The Effects of Lust by Mike Genung
Our culture says that pornography, promiscuity and adultery are harmless fun….Many use pornography thinking they’re not hurting anyone because “it’s just me and pictures.”
Husbands and fathers think they’re not corrupting their wives and children because “the wife and kids don’t see what I’m doing”.
Singles think they’re not hurting anyone “because they’re not married”.
But sex addiction has devastating effects on the struggler with lust and those around him. What the sex addict can’t see is that:
Lust is his master. The Christian sex addict calls Jesus ‘Lord’ with his mouth, but then like Peter denies Him and turns to the goddess of lust. Sin takes a strong foothold in his heart as he lives trying to have both God’s love and lust’s “comfort”. But, “God is not mocked” and “by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” Like a crack addict, the sex ‘user’ is ruled by his compulsions to act out even though he hates what he’s doing.
He’s isolated and empty. The shame from his sexual acts and the fear of being exposed and rejected are powerful motivators that keep the sex addict trapped in isolation. He closes himself off, not realizing he’s creating a “vacuum of emptiness” inside. This “vacuum of emptiness” is unbearable and so he “fixes it” by acting out sexually. But his acting out only produces more shame and emptiness, and a vicious cycle sets in. To try to run from the mess he is on the inside, he fakes it on the outside. Some throw themselves into their career, mistakenly thinking the temporary successes of their job can fill their deep hunger for love. Others try to use ministry. They put on their Sunday Happy Face and get “busy for God” making all the right noises to impress others with how good a Christian they are. But helping others can’t soothe their lonely and aching heart, and so the addict soon becomes a Pharisee. Some try to fill their growing emptiness with food, drugs, alcohol, people (relationships) and of course more sexual acting out. But nothing satisfies and the addict’s emptiness only intensifies, keeping him trapped in the cycle of misery.
He becomes increasingly self-centered. In his isolated state the sex addict becomes the center of his world. He obsesses about acting out, (or not acting out), his wants, his problems, how he is feeling at the moment, looking successful and what others think about him. All of this self-obsession causes ego buildup – and a critical judging heart. He’s blind to the needs of others, especially those of his wife and children. His wife is neglected and ignored and he makes little effort to do the things she likes. His kids, who need their Dad’s love, strength and affection are treated as little more than noisy distractions. He’s harsh and critical to his family, and little things set him off easily. Although he doesn’t know it, the stench of his self-obsession is painfully evident to the ones he loves. His prayer and devotional times become short, infrequent, shallow and about him. “Lord forgive me, help me, give me, me me…”. Intercession is an afterthought and praise is a duty. He stops enjoying God and forgets how to listen and be still.
His character rots. Webster calls the heart “the vital center and source of one’s being, emotions, and sensibilities”. This sensitive place deep in the man’s soul, where his strength and character are forged, is corrupted, distorted and hardened by the shame, selfishness and isolation of lust. Instead of being the man of courage and integrity God has made and called him to be, he becomes “Weakheart”, a “man without a chest.” He loses his moral authority and the courage to do what’s right. Instead of being a fighter he becomes a passive weakling who hides from the challenges of life. He makes compromises he would never have dreamed of taking before in financial and other areas. His work ethic suffers, and he doesn’t give his employer his best effort. He steals by using company time for acting out or other personal activities. His perceptions, values and decision making processes are distorted. Although the Christian sex addict says that “God, family and others” are his priorities, the actions of his life say “himself, acting out, and trying to feel good” are his primary values. God and others fit in when it’s convenient or of necessity. He doesn’t see how his decisions affect himself and others and he can’t see the devastating long term consequences of his choices. His distorted ambitions and his insecure and narrow perspective leave him prone to making big mistakes when crucial decisions need to be made both in his personal and professional life. He’s blind to the fact that the course he’s on is destructive to himself, his family, his employer and the church. He wastes the gift of his short life and the chance to impact others in a positive way. He engages in riskier sexual behavior, willing to throw everything away for something that will never satisfy, not realizing that “sin makes you stupid…” If he’s single, he corrupts his future marriage. Single men buy into the delusion that once they can have “moral sex” their problems with sex addiction will stop. What they don’t understand is their empty heart can’t be filled or healed by another broken person and getting married is not the answer to their problem. He doesn’t realize that what he does now will destroy his marriage later…
He gets physically sick more often. The stress sex addiction puts on his immune system drags it down. Sex addicts get more colds and other respiratory infections, with longer recovery times.
He becomes a mess chemically. Sexual addiction alters the shape of the brain and drains natural serotonin levels. The nervous system gets messed up. Deep sleep through the night is elusive and he often feels run down. Clinical depression, anxiety attacks and blood pressure problems start to creep in. Many sex addicts wind up on antidepressants or other medication to cope. Sadly, because they “feel a little better” on the medication they are deluded into thinking they’re not as bad off as they really are, and the journey of insanity continues until… All joy in life is gone. Because his “happiness” in life is based on fantasy, his hobbies and other interests cease to offer any enjoyment. Personal or corporate worship times, normally a source of joy, only intensify his feelings of shame. He forgets how to relax and just have fun and he won’t slow down because it forces him to face what he is inside. Life becomes drudgery. His answer? More acting out to fill the Big Hole.
He deeply hurts his wife and children. Because his wife isn’t the always-there-for-him centerfold of his delusions he rejects her. His wife is repeatedly fed the message that “she’s not good enough”, and he prefers pictures of other women to her. She dies inside as the man she committed her life to coldly rejects her. Dad’s self-centered emotional abandonment tells his kids that he doesn’t value them. As a result an open wound of rejection by the most important man in their life takes root. Because Dad is Weakheart his kids don’t get the discipline they need to shape and build strong character. Soon his kids learn that they need to “make it on their own without Dad”. Unwittingly, the sex addict has now set his own children up for the very sin that has kept him captive.
Ministry opportunities are lost. All of God’s unique spiritual gifts and abilities are buried in the garbage can of his lust. He is blind to others close to him that may be in need or even ripe for the gospel.
Then there are ruptured families, unplanned pregnancies, abortion, money problems, STD’s, the financing of the porn industries, the corruption of the church and the moral disintegration of our nation.
He rejects the Lord Jesus, the One Who loves the sex addict, died for him, and is waiting to help him is grieved as the addict says that “I want porn instead of You God.” Most men don’t take sex addiction seriously because they don’t see how deeply they’re hurting themselves & others and that they’re wasting the precious gift of their life. If you’re struggling with sex addiction my prayer is that you take it seriously and do whatever it takes – now – to run from lust with everything you’ve got.