It’s Big Business

Steve Arterburn

Guys, when you think of big business in America, what comes to mind? Computers, oil, professional sports, the automotive industry? How about pornography? If it doesn’t, it should.

That’s because pornography is now considered to be more than a $10 billion-a-year business in America. Yes, you heard me correctly; I said billion! This isn’t exactly a new development either. As far back as 1985, the Ladies Home Journal gave an excellent expos’ regarding the extent of that industry’s sprawling empire. Listen to these findings:

         Americans spent far more on pornographic material than the $6.2 billion grossed by all three major television networks’ABC, NBC, and CBS’combined.

         More than 20 million Americans buy sexually oriented magazines every month.

         Fifteen percent of all videos sold in the United States are sexually explicit in nature.

The problem’s not getting better either. In fact, between 1985 and now, pornography’s become more accepted by mainstream culture, and more easily accessible to a wider audience’largely through growing mediums like cable and satellite television, and the internet. In other words, pornography possesses a large and ever-growing claim upon the inner lives, the leisure time, and the discretionary income of multiplied millions of Americans.

If you’re one of these people, you need to find a way to stop. This isn’t a harmless pastime. You’re destroying yourself, your loved ones, and contributing to our society’s undoing. Seek and secure whatever help you need, like our Every Man’s Battle workshop, but please stop!

Interdependence: Joined at the Heart

Jeff McVay

A few weeks ago, we had a celebration in America. People across the country prepared their grills for barbecue. Pools were cleaned. Firefighters prepared for the fireworks shows (both professional and the amateur) in case anything went wrong. And most importantly, folks unfurled their flags and joined in parades to celebrate the Independence Day of the United States of America.

Of course most countries have a day in which they celebrate the moment that they proclaimed independence from another nation or people and determined to make their own way in the world in the manner that they saw fit.

In the United States, independence is more than just a day that is celebrated. It is a way of life. We are taught to be ‘self made’ people. Some classic phrases that describe this thought are: ‘pull yourself up by your own boot straps,’ ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me,’ and (my favorite) ‘I did it my way.’

In the US, independence is not just about a people group breaking away from another country in order to make a new way of life; it is now about each individual person breaking away from all other people in order to do life their way. Most of us think that we have the right to live the way we want and not have anyone else ‘tell us what to do.’ This concept of individualistic independence has done some good for our society; however, it has also led to great isolation, loneliness and fear as we try to determine our existence without the help of anyone. This loneliness and fear also leads us into many avenues of false intimacy (such as pornography) in an attempt to make us feel better about being alone without really having to deal with the possibility of abandonment by another person.

The reason the loneliness becomes so great is because we are made for real relationships. We were not meant to be alone.

Maybe it is time for us to sign a new declaration; not one of independence but one of Inter-dependence. You may be asking yourself, ‘What is the difference?’ Well, interdependence is the radical notion that we really do need other people in order to survive in this world even after we ‘grow up’ and move out on our own. In fact, I am not sure that total independence even truly exists. Human beings perish without others. Even in subtle ways, we depend on one another. In the words of the writer Thomas Moore, ‘no man is an island’. This does not mean that you cannot do anything yourself or that there is no way to tell ‘Where I end and You begin,’ but that we must find the balance between allowing others to connect with us and help us, and what is the work that we have to do to help ourselves and others.

This is especially so when it comes to the addictive struggles that people may have. Addictions tend to isolate us from anyone who might find out what it is we struggle with. In fact Patrick Carnes says that the core beliefs of a person struggling with an addiction are ‘1) I am basically a bad, unworthy person, therefore 2) no one will love me as I am. 3) My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend upon others and 4) whatever the addiction is: it is my greatest need.’

All of these beliefs foster an atmosphere of isolation. If I am a bad person and no one will love me, then I must face the world alone and I cannot rely on anyone to help. In that isolation I begin to look for something that will always relieve my pain. An addiction becomes that one thing that will always but temporarily relieve the pain. The addiction, however, becomes a source of embarrassment which leads to a greater need to isolate and repeat the cycle. Those that love us the most (family, spouses, children and friends) are usually the ones that we push away the most and who feel the greatest effects of both the addiction and the isolation that it creates.

How can a ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ help someone in this situation? It is only in coming out of isolation and being willing to let someone else speak into your life that anyone can begin a road to recovery. Remember that from the very beginning God declared, ‘It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone.’ We need one another. In beginning the recovery process we cannot do it on our own. We need to be interdependent on others who have the same desire to change behavior so that heart change or faulty core belief change can happen. This is probably the reason that the first 5 steps in a 12 step program deal with opening ourselves up to God and to other people as the beginning of behavior change.

Think of it this way. Pretend that there are absolutely no mirrors or reflective surfaces in the world at all. How would you know what you look like? There would be no way for you to know unless someone else could tell you. The isolation brought on by addiction and the faulty core beliefs that encourage them take away our abilities to see our own reflection.

The purpose of interdependence is to allow someone else to tell us what we look like. God tells us that we are loved enough to die for. Other people can talk about the good things that they see in us that we have forgotten or never seen due to addictive isolation. When we grasp how much we are loved and have a greater sense of who we are and whose we are then and only then is recovery a road that is opened up to us. This road joins us to the heart of God who calls us His sons and daughters, and to the heart of others who walk with us on this road all the way home. Maybe today can be the beginning of your own celebration. The day that you signed your ‘Declaration of Interdependence’!

For help with alcohol or drug addiction, please call our Resource Center at (800) 639-5433.
For help with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

The Lie of Illegitimate Solutions

made4relationship
We are made for relationships. The Bible is full of all kinds of relationships: relationship with God, towards others, and even towards ourselves. The trinity themselves are a model of relationship. Even more than that, it is a model of intimacy. It has been said that people who have addictive tendencies are much more aware of their spiritual nature–their deep need for relationship and intimacy. Specifically, there is an acute awareness that something is missing deep inside; a longing for a deep connection and seeking some kind of oneness, fellowship.

This need for intimacy is God ordained. We are designed for it. We know from the Bible, being made in the image and likeness of God that this is actually true, and short of having an intimate relationship with God and others, addiction may be as close as we can get to our divine design in this earthly life.

As sex addicts, we lack connections with others and in our failure to get our ‘legitimate needs met in legitimate ways,’ we isolate and withdraw into our acting out patterns as a poor substitute for what we really desire, addiction instead of relationship; intensity instead of intimacy. As individuals isolated and alone we don’t stand a chance!

Sexual addiction for most of us, became a way of connecting with ourselves in lieu of knowing how to connect with others on that deep personal level. By the time we had passed through our adolescence and into our twenties, it became a substitute for intimacy with others. A secret self of privacy that was isolated had developed. We didn’t have the communication or relationship skills to do otherwise. Intimacy, the kind that allows us to be fully accepted for who we are, just didn’t happen for us.

The world makes all kinds of false claims and promises, like, if we would only do this or seek that, the special connection we long for will indeed occur. ‘NOT!!! It may satisfy for the moment or even a season but not for a lifetime. Our particular choice, sexual addiction, in the whole scheme of alternatives is at least focused on the crown of God’s creation, woman. In our worship of women, or at least her body or body parts, in whatever form we have particularized, is still going to fall way short.

As men, what makes us so vulnerable to this form of addiction is that we are hard wired as visual creatures. In the United States, it is my belief that we are trained to become sex addicts. We’re told that men stand alone, that being needy is for wimps. We hear messages communicating that women are to be exploited. We hear that anything goes and everything is relative. We’re easy prey for the plethora of hyper-stimulation we receive through the portals to our souls, our eyeballs.

As individuals, isolated and alone we don’t stand a chance. We are dead meat. So we try as best we can. We stumble and fumble along, alone, isolated. We make promises and covenant with God and others. We are deceived into believing that all we need is more determination or will power and effort. We should be able to overcome it alone, on our own, in our own strength. And then we fail again and again. Oh, wretched sex addict that I am, what can I do?

One of the powerful experiences that takes place during our 5 days together at Every Man’s Battle is the transformation from isolation into community, large group as well as our break out groups. For some of us this may be the first time ever, or at least since we have become entrenched in our addiction, that we have been so open and transparent, felt safe and free to express our brokenness, our neediness honestly without judgment or criticism, and to be vulnerable about our pain.

Enough written. You get my drift. Stay connected. Utilize the tools that have been emphasized from the conference. By staying connected, the ability to manage our addiction will be one hundred times easier.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433)