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Bound to Shame: Sexual Addiction and Christian Ethics

ARENS, JOHANNES (2011) Bound to Shame: Sexual Addiction and Christian Ethics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (DThM Thesis) - Accepted Version


This thesis is an attempt to add understanding and meaning to the concept of sexual addiction by correlating the clinical observation that sex addicts in particular, and shame-bound people in general, behave in cycles of control and release to the types of the two sons in the Lukan parable of the prodigal. This parable may be understood as shedding light on the equal dangers of patterns of control and release. Additionally, sex addiction is viewed from an Augustinian perspective of sin.
It is argued that human vulnerability to shaming is a result of original sin and that sexual addiction can be understood within this framework as one possible reaction to shame damage. It is suggested that at the heart of the Christian gospel is a severe warning that to attempt to hide and deny a distorted and painful perception of oneself presents a particularly deadly spiritual condition.
To view sex addicts as shame-bound people poses the question as to whether the church faithfully participates in the continuing mission of the triune God and how far its ministry helps towards the healing of shame. On the other hand, we need to explore whether the church adds to the shaming of individuals and groups, is unaware of the dynamics of shame, or even exploits those affected by this.
In the context of the current discourse within the Christian church about human sexuality, and in view of recent scandals of sexual abuse, the question of ministry towards those whose sexuality is wounded is of particular concern.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Keywords:Addiction ; Sexuality ; Sin ; Augustine ; Theology of Sin ; Sexual Addiction ; Sex Addiction ; Prodigal Son ; Parables
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Apr 2011 15:43

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