Television. Internet. Music. Movies. Advertising. In today’s culture, we are constantly bombarded with sexual images and messages. The pornography epidemic and resulting sexual addiction is like an elephant sitting in the front pew of many churches that few want to address. Yet where we struggle with purity, there will be no power! Consider the following:
Though Christian counselors have begun to address this pervasive issue, much information is still lacking, particularly from a multicultural standpoint. It is believed that sexual addiction is just as common in many Asian cultures as in American culture. However, it is not reported or treated nearly as frequently due to the idea that admitting such a condition would bring great shame to one’s family.6
Researcher and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Sam Louie, is standing in the gap to address this important issue. As an Asian-American therapist, he works with individuals, couples and groups dealing with relational issues and sexual addictions. Drawing from research and clinical experience, Louie discusses the prevalence of sexual addiction among the Asian culture in his new book, Asian Honor: Overcoming the Culture of Silence.
“Many Asians are drowning in shame and addictions with no way out. Is this any different from a traditional Westerner? Very much so,” Louie explains. “Shame and honor are embedded in the Asian way of thinking, behaving and interacting. If you do not understand the cultural history of honor and shame and its underpinnings, then you will have a hard time understanding the mindset of Asians, let alone the stranglehold of shame that keeps many from breaking the code of silence.”
Asian-Americans represent the third largest racial/ethnic minority group in the United States. The cultural values of harmony, collectivism and family are deeply rooted in the Asian way of life. When struggling with a sexual addiction, many Asians feel as though they are bringing humiliation to their community, family and ancestors, perpetuating a cycle of emotionally destructive secrecy and sometimes-fatal consequences. While the first step in recovery from any addiction is admitting the problem, many Asians are left embarrassed, alone and continually defeated by their addiction.
Locked in silence, many Asians view suicide as the only way out. According to Louie, taking one’s life in the Asian culture is seen as a viable way of atoning for public disgrace and preserving the family’s honor. In fact, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2007 for Asian-Americans ages 15-34.7
As Christian professionals, it is imperative that we become equipped to offer hope and help to those struggling with sexual addiction. Competency in this area requires educating ourselves about the unique values and challenges facing clients from other cultures—whether Asian, African American, Hispanic, or otherwise. More work is needed in this area to develop specific culturally focused interventions for the treatment of sexual addiction.
How does this new understanding impact your work with multicultural populations? Take a moment to share your thoughts below and don’t forget to order a copy of this valuable resource.
1. Paul Strand, Exposing Porn: Science, Religion, and the New Addiction, Christian Broadcasting Network, 2004.
2. “More Sex, Please,” Christianity Today International, Winter 2005.
3. “The Call to Biblical Manhood,” Man in the Mirror, July 6, 2004.
4. Purpose Driven Ministries, March 2002.
5. “ChristiaNet Poll Finds That Evangelicals Are Addicted to Porn,” August 7, 2006.
7. M. Heron, “Deaths: Leading causes for 2007,” National Vital Statistics Reports, 59, 8.