I recently received an e-mail from a client stating she had some very good news for me–she had been set free by the power of Jesus after years of addiction to porn and masturbation. Someone ministered at her church on her exact struggle. She went to the altar, left it there, and has now been doing great for the past few weeks.
To the surprise of some, and perhaps even to the disappointment and disapproval of others, my client’s “good news” was not met with jubilation from me. Instead, it was met with a heart filled with caution.
My concern came because, to my knowledge, the individual hadn’t acted on some of the things we had discussed, such as installing Internet Accountability and Filtering or getting an Accountability Partner.
Freedom Comes from Calvary
Do I believe in the freedom that comes from Calvary? Absolutely. I stake my entire life and eternity on what Christ did for me on Calvary.
When I accepted what Christ did for me on the cross, He placed all the benefits of the cross on me and set me free. Even though I still chose to stumble in the horrors of sex addiction for years after coming to Him, positionally, I was still free! I just had to learn how to walk out my freedom. Then, once I learned to walk out my freedom, I needed to learn how to protect my freedom.
So, I have no problem believing my client when she said she was free. What caused caution for me was that I too have proclaimed “freedom” after some wonderful, and very real, spiritual experience only to find myself disillusioned at the fall that came sometime after.
Related: In Case of Relapse
Again, I want to make it very clear–I do not believe falling is inevitable, or that the freedom won for us is anything less than all sufficient. The freedom Christ provides is so sufficient, and so valuable, that we must do whatever it takes to protect that freedom.
The Answer to Intimacy Disorder
Sexual addiction of any kind is not really about sex. It’s about intimacy. Those of us struggling with a sexual addiction (whether it’s to masturbation, porn, anonymous partners, or the host of other ways it manifests itself), suffer not from a sexual disorder, but from an intimacy disorder.
We have a genuine need to be intimate. Calvary did not set us free from our genuine God given needs. It set us free from our sinful ways of meeting those needs. Once we are set free from our sexual sins, we still need intimacy. We must learn to meet those needs in healthy ways. Or, very likely, no matter how free we are, we will end up back in the same mess or entangled in other areas of our life.
Plain and simple, God will not set us free from a need He Himself gave us. He will, however, teach us how to meet that need. The answer to the problem of sexual addiction will most likely involve more things than a one-time trip to the altar (as important as that is).
I can point to very defining moments in my own healing, as well as those of my clients. But, I can also point to hundreds of hours at the feet of Jesus letting Him love me, hundreds of hours letting others love me, and hundreds of painful times of relational risk that resulted in intimacy with God and others and lasting freedom.
I have been walking in freedom from my habitual sin for almost 11 years now.
What made this difference after being bound for 23 years? By the Lord’s grace, I came to realize it is not just God that makes the difference, nor is it just man. I need both God and man in this journey.
Related: Can Accountability Really Change a Heart?
Even though I’ve been free for some time and been counseling clients for about 2 ½ years, I still meet with two ladies, each twice a month for accountability. On top of that, I meet with my pastor approximately once a month for accountability. Each of these people regularly receive a copy of my Covenant Eyes report. I also try to meet with my counselor and mentor once a month.
Why do I do all of this, and plan on continuing to do it? It isn’t because I don’t think I am free. It’s because I know I am free and must protect my freedom at any cost.
Thanks for your comment Kim. I am not sure what you mean by intimacy disorder. Do you mean for women only or for both men and women? I found it to be more of a coping disorder that became an obsession. I used sex and many other things to cope with life and in “coping” I became obsessive about it and that is all I thought about. Please explain. Thanks, Steve
Hi Steve, Thanks for reading and commenting. I believe generally our acting out is based on a need for intimacy, and sexual activity is a false way to meet it. Sexual acting out was definitely a coping mechanism for me as well. But it was a coping mechanism that needed to be replaced with being relational (intimate) with others, God, and definitely myself. Hope this helps a bit.
I agree so much with what Kimberly shared. Having had a 40 year addiction to pornography and other sexual sins, there were many “altar” moments that led to disappointing setbacks in my Christian walk. I also agree about Christ’s sufficiency and freedom, but I needed to understanding the lack of intimacy in my life and I also needed accountability partners to share my struggles with. God designed us with certain needs that, in some cases, we’re not developed properly when we grew up. I my case there was no intimacy in my family of origin neither was there any discussion about sex, dating, women and what I needed to know as I developed as a young man. Unfortunately, I met those needs the only way I knew, through porn, masturbation and other sexual sins. Even as a Christian I found myself meeting my needs for intimacy the only ways I knew. In my case, counseling, recovery, accountability and learning who I was in Christ and the freedom His death bought for me ultimately led to a freedom I never knew. There were a number of altar experiences, but some of us need more because of the utter lack in our development as sexual beings made in the image and likeness of God.
Thanks for reading the article, and for sharing your experience, Sal!
This article really blessed me. I, too, am a recovering sex addict, and I’ve been finding that education is my strongest weapon. Using that frontal cortex of mine that is very under-used gives me strength, and helps me feel in control. I am in the process getting accountability partners, and I’m keeping a daily WRITTEN journal – a daily ‘tick’ on my ‘Porn Free’ calendar is another step, for me, toward protecting my freedom. I also know that I can go from thinking clearly to being completely deluded in the blink of an eye. Again, education is my best weapon. Thanks again!
Hi Geoff, sounds like you’re making great progress. Another daily reminder that might be helpful at some point could be our 40 Day app, “Overcome Porn.” You can find it here: https://www.covenanteyes.com/challenge/
Good for you, Geoff. Keep up the great work and thank you for taking the time to read and comment. God bless!
Sex is just sex. If it was a sin, God would have not made the sexual desire region of the male brain 3 times larger than in the female.
The true sin is what religion does to people in the form of guilt about this subject. There is absolutely no reason why sex is a sin. None. It is just a form of control. That is it. Make the masses feel guilty so they are controlled and need saving.
The true evil in this world is hidden. It isnt some woman who is lonely and masturbating. Go to your courtrooms and see how flawed the legal system is and how we lock people in cages — that is evil. Go see people starving — that is evil. Wars — that is evil. Political corruption — that is evil. Aborting babies — that is evil.
Hello, I think it’s wise to exercise caution with judgments about what’s “evil.” In reading the post, I don’t see anything from the author that casts judgment on others or calls them “evil.” For her, pornography and masturbation formed a bondage that was not healthy. At Covenant Eyes, we tend to agree (and so do a growing number of scientists and young adults who can’t make love to real women anymore). Not speaking on behalf of Covenant Eyes, but personally, I also agree with the evil nature of things you mention in your list. Is masturbation evil? The Bible isn’t crystal clear. But, it does point in certain directions that are worth exploring.
Do you believe in God? You mention Him as the Creator in your opening paragraph. If that’s the case, then look back at Genesis Chapters 1-2. What do you see about our original design? What attributes of love and marriage do you see before the fall? What parts of our broken view of sexuality seem out of alignment with that original design? These are big questions that beg for a response.
Religion has often botched the message. I totally agree. But, without some guidelines for living, or “control” as you say, then we live in a world of anarchy and chaos. You cannot simultaneously argue against rules and guidelines as it pertains to sex and sexuality and at the same time, argue for control against certain things you’ve labeled as being “evil.” In order to fix your list, it requires rules and guidelines. Then, we just get into an argument about who’s list of “evils” is right.
Is the world a better place as a result of pornography and habitual masturbation? Is it a practice that is good, noble, honorable, pure and right? Are these behaviors that I would want my daughter to adopt some day? Can I do these things in the presence of my Savior and expect Him to tell me, “well done good and faithful servant.” The answers to these questions help point me in the right direction and I hope they help you, too.
Sex is not a sin. Sex outside of the context God made it to be in is where it becomes sin. Nothing about God is controlling…he allows you to make the choices you want. The bible also says there is no condemnation in Christ. So the point was never to make anyone feel guilty about their sin. And every example you made of evil in this world is not hidden at all. Those are all very much known regardless of how much they are ignored. Sexual sin is hidden though. That woman who masturbates, she is probably the only one that knows about it. The guy that is having an adulterous relationship, is probably the only one that knows about it. We all have a call on our life, but how am I supposed to fulfill that call if I’m stuck to a computer watching porn all day?
Good points, Reggie. Thanks for sharing.