Obstacles to Intimacy Series
~Exploring God’s Gift of Intimacy~
This weekend, I spoke to a group of beautiful women in Breckenridge, Colorado at a Rocky Mountain Ministries Network Retreat. The conference theme was A Beautiful Life. In my workshop Ashes to Beauty, Exploring God’s Gift of Intimacy, we discussed the 3 obstacles to intimacy, which I plan to share with you through a series of blog posts.
As you and I know full well, America is sexually sick. It was obvious through the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as well as the increase we have seen in sex trafficking. Recently, our local news station reported 20 juveniles and 7 pimps were arrested. For the second year in a row, Denver, Colorado is ranked first in the nation for the number of juveniles rescued from sex trafficking. While this appears to be good news, it is also disheartening, as it indicates how prevalent this is in our OWN community, in our OWN backyard.
My husband serves on the board of Sarah’s Home, which is a faith-based therapeutic home for underage girls who have been freed from the forced commercial trade in the United States. Sarah’s Home is a place that offers education, healing, restoration and reintegration for trafficking survivors. They recover, renew, restore and redeem these girls out of the bondage of sex trafficking.
Obstacle #1 | Sex Addiction
The first obstacle to intimacy is sex addiction. As seen by the rising numbers of sex trafficking rescue organizations, you can see the demand for these services are increasing throughout the world. This should be no surprise to us. The enemy’s primary target is to create a sense of false intimacy, and sex addiction is just that.
Many may wonder who is utilizing or demanding these trafficking services. I recently read an article that indicated a very well-known sports team celebrates before and after their games by bringing in these young trafficked girls. Many political gatherings also have connoisseurs of trafficking services. Sex addiction knows no bounds. The enemy will tempt anyone he can with his trap of false intimacy. I was disheartened to hear that some businesses were discouraged when the Promise Keeper events were no longer held in their cities, as it too brought many sex addicts out of the dark into their hotels, bars, clubs and sex trafficking circles.
NOTE: If you or someone you love may be struggling with sex addiction, please refer to our Sex Addict Test in the appendix to see if this may be an issue in your life. If you discover that it is, I recommend you schedule a free assessment with one our therapists.
I like to utilize what we commonly refer to as our Fireplace Analogy. As many of us enjoy the warmth, ambiance and coziness of a fireplace in our home, we also realize that if the fire were removed from the confinement of the fireplace, it could consume and destroy everything we love. Living in Colorado with the recent forest fires, we all know too well the devastating effects fire can have, consuming everything – even our very life. Same too is that of sex. If it is taken out of the confinement of marriage that God intended, it too can consume and destroy. However, it consumes and destroys not only the tangible, but the things most important to us – our relationship with our spouse, our children, and ultimately everything in its path.
Many people come to our office for what we refer to as the 2 Ps: pain or priority. Either they are in so much pain from the reality of sex addiction and the effects it can cause, or they have made it a priority to heal, recover and restore their relationship with their loved one. Many of our clients are the walking wounded. I used to be that myself. I was in such pain and heartache over the effects of sex addiction in my own marriage, I nearly thought I wouldn’t be able to function and live as a normal adult. My husband disclosed his addiction to me after the birth of our third daughter. Thankfully, I had a prolonged maternity leave, so I could process some of the pain I was in prior to heading back to my normal daily routine. Not everyone has that luxury. For some, God may choose to resuscitate your marriage. For others, He is asking you to stop CPR and allow your marriage to die so that He can resurrect it from the dead!
My husband says there are 5 areas of a problem: health, money, career, legal status and one’s personal or professional relationships. As many of us living with a sex addict may know, we may experience health issues due to STDs from multiple sex partners. We may experience issues with money due to payment for pornography, strip clubs or vacation homes, etc. Some sex addicts may lose their job over pornography being found on their computer at work. It can affect their legal status as well since many deal with the legal ramifications of their acting-out behaviors. And most, if not all, struggle with the effects of sex addiction in their personal and professional relationships.
We define sobriety from sex addiction as the following: 1. No sex outside of marriage. 2. No pornography, and 3. No masturbation. You have the right to ask your husband/wife, fiancé, boyfriend/girlfriend about these three items. We offer polygraphs at our office to ensure full disclosure. We also recommend follow up polygraphs to help rebuild trust. Not only that, our therapists must take a polygraph exam as well to ensure they are men and women of integrity.
My husband always says, “Lust Takes, Love Gives.” I remember early in our dating relationship he brought up the passage in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He was trying to tell me then about his issue with lust. Even throughout our marriage, he would ask me to read books on the topic. It wasn’t until 6 years into our marriage that I discovered how big of an issue it truly was.
As our Sex Addiction Continuum indicates, it begins with the Monogamous Cheater that can then lead to The Flirt, which can then lead to an Emotional Affair. Then, there is pornography use and masturbation. It’s important to note there is a chemical called peptin that is released upon orgasm. It is similar to that of a camera taking a photo of what you are viewing. It allows you to glue to the image you are viewing and creates a neurological pathway in your brain. We want to glue to our spouse. There are some severe cases where an individual can no longer perform with another person due to the repetitive pornography use with masturbation. They have unintentionally glued themselves to their fantasy girl rather than their spouse. Of course, the continuum includes physical affairs and then anonymous or paid for sex.
I remember a friend of mine who had an affair with someone who she believed should have been her life partner instead of her current husband at the time. She was deeply in love with the other man in her life. They tried to receive help as a couple; however, she continued in her addictive behaviors. Later, she shared with me that she was having anonymous sex. However, she believed this was better than her first affair, because she didn’t love the men she was cheating with. We believe the further you are on the continuum the further into the addiction you become. Addiction needs two things in order to survive: secrecy and opportunity. And that is exactly what my friend had to continue in her acting-out behaviors
In my next blog article, I’ll be discussing tools and tips to avoid Obstacle #1.
Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.