Lust, Pornography and Masturbation (Part 3 of 3)

I am writing this series of posts to and from a male’s perspective.

Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Note For Parents and Teachers:

I urge you to review this material to assess its appropriateness for your child (children). Remember to be age appropriate and open the lines of communication early. Consider the cultural, ideological, educational and technological trends (influences). If you think your child is too young to be exposed to these and other topic surrounding sexuality (and gender identity), you maybe the only one.

Review of Parts 1 and 2

In part one of this series, we briefly considered the distinction between (1) temptation & sin and (2) sexual desire & lust. We also considered six attitudes and behaviors we need to start developing if we want to become more healthy, godly and authentic in our sexuality as men. We closed out the lesson (post) by asking ourselves to identify triggers (that spark sexual lust and temptation) and to create preventative strategies and action plans for the purposes of combat and discipline.

In part two of this series, we acknowledged a very unfortunate reality – even though sexual ethics and morality was one of the major issues the early church had to address, many modern Christians (and churches) are very reluctant to engage these issues (among ourselves and within the larger culture). As evidenced by their extensive teachings recorded in the New Testament, the apostles and early Christians certainly did not shy away from the subject.

We also looked at some Biblical/Christian principles that help us to define and put into perspective the nature of masturbation (and its ill-effects). In this post, we will offer some suggestions on how to overcome compulsive sexual behavior.

Masturbation Inventory

Do you use masturbation as a way to avoid real issues? Dr. James Phelan’s inventory can help us monitor our behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Answer each question with a “yes” or “no”.

  • Is masturbation a stress release?
  • Am I trying to avoid or medicate a feeling?
  • Am I responding to someone I saw, or an image or thought?
  • Will I want to keep this behavior a secret?
  • Is this a legitimate way of relating to others?
  • Am I confused about what I really want?
  • Would sex in a committed monogamous relationship be better than this?
  • Do I have to masturbate when I am horny?
  • Will I feel guilt or badly afterwards?
  • Am I afraid my closest friends would not understand this?

If you have more “yes” answers than “no” answers, I would suggest that you talk to someone and develop an action plan. I came up with a partial list of options that you can consider below.

Pornography Use Self-Assessment

Do you have a problem with Internet porn? These questions highlight some things to watch out for that may be signs of a pornography problem.

  • Are you spending less time with friends and family?
  • Are you lying to friends and family about your online behavior?
  • Have you given up on what would appear to be healthy relationships with others?
  • Do you engage in random sexual relationships?
  • Do you get behind on schoolwork, fail to meet the requirements of a job and/or have you reduced your involvement in other activities?
  • Do you find yourself becoming depressed or anxious due to shame about your use of pornography?
  • Have you experienced increased emotional isolation, secrecy and lowered self-esteem?
  • Do you often spend excessive amounts of time online?
  • Do you lock the door or shield your computer from others while online?

Overcoming sexual compulsive behavior (or sex addiction) is difficult but not impossible.

(1) Don’t wallow in self-pity, guilt and shame. This counterproductive and ultimately adds fuel to the fire.

(2) Repent, confess and acknowledge the problem to yourself and God. Maintain your prayer and devotional life.

(3) Make consistent, firm and strong decisions that live up to God’s standards.

(4) Maintain active and ongoing relationships with fellow Christians.

(5) Do what is necessary to avoid being entrapped by temptation and sin (Matthew 5:29, 30 and Hebrews 12:1, 2). Acknowledge and avoid tempting circumstances that lead you to lust and sexual fantasy.

(6) Identify how your emotions, your behavior, your relationships and various media affect your sex drive.

(7) Take steps to starve the flesh and to feed the Spirit (Romans 8:5 – 8; Galatians 6:7, 8). We are always sowing seeds and a harvest is always coming in.

(8) Share you life with others. We need to replace the time, money and energy spent on sexual gratification on healthier and more constructive activities. Become involved in new interests, strengthen old relationships and develop new ones.

(9) Consider having an emotionally and spiritually mature Christian (male) friend (or a small group of male friends) consistently encourage you, pray for you (and with you), challenge you, and walk with you through this process. (Acts 20:35; Romans 15:1 – 3; II Corinthians 1:3, 4; Galatians 6:1 – 5, I Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13; James 5:13 – 16). If you choose this route, your accountability partner or group must be spiritually mature, emotional mature and stable, responsible, trustworthy and able to keep confidences.

(10) If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2 of this series, check out the additional suggestions there. You can read/view these posts by clicking the links at the bottom of this page or clicking the “Sex” category in the right column of this blog.

(11) Investigate the assistance of licensed, professional and competent counselors, programs and ministries that specialize in this area. To get started, I would recommend the Sexual Recovery Institute, a well-known treatment center in Los Angeles, California that offers online self-assessment resources and referral information: www.sexualrecovery.com.

Sex addiction expert and founding director of the Sexual Recovery Institute, Robert Weiss outlines several characteristics of sexual addiction and intimacy disorders (as well as treatment and recovery options) in this 4-minute video.

Closing Thoughts:

In your obedience to God, where is your heart? What is your motivation? Jesus knows the pains, sorrows, fears, anxieties, longings and groans that are in your heart.

While porn will smother that pain for a brief time, it cannot heal it, or strengthen you to be the man God beautifully designed you to be. He is your designer and your healer.

If you haven’t already, will you take the courageous steps to be honest about your broken-heartedness, with God and a trusted person in your life? Out of my concern for you – don’t deny God the chance to tend to your needs.

Note: If your concerns are homosexual attractions (feelings), I have included a modified version of this series on my other blog. You can access it by CLICKING HERE.

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Lust, Pornography and Masturbation (Part 2 of 3)

I am writing this series of posts to and from a male’s perspective.

Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Note For Parents and Teachers:

I urge you to review this material to assess its appropriateness for your child (children). Remember to be age appropriate and open the lines of communication early. Consider the cultural, ideological, educational and technological trends (influences). If you think your child is too young to be exposed to these and other topic surrounding sexuality (and gender identity), you maybe the only one.

“In the Lord’s name, I tell you this. Do not continue living like those who do not believe. Their thoughts are worth nothing. They do not understand, and they know nothing, because they refuse to listen. So they cannot have the life that God gives. They have lost all feeling of shame, and they use their lives for doing evil. They continually want to do all kinds of evil.”Ephesians 4:17 – 19 (New Century Version)

“Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning. It means you have turned from your own desires and want to obey God for the rest of your life. You have already lived long enough like people who don’t know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. The good news has even been preached to the dead, so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God.

Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray. Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.”– I Peter 4:1 – 8 (Contemporary English Version)

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”– Galatians 6:1, 2 (English Standard Version)

Review of Part 1

In part one of this series, we briefly considered the distinction between (1) temptation & sin and (2) sexual desire & lust. We also considered six attitudes and behaviors we need to start developing if we want to become more healthy, godly and authentic in our sexuality as men. We closed out the lesson (post) by asking ourselves to identify triggers (that spark sexual lust and temptation) and to create preventative strategies and action plans for the purposes of combat and discipline.

Masturbation & Pornography.

When was the last time you heard a sermon or was involved in a Bible study/class that addressed these topics? Many people are painfully aware of the problems. But churches have generally done a miserable job in the practical education and support of people who are trying (or want) to resolve these (and other) sexual issues. Just telling people their behavior is immoral or wrong won’t set them free.

We need to cultivate a church culture that facilitates healing and growth. Too many churches are silent concerning any sexual issue or topic. And many are not proactive regarding Biblical and Christian-oriented sex education. Even getting parents and church leaders to have serious, open and redemptive conversations about these subjects is a challenge.

Habitual (or compulsive) masturbation with sexual fantasies is an area many guys struggle with. Furthermore, there may be sexual addiction issues. But please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we’re sex addicts. Yet I am saying there tends to be varying degrees or levels of intensity depending on the person.

Cultivating a gracious and loving heart (along with being open to the Lord and those who are contending with these sexual issues) goes a long way towards understanding and reaching out. These issues are complex. We can’t process through them alone or in isolation.

Alone, isolated and defeated is where Satan wants to keep us. My goal in these series of posts is to get us thinking (and hopefully moving) along toward healing and redemptive actions.

Seven Considerations Regarding Masturbation

(1) The often-cited sin of Onan (Genesis 38:6 – 11) was not masturbation. He withdrew from Tamar and ejaculated on the ground. He was disobeying a specific Biblical law.

(2) For children and adolescents, masturbation is a part of self-exploration and self-discovery. Even though many male teenagers and adults usually resort to masturbation to relieve sexual tension, the behavior becomes even more problematic if one depends on it to deal with insecurity, broken relationships, the lack of fulfilling relationships, psychological pain and loneliness.

(3) Struggles with sexual sin and brokenness always start when we are teenagers (and many times even younger). The younger a man was when he was first exposed to distorted sexuality, the deeper the wounds and the tighter the cords that bind him.

(4) Click the Scripture reference to take another look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27, 28. We know that looking at someone lustfully encourages the creation of sexual images in the mind and causes sexual arousal. The sexual fantasy (or stimulation) leads to intent and one usually acts out sexually – either with another person or through masturbation. And even if a tiny percentage of masturbation does not involve sexual fantasy or pornography, the vast majority does. It is a form of idolatry. The words of Christ are centered on lust and the attitude of our hearts.

(5) As a Christians, we do not have the freedom to use our bodies anyway we want (I Corinthians 6:19, 20; I Thessalonians 4:3 – 8).

(6) Masturbation usually progresses from a habit into a compulsion. Habitual masturbation consistently creates distance and separation from God. Sin is always progressive (Isaiah 30:1; Romans 1:18 – 32; I Corinthians 6:12). A person’s emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual growth (health) will be hindered. It is God’s will that Christians should not be enslaved to destructive habits.

(7) Masturbation does not fulfill the God-ordained martial functions of sexuality: procreation and mutual pleasure/satisfaction/edification (Genesis 1:28; 2:23, 24; I Corinthians 7:1 – 7; Ephesians 5:22 – 33).

In Part 3, I will share two self-assessment surveys that can help to identify and measure (in part) the severity of a person’s difficulties with pornography and masturbation. I will also offer some suggestions on how to overcome compulsive sexual behavior.

Note: If your concerns are homosexual attractions (feelings), I have included a modified version of this series on my other blog. You can access it by CLICKING HERE.

Questions:

How old were you when you first realized what pornography was? How did you react to it then? And now?

How were (are) the topics of pornography or lust treated in your church (or religious community)?

Lust, Pornography and Masturbation (Part 1 of 3)

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I wrote this series of posts from (and to) a guy’s perspective. (“Lust, Pornography and Masturbation”)

Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Note For Parents and Teachers:

I urge you to review this material to assess its appropriateness for your child (children). Remember to be age appropriate and open the lines of communication early. Consider cultural, ideological, educational and technological trends (influences). If you think your child is too young to be exposed to these and other topic surrounding sexuality (and gender identity), you maybe the only one.

_______________________________________

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:19 – 25 (English Standard Version)

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7, 8 (English Standard Version)

What are some of the powerful tendencies that put men at a powerful disadvantage when it comes to sexual temptation and lust?

  • we tend to have a strong and regular sex drive
  • we tend to be rebellious by nature
  • we tend to receive sexual gratification visually

And as guys we tend to forget the distinction between temptation and sin. Temptation is not sin. . .

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 (English Standard Version)

Being sexually attracted to another person is not the same as “committing adultery in your heart” (see Matthew 5:28). We have to act on the temptation (mentally or physically), in order for it to become sin.

God understands our struggles. All Christians have to deal with appropriate (and inappropriate) sexual feelings and attractions. We choose whether thoughts and temptations will become sin . . .

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.James 1:14, 15 (New American Standard Bible)

If I feed the temptation, it will grow into lust (which is the desire to have what is not rightfully mine). Some have suggested that one of two attitudes (oftentimes both) are present within us before we give into lust:

  • Self-pity (“It isn’t fair to deny myself a little sexual pleasure.”)
  • Pride (“I deserve and have earned the right to have some sexual pleasure.”)

Also – as guys we tend to equate lust with sexual desire. They are not the same. We can feel sexual desire at any time. Lust occurs when we decide to take our sexual desire and apply to it specific images, fantasies or memories. Our battle with lust depends to a great extent on how we respond when temptation first hits. If we are going to be serious with God in developing a healthy and authentic sexuality as men, let’s prayerfully consider these six points . . .

1. Even though we have a natural, basic sex drive, the more we indulge in it, the more it grows. If your sex-drive has grown (or is growing) out of control, honestly, whose fault is it? Of course there will be times when the sex drive will be naturally persistent and unrelenting. Yet we have to make firm and clear decisions about what movies, television shows, videos, magazines and websites we use and the type of people we spend our time with. The more you deny the impure sexual inputs and fantasies, the more the sex drive will return to its normal size.

2. Discipline your mind/heart, eyes and body (II Corinthians 10:3 – 5; I Corinthians 13; Job 31:1; I Corinthians 9:24 – 27). There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty. However, there is a difference between appreciating beauty, having normal sexual feelings, and undressing someone in your mind. Learn to control yourself so those feelings don’t grow into lustful passion, intentions and actions. Sit down and specifically take written notes of the things, people and situations that tempt you personally. Devise written plans on how you will realistically and firmly handle the temptations when they come. Write down the detailed steps and intentionally carry them out. Literally flee from the temptation . . .

  • Get blocks and filters for provocative websites, emails and blogs (or have Internet service removed if necessary)
  • Same with the television: change the channel, block problematic channels/programs and/or ditch the cable
  • Train your eyes and mind to automatically move away from a person’s attractive body; don’t stare and gaze
  • Avoid spending idle time alone while being naked
  • Enlist the help and prayers of mature, sincere and supportive friends who will encourage you to be sexually pure
  • Similar to people who can hardly resist food and drugs, avoid people and places that tempt you (and you know who and where!)

When leading a healthy spiritual life – surrendering to God, self-control, prayer, putting to death fleshly (sinful) desires and self-denial are all necessary (Romans 8:1 – 14).

3. Develop healthy, positive affections and attitudes in your relationships with women.

  • If you are a Christian, are you Christ-like and consciously make decisions not to bring shame upon His Name when you are with her?
  • Do you honor and glorify God when you are with her?
  • Are you the leader in the relationship?
  • Are you responsible, respectful, honorable and authentic?
  • Don’t push the sexual boundaries!
  • Don’t take advantage of (or manipulate) her emotionally or sexually!
  • Deliberately honor her for who she is; honor her parents; honor her future husband and family
  • Even if you are not a Christian, leave the women you date better for having known you! 

Regardless of the circumstances, the relationship should have been a blessing and an educational (positive) experience for both of you

4. Repression vs Replacement. How many times have you been told to “just pray more” or “quote an appropriate verse of Scripture when you are tempted”? These spiritual strategies are effective for the moment but repression techniques are not a long-term solution. Please understand I am not trying to minimize the importance of God’s Word. But to conquer ingrained thought patterns, we have to deal with the underlying emotional and spiritual needs that are feeding them.

We must go deeper, below the surface. The lies of our past must be replaced with the truth of God’s Word. How do we do that? Diligent study and application of Biblical principles in our daily lives. Experiencing and living the change in the way we view ourselves, the world and God. Let your “worldview’ evolve into an outlook and reality that reflects His truth (not the distortions of society).

5. For you younger guys, be wise and don’t be fooled! The sexual attitudes, decisions and habits of the teen years will carry over into adulthood. As an example (and to make my point clear), if you are into habitual masturbation and pornography at age 14, they are highly likely to be problematic for you and your relationships at ages 24, 34 and 54. You may receive forgiveness and cleansing from God, but you won’t be exempt from the consequences of poor and wrong choices (such as scarred emotions and relationships, diseases, lost opportunities, wasted time and money, etc.)

6. Stand up and be a real man.I am not talking about the stereotypical, “tough guy” image of a man’s man. I challenge you to be a real man of honor, honesty, character and discipline. Boys and “men” who are eager to prove their manhood by their sexual virility and sexual conquests only prove their immaturity, weakness, instability and lack of self-confidence. In addition, a real man acknowledges that there are principles and truths bigger than him and he is willing to humble himself before his God for help and strength.

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We can lust after many things. Long-term victory will come when we grow in our relationship with the Lord such that, consistently, our desire for Him overrides every other desire. It’s not easy. But it is worth it, isn’t it?

This is a very general overview of this subject. Since I always learn a lot from all of you, I welcome your feedback and comments. In Parts 2 and 3, we will discuss pornography and masturbation.

Note: If your concerns are homosexual attractions (feelings), I have included a modified version of this series on my other blog. You can access it by CLICKING HERE.

Questions:

(1) What are some of your triggers to temptation? What are (or could be) your preventive strategies? How do you take control of yourself and your environment? What tricks or plans of action work for you?

(2) This astute feedback is a partial quote from a fellow Christian blogger (whose opinion I trust and respect):

“. . . your thoughts on replacement rather than repression seem simplistic/idealistic. I feel as though seeking ‘the truth of God’s word’ is the simple answer that the church always gives. . . usually leaving the individual even more alone and lost. Most of us our trying our best to pursue God with everything we have . . .”

How would you respond to (address) his concerns and perspective from a Biblical/Christian viewpoint?

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Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net