At Running Light Ministries we desire to stay clear of the label of sex addiction. We have blogged and done Podcast on this issue on many occasions and I imagine we will do more in the future, Lord willing. We are not opposed to its general use, but we try our best to not overuse this term which has become quite popular in our media and Christian recovery climate regarding sex & pornography.
Here are reasons why we believe the way we do.
We believe that heroine, cocaine, alcohol and other chemical dependencies are different from unwanted sexual desires. When someone is labeled a sex addict, we are not saying that we never want them to have sex, but we want them to have sex a certain way within a Biblical framework. The equating of sexual desire or visual sexual stimulus with substance abuse is confusing and logically problematic.
The Bible speaks of sexual sin, iniquity and transgression. So we like to use those terms. We are not psychologist.
Addiction models create the same problems which started the problem. To call someone a porn addict or sex addict can create the feeling of shame, guilt, frustration, fear, & stress that lead them into the decisions they have made.
Religious people tend to self diagnose themself a sex/porn addict due to the conflict with actions not fitting there belief.
Society’s use of sex addiction is constant when there is no understanding of a baseline of what constitutes healthy/good/proper sex. This again is confusing.
Your identity is in Christ. You have the ability to say No! And under the right circumstances we all do and will!
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, so we desire to understand the Gospel better in our groups. This is why we lay a heavy emphasis on our time in the Bible.
Calling someone a sex addict oversimplifies the issues in a persons life that cause them to act out. Dissatisfaction with ones life, resentments, anger, fear can lead one to states of depression and unhealthy decisions. Underlying stress too leads to ways of acting out. Others simply enjoy sex & sensuality. There are many reasons why a person does what they do. The Sex Addiction label can bread a fear to talk and work through these complicated issues.
Calling someone a sex addict minimizes the Bible’s teachings on the infectious nature of sin. This creates a separation between other sins and sexual sins, which in turn leads to blame, judgement, shame and feelings of separation from “normal” people.
Sex addiction tends to place blame on the lustful culture or our biological inability to make healthy decisions instead of on our misplaced worship.
We do not subscribe to your brain on porn. It is again confusing due to the differing studies available on the subject, and what is defined as pornography. The teaching that you are incapable of making right decisions due to your VSS (Visual Sexual Stimulation) undermines the teaching that we can make decisions. This is confusing.
Calling a spouse a sex addict can create shame, undermining the Bible’s teachings of how to respond to the sinful actions of another.
When we call someone a porn addict, we are not meaning that looking at sex is wrong. We are saying that looking at the wrong people having sex in the wrong contexts is not glorifying to God and therefore wrong. Using the term porn addict is an oversimplifying term.
The Bible does not call those that sinned repeatedly in sexual matters sex addicts. They are identified as people of faith.
Addiction models and it’s accompanied psychological concepts can change over time within society (i.e. LGBTQ & masturbation were once thought of as addictions and/or a disorder, but is no longer). We would rather focus on the clear instruction from the Bible as our guide in helping others.
Using the term addiction distracts from conversations on sexual desire, wants or wishes which are needed in a relational context.
2nd Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
“The great tragedy is not mainly masturbation or fornication or acting like a peeping Tom (or curious Cathy) on the internet. The tragedy is that Satan uses the guilt of these failures to strip you of every radical dream you ever had, or might have, and in its place give you a happy, safe, secure, American life of superficial pleasures until you die in your lakeside rocking chair, wrinkled and useless, leaving a big fat inheritance to your middle-aged children to confirm them in their worldliness. That’s the main tragedy.”
With great beauty in Christ, a humbled group of us gathered to worship the Lord last weekend. It was a pleasure to worship along side those that have been a part of the work of Running Light. Some were leaders in the ministry and others simply attend one of the groups. My heart was welting with emotion as I thought of the past 15 years. God is good, so merciful and kind. His compassion is new every morning, great is His faithfulness!
Two of our previous leaders who moved out of our area are back in Tucson now! Both were leading the service and both exalted Christ in using their gifts in ways that encourage us all. Bethany is our Beauty For Ashes leader and Katy has been one of our public speakers on lustful attitudes that women fall into. The later took opportunity during the service to share her personal testimony with us. This was a day I was looking forward to for years now. She shared with great vulnerability which came of so strong! Strong vulnerability? Is there such a thing? “Let the weak say I am strong, in the strength of our Lord!” I was thinking that when listening. As failures were shared to the audience with such quietness covering the room, grace and mercy were exalted. The Fatherhood of God came forth in His discipline in her life. Always so caring and gentle through such difficulty.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
The fruit of this kind of Fatherhood is a holiness the scriptures tell us.
Hebrews 12:10 “but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
And this holiness begins here with the hope of a future grace of complete holiness! This hope allows us to “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12:12)
You too might have biffed it pretty good. Is there hope for you? Oh there is! We hope that Running Light Ministries is a place to hear our own stories of God’s grace and goodness.
Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Today is a new day to wait upon the Lord. Let’s do that together!
Being involved in a ministry that discusses pornography over the past 15 or so years has it’s interesting moments. Nothing has been so interesting as hearing what other people in the Church culture say about it. It, being pornography. Over the years there is a constant sound as to the dangers of pornography; erectile dysfunction, not wanting to have sex with a real person, escalating to child pornography are to name a few. But the list could go on; sex addiction…you’ll go blind! We’ll… not the you’ll go blind talk, but we have to remember that it used to be one! And there were many other ideas as to lustful behavior and how to curb it.
Many desire to grow in there walk with Jesus yet still find the lure of pornography a real thing. I know. I and some of my colleagues do too. I was talking to a thirty year old today and sharing with him something that I have shared on Podcasts over the years. ‘The normal thing for human beings to do is to watch other people! We are voyeurs at heart! We love to watch people. Pastors at times will use animals… a wolf, tiger or cheetah to show a Biblical truth. Just as a animal does this or that, so we should be fierce like the wolf, alert like the tiger or fast to follow God like a cheetah. I’m sure you’ve heard those kind of talks. But I haven’t found one that uses Bonobo’s! Bonobo monkey’s are narly! And humans have the potential to act like one! If not in our actions…in our minds. We are voyeurs . Haha…I laugh at this. Think of it this way…do you want to go to a empty mall and walk around? No! We actually have a empty mall by our house and we find know one wanting to congregate in it! People rarely desire to congregate to a mall at Christmas time when it’s dead. Life is what we want to see, and that means people! And with sex it is the same. People want to see others. What prevents us many times from watching one another is shame, guilt or embarrassment. And these issues plague their hearts and tear at them repeatedly. But don’t get this wrong…watching people is normal.
An interesting thought is that Adam and Eve were naked. They did not wear cloths (Peter and I discuss this a bit in our Leviticus Podcasts). Their kids (if had) along with mom and dad would not have worn clothes. What a interesting thought. The point is that seeing a naked body would have been normal. And this truth makes many quite uncomfortable. But why? It might say something of our own issues of shame, guilt and embarrassment with our bodies, especially our sexual organs. But when you are married, you tend to see your spouse naked all the time. Or is that just us! And it’s not like you are aroused every time you see your spouse naked or immediately need sex when skin is shown. That would seem weird. But there can be a enjoyment of seeing your spouses body. A thankfulness of your commitment to another or even a intrigue of what their body looks like! Enjoying looking at a naked body is normal to most people on the planet. Watching pornography is a endeavor in watching. I believe a crooked one, but none the less, one.
Now another interesting note about this is that this has not always been the case. You can get an idea from Christian influenced Europe that nakedness was seen as a bad thing. Even with your spouse! Just read over the early church fathers on there views of women and sex. Yikes and hold on when reading them. Seeing a naked body, no matter who’s you were looking at could initiate the carnal lusts. So sex would be under the sheets or done with most of ones cloths on. Long skirts would be lifted up and men cloths would have frontal flaps. So what did the world do, of old, to help there lusts? Nothing but rape, have mistresses, go to brothels, enjoy polygyny and concubines! Sounds great right!? Really grievous if you ask me. Reading over the Bible can be such a grievous adventure knowing how women were treated in a middle eastern culture filled with lustful, patriarchy on steroids. Do you like to look at your spouses body? That could be seen as a evil thing in the past. A step towards escalation only maybe to wind up drinking and spending the household fortune on whores.
There is not a simple cause and effect here. Seeing a naked body will make you do this… or that… Some will desire sexual things when they don’t see a naked body at all, and others will desire sexual things when they do see a naked body. Which person will go right? or left? or straight? We can’t tell. There are countries where they bare it all and others that don’t allow any woman’s skin to be shown. Both cultures lust and both have ill, sexually violent, misogyny. And in both cultures women will be blamed for men’s lust. There is something more complex going on in us, then a simple equation of: see naked body = uncontrolled lust
One man (of the ancient world) will have sex with his wife of 14 and have such fun and excitement that he will want more and more sex. So much more than any one young lady could take! And his desire for more just continues until he finds others to indulge with. Another man, of old, will have sex with his wife and not be that excited about the sex at all. Both men could be Church going men yet for one sex has become an event to participate in regardless of the hurt it might cause and for the later it is a family obligation, no matter the hurt it might cause! Sex and nakedness just hit them different. Why, how and what will be the ramifications are all questions people look for even today. Do all people that view nakedness in pornography rape? Do they escalate to child pornography? Chatting? Hookers? Strip clubs? No. But for some the unquenchable lust continues and continues with the only escape is a radical amputation from such a fervor like a rehab or the like. But for others even a rehab will not help.
Now what is a tragic about pornography is the recording of the sexual acts of people on to a technological device to be viewed by millions of us. Did you get what the tragedy really is? It’s the fact that one day the person being filmed will no longer want their video all over the internet to be viewed by anyone at anytime. They will have had kids like most of us do. And would they want there children, student, teen, young adult to watch mom or dad having sex with so many people? Or have there bodies displayed they way it is being looked at? Or how about the teenager that is sexting and years later finds that her picture in on random porn sites! Think of the tragedy of a young lonely man who sends out nude pics of himself only years later to find one of those pictures on social media to his shame. He was lonely. She was lonely. They were bummed at there family life, maybe scared of their parents. They could have felt insecure or simply curious. Maybe the person wanted to make money and had no education for anything else but sex work. Or it could be that others just enjoy sex work and saw a financial opportunity (Rahab?) Let’s hope they do for their entire life, because now days what’s on the web is open source!
The reason I bring this up in a blog is that too many talks on Pornography don’t go very far. Seldom is there even the question asked, “what is pornography.” There are books upon books in the Christian culture now about it. I find most filled with data and statistics that are predictable. It is good fodder for fearful wives or men whose burden by guilt before a holy God is at it’s limit. It also seems useful to those who don’t really like sex or sensuality. They can read and simply agree without thinking. We will find the ramifications of these books in the years to come. Will the Church be more in love with Christ and compassionate thinkers. Or will we be doing what the Church has been doing for years and years…(pointing out the ‘evils’ of sex etc…) We shall see how it all pans out.
In a popular Christian podcast I was listening to the other day, the topic happened to be Christian leadership and it’s compromise of God’s standards for holiness. Men in the pulpit view porn they shared. And that was their example. Out of all the examples they could have shared about compromise in the pulpit of God’s standards for holiness they choose the Pastor who likes pornography. I sat back and laughed and cried inside me. Laughed because I should have known that would have been the example. Yet cried because it was the example. Lack of love could have been the example as in the Good Samaritan. Or it could have been the love of money like with the Rich Young Ruler who approached our Lord. It also could have been the pride that blinded the disciples on who was to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. But nope…it was pornography. Did they discuss there own lustful inclinations? No. Did I hear any vulnerability or discussion of there own sexual selfishness at times? No. What we can take away from this Podcast? Probably exactly what we can take away from the sermons for the past 70 years or so that are in the same vain. They don’t have a problem with lust. If they did, they would fail the test they are putting others to. And what is the standard? Are you walking in holiness? Like who? Like Jesus! I can only think that if there were any thought given into there personal holiness compared to Christ, they just might…I’m just saying…they might fall just a bit short. Should they stay in leadership? When should they be shelved? Are they blameless? Are they in habitual patters of selfishness and pride like the rich young ruler? I find it very interesting that those that are prideful don’t know they are being prideful. They just are. Jesus encountered religious people who believed to know the truth and to walk in holiness with God and man. Upon encountering Jesus they were confident of this. There leadership was affirmed by such holiness of life and religious duty. There was no doubt of their good deeds. But they were utterly wrong.
To contrast, Jesus picked a motley crew of dudes that had some interesting lives. He continued to affirm his love for them despite there personal failures. They rejected his leadership, mis-understood him, shared there vulnerability at times and confessed there outright sinfulness. I wonder what there sex lives were like? Yet he affirmed his love and commitment to them and called them friends. They were friends of Jesus! The religious people weren’t. The Apostle Paul calls himself, before he dies, the chief of sinners. Such weakness and humility is rare, and there is something beautiful in the scriptures which teach the need to be holy yet the inability to do such a task. Our only hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It can put us in our place and provide us the humility which is so needed as human beings. Also it raises up the sinner to new heights of hope that are indescribable and life altering for many! Very awesome indeed.
I have to believe that the leaders on the Podcast really enjoy Jesus. I would ask that next time they go over such a topic that they share there failure for leadership first, then talk about the standard for the Ministry as in 1st Timothy 3 and Titus 1. That’s my opinion and only my opinion. I see a pattern Biblical for such a statement. The reluctance of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Moses, Solomon, David. Ah, David! I wonder just what he would have said if on the Podcast. Now that would be a awesome listen, but one you might be kind of shocked to hear!
Our society; the financial world, social world etc…is many times; sinful. We live in it, and we participate in it. There is no way around it. We are up to our eyeballs in it. We are anything but blameless in this culture. We live in a time like judges. In those days people did what was right in their own eyes. And God raised judges to deliver Israel from her adversaries. And leadership in the Church is much like those leaders… Good points, bad points, and some quite horrible points. But the Lord used them and raised them for such a time. Let’s keep working on our personal holiness before the Lord! Let’s continue to talk to other leaders about our issues and use one another as help to leave old behaviors. Some will be a lifelong pursuit! And keep fighting the good fight in the Church! Keep serving and enjoying Christ in the process. If there is no grace, then there is no forgiveness for sin. Remember that! We need grace…not that we used to need grace! For know-one living in righteous in your sight (Psalm 143:2).
Let’s continue to purify ourselves in the fear of God (2nd Cor 7:1).
Not everyone grew up listening to Janes Addiction…”Who is that,” you might be asking! But enough Southern Cal music culture (circa 1989) references. But what I cannot understand is when Christian writers/speakers use the word “shocking” to describe the sexual behavior of conservative leaders, Pastors, or laypeople. It is really shocking that they might desire to view pornography to you? Does it shock you to know that there are human beings that have faith in Jesus, yet also desire to act in non-Christian sexual ways? If so, we just can’t seem to figure out what Bible you are reading!
The Bible makes it clear that we are incapable of following a perfect God perfectly. Can you? Yet this is the standard to be with a Holy God. “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Some think they do this…kind of. But if we take a spectrum and say, Jesus, and his perfection is at 100; where do you think you are on the spectrum? 50? 70? Just thinking you are on the spectrum is probably a sure sign of hell for you. Do you really think you are close to Jesus in your thoughts and actions? Ever heard of the rich young ruler? He thought he was.
If we happen to make it on the spectrum at all, we couldn’t even boast we’d made it, for it was Him all along working in us to will and do according to His good pleasure. We are working, but His grace all the more. So thinking your on the spectrum is a sure way of admitting you are not on it at all! If you and I were on the spectrum, we wouldn’t have a inclination that we were. It just would be. A tax collector went up to the temple to pray…He stood afar off and felt ashamed to even pray to God. Yet he was the one in the right. The religious man stood in the temple area and thanked God for his good behavior. His righteousness. His holiness. Sound familiar? The tax collector had no clue he was in the right with God. He just was.
The Bible also tells us in detail of the men of faith (Hebrews 11) that struggled mightily with there sexual conduct. These are the people we teach little kids about in Sunday school. “The sword of Gideon!” Yet Gideon was a polygamist and had many concubines. Both would be considered quite wrong for a Pastor today.
The Bible tells us that the greatest missionary(Paul) struggled with lust/covetousness, and by the end of his life he called himself, “the chief of sinners.” It seems the more he aged, the more he realized the greatness of sin within his members. Charles H. Spurgeon understood this: “I believe a Christian on his death-bed will more bitterly repent than ever he did before. It is a thing to be done all your life long. Sinning and repenting—sinning and repenting, make up a Christian’s life. Repenting and believing in Jesus—repenting and believing in Jesus, make up the consummation of his happiness. You must not expect that you will be perfect in “repentance” before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. “Repentance” is a grace. “
The Bible also tells in sexually graphic detail of the spiritual departure from the worship of Yahweh by the Israelite’s. The book of Ezekiel and Hosea are great books on this subject. But be warned, they are graphic and Ezekiel is even considered pornographic in some circles. (Yes, there are those that believe the Bible is very erotic should be banned.)
The Bible also has in it erotic poetry which describes the passionate desires and behaviors of lovers. Yet the one who wrote it could not contain his lust for many other women. The Song of Solomon is the ideal for mankind, but certainly was and is not the real. Most human beings are like Solomon in that they have had sexual thoughts about more than one person during there life.
The Bible also has the most highest of moral standards. Why? Because it is written by men, moved by the “holy” Spirit. Can you do them perfectly? For instance the word fornication occurs in only four classical authors in the Greek and Roman era, “by contrast the word occurs nearly for hundred times in Jewish and Christian literature before 200 C.E. and over eighteen hundred times between 200 and 600 C.E.” (Footnote 1). I think we get the picture that sexual conduct (holiness) is serious to God. He demands perfection in our sexuality, sex and sensuality. Have you achieved this?
The ramifications of those in the Christian community that consistently use the old paradigm of being shocked are living in a world that does not exist, and quite frankly, never has sense the garden. Sex and sexual behavior of all kinds has always existed. Firm Monogamy has not been the standard or norm of human sexual history. Sexual variety has been the norm for human beings. Most people have had more than one sexual partner in there lifetime. To be shocked that people of all ages like to view sexual images is actually shocking! We have always been into images whether on walls or on a computer screen. Throughout history men have used women for sex, as concubines, slaves, harems, prostitutes, mistresses, call girls, escorts. Are you shocked by this?
Did you expect the Christian to not be tempted or tried? Do you expect them not to give in? Do you expect them to be different from those in the scriptures themselves? Are we so blind as to not see our own personal sexual failures? Are you also shocked by how many large people there are in Church or at the pulpit? Are you shocked by how much pride Pastors and Leaders have? There we are like the rich young ruler…sharing with Christ that we able to keep the law again? Are you shocked that Pastors are learning to crucify the flesh as well? Or are they suppose to already have that down like you do?
The ramifications of this old paradigm is to keep the Church perpetually in panic over sex; desires, wishes and wants; or even thoughts. It makes counseling people unbearable as know-one knows how to discuss our sexualized culture without being fearful, offended or afraid God will send them to hell; or already has. This paradigm, as practiced by the Pharisees, keeps people who do not struggle (or think they struggle) in control of those that do. They might struggle in other things, but at least they don’t (or so they think) in sexual conduct. They are “pure.” This is a extremely saddened paradigm that continues to rule. But it is perpetuated over and over again. It is a part of our corruption.
Speaking to Israel, the Apostle says,”The Lord is blasphemed because of you!” Have we ever thought that maybe this could be the Churches fate as well as Israel? Are we any better? Would we not too Crucify the Lord of Glory? Will the Church not fall away as well?
Why can we not share the highest of moral code, and have the wherewithal to admit we cannot not achieve this without divine intervention of the most serious in nature. We need to die. Literally. But until then, we will be having to renew our minds to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ, over and over and over again. As Spurgeon said, “sin-repent, sin-repent…” May God send the helper to help us.
There is a misinterpretation of Jesus teachings that is happening again. Peter and I (Beau) are working through this in our discussions. Stay tuned to our Better Pleasure Podcast as we no doubt will hope to be discussing this misinterpretation and it’s ramifications.
May God help us all. The shocking thing…really…is that God has shown us his love and commitment to us in Christ. Without Jesus, all hope to commune with the Almighty is lost.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27
Footnote 1 – Harper: Porneia – The Making of a Christian Sexual Norm