Sexual Abuse & Sexual Addiction

Grantley Morris

When Sexual Abuse Causes an Unhealthy Craving for Sex

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Tragically, being sexually abused impacts one so profoundly that sex abuse often ends up being perpetuated by abusing oneself sexually. It will vary from person to person whether the resulting sexual self-abuse is solitary or involves a partner, whether the person considers the habit desirable, and whether he or she is conscious of a link to having been sexually interfered with.

Like other highs, sexual highs can be very addictive. In fact, sex is divinely designed to be so potentially addictive that it binds a couple to each other for life. So having been sexually abused is not the only route to a sex addiction. Nevertheless, it is a significant one.

The tendency of one’s mind to suppress or dismiss distressing memories, plus the often underrated complication that sexual interference is not always unpleasant, make it possible to have been sexually abused in the past and either not recall it or not recognize it as abuse. If you feel certain that you have never been sexually interfered with, however, you might prefer to read Sex Addiction, a much shorter version of this webpage that omits sections of immense importance to sex abuse survivors by exploring the many ways that sex abuse and sex addiction can interact and compound the addiction.

Both sex abuse and a victim’s reaction to it are more complex than is commonly understood. Through this webpage, however, you will discover that gaining this understanding is easy and it paves the way to breaking sex addiction.

Sex junkies – people trapped in the shame, defeat and depravity of sex addiction – not only have my deep compassion and respect but deserve everyone’s love. It is my hope that before completing this webpage you will not only have answers but will realize that the most depraved are not prostitutes, homosexuals, rapists, child molesters or those who sexually defile themselves with animals, but those who feel morally superior to them.

Consider the radical moralist to whom millions swear allegiance (and immediately ignore because his laser clarity cuts all of us down to size). “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you,” Jesus told the holier-than-thous (Matthew 21:31). Or, as Proverbs 30:12 puts it, there are “those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth.”

It is as enticing as chocolate-coated poison to a starving man to seek to justify ourselves by thinking ourselves better than some. When dispensing the mercy that all of us so desperately need, however, God chooses those who position themselves on the bottom of humanity’s pile, whereas those who consider themselves better are left to rot in the stench of their own self-righteousness. God forgives according to how enormously we think we need forgiveness. Sadly, even those addicted to depravity can ruin their spiritual advantage by sneering at those hooked on other forms of depravity.

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Unexpected Consequences of Sex Abuse

Drug pushers want to create addicts. That’s readily understood. Few of us stop to think, however, that it is likewise in the interest of sex predators to create addicts. Turning victims into sex addicts not only makes the victims more compliant, it can make them feel they are as guilty as the instigator, which renders them less likely to report the crime to authorities. Consequently, often without their victims’ awareness of their schemes, many predators consciously employ insidious methods to create addicts.

No explanation is needed as to why sex abuse can result in a long-term loathing of sex. Why sex abuse can produce an insatiable craving for sex might be less obvious but with a little thought it makes perfect sense.

The first point to note is that although sex abuse can be terrifying and painful, it is quite possible to be sexually abused without unpleasant feelings. In fact, feeling pleasure when abused is far more likely than is commonly realized.

Whether sexual abuse produces pain or pleasure typically has nothing to do with the victim’s morality but everything to do with the abuser’s technique. You might find this incomprehensible without reading the more detailed explanation in The Dilemma of Feeling Pleasure When Abused link at the end of this webpage.

Even with the same offender and victim, it is possible for certain instances to be pleasurable and some traumatic. In fact, an occasion can start off either way and end up producing the opposite feelings. For someone to have opposite reactions to a vaguely similar event can be so perplexing that some people experiencing it can only cope by separating the two reactions in their mind, so that one part of the person can recall just one reaction and another part of the person can only recall the opposite reaction. This can lead to what is commonly known as multiple personalities. Or some people might simply find feeling pleasure during abuse so horrifying that they suppress all memory of it and recall only the distressing parts.

We shall see, however, that even when sex abuse produces nothing but pain and trauma, it can still cause sex addiction. Let’s explore a number of reasons for this.

* An Attempt to Toughen Oneself

It is not uncommon for sex abuse survivors to end up deliberately exposing themselves to more sex in a desperate attempt to dull the pain – to harden themselves to the flashbacks etc that they suffer. It is common to use porn or fantasy in this context but any road to a sexual high could be used. Since it is an attempt to make themselves more callous, some even find themselves addicted to fantasizing about particularly repulsive sex acts.

That they have stumbled upon something with the potential to ease the stress is indicated by there being a legitimate therapy known as Exposure Therapy – a treatment in which patients with anxiety disorders are exposed to a feared situation without any danger, in order to overcome their anxiety. In real therapy, however, anxiety is lowered without any negatives, whereas exposing oneself to sexual stimulation outside of the tenderness and security of a particularly loving marriage cheapens and degrades a person and further damages his/her sexuality. There are ways of lessening pain that are free from such negatives.

* Punishing Oneself

Trying to toughen oneself by forcing oneself into sexual experiences is so obviously self-destructive that many who do this recognize it as a form of self-harm – an attempt to punish themselves. This is particularly common if a victim is riddled with guilt (typically false guilt) over having suffered abuse.

Obviously, the real solution is to end real or false guilt. No matter who is to blame for the abuse, the holy Son of God took all the blame upon himself and bore the full punishment on the cross. This is not some theological mumbo jumbo, the practical implications are profound. For help with this, see the Self-Harm link at the end of this page.

* The Longing Simply to Feel

A connection between self-abuse that involves inflecting pain on oneself (self-harm), and sexually abusing oneself (casual sex, masturbation, or whatever) is that often a significant driving force behind both is a desperate longing to feel. These people would rather feel physical pain or undesirable sex than feel nothing.

What causes them to be so numb that they can only feel such extreme things? They once suffered such physical or emotional pain (often as a result of abuse) that, to lessen the torment, they disconnected from their feelings/emotions and now they are (consciously or unconsciously) scared to reconnect. Remaining disconnected is uncomfortable, frustrating, unnatural and it is so unhealthy as to be dangerous.

It is like someone who injures his leg and as a temporary relief for the pain is given a local anesthetic to numb the entire leg. As the leg begins to heal, the need for the anesthetic goes. But suppose the person becomes so afraid of the return of any pain that he steals anesthetic and keeps injecting his leg year after year. He might not feel pain, but a totally numb leg still feels annoyingly uncomfortable and is also unhealthy. (Lepers lose fingers and so on, not because the disease eats their flesh but because leprosy causes a lack of feeling in those parts, causing them to injure and infect themselves without even knowing it. Rats have even been known to gnaw off lepers’ fingers while they sleep.)

So although getting in touch with one’s emotions and inner pain seems scary, it actually ends up being deeply healing and might also significantly reduce the gnawing ache for sexual highs.

* Self-Loathing

Most of us have a tendency to be annoyed with ourselves. And this can aggravate addictions.

Even without multiple personalities, every one of us has something approaching this condition. The apostle Paul, for example, devoted nearly an entire chapter to the frustration of part of him desperately wanting to do what is right and another part of him wanting the opposite, thus creating an internal war (Romans 7).

Most of us think it must be godly to despise or even hate any part of us that craves sexual sin. The dilemma is that it must surely be counterproductive to further starve of love a part of us whose undesirable cravings have been driven or inflamed precisely by being starved of unconditional love. But is it Christlike to hate anyone? Wasn’t Jesus repeatedly slammed by religious people for the way he loved sinners? Of course, our holy Savior never encouraged sin, but he continually poured out love on those depraved and enslaved by sin; befriending them, healing them and defending them from those who sneered at them.

As Romans five points out, Christ died not for the righteous – by God’s perfect standards, there are none – but for the ungodly, and, as 1 John declares, the reason we now love is that God loved us first – when all of us had reason to be disgusted with ourselves.

Jesus emphasized the importance of us loving our enemies because that’s the very nature of God (Matthew 5:44-45). So if the part of us that craves sexual sin is our most dangerous enemy, then that is the very part on which we must particularly practice godliness. This is not, of course, to encourage sin but to saturate that part of us with unconditional love in the hope of nurturing repentance. In the words of Romans 2:4, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”

Remember Zacchaeus, the money grubbing turncoat who extracted money from his fellow countrymen to finance the foreign army occupying the holy land. Above all the town’s dignitaries and spiritual leaders, the Messiah singled out that shunned, tree-climbing weasel for companionship. Everyone was disgusted by Jesus’ choice, but before the indignant protests had stopped echoing throughout the town, one cold heart had thawed and the person everyone had given up on was extravagantly repenting. He who had been despised and ostracized finally found someone who believed in him and showed him kindness. The result was astonishing (Luke 19:1-10).

No one needs such love, and will be transformed by it, more than sinners.

We might think it godlike to beat ourselves up, but it is actually the way of the flesh. It is trying to save ourselves by works, not by the grace of God. Just as Jesus’ love shocked the religious establishment, even today love so jars our religious preconceptions that I have found it necessary to devote an entire webpage to explaining God’s yearning for us to cease despising ourselves and treating ourselves harshly and unlovingly. See the Being Kind to Yourself link at the end of this webpage.

* Abysmally Low Self-Esteem

It breaks my heart that low self-esteem can reach the extreme of not only making victims feel they are no value other than as a sex object but even feeling that acting as a sex object is their only reason for existing.

A sex addict told me, “I have discovered that whenever I crave sex I am feeling three things: worthless, scared and hopeless.”

Among the things that make love so critically important is that selfless love and self-esteem travel together. Whenever we are robbed of love, self-esteem is mugged. To understand, let’s consider verbal abuse. Verbal putdowns might seem mild compared with sex abuse but if they can result in life-long devastation, it highlights how long the damaging effects of past sex abuse can linger.

The greatest tragedy of being subjected to verbal abuse as a child is that even when victims eventually grow up and leave the people who used to put them down, they typically continue through life verbally abusing themselves and putting themselves down and perpetuating their crushed self-esteem. Abusing themselves becomes an addiction that they desperately need to break and yet this is frustratingly hard to do. Abuse has become a way of life for them and they have come to believe the lie that they deserve it. So it is with sex abuse. After the abuser leaves, victims need to break the cycle or they will keep abusing and degrading themselves, through subjecting themselves to porn or masturbation or illicit sex.

Self-loathing follows selfishness, like pain follows a beating. This holds true regardless of whether we are the victims or the perpetrators of selfishness.

What keeps many from soaring above the moral squalor in which they wallow is that they mistakenly think they have nothing to lose. They fall for the lie – often deliberately reinforced by their abuser – that they are already in humanity’s gutter, the lowest of the low, shattered beyond repair, defiled, despised and destroyed. Imagining that no one believes in them and that they are trash, they conclude that it is therefore appropriate to treat themselves as trash and even pretend to like it. But someone does believe in them, and it isn’t just someone, but the King of glory, the Lord of heaven, the God of the impossible. The holy, love-struck one who sees astonishing potential in them is the ultimate rescuer and restorer, whose tender kiss transforms slimy toads trapped in a sewer; turning them into regal beings admired by all of heaven.

This is no fairy tale; it is as real as the blood, sweat and tears of the eternal Son of God whose tortured frame writhed on the cross for you. The implications are stupendous and life-changing. The Holy One traded places with you, suffering the ultimate humiliation so that you could enjoy the ultimate exultation. Then, on your behalf, he burst through the grave so that his glorious destiny could be your destiny.

No matter how defiled, rejected and hopeless you feel, you have a secret lover, completely different from anyone you have ever known. There is someone who believes in you; someone who yearns to give and not take. He not only spends his life on you and gives all that he has, he has no needs of his own. He will never defile or exploit you. He is perfect for you. He is heavenly. He is divine. No matter what anyone else thinks or has told you, the exalted Lord of the universe, the Judge of all humanity, counts you worthy.

It is agonizingly hard for many of us to realize that we can be treasured and loved for who we are, not merely for what we do. As unbelievable as it might seem, however, this is precisely how God sees you and he is always right.

One sex addict, who even went to the extreme of unsuccessfully trying to seduce me, her counselor, said that succeeding in seduction gives her a feeling of power. In other words, it gives her the temporary high of boosting low self-esteem.

To be a sex abuse victim – to be forced to have sex against one’s will – is to be rendered powerless. To seduce or force someone else to have sex might seem like turning the tables but it is actually giving abusers the ultimate compliment of elevating them into role models – an honor they by no means deserve. It is actually turning victims into predators. In contrast, God’s way is to turn victims into victors.

* Learned Helplessness

While discussing self-esteem and powerlessness, it is appropriate to raise the issue of what is sometimes called Learned Helplessness. By overpowering their victims, abusers subject them to situations where, no matter how determined victims are to avoid sex, resistance is useless. Repeated exposure to such situations, not only crushes self-esteem, but produces a psychological blockage to resisting sexual pressure. Put simply: after a series of unavoidable defeats, the tendency grows formidably strong to give up without even trying to resist, even when changed circumstances makes breaking free easy. A link at the end of this page explores this.

* Masking the Pain

Another factor that can cause abuse survivors to become addicted to sex is that they use sexual highs to mask the pain, just like some use chemical highs. The problem is that highs fizzle into downers that feel so bad that the downers end up intensifying the need for yet another high to counteract the empty, defeated, feeling of having given in to the addiction – and so the noose of addiction tightens even more.

Such highs are hollow. They pump us up but leave us empty and before long we are deflated again. They are a mirage that never satisfies; promising so much and delivering only disappointment and empty craving. They temporarily distract but never bring healing.

I am not fooled by those who claim to enjoy the horror of being trapped in an endless spin cycle of highs and lows. Years ago, when the dangers of tobacco smoking were less well publicized, psychologists asked smokers to complete a questionnaire about how much they enjoyed smoking, after which it was vividly explained to them how hazardous to health smoking is. Those who kept on smoking were retested. After becoming so aware of the dangers and yet finding themselves still smoking, they claimed to enjoy smoking more than they indicated in their first test. Those who feign enjoyment are just as much the objects of divine pity as the rest of us.

Despite all the false hope they offer, illicit drugs leave a person in a worse state than before. So it is with sexual highs. They are not merely hollow, they hollow out a person, leaving their victims more pathetic and needy than ever.

Genuine love, on the other hand, builds up. It has substance. It heals. Moreover, it not merely makes you feel better, it makes you a better person. We were created not for short-lived sexual thrills but for selfless, unconditional love. Love gives; lust takes. Love empowers; lust enslaves. Love perfects; lust ruins. Love purifies; lust defiles. Love exalts; lust degrades. Love is divine; lust is demonic.

We are discussing different factors in sex addiction but this basic human need for unconditional love and acceptance is one that we will keep finding ourselves having to return to. I beg you not to despair, however. No matter how spurned and repulsive you might feel, the love you so urgently need is surprisingly available and we will explore this before long.

To anyone enslaved by sexual highs and lows, the merest mention of genuine love can be like tormenting a starving man with the smell of food he is prevented from tasting. The stubborn fact remains, however: as fish were made for water, we were made for an ocean of unconditional, God-sized love. And to be deprived of it drives us nearly insane.

Two psychologists, Dr. R. Earle and Dr G. Crow, wrote a book about sex addiction. Poignantly, they titled the book, Lonely all the time . In it, they wrote, “Believe it or not, the driving force behind most sex addicts’ compulsion is a desperate need for love.”

Every child has a compelling need for non-sexual hugs and parental love and approval. An ancient proverb has disturbing implications for any child starved of such love: “. . .  to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7). People deprived of genuine love during their critical developmental years are not only highly vulnerable and a prime target for predators when they are children but, unless they find healing, they are likely to carry throughout their adult years that gnawing ache inside that makes them vulnerable.

* Addicted to Being Abused

Over many years, I kept meeting more and more sex abuse survivors who have made relationship choices ranging from poor and unwise to atrocious and dangerous.

I quickly identified low self-esteem as a significant factor. Desperate to feel ‘loved’ and ‘normal,’ combined with believing they are unworthy of anyone who would treat them with respect, kindness and gentleness, made them willing to settle for abusive relationships.

I recognized also the tendency for people to be drawn to others who have points of similarly and when that similarity is such things as childhood trauma, the result can be undesirable. Yes, such couples might understand each other a little better, but putting together two people with serious issues can multiply relationship difficulties.

I was also aware of the strong tendency of daughters of alcoholics to end up marrying alcoholics, even when they had been adamant never to do such a thing. A big factor is probably false guilt over not having saved their father from drink or reforming him and, with this unresolved, they grasped the vain hope of overcoming their distorted sense of failure by seeking to reform another man. It is just a guess, but perhaps something similar sometimes happens when fathers are abusive. In any case, it is not uncommon for alcoholics to be abusive.

There is another factor in abuse survivors making disastrous relationship choices, however. I confess that it is so foreign to my own thinking and to most people’s attitude to sex that I have underrated its power.

Pedophiles typically target love-starved and attention-starved children and often they use the word love. They can be cruel and heartless and inflict pain. They might also succeed in inducing orgasm in their victims, which by its very nature is highly pleasurable. Repeated exposure to this perverse combination can cause such confusion that love, sexual pleasure and suffering pain and cruelty become powerfully interconnected in the victim’s mind. Some, for example, find themselves unable to feel ‘loved’ or to feel sexual arousal unless they are verbally abused and/or physically hurt. They find a beautiful, loving relationship unsatisfying and end up addicted to sex perverted by physical and/or emotional abuse.

This might seem incomprehensible to people who have never been repeatedly subjected to a combination of abuse and orgasm, but have you heard of Pavlov’s dogs? Knowing that hungry dogs salivate when given food, Pavlov rang a bell before giving them food. After repeating this a few times, the mere sound of the bell caused them to salivate, even if it were not followed by food.

This phenomenon, known as conditioning, has been confirmed by innumerable scientific experiments, using a vast number of variations. One variation particularly relevant to this discussion involved monitoring men’s sexual arousal while showing them photos of landscapes, randomly interspersed with occasional erotic photos. To this were added photos of shoes, shown just before each erotic photo. Before long, the shoe photos themselves sexually aroused the men, thus proving that sessions of combining sexual arousing with X can result in X itself becoming sexually arousing, even when X had not previously been arousing.

* Multiple Personalities?

I have briefly referred to multiple personalities – also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.). Many people – perhaps most – who have it do not even realize it. If you will bear with me for a few sentences you will begin to see why I must raise the matter.

Multiple Personalities is caused by childhood trauma – especially when it is ongoing and the child feels compelled to cope with it without parental support, either because the parents contribute to the trauma or because the victims have been terrorized into keeping it secret. What makes this so relevant to our discussion is that being sexually abused is the most common source of this trauma. Moreover, whenever Dissociative Identity Disorder occurs, it becomes a significant factor in addiction; perhaps not in directly causing it but in making the addiction particularly perplexing and resistant to strenuous efforts to break free.

Multiple Personalities can seem scary but what is really scary is not the disorder itself, but the consequences of refusing to admit to oneself that one has it, and thereby perpetuating it, instead of healing.

Although I am about to mention the most unsettling possibilities about Dissociative Identity Disorder, please be comforted by the assurance that not only do they not apply to everyone with D.I.D., they will end when the key parts of a person (sometimes called alters) are discovered, befriended and introduced to Jesus.

Until then, D.I.D. can, for some people, render battling certain temptations almost impossibly difficult. Once these connections with alters occur, however, having Dissociative Identity Disorder suddenly becomes an asset in fighting temptation – an advantage that average people can only dream about.

It is possible for an alter to have a craving or even an addiction that undermines or even ruins a person’s life, and despite the rest of the person being determined not to cave in to the pressure, this alter could be equally determined to do it behind the person’s back. For example, I have had many email exchanges with a devoted Christian, highly committed to her marriage, whose ignorance of one of her alters led her to devastate her husband and herself by committing adultery. Her loving husband and her other parts were fully aware that she had D.I.D. but they decided to “protect” her from this information, feeling confident that it was safe to keep her ignorant. Unknown to all of them, another part, acting totally differently and independently from the rest of them, was having sex with a man who was boarding with her family. The first any of the rest of them knew of it was when she found herself pregnant and the man confessed.

I know of several other devout women, each of whom was having an affair or even more physically dangerous sexual liaisons for years, until eventually discovering the shattering truth. There are all sorts of scenarios in which this can occur. Just one example is someone having a superficial similarity to a former abuser, causing an alter to be accidentally triggered into believing she is a helpless little girl trapped in an abuse situation where she has no choice but to offer sexual favors. It is very possible for the alters who are usually active in the marriage to detest sex but for an unknown alter to crave sex, resulting in a double-whammy for the long-suffering husband when the horrifying secret eventually unravels.

I know a woman who feels exceptionally protective toward children and surrounds herself with them. She has alters who not only suffered child abuse but hate it so intensely that they are adamant they would kill themselves rather than sexually interfere with a child. Nevertheless, for years this dear woman had no idea that she had certain alters who lusted after little children. In contrast to her other alters, these alters had been trained by her abusers not only to be convinced that molesting little children is the right thing to do but that by doing this they were actually helping the children. Persuading these confused alters that molesting children is illegal and wrong proved frustratingly difficult.

When alters are befriended, however, Dissociative Identity Disorder not only ceases to be a disadvantage, it becomes a significant spiritual advantage.

In the past, while trying to keep secrets from each other or to dull horrific pain, some alters develop techniques that, when applied to temptation, can lessen its intensity, similar to dulling pain, or some can cause people to more or less forget the temptation. Not everyone has an alter with such a gift, but it is not uncommon for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder to eventually discover one.

In any case, alters are able to team up and support each other. Temptation is deception. The deceiver might sometimes be able to fool some alters but to trick them all at the same time is much less likely. When an alter is nearly overwhelmed by temptation, there will probably be another alter who is less affected and that alter can intervene in any of a number of ways, such as praying, distracting, physically moving the source of the temptation, and so on.

What precipitates this breakthrough is the person, instead of despising his/her parts that have caused him/her so much grief, loving them into the kingdom of God by showing them Christlike love and patience.

* Demons?

If evil spiritual entities target anyone, it would seem logical to expect sexual predators to be prime candidates. We might also guess that such beings would enjoy contributing to abuse victims becoming enslaved by degrading habits.

We might be tempted to put demons in the same category as little green men from Mars. Even so, how can anyone believe in the existence of any non-physical intelligence –be it God or whatever – and then look at this messed-up world and proclaim there could not possibly be any spiritual beings that are evil?

Despite being less powerful than God and ultimately they are losers, God has spiritual enemies who seek to influence us. And since they are not the good Lord, they play dirty, which includes using deception, fear, threats and addictions to ensnare us.

Every Christian has power over demons and has no reason to fear them but when they attack it is hard to win if we refuse to acknowledge that they are the source of our problems. As I have written:

    Humanists imagine they have suddenly become incredibly smart, being able to discern physical and psychological reasons for phenomena. They have actually become incredibly thick, being able to see nothing but the blatantly obvious. The Apostle Paul’s words stick with appalling accuracy: “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Don’t catch their blindness.

    The presence of obvious physical reasons for our problems does not reduce the likelihood that they are shots fired from the spirit world. Paul faced enough natural dangers to seize anyone’s attention – wild seas, infected wounds, bandits – yet he focused on spiritual battle.

    Though he regularly bled at the hands of human opponents, Paul insisted that our fight is not with people but with spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:12). His gospel threatened the livelihood, pride and traditions of thousands. Wherever he looked, human reasons for his struggle glared at him. Yet he saw the human component of his conflict as inconsequential. Either the apostle was a fruit loop or we clash with the non-physical realm more than most of us suppose.

Although it is by no means the only circumstances in which demons can be involved, some pedophiles deliberately send demons into children as a means of controlling their victims. I know Christians whose sexual addiction had a definite demonic element, and it was not until they became aware of it, and accordingly changed their approach to dealing with it, that they broke free. For more, see the Imaginary Friends link under the Power Over Demons heading at the end of this webpage.

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Finding Love

The tragic reality is that modern society is crowded with people of enormous potential reduced to tormented sex junkies who are literally looking for love in all the wrong places.

During our exploration of many possible ways that having suffered sexual abuse can cause or compound sex addiction, we kept finding more and more evidence that as deserts need water, sex addicts need love. Addicts desperately need not the empty promise of self-seeking lust but the real thing; not another meaningless high followed by the inevitable low, but unselfish, unending love and understanding. They have it in Christ, and in everyone who is Christlike. Anyone claiming to be Christlike who does not love these dear people is misguided.

I trained as a psychologist but I left it behind, as a child grows out of toys, because there is more power in Jesus than psychology can ever tap in to.

Jesus’ love for sex addicts is not some curious tidbit of historical trivia; it is intensely personal and profoundly significant for every Twenty-First Century person with sexual issues. Nevertheless, to encounter the powerful reality of Jesus’ love, we must start somewhere, and human history is as good a place as any, because history is about real people, and God’s love is a reality that impacts people.

The Gospel records are crammed with proof of God’s love for the sexually immoral.

Despite being exhausted (John 4:6), the Son of God took time out to speak with a Samaritan woman. I’m told that, to First Century Jews, it was considered contemptible for a respectable man either to talk with a Samaritan or to have a private conversation with a woman he was not related to. Jesus was doing both. Not only that, Jesus knew she had such sexual issues that she had had five husbands and was currently living with yet another man. We can only guess how many other men she had had even less permanent sexual liaisons with. It seems that even among other women in her own village she was ostracized because she was there alone, drawing water in the middle of the day, not in the hours when women normally visited the well and chatted together. Yet Jesus spoke deeply with this outcast whose pain, rejection and moral defeat kept compounding year after year after year. Not only that, he conversed with her in a manner as significant as his conversation with Nicodemus, the theologian (John 3).

Another time, our holy Savior interrupted a meal to defend – indeed to praise – another woman despised for “her many sins” (Luke 7:40), whose tears had dampened his feet.

Then there’s the time when Jesus stood between an adulterous woman and religious thugs armed with rocks and a lust for blood (John 8:3-11).

Mary Magdalene had a special place in Jesus’ inner circle. Should I speculate as to the source of the seven demons that Jesus delivered her from (Luke 8:1-2)?

I could go on about the Son of God’s compassion for those depraved and enslaved by sin, but need I?

There is more ground to cover but I should not leave these examples without at least touching on the some of the implications of Jesus’ soft heart toward these people. In stark contrast to his tender compassion toward those whom ‘respectable’ people sneered at, Jesus blasted those who did the sneering. For any of us to look down on others, renders us self-righteous hypocrites whose hardness of heart and blindness to our own sin makes our salvation terrifyingly unlikely.

Looking the adulterous woman’s accusers in the eye, Jesus “straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,’ (John 8:7). Remember that the Ten Commandments outlaws not just murder and adultery but coveting anyone’s wife (Exodus 20:17) and Jesus emphasized that lust is as morally reprehensible as adultery (Matthew 5:28). Whereas to be heartbroken over one’s sin is to fall into God’s mercy, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” (Matthew 7:1) means that to consider oneself less worthy of hell than those we view as morally depraved is to expose oneself to the wrath of God.

When contrasting the remorse-filled tax collector with the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the morally decadent, Jesus uttered the chilling words that only the tax collector “went home justified before God,”(Luke 18:14). Yes, justified is the same Greek term the Bible uses over and over for the act of God necessary for anyone to be saved from hell.

And don’t miss Jesus’ praise of the woman who ‘good’ people considered to be lowlife. Because the woman sobbing at his feet recognized the appalling extent of her sin, Jesus said she loved God more than those who considered their sins to be less grievous (Luke 7:40-47). Let the implications shock you by recalling how critically important Jesus said it is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:28-30).

Note also Scripture’s record of the evangelistic success of the woman at the well (John 4:28-30, 39-42). There’s no mention of Nicodemus, the elite spiritual leader, having such an impact after his encounter with Jesus.

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Breaking Free

We all stand in desperate need of God’s mercy. Sex addicts are no more wicked than anyone else. In fact, most abuse survivors become addicts through no fault of their own, like someone hooked on drugs since childhood, because a drug pusher tricked him into thinking hard drugs were candy. Even if becoming an addict were completely our fault, however, it would make no difference because Jesus took all the blame upon himself, making us totally blameless. Neither is it our fault that breaking free from an addiction feels impossibly difficult. That’s just the nature of addiction.

Whatever our personal weaknesses, however, we should not let our weaknesses shame us and the glorious Lord who sacrificed his all for us. Instead, we must bring honor to our mighty Savior and to ourselves by fighting temptation with all the power that is ours because of Christ.

It’s now time to raise matters of such importance that I have devoted entire webpages to them. I will limit myself here to brief quotes to introduce you to these issues.

It’s common to ask, “If Almighty God loves me, why doesn’t he take from me my craving for sin?” Here’s the reason: because God is good.

To be good is to be selfless. It is to live not to feel good but to be good. It is to want what is good so passionately that one is willing to sacrifice every longing, no matter how intense, in order to do what is good. And to be good is to want the best for everyone else, which involves wanting everyone to be good, not because they are forced to be good, or have no cozy alternative to doing what is right, but because they are good, which means wanting more than anything else in the universe to do what is right.

Grasp that and you will understand who God is and why he yearns for you to be like him. Stopping a particular sin just because you no longer desire it, does not make you good. You could do that while being as self-serving as the devil himself. Moreover, to do what is right merely because you have no cravings for anything else, not only does not make you Christlike, it exposes you to the terrifyingly dangerous delusion of smugly presuming that God approves, when your heart could actually be the very opposite of God’s.

We are not to “hunger and thirst” for the smug satisfaction of breaking an addiction that is becoming an inconvenience. Rather, we are to “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” (Matthew 5:6 – emphasis mine).

God’s Word alludes to being trained in righteousness (Scriptures). As pushing through the pain barrier trains athletes, so battling cravings trains us in righteousness. Training to be a champion is not meant to be easy. Neither is training in righteousness. In Gethsemane, our Role Model’s sweat dripped like blood as he agonized over surrendering to God’s will. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered,” (Hebrews 5:8). We are told not to find some comfy alternative to what it cost the holy Son of God, but to take up our cross and follow him.

Yes, God can, and sometimes does, eliminate a certain craving someone has, but it achieves little. God could likewise grant a couch potato the title of champion by eliminating all the competition, but the result would be meaningless. Christlikeness without facing the pain of sacrifice is just as ridiculous. You are not called to be a fake hero. You are called to be the real thing.

Satan is a sore loser. Once he finds something that shakes us up he keeps trying it over and over relentlessly until he is absolutely convinced that his tactics will never again work with you. When, finally, he seems to leave, it is only to bide his time for a surprise attack. His persistence is so very unpleasant. The positive side, however, is that this will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting his lies.

One of the most important things is to focus on God’s great love for you and not let deceptive spirits trick you into thinking that God frowns on you when you fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child with good parents falls, what’s the first thing he does? He runs to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, can run to Daddy. God is on your side. He cares deeply for you. Your spiritual enemies, however, want to make you feel uneasy about running to God. They know we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and we will keep that person at arms’ length. Your enemies want you to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver you and defeat their attempts to bring you down. They don’t want you to rejoice in God’s forgiveness but to feel miserable and isolated from the warmth of God’s comfort.

Regardless of how you think of yourself, the holy Lord sees you as forgivable because Jesus, the Innocent One, willingly took all the blame upon himself for every unholy thing that has ever occurred in your life, from the most horrific, down to the tiniest moral slips. He swapped places with you so that he could suffer for your guilt and you could be honored with his innocence.

Godly humility flows not from thinking lowly of oneself but from seeing things through God’s eyes. Pride is having the audacity to disagree with God. It is saying I know more than the God of the universe; my puny intellect knows better than the Almighty; the God of truth is wrong and I am right.

Since the God of love sees you as lovable, and true humility involves taking God’s assessment of everything as gospel, humility requires you to see yourself as lovable. If God sees you through eyes of love, how dare you see yourself in a different light, as if your perspective is right and your Creator and Savior is wrong? If God forgives you, to refuse to forgive yourself is to have the audacity to imply that you have higher moral standards than the Judge of all the earth; that you are holier than the Holy Lord. Isn’t that the very pinnacle of pride? Please avoid this deadly trap.

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Bringing this Together

I expect you to find this, the final section, valuable. It will consolidate and reinforce what you have so far learned, and build on matters hinted at. Should you grow impatient, however, you can go straight to the links at the end of this page.

A highly regarded, but not particularly modern, dictionary of English defined masturbation as self-abuse. Sex addiction is a tragic form of sex abuse in which the offender is also the victim. Anyone trapped in it not only deserves compassion but the assurance that there is a way out.

The heart-breaking reality is that for years – even decades after their abusers have stopped hurting them – survivors of child abuse frequently perpetuate the abuse they received as children. In a sad, desperate effort to find the peace and comfort they deserve, hurting people – especially abuse survivors – often turn to inappropriate sexual highs, not realizing that by so doing they end up wounding themselves over and over, and sabotaging their healing.

To have sex with someone – or even to fantasize about it, especially if associated with deep arousal – is almost to sell your soul to the person. For sexual highs to be severed from a deeply personal, life-long union, is as damaging as separating an infant from its loving parents. In one form or another, vast numbers of us find ourselves enslaved by some aspect of depersonalized sex that corrodes our dignity and sense of self-worth.

Many of us find ourselves trapped in a guilt cycle, feeling compelled to find some sort of sexual high to comfort ourselves and dull the lonely, icy pain of guilt. But as soon as we come crashing down from the fleeting high, the devastating guilt returns, having been inflamed more than ever by the last high. This vicious circle sends us plummeting downwards in an out-of-control tailspin. As impossible as it seems, however, we can be freed from the death-grip of sex addiction.

Sex addicts and/or sex abuse survivors feel they have been cheapened and so are tempted to act cheap. The exciting reality, however, is that no matter what your past, you are of infinite value. This is certain because the majestic Lord of the universe paid what cost him far beyond the combined wealth of a thousand galaxies – the willing death of his irreplaceable Son – just to be your best friend. On the cross, the exquisitely pure Innocent One swapped places with you. He took upon himself your depravity – and suffered the full, terrifying consequences – so that you could be adorned with the perfection of his holiness, and enjoy the eternal honor that accompanies this status.

This staggering truth is taught throughout the Bible. Here’s my favorite summary:

    2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The mind-boggling consequence of this divine exchange is that the instant you surrender to the power of Christ’s forgiveness, you become in God’s all-seeing eyes as pure as crystal, as holy as God himself. The Judge of all humanity – the One before whom every human must one fateful day stand exposed to give full account – pronounces you innocent and would defend your innocence to the death. In fact, defending you to the death is exactly what your crucified Lord has done.

The moment you yield to Christ, you gleam in heaven’s eyes with a purity so dazzling that it is way beyond what any virgin could enjoy who does not have spiritual oneness with the holy Son of God. Having restored you to pristine innocence, the Lord instantly exalts you to the status of divine royalty, making you a treasured child of the glorious King of kings, destined to reign on heaven’s throne for all eternity.

Someone could hand you a check for a hundred million dollars and you pocket it, thinking it is fake and continue to live in poverty. Tragically, many Christians are like that. Christ has given us more than we can get our head around but because it seems far too good to be true, we hardly believe a fraction of it and continue to live in spiritual poverty. For us to be freed, we must believe that we truly are spotless virgins in God’s piercing eyes, and crowned with eternal dignity.

Our self-image is far more critical than most of us realize. We use it to plot our course through life. If our self-image is faulty, we will never reach the heights we were born for because we will be wrongly convinced that we will never get there.

I have found that people who are enslaved to depravity are usually those who cannot forgive themselves. They cannot rise from the mud because they see themselves belonging in the mud. And those who cannot forgive themselves are the very ones who cannot believe that God has forgiven them and cannot forgive those who have hurt them.

The three types of forgiveness – believing in God’s forgiveness, forgiving oneself, and forgiving other people – move together. If just one of the three keeps you down, it will hold back progress with the others. If we treat someone else as unforgivable, it is little wonder that we end up worrying if we ourselves are unforgivable. The way we treat others boomerangs back to us. So do your best to work simultaneously on all three types of forgiveness. Even a little progress on one front will help inch forward the other types of forgiveness.

Sex is highly addictive because it is divinely designed to cause a man and woman to be addicted to each other for their entire lives.

Nevertheless, when Jesus is in our life, freedom is always open to us, no matter how impossible it feels. In fact, it is our spiritual birthright. This does not mean it will be effortless, however. Although God can, and sometimes does, instantly and painlessly remove an addiction, to do so produces spiritual weaklings. A link at the end of this webpage explains powerful reasons why God in his love and wisdom usually opts for us to endure a character-building battle with strong temptation.

We will get nowhere sitting around wishing that breaking an addiction were painless. We must so strongly want to be free that we are willing to endure whatever pain it takes; knowing that the relatively short-lived withdrawal pains are nothing, relative to the pain and consequences of lifelong slavery.

Every addict is tempted to think that another high will lessen the craving but the cold reality is that, despite the initial feeling of relief, each fix ends up inflaming the craving and deepening the addiction. Whether it be an addiction to self-harm or to abuse God’s gift of sex, the suffering it brings is like a drunk enduring hangovers and humiliation, losing his job, his house, his family and his dignity, in order to enjoy the “happiness” that alcohol brings.

A final complicating factor is that whether you think of it as your subconscious, your inner child, suppressed memories, or something else, there could be a buried part of you that, in ways you are hardly aware of, is feeding a sexual addiction or hindering your efforts to break free. If these parts of you receive understanding, comfort and healing, you will be more empowered to fight the addiction because every part of you will be working toward the same goal.

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It is highly understandable that hurting people end up in a destructive downward spiral of self-inflicted sexual abuse. Having briefly examined many factors contributing to this, you now have a raft of ways of reducing the pressure to self-destruct and regain the dignity and fulfillment you deserve. Each factor is treated in greater depth in the links below.

To burst free, you do not necessarily have to address every issue mentioned but my goal in exposing these often hidden factors is to spare you the frustration and bewilderment of having to fight invisible enemies. Or think of it as if you were uprooting a bush. If you are strong enough, you might be able tear it out of the ground immediately. If it refuses to budge, however, you will have more success if you first loosen at least some of the roots.

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The following is from a dear friend who had tried over and over and over year after year to break her sex addiction and failed. In her case, what had held her back was undiagnosed Dissociative Identity Disorder (see links below). That might not apply to you but she is free now, and what she has written is very applicable:

    For you to grasp what I am about to say, I must explain who my God is. He is the One True King; the universe-spinning, truth-making, all-knowing God of the universe. There is nothing he cannot do; nothing he does not anticipate; no super-villain he has not already brought low. There is more power in the pinky of one of his servants than there is in the whole world. If he says anything is right, it is truly right. Any who would gainsay him, haven’t a leg to stand on. So they easily fall.

    I am a child of this One True King. He gave me life. He is my Daddy. It is this that makes me valuable and worthy of honor. Anyone who would say otherwise is either deceived or is knowingly lying and deserves punishment for slandering the person God has made me to be.

    There was a time, however, when I listened to those liars. I took this body that my Daddy made for me and prostituted it. I took my soul and sold it to the dark side. I stood face to face and toe to toe with my Daddy’s enemies and joined their side. Yes, I willingly gave myself to demons and flaunted it in Daddy’s face. But not even this could decrease my value; just as a diamond surrounded by dirt does not decrease in value.

    I took the enemies’ side for so long that I thought that what they said about me was true. They said I was dirt and that the only way to get stronger and gain value was to sell myself to others. They forced me to have sex daily. They told me that that is all I was made for. I believed that lie. They told me that I enjoyed it. I believed that lie. They told me that I made men into gods when I had sex with them. I believed that lie. They told me that I liked it when they inflicted pain on me while raping me. I believed all of their lies.

    But this story expands much farther. There are so many people who think themselves to be worthless whores and think themselves empowered because of what they force others to do. Millions believe such lies. It is the work of my Daddy’s enemy, who lost his bid for godhood. Being a sore loser, he attempts to drag millions of people with him on his way out.

    He knows how much my Daddy delights in me, and to get back at Daddy he dehumanized me. He did this by telling me lies and by forcing me into situations that made those lies seem true. But they remain lies, and I am living proof of this.

    Since I started fighting the lies, I have found power that makes demons flee. I have discovered the truth that I am more than a conqueror. There is no battle I do not win; whether it be a battle for control over sexual impulses or a battle against self-harm. No, more than that, in all of these battlefields I have bloomed. Where there was once nothing but destruction and strife, innocence and beauty have blossomed. Where once there was a bid for false power, true power has risen. I am no longer defined by my desires. I have moved beyond merely hoping to get better. Instead, I am enjoying right now what God has made me to be.

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Much More Help

Sadly, many people’s articles disappoint by offering little beyond pat answers or superficial help. Determined to serve you better, I have poured my life into providing you with all the encouragement and support I possibly can. The following will take you to relevant webpages and they lead to even more links in my quest to meet your deepest needs.

Exploring links to links is rewarding but, in a website so vast, finding one’s way back to this invaluable list is difficult. So I urge you to save the web address of this webpage before commencing this adventure.

Exclusively Related to Sex Addition

Healing from Sex AbuseWhen Sex Abuse is Mixed PleasureMultiple PersonalitiesThe Hidden Dangers of Porn & Masturbation LonelinessWhat’s Wrong with Sex Outside Marriage? Vital Help with all Types of AddictionsPower Over DemonsWhy an Easy End to Addiction Keeps Us Weak Reveling in the Immensity of God’s Love You Forgiving Yourself Being Kind to Yourself Boosting Self-EsteemFinding Peace and ContentmentLearned Helplessness Self-Harm



Addicted to Unhealthy Sex?



Grantley Morris