Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12- step program has been a popular and effective option for those struggling with alcohol addiction for decades. Today, Christian counselors and family therapist are dealing with another form of addiction people have been reluctant to face – sexual addiction.
Recently, high profile politicians, celebrities and clergy have faced scrutiny and unwanted publicity for inappropriate sexual activities – physical or emotional.
Rep. Anthony Weiner is facing increasing pressure to resign after multiple revelations, the latest being conversations with a 17-year-old teen in Delaware that surfaced over the weekend. His office announced over the weekend that he will seek “treatment” and ask for a leave from his official duties.
In a statement given to POLITICO, Weiner’s office said, “Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”
The list of notable Democrats suggesting Weiner resign continues to grow. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the former DCC chairman and top Democrat on the House Budget Committee called on Weiner to resign saying, “Anthony Weiner’s repeated violation of the public trust is unacceptable.”
Marnie C. Ferree, a licensed Marriage Family Therapist with Bethesda Workshops, a sexual addiction treatment facility in Nashville, Tenn., says their practice has seen a “dramatic” increase in sexual addiction issues since the program first began in 1997.
“The most important step is for someone to recognize they need to ask for help,” said Ferree. “It really is a tough assessment for anyone to admit.”
Counselors at Bethesda Workshop say the first sign of addiction is what they term a “compulsion.” In other words, someone keeps doing what they know is wrong. Next, they keep engaging in the activity despite the negative consequences their action will produce.
Ferree pointed out the difference between how churches and qualified therapists address sexual addictions.
“Churches are ill-equipped to deal with sexual addiction issues. Sure it’s a sin, but it’s critical the individual receives clinical help,” said Ferree. “I see lots of patients and I’m of the opinion that no one will recover without participating in some type of 12-step program.”
Not only have politicians made headlines over sexual indiscretions, pastors also receive their share of media attention when similar sins are revealed.
In 2008, megachurch pastor Ted Haggard resigned his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and as senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs after a former gay prostitute accused him of immoral acts of sex and crystal meth use. In her book, Why I Stayed, Haggard’s wife, Gayle, expressed her frustration at how their church leadership and the group of overseers handled her husband’s admission and attempt to reenter ministry.
Speaking about the restoration process their former church and pastors oversaw, she said, “And so the overseers and restorers officially terminated the restoration that wasn’t a restoration at all. I refer to it as an amputation. Ted calls it a divorce. We managed to save our marriage, but the leadership of the church chose to divorce us.”
Rep. Weiner has said his wife Huma wants to pull through the scandal together. Recently, he also made statements indicating he was waiting on his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, to return from an African trip with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ferree commented, “Sex addiction is more of an intimacy disorder than anything else. In order for Mr. Weiner and his wife to pick up the pieces, they each must be committed to restoration. That’s the only way it will work.”