The Pointers: by Pastor Troy DeFeo
January 21, 2019
Does someone you love seem to be self-destructing in addictive behavior? Are you watching a spouse, son or daughter, or a friend abandon everything that was once important to them for the sake of some other? Drugs and alcohol, gambling, pornography, over-work, and over-spending habits have been some of the hot topics for the churches today. Addiction or dependence is commonly defined as “a recurring compulsion to do the same thing over and over, despite harmful; consequences to his health, mental state or social life.”
Are you seeing a trade-off in someone you care about--- a compulsive pursuit regardless of the effects it has, especially on your relationship or relationship with God?
What can you do to help?
We must access the willingness to change
Have you or your loved one admitted there is a problem and has shown any signs of getting help? If so, take on the responsibility of getting treatment or Christian counseling immediately. It may be very embarrassing, especially to a Christian, that there is a problem at all. Or even want to go get help. I have seen many people (and Christians may be the worse) refuse to get help because it may show weakness or embarrassment they have a serious problem. Sometimes they will jeopardize everything to “save face” and be vulnerable. God is NOT interested in our pride---matter of fact, it is one of the seven things He “stands against” or Hates- (Heb. word Sane).
If instead, you’re dealing with denial there is a problem, you most likely will need to plan an intervention---which is an orchestrated attempt by family, friends, and other special people dear to the person, to motivate someone to get help for their problem. An intervention is especially necessary to help stabilize the situation---to begin shielding your home from an emotional, physical and spiritual vulnerability of an out-of-control problem.
Treat body, mind, and spirit.
Sex addictions counselor Rob Jackson tells families that the addictive behavior they see is just the tip of the iceberg. Efforts to modify behavior might seem effective in the short-term, but can re-appear or show up in a different sort of compulsion if underlying issues are not addressed.
Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”
So those struggling with addiction need to treat problems of the body, mind, and spirit--to go beneath the surface and deal with the thoughts, emotions and spiritual conflicts driving those behaviors.
Sex addictions referred to by counselors: “The Disease of Shame” - “the combination of shame and sex addiction is unique in its capacity to shatter the human soul”, one puts it. Many counselors have said, “There are those in the field of addiction treatment that would argue that sex addiction is the most difficult addiction to overcome...in fact, it is the “ultimate addiction.” Shame and Sex will work hand-in-hand together which makes this addiction even tougher to overcome and help. Society has almost accepted the fact a person can be subsumed by drugs and alcohol, but by pornography or outside relationships---we are not there yet. I believe with all my heart Satan is using “shame” as one of his greatest weapons to keep people from “coming out” just as much as he does with homosexuality. Within the churches today---even at a higher number. Watch this: Over the years various studies have been conducted to measure the impact of sex/porn addiction on churches in this country. What they discovered is disturbing: At least 50% of all Christian men are addicted to pornography. At least 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. (Sources: Christianity Today and Prodigals International)
How should the church and the Pastor respond to Sex addictions and Shame?
I have decided to put this out there before for our church and families immediately. This is NOT just an adolescent epidemic, it applies to ALL of us---church staff included.
64% Youth Pastors this year said this is an ongoing problem, even being married.
We must stop the code of silence and denial. Be willing to share with your pastor, spouse, or close friend you are struggling with this area. At Living Hope, I have had several men expressed to me to please pray for them and hold them accountable.
Change the language of shame. Shame does not change behavior as much as some churches feel it will. In fact, it reinforces the behavior because now men and women feel like “what’s the point”, I might as well get my gratification if I am not going to get supported and helped.
The church must intentionally provide an environment where those struggling with sex addictions to feel safe, loved and can openly admit they have a problem. I want you to know my office at Living Hope is always open to receive counsel and prayer to any man, woman or child. I would want the same thing for me. ( I will say it again and again, NO pastor is exempt from this either. Including me!) It is my promise to hold our time in complete privacy (including from my wife and staff) so that you will feel safe to come to talk with me.
We as a church MUST present a message to those who are broken because of sexual addiction should be grounded in the Biblical concepts of humility, truth, grace, and the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. We must develop the knowledge and skills set that are necessary to provide competent care to its members and community. This is NOT just a spiritual issue within the church, it is a mind, body and soul issue.
Find hope in perseverance.
God is able to redeem anyone and everyone to a life characterized by self-control. (Titus 2:11-14) There is a hope in our Living Hope in persevering as a family through struggles of recovery.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character; hope.”
Things to remember:
If you know of someone facing some type of addiction, encourage them to get Christian help immediately. It may be hard at first for you or ones you know to say “yes” for help, but when you do, it will truly help save your life.
Every addiction is needed to be treated differently, just as the person needs to be treated uniquely. Saying, “I will just give it over to God” (although as awesome as that is) is probably not enough. Most people need possible detox, support group, counseling, and major life changes before they are able to face the next days, weeks, months, and years.