Idolatry and Sexual Addiction


Definition of Idolatry

Idolatry is defined as the worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands which is not God or excessive attachment or veneration for anything. This means that anything that we put in the place of God in our lives is an idol.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:5:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Jesus added “with all your mind “in Mark 12:30.

Our Lord Jesus Christ knows our biggest problem in life is idolatry. The entire Old Testament is filled with men and women who one minute place all their focus on the Lord and the next they return to their former ways of idol worship.

In Ephesians 5:5 Paul reminds us that all sin can be summarized as idolatry.

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Idol worship today

We are not immune today. We look to sports figures, music stars, religious leaders and political leaders to be our idols. We lift them up and place them on a pedestal.

We also place ourselves on that pedestal of our life. We deserve to feel good. We deserve to be happy. We don’t deserve the suffering we experience in this life and we do whatever we can to avoid suffering.

Idolatry includes anything we worship such as our lust for pleasure, respect, love, power, control or freedom from physical or emotional pain.

Some of us place our children on that pedestal. We sacrifice everything we have to make our children happy. We give them our time, money, love and guidance. We chauffeur them around to this sporting event, that social event and this other educational event all to give them what we didn’t have.

In pursuit of being happy we engage in all sorts of activities. We seek love in the arms of another. We use various drugs to change how we feel. We justify any means necessary because in the end we are happy.

Happiness, children, our needs, admirable people and many other things related to these are not bad in and of themselves. These are actually good things for us to focus on in life. The problem comes about when we allow them to take the place that God should take in our lives and we indulge in them excessively,which is idolatry.

What do we want from Idolatry?

We want to use idols for our own desired payoff and our own selfish desires. They are a means to an end. We don’t want to be ruled by alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food or anything else. Idolatry begins one way and ends up another.

Rather than ruling and mastering our idols we become slaves to them and start to look more and more like them. The Psalmist said in Psalm 115:8 about idols:

“Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”

Why do we get trapped by idolatry?

God has created us with physical needs and desires that can lead to pleasure when we keep them in line with His ways. He created us each with the need for true intimacy that can only be experienced within the confines of a God-centric marriage.

From the beginning God created marriage. In Genesis 2:24 he said

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Becoming one flesh has multiple meanings. The most obvious is sexual intercourse. But there is a deeper meaning. We are no longer our own. Our bodies are not our bodies, but are our spouses (Ephesians 5:22-31). Everything that we think, say and do, we also do to our spouses and ultimately to our Lord.

We have taken what God meant for our good and twisted it around to be the snare that entraps us. Pleasure becomes elusive. It becomes the object of our idolatry. We seek it with all we have and the next so called high is never as good as the last. We need more and more until it demands our total attention.

The power that lies behind idolatry is Satan. He lies to us and tell us that we will be respected, loved, admired, powerful, happy and in control if we follow his suggestions and give into our pleasures this one last time.

He knows that he can keep us from worshiping God with all our hearts if we are distracted by worshiping the creation instead.

Paul tells us our battle is not with our flesh and blood in Ephesians 6:12.

“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

You really only have two choices in life. Either you place your faith in the loving Father and know freedom or you put your faith in idolaltry and become enslaved by Satan.

What is the answer to sexual addiction?

If you are struggling with sexual sin the only answer we have is the power of the risen Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

You may have tried over and over to quit but you always come back for more. The harder you try the more you end up acting out sexually. You may have changed your behavior, but your lust is burning out of control.

You can’t do it on your own. You need help. That help can be found in biblical counseling and accountability partners to some extent. If Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit are not at the core of the counseling and accountability you will not succeed.

You need the power of the cross to overcome idolatry. Idolatry is a life long struggle for every believer.

More on Idolatry

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller

Gospel Treason: What Happens When You Give Your Heart to Idols by Brad Bigney