This week I invited Paul Savage (founder of Savage Love Ministries) to share his reflections on the typical client he works with. What he sent me is candid, raw and honest. You may not agree with it. You may be deeply offended by it. That is fine. Don’t make the mistake though of simply writing off what he has to say. Read his article and ask God to reveal yourself in it. Then make a plan to act on what you have learned.
As Men Who Believe, we must invite the Holy Spirit to shed light into any darkness that exists within us. While always remembering that our identity is not found in any secret sin. It is found in the One who paid the price we could not bare and purchased our freedom at the expense of His own life.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
As a psychotherapist who works exclusively with men who struggle with sexual sin and their wives, there is “typical guy” who I see even though each guy’s story is different. The reasons why guys struggle with sexual sin are pretty universal.
Here is the profile:
Religion: Exclusively Christian
Marital Status: Usually married
Most guys come to me because they have gotten caught. They have gotten caught masturbating, looking at porn, checking out women in the presence of their wives, visiting massage parlors, strip clubs, having affair(s) and/or they have been arrested (guys who get arrested most always get better. Something about being in handcuffs for the first time really changes a guy’s perspective on life). If a guy is married, his marriage is typically not good. It can be functioning OK, but it is rarely what I would classify as good. If a guy is single, he most likely comes to see me because “it makes him feel better about himself”. Unfortunately, most single guys whom I have seen (as well as other therapists) rarely have prolonged periods of not acting out sexually even after therapy. Without a wife who is involved in her man’s recovery, a man has very little motivation to get better. I am not saying single guys cannot get better. For three years of my recovery I was single and I continued to do the things neccesary to stay on the path of recovery. I am just saying it is rare.
Most men do not just “start sinning sexually” one day after they become an adult. Their pattern of acting out often began before the age of 15 and has continued on and off and on and off and on again for years. Many wives of the guys I see ask “What is my part in his sin?” Most often I tell them that they have had very little to do with their husband’s sin. Usually his pattern of behavior started in early adolescence.
There are six types of sexual sin and most of my clients exhibit at least two of these traits sometimes all six.
- Emotional: Did not receive love and affection from their mother and/or father as a child and they went to the Woman (physical and imaginary) to receive that love and affection.
- Physical: When a man ejaculates he produces chemicals in his body that are four times stronger than heroin (endorphins, adrenalin, dopamine serotonin and enkaphlins). Nothing gives us an emotional rush like an orgasm.
- Chemical: This is the guy who acts out sexually to regulate his body chemistry. He is likely, bi-polar, manic-depressive and/or clinically depressed. Many times if these guys get on the proper medication to regulate their body chemistry, they act out less frequently.
- Trauma: Sexual abuse is very common in many of my clients (40-50%). Victims of sexual abuse act out for many reasons. The best way to describe it is that something within their sexual psyche is “tweaked/skewed”.
- Spiritual: This is the guy who is demon possessed and once he is cleared of the demon(s) he no longer struggles with sexual sin. Unfortunately, many people in the church believe that this is common and in many churches, it is the norm. This could not be farther from the truth. Dr. Doug Weiss, my mentor and the leading expert on sexual addiction within the Church, has counseled over 5000 men. He knows of FIVE men like this. Demon influence and oppression is real. I see it every day in my practice. But waving the “magic God wand” over guys and they don’t struggle again is not the norm.
- Intimacy Anorexic: This is the active withholding of love, emotions, feels and praise with our wives. The best way to explain it is “going into the man cave” emotionally. This is a learned behavior and it is/was a coping mechanism to deal with pain, trauma, and hurts now and in early childhood. It goes hand in hand with sexual sin, because acting out sexually is a way for a man to medicate his feelings and emotions.
Through the process of therapy we find out why a guy acts out sexually and how his past has affected him in how he views his world today. I help him heal from past trauma, forgive those who have wronged him and learn how to not act out. This process can take anywhere from 4 months to one year. I have found that most men need to do five things to get out of and stay out of sexual sin.
- Connect with like-minded men: please notice that I said like-minded men. Many men have gotten beat up by well-meaning Christian men. Christians are all too good at shooting their wounded. Men need to be with guys who will love them no matter what they have done or where they have been and they need guys who know how to gently kick them in the butt.
- Counseling: this is not because that is the way I make my living. Men act out sexually because of stuff from their past and they need to heal and learn how to better cope with life. Sexual sin has very little to do with sex and almost everything to do with our reaction to what life has thrown at us.
- Intimacy with God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” Mathew 5:8. The Greek word for “see” is optimai, which translates better as “experience” God. You cannot experience God without being pure in heart and you cannot be pure in heart without connecting with like-minded guys and counseling. Number 3 likely will not happen without numbers 1 and 2 happening.
- His wife needs to be involved: Men get better much easier and faster when their wife is involved to some degree.
- Polygraph: Men who struggle with sexual sin have a difficult time telling the truth. It goes back to the statement that most men have about themselves: “if you really knew me you would not like me”. Man men do not like who they are; so that’s one of the reasons they lie. They also lie because they do not want to admit that they have failed in the area of sexual sin. They have heard at church from the pulpit “stop sinning sexually”. But they do not know how to stop. They can stop for a season but it comes back eventually. The polygraph helps you stop sinning sexually.
If sexual sin is a part of your life, I would be glad to help you. I know what it feels like to be sitting in the pew thinking “I would love to stop but I do not know how”. I know what it is like to live a dual life. After I acted out I would ask God to forgive me and I would ask him to take the sin away from me. But weeks or months later I would act out again. I tried to get better on my own, but I had very little success. I have not acted out sexually for nearly seven years and I have been working on my “recovery” for twelve years. I know what it takes to get out and stay out of it. The five things listed above I do! They are not just words for me, but a lifestyle of living in purity and freedom. Living pure is not bondage but FREEDOM.
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