40 million adults in the U.S. regularly visit pornographic websites and 1/3 of these visitors are women. The question is “Why, and what does it have to do with us?”
What I am learning about sex addiction in its various forms is that it is about avoiding relational pain. Real relationships and intimacy force us to engage with people on a level where our hearts are open. This sort of intimacy is scary…especially for those that have been hurt. So people turn to fantasy and sex because when you are in fantasy, you can control the objects of your desire without risking relational pain. When you objectify someone by turning them into a fantasy in your head, you can control them. They can’t hurt you because they are not real humans…they are objects.
Even reflecting on my own past, I can see that engaging in sex work was largely about sexualizing my pain. I had been raped and abused and learned that intimacy=pain. Stripping offered me a false sense of empowerment and temporary relief from the pain I was suffering. I could pretend that I was in control and as long as I was in control, I could avoid the pain that true intimacy and relationship might bring.
Many people have a difficult time relating to the plight of the sex addict. But I would suggest that if we are honest enough to examine our own hearts, we might find some similarities. Most people spend time imagining what their life will look like. We paint a canvas in our heads of our marriages, careers, friendships etc.
What happens when our expectations are shattered by life’s disappointment? Perhaps by the death of a loved one, the breakdown of a marriage or the loss of a career. How do we respond? Do get angry towards God and respond in bitterness? Or, are we willing to engage in true relationship with our Creator and surrender the canvas of our lives to Him. I too have painted a canvas of what my life would look like, but I have discovered that my canvas may not be consistent with the ultimate canvas that God is painting for me.
Are we willing to trust that He is good, and that His plans are good, even when they don’t look like the picture we have painted? If we cling more tightly to the canvas we have painted in our heads, than we cling to God, we too are trapped by fantasy.
Isaiah 42:16-17 says the following:
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to graven images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.
Fantasy is idolatry. It is putting trust in a graven image carved out by our minds. It is much easier to place our trust in something we can see and control, then to place it in a God we cannot see and cannot control.
True relationship and intimacy can be scary. Healing can be scary. These things require trust and courage to walk with God along unfamiliar paths by ways we have not imagined. But God, our God, wants to take us on this journey. He will make our rough places smooth and bring light where there is none.
We must allow God’s floodlight to penetrate our hearts, exposing the true source of pain so that healing can take place. Only then will we be able to see clearly what has propelled us to escape in fantasy. Only then will be able to surrender the canvas of our lives to a good God, knowing that He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask think or imagine!
Many of the resources on this page were vital to my healing journey: HELP FOR SPOUSES
Harmony (Dust) Grillo
Harmony Dust founded Treasures in 2003 while completing a Master’s in Social Welfare at UCLA. To date, she has trained outreach leaders that have gone on to establish more than 97 sex industry outreaches on 5 continents. She has been featured in various media sources, including Glamour Magazine, The Dr. Drew Show, and The Tyra Banks Show. She is a sought after speaker and her memoir, Scars & Stilettos, gives an account of the journey of going from working in strip clubs, to leading an organization that reaches women in the sex industry on a global scale.
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