There’s no question that you know someone who struggles with a sexual addiction, whether you’re aware of it of not. What’s more: If you’re a guy, there’s a very good chance that person is you (and that you’re all too aware of it).
These two small-group resources/devotionals created through the organization Harvest USA—one for each gender—will help facilitate churches to begin, and continue, the deep spiritual and emotional healing that’s necessary to overcome those addictions—and to replace them with a greater desire and satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus.
David White. Sexual Sanity for Men: Re-Creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture. 248p., $17.99.
Ellen Dykas, editor. Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual & Relational Brokenness. 208p., $17.99. Both New Growth Press.
(Disclaimer: I was editor for both of these books. Yes, the women’s one, too. 🙂 That’s not to say I’m overrepresenting the usefulness of these books… but full disclosure is relevant here—and frankly, a big part of the theme of both books.)
As hinted at by their subtitles—and although it’s worth noting that all the following issues are covered in both books—the men’s study spends more time dealing with such issues as extramarital relationships and/or pornography; whereas the women’s study dwells more on addictive/unhealthy emotional attachments, giving a significant amount of space to both opposite- and same-sex addictions.
Sexual Sanity for Men is a 14-week study, taking men’s groups out of “life in the wasteland,” into an encounter with Jesus and “a new brotherhood. Each week contains five devotionals, with reflection questions for each devotional. Men’s groups who get together to debrief these question each week will have plenty to chew on.
And make no mistake: Both of these books are meant to be worked through in community (or at least a mentoring relationship), no matter how painful that may be, especially at first. But as David White puts it:
Fighting alone is impossible. And as we’ll see later on, it’s totally against God’s design for our growth as Christians. When we fail repeatedly, the Christian life loses its luster. Our joy and zeal for the kingdom diminishes on two fronts. We feel like failures and hypocrites, but at the same time we delight in our sin even though it makes us miserable afterwards…. [T]he gospel heals our relationships. As we’re moved by the grace of God and compelled by the love of Christ, we’re able to lay down our lives for others. The more we learn the blessings of our relationship with Christ, the deeper our anticipation and hope will be in the life to come, and the more we’ll find our life now by losing it for his sake.
(As an aside, David’s explanation of the doctrine of total depravity a quarter of the way in helped me to finally “get it”—as well as evoked a nod and a “well yeah, I agree with that.”)
Sexual Sanity for Women digs even more directly into the roots of sexual addiction, as well the roots of co-dependency (both sexual and non-sexual), so that Christ’s light can shine into those places of darkness and shame. The study is broken down into 20 weekly sessions—no devotionals, although there certainly is homework and weekly reflection involved. In the words of editor Ellen Dykas:
[W]omen, like men, wrestle with sexual brokenness through the pursuit of what God calls “broken cisterns” (see Jeremiah 2:13)—sources of life, security, value that we look for in this world rather than in its Creator. Sexual and relational sin are examples of broken cisterns that women run to and have sought to find soul satisfaction in, rather than finding true life in God…. The sessions to come will guide women into a deeper understanding of God’s good design for sexuality, how and why women struggle with sexual brokenness, and how the grace and truth of Jesus Christ can be applied to these struggles.
To be certain, these books—and the steps they take you through—are hard work. But addictions are hard to break—and harder to remain stuck in. The delivery and the growth in Christ these studies offer are well worth the effort and transparency needed, and far beyond.