Can a Sex Addict Plead Insanity on Judgment Day?


A number of years ago, America watched as Andrea Yates was put on trial for murdering her five children. Psychologists hired by her attorney contended that she was innocent by reason of insanity; backing his claims that “the killings were brought on by psychotic delusions, exacerbated by repeated episodes of postpartum depression.” (1) Even her husband, the father of the five children, claimed that she was a victim of mental illness and therefore should not be held liable for her actions. (2)

There was a collective sigh of relief across America when the jury ultimately rejected the defense’s argument and convicted her of murder. She was found guilty.


The Modern Mindset: Justify with ‘Disease’ and ‘Disorder’

Could it be that our secular judicial system possesses an understanding about life that the Church is losing? I am referring to the disturbing mindset that is growing within Christian circles that people are victims of one kind of emotional abuse or another and therefore are not really responsible for their actions.

In my work with sexual addicts, I have heard a plethora of explanations over the years as to why men do what they do: “I molested that child because I was abused myself;” “My sexual addiction is a result of unmet emotional needs I carry from childhood;” and so on. Recently, a homosexual even told me that he had never lusted over another man. He claimed that his sexual activity was simply his attempt to find the love he didn’t receive as a child.

This modern approach even comes with its own terminology. The apostle Paul’s old fashioned words such as lasciviousness, uncleanness and fornication have been brushed aside in favor of softer more palatable terms such as, “sexual brokenness” and “gender confusion.” People who have given themselves over to habitual sexual activity are now considered to be victims of a “disease” or “mental disorder.” Of course, it goes without saying that there can be no guilt when a person’s actions are a direct result of being victimized.

That may work for some progressive-minded people, but I’m not convinced it will hold water with God. Can you imagine Saul explaining to Samuel that his rebellion was a result of unmet emotional needs? Try to envision David telling Nathan the prophet that he committed adultery and murder because he lacked self-esteem. I realize these are ridiculous notions, but are they really much different than the explanations that are offered by many today?


The Biblical Model: Admit and Acknowledge Disobedience

Of course, I understand as well as anyone that there are often contributing factors to people’s actions. But I have just one question: Why has it become so wrong to say… “I’m wrong”? 

My dear friends, I would suggest to you that if we lose the concept of right and wrong we have lost everything. If we continue on our present course of explaining away our disobedient behavior, minimizing the evil nature of our sin and justifying our transgressions, we will lose the moral anchor of God’s Word. A wise and humble man will be extremely cautious about redefining behavior the Bible unequivocally calls “sin.”

God’s manner of dealing with sin is well documented in Scripture. Over and over again He confronted sinners over their actions. Saul and David illustrate the two basic responses people have toward divine confrontation: they will either attempt to justify themselves or they will acknowledge their guilt and repent.

When Samuel rebuked Saul for allowing the king of the Amalekites to live, the old monarch minimized, blame-shifted and rationalized his deeds. His refusal to acknowledge his guilt left him unprotected spiritually. From that day on he spiraled downward, until by the end of his life, he was driven insane by tormenting devils. Apparently Saul never made the mental connection between his rejection of God’s reproof that day and the subsequent misery that increased in his life.

David’s actions with Bathsheba were far worse than Saul’s partial disobedience. However, when the prophet thrust his bony finger into his face and exclaimed, “You are the man!” David collapsed in overwhelming contrition. The cry, “I have sinned!” rose from the depths of his being. There were no excuses or elaborate explanations. He didn’t attempt to minimize what he had done. He understood that he was guilty.

For nearly two thousand years Jesus Christ has been transforming lives from the inside out through the age-old process of confession and repentance. Have we hindered the power of God to work in our lives through an unwillingness to acknowledge fault? Have we become like the hardhearted, adulteress of Proverbs 30 who, we are told, “eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’”?


Our Sinfulness and Sanity on Judgment Day

I don’t know what Andrea Yates and others like her were thinking when they committed their dreadful crimes, but this I do know: there will be no insanity pleas on Judgment Day. We will all be held accountable for our actions. (Romans 14:12) Without a doubt, those who claim to have experienced temporary insanity when they committed some criminal act had a long history of rebellion and self-justification that precipitated it.

The fact is that, without God’s intervention in our lives, we are all on a course of ever-increasing madness. Surely the Preacher was right when he quipped, “The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3) The path into mental and emotional well-being does not come by circumventing God’s prescribed methods of dealing with sin but by embracing them.

I don’t like being told I’m wrong any more than the next guy, but when I consider the tragic stories of Saul and Andrea, what other option do I have but to acknowledge when I am wrong? I don’t know about you, but the next time the Lord convicts me of sin, rather than rampaging through self-help books looking for some excuse to offer, I think I’ll just hang my head, bow my knee, and confess, “I have sinned!”

(1) "The Yates Odyssey", Time Magazine, June 3, 2002.

(2) ibid.

Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.

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