We are sexual beings – it’s the way that God made us. It’s an inherent part of our nature, but was never meant to be abused through masturbation, sexual promiscuity, or intimacy outside of marriage or through the use of pornography.
Sexual temptation is one of the most common struggles for Christians, particularly for singles and because it’s one of those issues that few people, if anyone wants to talk about, many singles and even married people often feel that it must only a problem for them or for a few sinful Christians, and so we hang our heads in shame and try to struggle on alone.
I believe that most adults in the world today have at least once in their lives given into masturbation, and anyone who tells you otherwise is likely lying. The teenage years are probably one of the most difficult for Christians to get through without giving into sexual temptation, particularly for boys whose bodies are more easily and obviously stimulated. It would be a rare individual who could avoid giving into masturbating.
You are not alone in your struggles. This is so important that I need to repeat it to you:
you are NOT alone in your struggles.
About my experience
Perhaps you are wondering how I could possibly know about this as a problem, since I’m the one giving advice about it and added to that fact, I’m mature in years. Here’s a little history about what happened to me.
I grew up going to church and Sunday School, but between the age of 7 and 13, I was sexually abused by three different people on three occasions. As a consequence, the act of sex was confusing and frightening to me, but it also opened my eyes to sex at too young an age to properly know how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, I was never provided with any kind of counselling so that I could understand what had happened to me, and to calm my fears about it. It also meant that I was much more aware of sex before puberty and was stimulated and curious about it well before I should have been.
I attended Youth Group but as I made my way into the world of adults, I found no real mentor out there to guide me along the way, particularly in coming to terms with my abuse and sexuality, and so I dived into the enticing ways of the world which promised me happiness and fulfilment, but ultimately failed me.
In my early 20s, I had a physical relationship with a man who I became engaged to, and we lived together for a couple of years. I still read the Bible and prayed, and I never stopped believing in God, but I didn’t understand what a relationship with God was really like.
Eventually my relationship with that man grew unhealthy as he became more and more controlling, and I praise God for opening my eyes to what was going on. Then because of the eventual breakdown of that relationships and my ex-partner’s appalling subsequent behaviours, I turned back to God again. I made a new commitment to Him that was different to what I’d experienced and understood as a teenager.
I can look back now and see clearly that through it all God never left me. He patiently and lovingly continued reaching out to me and waited for me to turn back to Him. I believe it was the Holy Spirit who opened my eyes to how my then partner was trying to control me.
That also meant that coming out of a physical relationship, I struggled with letting go of my desire for physical intimacy, while I was still also coming to terms with my earlier abuse, and so I allowed myself to be sexually stimulated through ‘romance’ books, TV programs, movies and so on. This was an area of my life with which I struggled for many years.
I also had to ‘unlearn’ much of what the world had told me about my sexuality and many other things in those first five to six years after becoming a Christian and I can’t help but wonder how much easier it would have been for me if I’d never been exposed to sexual concepts, nor experienced them in the first place, nor for that matter, if I’d never been abused. I know of other Christians who also have been through something similar.
Over time, I set up barriers in my life so that I’m rarely exposed to sexualised acts, imagery or concepts and that helps me to maintain control, but I can never delude myself into thinking that I’ve ever overcome it. Thankfully, over the years, it has become less of a struggle than it used to be, so never give up hope!
But it’s so embarrassing!
This should be a topic that young adults and Christian singles groups talk about, but because it’s an uncomfortable topic, few people seem to want to tackle it, or simply don’t know how to begin, which is why this topic has been one that we’ve shared in SPAG Magazine, to both provide a resource and also be a way that groups can begin delving into this topic. As we add more in future publications, we shall also add them to our website.
We’ve also shared a couple of articles on the problem of pornography in an earlier issue, and there are mature Christians who have found themselves with an awful addiction to it. It’s one of the most insidious, sneaky and horribly difficult addictions out there.
Tim Everton shared an article in issue 8 of SPAG Magazine on the topic of pornography and about his addiction to it, called, “My Year Without Porn,” and ways to overcome it. The link to his online article can be found here. In that same issue we shared a further 2 articles that provide further insight into what we can do to make a stand about porn in our society, and Collective Shout responds to common arguments by people who say that porn is ok. These articles were:
(You can find links to other online articles for these at the bottom of this article, and I urge every parent, teacher and community leader, to read about the dangers and addictions related to pornography, and its very real link to the increasing violence against women.)
The World Tells Us…
Sex, masturbation, pornography and anything sexual are perfectly normal – so the world continues to tell us!
It says repeatedly that sex, masturbation and pornography are perfectly normal, but what ‘normal’ is, is changing all the time, and acts that are definitely not acceptable or normal in God’s eyes, are now being pushed into mainstream movies, TV and even teenage publications such as anal sex. We are urged to view these and even more vile acts as acceptable, and that we’re weird if we don’t want to experiment.
We have younger Christians coming into adulthood already with addictions to pornography, and yet few churches tackle it. Each church and every Pastor needs to make this a regular topic to discuss with their teen, young adult, and singles groups, and also with all other adult groups within the church, because it’s often mature Christians who believe that they have to struggle on alone.
Sexual topics and simulated sexual acts are freely available for our viewing on TV programs, videos and games and so on. The main focus of some TV programs is often about sex – I’m sure you could name at least one. This is one of the reasons why Christian parents have to be alert to what they allow their children to view, or to concern themselves with what they’re seeing when they stay at a friend’s home.
Yes, the topic of sex has been on the lips of teenagers for quite a long time now. A relative mentioned that in the 1950s, he and his teenage brothers and friends often talked about sex. It’s nothing new.
Back in the late 1990s before mobile phones were common or even had inbuilt cameras, I recall high school students at a Christian school talking about sex quite explicitly, so I hate to imagine what they share in public schools today.
The younger ones today have become exposed to sexual concepts and sexual acts and images, never before seen at this level in western society. Physical intimacy has lost its beauty and ‘specialness,’ which will later impact in a negative way on Christian and even non-Christian marriage. I find it terribly sad that so many of us in the past couple of generations will never known that special, intimate connectedness with a loving Christian partner in the way that God intended for us, as so few of us have kept our virginity both mentally and physically, until marriage.
We will never know nor experience what that was meant to be like.
Today, there’s increasing pressure on teenagers and adults to send explicit images of themselves or just parts of themselves to others, and the current young adults (as at 2019) and the ones following behind, have been exposed to sexualised concepts and the idea that their sexuality and their bodies are open to exploitation and exploration to an unhealthy level because now it’s viewed as both normal and even expected.
It’s no wonder then that it has become one of the biggest struggles for Christians , and one of the reasons why Satan uses it, is because it can block our intimacy with God and affect the health of our relationships with others, including partners, children, friends etc.
The repercussions can be huge:
and so much more.
The dangers today can never be understated. I’ve heard Christians say that sexual intimacy with a boyfriend/girlfriend are acceptable before marriage, otherwise why would God allow us to have sexual feelings towards them?
Are you fooling yourself with the thought that you have control over it? Now is the time to admit to yourself that it has you in its grip. There are ways to combat it, but you have to be prepared to put in the effort yourself. There are no magic words or rituals that will make it go all go away or fix it forever. This is a problem area over which you must be vigilant, likely for the remainder of your life.
What is today’s date? Take the step – today it’s time to take back control, and understand that the further down you are stuck into this, the harder it will be to overcome. Don’t put it off until tomorrow, or next week. Today is the time to take this to God.
Will you fail? Possibly, but don’t expect to. If you fail, get up, pray a heck of a lot, look at what brought you to that place, and work on how to eliminate that temptation from your life. Then go on, and try again.
How to Begin
As embarrassing as the idea is, confession is often the best starting point. The thought of sharing your darkest thoughts and acts with another Christian can be so humiliating, that we don’t want to have to do it, but if it’s going to help you, to make you accountable, then you must suck up your pride and do it.
Ask your Pastor for a recommendation for someone in the church who is willing to mentor you to overcome the addiction or find a group who are willing to share this struggle together, keeping in mind that condemnation will not usually help, but help each other to find real ways to combat it, keeping in mind that what works for one person, may not work as well for another. You may need to find a strong leader in your group to ensure that you aren’t actually encouraging the wrong thing or being too explicit.
If your church doesn’t have any kind of teachings about this, or a group or mentor to help, then ask your Pastor to set something up. Too many Christian adults and church leaders want to ignore that this is a major problem today, particularly for teenagers and young adults. Consider that the next generation coming through will likely have been exposed to more sexualised concepts and imagery than any generation that came before them. We must be alert and we must be armed and prepared to help them, or we will lose too many of them to the world.
I pray that God will bless you on your walk in this area. It will be challenging, but if you’re willing to give up this whole area of your life to Him, He can and will work it through with you.
Links to online articles that you will find helpful and provide some eye-opening information to the very real dangers of porn: