When Arousal Is A Sin: The Problems Of Christian Sex "Therapy"

The Victory Over Porn Addiction group only has three members — maybe because its Christian leader tries to eliminate not just "addiction" but masturbation and even arousal.

According to John Leland of the Times, leader Crystal Renaud has modeled her group after XXX Church, an anti-porn ministry skewered by True/Slant's "infiltrator" last year. Both groups are pretty strict. Leland writes,

The programs at Ms. Renaud's group and at XXX Church diverge from secular sexual theory by treating masturbation and arousal as sins rather than elements of healthy sexuality. Emphasis is on recovering "sexual purity," in which thoughts of sex outside marriage are illicit.

At least one of the group members is a sexual abuse survivor, and several seem to struggle with behaviors like cutting. But Renaud's group appears to focus less on trauma counseling and more on a woman's duty to please other people. Says member Michele L. H., "I'm learning the correct way of intimacy and bonds. It's learning what your spouse wants, his needs." Another member, Kelsie, adds,

You have to take into consideration what's best for the one you're going to be with. Say someday I'm married and my husband can't please me as much as I please myself. That'd be terrible.

For Michele, whose relatives ignored her needs as a child by abusing her, therapy based on satisfying other people sexually is especially sad. But for all the women, the Victory Over Porn Addiction approach is troubling. Obviously women should feel free to abstain from masturbation, pornography, or sexual thoughts if they wish, but to offer such abstinence as a cure for psychological problems like self-harm, or to frame it as a necessary step to a healthy relationship, seems irresponsible. Renaud complains that male church leaders ignore female sexual issues, but what she's doing may be just as bad.

Image via New York Times.

Church Counsels Women Addicted to Pornography [NYT]

Earlier: Make This Sunday "Porn Sunday"