If there’s one lesson boys learn when growing up, it’s the value of being tough, the value of winning. The heroes of the big screen portray the ideal man
as rough and rugged. James Bond never gives up.
Neither did the characters played by John Wayne.
And Rocky always won the big fight – or if he didn’t
win, he at least “goes the distance.” Those guys never gave up. And we don’t want to give up either. That resistance to raising
the white flag serves men
well during war or in a job situation that requires
perseverance. It can help us hang in there when
times are tough in a relationship.
But when it comes
to compulsive behavior, a refusal to give up only prolongs our agony. It leads to greater enslavement and harm. Of course,
most of us won’t surrender until we know
we’re beaten or we know defeat is on the way.
Maybe you’re not convinced you even have a
problem, or if you are, you’re not sure how serious it
[Addictive Stages | Moment of truth] How to Know If You’re Hooked
It’s important to understand that sexual
addictions don’t happen overnight. They take time to develop. But when they’re full-blown, a man won’t be able to resist the repeated urge to enter into a love relationship with a sexual object or experience that gives him pleasure and the illusion of intimacy. That last sentence defines an addict:
1. He’s hooked and can’t say no.
2. The object of his addiction gives him two things: pleasure and an illusion of intimacy.
Not everyone who struggles with
sexual compulsions is an addict. Some men abuse their
sexuality for a period of time and then grow out of it. Many men with a regrettable sexual experience in the past put it behind them and move on. But not everyone is so fortunate.
Some men block emotional pain with sexual pleasure. Over time they have to try increasingly risky forms of sexual behavior in order to deaden the pain. Eventually their world revolves around sex. Their obsession
has taken over their life.
The Sexual Addiction Test: Patrick Carnes suggests a
series of four questions
aimed at helping us discover if we have a sexual
addiction and if so, how far it’s progressed.
 While asking yourself these
questions, it’s crucial that you are brutally honest. The first step in dealing with a
problem is admitting we have one.
ONE – Is Your Behavior Secret? Are you
doing things you refuse to tell others about?
Do you feel that if those closest to you knew what
you were doing, they would reject you or strongly
disapprove of your actions? Are you telling lies to cover your behavior? If so, you’re isolating yourself
from those you love and entering into a potentially addictive relationship with
an object or event.
TWO – Is Your Behavior Abusive? Does your sexual
behavior create pain (emotional or
physical) for you or others? Is it degrading or
exploitative of others? Do you find yourself performing increasingly abusive acts? Do you derive
pleasure from watching others being abused in
THREE – Is Your Behavior Used to Deaden
Painful Feelings? Are your sexual actions an effort to change your
mood rather than express affections? Do you
masturbate or search for some other sexual outlet when you’re depressed, bored, or angry? If your
sexual behavior is used to erase pain, it’s part of an
FOUR – Is Your Behavior Empty of Genuine
Commitment and Caring? Are you substituting the illusion of intimacy provided
by an object or event for the genuine intimacy found
in a healthy relationship? If you answered yes to even one of the four questions, your sexual behavior is either compulsive
or addictive. Addictive Stages While the four questions help determine if we have a
problem, they don’t tell us the extent of the problem.
In order to determine that, we need to familiarize
ourselves with the levels of addictions.
Pre-addiction describes people who begin to find
themselves sexually stimulated through impersonal
objects, like pornography, or events, like strip clubs. If you’re at this level, your life is probably under control. You’re holding down a job, and your
relationship with your wife or girlfriend is intact. However, you realize that while your fascination with
pornography, strip shows, or erotic talk lines isn’t
compulsive, it is dangerous. You may be troubled by the feeling that your
slumbering lust could
awaken and take over at any moment.
At level 1 a man’s lust has
begun to exert its control. He’s compulsively involved in such things as masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, or
demeaning heterosexual relationships. When a man reaches level 1, something significant has happened. While before he always struggled to
keep his lust under control, now it’s running wild. In his book The Addictive Personality, Craig Nakken notes that the single most
important aspect of level
1 addictions is the emergence of the addictive
 A man’s lust, like a great dragon, has awakened from its
slumber and threatens to take
over his life. I experienced this the night I looked through my neighbor’s window. It reminded me of the first time I
got high on marijuana. I entered a new world and
wanted to return to that world. There’s something
about that first high that people want to recreate.
Similarly, a man who enters level 1 awakens his lust in a powerful way. And
that initial experience is one he wants to recreate. When we enter level 1, the
addictive part of our personality has been stirred.
And make no mistake about it, the beast has an
insatiable appetite that can slowly take over our life.
When a man reaches level 2, he’s taken a bigger and more dangerous step. Now his behavior involves victims and violations of the law. His activities include prostitution, exhibitionism,
voyeurism, obscene phone calls, and touching a person intimately without consent. Most of the time he’s considered more of a
nuisance than a criminal,
but unfortunately his behavior can inflict deep emotional pain on his victims. Men who are exhibitionists or voyeurs will carry out their secret behavior for years. Living double lives,
they’re in constant fear of being caught. All kinds of “good” people reach level
2. Hardly a
week passes without a news story about a politician, teacher, or Hollywood star picking up a
prostitute or making an unwanted sexual advance. Level 3 By the time a man
reaches level 3, his behavior
involves serious crimes in which severe damage is
done to the victim. Rape, incest, and child
molestation occur at this level.
The Moment of Truth
By now you should know if
you’re hooked. You should
also have a feel for how
far your sexual compulsion
has progressed. While
most of us would prefer avoiding the truth for as long as we can, eventually the moment of truth will arrive. Something will happen to force you to admit
that your life is out of control. You’ll accidentally leave a pornographic image
onyour computer monitor, and someone at work will
report it to your boss. One of your kids will find your stash of X-rated videos. A policeman will arrive at your place of work
because a neighbor has identified you as a
Your wife will leave because you’ve had another
affair. The school counselor will call because you’ve
been reported to the child care agency for
improperly touching a neighbor child. For Samson, the moment of truth arrived near the end of his life. Blinded by lust, he slept in Delilah’s lap while a
Philistine barber cut his hair. A moment after the last strand fell, his enemies burst into his
presence. Isolated from God, he was powerless toresist. Israel’s champion became a bald-headed clown who entertained the
Philistines. Samson had fallen. He would never gaze at another Philistine woman. His enemies had made sure of
that when they gouged out his eyes (Judges 16:20-21).
Many people believe
that Samson’s story ends on a
tragic note. I don’t. Although he was blind and imprisoned, his hair began to grow, and so did his
relationship with God. The Lord forgave Samson and used him one last time. The hero of Judah pulled down a Philistine temple, destroying himself and his enemies. Samson learned
firsthand what every man must
know. God is the God of a second and third and
fourth chance. He never gives up on us.