02 2014
Orthodox Jews and Sex Addiction?

Earlier this year, I spoke with a young orthodox Jew in recovery from sex addiction. I asked him if lust problems were prevalent among his demographic. He indicated they were. Orthodox Jews are on the web like everyone else, he told me. Most of those suffering have been caught up in internet porn, chat rooms and sites fishing for sexual encounters. He said something very memorable to me.

He said, “We orthodox Jews are very susceptible to the shame and poison of sex addiction because our relationship with G*d is so important to us. Any false reality feels strange and threatening. We have to address it.” Good for him admitting his struggle at such a young age. It is noteworthy to me that the “people of the law” who read the Torah would immediately recognize lust and sex addiction as violating the first, second and tenth commandments. You could make a case that it violates all ten.

But knowing this and being free are two vastly different things. This is one more example to me that morality, the “I ought to’s and I shouldn’t be’s” are powerless to free me from my lust. As a Christian, the thing my lust is really looking for deep down inside is an authentic spiritual connection with my heavenly Father and his son Jesus who takes and bears away my lust.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18 (RSV)

I must also have a relational connection with those who struggle as I do, in addition to my wife, family and compassionate others. Spirituality that focuses on morality rather than connection, fails. The false connection of lust can only be healed by the authentic daily personal encounter wherein I transfer my lust temptation to my lust-bearer, Jesus Christ. This is the “authentic spiritual experience” that quenches my sexaholic thirst. It works every time I try it.

Perhaps there is more to the Jewish experience of sex addiction. Please share with us your own experience strength and hope. Also your unresolved pain and struggle.