Love Of The Familiar; Fear Of The Unknown

Never underestimate the power of the familiar. It has kept countless people from change, even when change would save their very lives. The familiar, after all, may be unhealthy, but at least we know it. We relate to it. And we’re all too prone to cling to familiar territory.

When that ‘familiar territory’ is sexual activity, it becomes perversely dear to us. Even though we admit it’s wrong, we also come to see it as an old friend. It’s reliable and available, and it works. It eases our pain and temporarily satisfies us. To repent of habitual sexual behavior is like abandoning a trustworthy buddy.

Compare this to drug addiction. A person doesn’t just fall into it. Somewhere along the line he discovers satisfaction through a chemical. It temporarily eases pain, helps him forget troubles, comforts him. It is his anesthetic, deadening his anxieties like a nurturing parent. Of course there are other ways he could deal with his problems, but the drug is familiar and has a good track record. Why give up something that works? What began as a comfort, is now a necessity!

Meanwhile he is becoming addicted. What began as a comfort is now a necessity, emotionally and physically. To give it up means to go through physical withdrawal, which is hard enough. But it would also mean finding another way to cope with the inner conflicts which remain long after withdrawal. In fact, without the familiar coping mechanism, those conflicts will be stronger and more painful than ever. The truth is, he must find other coping mechanisms, because the one he uses now will eventually destroy him.

Look at the Jewish people’s journey out of Egypt. They lived in bondage and prayed for deliverance, and God intervened. He brought them out of Egypt miraculously. But when faced with difficult situations in the wilderness, they were prone to long for the familiarity of Egypt and to dread the unknown Promised Land. Think about the power the familiar held for them! They had been treated worse than animals in Egypt, yet at times they would remember it fondly, saying, “At least we were fed regularly and had our basic needs taken care of!” The unknown frightened them, making them turn toward the bondage that they could at least relate to. And when they finally approached the Promised Land, the terror of its giant inhabitants overshadowed all the benefits that would go along with their new location. In Egypt at least they had survived. How could they be sure they would fare as well in new territory?

If you’ve been engaging in sexual immorality, you may also wonder how you’ll fare in new territory. It’s tough at times, to be sure, but it also opens up a way of freedom, new relationships, and peace of mind. What will it be? Cling to the old, destructive and familiar or move into freedom and the unknown?

The question, then, is this: Are you going to cling to familiar, destructive ways simply because you can relate to them, or are you willing to abandon them in favor of a new way of living which is better, even though at this point you can’t relate to it?

I trust that you’re ready and willing to try something better, which means that you’re ready and willing to repent.

See Every Man’s Battle for help in breaking out of the familiar.

The Lie of Illegitimate Solutions

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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)