Sexual Integrity & Your Emotions


Sexual integrity is about you becoming whole.

You are made up of many parts – mind, body and soul. And in your journey to becoming whole, it is key to address all the parts that make you, YOU. In the last episode, we examined the role of the body.

This week, we’ll learn more about the role of emotions. There is a direct link between your unwanted sexual behavior and your emotional life. And, if you’re willing to pay attention to your feelings, they can serve as clues into something inside you that needs your attention.

This is not easy work. It takes courage and vulnerability. Facing your feelings connects you to who you are at a deeper level. Don’t be afraid.

Let’s move beyond regulating an unwanted sexual behavior boundaries and protocols into living a life of freedom and wholeness.


If you want to be a person of sexual integrity, there is no way to do that without becoming an emotionally healthy person.

A lot of us run to unwanted sexual behaviors as an attempt to regulate our emotions.

Our emotions are not always correct barometers of what is real or true but they’re an important part of who we are.


In Luke 18, Jesus asks the blind man:  “What do you want me to do for you?”

Why did Jesus ask the blind man that? Jesus desires us to be in touch with our desires. He wants to engage with us on that level. Emotions are a gateway to what we really desire and Jesus knows that.

He’s inviting you into a place where you examine and explore with Him all the hopes in your heart.


Dr Patrick Carnes says unwanted sexual behaviors are a way to medicate pain.

Dr Harry W. Schaumburg talked about acting out as a way to gain a false sense of intimacy.

Russell Willingham explains, we run to unwanted sexual behaviors when we don’t know how to deal with certain types of emotions.

Dr Mark Laaser

If you want to learn more, check out Josh’s latest musing on this topic at, Sexual Integrity and Emotional Health

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

If you are after sexual integrity in your life right now, maybe it’s been a New Year’s resolution for you. Maybe it’s an area you want to grow, and maybe it’s an area you’ve been growing in, then you’re in the right place. Last week I talked about the idea that sexual integrity is is not primarily about abstaining from sexual sins, it is primarily about becoming reintegrated as whole people. It’s about rescuing and reclaiming the different parts of us that have become scattered through pain through life through trial through difficulty. Integrity, means oneness, it means wholeness, it’s related to the word integer one. And so to grow in sexual integrity means that our sexuality or sexual desires, our sexual behavior, our sexual thoughts are all integrated into the whole aspect of who we are. And that’s a much bigger and deeper work, than just learning to control our behaviors, learning to abstain from certain behaviors, learning to put filters on our computers or whatever else. And we get in the realm of accountability. If we recognize that what we’re after is integrity, and that involves the whole person, then all of a sudden our integrity or accountability, relationships, take on a whole nother dynamic, they become something much, much more than just, you know, you tell me if you sinned last week, and I’ll tell you if I say last week, and then we’ll hang our heads, you know, down low and leave the room and you know, pray that we do better next week. No, now it becomes a pursuit a whole life living wholehearted living. Last week, I just mentioned, the end of the podcast talked about the our bodies and the role our bodies play in that. If you haven’t listened last week, I encourage you to do so. This week, I want to talk about the role our emotions play in that because if you want to be a person of sexual integrity, there is no way to do that without becoming a more emotionally healthy person. Let me say that again. If you want to become a person of sexual integrity, there is no way to do that without becoming an emotionally healthy person, or at least growing in the area of emotional health because our emotions are a key part of who we are. And the reality is, if you’ve been acting out sexually, if you’ve been engaging in habitual unwanted sexual behavior, you’re actually wrestling with emotions in some way or another. Let me just give you some examples. Dr. Patrick Carnes. He was one of the pioneers in this in the field of sexual addiction recovery, talked about emotions, or talking about sexual unwanted sexual behaviors be becoming a way to medicate pain, medicate painful feelings. Dr. Harry Schomburg talked about sexual acting out as a way to gain a false intimacy. Russel Willingham talked about pursuing unwanted sexual behaviors, to get a sense of vulnerability when you’re afraid of real vulnerability. And you can just imagine the the the way that dovetails with emotions. Willingham also talked about running from feelings that you don’t know how to deal with. That’s one of the things that we do with our unwanted sex behaviors, we run to unwanted sexual behaviors, because we don’t know how to deal with certain types of emotions. Dr. Mark Lazar also talked about that, in Mark Lazar also brought up the reality of our family of origin and we’ve got unresolved unresolved wounds or dysfunction from our family of origin unresolved trauma, then we’re going to, we’re more likely to move into our unwanted sexual behaviors. And a lot of us have run learn to run to sexual behavior as a, as an attempt to regulate our emotions, we haven’t learned to regulate our emotions in healthy ways. And so we run to sexual behavior to try to regulate our emotions. And so an example that if we have a day where we’re feeling low or depressed or lethargic, we might turn to sexual behaviors to try to feel an increased energy, we might feel better to feel to get that upper. If we’ve had a day where we’re feeling incredibly anxious, and stressed, and we’re just kind of, you know, our emotions are way up here, then we might run to sexual behaviors to try to feel calmer. And then also, more recently, Jay stringer talks about how we use sexual behaviors as a way to resolve or try to deal with cope with unresolved anger. We’re displacing our anger directing it at somebody else as opposed to dealing with the anger we have. And he also talks about how it’s it’s a way to collude with shame, we run to our sexual behaviors, to collude with shame that we feel. So those are just a lot of different examples of different experts through the years talking about the connection between our unwanted sexual behaviors or our sexual addictions, and our emotional well being our emotional lives and how we are or not dealing with processing, integrating our emotional selves with the rest of ourselves. So to become a person of sexual integrity means we have to learn because most of us didn’t learn most we have to learn how to care well For our emotions, rather than suppressing them, or turning on yourself when you feel certain emotions, rather than trying to escape them, or medicate them, or using sex to regulate, we have to learn to deal with to attend to what we really desire, what we’re really feeling. The good news is that Jesus knows about emotion, he is well acquainted with emotion for two reasons. One, he became a human being, he has lived as a human being, he knows the full gamut of emotions from the highest highs to the lowest lows. And he actually holds within himself a desire, I would suggest to you a level of desire and hope that far exceeds our own. He also knows about emotion because He created us, He is the Creator of all things. He is the one through whom God has created all things, including us, including our emotions, He has created us with emotions is a key part of life. We experienced them, they’re part of how we connect deeply with other people. They’re part of how we connect deeply to ourselves. And they’re a part of how we connect deeply to the Lord. Let me say that last one again, our emotions are given to us by God as a as a part of how we connect deeply with him. Now, I know for some of you right now you’ve got, you know, buzzers going off in your head, hold on, hold on, hold on, what are you saying like, you know, we rely on our feelings. No, not saying we rely on our feelings, as the at least not as the full scope of how we know what is real. Our emotions are not always correct. They’re not always the best barometers of what is real and true. But they are an important part of who we are. And as we’re seeking to become people of integrity. Instead of cutting ourselves off from emotions instead of just mistrusting our emotions. We need to begin integrating our emotions into our lives, including our relationships, including our spiritual lives, our relationship with God. Now, if you’ve been in an environment where emotions have kind of led the train, they’ve been kind of in charge of your spiritual life, or maybe the lives of somebody around you that might feel frightening. But just recognize that that all misuses or kind of hyper focus on emotion is just a counterfeit or a distorted or twisted, or unhealthy or immature way of dealing with the emotions that God actually designed for you to have. Our emotions are really meant to be a key part of our relationship with God, and how we relate with him in glorious ways. And if you don’t believe me, look no further than creation creation is filled with all sorts of beauty and wonder and high heights and low lows and I mean mountain peaks, it will just take your breath away. And if you don’t feel something at the sight of those things, and something’s wrong, stay in the edge of the Grand Canyon, you’re and feel a sense of wonder and awe. Look up at the night sky when the when the nights clear, and you could see stars and it’ll it’ll blow you away. Look at the tiniest of pebbles on an in a river or on a beach. And again, it’s going to move you watch a sunset and something will move you. We are meant to be sensual creatures in that in the best sense of that word. We are given senses, including emotions, in order to engage with the world and engage with the Lord. Again, if you don’t believe me, take a look at the life of Jesus. Jesus was an emotional man. And we’re designed to be emotional creatures too. So I want to I want to read a quote to you, which I think is just beautiful. And it dovetails so well in what we’re talking about in a series about integrity and sexual integrity. This comes from Jay stringers book, unwanted. And he writes this, he said the word integrity is a hurdle for you. Let’s explore an alternative meaning. Integrity is not about fleeing or burying sexual desire. It is concerned with being unified and honest in pursuing the holistic desires within you. He goes on to say, a failure of integrity does not begin. When we look at porn. It begins the moment we begin to care less about the things that matter. We read that again. A failure of integrity does not begin when we look at porn, it begins the moment we begin to care less about the things that matter. So it goes on to just talk about some of the different ways that our emotions cue us into the reality that something important is happening. Something inside of us needs tending something in this moment, is calling for our attention. Something in this setting is drawing us to hope to the courageous work of hope. Something in this relationship needs work and patience and daring. So does God want us to abstain from sexual sins? Absolutely he does. And but but in this light, we see them as more of a symptom of potentially more important matters. And as we work on those more important matters, we actually find it’s easier to abstain from sexual sins because we are engaging with real life in ways that we longed for. And so if you find yourself tempted, or you find yourself in a pattern of unwanted sexual behaviors, there’s much more to this. But just to start you off. Could it be that what you’re really desiring is not sex, but beauty? Could it really be that you’re not really desiring sex? But you’re desiring wholeness in yourself? Could it be that you’re not really desiring sex, but you’re desiring connection? Communion, the love of another human being? Could it be that you’re not really desiring sex, but you’re desiring healthy touch? Could it be that you’re not desiring sex, but you’re desiring creativity? And what’s the connection there? Well, you know, God designed sex to be procreative. So I think sometimes we’re drawn towards sexual things, and really, in something inside of us, is wanting to birth, something meaningful, something life giving something that is multiplying into the earth. I mean, that’s, that’s what God designed sex to be. And I think the sexual longing sometimes gets we get our wires crossed, we’re really desiring to have meaningful and purposeful activity, our lives were not made for futility. I mean, in some ways, masturbation is is the the great irony of, of sexual immorality, because it’s, it’s futile. It doesn’t, you know, it does. It’s not life, giving it just, it’s just a person with him or herself. When we’re really desired for meaning and life giving movement, in relationships and in our work. So I asked those questions just to get you started. What are you really looking for? What are you really looking for? It’s not sexual immorality, because as I said, last week, you’re not made for sexual immorality, you are made for the Lord and He has good in store for you. Jesus in Luke 18, there’s a blind man who was calling after him. And when when they brought them into Jesus, Jesus didn’t look at him and say, okay, obviously know what you want. And Jesus asked the man, what do you want me to do for you? And I think we’ve got to just pause there and ask, why did he ask? Why did he ask them in? I think one of the reasons he asked is because Jesus actually desires for us to be in touch with our own desires. He desires for us to be in touch with our desires, and he wants to engage with us on that level. And our emotions are a gateway, a window into what we really desire. So if Jesus is standing in front of you right now, and he would ask you, what do you want me to do for you? This isn’t the Genie in a Bottle game. This is the Lord your Lord Jesus, when He loves you most. Who is provisioned for you? asking you what do you want me to do for you? What comes up? What do you find that comes up out of you? For this man, it was Lord, I want you to restore my sight. I want to see what is it for you? I think as we as we dig deep into the answer that question, even past the surface stuff, I mean, in the mode of temptation, what do we want, I want my desire satisfied. I want I want to, you know, feel sexual titillation. I want to feel the sexual climax. But dig deeper, look deeper into your own heart and your own emotions. What do you really desire? What do you really desire? Now, this is courageous work, because you press in there and you’re going to discover that your desires run deep. And when you find your desires run deep, you’re going to come face to face and head to head with a clash in the area of hope and despair. Because it is it’s challenging to face our desires because we have all encountered, our desires being dashed our desires being led down. When Jesus asks you what he wants, what you want him to do for you. He is inviting you into a place where you examine and explore with him with him, where your hope is, what you’re hoping for, and ultimately, who you’re trusting in this world. This is good and important work and it’s all a part of becoming people of integrity, including people of sexual integrity. Jesus help us revive our emotions. Grant us courage to become people of integrity, whose emotions whose hearts are unfolded and integrated into the fullness of who we are, or to ask it for the sake of those who are listening for my sake, and for your glory and

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