Who better to talk to you about the lies addicts tell themselves and believe than a recovering sex addict? That’s why we’re doing something a little different today, and instead of Cherith sharing with you, I’m going to tell you a little about a few of the lies I used to believe. Not only did these lies hold me back from victory for many years, they’re issues we’ve seen again and again in the lives of other addicts as we’ve spent the past year working alongside other couples on the journey to recovery.
I spent decades of my life as a slave to sexual addiction, all along wanting out (on some level) and believing I could and would get out soon. Instead, it just spiraled further and further out of control until my whole world started to cave in around me. When God suddenly broke through and got ahold of me, opening my eyes to the reality of my condition (sort of like Saul on the road to Damascus) He began to reveal lie after lie I’d spent far too long believing. Each of these “lies addicts tell themselves” kept me from fully embracing recovery. They kept me in the chains of sexual addiction.
Lie # 1: I Don’t Need to Confess Everything
This is a big one. Of all the lies addicts tell themselves, we’ve come to learn this is likely the most prevalent, and one that is absolutely detrimental to genuine recovery. It’s a lie used by the enemy to drag us back into the addiction again and again. Unfortunately, it’s something I believed for most of my adult life. I was fully convinced I didn’t really have to confess everything to my wife in order to stop.
I would screw up, confess to God, and try really hard not to do it again. Until I inevitably did it again. Every now and then I would get caught and “come clean” confessing to whatever I got caught doing and nothing more. I convinced myself since I’d already confessed the rest to God, I didn’t need to be honest about the extent of my problem with my wife. I was “forgiven.”
The problem is, that doesn’t really line up with Scripture:
Proverbs 13:5 – The godly hate lies; the wicked cause shame and disgrace.
James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
See, the problem with living a life of deceit is, first of all, God hates it! Deep down we all know this. So, when our lives become a giant lie it brings shame and disgrace on us, just like the Bible promised it would. We end up living in that place of shame, and the enemy knows exactly how to use it.
I remember having thoughts like, “You’re just going to do it again eventually, you know you are. Why fight it? Just do it now.” Or, “You know who you really are. She doesn’t, but you do. You know you’re good for nothing. You know you’re a giant screw up. You’ll never be better, so just do what feels good. It’s who you are, and you know it. No one knows, so no one is getting hurt.”
If what we want is to break away from those vicious thoughts, and the never-ending cycle of sin and experience a rewarding, fulfilling, victorious life we have to start with a commitment to “keep our tongue from speaking evil and our lips from telling lies.” We have to “turn away from evil and do good” in order to open God’s eyes to watch over us and His ears to our prayers. We have to confess our sins to our wives so they can join with us in prayer, to unleash the healing power of God.
But why does it have to be our wives we confess to, you’re probably wondering. Sexual sin is different from other sins. Sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies, and when we married our wives they became one flesh with us. Part of our own bodies. This is why it needs to be her we confess to. Not only that, when we became Christians, the Holy Spirit of God took up residence in our hearts, uniting Himself with our bodies as well.
We don’t belong to ourselves. Whether our wives know about it or not, we’ve made both them and the Holy Spirit a part of our sin. We’ve robbed them of what belongs to them and they have a right to know what we’ve dragged them into. All of it!
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 – Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Mark 10:6-9 – But “God made them male and female from the beginning of creation. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
1 Corinthians 7:4 – The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.
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Lies Sex Addicts Tell Themselves #2 – I need sex.
The idea that sex is a “need” for men has become fairly accepted in almost all circles. Especially within the church. It’s kind of sad, since it doesn’t really line up with Scripture at all. It’s no surprise, though, that it is also one of the lies addicts tell themselves.
Part of our recovery included a period of 90 days of total abstinence. No sex, no porn, no masturbation, nothing. Going in, I was hesitant to even try it. I didn’t believe it could be done. Especially not by me. I’d never done that! Never. From the point of puberty on there had never been a 90-day period in which I had not gratified myself in one way or another. I really believed it wasn’t possible because I’d bought into the lie that I needed sexual release.
Yet God had clearly asked us to do it, so I chose to take a step of faith and obey. Those 90 days opened my eyes to the truth about my own sexuality. I had so deeply perverted what God had designed to be something beautiful and satisfying. I had taken what was meant to unite me to my wife and made it into an unquenchable appetite for debauchery that left me miserable and perpetually unsatisfied.
I used to struggle with the Bible passages that say it’s good for a man not to marry so he can devote himself fully to God. I thought, “How would that even work? What are those men supposed to do with their sexual needs? Huh…Oh well…” and I’d put it out of my mind. Now I understand God wasn’t asking something impossible at all. Because sex is absolutely NOT a need.
Don’t get me wrong, we really want it, and those 90 days were tough! I went through withdrawal the same as any other addict would when deprived of his drug. But I learned that it could be done.
As my appetite for the distorted version of sex I’d grown to depend on waned my whole mindset started to change. My head cleared and I could see how twisted my view of women had become. I could see my wife for the gift that she was.
My heart broke for what I’d put her through and I found I had no interest in consuming her or any other woman anymore. Instead, I wanted to hold her and comfort her and connect with her intimately. I wanted to be her best friend the way she’d always been mine. I wanted to appreciate and fully experience the connection we had when we were physically united.
When the 90 days came to an end and we were sexually re-united I was astonished to find this new outlook on sex had changed everything about the experience. The satisfaction I’d been chasing all my life, to no avail, was suddenly mine! When I honored my sexuality according to God’s standards it became good, just as He had created it to be.
Now, sex has become a privilege rather than a need. No longer am I continually looking for my next hit. Instead, I live my life with no expectations. When it happens, it’s wonderful and I greatly enjoy it. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t. No big deal at all.
I know it seems impossible to believe, but it’s true! With God’s help, we all have the capacity to enjoy sex as it was designed to exist: as an experience of deep physical connection between a husband and wife that brings joy and richness to their marriage.
*A quick note of honesty and transparency from Cherith: While Steve has found such satisfaction in our new physical relationship, I must admit that it is still a great struggle for me. (We seem to have switched roles as it was greatly satisfying to me before the betrayals.) I am praying for, and believing God for a day when I will be able to enjoy it as I used to. But for now, it is still fairly broken for me. Don’t get me wrong, everything Steve said is true. It is so much healthier now, and I believe it will become as fulfilling and satisfying for me as it is for him in time, but there are some broken places that still need to heal. I’d love it if you’d pray with me for that day to come soon!
1 Thessalonians 4: 3-5 – God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor – not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and His ways.
*How about you? Have you or someone you love believed one of these lies? What does it make you think to hear this perspective?