Administrator’s note: This is a guest post from Sidreis whose website ByTheLightOfGrace.com deals with sexual addiction among LDS women. Great stuff! Read on…
I would like to take a moment and express my thoughts regarding the stigma surrounding LDS women who struggle with sexual addiction.
It is a common misconception that sex addiction is a “man’s disease.” For some peculiar reason it even seems to be a socially acceptable addiction among men, even Latter-day Saint men.
I’ve often heard phrases like “Oh, it’s normal for men to do it” or “Men are hardwired for sex.” I feel this perspective is engrained in us early in life. Young men are labeled as the predators and young women as the prey. Often times we hear young women being counseled to “watch out for ill intentions of young men.”
Although it is widely known that many young men and men struggle with sexual addiction, it is important to recognize that women struggle, too. Think about it. We as human beings are each given the gift of sexual intimacy. This intimacy is comprised of two purposes. First, for procreation; a very special and sacred gift designed to grow new little bodies for those sacred spirits waiting to come down from heaven. The second has been granted to us to nurture and secure loving relationships between husband and wife through sexual closeness. Both of these gifts help sustain God’s central plan of nurturing the family.
Knowing that Satan’s ultimate goal is to destroy families, would it not make sense that he would utilize all his tactical advantage to destroy something so beautiful? Would it not make sense that he would not only attack men but also women in order to hasten as much soul rotting destruction as possible?
Sexual addiction is not a man’s disease, nor is it a woman’s disease. It is a human disease.
Even though there are no differences between men and women at the very core of sexual addiction, to the world there are distinctive variances. Oftentimes, men high-five each other for their sexual conquests. Sometimes, male behavior is just dismissed as “men behaving like men.” In contrast, sexually aggressive women are commonly stereotyped as loose, promiscuous, slutty, diseased, dirty, used and untouchable. Each gender suffers from its own set of stigmatized standards, in and out of the Church.
I can’t judge others too harshly here though, because I myself used to fall subject to the false belief that LDS women who struggle with any sort of sexual addiction “look” a certain way or “act” a certain way. I thought for sure I’d be able to pick them out of a crowd. They were the ones in high heels, short skirts and revealing tops. They were the loud, obnoxious ones, the black sheep, and the inactive members of the Church.
I remember the first time I went to a 12 Step support group for women with sexual addictions. After two months of visiting regularly with my bishop and trying to work my recovery program on my own (in isolation), I came to realize that I needed more support. I finally surrendered to the fact that as awesome as my bishop was, he couldn’t offer me the support structure that I truly needed to kick this thing.
But I was still scared. I thought I was the only one “like me” who struggled with addiction to pornography and masturbation. I was a good person, a mom and a wife. I didn’t attend church much but that was because I felt too ashamed to go. I had already created many levels of separation in my head between me and the sisters I was preparing to see at the support group. I am not kidding when I tell you I full on expected to walk into that group meeting and see a bunch of women in “hoochie boots and miniskirts.”
I was wrong.
Instead, I walked into a room full of beautiful women; bright, happy women; women who, if I saw them in a Relief Society, would completely blend in. Women that looked just like me. Women who attend my support group range in age from mid-teens to mid-60s. They are Relief Society presidents, visiting teachers, wives, mothers, single women, daughters of General Authorities, students and professionals. They are shy and outgoing, reclusive and extroverted. They are your sisters, your aunts, your nieces and your mothers. They are your friends, your friend’s wives, your co-workers and your teachers. They are temple workers and missionaries. They are the very women that you love and cherish. We come from ALL walks of life.
There are women walking among us right now who struggle with sexual addiction but are silenced by fear and shame. They feel alone and lost. They feel worthless and hopeless. They feel isolated and judged. Satan’s whisperings fill them with such intense dread that they are terrified to talk to their sweet bishops for fear of being scrutinized and hated.
Please know that you have a voice in this. By recognizing that sexual addiction is a human disease, affecting both men and women, from all walks of life, we are in essence crippling Satan’s army. It is imperative that we work together as addicts, loved ones of addicts, bishops, stake presidents and fellow brothers and sisters to spread awareness of the far reaching ripple effects of this disease.
Less judgment…more acceptance.
Less separation…more inclusion.
Less addiction…more connection.
Less fear…more faith.
Less shame…more hope.
Let us recognize that we are innately virtuous and noble sons and daughters of our loving Heavenly Father and that through the power of our Savior’s Atonement we can each be healed and freed from Satan’s grasp. Of this I bear solemn witness.