Christian Biblical Counsel: SEXUAL ADDICTION

Sexual Addiction

The Way Out of the Web

by June Hunt

“A leopard can’t change its spots.” This old cliché is true of leopards, but is it also true of people? Particularly those with sexually spotted lives? Many a man has been told, “You’ll never change.” Many women hear, “You are a bad seed.” Do you think it’s impossible for people to change … or perhaps that you can’t change? The Bible says, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Even if you feel that your mind and your heart are defiled, remember that God is a Redeemer—He is your Deliverer!

“You, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

(Psalm 116:8–9)

I.     Definitions

A. What Is the Scope of Sexual Addiction?

•     Sexual addiction is a compulsive, enslaving dependence on erotic excitement, resulting in detrimental patterns of thinking and behavior.

•     Sexual addiction is immoral. The Greek noun porneia, translated in many verses as “fornication” or “immorality,” is an umbrella word that covers all forms of sexual immorality.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

•     Sexual addiction is enslaving. The Greek word douloo means “to bring under bondage or enslave.”

“A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (2 Peter 2:19)

Q “Can those who have been caught in the snare of sexual addiction be set free?”

Yes! God’s Word gives absolute assurance that anyone can be set free.

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15)

Q “Pornography is harmless so why should it be illegal?”

•     Pornography is addictive and often leads to the abuse of others.

•     The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children investigated 1,400 cases of child sexual exploitation. Upon arrest, all prosecuted adults were found with various forms of pornography—in most cases child porn.

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” (Psalm 101:3)

B. What Are the Streets into Sexual Addiction?

•     Advertisements—lingerie, perfume, catalogs

•     Adult bookstores, bars, and night clubs

•     Cards—postcards, playing cards, photographs

•     Computers—Internet sites, sex chat rooms, games

•     Movies—slasher films, X-rated films

•     Music—sexually explicit lyrics

•     Nude beaches and nudist camps

•     Peep show booths and massage parlors

•     Pornographic literature—books, magazines, cartoons, comics

•     Telephone—dial-a-porn 900-numbers, phone sex

•     Television—cable, soap operas, videos

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity.… Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

(Proverbs 4:23–27)

C. What Is the Springboard into Sexual Quicksand?

For many people who are sinking in the sands of sexual addiction, their first introduction to pornography came during childhood. The idyllic picture of innocent children building castles in the sand is too often marred by the quicksand of sexual abuse.


•     Pornography is the depiction of erotic behavior intended to arouse sexual, lustful excitement.

•     The word pornography is from the Greek word porne, which means “harlot.”

•     Pornography debases sexuality and ridicules Christian values in favor of lust and immorality.

Q “Since God created the human body as sexual, what’s wrong with nudity and pornography?”

God created the sexual body for intimacy in marriage and for procreation. To the contrary, pornography is designed simply to arouse indiscriminate sexual lust.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27–28)

Q “Since pornography arouses sexual desires, won’t it enhance our sex life?”

Pornography introduces perversion into your marriage and home life. Perversion diverts from the true intent of something or turns something to a wrong end or use. By attempting to enhance your sex life through pornography, you risk corrupting the beauty God intended in your sexual union with your mate.

Pornography typically leads to …

•     devaluing the mate. Love turns to lust for the “ideal” sexual mate.

•     forcing the mate to perform perverted acts. The beauty of the sexual union turns to unnatural acts seen in pornographic materials.

•     committing adultery. Pornography encourages indiscriminate sex.

•     passing on the addiction to children who become addicted. They are often used and abused.

“ ‘You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices,’ declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 16:58)

Soft-core Porn

•     Soft-core porn is the depiction of adult nudity or nonexplicit sexual activity between adults.

•     Soft-core porn is usually not illegal.

Q “Since adult bookstores, x-rated movies and such are usually legal, why should anyone object to them?”

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it morally right. Lawmakers often respond to pressures of lobbyists or the most vocal special interest groups, settling for less than the excellence set by God’s moral law.

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.” (Exodus 23:2)

Q “Are all sexually explicit materials pornographic?”

No. A scientific presentation designed to teach or inform would not be considered pornographic. A presentation of the human body from an artist’s viewpoint may not necessarily be considered pornographic.

“A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” (Proverbs 17:24)

Hard-core Porn

•     Hard-core porn is the depiction of explicit or bizarre sexual activity that is clearly offensive and blatantly degrading to human beings.

•     Hard-core porn is the street term for “obscene,” which means that it is illegal.

•     Hard-core porn can include urinating, defecating, or vomiting on another.

Pornographic Material


God’s Mandate


•     Heterosexual porn depicts explicit   sex acts between males and females, including oral and group sex.


“Marriage   should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge   the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)


•     Homosexual porn depicts explicit   sex acts between members of the same sex.


“Do   not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”(Leviticus   18:22)


•     Kiddie porn depicts children   having sex with adults and with other children. Child porn is illegal to own   or produce and is especially used by pedophiles. (Pedophilia is a sexual   perversion in which children are the preferred sexual objects.)


“If   anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be   better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around   his neck.” (Mark 9:42)


•     Bestiality porn depicts sexual   activity between humans and animals such as dogs, horses, pigs, or donkeys.


“Cursed   is the man who has sexual relations with any animal.” (Deuteronomy 27:21)


•     Sexual devices porn depicts the   use of “toys” such as mousetraps, fishhooks, and rings on the sexual anatomy.   In bondage sex, other devices such as handcuffs, wristcuffs, ankle cuffs,   bedpost straps, passion paddles, and chains are used to depict dominance and   submission.


We should line   up with King David’s conviction.

“Men   of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.”   (Psalm 101:4)


•     Sadomasochistic porn depicts   torture of all kinds, including bondage, rape, mutilation, and murder.   Slasher films and snuff films are X-rated movies containing perverted sex   acts and extreme violence culminating in murder.


“Don’t   you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in   you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple   is sacred, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)


Q “What determines whether material is classified as illegal?”

Material classified as illegal varies from country to country. However, in most countries, that which is obscene is considered illegal. For example, in the 1973 case of Miller v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court established a three part test to define what is legally obscene.

Pornography that is obscene …

•     appeals to lustful interests

•     depicts clearly offensive sexual conduct

•     lacks serious literary, realistic, political, or scientific value

Obscenity appeals to, and even urges, vileness instead of virtue. Obscenity degrades the value of human life.

“Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place.” (Ephesians 5:3–4)

Q “Since we can’t legislate morality, why is there so much concern about pornography?”

We can legislate morality, and we do. Most laws deal with morality—many biblical laws such as those against murder, lying, and stealing are seen in the laws of every civilized society.

Biblical Example: See The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:3–17.


II.    Characteristics

A. The Symptoms of Sexual Addiction

Not everyone who is sexually immoral is sexually addicted. While many adulterers and all rapists are sex offenders, such offenders are not all sex addicts. (Rape is a power play emanating from anger.) What constitutes a sexual addiction? Within the heart of every addict is a sense of shame—shame because of feeling unlovable, unworthy, and unwanted—shame resulting from repeated failure. This shame within an addict produces behavior and beliefs that are most predictable.

“When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes disgrace.”

(Proverbs 18:3)

What Constitutes a Sexual Addiction?

Is your sexual activity …

•     Secretive


not within   normal cultural boundaries?




—  living a double life


•     Hollow


not a   relationship with a spouse, but a relationship with sexual passion?




—  prioritizing sexual passion over people


•     Abusive


not uplifting   to yourself or others, but degrading to both?




—  exploiting others and debasing yourself


•     Mood-altering


not facing   difficult feelings, but seeking an emotional quick fix?




—  using sexual passion for comfort or to avoid   working through the pain


•     Essential


suggesting   that you cannot live without sexual passion?




—  convincing yourself that sex is the most   important thing in life


“For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

(2 Peter 2:19)

B. The Spiral of Sexual Addiction

The dual world of Jekyll and Hyde is strangely similar to the real and fantasy worlds of the sex addict. Dr. Jekyll’s curiosity prompted him to experiment on himself. Yet, to his horror, the harrowing Mr. Hyde increasingly took over his very person. As he retreated from significant relationships for fear of exposure, his thinking became skewed, even to the extreme of losing touch with reality. Ultimately, for the betterment of society, it seemed Jekyll’s only solution was … kill Hyde!

•     Curiosity: A seemingly harmless temptation to look at sexual objects.

“Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:14)

•     Addiction: A recurring stimulus in the brain. When a person experiences significant stimulation, the hormone epinephrine is secreted into the blood stream by the adrenal gland. Epinephrine stamps emotional memories into the brain. These memories continue to surface regardless of the person’s desire to forget.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)

•     Compulsive Masturbation: A response of sexual self-comfort to relieve the arousal. This act becomes part of a sexual ritual.

“I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

•     Escalation: The need for more shocking and explicit sexuality to be stimulated.

“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (Ephesians 4:19)

•     Desensitization: The shocking becomes acceptable and unstimulating.

“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 6:15)

•     Acting Out: A compulsion to act out what has been seen and imagined because the visual experience is no longer satisfying in itself.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery.” (Galatians 5:19)

•     Despair: Utter disgust over the behavior and utter hopelessness to change.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Q “Are there some addictions people can never overcome?”

No, addicts can be rescued from any addiction.

“What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:19, 24–25)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

C. The Stages of Sexual Addiction

He grew up in a seemingly normal home—no physical or sexual abuse, yet all his victims were sexually abused, and even mutilated. Eventually he confessed to the murders of 23 young women. How did this man regress from Boy Scout troop to death row? The day before Ted Bundy was executed, he said, “I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography.” Just as pornography is progressive, all sexual addiction, if not stopped, progresses into more blatant and risky behavior. What was once sexually stimulating becomes ineffective. More explicit acts are required to create the same sensual excitement.14

Stages of Sexual Addiction


Stage   1


Stage   2


Stage   3


•     pornography


•     obscene phone calls


•     child molestation


•     masturbation


•     voyeurism (watching others, being a   Peeping Tom)


•     pedophilia


•     promiscuity


•     exhibitionism


•     incest


•     homosexuality


•     sexual harassment


•     rape


•     prostitution




•     sadomasochistic sex


•     cross-dressing






•     fetishism






•     sex talk lines/chat rooms







Stage   1


Stage   2


Stage   3


•     low risk


•     moderate risk


•     high risk


•     some behavior illegal


•     always illegal


•     always illegal


•     occasional job threat


•     possible job loss


•     probable job loss


•     usually considered victimless


•     always involves a victim


•     always involves a victim


Do not be deceived. Activities thought   harmless by the world’s standards can be deadly to the body, soul, and   spirit.


“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

(1 Corinthians 3:18–19)

Q “At what point does the normal sexual desire turn into lust?”

Evaluate what is natural and what is unnatural. It is natural to be attracted to someone, but it is unnatural to sexualize a person. The battle begins in the mind, where uncontrolled thoughts are allowed to move into lustful desires.

“Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

D. The Cycle of Sexual Addiction

The Setup

No one lives with more shame, isolation, and fear of alienation than the sex addict. Addicts believe that they can’t help the way they are. Each time they surrender to sexual temptation, sin’s tenacious grip gets a stronger hold on their hearts. Sexual addicts believe that the only solution to getting their love needs met is through sexual stimulation. Their minds and bodies are held captive to sexual passion.

“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

(Romans 7:19–20)

•     Worthless Feelings

—  “I can’t control my sexual urges.”

—  “I feel like a failure.”

—  “I’m not a good person.”

•     Withdrawal

—  “I can’t trust people.”

—  “If they knew what I’ve done, they would be disgusted.”

—  “If they knew the real me, they would reject me.”

•     Wrong Assumptions

—  “Sex is my greatest need in life.”

—  “Sex is the solution to my need for love.”

—  “Sex is the solace for all my pain.”

The Sequence

“After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

(James 1:15)

#1 Sexual Fixation

An erotic, trancelike state in which obsessing on sex becomes a sedative for the addict’s emotional pain.

#2 Sexual Compulsion

Compulsive, ritualistic routines heighten the excitement and intensify the addict’s sexual arousal (cruising, pornography, stalking).

#3 Sexual Gratification

Feeling a total loss of self-control, the addict commits the actual sex act.

#4 Self-Condemnation

Following on the heels of this intoxicating sexual experience comes shame, condemnation, and hopelessness. Left with self-contempt and self-loathing, the addict looks for relief, and the sexual cycle perpetuates itself by escaping into the mood-altering fixation on sex.

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

(Galatians 6:8)

The Solution

The last thing sexual addicts need is rejection, although rejection is usually the first thing that occurs when they are found out. Addicts who live their lives emotionally isolated because of their fear of discovery need emotional connection, heart-to-heart sharing, friend-to-friend commitment. Because sexual addiction is an obsessive relationship with erotic passion, healing comes through secure relationships with caring people. A safe place for addicts to begin opening up and moving out of their secret addictions is an accountability group of fellow strugglers or friends—ultimately people who can “hate the sin, but truly love the sinner.”

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

(Proverbs 18:24)


III.   Causes

A. The Birth of an Addiction

Your Beliefs

We’ve all asked ourselves, Why did I do that? The answer is simple: our beliefs birth our behaviors. The messages we received in childhood, especially those regarding our own worth, relationships, and sexuality, formed our beliefs. These beliefs are powerful, for from them come all our priorities, choices, habits, and, yes, even our addictions.

Basic Beliefs

Everyone has three inner needs: the need for love, for significance, and for security. If—in childhood—these God-given needs were not met, your beliefs reflected that painful lack of nurturing, and you attempted to fill the void. The sex addict believes that sexual passion is comforting and nurturing and that a sexual experience will meet those needs. Since people are not dependable, the addict does not risk a relationship with a person, but enters into a relationship with passion. People and things are merely the stimuli used. Since the desire of those who are addicted is passion, their relationship is with passion.

The Need for Love

Basic belief:

•     “I am unlovable.”

•     “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.”

•     “I am bad—bad things should happen to me.”

—  feeling that no one really cares

—  feeling that people care only if they can get something


•     “I must be in control to protect myself.”

—  enters into a “relationship with sex” not based on love


•     a relationship with passion, but using a wife

•     a relationship with passion, but using a prostitute

•     a relationship with passion, but using a child

The Need for Significance

Basic belief:

•     “I am unworthy.”

•     “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t value me.”

•     “I have failed—I’m a failure.”

—  feeling insignificant

—  feeling at fault for everything


•     “I must be in charge to protect myself.”

—  enters into a “relationship with sex” that can’t threaten the addict’s significance


•     a relationship with passion by being a Peeping Tom

•     a relationship with passion by being a flasher

•     a relationship with passion by being a rapist

The Need for Security

Basic belief:

•     “I am unwanted.”

•     “If you really knew me, you would abandon me.”

•     “I’ve lost hope in people—I’m hopeless.”

—  can’t depend on others to meet my needs

—  can’t risk rejection


•     “I must be self-sufficient to protect myself.”

—  enters into a “relationship with sex” so that security won’t be threatened


•     a relationship with passion by looking at pornography

•     a relationship with passion by staring at a stripper

•     a relationship with passion by watching a peep show

Questions & Answers

Q “How can I stop calling sex talk lines, which give me an incredible high? Day after day, my mind feels intoxicated with sex. Why do I have this constant craving?”

Although everybody has a God-given need to feel significant, phone sex with a stranger gives a false sense of significance. To be set free from this sexual addiction, replace the false lust with the truth. The truth is that you are so significant that Jesus not only died on the cross for you, but also designed a wonderful plan for your life. Recognize that phone sex will never give you lasting significance. Instead, your significance comes by realizing you were created in the image of God. And you will feel no greater sense of significance than when you are being conformed to the character of Christ.

“Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

Q “How can I stop mentally undressing every attractive woman I see?”

The moment you find yourself in the midst of sexual temptation, you must immediately …

•     Turn your eyes away without delay. Say in your heart, “I refuse to let my eyes lead me into sexual temptation.”

•     Turn your mind toward integrity. Declare out loud, “I’m determined to be a man of highest moral integrity.”

•     Turn in prayer to God. “Lord Jesus, I’m committing myself to be pure in both my mind and my body.”

“Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

Q “How can I control my lustful fantasies? I simply can’t stop fantasizing.”

God would never tell you to stop lusting without giving you the power to stop. The starting point for victory is realizing that when a sexual thought flashes into your mind, you must redirect that thought or replace it. Years ago, Martin Luther painted a graphic picture with words to this effect, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” You are the only one who controls how long you will entertain a thought—how long you will dwell on it. Make a commitment—a covenant with your eyes—that you will not maintain a gaze that leads to an immoral thought. And make a covenant with your mind that you will not allow an immoral thought to reside in your heart.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1)

Q “I am not married, and I struggle with masturbation, a habit I developed as a teenager. I am a Christian, and the guilt is overwhelming. How can I overcome this sexual addiction?”

Masturbation is not mentioned in Scripture, but a biblical principle is applicable here.

“ ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

The implication is that anything that has mastery over us is sin because Christ should be our Master. A major step in gaining mastery over guilt producing sexual habits is to take immediate control of your thoughts at the first urge.

•     Pray that God’s highest purpose for your life would be realized. “Lord, I’ll do whatever it takes to be conformed to Your character.”

•     Claim the Scripture, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

•     Say to yourself, “I have no right to do this to my body. I belong to God. My body is His temple, and I will not defile it! I resist this temptation in Jesus’ name.”

•     Do something positive: sing a hymn, pray a prayer, phone a friend, lend a hand, read the Bible.

As a Christian, you have Christ living in you, imparting to you His divine power to live a godly life.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

B. The Double Delusions of Sexual Addiction

Delusions are persistent false beliefs about yourself and others. In other words, a delusion is believing your own lies. The faulty beliefs of sexual addicts enable them to manufacture and believe their own elaborate defense systems. This interactive process between beliefs and denials results in seriously impaired thinking, moving them further and further from reality.

“He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

(James 1:8)

The Double Delusions of Sexual Addiction

The   addict lives in two worlds: the outward appearance of normalcy and the inward   state of depravity.


Unbridled Beliefs


Distorted Defenses


All   people and places, all joys and pains are seen by the addict through sexual   lens.


When   behavior is attacked by others or by his own conscience, the addict must   employ an army of defenses in an effort not to lose face.






•     Sex is the source of excitement.


•     “I have to have sex.”


•     Sex is the balm for abuse.


•     “I was molested as a child.”




Blame Shifting


•     Sex is the remedy for rejection.


•     “You’re so unresponsive.”


•     Sex is the payment for performing well.


•     “My boss is too demanding.”






•     Sex is the panacea for pain.


•     “I have never felt loved.”


•     Sex is the salve for stress.


•     “I have to find ways to relax.”






•     Sex is the antidote to anger.


•     “You’re out to get me.”


•     Sex is the light for life.


•     “She really did want it and liked it.”






•     Sex is the treatment for tension.


•     “I just have to have more sex.”


•     Sex is the answer to anxiety.


•     “I have to relieve the pressure.”






•     Sex is the basis for being.


•     “I didn’t do anything wrong.”


•     Sex is the key to comfort.


•     “I didn’t hurt anyone.”


“How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?”

(Psalm 4:2)

C. Root Cause of Sexual Addiction

Wrong belief:

“The most important thing in my life is sex. I will do whatever is necessary to get my sexual needs met.”

Right belief:

The most important thing in my life is to be changed by an intimate love relationship with Jesus. My first priority is to love my Lord and then to love others with a pure heart. Jesus loved me enough to die for me, and He now lives in me. Because my body belongs to Him, He promises to meet all my true needs.

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.… Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13, 19–20)


IV.  Steps to Solution

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:18)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Whatever God tells you to do, He will equip you to do. When God calls you to avoid sexual immorality, He enables you to do it. Don’t live as a prisoner of past defeat. Claim your high calling!

1 Thessalonians chapter 4

Why Avoid Immorality?

•     You will please God.


v. 1


•     You will prove that you can take   instruction from God.


v. 1


•     You will respond to the authority   of God.


v. 2


•     You will be in the will of God.


v. 3


•     You will be sanctified (set   apart).


v. 3


•     You will control your own body.


v. 4


•     You will do what is honorable and   holy.


v. 4


•     You will not display passionate   lust.


v. 5


•     You will not be like the heathen.


v. 5


•     You will not wrong another person.


v. 6


•     You will not take advantage of   another.


v. 6


•     You will not be impure.


v. 7


•     You will live up to your holy   calling.


v. 7


•     You will not reject God.


v. 8



Q“I recently became a Christian. How can I close the door on past sexual relationships with women and move into morally pure relationships?”

First, admit that each immoral relationship was sinful. Second, ask the Lord to break the bond between you and each woman with whom you have been involved. Then third, present your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Last, renew your mind. Whenever you are attracted to a woman, pray, “Lord Jesus, may I see her as You see her through Your eyes. I pray she would grow more and more into the godly woman You created her to be. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.”

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2)

C. The Doorway Out of Addiction

When you trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are given a new identity. The Bible says you are not just a creation of God, but a child of God. You are “set apart,” you are in His family, you receive His nature, and you are to reflect His character. What an extraordinary privilege! Since sexual sin doesn’t reflect Christ accurately, you can be assured that He has already provided a way out for you.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:24)

•     Decide whether you really want to be set free.

—  “Am I ready to take responsibility for my addiction?”

—  “Am I sick and tired of being in this bondage?”

—  “Am I willing to go to war in order to win?”

“Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled.” (1 Peter 1:13)

•     Dispel the myth that you don’t need help.

—  “I admit I’m out of control.”

—  “I admit my sexual addiction is sin.”

—  “I admit I can’t change myself.”

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

•     Deal with the secret of child abuse.

(Some say that over 80 percent of addicts were sexually abused, over 90 percent, emotionally abused.)

—  Talk with a friend—let go of the secret.

—  Talk to a counselor to understand abuse issues.

—  Talk to the perpetrator in a safe place—confrontation is biblical.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along.” (Matthew 18:15–16)

•     Discern the inner need you have tried to satisfy through sexual passion.

—  Your need for sacrificial love?

—  Your need for significance?

—  Your need for security?

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)

•     Determine to let Jesus meet your needs.

—  Ask Him to forgive you for your willful sin.

—  Ask Him to come into your life as your personal Lord and Savior.

—  Ask Him to meet your deepest inner needs.

“My God will meet all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)

•     Dedicate your life to the Lord Jesus.

—  Let His will be your will.

—  Let the Lord be Lord of your life.

—  Let Christ have absolute control.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23–24)

Prayer of Salvation

God,   I need You in my life.

I   admit that my life has been out of control.

Please   forgive me for all my sins.

Jesus,   thank You for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.

I’m   asking You to come into my life to be my Lord and my Savior.

Change   me inside out, and make me the person You want me to be.

In   Your holy name I pray. Amen


D. Breaking Free

As bank president, you receive word that a time bomb inside the vault is set to go off at midnight. The combination lock has been electronically jammed. If you don’t get rid of the bomb, the bank will be destroyed. You must break the code! Similarly, in every addict’s mind a sexual time bomb threatens to destroy both the body and soul. With the right combination you can save yourself if you break the code.

Cracking the Code

The mind of every addict is locked by faulty beliefs. Your beliefs are what you think about your own value, your relationships, and your sexuality. They determine all your behavior. If your thinking is faulty, your findings are faulty, and then the way you function will be faulty.

The Bible says not only can you change, but also how you can change. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” You must reprogram your mind with the right code. Every day for the next twelve weeks read these life-changing truths. Pray that God will open your heart. Jesus says, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Your Need for Love

False belief:

“I am unlovable.… Sex gives me the feeling of being loved.”

True belief:

You are loved.… God loves you.

•     Jesus loved you enough to die on the cross for you.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

•     Your heavenly Father loved you enough to adopt you into His family.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)


Sex is not love, love is not sex—sex is sex. Love is a commitment that seeks the highest and best for another person. Since God loves you in this way, He will give you the ability to develop other loving relationships in which sex is not a substitute for love.

“[Love] is not self-seeking.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Your Need for Significance

False belief:

“I am unworthy.… Sex makes me feel significant.”

True belief:

You already have worth.… God has already established your worth.

•     God created you. Therefore, you have worth.

“You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

•     If you are a Christian, you have worth because Christ lives in you.

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)


Sex does not give you significance. You are significant because Jesus Himself is in you and imparts His power to you. He is your source of power and significance.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Your Need for Security

False belief:

“I am unwanted.… Sex numbs the pain of my insecurity.”

True belief:

You are wanted.… The Lord wants you.

•     The Lord wants to be your Shepherd throughout life.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)

•     The Lord wants to walk with you through life.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)


Sex does not give you security. Your security is found in a love relationship with the Lord. This true security can never be taken away from you.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Cracking the Code with the Freedom Formula

•     Don’t focus on the negative combination.

Every time you focus on quitting a sexual obsession, you want it all the more. Living under the “law” never changes you. If you focus only on what you shouldn’t do, you will be pulled more powerfully to do it.

—  “I need to quit thinking about sex.”

—  “I won’t rent X-rated movies.”

—  “I have to get over this addiction.”

—  “I shouldn’t call the sex line.”

—  “I’ll quit cruising next month.”

“The power of sin is the law.”

(1 Corinthians 15:56)

•     Focus on the positive combination.

—  A New Purpose

“I want to reflect the character of Christ through what I see and do. I am …

“… Predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

—  A New Priority

“I will do whatever it takes to have a pure heart and a transformed life.”

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

—  A New Plan

“I will rely on Christ’s strength, not on my own.”

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

A Transformed Life: God’s Gift of Self-control

•     To see pornography as sin

•     To destroy all erotic material

•     To purchase and read only uplifting material

•     To avoid tempting situations

•     To turn quickly to a preplanned project (exercise, hobbies, reading, etc.) when tempted

•     To think on Philippians 4:8–9 when tempted

•     To make needed changes in old routines (driving route, television, reading material, etc.)

•     To block all adult X-rated programs from TV, cable, hotels

•     To resist channel surfing on TV

•     To be accountable to a friend each week

•     To memorize and claim pertinent Scriptures

•     To break the chain of obsession

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

(Philippians 4:8)

Q “Although I am a Christian, I still have a problem with lust. Now that I know God loves me and has given me eternal life, having these desires makes me feel even worse. Why do I keep wanting to do these things that I know are wrong?”

Paul spoke to this very problem in Romans 7:21–24 when he said, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul goes on to answer his own question by saying the answer is Jesus—relying on the Spirit of Christ, who lives within you, to be your source of power for change (verse 25). If you have accepted Christ to be your Lord and Savior, He will give you His divine power to overcome sin.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9)

E. The Pathway to Purity

Does the thought of purity seem impossible to you? Something unattainable? Take heart. God would never call you to be pure without giving you all that you need to be pure. So be encouraged. As you yield your life to His life, you have God’s guarantee that you can have a pure heart and a pure life.

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

(1 Thessalonians 4:7)


Participate in an accountability group dealing with sex addictions.

•     Meet regularly and talk specifically each week.

•     Set realistic guidelines and goals.

•     Admit each time that you slip.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10)

Uphold boundary lines that must be off limits.

•     With the help of an accountability partner, make a list of times in your daily routine, places in your home, in the community, or on the internet where you are tempted.

•     With your partner, establish ways of breaking routines and setting boundaries (like installing blocking or monitoring software on your computer or changing schedules) to avoid tempting situations.

•     Establish a regular pattern of accountability by giving your partner permission to ask you about your behavior and, where necessary, make further changes in your routine to avoid temptation.

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)

Rid yourself, your home, and your work of all sexually addictive items.

•     Throw away all pornography.

•     Clear away all erotic paraphernalia.

•     Discard addresses and calling cards of all sexual contacts.

“Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” (Isaiah 1:16–17)

Incorporate the power of Christ daily when temptation overwhelms you.

•     “Lord, I’m relying on You to be my Redeemer.”

•     “Lord, I’m depending on You to be my Deliverer.”

•     “Lord, in my weakness I need Your strength.”

“ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Take on positive habits of discipline, such as exercise, sports, regular sleep, and new hobbies.

•     Choose to make a “to do” list of healthy activities you enjoy.

•     Choose to do one item from the list when you are tempted.

•     Choose to write a letter, call a friend, or help someone in need.

“He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)

Yield your mind to meditating on and memorizing Scripture.

•     Read a chapter from the New Testament each day.

•     Read Romans chapter 6 once a week.

•     Read Colossians 3:1–5 each day, and memorize Philippians 4:8–9.

“Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:21)

F.  Sever the “Soul Ties” and Strongholds

When two people engage in a sexual relationship, a “soul tie” is established between them. Fantasizing about an illicit relationship with another person can also create an unholy bond with that person in your mind and heart. All sexual relationships outside of marriage need to be broken, even if they occurred in the past and are over. Begin by praying.

“God, thank You for loving me in spite of my wrong choices. I confess each sexually immoral relationship as sin. Lord Jesus, through Your supernatural power, I ask You to break all unholy sexual bonds that exist between me and anyone else. I pray that the soul ties with () be broken. (Pray this sentence naming each person with whom you have been sexually and/or emotionally involved.) Lord Jesus, from this moment on, I will rely on Your power and live in Your strength.”

“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”

(1 Corinthians 6:16–17)

Severing the Stronghold

When a series of sexually impure relationships occurs, a sexual stronghold is formed. Until God demolishes the stronghold, you will continue in the sexually impure patterns of the past. Pray that the sexual stronghold be demolished.

“Lord Jesus, I affirm that sex is not my master. You are my Master. Through the supernatural power of Christ, I pray that You destroy every stronghold—mental, emotional, and sexual—in my life. Keep me from justifying impure thoughts. May I see sin as You see it and hate sin as You hate it. Lord, I give You control of my life.”

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 10:3–5)

G. Winning the Spiritual War

The Bible tells us that we are engaged in an ongoing battle—a spiritual war against three enemies; the world, the flesh, and the devil.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

(Ephesians 2:1–3)

•     The world refers to ideas and lies that are in opposition to God.

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

•     The flesh, sometimes translated “sinful nature,” means living out of our own abilities, independently of God.

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [flesh]. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)

•     The devil, or Satan, the supreme adversary of God, wants to defeat the followers of God.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

H. Spiritual Warfare Prayer

Whether you realize it or not, you have an enemy of your soul whose purpose is to defeat God’s purpose for your life. Although sexual enticement may have been your snare, spiritual warfare can be the means to set you free. Every time you sense the snare of sexual temptation, pray this prayer.

•     “Heavenly Father, thank You that the blood of Jesus purchased the full forgiveness of my sins and that I am Your child forever. Because Jesus lives in me and because He has supernatural power, I realize that I have His supernatural power to overcome any sin.

—  Read Revelation 12:11 and Colossians 1:27.

•     Because Jesus has victory over Satan and his demons, I choose to live in His victory.

—  Read Colossians 2:13–15 and 1 Corinthians 15:57.

•     In the name of Jesus, I command that any power not from God leave me. No demonic power has authority over me because greater is Jesus, who is in me, than Satan, who is in the world.

—  Read James 4:7 and 1 John 4:4.

•     Lord God, I ask You to take back any ground the enemy has gained in my mind, will, and emotions and to enable me to firmly stand my ground.

—  Read Ephesians 6:13.

•     My body is the temple of Your Holy Spirit, and I refuse to allow it to be used for any ungodly purpose.

—  Read 1 Corinthians 6:19.

•     Put a hedge of protection around my body, a guard around my mind, and blinders around my eyes.

—  Read Job 1:10.

•     Make me aware of anything that is not pleasing to You.

—  Read Psalm 139:23–24.

•     Conform me to Your character, and fill me with Your Spirit.

—  Read Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 5:18.

•     From this moment on, I will rely on Your power and live in Your strength.

—  Read Philippians 4:13.

•     In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)

I.  The Way Out of the Web

Many who have become addicted to pornography on the Internet promise themselves or others they will stop … only to keep coming back for more. Even finding ways to get around the Internet filters, blockers, and controls on their computers can become an exciting adventure. Realistically, aside from canceling or totally blocking Internet access, there are no 100 % guarantees to keep all addicts from accessing sexually enticing materials. There are, however, creative ways to help you get free or gain control of you’re addictive behavior. Freedom begins with a commitment to the Lord to do whatever He wants you to do in order to be mentally pure. Based on that decisive commitment, the next step is to strategically plan for success. The following suggestions will help you follow through with your decision.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

(Hebrews 10:36)

•     Use a Christian Internet service provider (ISP) that filters the Internet at the server side.

•     Use an Internet filter that has a password that must be entered before you can change the controls. (Allow your wife or trusted friend to keep you accountable by password-protecting the filter!)

•     If you, like many married men, struggle with late night Internet pornography, use a filter that blocks late night access. Several Internet guardian programs allow the password holder to limit access to the Internet to certain times.

•     Be sure to find a guardian filter that is guaranteed to work with your Internet browser. (For example, several Christian Internet filters do not block Internet access if someone uses the AOL browser.)

•     Find an ISP or an Internet filter that allows the password holder to access a protected file that tracks all Internet activity. This serves as a major reminder that all Internet activity will be monitored. This feature also prohibits the user from erasing history trails.

•     Monitoring software provides a helpful alternative to blocking software. Trusted friends are e-mailed all the sites you visit each month with questionable sites flagged, enabling them to hold you accountable for the material you view on the Internet.

•     Since many people receive pornographic e-mails inviting them to simply click on a link in the e-mail to be immediately transferred to a porn site, be sure that you have a filter that either filters out pornographic e-mail or stops the Internet user from being linked to a pornographic site.

•     Place the home computer in a part of the house where there is heavy traffic and where the computer screen can be easily seen. Avoid places where computer use can be secretive or hidden.

•     In many cases, canceling all Internet access for a period of time is necessary to help break the cycle of sexual addiction.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

(Hebrews 4:13)

Q “My teenage son is addicted to pornography—he refuses to stop accessing it on the Internet. I have repeatedly told him to stop, but to no avail. What can I do?”

While an Internet filter should certainly be applied, many network surfers have learned to circumvent the system—nevertheless, you need to communicate your convictions and your boundaries about pornography. You need to tell him that, because you love him, you will do whatever it takes to help him become a young man of moral character. If he has a computer in his room, remove it. No matter how much he says he needs it for school, accessing pornography was his choice; therefore, he has chosen his own consequence. To explain why you are being so firm, you could say,

“Son, I love you and want you to have increased freedom. But I also know pornography has such a strong pull that many people become addicted. That is just one reason why we are prohibiting you from accessing porn sites. Pornography poisons your mind and at the same time pollutes our home. Pornography not only violates my values, but it also offends the heart of God—because it debases the very human beings whom He made in His image. Since you’re having such difficulty with self-control, I see that you need my help. You’ve left me no choice but to revoke all computer privileges. After a month, we can talk about how you can regain my trust.”

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:29–30)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

Selected Bibliography

Carnes, Patrick. Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction. Minneapolis, MN: CompCare, 1983.

Crabb, Lawrence J., Jr. Understanding People: Deep Longings for Relationship. Ministry Resources Library. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.

Hall, Laurie. An Affair of the Mind: One Woman’s Courageous Battle to Salvage Her Family from the Devastation of Pornography. Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family, 1996.

Hall, Laurie Sharlene. The Cleavers Don’t Live Here Anymore: Bringing Hope and Radical Forgiveness to the Bewilderment, Betrayal, and Bitterness of Real Family Life. Ann Arbor, MI: Vine, 2000.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Kirk, Jerry R. A Winnable War: How to Fight Pornography in Your Community. Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family, 1989.

McGee, Robert S. The Search for Significance. 2nd ed. Houston, TX.: Rapha, 1990.

Rogers, Henry J. The Silent War: Ministering to Those Trapped in the Deception of Pornography. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf, 1999.

Schaumburg, Harry W. False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1992.

“Ted Bundy’s Death-Row Message: Pornography Is a Fatal Addiction.” Focus on the Family Citizen, March 1989, 14–15.[1]


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Sexual Addiction: The Way Out of the Web (1–31). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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