References Pure Eyes: A Man’s Guide to Sexual Integrity
by Craig Gross and Steven Luff
For example, going for a walk somewhere quiet after a frustrating day brings relaxation. You feel better because you have escaped the source of your frustration, and you have done something healthy. It’s an act you can look back on and think, “I’m glad I did that.”
Why Am I Unhappy?
It’s not the same for more stigmatized acts like drinking yourself to sleep or staying up all night watching porn. While blowing off steam once in a while is beneficial, drinking heavily on a regular basis or pursuing online pornography instead of intimate human relationships has no long-term benefit. It makes you feel better, but you have to keep going back to it to get that boost. It simultaneously lifts you up and brings you down. It gives volume to that voice of inadequacy inside you that says, “If you were good enough to have a real relationship, you would not need me.”
Perhaps we should question why people start to feel bad about themselves? What makes them think they are less worthwhile than others? A lot of it has to do with how they are treated as children. Children are not developed enough to critically assess the world around them. If their parents are abusive or circumstances are impoverished they assume it must be because they don’t deserve better. If a caregiver is harsh with them, it is because they have done something bad to deserve it. They can’t look beyond and see there is another reason at play, and that no one deserves to be abused.
What is the difference between unhealthy and healthy relationships? What do they both look like?
Unhealthy sexual relationships are characterized by:
- Power imbalances. One partner makes their own sexual needs or desires second to the other’s out of fear of displeasing, or driving away, their partner. You and your partner may have different tastes in bed, and part of a loving relationship is making concessions for one another. But both of you have the right to refuse to engage in acts that make you feel degraded or taken advantage of.
- Lack of fulfillment. Yes, healthy couples typically have sex more than once, but out of a desire for communion, not as a means of assuaging unpleasant feelings about themselves. If you pursue sex with others as a means of feeling better about yourself, rather than enjoying intimacy with that person, something is wrong.
Healthy sexual relationships are characterized by:
- Mutual respect. Both partners are aware of each other’s preferences, and strive to please those interests, but neither requires the other to go beyond their own comfortable limits.
- Communion. Sex is about enjoying intimacy and companionship with one another. You come together as a way of celebrating your relationship, not ignoring bad feelings.
Christian counseling for sexual relationships
God sent his son to redeem us from insufficient, earthly enticements and the baggage of unhealthy relationships. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Rom. 8:15 NKJV) A Christian counselor can help you see how unhealthy attachments keep you from the freedom that the Lord offers.
If you think your approach to sex or pornography is unhealthy, consider getting in touch with a professional Christian counselor. They can help you understand the underlying reasons for why you approach relationship the way you do, and how to address them. A Christian counselor will use biblical principles and therapeutic techniques to help you improve your self-image and relationships.
“Pensive Man,” courtesy of pedrojperez, IMG_0646.jpg, morgueFile Free Photo, MorgueFile.com; “Lovers in the light,” by Daniel Ansel Tingcungco, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)