In recent years, sex addiction is seen as a psychological disorder similar to other obsessive-compulsive disorders or to other addictions such as alcoholism or illicit drug use. Previously, a man (or woman) who was promiscuous was said to be immoral and filled with lust. Now, something the Bible says is a sin, promiscuous sex outside of marriage, is being labeled as a psychological disorder. For some, the label is nothing more than a rationalization of sin. Is there such a thing as sex addiction, and, if so, what does the Bible say about it?
First, Scripture is clear that sex outside of marriage is always a sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 1:7). There is never a time when it is right to have sex outside of marriage. With that said, it is important to note that sex is indeed addicting. A person who engages in sexual intercourse regularly will almost always become psychologically and physiologically addicted to it. Sex between a husband and wife is “pure” (Hebrews 13:4) and has the effect of mitigating the possibility of a sex addiction. Of course, a married person can still become obsessed with sex, to the hindrance of other aspects of life. Such addiction to sex is wrong, even in a marriage. But it is not wrong for a husband and wife to desire regular sex with each other. A husband and his wife are biblically allowed to have sex as often as they want and in whatever way they want, as long as their sexual expressions are God-honoring, exclusive, loving, other-oriented, unifying, and mutually agreed upon (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Most, if not all, sins are addictive if engaged in regularly. Lying, drinking in excess, smoking, gluttony, rage, pornography, etc., can all become habitual. Ultimately, all of us, in our fallen bodies, have a sin addiction of some type. Immorality, as other sins, can lead to “ever-increasing wickedness” and addiction (Romans 6:19). Sex addiction does indeed exist. This does not change the fact that immorality is sin. It is important to recognize sex addiction as a sin and not excuse it away as a psychological disorder. At the same time, we should not minimize the powerful hold sex addiction can have on a person. Those who are addicted to sex should seek spiritual guidance and counseling from a trustworthy therapist.
As with all sins, the only true cure for sex addiction is Jesus Christ. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we all deserve the judgment of eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid the penalty of sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we trust His sacrifice on our behalf as the full payment for our sin, receiving Him as our Savior by faith, He promises to forgive our sin. God then makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and begins the process of conforming us to His will (Romans 12:1–2). This process includes enabling us to overcome sin and break any sin addictions we may have. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul asked, and then answered his own question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24–25).