false intimacy

March 14, 2005 | 3 Comments

I have to confess I was a bit hesitant to include False Intimacy on my current reading list, lest visitors to this site think I am in over my head with sexual addiction. But I did decide to list it, and I want to share some thoughts from it as well.

I did read this book for personal reasons, but for professional as well. I’m taking some time during this break to brush up in areas to pursue wholeness. I’ve heard of many who have fallen in church planting, and I’m trying to explore areas where I may be exposed so I can understand them better. I also chose to read this for professional reasons, as I think every pastor should. The problem of sexual sin and addiction is out of control in our culture and snowballing. Pastors, and all Christians, need to understand what is going on rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

Sexual addiction comes from taking the easy way out. We experience pain and frustration in our relationships, and so we would rather chose an alternative where we have more control, or at least we think we do. I’m a big fan of technology, but I wonder if the technology of our culture is providing us too many opportuntities to take the easy way out.

  • The obvious example is the easy access of pornography and the easy stimulation it provides instead of the work that goes into maintain a genuine relationship. But what about…?
  • Cheat codes in video games allow us to take the easy out rather than patiently struggle through something we are having difficulty with.
  • We share our deep thoughts in blogs, where, more often than not, our readers are those who agree with us and voice support. Thus, we share our thoughts in a safe environment. (How many of you have I talked to who have told me you hesitate to comment here because you don’t know if you have anything to say or that you might look foolish? Even that falls in this.)

Life is hard. Sometimes it is downright difficult and may seem unbearable. Often people turn to Christianity in hopes of finding the easier way, and all too often Christianity has simply been presented as Your Best Life Now.

I’m all for teaching that following Jesus leads to life to the fullest. I believe that with everything in me, and teach it often. But sometimes that comes through longsuffering, patience and endurance. We have to teach this easy-out culture to face the reality of their life and tell themselves the truth. There are no cheat codes. The last chapter of the book spoke to this, and I will close with a paragraph from it:

We can’t prevent the problems of sexual addiction within the church if we don’t change our message from “how to feel better now” to the unpopular biblical theme that the sufferings we experience “are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We must emphasize the message of patience, endurance, perseverance and hope rather than the message of immediate healing for the wounds of life. We must teach spiritual groaning rather than tacitly encouraging spiritual murmuring when God doesn’t seem to be meeting our needs today.

  • I think that it is true that everyone struggles with false intimacy. Another example is how easily we share with those with whom we work, but don’t include in our daily lives. They know nothing of the people or situations we talk about with them. Strangers can’t challenge us the way family and friends can.

  • There’s another book on the subject called Breaking Free, that comes highly reccommended. I read it a while back, whilst trying to overcome a 15 years addiction to pornography (though it pertains to all types of sexual addiction, much like the one you’re talking about sounds to). After sifting through the Christianese language and fundamentalist atitude sometimes exhibited, the psychology of sexual addiction that he laid out in that book not only helped me greatly, but also helped several other friends that I shared it with. Much of it being a need for intimacy, yet with a fear of rejection from genuine relationships. Mostly, it’s not even a need for sexual intimacy as it is a need for feeling accepted.

    As one who desires God, our past relationships and upbrining can skew the image of God we have in our head. Learning to truly rest, really allow yourself to feel accepted by God, as I have also had to learn with my wife, has been an incredible blessing. Also, knowing the psychology behind it now, as well as how habits form and how to change them, has helped me to make decisions to go to God or my wife for acceptance when I’m having those feelings (urges). Now I know why I have the urges in the first place. Thankfully, they are ever becoming more faint.

    This is something almost all men in America deal with. It has become “normal” and acceptable by many non-believers. And it runs rampant in ministers greatly due to the trap of shame (fearing rejection, but knowing that talking about the addiction will bring rejection and condemnation from many, rather than understanding and a helping hand).

  • david

    “We must emphasize the message of patience, endurance, perseverance and hope rather than the message of immediate healing for the wounds of life.” this is soooo huge, so infinitly important, and so pertinant to me and i believe to my generation and the evang. church as i know it; we are so guilty, i am so guilty.