Are you addicted?
There are good addiction tests all over the web that can help you determine if you have unhealthy sexual behavior. We are not going to attempt to reproduce those here, but we will offer this simple definition and challenge:
If your life is being controlled by your sexual desires and activities instead of YOU being in control of them, then you have a sex addiction and should consider getting help.
Questions you can ask:
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about the symptoms of sex addiction and its stages:
- Has a pattern of behavior (which we'll define as "acting out"--for example, looking at pornography) gotten out of control?
- Has your acting out increased in frequency since a year ago?
- Has your acting out increased in intensity since a year ago? (For example, maybe a year ago, you were enticed by a swimsuit magazine, and now are not.)
- Have you tried to stop the "acting out" in the past, but not been successful?
- Has your acting out intruded into your financial life? (Have you spent your savings on prostitutes or pornography?)
- Has your acting out intruded into family life? (Have you, on many occasions, spent valuable family time away from your family indulging your sex addiction?)
- Has your acting out entailed personal, professional, or legal risk? (If you have looked at porn on the job, had sex with a prostitute, or had an affair, you have most likely created significant risk.)
Here is another way to evaluate:
Every Christian man and woman is in one of these three groups:
Every Christian is "targeted" by Satan. Just like every young person is a target for cigarette ads because every young person is a potential smoker, so too, every Christian is succeptable to sexual sin. Your walk with God, your faith, your ability to lead a church, your ability to be a strong spouse and parent, your ability to be a person of honor... all are under attack by sexual sin. If you are not "Tempted" or in the "Trenches" (see below) beware that you are not moving in that direction.
People in the "Tempted" group are those who are already seeing sexual sin or sexual temptation impact their life in some way, have recognized that it could be a significant problem if not dealt with, and/or have recognized a propensity to struggle with lust or sexual compulsivity. Most men fit into this group.
We are somewhat regularly hit with sexualized messages (TV, magazine stands, movies, banner ads, etc.) and often are exposed to pornography without their consent (spam emails, etc.). If sexual temptation is dealt with, is out in the open (via accountability relationships, etc.) then often it can remain just that--a temptation. But in many cases, just as our bodies, if left alone, will naturally decay--i.e., our bodies, on their own, don't get "fit"--so too, your sexual purity will naturally decline without specific work to stay pure and move towards Christ.
Those in the "Trenches" are those whose lives are in some large part, being controlled by sexual sin. This could be in the form of internet pornography, an extra-marital affair, or other behavior. Maybe at one point, the problem was limited to the occasional viewing of a pornographic email or quickly viewing an inappropriate banner ad--but has now escalated into hours of pornography consumption per day. Being in the "trenches" is, by our definition, synonymous with addiction. Other common symptoms of sexual addiction include behaviors that have caused or could cause legal, employment, or financial damage (seeing a prostitute, looking at pornography on the job, and using your family savings for online pornography are all examples of this).