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RESPONSE TO A “SEX ADDICT”
[E-mail to MHFM]
Hello, this is both hard and embarrassing for me to write this. Since late 2007 I have been a sex addict. I know a lot of people might think this is funny, but it is nothing to laugh at. I have fornicated with a lot of women since 07 to this present day. I don't consider myself an evil person, actually I consider myself a good person that just happens to be suffering from this sex addiction. I thought of getting some therapy but I don't have the money to afford it. I hope you at the MHFM can give some advice on how to overcome this addiction.
MHFM: You use the term “addiction” with the implication that you are a victim who is not responsible for your activity. No, your behavior is mortally sinful. It’s a diabolical addiction – one which arises from your own choices and refusal of God’s grace. In charity and in the interests of your salvation, we must inform you that you are not a good person, but a bad one.
However, there are a few simple remedies to your problem: First, avoid the occasions of your sin. Take drastic measures in this regard, if necessary. For example, if your fornication occurs at a particular place, stop going to that place at all costs. Or if your computer is the genesis of your sin – it shouldn’t be, but if you are continually falling into mortal sin as a result of it – get rid of it. That’s what Jesus means in Matthew 5:29-30, when He says:
“And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.”
It’s not a surprise that Jesus makes these statements, about cutting things off, just one verse after saying, in Mt. 5:28: “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Obviously taking drastic measures to cut off sinful occasions has a particular application to people who fall into sexual sins.
For those who don’t know, the mortal sins that are sexual in nature, which place a person in a state of damnation, include, among other things, acts of fornication, the sexual acts which precede or lead up to fornication, adultery, masturbation, looking at pornography, giving full consent to impure thoughts, etc. (See our series, Rejecting the Lust and Impurity of Hell, for more on this topic).
Second, you need to pray the Rosary each day. Your problem is a spiritual one and will not be solved without prayer, the aid of God’s grace, and the proper spiritual remedies. Praying to God and cultivating a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Hail Mary and the Rosary is essential. And, of course, if you don’t have the true Catholic faith, you need to convert to it. (The steps to do so are on our website.)
Third, and this is very important, begin (by the grace of God) to exercise your will and fear God. Though it might sound simple, this point actually cuts to the heart of your problem. You need to simply determine or resolve, by God’s grace, that you are not going to commit the sin anymore. In this regard, the following quote is relevant:
St. Alphonsus (1760): “If you neglect God’s call on this occasion, he may perhaps abandon you forever. Resolve, then, resolve! ‘The devil,’ says St. Theresa, ‘is afraid of resolute souls.’ St. Bernard teaches that many souls are lost through want of fortitude.”
That is to say, souls lacking determination or courage or, you might say, a certain degree of toughness will not be saved. Many people are lost because they are simply too weak, too compliant, too wimpy. They acquiesce; they give in; they submit – whereas others say NO. Mortal sinners engage in things which, if they simply exercised their will, they could reject without much difficulty.
When people do take the firm steps to reject sin or cut off mortally sinful occasions – while they might find it difficult at first, which is the time when God usually allows them to be most challenged – if they overcome the initial hurdle, after a very short period of time they realize that what they previously found difficult is not difficult at all. They find the statement, “out of sight out of mind,” to be a true one and refreshing one.
For instance, in regard to being determined or resolved, truly you could stop going to the place where you commit the mortal sin, but you don’t want to. Hence, you are on the road to damnation. This lack of fortitude or determination is responsible for the damnation of many souls. This truth, about the importance of possessing a certain measure of fortitude – the ability to simply say: no, I will not do this – not only has application to the spiritual life, but also to doctrinal matters and to teaching God’s truth. For this reason, people who lack fortitude or toughness should not become priests or be engaged in teaching others the truths of God. For when people who are unwilling, unable or uninclined to be combative, to refuse people, to offend people, and yes, to condemn people – when those individuals attempt to deal with or teach God’s truths, they will undoubtedly compromise those truths in order to please others. In the same way, in the spiritual life, people who can’t say “no,” and take decisive action in this regard when required, will give in to mortal sin and be damned.
Ultimately, your willingness to commit clear mortal sins arises from your lack of humility: in your pride you don’t have the requisite respect for God’s laws and the necessary fear of the punishment He can and will mete out for such behavior. You think God is a joke. You think you can engage in activity He has specifically forbidden, turn others into little more than the object of your fleeting, empty pleasures, and then claim victimhood on top of it.
Galatians 6:7-8- “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.”
Deuteronomy 32:35- “Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time, that their foot may slide: the day of destruction is at hand, and the time makes haste to come.”
We also often find that people like you, in a sad attempt to justify their sins, look to others to solve their problem. Your inclination to look to others for the solution, rather than to yourself, i.e., to the simple means God has placed solely at your disposal, is similar to how people who fall into sins of impurity are often fixated on blaming their impurity on the immodesty of dress exhibited by others. While grave immodesty of dress is clearly a sin, it’s no excuse for people to fall into impurity. Giving full consent to impure thoughts or desires is a grave sin, regardless of what is put in front of a person. People need to have, by the grace of God, the internal purity, force of will, and self-control that they do not give full consent to impurity even if they happen to be exposed to highly inappropriate things through no fault of their own. For instance, many missionaries preached to natives who were naked or almost completely naked. That was not an occasion or justification for falling into impurity, as they had, by God’s grace, the internal purity, self-control and desire for that which is natural and pure, to say no to lust and wickedness, both internally and externally.
In regard to your lack of humility being the root cause of your problem, the following quote is relevant:
St. Benedict (c. 520): “The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes, shunning all forgetfulness and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded, that he always considereth in his mind how those who despise God will burn in hell for their sins, and that life everlasting is prepared for those who fear God.”
The first degree of humility, which you lack at this time, involves the recognition and fear of God: that He will condemn you to burn in Hell for your sins. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Psalm 110:10). It should motivate you to action in this regard.
So, the solution to your problem, along with God’s forgiveness – which should entail a valid sacramental confession once a person is prepared – is there for you if you take these simple steps. But if you don’t, you should consider the following words:
St. Alphonsus on the damnation of the impure: “Continue, O fool, says St. Peter Damian (speaking to the unchaste), continue to gratify the flesh; for the day will come in which thy impurities will become as pitch in thy entrails, to increase and aggravate the torments of the flame which will burn thee in hell: 'The day will come, yea rather the night, when thy lust shall be turned into pitch, to feed in thy bowels the everlasting fire.’”