Conversations about Sexual Addictions: A Conference Sponsored by Sattler CollegeWritten by Sattler College
If you were not able to join us for our conversations about sexual addictions, do not fear! Here is a summary of the presentations, hard questions answered, and calls to action.
Why does Sattler College prioritize this conversation?
Dean Taylor, president of Sattler College, explains why lately so much energy has been put into the fight against sexual addictions. Mr. Taylor says: “If there is one word that we want people to think about when they think about Sattler College, it is the word discipleship.” He then describes three priorities that the college embraces: (1) Purity (2) Kingdom advance (3) The historic faith. Mr. Taylor then highlights some astounding statistics of pornography use among conservative Christians. Sattler College bases its response on this verse: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)
What are the drivers behind sexual addictions?
Rodney Wright, a board member at Pure Desire Ministries, gives an engaging talk on some of the root issues which drive sexual addictions. He weaves parts of his captivating life story into the talk. “I didn't just have a moral issue, I had a brain issue,” he concluded. Mr. Wright states that Pure Desire Ministries seeks to “lower the shame factor in churches” to tackle members’ sexual addictions and “integrate clinical studies with the truth we find in scripture.”
Mr. Wright talks about three drivers that often lie behind sexual addictions. The first is simply a lack of understanding. Many children grow up without having healthy conversations with their parents about sexuality. When it comes to a child’s exposure to pornography, Mr. Wright stated that “it’s not a matter about if; it’s about when.” Dad and Mom need to become safe people to talk to about sex. Having these frequent conversations with your children will normalize their sexuality to manage it in a healthy way. Mr. and Mrs. Wright wrote a book, How to Talk With Your Kids About Sex, where they give tools to educate children on their sexuality wisely.
The second driver has to do with a weakness in modern Christianity; too often, it is a religion that promotes shame. Mr. Wright believes that the Church has created a culture of “silence, secrecy, and fear of judgment.” To lower the shame factor, he believes that it is crucial to see our sexuality as good. We ought to speak about it in terms of “healthy versus unhealthy sexuality.” Mr. Wright suggests that in the realm of sexual purity, “healthy is the new holy.” Also, he shows some helpful charts to illustrate that Christians are to integrate God’s ways into all areas of our life, including our sexuality.
Finally, the third driver Mr. Wright mentions is unprocessed traumas. Pornography often becomes a coping mechanism for some kind of pain in our lives. Mr. Wright believes that the Church community should be a place where people can process their traumas without shame. He states that “our grief isn’t what is wrong with us—it's what is right with us… it's a normal healthy response to loss.” He also believes that healing must include a move toward intimacy in all our relationships. Intimacy (“into-me-you-see”) is best defined as “knowing and being known” and can appropriately be experienced in a variety of relationships.
Mr. Wright closes with the encouragement: “Don’t be afraid of God!” Without a doubt, his message will encourage you, give you hope, and inspire you to positive action.
What are the effects of addictions on the brain?
Luke Imperato, a Pure Life Ministries counselor, gives a passionate challenge to those who may be unclear about the seriousness of sexual sin. He shares his dramatic story, which demonstrates how an active Christian can develop this secret “dark side.” While freedom can seem impossible, Mr. Imperato has a story of hope to share with anyone struggling with sexual addictions. In his words: “God is not a loser… there is freedom available!”
Mr. Imperato very strongly believes that to gain freedom, one must view sexual addictions as sin. He reminds us of Jesus’ words in the sermon on the mount when He said that even lust in the heart is considered sexual immorality. Mr. Imperato seeks to clearly define the terms: “Sexual addiction is a lifestyle of sexual immorality.” He quotes Steve Gallagher’s new book, A World of Lies, emphasizing that a person will never have a pure heart as long as they are indecisive about the sinfulness of lust and masturbation. The scriptures are clear that no one living in sexual immorality will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Speaking on the effects of sexual addictions on the brain, Mr. Imperato seeks to be clear that fear of consequences will not give you freedom from sexual addiction. In his words: “If you approach pornography addiction with the same cause and effect (self-preservation) principle as not touching a hot stove, you will not find victory.” At the same time, pornography and other sexual addictions do cause damage to a person’s brain. They do cause addictive neurological stimulation, which has many adverse effects. The excessive doses of pleasure hormones will gradually have a numbing effect on the brain and will hinder a person's ability to focus or to hold meaningful conversations with friends.
The positive news is that one can engage and win with full repentance. Mr. Imperato believes strongly that “sexual addiction is a sin, not a disease.” It has everything to do with our relationship with God; he describes repentance as an “upheaval of the inside man.” Freedom comes when we realize that we are not a godly man or woman and confess that sin has dominated our lives. Mr. Imperato strongly encourages us to seek fuller repentance: “A destruction of our way of thinking and surrender to Jesus Christ.” The question is: How can we live a lifestyle of repentance?
Panel Discussion: Your Hard Questions Answered
Here we have a fantastic discussion by Rodney Wright (Pure Desire Ministries), Luke Imperato (Pure Life Ministries), and Dean Taylor (President of Sattler College). Many of the questions are a response to the talks given during the conference: “Conversations about Sexual Addictions.” These panelists have all lived in the trenches of Christian discipleship and have much wisdom to offer.
Here are some of the important questions the panelists discussed
- The Church has erred in not seeing sexuality as a good thing. How do we change this culture and promote a positive view? How should an older single in particular view sexuality as a positive blessing rather than something that must constantly be repressed?
- How can we encourage leaders to change the way they approach this subject?
- Many times when individuals are trying to measure their purity, they measure it using negative metrics. For example, they may try to live by the following statements: (1) I did not view anything sexually immoral or pornographic; (2) I did not think lustfully or looking lustfully; or (3) I did not put myself in a compromising position. All of these statements are stating things that they will try NOT to do. How can individuals begin thinking of purity in positive terms or I WILL statements?
- What are some key ways to develop healthy thought patterns and undo deeply rooted ways of thinking in light of sexual addictions? How does a person renew his mind after damage has been done?
- We know this talk applies to both genders. But are there any differences in helping women who struggle with sexual addictions? Men are almost expected to struggle, but when it comes to women people act like it's “extra bad.” They feel extra-ostracized by being a woman in this situation.
- Is there any difference between “failures” and “addiction”? If some people don't have a 20 hours-per-week problem, but rather allow themselves to watch sexually-explicit content every other month, what steps should they take? When should people look at a residential program like Pure Life?
Call To Action For Men
If you or someone you know is struggling, TAKE ACTION. Don’t put it off any longer hoping that the problem will take care of itself. It won’t. As Dr. Ted Roberts said, “There is no greater prison than the one people find themselves in when they love Christ with all their hearts, but are slowly choking to death as the noose strangles the spiritual life out of them.”
We at Sattler College are taking this seriously among our own student body. We also want to become a resource for others across the world who are personally struggling or who want to help others within their church. We believe there is power in integrating both clinical studies and scriptural principles to engage in the battle against sexual addictions.
→Please consider joining one of our "Conquer Series" groups. This is a 10-week intensive support structure for men struggling with any kind of sexual addiction. The program includes cinematic video lessons, group accountability, daily check-ins and many powerful habits to renew the mind. The videos, tools, and check-ins all happen on an interactive online platform which costs each person $10 per month. Group meetings are held on Zoom.