Dr. Laaser (2004) provides a detailed look into sexual addiction from a Christian viewpoint in Healing Wounds of Sexual Addiction. The focus of this assignment will be to gain knowledge of what sexual addiction is, how family dynamics are affected, treatment of sexual addiction, and lastly addressing sexual addiction in the church. Exploring the different areas of how sexual addiction and how it can affect the life of the addicted individual will be assessed. Sexual addiction is a sin that Dr. Laaser (2004) discusses in his work. Healing Wounds of Sexual Addiction examines the many areas of the addicted person’s life that can be affected but it also provides hope and encouragement.
Experts speculate that up to 10 percent of the total Christian population in the United States is sexually addicted (Laaser, 2004). There are so many individuals that are struggling with a sexual addiction and are too ashamed to seek help thus leaving a great number of unreported cases. Several reasons may apply to the sexually addicted person for not seeking help; Laaser (2004) discusses some of those reasons as being shame, guilt, fear of losing a job and their family. Dr. Laaser’s work is clearly articulated and provides great information on healing sexual addiction and the road to recovery. It is through his work that a Christian worldview is established towards the healing process.
Dr. Laaser’s understanding of sexual addiction is described as sinful behavior that the addict has no control over. The sexual behaviors that become addictive are sinful (Laaser, 2004). Sexual addictions can take many forms which include cybersex, pornography, and fantasies. Dr. Laaser explains that these addictions if left unmanaged can also lead to destruction (p.24). Sexual addiction is classified as a disease and like all diseases must be treated properly. Both sexual addiction and disease have observable symptoms and a natural progression that, if left untreated, get worse and eventually lead to death (Laaser, 2004).
From a biblical standpoint Dr. Laaser makes a clear correlation between sexual addiction as a disease and a sin. Sexual addiction is also seen as a moral sin (Laaser, 2004). Moral sexual sin describes how the addict does not view their behaviors as wrong because they are only having sex with their spouse. However, they have detached from the spiritual and emotional aspect of their relationship. The addict uses sex as a way to escape reality. Dr. Laaser mentions that, “the question is whether or not sex is an expression of intimacy or an escape from it” (p. 26).
There are similar views that I share with Dr. Laaser in regards to sexual addiction. I absolutely agree that sexual addiction is a disease that can be deadly to the addict. As mentioned earlier, diseases that are left untreated can lead to death. The diseased mind of the sexual addict may lead to high risk behaviors as well. My personal understanding of sexual addiction is in line with Dr. Laaser’s in viewing the addiction as a sexual sin for it is.
Dr. Laaser takes a deep look into how family dynamics can contribute the behavior of the sexual addict by explaining four categories of family dynamics; boundaries, rules, roles, and addictions. Addicts that grow up in families in which unhealthy dynamics are present are more apt to believe that their negative behaviors are justified. Dr. Laaser describes in his work how boundaries are broken in families that sexual abuse exists. Boundaries define the ways a person’s invisible space can and can’t be crossed (Laaser, 2004). When these boundaries are broken, it can leave the child feeling confused. The confusion comes into play when a loved one inappropriately touches them or engages in sexual acts. Dr. Laaser mentions that there are different types of boundaries such as loose and rigid. Loose boundaries are when something happens in the family that should not such as fondling, touching inappropriately, and sexual contact. Rigid boundaries are stricter, loving and caring interactions do not take place.
Underline issues pertaining to family dynamics can deeply impact the life of the individual that suffers from sexual addictions. Those issues carry into adulthood and can impact the relationships that the addict has. It becomes difficult for the addict to recover when underline issues are not addressed. The cycle will continue if not addressed and the addict may do what was done to them, to their children or others. It is important for sex addicts to recognize that their sexual activity is an attempt to medicate old wounds and to find love (Laaser, 2004).
Examining my own family dynamics I recognize that in our household we did not talk about sex, it was almost taboo. My mother was strict and therefore was somewhat rigid in raising me. I was taught very early in age to never let any one touch my private parts and that included other family members. If those boundaries were violated I was to tell my mother or grandmother immediately and not be afraid to tell them. When the time came to discuss the birds and the bees, I almost felt embarrassed because I did not want to have that conversation with my mother. My personal values that were taught to me by mother and grandmother shaped my beliefs about sex. I believe that it may be some challenges in treating an individual with a sexual addiction because I would have to be careful not to be judgmental.
Treatment of Sexual Addiction
The treatment of sexual addiction is a long one that can take a lifetime. The process of healing from sexual addiction includes answering important questions, creating accountability, and understanding how people change (Laaser, 2004). Dr. Laaser mentions that before treatment with new people he asks three spiritual questions: 1. Do you want to get well? 2. What are you thirst for? 3. Are you willing to die to yourself? (p. 122). Dr. Laaser’s approach to treatment provides a spiritual standpoint that makes the sexual addict dig deeper into themselves and explore their relationship with God. The ten steps of accountability allow an individual to look at the rebuilding process in their road to recovery. One of the biggest challenges that the sex addict will face is changing their behaviors. The healing journey is a process of changing old addictive and destructive behaviors into new and healthy ones (Laaser, 2004).
The Sexual Addiction Screening Test and Sexual Addiction Inventory is the most used screening test for sexual addiction as noted by Dr. Laaser. It is important that an effective treatment plan includes five components which are; stopping sexual behaviors, stopping rituals, stopping fantasy, healing despair, and healing shame (Laaser, 2004). Dr. Laaser also recommends that the individual experiencing a sexual addiction work through healing abuse in six stages; 1. Understand the abuse and accept that it has happened. 2. Accept the abuse and express anger. 3. Go through the process of grieving. 4. Confront the abuser. 5. Learn to forgive. 6. Find meaning in the pain. (p.161).
At this point in my career, I am continuing to learn about different disorders and what counseling approaches work. I feel that in order for me to effectively counsel an individual with a sexual addiction, I will need to continue to learn and become competent in the area of sexual addiction. It is with my belief that with the appropriate coursework and trainings, I will be able to counsel those that suffer from sexual addiction. As I continue through my graduate program it is imperative that competence is attained because I would not want to cause more hurt to the client. Dr. Laaser’s work has provided a clear cut understanding of what it takes to work with individuals with sexual addictions from a Christian perspective.
Sexual Addiction and the Church
A Leadership Journal survey revealed that 23 percent of 300 pastors had done something sexually inappropriate with someone other than their spouse (Laaser, 2004). It is becoming more prevalent to hear about sexual misconduct in the church. This misconduct has made people skeptical about the leaders of the church in whom they are suppose to trust. Dr. Laaser outlines characteristics of the sexually addicted pastor or priest in his work. Dr. Laaser’s recommendations regarding addressing sexual addiction in the church, not only looks at healing the pastor or priest but also the congregation and victims.
I agree with Dr. Laaser in addressing sexual addiction in the church. His approaches look at the church as a whole and how everyone in the church as affected. Indeed the pastor or priest that has inflicted sexual abuse onto their members must get the needed help and take accountability for their actions; however, it is also important that those that have been abused be treated and has the opportunity to process what has happened. With instances of sexual indiscretions becoming more frequent, it is imperative that parishioners feel that they have a safe place to worship and a leader that they can confide in and trust.
Healing from sexual addiction takes time and is a process. The road to recovery is long and ongoing in the sexual addict’s life. The person living with the addiction has to come to a point in which they want to change. Shame and guilt can hinder the sex addict from seeking help. It is important that the individual living with a sexual disorder feel supported and not judged. Dr. Laaser’s work illustrates how there is hope and that through Gods love and forgiveness recovery is possible. Sexual addiction affects not only the addict but their loved ones also. As Dr. Laaser stated, “ultimately, if all things are possible with God, we can accept that there are sex addicts who may be cured” (p. 223).
Laaser, M.R. (2004). Healing the wounds of sexual addiction. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House.