Tuesday, January 13, 2015

If You Can't Stop Touching Yourself...

By Thomas Smith

Self-gratification... It is worth discussing for many reasons first and foremost because it leads us away from Christ when it becomes an idol.  Masturbation and the desired and resulting orgasm are both a gift and a curse.  Just as apple pie is a wonderful treat, too much of it in a single sitting or an obsession with over time it can make us ill, overweight, or lead into other vices such as if it leads us to stealing ingredients, binging, etc.  Simply put gifts from God can be misused and become sin.

We often convince ourselves that just a little won't hurt or we can stop any time.  But, that often becomes a fallacy.  We find we can't stop and a little leads to a lot.  ...Training your body is not necessary before marriage, that is a construct that society has given us and we are called to be separate from the world.

Once self-gratification becomes a habit it becomes one that cannot be easily overcome, probably no different than what any alcoholic or drug-abuser faces in quitting their habit.  So, how do you overcome such habits?   It is not easy, and seldom can be done without outside help.  ...

First, you need to find Christ more desirable than the act of self-gratification, replace the fantasies with thoughts of God.  Focus on the cross and why Christ suffered as he did for you.  I needed to radically empty my mind of the fantasies and images I had stored and replace them with edifying thoughts and images, so diving deep into the bible and religious books, sermons, etc helped.  This has been called radical appropriation.

Second, you need to see and understand sin as God views it.  Any sin is deserving of wrath and it cannot be tolerated in His presence.  Too often we have glossed over this aspect and minimized its consequences.

Third, decide you will fight this habit every step of the way.  Knowing it will be an ugly battle ahead of time helps you prepare and face the difficulty of stopping the "burn" feeling.  Do you know what I mean by the "burn" feeling?  Put on the armor of God, memorize scripture to repeat to yourself and know that God will be there with you during the fight - He wants you to fight and I believe is delighted when you do though we may not see it that way.

Fourth, have a battle plan.  Prepare ahead of time a battle plan for such times you are tempted.  Can you phone, text, or somehow communicate with an understanding friend or Christian buddy who can help you through such temptations.  This probably means talking about this ahead of time which requires confessing your temptations or habits to this friend.  Find a friend who has been through the struggle themselves in the past and are pretty secure in their faith and abstinence from such practices now.  This is where well trained accountability groups become very useful.

Fifth, if you haven't already, radically amputate access to all material that leads you into temptation.  Some of my guys have smashed their computers, tablets, installed filters or accountability software, destroyed credit cards, switched from smart phones back to flip phones, set up pre-determined check-in calls with a spouse or accountability partner.  Whatever it takes.

Sixth, pray like you have never prayed before.  I must say here that most proclaimed Christians are pretty weak in this area and have much to learn to utilize prayer much more effectively.   Be serious about your prayer time, get on your knees or lie prostrate and talk out-loud to God.  Believe he is there in the room with you.  If you don't trust in His presence and desire to communicate with you it is like running a race with the hurdle just two feet in front of your starting line.  Pretty tough to get over it.   One of my guys who never thought he could possibly stop masturbating decided this was a fight to the death and he would get up in the middle of the night when the "burn" hit and would lay on the floor prostrate and cry out to God.  After several months he finally found the ability to stop and has been pretty pure since.

Seventh, confession is good for the soul and it brings light to the darkness.  We are biblically mandated to confess to one another and together with this we are told that the hearer is not to judge the person confessing.

I am not sure if the problem is the same for women as men, at least in absolute percentages.  I have to believe that the same counsel holds for both genders however.   Personally I now believe that masturbation for self-gratification by yourself is wrong, it is selfish, and totally narcissistic.  It has its place together with only your spouse in privacy.

All of this having been said what are we to consider for those who fail from refraining time to time?   We are all sinners.  As Paul said we do the things we don't want to do and know we shouldn't and and don't do the things we know we should do.   The Gospel is paramount here - God who is perfect and holy beyond anything we understand came down to earth to become human and suffer what we suffer and to take on the wrath we deserved out of love and desire to save us from our wretched fate.   As long as we are truly born again we are in a process of sanctification which means we are improving, trying, struggling to do the right and holy things God calls us to be obedient to but occasional slips shouldn't and won't send us to eternal condemnation.  As long as we confess and repent we will improve and become increasingly more holy.   This is our hope and our guarantee.  I couldn't have made it this far without such assurance.    In the past almost three years since I was terminated from my job for using porn at work I have slipped a couple of times but I never beat myself up over it as long as I confess and repent and strive to do better because I love Jesus enough to try and be holy like Him.


I hope this has helped and pray it does and that my words were truthful and spirit filled.  Porn wouldn't have the hold it does without the self-gratification part going with it.  That makes it the real problem and the critical battle we face in this day and age.  I truly believe Satan knows this and is using it to tear the church apart. ...


Lindsay said...

Thanks for sharing. Everything you wrote about rings so true in my life. I have a great wife, who is so helpful and yet I still act out. But not giving up. Working on my struggle with masturbation. Thanks again.

Emma Joy said...

You're welcome. I'm grateful for the privilege of sharing resources with others that help them in their recovery and further the process of sanctification in their lives.

I'd encourage you to read the other posts on my blog regarding masturbation (http://babypinkroses.blogspot.com/search/label/About%20Masturbation) and possibly seek biblical counsel for the purpose of dealing with any underlying issues that are manifesting themselves in the form of continually acting out.

Having a helpful wife must be a great comfort to you, yet I'm positive your sexual sin gets in the way of healthy intimacy between you two.

Fighting sin and overcoming it is surely a battle, yet you're on the right path in not giving up and intentionally working on your struggle with masturbation.

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