While not officially considered by many in the field of psychology as a disorder, sexual addiction is a very and real and disabling factor in our society. With the advent of the internet, pornography has contributed to the problem of sexual addiction. It’s estimated that over 40 million adults in the U.S. regularly visit porn sites on the Internet (blazinggrace.org/pornstatistics.htm). While both men and women use pornography, viewing pornography tends to predominantly be a male issue. You may be asking, what is wrong with pornography. Jeff Olson writes in “When A Man’s Eye Wanders” that it is detrimental to society through an increase in violence towards women, that it’s degrading to women; it damages marriages and ultimately is destructive to the viewer. Men who repeatedly look at sexually graphic images are so affected by what they see that they often only see females as sex objects. Instead of learning how to enjoy and enhance the mind and heart of a woman, they end up focusing on her body and fantasizing about how to exploit her physical beauty.
Jeff Olson has identified signs that men enslaved to pornography will identify with. One or more of the following statements are danger signs that a man may be adversely affected by their pornography use:
• I regularly seek out pornography
• I often spend parts of the day looking forward to viewing pornography
• I shift back and forth between feeling that my problem is out of control or under control
• I often compare my wife or girlfriend to the women in pornography
• I often choose to look at pornography rather than be sexually intimate with my wife
• I refuse to tell others about my secret problem
• I tell lies to cover my struggle
• Looking at pornography has led to serious problems in my life
A sexual pornographic addiction doesn’t develop overnight. It slowly sneaks up on a person, and there are multiple factors involved. People don’t just become addicted to X-rated material, rather they become addicted to what looking at it does for them. Pornography provides a personal payoff to the viewer as an easy escape. It provides false affirmation that somehow the images on the computer screen are admiring and desiring the viewer. It provides a sense of false adventure for the viewer that is out of touch with reality.
As mentioned, a sexual pornography addiction is enslaving to a person. Many sexual addicts genuinely desire to move away from this enslavement and into a life of freedom. Freedom can be achieved by first admitting your secret and confessing that you are enslaved to the use of pornography. The second step, once you have come to the point of admitting your sexual addiction is to wrestle with and understand the story of how you have come to the point of your addiction. Patterns of wrong behavior often point to a long history of a hurting and empty heart searching for life in all of the wrong places. Thinking through the shaping events in your own personal history can be a difficult task, but it will provide you with the chance to start challenging the truthfulness of what you’ve believed about yourself. People who regularly seek out pornography are often in a crisis of faith. These people may appear to put on a “good spiritual face”, however deep inside they are spiritually empty and need of a close relationship with God. Walking away from pornography isn’t easy. If you surrender to God and allow yourself to find the life that your creator meant for you to have, you will see there is an incentive to walk away from it- not only because it’s immoral and fake, but also because He has made you for a life that is so much better than what you have been settling for. Although the ongoing hassles and heartaches of life in an imperfect world can make it hard to believe, there is so much more that God has and wants for us. If you confess your sexual sin to God and walk away from porn, you can return to God, find your place in History, and begin to really live.
Once you turn away from the false world of pornographic images, you won’t find a God who is waiting to hammer you with shame and condemnation. God’s story is no ordinary story. And while playing your role can be risky and it will take some getting used to, engaging in what matters for eternity turns life into the meaningful adventure it truly is. You will begin to see that the freedom and life you have been searching for in all of the wrong places is found in an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ.
Fear is a very powerful emotion. With all of the recent terrorist activities in Boston and elsewhere many people are falling victim to fear. Many people struggle with debilitating fears and anxiety disorders ranging from generalized anxiety, panic attacks, to full blown phobias. These are the number one mental health problems in the United States affecting as many as 1 in 10 people and costing tens of billions of dollars in treatment and lost productivity. Everyone experiences fear in one form or another throughout life. In a world filled with danger and uncertainty one thing is certain, we cannot escape fear. So how are we to respond when you feel afraid?
Tim Jackson in his “When Fear Seems Overwhelming” takes a look at what the Bible teaches about the source of our fears, why we fear, how fear helps or harms us and how we can overcome debilitating fears that hinder healthy living. The Bible uses words like fear, afraid, terror, dread, anxious, tremble, shake and quake over 850 times to portray this core human emotion. Fear has an immediate and intense internal alarm system that alerts us to a presence of danger. Fear revs up our whole being-body, mind and emotions and rivets our focus on one primary goal: protection. It prepares us either to flee from or fight against the perceived danger. Anxiety is that pervasive feeling of apprehension that lingers long after the danger has subsided. This nagging feeling of dread uses a great deal of emotional energy worrying about future negative events that are both unpredictable and uncontrollable.
When destructive fear is entrenched in our lives we must remember that God is greater than all of our fears. He desires to empower us to dismantle and demolish fears strongholds in our lives. Life is never risk free, but freedom from overwhelming fear empowers us to enjoy all that God offers us in a fallen world.
Some steps to overcome crippling fears:
1. Face your fears. Don’t run from your fears, standing up to them and facing them head on is half the battle.
2. Learn from your fears. Does your fear drive you to rely on God as your Protector or on yourself?
3. Relinquish unhealthy fears. We often live in dread of giving up control and abandoning ourselves to God.
4. Cultivate healthy fears. There are some situations and some people we must simply learn to avoid because they are dangerous.
5. Move in spite of your fears. When we move in spite of our fears we will be able to live courageously and take risks, not foolish but faithful and reasonable risks that are based on the knowledge that the Lord is with us.”Do not be afraid” (Numbers 14:9).
To gain additional help in dealing with fear and anxiety through counseling, please go to Family Christian Counseling Center of Phoenix, http://familycccp.org/
Anger is one of the most basic of human emotions and has the potential for destroying lives. Tim Jackson, author of “When Anger Burns” writes, that anger is a hostile emotion that sets people against each other, or even against themselves. By its nature, anger involves antagonism. From a Christian perspective, Tim Jackson suggests the following to effectively deal with destructive anger.
Acknowledge Your Anger To God, don’t pretend that you don’t get angry. Call it what it is. Be honest with yourself, and then with God. He knows anyway. Pour out your heart to Him and tell Him what you are feeling.
2. Learn To Get Angry Slowly. Angry words spoken quickly are usually regretted later. Take time to be sure that you have good reason to be angry. Learn to avoid jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Listen and ask questions. Second-guess your own reactions.
3. Change Your Beliefs About God. Whether we realize it or not, most of our feelings are based on our deeply held beliefs about where life and security and significance are found. Our anger problem is rooted not in our feelings, but what we believe about God. The Biblical New Testament challenge is to not change our feelings but to change our thinking. All emotions, including anger, are therefore useful to help us track down the real beliefs of our heart. Whether we believe our well-being is in the hands of God, in our circumstances, or in the hands of others is a basic factor in learning how to deal with anger.
4. Confess Wrong Beliefs And Repent. This is not merely a confession that you have sinful, angry feelings. It goes much deeper. It means coming to the recognition that you have a need to repent of your stubborn commitment to survive in life under your own terms instead of on God’s terms.
5. Place Your Anger Under New Management. While what we feel cannot be directly changed, we can change what we believe by surrendering ourselves to the Spirit and Word of God. Under His influence and enablement we will find our anger increasingly shaped and restrained by a new kind of self-control. Because God is slow to anger, we can expect that when our life is under His management we will take on some of the same qualities of patient restraint. Because God’s heart was revealed to us in His Son, we can expect to begin growing in what the Bible calls “the mind of Christ.” Under God’s management, we will take on qualities of patient restraint. Placing our anger under God’s management will not dissolve and evaporate all anger. But it will free us to express a new and godly anger toward the kind of sin in ourselves and others that slowly angers the heart of God.
With all of the discussions on marriage and divorce today, many agree that there are four miscommunication signs that a marriage may be in serious trouble. The Gottman Institute in Seattle, WA identified four deadly communication styles that can be deadly to a marriage. They called these communication styles “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse http://www.azgrowth.com/4Horsemen.pdf.
The first sign is when one or both partners are critical of one another. Criticism is an attack or accusation on your partner’s character or personality and not their behavior or actions. Criticism of your spouse is so deadly because it attacks a person’s sense of self.
The second deadly sign is contempt which is the intent to insult or psychologically abuse your partner. This is the most deadly of the four horsemen. Contempt defines disrespect and is fueled by a negative internal script where you find nothing you admire in the person that you once loved. It is “looking down” at your spouse from a superior place, believing you are a superior parent, cleaner, more intelligent, more knowledgeable, etc. Those showing contempt vilify their spouse in their own mind.
The third deadly communication sign that a marriage is in trouble is defensiveness. Unfortunately defensiveness breeds defensiveness in the other person. It is a natural reaction of self-protection to fend off a perceived attack. This horseman is especially destructive because the person who is attacked becomes the ‘victim” and in turn feels “justified” to be defensive.
The fourth horseman that destroys a marriage is stonewalling. Stonewallers exit a confrontation either physically or emotionally. An interesting note is that when a person allows their stress levels to rise they can become overwhelmed and experience a “system overload or flooding” making constructive discussion impossible. This is the reason that a person easily stressed often becomes a stonewaller.
Mike DeMoss – MAPC,LAC
Mike specializes in marriage, family, individual and adolescent counseling. He uses the Gottman Method for couple’s therapy, Systems Theory for family therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for adult individuals and adolescents. His Christian background gives him a heartfelt desire to help people heal. Mike’s compassion, encouragement and enthusiasm allow him to relate to individuals in a way that helps affect positive change in their lives.