As an LDS Porn Addict in Recovery, Am I in “Joseph Mode” or “David Mode”? [Part 2 of 3]

As I said in the first part of this post, I have found it helpful to consider the Old Testament stories of Joseph and David when gauging where I am in my own recovery from sex, lust and porn addiction. We are pretty familiar with Joseph’s story, how Potiphar purchased him as a slave and eventually trusted him entirely and gave him complete run of his household, and how Potiphar’s wife repeatedly tried to seduce him but he resisted–repeatedly.

Why Potiphar’s Wife Is So Appealing to Sex Addicts

20130421-235917.jpgI will note here that Potiphar’s wife is actually incredibly attractive to a sex addict. She was a woman with wealth, power and a lustful interest in Joseph. Lust addiction is comprised of at least two obsessions: to lust after others and to be lusted after. It is so enticing to the sex addict to fantasize about a lustful connection with some fantasy woman (or man). The other part of lust that is so often overlooked, however, is the desire to be lusted after by that fantasy person. Sex addicts want to be in Joseph’s shoes. They want to be lusted after.

When I was in seminary and learning about the story of Joseph, I definitely wanted to be him. I wanted to be lusted after–and then say no. I was splitting hairs. I couldn’t see that I was fantasizing in order to get the lust hit of being lusted after.

Joseph Was Not a Sex Addict

So here’s the important question for me here and now: How did Joseph respond to Mrs. Potiphar’s attention? I think one thing is abundantly clear from the story and that’s that Joseph was not a sex addict. It is evident that he was able to reason clearly, decide the proper course (“How can I do this great wickedness?”) and then live his life with integrity.

People who are mentally healthy (i.e., not active sex addicts for starters) have the ability to think–and then act–logically like Joseph did. Active addicts, however, do not have that ability. The Super Glue of addiction is obsessive thinking. Active addicts start to think about their drug and then cannot stop. If Joseph had been a lust addict, he would have started thinking about what Mrs. Potiphar was offering and then would have been helpless as the obsessive thinking gradually (or quickly) increased in power until it dominated his thinking and he acted on the obsession. Welcome to my world before recovery.

Joseph, however, didn’t do this. He didn’t obsess because he had the freedom not to obsess. Since he was not an active addict, he was able to act with integrity. So how can the story of Joseph help me?

Using Joseph’s Story to Help LDS Sex Addicts

In my opinion, Mormons have missed the point of the story if they’re using it to try and educate addicts about what they’re supposed to do. Too many Mormons remain convinced that the real problem with addicts is that they’re idiots and just don’t understand the simplest principles of the Gospel. Most Mormons think the problem would be solved if sex and porn addicts just learned that the law of chastity is important and that sexual immorality is bad, bad, bad!

We need to keep in mind this idea of mental obsession. When I am active in my addiction, I am obsessed with lust and no amount of logic or willpower will by itself break that obsession. Thinking about the story of Joseph will not by itself break the obsession. What it will do, however, is help me perceive my degree of sexual sobriety and then take action if necessary.

Talking Over My Sobriety With Someone Else

If I or my wife or my sponsor spots a mental obsession with lust in my thinking or behavior, we talk about it and I know immediately that I’m not in “Joseph mode.” I’m not thinking rationally because the obsession with lust prevents rational thinking. That’s when I go to work to disrupt the obsession with the lust. I do the things I talked about in Part 1. I don’t isolate. I don’t keep secrets. I go to meetings of Sexaholics Anonymous. I work the steps. I make phone calls to other recovering addicts who are further along in recovery than I am.

You’ll notice that I take action on the obsession–not the porn. Way too many Mormon men are getting wiped out because they keep trying to fight the porn, rather than fighting (more accurately, disrupting and overcoming) the obsession with lust. Once I disrupt the obsession, I am able to see the porn or the objectification of a woman or the lust fantasies as they really are: desperate efforts of an addicted brain to get its drug and use it to self-medicate. Without the obsessive thinking, porn and other kinds of lust lose their appeal. I can then make the rational decision to behave like Joseph who “got him out.”

Am I in “Joseph mode”? If I am, how can I stay there? If I’m not, what actions do I need to take to get there?

In Part 3, I’ll talk about more of the same, only this time from the perspective of David, someone who destroyed his own life and that of many others because he was lust impaired and couldn’t break the obsession.

Credit: Painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642) [in the public domain]

Comments

As an LDS Porn Addict in Recovery, Am I in “Joseph Mode” or “David Mode”? [Part 2 of 3] — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Is a Recovering LDS Porn Addict More Like Joseph or More Like David?

  2. “Way too many Mormon men are getting wiped out because they keep trying to fight the porn, rather than fighting (or more accurately, disrupting and overcoming) the obsession with lust.” THE KEY!!! this needs to be its own step in the 12 steps! good gravy! it would spare a lot of addicts the turmoil and defeated feelings if this was understood. they could let go of the loosing battle they’ve been fighting for so long to white knuckle it past viewing the material, and start attacking the ROOT of addiction: lust. its really a relief to find this root! thank you andrew!