Several years ago I went to a conference by Bethesda Workshops for women who struggle with sexual addiction issues. A sweet lady there in her mid-50s shared at the start of the conference that she had been acting out sexually in various ways almost daily since she was about three years old.
About two days into the conference, she shared with us that she had been very tempted to engage in her sexually addictive patterns that morning. She had a revelation though that what she really wanted was not the high that comes with sexual behavior–she really just needed a hug.
What a perfect example of what I had been told through my entire recovery, and what I now tell nearly every client who walks through my door, and really, anyone who will listen. Sexual addiction (whether in the form of masturbation, multiple partners, pornography, or the hundred other ways it manifests itself) is not a sexual disorder. Sexual addiction is a relational and intimacy disorder.
Later that day, we broke into small groups and the lady I mentioned above happened to be in my group. While sharing, she began weeping and said,“What is wrong with me! That doesn’t even make sense. Why in the world would a three-year-old act out sexually? Why?!”
The counselor in our group responded with such wisdom in that moment. She simply said, “That’s a very good question. What would cause a three-year-old to do such a thing?”
As we unfolded this dear one’s early years, we saw a huge disconnect between her and her family. Her family had very little to do with her and would always set her aside, as if she was in the way. She went about getting her needs met in the only way she knew how. This three-year-old was looking for what we all look for: relationship and intimacy. And, she did what many of us do as adults, she continued to get her needs met in an unhealthy way.
It offers ease, but stings in the end.
It’s so much easier to look at pornography than it is to be relational with a person who we have to interact with. Pornography, after all, is always there. Always waiting, always accepting, always ready, always available, and always ready to reveal all. There’s no need to put in the effort of being relational. It gives us our quick fix, and we can move on.
But, that only lasts for so long. Before long, pornography has us trapped, and what we once thought was “the easy way,” has become the difficult road to our destruction.
Indeed our enemy is crafty. He has known exactly what to do to set us up for this. Facebook. Twitter. SnapChat. Instagram. Tumblr. Pornography. As different as all of these may seem, they all have at least one thing in common. They all are a product of a society that has drifted away from emotional intimacy and the real work of being relational. We have relegated intimacy to the click of a few buttons on the computer and an orgasm in secret. It seems that we have attempted to find a way to make our “microwave” and “fast food” society also work with our relationships. But, that is not and will never be God’s plan.
Bringing others into our journey.
So, what is really going on here? We were created to live out this life side by side, hand in hand. We were created to be close to God and close to one another. Scripture describes believers as members of Christ’s body. How much closer could one be than literally being in the same body? As is always the case, trying to do things separate from His way never works out.
So, what do we do? We start with the basics of setting up some Internet Accountability through software such as Covenant Eyes. We also involve others on our journey to hold us accountable. (Scripture tells us that we are to encourage one another daily in Hebrews 3:13).
The beautiful thing I have seen about accountability is that it serves not only as a deterrent to our acting out, but it serves to meet the need behind our acting out. There is something so healing about having one or more people know everything about you, and still love you. It’s in accountability relationships that we can learn to be truly intimate. It is where we learn to bare our soul, instead of having our needs met by connecting with a screen where someone is baring their body.
Most of all, we must learn to connect with our Maker. Only He can truly understand us, and only He can meet our deepest need. Our deepest need is not for sex, it is to be intimately known. And that takes much more than a few clicks of a mouse.
Kimberly Johnson is a counselor, speaker, teacher, author, and founder of Divine Identity. Most importantly, she is a broken but beloved daughter of God. Her experience and knowledge come not only from the hundreds of stories she has heard, but from letting Jesus love and heal her on her own journey of sexual brokenness.