Mount Sinai: 

6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."  Exodus 34:6-7 NIV 

God characterized himself as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, loving, faithful and forgiving.  Along with those wonderful qualities, he mentioned his administration of justice that could affect descendants up to four generations.  The punishment of sin is sometimes referred to as generational curses.  Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t offer much explanation about generational curses, especially in light of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.  We do know that generational curses can be broken when a person confesses any known sin of their ancestors and takes their rightful place in Christ for their family.  This is based on the fact that Jesus redeemed us from “the curse of the Law” (Galatians 3:13-14).   We’ll discuss this more in-depth later in this study.

Emotional consequences
As previously mentioned, sex unites participants into one flesh.  The bonds that unite people in this way can be referred to as “soul ties.”  It is a mystery as to how soul ties operate, but we can see their effects primarily in the emotions.  God’s original design was for people to have one primary soul tie in life, i.e. to their spouse.  This kind of tie ideally is a healthy tie, designed to support the marriage and promote fidelity, loyalty, commitment and love.  When people have multiple partners, multiple soul ties are created, and emotional confusion can result.  Since God designed people to be united with one other person, adding others to the mix causes problems such as:

Closely linked with soul ties are the lasting memories that sex addiction activities can create.  Sexual arousal is accompanied by the release of special hormones in the brain that reinforce memories created at that time.[9] The resulting memories are stronger than normal memories.  They can serve as fuel for continued sexual fantasy and a sexualized mindset.

 

Physical consequences
Though sex addiction may not produce outward signs of damage, it can damage the body in an unexpected way. As Paul discussed in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, sexual sin is against the body.  Since sex sin is committed with the body (and mind), it is a unique offense to the Holy Spirit who resides in the believer’s body.  When a person sins sexually, he or she dishonors their body and defiles God’s temple.   Consider this passage:

19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart
.  2 Timothy 2:19-22 NKJV

The implication is that failure to depart from sin, (ex. sex addiction activities) will damage a person’s usefulness for God and his good works.  This is danger is echoed in another important passage: 

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8 NIV

Setting one’s mind on pleasing sinful desires will produce death in the body in one way or another.  It might be the death of a clear conscience or the death of the ability to discern right from wrong.  It might be the death of good health, i.e. sickness, disease or even death of the mortal body itself (ex. AIDS). The ultimate result of death working in the body is that the person is not able to please God.  From an eternal perspective, I propose that this could be the worst kind of death!

  Another damaging effect of sexual addiction is diminished sexual intimacy with a person’s spouse.  Ironically, sexual addiction weakens a marriage sexual relationship because it corrupts a person’s mind with lust and damages their ability to love his or her spouse.  When love is damaged, the emotional relationship begins to suffer and consequently weakens the sexual relationship. 

 

In the typical scenario of a husband sex addict, the wife’s sexual desire dries up because the husband has failed to provide the love and affirmation that she needs to be intimate with him. Add to this the feelings of betrayal and anger that a woman rightfully may feel due to the knowledge of her husband’s activities, and her sexual desire is probably all but nonexistent.   Even so, many addicts will blame their wives for the lack of sexual desire, when they themselves are to blame.  The husband, also, may have diminished sexual desire for his wife if masturbation is part of his addiction. 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are perhaps among the more traditional consequences associated with sexual addictions.  There certainly is no shortage of opportunities for live sexual contact these days with prostitution, massage parlors, lingerie modeling, swingers clubs and anonymous sex in various public places. 

Let's not forget about the possibility of sex addiction activity creating an unwanted child. God’s restriction for sex to be in marriage only reflects his desire for children to be brought up in love and security.  God deeply cares for those who are orphaned or come from broken homes (i.e. the “fatherless”).  

Sadly, people have used abortion to “solve” the inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy, killing millions just in the past 30 or so years.  We can be sure that God does not take the murder of these little ones lightly (Deuteronomy 10:17-18).  If you have been involved with an abortion, there is forgiveness and healing available through your faith in Jesus.  We’ll come back to this important topic later in the study. 


[1] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985), p. 1040

[2]Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985), p. 707

[3]Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985), p. 711

[4] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985)

[5] Thayer and Smith, Greek Lexicon entry for Epithumia, The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999 <http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=1939&version=nas>.

[6] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985), 598.

[7] Ibid., 598.

[8] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1985), p. 1120

[9] Paul Strand, Exposing Porn: Science, Religion, and the New Addiction, Author or Editor, The Christian Broadcasting Network, 5-18-2004, < http://www.somebodycares4u.com/new_addiction.htm >.

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