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The question we heard today in the readings of Christ healing the paralytic man was the first of 3 questions that Mark Laaser poses to the reader in his book, Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction. I’ve shared it here as it is a profound question not only to those struggling with addiction but with any change we seek to undergo.

“In John 5, Jesus heals a man who has been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. For all of that time he had been lying by the pool of Bethesda, which was said to have healing properties. Jesus knew about this man and it has always surprised me, given my counseling training, that the first question Jesus asks him is, “Do you want to get well?” What was Jesus thinking? Why didn’t he ask the man how he got that way, or how it feels to be that way, or what could he do to help? Why else would the man be lying there? Jesus’ question doesn’t seem to be a very compassionate one. But Jesus is the master psychologist, and the paralyzed man’s answer gives us a clue about Jesus’ question. The man says, “Sir, I have no one to help me, and when I go down, someone gets in my way.” I believe the man had adopted the identity of being paralyzed. Jesus knew that for the man to be healed, he had to want to change. In my own experience of addiction, part of me wanted to be free and part of me didn’t. As the apostle James says in his letter, I was a “double-minded man” (James 1:8). I questioned how I could give up these sexual sins—they were the way I coped, survived, and got my needs met. I had asked God to take them away but he hadn’t, at least not the way I wanted him to—quickly and easily. Even though I was a Christian, I didn’t really want to trust God and surrender my sexual sins to him. The strategies for healing in this and subsequent chapters are not complicated. The key, however, is whether or not addicts really want to change. If they don’t, no strategy, however simple, will work. The sin of pride is at the heart of this challenge. Can one really trust God to heal sexual addiction? My answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” Pride, though, is a difficult obstacle to overcome. Anyone who wants healing must get past the hurts and anger of the past in order to say yes to God. Addicts, for sure, must also know that there are alternative ways to find the love and nurture they need. This requires a lifetime of discovery, but it all starts with willingness. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) learned over fifty years ago that it is easier to help alcoholics when they “hit bottom,” when their lives are so shattered and broken that denial, delusion, and excuses are wiped away. This was true for me. One of my favorite AA expressions is, “My own best thinking is what got me here.” When addicts have no place else to turn, and when they have totally lost it, then they are more willing to turn to God, the only true answer.”

Laaser, Mark. Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction (pp. 122-123). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.