Posted tagged ‘addiction’

Busting The Johns

November 9, 2010

I just read an article today where in a police sting operation, 15 “Johns” were arrested for soliciting prostitutes who were, in fact, undercover officers. I applaud the efforts of this police department. It seems most of the time, you only hear about the girls getting arrested for prostitution. Why? Where are the dudes?

In economy terms, why do we mostly go after the “supply” but not the “demand”?

This is nothing new. Read the story of the Adulterous Woman in John chapter 8. Here it is:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

My question is – WHERE WAS THE DUDE?

Now I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the block a few times. I am not naive enough to think that arresting these men will cause them to change their ways and never solicit again… but it might make a few of them think twice. And it’s certainly high time to go after both sides of the equation isn’t it?

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Your Smokin’ Hot Wife

September 6, 2010

I’ve been noticing a trend that is on the upswing. Men who refer to their spouse online as “my smokin’ hot wife”. This is particularly popular in the Christian twitter community.

They have good intentions. They want their spouse to know that they are excited about an upcoming date night; or that they still find them attractive after years of marriage; or let’s be honest – it’s a way to flirt publicly. It’s also sometimes meant as a humorous reference to the infamous prayer by Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, who thanks the “Baby Jesus” for his “red-hot smokin’ wife”. I get it. It seems like harmless fun. I understand these things. I’ve been married for nearly 12 years and I can appreciate these gestures. But there’s a problem:

Your mention of your smokin’ hot wife causes me to stumble.

As a person who is in recovery for sex addiction (specifically, pornography), your statement makes me think things I shouldn’t think. Like:

  1. Is she really hot or is he just doing the obligatory husband thing?
  2. If she is hot – HOW hot is she? I wonder what she looks like?
  3. I wonder if there’s a picture of her?

See, your well intentioned tweet sends me into the world of the objectification of women.

Is it all your fault? Certainly not. I bear the responsibility of my thought life. I am responsibile for my own actions and daily make choices to feed the addiction or not. Recovery is a moment-by-moment choice.

But can you help me out a little, bro?

The Intention of Mental Pursuit

February 19, 2010

This post is the 9th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

This being the day of Tiger Woods’ press conference, I can’t help but think about my own addiction and recovery. I flipped through my addiction journal and ran across something I thought would make a helpful post today.

In his book Breaking Free, author Russell Willingham writes,

Not everyone who struggles with a sexual problem is dealing with an addiction. Some of what passes for lust is testosterone, not moral weakness. Are men, therefore, not responsible to rein it in? Of course they are. Matthew 5:28 says, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” What the Lord didn’t say was “If you see a beautiful woman and feel an inward pull – you’ve sinned!” In other words, simply noticing an attractive woman and responding emotionally is not lust. It’s the second look, taken with the intention of mental pursuit, that is adulterous.

The underlined phrase really caught my attention the first time I read it. What does the intention of mental pursuit mean?

The author goes on with an example about hunger. Hunger is a physiological symptom. If you are driving around town at 1pm and have not eaten lunch yet, what happens when you drive by the fast food restaurant and smell the burgers and fries? If you’re like most men, the reaction is immediate and involuntary. Your stomach will growl, your mouth salivates, and a sense of weakness washes over you. Now, you may pull in to the restaurant or you may drive on by (your action taken based on the stimulus), but you have no control over what happens inside your body in that moment.

Now, he goes on to explain that sexual desire is not quite the same thing as hunger, but it serves an illustrative purpose. The physiological response is separate from the action taken.

To feel shame and guilt about an initial attraction makes about as much sense as condemning yourself for being hungry at one in the afternoon. It’s how you handle that initial attraction and where you go with it that decides the morality of your choice.

This tension between biology and stupid choices was written about perfectly in the book Ten Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She writes:

  • Whereas biology calls for immediate relief and gratification of sexual tensions, human beings develop greater self-respect and sexual regard for others when they feel they are masters of their urges, not the other way around.
  • Whereas biology calls for immediate relief and gratification of sexual tensions, thoughtful men consider the consequences of inappropriate emotional attachments.
  • Whereas biology provides the beauty and excitement of sensual and sexual pleasures, men ultimately realize that the real thrill comes from the love and acceptance from a woman in a committed relationship.
  • Whereas biology provides the initial feelings of rapture and infatuation, men, by virtue of their obligations to their woman and their children, determine to trade serial rapture for the satisfaction of having someplace to feel safe, wanted, and valued for more than what their sex organs can supply.

So what do you think? Do you agree with Willingham’s interpretation of Matthew 5:28?

What does the phrase “the intention of mental pursuit” mean to you?

Why do you think many men can’t seem to overcome their “biological pull” as Dr. Laura describes it?

–Jeremy

The Pornification of Halloween

October 12, 2009

This post is the 7th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

Remember when we were kids and we would go trick or treating in the neighborhood? What kinds of costumes did you wear? Was it scary? Was it a favorite superhero or movie character? Was it just down right weird? (every neighborhood had that one kid that wore something really weird).

Was it sexy?

Yes. you read that right. Haven’t you heard? Sexy is now the biggest seller in Halloween costumes. Have you been shopping for costumes with a child recently? Did you find yourself having to either avoid certain aisles or worse, have to answer your child’s questions about certain costumes with nervous laughter?

Are you looking for your standard princess, fairy, or storybook character costumes for girls this year? Don’t worry. The costume companies have you covered, er um…well not so much.

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No, these pictures did not come from a specialty lingerie or adult novelty store. These came from a standard search for “Halloween costume”. (image sizes intentionally small for obvious reasons.) I’ve seen many of these same costumes in a circular ad in our local newspaper! I’ve seen many of them in the various Halloween seasonal stores. What a distortion these costumes create. They take the concept of innocent childhood fantasy and twist it into something perverted. And it’s not just the “girlie” costumes that get that kind of treatment. How about sports figures, cops, gangsters, pilots, nurses, fireman, girl scouts, postal workers, and sailor costumes? Look what they have done to them:

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And it just doesn’t stop. Look how they have treated the traditional Halloween images of pirates, witches, superheroes, even Harry Potter-type wizards, and – astoundingly – even bumblebee costumes!

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I guess sex sells. Last year, the week of Halloween, I made a trip to our local Best Buy store. Apparently, the company had let their employees have a bit of fun and dress up for the occasion. I admit, several of the costumes made me smile, or gave me a chuckle. But then I saw this petite college-aged girl in what could only be described as lingerie with a short skirt and bustier. It was so over-the-top inappropriate that I felt embarrassed. For her. For myself. For all the other guys who were talking her around the store. It made me wonder what she was thinking. Did she like the attention? Was she even aware of what dressing like that would do to her coworkers and customers?

Worst of all…this next set of pics. These costumes are straight out of the pornographic fetish camp. Playboy bunnies, cocktail girls, french maids, cheerleaders, schoolgirls, Shirley Temple dresses, and more. These companies are taking our girls (many of these costumes are targeted, marketed, and sized for teens) and unashamedly setting them up to be objectified, to learn that this is the proper way to get attention from boys, and heaven forbid – possibly setting them up to victims of a crime. As the parent of two girls, these images are shocking to me. These companies are not even trying to hide what they are doing. In fact, the last costume on the right is actually titled, “jailbait”. Can you believe that? They are intentionally PLAYING on the fact that this is pedophilia. Like it’s some kind of joke.

costumes_04

As a recovering sex addict, I can’t begin to tell you how this affects me. One of my primary problems is the objectification of women. (And believe me, statistics tell us I am far from being alone in that.) I already have problems seeing women as God sees them – as holistic human beings who have their own needs, emotions, and goals. Their own history, and their own future. Guys tend to skip over all that and see women as one-dimensional objects whose entire reason for existence is to please the man. Most girls do not seem to understand that, because if they did – there is NO WAY they would wear a costume like is pictured in this post.

To Costume Makers: You’re disgusting. Your plan to porn-ify Halloween is evil.
To Stores: Please stop stocking this trash.
To Teens: Please don’t wear stuff like this. You are worth more than that, and you are creating distractions for good men like me who struggle with sex addictions. We are not “perverts” and we are not “dirty old men”. Your clothing choices DO make a difference.
To Adult Women: Please use some common sense as to when and where is appropriate to wear things like this.
To Parents: You have to talk to your girls early and often about image and the role it plays between boys and girls. Talk to your boys about the “holistic nature” of girls and that while physical attraction is a powerful thing, it is only one part of a much larger equation.

I’m seeing about 3:1

August 6, 2009

3-1

This post is the 6th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

In the months since Mandy and I shared our story, we’ve had the opportunity to meet with lots of people who are facing similar, if not identical issues. The struggle with pornography and sexual addictions is rampant in our society, and sadly, the percentages are not that different in our church congregations.

As Mandy and I meet with these couples – sharing our story with them and walking them through the steps to recovery – we’re seeing a ratio of about 3 to 1. There are 3 individuals or couples who either will not or can not do what it takes to walk through recovery for every individual or couple that does.

A lot of men can’t bring themselves to be completely honest with their spouse. They fear rejection. They are ashamed. They can’t face it. And a lot of women just can’t bring themselves to go through it. They think they aren’t strong enough. They feel too betrayed. They don’t think they can ever trust anybody ever again.

But sometimes I get to have a great conversation like I did this past weekend. I talked with a guy who just got his 6 month coin from his 12-step group. This means he has gone 6 full months without any pornography in his life. He told me that this is the longest he has gone without it in years. He also told me that he has never felt closer to his wife, and that the love he feels for her is so strong he could hardly describe it. You could see it on his face. He had gone from shame to grace. He was walking the steps. And he was finding freedom.

I wish I could hear more stories like that. Why couldn’t it be 1:3 instead of 3:1? What could we as individuals and churches do to make that happen?

No Secrets

March 16, 2009

This post is the 5th in a series about addiction recovery. If you are not an addict or married to one, then this probably won’t make much sense. To see a list of the entire series from the beginning, go to this page.

man_megaphone

When your addiction comes out and your spouse knows about it, it is time to enact a new modus operandi – “No Secrets.” In this mode, you voluntarily forfeit any right to privacy from your spouse. An addict will be resistant to this practice, but I have found it to be critical to my personal recovery, and for the rebuilding of trust in our marriage.

No Secrets mode is necessary for several reasons:

  1. Trust has been shattered between you, so you must do anything it takes to re-establish it.
  2. All addicts are good liars. “No Secrets” mode establishes new habits of behavior.
  3. Addictions live in the dark. The more light we can shine on them, the less power they will have over our lives.
  4. Spouses can usually sense danger, see warning signs, and predict patterns well before the addict can. Having no secrets allows the spouse to help in the recovery process.
  5. It helps build humility. It is humbling to submit to a spouse and admit you need help.

So what does it look like? What do I mean by No Secrets? Here are some examples.

No Secrets with Time. Your spouse has the right to know where you’ve been. Immediately. On Demand. Without hesitation. If you are separated at the department store for 10 minutes, and your spouse wants to know what you did in those 10 minutes – you’d better spill. And stick to the facts – no embellishment. The longer it takes to tell where you’ve been and why, the more suspicious it looks!

No Secrets with Companions. Who were you with? Who did you have lunch with? Who else did you see while you were there? Who was at the meeting? Was (name of a person) there? Who did you ride with? Addicts hate these types of quetions, but they are essential to rebuilding trust.

No Secrets with Money. Your spouse has a right to know what you did with every single penny. Period.

No Secrets with Technology. Your spouse has the right to look through your web browsing history, through your email, through your text messages, through the Pay-Per-View history and through the online banking accounts. Is your computer setup with multiple user accounts? If so, then your spouse needs to have your login name and password.

No Secrets with Acting Out. Did you stumble? Did you indulge in an addiction activity? Your spouse deserves to know. Immediately. The sooner the better.

No Secrets with Your Thoughts. Have you been feeling tempted lately? Have you felt depressed or stressed or angry or frustrated? Have you thought about other women (either real or imagined?) Have you seen something you shouldn’t have seen? Have you been in an environment that was difficult for you because it triggered an addictive response? Have you hung around people that trigger that response?

The Addict will hate this. It makes them feel like a child. It makes them feel nagged. It makes them feel like they have no control and no privacy. And here is my answer to that. YOU ARE A CHILD! (at least part of you is.) All addicts have an arrested development of some kind. You have proven again and again that you cannot be trusted on your own, and that you need the help of others to stay on track. So don’t resist this. It is good for you. Submit to your spouse. Let go of your “rights”. Embrace truth.

It could save your marriage.

It could save your life.

H.A.L.T.

March 3, 2009

haltThis post is the 3rd in a follow-up series to Sharing Our Story (Jan 26). The 1st follow-up to that was the post called What Drives You To Act Out (Feb 19). The 2nd one was Counterfeit Intimacy (Feb 25). This series is targeted to people who struggle with addictions and their spouses. If you’re not an addict (or married to one) the following info might be really weird for you. I’m just sayin’.

That last post was pretty deep and heavy, so I decided to make it an easy read this time!

HALT is an acronym which is helpful in remembering those time when you are most succeptible to the addiction cycle. It stands for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When you get into those situations, you are more likely to be tempted, and are more likely to give in because your defenses are down. Recognize this fact and do two things:

  1. Talk to your accountability partner, spouse, sponsor, or counselor if you’re feeling run-down or succeptible to temptation.
  2. Fill the need appropriately. (ie: If you’re hungry, eat something, but don’t overindulge to deaden the senses. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re lonely or angry, find some time to talk with someone – an appropriate someone!)

HALT: It’s a simple and quick tool to have in your arsenal for defense!