By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C, Seattle Christian Counseling
References “Pure Desire” by Ted RobertsSex addiction– that doesn’t happen to Christians, right? I mean, no Christian would ever look at porn or take any approach to sex other than “It doesn’t tempt me.” Of course we don’t think like that. And what if maintaining this façade that all of us are basically saints who never struggle with sin is keeping struggling believers from seeking the repentance and recovery they need? Sin is shameful enough. If a person thinks they are the only Christian to ever contend with that specific sin, it makes it even more shameful. They feel as if they couldn’t possibly be a Christian because no legitimate believer would engage in this kind of behavior.
For some reason, individual believers have gotten it into their heads that they are unique in their sin lives. This is probably because we do not spend a lot of time at church talking about our pitfalls and sources of shame during the week. Maybe we should.
Create Camaraderie Within the Church
In his book, “Pure Desire,” Ted Roberts suggests churches work to eliminate the isolationist atmosphere that leads individuals to think they are the only believers to stumble through a certain valley. He recalls a time he was asked to speak before a congregation in the Bible Belt. The church’s pastor asked Roberts to speak about the great things God was doing in his congregation. Roberts replied, “I would love to do that, but I will end up talking about real life– about the bondage, addiction and trauma that so many people are struggling with today.”
What if churches were as excited about proclaiming how God is freeing people from addiction as they are about converts during mission trips? Both bring glory to God. Unfortunately, one reveals Christians are not as spotless as we would have the rest of humanity believe.
All Have Sinned and All Need Grace
This notion that you must fit certain criteria to be a “true believer” shames struggling Christians into concealing their sin. They fear judgment. They fear admitting shortcomings Christians are not supposed to have. This is not the example Christ set for us. “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:31-32 NIV)
As you may recall, Jesus did not build his ministry by recruiting Pharisees. He reached out to the spiritually humble. The modern church must do the same.
Pretending all of us are squeaky clean inside scares off exactly the people Christ came to save. To hide a sin is to miss an opportunity for help and grace, as Proverbs tell us. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Prov. 28:13-14 NIV)
Christian Counseling for Sex Addiction
It does not help that many Christians have been told their problem is a sin issue rather than a physical one, as is sometimes the case with addiction.Part of reaching out to addicts within the church is rejecting the notion than addiction is just a vice. That this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you had more willpower or were a better Christian. Addiction is a physiological problem. Your brain is not wired to moderately partake of a certain substance or participate in a certain activity. It must be all or nothing.
If you have tried again and again to surrender to Christ your relationship with a substance or activity, but always find yourself going back to it, maybe it’s time for you to consult a professional Christian counselor. A therapist is one of the tools God can use to help you conquer your addiction. A professional Christian counselor will use therapeutic techniques to address why you are so dependent on this substance, and how to change that. They are not looking to shame or judge you, but rather to help you appreciate how God’s strength is glorified in our weakness.
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