I recently attended a retreat and one of the workshops was entitled ‘Love, Sex, & Marriage.’ The girls and guys were split into different groups to talk about ‘gender relevant’ issues. Afterwards, a male friend and I were talking and he mentioned how his workshop included ‘the usual.’ I probed to see what he meant by that, and he said something to the effect ‘oh you know, Christian retreats always have somebody talking about pornography and masturbation in male workshops.’ For him it was expected, the norm; the organisers of the retreat couldn’t possibly omit such an essential ‘male’ topic.
My issue isn’t that that males received useful advice and support on dealing with these sexual sins – it’s that females need it too. Of course I was happy to learn new things about the role of an woman in marriage, guarding my heart, and communicating with my spouse. However, I couldn’t help wondering what it would have been like to be a fly on the wall when the male group were discussing sexual sins. My desire stemmed from more than mere curiosity: sexual sin is something that I have (and continue) to deal with. But of course, it’s just a male thing right….
I know at this point some of you may be shocked or disgusted, or both. Maybe you might even be sympathetic towards me, I’m not sure. But the fact is that masturbation remains one of the sins that has plagued my Christian experience for a VERY long time. I’m not sure if it’s because the Church thinks that only one female in every thousand will be affected by it, but I have never ever heard the topic discussed explicitly, for a female audience in a church setting.
“I’m still a virgin and what I’m doing isn’t hurting anyone else so surely it must be fine”, I tried to convince myself. However, self-affirmation in this context wasn’t cutting it. So this caused me to ‘research’ the topic so that maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere could confirm that what I was doing was ok. Of course there were health professionals who advocated masturbation for both sexes as a ‘normal part of growing up,’ and even Christian forums which suggested that since females can’t ‘waste semen’ like Onan in Genesis 38:8-10 then surely its fine. Unfortunately, these views didn’t do much to reassure me.
I’ve tried many times to figure out how I could ask someone at church to help… but it’s not really one of those things you can ever find the words to express. The irony is I know that this sin is technically no worse than any other, but that’s not how it feels. The church doesn’t address it, and it’s not a hot topic of female conversation either. So inevitably you end up feeling like you really are one in a thousand women who experience this, when that’s probably a fallacy. In high school, I frequently overheard pubescent boys discuss which female sparked their erection, or crude conversations about how many times they’d masturbated in a day. But females are supposed to be delicate, modest and self-disciplined, they couldn’t possibly be a slave to their own desires… right? Wrong!
“Don’t you know that God always provides a way of escape?”
“Nothing is impossible for God, even masturbation”
“Just think on pure things like Philippians 4:8 says and you’ll be fine”
“You do know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, right? How dare you defile it!’
“The pleasures of sin only last for a season, are you sure you’re ready to go backwards in your spiritual walk?”
My so-called Christianity intensified my guilt and shame. I hated the fact that being a Christian was preventing me from doing what I want to do freely. I felt annoyed that those thoughts and verses came to mind every time I was tempted because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to stop.
Personally I only feel ‘the urge’ once or twice a month; therefore, since this sin is so ‘infrequent’, I tried to rationalise that it didn’t matter. But it did. More than I could imagine. You see, my spiritual life has been up and down for as long as I can remember; sometimes I would masturbate just when things were going well, in the midst of a ‘mountain top’ experience. Instantly, I would avoid God. I would feel ashamed to pray, or doing anything spiritual.
Unfortunately, those around me didn’t have this insight, and they continued to ask me to minister at church in different capacities. I can’t tell you how hypocritical I felt praying, singing, and presenting in church when at home I wanted nothing to do with God. There have been times when I didn’t want to blog either because I felt stupid for expecting people to read posts from someone who is so deeply flawed. But I thank God that He reaches you even when you’re avoiding Him.
Last week at church as I was teaching (despite the fact I’d spent two weeks straight avoiding anything spiritual whatsoever), God impressed something on my heart from what I was teaching the kids.
“The Bible say “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted” (Matthew 4:1). As the second Adam, He must overcome the same temptations on which the first Adam failed. These are the three leading temptations to which people surrender every day. The first of these temptations is about self-control in our appetite. It’s about whether we will deny or indulge the craving for junk food, or even too much good food, or eating at the wrong times. It also includes alcohol, tobacco, and all other drugs, as well as other bad things the body craves”
The quote above is copied word for word, it wasn’t until I read the final sentence that I applied Jesus’ wilderness experience to my situation. You see, I refuse to believe that Jesus’ hunger only kicked in exactly on day 40 of his prayer and fasting. Chances are He may even have been hungry from day 20 or earlier… My point is that Jesus may have considered performing a ‘food miracle’ long before Satan tempted Him, but He CHOSE not to. Furthermore, when faced with Satan himself at a later point He CHOSE not to again. Essentially Jesus believed that God was enough, therefore God would sustain Him in the absence of His present desire.
That’s just it guys, I haven’t, or don’t believe that God will be enough. My urge to masturbate is so great that I can’t see beyond it; I’m all too willing to forego strengthening my relationship with God for momentary pleasure.
I haven’t had the chance to put this new insight to the test but it is my prayer that when push comes to shove I won’t submit to my cravings, but I’ll trust that God can satisfy me beyond what I could hope or imagine. Someone once said “in the difficult times seek Him”; I wonder what I could have learned if I had sought Him each time I was tempted. Instead I chose to ‘reset’ my spiritual walk by avoiding him until I ‘felt’ it was ok to speak to Him again. Female sexual sin in all its forms is real, and I pray that if you’re struggling you can gain victory.