Emailing a Sexaholic—Part 2
The Gospel message is one of transformation, not recovery.
Here are some additional observations that relate to this dialogue:
Defining Lust My experience and strong conviction is that gaining a clear understanding of what lust is goes a long way in helping us to overcome it. The SA “White Book” describes lust as “an attitude demanding that a natural instinct serve unnatural desires” (p. 40). SA also often describes lust as a disease and (based on Matthew’s comments) as sin.
Lust is sin and instantly recognizable. It is hard for me to look at it any other way. Here is the definition that I like: Sexual lust—the illicit sexual buzz—is a willfully allowed pleasurable gratification of wrongfully directed sexual desire that takes place deep inside. Because lust is sin, it enslaves us if we continue in it, just as Jesus taught (John 8:34).
Sexual sobriety SA describes sexual sobriety this way: We are sexually sober when we have no sex outside of a traditional, legal, heterosexual marriage, no sex with self and progressive victory over lust. I love the clarity in that.
However, the term, “Sexual Sobriety,” has a problem. It is used in many different ways by different groups and teachers. It can mean whatever we want it to mean. Most often sexual sobriety refers solely to visible behavior without including anything like the concept of “progressive victory over lust” that SA emphasizes.
I prefer “victory over lust” as a better way to describe the same outcome that SA is describing. It is what God expects from his children.
Sexaholic Even though Matthew gives a good, reasoned defense of this term, it troubles me. “Sexaholic” points to sex. The real problem is—as SA agrees—lust. Doesn’t calling oneself a sexaholic seem defeatist? All of us have sinned, but our identity is not found in sin once God has redeemed us and made us His children. As we deny sinful lusts (Titus 2:12) and walk in the Spirit, sin loses its power over us—we become freed in Christ. We are able to live in victory and leave our sins behind.
Recovery The Gospel message is one of transformation, not recovery. What good place have we been that we hope to recover to? I suggest—instead—walking in victory.
Christ and the Cross Victory over lust came to me as a direct result of obedience to God’s Word. Jesus has forgiven me, set me free and empowered me to live in Him (see Colossians 2:13-15). To that end, I have described an action plan with fourteen weapons that anyone can follow, based fully upon Scripture. Matthew argues that the twelve steps of SA match up well with the fourteen “weapons” that I describe. This is not clear to me. I also am uncomfortable with referencing a “higher power” when our gracious Father has revealed Himself so clearly and powerfully.
Joining with others This is where SA shines. Lust is an isolating sin. It drives us apart from God and others. The best way to overcome lust is with the help of others. In Matthew’s story you see an example of how SA met this need.
My book, Overcoming Lust, is designed to assist in one-on-one discipleship and accountability, an approach that worked well for me.
Note: Matthew’s emails are detailed and speak to the above issues. I encourage you to consider his thoughtful comments and to add your own, below.