Our society and media have done a great deal to taint and perversely hardwire our brains for an unhealthy view of sex.
In treating men and women in my practice who struggle with sex addiction or pornography — or who are simply are still stuck with images they have seen in the past that still influence their memories and sex lives — I feel deeply disappointed. Media has cultivated images and resources that have perverted people’s views of sex. And this phenomenon affects both genders.
But society has allowed countless ways for individuals to not only access sexual images at the touch of a computer, but also to deaden our moral compass, leading to the need for more and more stimuli, still not being satisfied, and then reaching out to go beyond what a person would ever imagine, and get involved in cyber sex or prostitution. And believe me, Christians, and even those in spiritual leadership, are not immune, once that first step is taken.
I listen to men who have gone down the line from what they deem normal attraction to porn, to massage parlors, to occasional prostitution to weekly visits, to hiding the financial deficit of such visits, and to feeling disgusted after — only to keep doing it, because now it is an addiction. And addictions are not always enjoyable.
I have treated a woman who was sexualized so early in life that she now is aroused by images of women being submissive and degraded. The most common issue I see in my practice is men who started out with mainstream porn only to move on to fetishes and images leading to the humiliation and torture of women.
Why has making women suffer become sexually stimulating? When we think of God’s love for man and woman as he created them, the value he put upon us, and the gift of sexuality, we understand that he would never incorporate torture of precious human beings to be stimulating. The women who volunteer for these types of videos or images are lost as well. Yet society buys into their low self-esteem and acts that humiliate them for sexual release.
When someone is addicted to any of the above activities, there is a hole in their life they are trying to fill. But they are usually not aware of that until life begins to disintegrate: a spouse catches them, they get a disease, the disgust and depression over their behavior outweighs the thrill, or they get caught by law enforcement.
And it takes professional help, not simply prayer, to be cured of these thoughts, behaviors and addictions. It affects elementary teachers, pastors, moms, dads, missionaries, lawyers, you name it — it affects all walks of life.
Those images are filled with God’s children. They are someone’s child, sibling, parent, extended family member, friend. They are people who need prayer to stop degrading themselves as a means of income. And the individuals who participate in the viewing or using of these people need prayer as well.
But they need psychological help to stop, to figure out the root of the pattern of sexual images or behaviors they need for stimulation. Because these are only false fulfillments leading away from the emotional intimacy and pleasure and trust God designed for a monogamous relationship.
This is a tough topic and I have only written a few words about it in comparison to the stories I have heard and the research I have done. You take the content of this column and see it if fits for you or someone you know. And do with it what you feel led to do.
But think of this: Would you want your daughter, sister, mother, niece, best friend or even son, brother, father, nephew, or friend to be humiliated or photographed, or paid and used sexually for another’s, even your own, sexual pleasure?
That is a question only you can answer.
The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by email at Kimberlie@kimberliezakariantherapy.com or by mail at Kimberlie Zakarian Therapy, Inc. 2233 Honolulu Ave. Ste 310, Montrose, 91020.