Thoughts and QuestionsAnswers to men’s thoughts and questions:
My wife gets upset if she finds that I’ve been looking at porn on the internet. But every guy I know does it.
Unfortunately it’s typical, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for a man or his marriage. Men by nature are God-designed to be sexually stimulated by visual cues. However, every man and woman is supposed to guard against temptation. Pornography taints a man’s values and adversely affects his attitude toward his most important relationships. Pornography is not a benign activity. The porn voyeur becomes less satisfied with their mate and learns fiction – rather than fact – about female sexuality, resulting in placing a decreased value in fidelity.
But isn’t my wife ridiculous to get jealous over normal things a guy looks at, like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?
In a word, no; the sad fact is our culture continually chisels away at godly standards, and labels coarse as normal. The definition of pornography is simply “the depiction of an image intended to arouse sexual desire”. A man does not need to see a nude woman in order to be aroused sexually. Alluring dialogue, provocative clothing, seductive gestures and suggestive behavior all have the power to illicit sexual desire. With that definition in mind, a lot of television content qualifies. The average woman is made to feel silly and insecure if she voices discomfort when her husband gawks at this erotica. The man is being sold a line that it’s his “right” to look, while the damage done to his heart and his relationship goes unchecked.
I masturbate pretty often. I am not hurting anybody, am I?
If you’re married, you are cheating your wife by taking care of your needs yourself. You deprive your relationship of intimacy and bonding that only the act of sex within a marriage can create. The other component of masturbating is the fantasy images you dwell on during or throughout the day. Your wife and your children may be getting shortchanged, as many men that nurture this kind of fantasy life tend to “check-out” of real relationships, spending their mental energy in fantasies. Your job can suffer for the same reason. Ultimately, you may miss out on the abundance and purposeful destiny that God desires you to have.
But I’m single. There’s no harm done there.
Beyond harming relationships, you are shortchanging yourself. Your career and finances may suffer, as physical, mental and creative energy is diverted into your fantasy life. Additionally, you are setting yourself up for failure in the bedroom when you do marry. Men think their desire to “self-serve” will disappear once they’re married, but unfortunately, you’re conditioning yourself to a harmful thought pattern. You’re training yourself to be focused only on your needs, with a fantasy partner that knows exactly how to please you. No real life woman can win against that competition. By contrast, consider adding up how much time you spend studying or daydreaming on how to be a great husband.
I’m single, and I've been able to keep from masturbation for about three months, but I can't get beyond this.
Single men don’t struggle any more or less with sexual integrity; it just looks like it must be easier when you are married. Single and married men both will benefit from learning the principles that make sexual integrity attainable for a lifetime. The Operation Destiny for Men series offers that.
But my wife doesn’t do the things I want.
Every spouse is called to meet the other’s physical needs in order to help diminish temptation. Because a husband and wife sometimes have different levels of need, there should be a process of finding a fair balance. It’s also important to ask yourself if you’ve been inattentive to your wife’s needs. You can only work on improving yourself. The focus should be on how you can be a better husband, not on how her failures give you an excuse. Men don't realize how feeding on a diet of sexual images typically creates dissatisfaction with your mate. Regardless of her shortcomings, your actions are your responsibility. Whether you’re frustrated with how she looks, dresses, or performs in bed, it can never be an excuse for a betrayal of intimacy. This holds true whether the betrayal is pornography or physical infidelity.
But I have a really high sex drive. What’s a guy to do?
A person with a high sex drive can still control his desires. Sexual availability in marriage isn’t supposed to be like a fast food drive-thru; it's not about getting a "fix", rather it’s an integral component of your relationship. Do you handle your wife’s "no" with pouting or anger, and then leave to act out in some other way? If so, you can learn new ways of responding and still have your needs met.
I’ve heard the term “sexual addiction”, but how do you know you’re addicted?
Sexual addiction is the way some people attempt to fill inner emptiness, medicate past pain, deal with the stresses of life or attempt to fill legitimate, unmet needs. Their sexuality becomes their major coping mechanism in their life. Often, sex addiction is used the same way a mood-altering drug is used to change the mood of an addict. While the individual cannot typically stop this sexual behavior for a lengthy period of time on their own, they foster a false sense of self-control, believing they can. An addict will spend a great deal of time and money in their pursuit of experiencing true intimacy. True intimacy becomes more and more elusive as the addict is only able to attain the illusion of intimacy through fantasy or physical encounters. Ultimately, sex addiction isn't about sex, but rather a way of looking at and dealing with life.
For a person considered to have an addiction to sex, these four components of behavior have to be present, just as in substance addiction:2. Continuation- despite negative consequences to relationships, work, finances, health.
1. Compulsivity – out of control in the behavior, despite repeated attempts to stop.
1. Compulsivity – out of control in the behavior, despite repeated attempts to stop.
3. Preoccupation or Obsession – distracting from relationships, shortchanging careers, stealing time from other pursuits
4. Tolerance - escalation of the same behavior or progression to more destructive behavior is required to get the same
But I know I’m not as bad as a lot of other guys.
If you identified at all with the description above, rather than compare your behavior to other men, consider there is always a continuum on a scale of habitual behavior, and the more you exercise the habit, the more ingrained it will be. To get more insight into the continuum, click on "Men’s Stories" on the left to see what we mean. For millions of men, sexual imagery has become a preoccupation. If left unaddressed, further betrayal, anger, divorce and neglected children will become his legacy/ So instead of waiting until you’re farther along the continuum, why not address it now? AVENUE has a complete program designed specifically for your needs. Click on the "Bookstore "at left to get started.
I’m gay. I’d rather not be, but everybody says “we’re born that way”. What do you guys think?
The research to date hasn't discovered a genetic origin. We do acknowledge the evidence that, for some men, destructive situations and relationships marred the natural sexual bonding and influenced the first attraction to the same gender; we have heard their stories. We understand that some men have been deeply wounded in this lifestyle. There is every possibility of healing these and any adolescent traumas experienced. We sympathize with anyone that desires to set a new course. We’re not out to change everyone’s mind; we only desire to offer a hand of hope to those that don’t find freedom in today's sexual liberation.
Can I join an AVENUE group without telling my wife or partner? Yes.
How long does it take to go through the AVENUE program?
The initial program will take approximately 180 days to complete, depending on the individual. After this time, we recommend you sponsor others and help facilitate an AVENUE group to continue your healing and recovery.
If I get help, how can I be certain that my identity will be kept confidential?
We do everything we can to maintain your confidentiality. Every man in a group wants the same courtesy, and we establish the guidelines of privacy at the first meeting. Every leader was once previously a group member and understands firsthand the desire for confidentiality.
What is the point of being in a group and talking to other men about your issues?
The benefits of forging through with other men as you heal are inexhaustible. Other men become a mirror for you; as you listen to their stories, you will see your own situation with more objectivity. You will find a broader perspective of the common issues and you will experience a healthy bond and friendship. Like men who have gone through war together, you will experience supportive relationships that few can match. One incredible discovery that men always make in these groups is that the similarity of the lies they’ve come to believe about themselves tend to be very common. Beyond introspection, each man is encouraged to look at what his best life could be. The curriculum will provide a compass to direct his path, and he will be strengthened in his efforts by his group buddies.
I would die of shame showing up in a group!
Isolation is the enemy of healing. It is our shame that keeps us silent. Our embarrassment over our situation keeps us locked up in secrets. We wear a mask to hide, often with even our best friends and family members. AVENUE groups are designed to protect your dignity and dispel your fears. Through reading this website – and possibly the book – each man has identified issues in his life that are on target with the problems we’ve described here. Every man in an AVENUE peer group has parallel goals. In that setting, you can end your isolation and help each other remove the mask of shame you’re wearing.
I took the Men’s Assessment. I could use some minor correcting, but I don’t need to be in a group of guys with real problems.
This is a common response about being in a group. It stems from the misunderstanding of the real core problem. Every man in the group is dealing with similar “heart” issues but instead, they tend to focus on the tangible: his actions vs. my actions. Every man who wants to reclaim sexual integrity needs to do the same work. Sure, maybe the guy who has gone really deep will have to work harder, but that isn’t always the case. The guy that holds onto his “I’m not so bad” mantra will ultimately have a harder time because his pride keeps him complacent, instead of allowing him to focus on his own need for change.
Is there really hope in recovering from sex compulsiveness?
Absolutely, yes, and beyond, as sexual purity is a profound step to opening the gateway to living out your God-designed destiny, previously taken off-course. Healing takes time and work, but you can experience a restoration of emotions, relationships, sexual intimacy, financial integrity and spiritual rebirth.
I have tried other recovery groups unsuccessfully, what makes AVENUE different?
I can't speak to your other experiences or responses to recovery opportunities; I can only offer what we consider foundational to our studies. First and foremost, they are rooted in God's truth and love. The AVENUE Operation Destiny series effectively helps men identify and heal the root cause of compromising behavior. Adopting healthy behavior can be both frustrating and elusive without first identifying and healing root causes. AVENUE groups are volunteer-led by men who understand, because they, too, have been there. We provide encouragement, accountability and education to overcoming faulty beliefs. We help men reach beyond the goal of sexual integrity to improve other important areas of their lives, but whether or not a man will surrender to the process of healing is in his control alone.
Do you have to be a Christian to attend a group?
In a word, no. AVENUE is a Christ-centered ministry, but you don’t have to believe in God to attend a group. We encourage men from all backgrounds to make use of this study. The curriculum never dilutes God’s truth in order to accommodate other belief systems. While we won’t muzzle our dialogue or spend group time debating other beliefs, we are convinced that the curriculum contributes much universal value to the life of every man, because God’s principles work in the world, whether you believe in them or not.
To order your copy of Operation Destiny, and get started with an AVENUE men’s group, just click on the “Bookstore” and “Find a Group” buttons at left.