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"Sinful" Sex Addiction: The Newest Way to Demonize Sexuality

Sex addiction has emerged as the 21st century version of sin -- the latest way to guilt people about sex.

Addictions. Gotta love 'em. Gotta hate 'em too, sometimes. But first, we gotta love 'em, or we wouldn't have 'em in the first place. Addictions are the spices of our lives. Of course, too much spice spoils the enchilada. But remember, without a little salsa, it's all just beans and dead meat.

Granted, addiction can certainly be a destructive force, wreaking havoc on your world, but it can also be the source of tremendous creative energy in human life. Sometimes, the only way to truly master something is to become passionately, obsessively addicted to it. Without the driving vigor of our addictions, we surrender to mediocrity, bureaucracy, and (shudder) mere functionality. The world's greatest artists, many of our greatest statesmen, certainly our greatest lovers, and even some of our greatest scientists have been notoriously addictive personalities, all living and dying in overheated pursuits of pleasure, power, knowledge and love.

Our addictions give us a taste of paradise. It may be a temporary paradise, and it may be an artificial paradise, a dangerous, even doomed paradise, but the pursuit of paradise, ecstasy, bliss, nirvana, heaven-on-earth -- also known as “the pursuit of happiness,” as written into the U.S. Declaration of Independence -- is one of the great natural drives of humanity, maybe even of all so-called intelligent life on earth.

The Seven Deadly Addictions

Everybody's addicted to something, even if it's the philosophy of not getting addicted to anything. Some of us channel our addictive drives into stuff that society deems safe or constructive. For instance, work is a socially acceptable addiction, even though the heroes of our culture, the work-driven businessmen and traders, are more likely to die young of a heart attack (or jump out the window when the stocks crash) than the pot-smoking slackers among us. Shopping is another socially sanctioned narcotic, until all your credit cards are maxed out, and suddenly your favorite shopping outlets stop loving you back. Then there are prescription drugs, an all-American addiction with soothing celebrity-studded ads to make those mysterious little pills easier to swallow, and you don't even have to worry about your credit cards if you've got the right insurance.

Other addictions are not generally treated with such compassion. Some are vilified and punished severely. The fact that you can be locked up and tortured for decades within the humongous U.S. prison system (a growth industry which thrives on addiction), over simply indulging your addiction to an "illegal substance" is bad enough. But it goes beyond questions of legality. Indeed, the very idea of addiction has assumed that mortifying place in our hearts and minds that a sense of sin used to occupy. To be a "sinner" is now cool, like sporting tattoos or playing in a band. Nobody's ashamed to be a sinner anymore. But an addict? To be an addict is to be what a sinner used to be: weak, despised, disgraced and diseased. The concept of Original Sin is almost meaningless to the modern mind. But the Addictive Personality? We can all relate to that.

So, the Seven Deadly Sins have given way to the Seven Deadly Addictions: Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Food Obsessions, Workaholism and Gambling Mania are the first five. I'd put Exercise Junkies into the category of Workaholism. After all, an obsession with working out is just a variation on overworking. I'd place Stock Trading and my own personal addiction to playing the CPCs on Google Adwords under Gambling Mania.

Love Junkies

Then there’s #6: Love Addiction. This one's a mass attacker. Excepting the occasional sociopathic loner, everybody gets it. What normal, people-oriented person has not suffered from the deep, sweet agony and ecstasy of codependent love addiction? Since being identified as a disease, "codependency" has spread like the flu, because who can't relate to the symptoms, who hasn't yearned to hold and be held, to care and be cared for, to depend on someone who depends on you? Isn’t that what sharing your life is all about? Not according to many self-proclaimed gurus with troubled pasts who tell us we must -- at any cost -- break our addictions and squash our dependencies on the people who mean the most to us.

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