When a man is caught cheating, he may take one of many paths. Certainly, many men will simply come clean. “Yes, I am guilty,” followed by whatever he perceives to be the truth.
“I’m in love.” Less than 10% of men who cheat leave their spouse and marry their affair partner,
“I’m sorry. I really messed up. Please forgive me.” According to multiple national and international surveys, the majority of men take this high road after infidelity.
“I’m a human, and human’s sin. Maybe I’m addicted, if it gets me out of trouble then I guess I am addicted.” It is estimated that as many as 30% of men will fall back on the “I’m only human,” card, and of these most will be dubbed sex addicts, and go through a program aimed at rehabilitation.
Certainly, for many, sex addiction may be all too real. Sex addiction is a serious disorder. But if the man is not compulsively draw to sex, finding it difficult to focus on anything else, obsessively seeking out sex with inappropriate partners, chances are he is feigning the disorder in order to avoid the punishing repercussions of having been caught.
Of the various treatments for sex addiction, a twelve-step spiritually-based program is chosen nearly 100% of the time over evidence-based psychological programs such as cognitive behavior therapy, when the addicted man is involved in the church. One might say ‘fair enough’. However, there is some discussion among evidence-based treatment providers that (1) many of these men feign the disorder to get out of the punishing effects of having been caught cheating, and (2) that a twelve-step program is more commonly chosen by men who were not previously involved in a church, when they are feigning the disorder.
This led the writer to ask some questions. Answers to some of these were obtained from Prodigals International, a website aimed at helping men and women “of faith” recover from sex addiction. According to this source, two of the three top sexual issues damaging to congregations are pornography addiction, at 57%, and adultery, at 30%. This source also reports that 50% of male churchgoers are regular pornography consumers. Even more troubling is that the problem appears to be greatest at the leadership level, with numbers coming in at 53% among "promise keeper" men, and 54% among pastors.
These numbers are roughly the same as national averages within and outside the Church. But the question is, are these men addicts or just cheaters who might claim to be addicted when caught. This is an important question when one considers the resources that are poured into sex addiction treatment. And it is an important question if one is the spouse, ex-girlfriend, or other victim of sexually inappropriate behavior. Certainly, a wife might be more inclined to forgive and try to make the marriage work if she understands and believes her husband has a real psychological malady. Likewise, an affair-partner who was emotionally injured through the relationship, might be more prepared to forgive, forget, and move on with the knowledge that her ex-lover was sincerely suffering from addiction. For these injured women, whether he is a selfish liar, or an addict can be critical information to their own recovery process. As a female psychologist who has faced both recovery from a cheating husband and a year-long affair with a married man years later, I looked very carefully at the numbers. Here is an interesting one obtained from PsychCentral. Roughly 55% of convicted rapists are considered sex addicts. Does it not seem that the incidence of the disorder would be considerably lower among common or garden cheaters than convicted rapists? One might ask if there would be a greater difference between these numbers if twelve-step programs incorporated the same vetting process that courts appointed treatment psychologists do. A question for researchers might be: ‘What percentage of men in twelve-step programs for sex addiction feign the disorder to get out of the aversive effects of being caught?’, artificially augmenting the numbers among common or garden cheaters? This question might be an unpopular one, as the Church is generally considered above reproach. However, with numbers among Church leaders equaling those of incarcerated rapists, it might be a fair question.
* Sam Hinn, the brother of Benny Hinn, and himself a minister, entered a twelve-step program after his lover's daughter contacted the media and his congregation asked him to leave the church. Among Hinn's Sanford Florida parishioners, were several church leaders, a group called "Noble Men", who also entered sex therapy programs within the first few years after Hinn's fall from grace.