Is Sex Addiction Real?

With recent scandals (Arnold S in California and Weiner’s sexting) the term “Sex Addict” is coming to the fore.  According to this ABC news article, 1 in 17 adults claim to have a sex addiction.  This is not defined as merely as someone who wants sex a lot, but rather, is someone who has a compulsion towards sexual activity taking risks to fulfill the compulsion that may harm themselves or others.  The harm can be relational, physical, or emotional.  In the case of politicians, it appears that they continue in their risk taking simply because “they can.”  When they get caught, they seek treatment while trying to hold onto the brambles of their career.

A quote from that same ABC article struck me:

The internet and social networking provides an easy way for sex addicts to act on their temptation, experts said.

“It allows for early access, affordable access and anonymous access,” Samenow said. “The internet has caused a huge boom in our business. Unfortunately…it’s the crack cocaine of sex addiction.”

A healthy sex life has many elements for any human being.  The first is having an understanding of what context Sex belongs.  When there is no fence for our mind, we wander.  The beginning of discipline starts in childhood as we grow into puberty and have guidance from parents and role models who interact with us as we experience the often scary changes that sexual maturity bring.

The issue of sex addiction is two fold based on the deterioration in social structures at the early ages in the swirling chaos of American cultural drift.

(1) Adults now idolize Adolescence.  Many perceive their youth (thanks to the romanticization of film and music) as the best times in life.  Nothing to do, restless and the “unlimited” resources of our parents.  Unearned wealth simply given. Now that the youth have gone into adulthood, they yearn to be “free” again.  Free of a job, free from children and free from their own personality.  They throw down the fences and sexuality is released from the discipline it once had.  We reclaim the awkwardness of “innocence” and live as a teen perpetually throwing off the responsibilities of adulthood.  Unfortunately, without fences, anything from food to sex to relationships have the potential to become compulsions.  More, rather than Appreciate, becomes the rally cry.  Everyone is BORED, and enough is never enough.

(2) The fences come down and lack of discipline becomes a cycle.  If adults don’t model good discipline in sexuality (or anything else for that matter) the children play out the drama of the older generation as if it is dogma. Without fences the generations drift.  Ethics go out the window (because the basis of ethics is the discipline of the good person, without which society demolishes itself), and horrors become more normal.  We just shake our heads unable to comprehend how things got so bad.  It started when we decided that the fence didn’t matter.  Drop ethics even for one generation and we open ourselves to more compulsion.  The eyes you see when a child simply has no comprehension of right or wrong, the eyes of a child filled with anger and confusion, the eyes of an adult who has grown up with no direction except towards production of goods for the consumption of goods in a never ending cycle – these eyes become more common.  Without ethical grounding the homeless are beaten, sexual slavery returns to our cities, children are murdered because they are unwanted and we convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do.  We aren’t the murderers or the pimps, right?

The solution starts in the infancy of a new generation and it continues through the maturation to adulthood.  The abandonment of each new generation needs to stop.  Parenting needs to return as a form of art and excellency centered around the nurture and discipline of the young.  Discipline, meaning that there are fences. A safe space to grow and make mistakes, but always brought back to the center for a lesson.

In the case of sexuality, to stave off sex addiction, parents should continue to struggle to communicate values that are important.  Basic respect for other humans is at the center of this.  If we loved all people and tried to make sure we treat every person with dignity we would not even see the paths of compulsion.  Pornography would not be used because it uses the form of another person impersonally for a sexual high much like a drug.  It devalues everyone who is on the opposite end.  The proper place for sexuality would be after the intimacy of a mutual relationship and I posit that the real commitment of marriage (not the charade of marriage that some people put on as entertainment or as a rite of passage rather than a holy connection) is a pre-requisite before the bed.

Only in true intimacy, based on a strong devotion to God in faith in God’s ability to weather our storms, can a relationship model of positive love, and in that context – positive sex – be given to a generation that is dying in confusion because nothing seems trustworthy.  And we cant preach this without living it ourselves.  People don’t trust marriage because it has been thrown away by the people who should have been fighting to keep it right with all their strength.

Even if you fight a million wars across the globe and make the world safe, if we lose our souls in the process, everything will be destroyed anyway.  Like any addiction, sex addiction stops when one person decides to make some good fences and live inside the boundaries, recognizing that we are not God and are not capable of handling infinity without help.

For those who are already in the throes of addiction, there is hope and treatment is much like any other addiction.  A simple Google search on the issue will bring up many resources.  Here is one that looks notable:


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