I read False Intimacy by Harry Schaumburg in the late 90’s and discovered one of the best books on sexual addiction. Now, 20 years after the release of False Intimacy, Harry has followed it up with Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships. I’m only 2 chapters into the book, but already I’ve found some very thought provoking nuggets.
He mentions a phrase that I’m shamed to say I had not heard before- relationship specific erectile dysfunction. This is the concept that a particular person’s erectile dysfunction is not rooted in a medical problem. The person is able to function properly with another person or alone. They only experience this failure with a specific person- obviously on a fairly regular basis. But wait…
He mentions one of the indicators of sexual dysfunction as Diminished Masculinity and Femininity. This means that the person, in at least that relationship (if not others) the person functions as a child or teen. In other words, they are immature.
“One of the signs of diminished femininity and masculinity is that the wife feels like a mother with her husband, and the husband feels like a child with his wife.”
Obviously, these roles can be reversed so that he feels like a father, and she the child. But the most common is the one he mentions. He ties them together.
“If you feel like a child around your wife,wouldn’t impotence be a problem? … Likewise for a woman, if you feel like a mother around your husband, wouldn’t there be a lack of sexual desire?”
Now the concept of relationship specific dysfunction makes sense. It sort of feels like incest. These are some of the things often missed because we fail to ask appropriate questions in counseling. Too often we rush to the medicinal cure, and miss the relational & spiritual matters driving the dysfunction. When we do, we actually do the person a disservice. They are “functional” but still sinning because those relational and spiritual matters have never been addressed.
The main premise of his book is that spiritual maturity and sexual maturity go hand in hand. Sexual immaturity hinder spiritual maturity (and vice versa). Picture them as an interactive spiral that moves either up or down. This is how they interact to either pull us up or drag us down. The failure to address our sexual dysfunctions can cripple us spiritually. But sexual function is not properly pursued apart from spiritual maturity either.
Schaumburg is offering the church a much more wholistic understanding of sexual dysfunction and restoration than we have gotten before. This is why I’m excited to continue reading.