The concept of sex addiction being a psychological disorder similar to other obsessive-compulsive disorders, or similar to other addictions, such as alcoholism or illicit drug use, is a recent development. Previously, a man (or woman) who was promiscuous was said to be immoral and filled with lust. The issue now is that something the Bible says is a sin, promiscuous sex outside of marriage, is being labeled as a psychological disorder. For some, this is an excuse, an explaining away of a clear sin. So, is there such a thing as sex addiction, and if so, what does the Bible say about it?
First, let it be said 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 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 his wife in marriage is “pure” (Hebrews 13:4) and is the God-ordained way of releasing the tension of a “sex addiction.” Should a married couple allow themselves to become addicted to the point that sex becomes an obsession, a hindrance to other aspects of life? Of course not. Is it wrong for a husband and wife to desire regular sex with each other? Absolutely not. Sex in marriage is not sinful. A husband and his wife are biblically allowed to have sex as often as they want, in the spirit of mutual consent (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Sin itself is addicting. Most, if not all, sins are addicting 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. Immoral sex, just as other sins, can lead to “ever-increasing wickedness” (Romans 6:19). Just as illicit drug use leads to increasingly potent amounts of the drug being needed to achieve the same “high,” so can immoral sex lead to increasingly frequent and “wild” intercourse in order to receive the same satisfaction. Yes, there is a such a thing as sex addiction. A person truly can become psychologically and physiologically addicted to frequent, wild, experimental, and even obscenely immoral sex.
The fact that sex is addicting, and the biblical truth that sin is addicting, combined, lead to the conclusion that sex addiction does indeed exist. The fact that sex addiction exists, though, does not change the fact that it is sin. It is very important to recognize sex addiction as a sin, not to 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. As with all sin addictions, 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, who was God in human form, paid the eternal/infinite penalty for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we fully trust His sacrifice on our behalf as the full payment for our sin, receiving Him as Savior in faith, He promises that all of our sins are forgiven. Then, God makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and begins the process of conforming us to His will (Romans 12:1-2), including enabling us to overcome sin and break any sin addictions we have. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).