What sexual brokenness looks like for Christians

Statistics on Pornography in the Home

  • On average children are first exposed to Internet pornography at age 11 (or younger)
  • 67% of those who go to porn sites are between 12-25 years of age (almost identical for evangelical kids)
  • 90% of 8-16 year-olds have viewed Internet porn
  • 66% of men (20-30’s) are regular netporn users
  • 50% of all Christian men are addicted to porn
  • 34% of Christian women have intentionally accessed Internet porn
  • 56% of all divorces are a result of porn; 68% of all divorces are a result of one party meeting a lover online; Porn use increases the risk of marital infidelity by 300%
  • 96% of teens have Internet access; 50% or more of teens have Internet access through a handheld device (phone, Kindle, etc.) instead of home computer or laptop; Number of parents who didn’t know their teens had accessed Internet porn: 62%

Lonely marriages

These are marriages where one or both spouses are emotionally or sexually incompatible, selfish or broken due to unresolved childhood pain.

Pornography

This can be anything from soft-core to hard-core: movies, Internet, phone, magazines or digital.

Affairs

Obviously even one affair is catastrophic for a marriage, but a pattern of affairs or encounters indicates the presence of a sexual addiction.

Flirtatious behavior

This can be any type of revealing clothing (especially for women but also men) that stimulates sexual arousal in someone else (and, no, it’s not just the onlooker’s issue); any touching, hugging, etc, of another person that sends a confusing signal—especially if it makes your spouse uncomfortable or jealous (even if it seems harmless or innocent to you); any talking, friendliness, “helpfulness”, boundary crossing or charm that goes too far (again, this can all be seductive whether it is conscious or not).

Constant sexual thoughts

Although this may be natural (especially for men) it can still indicate a problem. This is especially true if the sexual thoughts are a way of escaping painful situations, difficult emotions, responsibilities or stress. If the sexual thoughts impair normal living or detract from a healthy married sex life a problem is certainly present.

Compulsive masturbation

This is masturbation that is habitual and almost always accompanied by pornography or elaborate sexual fantasies. It can be as often as multiple times per day to the point of injury or only a few times per month. From a marital perspective even infrequent masturbation is problematic because it detracts from the marital exclusivity of sex (versus solo sex). For singles masturbation creates and sustains issues of porn, fantasy, the ongoing conditioning of sexual selfishness and quick release (none of which are helpful training should that person marry) and a host of other problems. Contrary to popular belief masturbation is not “necessary” for men. If not released in sex the regular production of sperm is released back into the body or through a nocturnal emission (“wet dream”).

Unwanted homosexuality

Though our culture, media, medical and legal establishments are all increasingly declaring that homosexuality is inborn, unchangeable and healthy the Judeo-Christian worldview has always disagreed. This is based on a clear reading of Scripture, a plain understanding of male/female anatomy and the undeniable fact that only men and women can procreate naturally. There is also a high degree of distress within the gay community (alcohol abuse, substance abuse, partner abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV rates, psychiatric distress and early death) that is usually blamed on rejection by the “straight” community. Yet these problems are greatest in cities and countries where gay rights and gay marriage are the most accepted. Clearly there is something wrong with homosexuality itself. Having said this we still believe that homosexual persons are deserving of respect and that hatred or contempt directed against them is never justified. We also believe that those with unwanted homosexuality have every right to seek healing in this area of their lives without being bullied or they and their supporters being criminalized.

Revolving door relationships

Whether a pattern of deep emotional enmeshment without sexual involvement (such as emotional affairs), “falling in love” with one person after another, repeated “hook-ups”, serial live-in relationships or numerous marriages and divorces—we believe each of these is damaging to the people involved. These patterns may be normal in our culture (and increasingly normal among Christians) but they demonstrate instability, a lack of self-formation and desperation. Christ wants us to find wholeness in him, deep same-sex friendships (though non-erotic) and, for most of us, with a life-long marriage partner.

Gender confusion

In reality, every adolescent and adult deals with a degree of gender confusion. We are all trying to figure out what a “real” man or woman is and how to be one. It is a life-long journey. All of us have embraced stereotypes and cultural norms to some degree. You find these caricatures on the conservative right and on the wild, transgender left. Our Creator can show us what gender looks like in all its glory if we want to know. Christ, Scripture and healthy Christ-followers are able to help us in this crucial task.

Sexual addiction

This is a broad term that includes everything from out-of-control masturbation and fantasy to porn, affairs, fetishes, deviant behavior, rape, pedophilia or illegal activity of a sexual nature. The behavior may be completely accepted by everyone (even Christians) or be held in the greatest of contempt (even by non-Christians) but it will be life-dominating, intimacy-destroying and shame-producing. Continued acting out of the sex addiction alters the personality, belief system, core relationships and even neurological (brain) functioning of the person. Change cannot occur without outside intervention.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse (especially in childhood) warps a person’s entire understanding and experience of themselves and their sexuality. The abuse can range from inappropriate comments or stares to watching, touching, seduction/“kindness”; all the way to forcible rape or threats of death. The victim often sees her core self as bad, defective and damaged. They see their body and sexuality the same way. This doesn’t mean that everyone who has been sexually abused cannot function sexually or experience healing (in Christ they absolutely can!). It simply means that damage at this level is profound damage. The sexual brokenness of the adult survivor (who is unhealed) of sexual abuse falls into three categories: 1) sexually anorexic, 2) sexually compulsive/addictive, and 3) sexually neutral/passionless.

Self-hate

This is always present for the sexually broken Christian. It is also called self-loathing or shame. This shame is different from healthy shame or guilt. Healthy shame or guilt is a bad feeling about what I’ve done that leads to repentance. Unhealthy shame or self-hate is a bad feeling about what I am. It is the belief, deep in my core, that it is wrong for me to be alive. I am a mistake. It makes me want to run, hide, lie and cover myself because (in my mind) I am worthless. I am such a piece of trash that not even God could love me! This is self-hate.

Codependency

Most people don’t associate codependency with sexual brokenness. But it is because it is relational brokenness and relational brokenness always expresses itself in sexual brokenness. Codependency is an addiction to the approval of another person or persons. It is an attempt to manage, control, manipulate or direct another person all in the name of “love”. In reality the codependent is trying to shape the other into someone who is better able to love them. But nine times out of ten the codependent doesn’t know this consciously. The codependent can be aggressive and pushy or sweet, passive and “spiritual,” but each of these are ways of directing the other to the place they want them to go (or keeping them where they want them to stay).

Sexual anorexia

Like it sounds, sexual anorexia is to sex what anorexia nervosa is to food. It is the body and soul turning against a perfectly normal human longing or appetite. The sexual anorexic is not just uncomfortable with sex they are terrified of it, hateful toward it or completely disgusted by it. They see it as something absolutely bad, shameful or even demonic. They will have overt physical reactions at being touched (instant pulling away, revulsion, “crawling skin”, trembling, rage, etc.) or at the thought of being touched in an intimate way. Though sexual abuse is often in the past of a sexual anorexic, physical, verbal, emotional or spiritual abuse can do the same kind of damage. Extreme shaming about all things sexual and/or physical can also be an issue in the family upbringing of the sexual anorexic.

Inability to connect with others

Just because a Christian can be sexual or even social doesn’t mean they are truly relational. To be relational — to really connect—assumes they can do two things: 1) truly know themselves, and 2) share/risk that self with someone else. Obviously a person can have intercourse or brighten up a party without these two things being present. Some people have such difficulty connecting with others that normal conversation, peer relationships, problem solving and love relationships are near impossible. Some of these men and women are suffering from conditions like A.D.D., autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. But there are others who have been so wounded and have retreated so deeply into a self-protective shell that connection with others is extremely difficult. Being in relationship to a person like this is unbearably lonely (if you are their child or friend); and usually loveless and sexless if you are their spouse. Thankfully God works even in such painful circumstances as these.

Strange fetishes

Fetishes can run the full gamut from the well-known “foot fetish” to strange and bizarre fetishes involving certain kinds of pornography (from Japanese cartoon porn to incest porn). Cross-dressing (Transvestitism) is a common sexual fetish (whether attracted to the same or opposite gender). Being obsessed with certain body parts (sometimes called partialism) or with a certain sex act or scenario can sometimes be considered a fetish. Fetishes are objects, clothing or sexual situations that represent true intimate connections. Healing occurs when the valid, God-given need below the fetish is understood and brought to Christ, healthy married sexuality and/or intimate fellowship with other believers. Within this matrix reparenting has to happen (see Ps 27:10; 131:2-3; Isa 66:13).

Sexual/romantic feelings toward children

Pedophilia has been publicly condemned by all but the smallest minority (a subsection within the gay community, a small number of psychiatrists sympathetic to pedophilic “rights” and certain Muslim groups). More and more men and women are secretly venturing into the world of child porn and outright adult/child sex as a result of increasingly lax sexual mores (i.e. greater acceptance of every other kind of sexual deviance once considered unthinkable).

Still others drift into child porn as a result of using increasingly more violent or shocking types of online porn to get the same addictive “kick” that adult porn once supplied them (Eph 4:19 HCSB). Still a third type are Christians who do not act on such feelings as adults but find themselves stuck in a psycho-sexual rut. This “stuckness” is the result of being abandoned, abused or sexualized at a certian level of childhood development. Wherever this childhood development freezes (arrested development) they become subconsciously drawn to children or adolescents of that same age in a sexaulized/romanticized way.

Their longing for attachment to to that age group (6, 11 or 17 year-olds, for instance) is an attempt to reconnect with those they consider peers (regardless if the person is now thirty-five or fifty-five). There can also be a vicarious attempt to give to that other child or adolescent (through a romantic or sexual means) the love or nurture the adult was denied at that same age. All this is usually worked out at a subconsious level. Jesus Christ can (and certainly must) touch the unloved child within them and bring that inner child up to speed with the rest of the outer adult they have grown into. This is a lengthy, excruciating process that involves a retraining of the mind (1 Cor 4:20; 13:11; Rom 12:2) and an overall maturing of the emotional/developmental life (see Eph 4:14-15; Jer 4:22).