It’s about you trying to understand
them rather than trying to set them on a
FT: We hear a lot about sexual addiction
in particular these days. Can you help us
MV: Addiction is an aspect of mental
health. There is controversy in the field
about whether this is an actual addiction
like alcohol or drugs. I believe it is because
the same thing that happens in the brain
with alcohol and drugs happens with sexual addiction.
FT: We seem to go a bit wonky about that
subject in particular. Why is that?
MV: Any sexuality topic brings up our own
sexual history, and all of us have checkered sexual histories. We feel shame about
it – sexuality is probably the most vulnerable aspect of our humanity. It kicks up
our own stuff about sex. We all struggle
in some way with our own sexuality, and
so there too it’s hard for us to have conversations in a way that we can disclose
things. In speaking about sexual brokenness in relation to men, I often talk about
“the missing community of men.” Men
will sometimes try and get all their needs
met by women, whereas in fact many significant needs in men need to be met by
other men. Older men who help younger
men understand what it is to be male and
grow into adulthood is one of the significant gaps in our time, and it plays into the
awful trend of sexual addiction.
I think, as Evangelicals, we need to
open up more broadly the conversation
about mental health. I often hear the term
“moral failure,” for example, when someone has an affair. I’m not saying that an
affair is not a moral failure, but the underlying assumption is that if we reimpose
morality, we will have solved the problem.
There is nothing there about what is going on with the couple, patterns they’ve
learned from their families of origin, or the
emotional needs and relational patterns
that have created this hard circumstance.
When we defer to morality, we sidestep
most of the essential issues. I am issuing
a plea to have a broader conversation that
includes mental health and relational patterns. The implication is that if you just
read the Bible with people, they’ll get
straight again. It’s just not that simple.
FT: Thank you, Mark. FT
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