The Recovering Addict’s Guide to Ethical Sex: Hefner and Hustler Had it Half Right

A Guide to Great Sex_ Heffner & Hustler Didn't Know the Half of It-5

Since boyhood, I’ve had a strong sense of moral justice. Whether putting myself in timeout for breaking the rules, saving stray animals from the streets, or buying food for the hungry, a virtuous character was the internal compass of my younger years.

Then came the season of sex addiction. This was a time of inner turmoil, as I pursued pleasures at the expense of myself and others. Believing in what was right, I too often ran to what was wrong. I lived an incongruent life and the shame of it was like leprosy in my soul.

In my early twenties, my path took an abrupt turn when I chose to pursue a new passion: my recovery. As I experienced the healing and wholeness I desired and deserved, I became more of the person I always was. I reconnected with myself and my values. I learned to live in alignment.

Now, as a sex addiction therapist, I help many others do the same. As people recover, they become who they really want to be and who they really are. They might become that woman who can finally be trusted, that father who learns to connect with his kids, that leader who walks with integrity in his step, or that person sharing a smile with the lovable human grinning back at them from the mirror. Where their agenda to numb-out was once self-seeking, the recovering sex addict learns to adopt new attitudes of humility, caring, and courage.

The process of recovery is the process of aligning with oneself. In recovery, our most valued principles are no longer led away to the slaughter. Instead, we learn to live them out, one day at a time.

In my book Life After Lust I explained how learning to live in alignment with our values is a major “Mission to Accomplish” in recovery. I wrote:

“As we grow in our recovery, we learn who we are and we gain the courage to live that out. No longer are we bound by secrecy, constantly trying to cover up choices that cause us shame. In recovery, we learn to live with integrity. We are the same person in the dark that we are in the light…The more we live in alignment, the greater our inner peace.”

In recovery, we seek alignment in all areas of our lives. A life well-lived is actualized at the convergence of both our sexual and moral values. Thus, making choices based on our sexual values is an act of misalignment if it violates our moral values. While this scenario describes much of the sex addict’s acting out, in active recovery we learn a new lifestyle. In recovery, we learn that sex aligned with our moral values is not only possible, but is far more satisfying than the disconnected, shame-filled, and secretive sex life of the past. Searching for the benefits of the best sex, we no longer look to lust for solutions that only compromise our character.

The Principles of the Porn-Industry

If I’m honest, the porn-industry has some sexual values right. Evaluating the ethics of porn-industry pioneers Larry Flynt and the late Hugh Hefner, I hypothesize that they highly esteemed sexual enjoyment, excitement, spontaneity, freedom, and fun. These values align with my views of an optimal sex life. I concur with them that our sexuality is to be celebrated, not shamed.

But that’s where our agreement ends. While a satisfying sex life is strengthened by some of these values, Hefner and Hustler only had it half right. The vision of sex they offered the world was paired with moral values that sucked the life out of society.  If you’re wondering what I mean by this, I’ve written about it this way:

“As a sexual addiction therapist, I continuously see the devastation caused by porn addiction. I sit with stunned spouses. I empathize with addicts caught in self-destructive cycles. I help resuscitate relationships ruined by pornographic obsessions and aid in the burial of relationships wounded beyond repair.

As a presenter on the harmful effects of porn, I see a younger generation that’s predominantly unprotected from it. I see our youth unknowingly auctioning off present and future intimacy as they immerse themselves in the internet. Porn changes their malleable brains, affecting everything from their studying to later-life sexual performance. Many are drowning in addiction. I do my best to protect my children from this destructive drug.

As a sexual addict in recovery, I’ve felt deep disconnection. I don’t blame the porn industry for my past addiction. I chose to soothe my pain in that way and I eventually chose help. But, sadly, I have seen demeaning acts charading as sex.

As a citizen who cares about the disenfranchised and defenseless, I believe the pleasures of porn are not worth those wounded by it. The porn industry might deny its ties to sex- trafficking, a trade that citizens heroically fight locally. Drug abuse, physical and psychological harm, and disease are commonplace; sexuality and humanity are commodities.

These characteristics grate against my most essential beliefs in love, freedom, and human worth. I adamantly oppose those who profit from such atrocities. I once contributed to this industry through my addiction – an uncomfortable reality I must wrestle with.

Yes, I have a problem with the porn industry” (Benedict, 2017).

Once enticed by the porn-industry’s promise of pleasure, I now see it as a morally-bankrupt mirage. As I continue to seek out my sexual values of passion, pleasure, and play, my recovery requires me to do so within the confines of my character.

So, when a porn-giant like Hustler makes a home in my city, offering gadgets and gizmos to spice up my sex life, I cannot consent with my cash. My funds will never fuel the fires of sexual exploitation. Thank you for offering, but I’ll pass on this Hustler. You may have a legal right to be here but not a moral right. If I buy anything to bolster my sex life, it will be from businesses not tied to objectification and degradation.

Mission to Accomplish # 3

Alignment in Action

In Life After Lust I call the recovering reader to master the practice of healthy sexuality, to live in alignment with their values, and to stand against businesses that profit from the porn-industry. The great news is that these tasks are not in conflict. In fact, I believe that the benefits of great sex are amplified when we act from a place of inner alignment.

Sexuality experts Drs Bill & Ginger Bercaw present this promising vision of a sexual life that is both exciting and ethical:

“You can know for perhaps the first time in your entire life what it feels like to embrace a passionate and fully satisfying sex life while retaining your integrity and while being more fully present.”

We can savor a healthy sex life without stepping on our values. We can have the best of both worlds. Within the boundaries of our values, we can seek out the best sex of our lives.

Where You’ll Find Me

This Saturday, a porn-producing pioneer is visiting our fine city of Fresno for Hustler’s “grand opening” event. Meeting Larry Flynt in person with my “Porn Kills Love” T-shirt and picket sign would absolutely align with my values. But this time I am choosing a different approach. My protest will come through my promotion of love on that day. My plan Saturday is to man a LifeSTAR booth at Fresno’s Recovery Summit, sharing the hopeful message of freedom from sex addiction and inviting others to join me in aligned living, as we pursue together the purposeful path of Life After Lust.

What I am facing in my community is one of many opportunities to stand up to an industry in conflict with our collective best interests. What a wonderful way for me to return to my roots, reclaiming an internal sense of justice. And I am grateful to report that I am far from alone in this mission. There is a groundswell of gifted individuals coming together in this pro-love, anti-porn Movement. Living in alignment with our values, we are changing the world, one victory at a time.

Join us.

 

*To learn more about the ideas presented in this article and more, check out the inspirational new book Life After Lust.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

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Angry Birds & Killer Bees: Talking to Your Kids About Sex (Video Interview)

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Talking to kids about sex is an essential, yet difficult task for all parents. What complicates this challenge further is the advancement of technology and the early exposure to pornography that is rampant in our day and age.

Last year I had the privilege of interviewing Dr Todd Bowman, therapist and author of Angry Birds, Killer Bees: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, addressing this timely topic. This valuable interview is now a part of our SATP certification program and I am privileged to share it publicly today for the first time. Whether you are a parent yourself or plan to be, you’ll gain greatly from Dr Bowman’s expertise with this topic. I invite you to share this interview and Dr Bowman’s much-needed book with others (Subscribe here for future videos and vlogs).

Here’s the interview:

Please share with important message with others.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

 

The Heart of Man – Coming This Thursday ONLY

As some of you know there is a powerful new movie about lust/sex addiction coming out in theaters this Thursday (a one day event) called The Heart of Man. It is a faith-based movie. I have recommended it to many people and have my tickets. Here’s the info to find a showing near you:

http://heartofmanmovie.com

Here’s the new trailer:

If you watch it, I’d love to know what you think!

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube channel, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Help Us Reach 1000 FREE Downloads of Life After Lust (1 Day Left)

Life After Lust Free Promotion

As I shared in today’s VLOG, the Father’s Day FREE ebook promotion is massively successful so far with just over 646 downloads in less than 4 days!

With one more day of this deal remaining, will you SHARE this with others to help reach the goal of 1000 downloads by Sunday night?

Get your FREE copy today and help spread the message of healing. Also, if this book has impacted you, please take 5 minutes to leave a review (every star helps)!

Click here to download your FREE copy of Life After Lust

 

CHECK OF SOME RECENT AMAZON REVIEWS:

5.0 out of 5 stars – Great book for Porn/Sex Addiction Recovery
By Ralph R.on June 17, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book for sex/porn addiction recovery! I am a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in sex/porn addiction recovery. This book has pragmatic and powerful steps which guides the person to develop a solid recovery. It is easy to read and too the point, not overfilled with too many details or micro-analysis. I have just included this book as one of the required readings & discussion topics for groups and individuals who I treat for porn/sex addiction recovery.  I love the way the book is structured with points and easy to understand.

5.0 out of 5 stars – Insightful and very helpful
ByTRKon June 16, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Forest is insightful as he writes about his vast experience counseling others who struggle with addiction. I especially appreciate the chapter on self-care. Thank you Forest for putting it in a book that I am able to reference when I am struggling.

5.0 out of 5 stars – As a psychologist and couples therapist, I highly recommend this book to everyone who is struggling with sexual addiction.
ByJonice Webb, Ph.Don May 24, 2017
Format: Paperback
I’m a psychologist who specializes in couples treatment. I am very relieved to see a thoughtful, intelligent and caring book about this topic that most folks shy away from. Forest Benedict breaks through all the shame that I’ve seen my clients experience, and talks about this difficult subject with great care and attention to the whole person, including his or her childhood, committed relationship, and parenting. The book is filled with helpful guidance and support and clarity, as it walks people struggling with sexual addiction through the healing process. “Secrets are the driving force of sexual addiction.” and “What you fear most will heal you.” The author talks in easy to understand prose that will keep readers connected. Then, at the end, he offers a 52-week recovery process that could guide any struggling person through, with or without the help of a therapist. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with sexual addiction.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube channel, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Writing “Life After Lust” – An Interview with Forest Benedict

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Recently, I had the opportunity to do an interview with John Vonhof for the Writers & Authors on Fire podcast. In the interview I talked about my new book Life After Lust and the writing process. I shared some of my story and talked about the “creative risks” I took in writing this unique book. This is an excellent podcast for writers and others who are interested in the topic and book. This podcast is somewhat faith-based but open to all audiences.

Click here to listen to the podcast

 

Enjoy!

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

EXCITING NEWS! My Book is Now in Paperback!

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EXCITING NEWS! My book Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery is ready in paperback on Amazon! May this resource help and inspire many.

Want to watch the first moment I saw my book? If so, CLICK HERE

Be one of the first to order your copy of this ground-breaking new book that will help many.

Check out the powerful new book trailer based on a chapter of my book by clicking here.

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

“Life After Lust” Book Announcement & Newsletter Sign-Up

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As many of you know, I am working on publishing my first book “Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery.” I have been obsessively focused on finishing my manuscript by the end of the year so that I can send it to my endorsers and prepare for publication in the near future. If you are interested in following the progress of my book and receiving other exciting announcements and relevant recovery content, please join my “Life After Lust” Newsletter by clicking here.

Thank you and stay tuned!

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

“What My Wife is Worth” by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

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Awhile back Jennifer Lamprey, Organizer of the Women of Value Quickening Conference, asked me to write a piece that supports women. She emphasized the importance of men supporting women, especially when it comes to issues related to pornography. She shared, “I believe more and more women need and want to hear a man supporting what they’re doing.” In her perspective, when husbands use pornography, partners lose their femininity, become afraid of being emotional and vulnerable, see people as dangerous, and lose their connection to their worth. She said, “The Quickening is about women knowing their worth”.

Being a husband who has struggled sexually, I resonate with the importance of this message. I see that my battle with lust effects my wife deeply. My personal recovery journey is an opportunity to reflect back to my wife how worthy and worthwhile she is.

All women need to know that regardless of how others have treated them, nothing can diminish their worth. They will always be worthy of love, belonging, and respect. It is not unreasonable for them to require that those who love them treat them accordingly. May the following piece provide encouragement and empowerment as all women realize and rediscover their infinite worth.

What My Wife Is Worth

My wife is a woman of infinite worth. Because of this, she deserves my best efforts.

She deserves a husband who only has eyes for her.

She deserves a husband in active recovery, not passively going with the flow.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is not to blame for his past or present choices.

She deserves a husband who actively opposes visual and mental lust in all forms; viewing it as the enemy of true intimacy.

She deserves a husband who is trustworthy, both when she is looking and when she’s unaware.

She deserves a husband who seeks help when needed, remaining accountable to those who call out his greatness and strength.

She deserves a husband with the courage to face his deepest fears, inadequacies, and wounds for the sake of his healing.

She deserves a husband who learns from his mistakes, creating and communicating new plans for change.

She deserves a husband who is learning how to connect and does the hard work in spite of insecurities and inadequacies in this area.

She deserves a husband who tells the truth about his behavior and is honest when his heart wants to wander.

She deserves a husband who does whatever it takes to change whatever wounds her.

She deserves a husband who takes responsibility for his life, rather than being a victim of circumstances, feelings, or personal history.

She deserves a husband who progresses in personal growth; who is becoming the man he’s  told her he wants to be.

She deserves a husband who is committed to perseverance and course correction; who gets up quickly after failures.

She deserves a husband who cares for himself so that he can offer her more presence and participation in daily life.

She deserves a husband who models faith, purity, passion, and purpose to their children.

She deserves a husband who acknowledges his imperfections yet resists using them as justifications for a small life.

She deserves a husband who fights for her heart.

She deserves a husband who pursues her emotional and physical safety.

She deserves a husband who cherishes her, pursues her, and defends her.

She deserves a husband who humbly responds to her personal boundaries and listens to the pain his choices have caused.

She deserves a husband who remains patient when forgiveness and trust do not come quickly.

She deserves a husband who desires her, cutting off opportunities to seek all counterfeit connections.

She deserves a husband who nurtures her, encourages her to use her gifts, and empowers her to come alive.

She deserves a husband who supports her needs for relationships, relaxation, rest, and rejuvination.

She deserves a husband who serves her, looking for ways to lighten her load.

She deserves a husband who is eager to invest both his time and attention.

She deserves a husband who sees her, knows her, and loves her.

She deserves a husband who reminds his wife every day that her value does not depend on her weight, her style, her sexiness or sexual availability, how she was treated as a child, or any other outside factor.

She deserves a husband who reminds her that she is beautiful and she is enough.

Her worth is innate and cannot be tarnished.

She deserves all of these things because she is a woman of infinite worth.

And so are you.

–By Forest Benedict

To download the PDF for husbands to print and display, click here: What My Wife Is Worth
To download the PDF for wives to print and display, click here What I Am Worth

*Special thanks to blogger Avalon Vic for creating these pdf documents for use

The Women of Value Quickening Conference begins on June 30th! To sign up for this empowering event with a 20% DISCOUNT click here. For additional articles and recovery resources, check of the LifeSTAR blog and Partner Resources page. If this piece touched your heart, I encourage you share it with others.

Please FOLLOW
 my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my upcoming BOOK.

Vote for Love, Not Porn (Can you help?)

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PLEASE HELP! After many hours invested, I have finally published the new piece called “Vote for Love”, a challenge to reject the new Hustler store and to stand against porn in our city and in our world. Please SHARE this with others, helping us spread this timely message for the good of our community and our world. THANK YOU!