I was 11 when I stumbled upon pornography in a local bookstore.
The book was unassuming enough, a pink high heel on a black glossy cover. Its plastic wrapping had been half ripped open which should have perhaps been something of a warning to me.
I didn’t understand what I was reading but I remember being unable to put it down. I went for tuition that day, replaying the words over and over in my head, reimagining and reconstructing the images so it made sense to me as a child.
I didn’t understand what I was reading but I remember being unable to put it down.
Every Saturday, I went back to that same aisle to reread the book from cover to cover. I would walk into church the next day feeling an immense weight of guilt, finding it impossible to focus. But with every week that came and went, I would grow numb to the guilt, finding it easier to let go of God during that one hour in the bookstore.
My actions would eventually spiral into masturbation. It was only after a talk about sexual purity in my youth service that I finally felt convicted about what I had been doing in secret, and cried out to God in repentance.
But what’s so bad about masturbation?
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, ESV)
God’s will for our lives is sexual purity; we are to control our own body in a way that is holy and honourable.
Masturbation — while it is not explicitly called a sin in the Bible — is therefore problematic for a number of reasons.
Masturbation is often compulsive, addictive, or at least tends to occur when one loses self-control. It promises sexual relief — but actually fuels insatiable hunger.
When we read about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, it’s impossible to see how the act of masturbation might be aligned to any of these qualities, especially self-control.
The real fruits of masturbation often have far more to do with guilt and shame than glorifying God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Romans 14:23 reads: “Everything that does not come from faith is sin”. It’s difficult to see how masturbation could come from faith, and the desire to make such an argument should raise its own questions.
Culture may think of masturbation as satisfying a physical need and viewing pornography as harmless — but they are acts of sexual immorality that constitute actively rejecting God’s will for us.
For me, the hardest part about sexual sin is being both the “doer” of the sin and “receiver” of its direct consequences.
This means that you’re stuck with the person who’s hurting you 24/7. You know it’s bad for you, but you can’t help but do it.
You can’t escape yourself — and that’s terrifying.
There is help to be found in God and His people
So how do you run away from temptation when you are the exact source of temptation? It starts from a place of surrender, acknowledging that only God can help us live a pure life.
As humans, we will surely fail if we rely on ourselves. We must rely on God; we must acknowledge our sin and drag it out from the darkness into the light.
For anyone out there who’s reading this and is also battling sexual sin — go to God. Lay your battle at His feet because He wants to fight with and for you.
There is nothing wrong with sexual desire and there is nothing wrong with you, but we are to enjoy God’s gifts within His parameters and design for us.
So we must fight this battle with people we trust. I know how excruciating it can be to tell someone, but no sin should be “more acceptable” to share than others.
You deserve to be supported in your church, in your spiritual community that offers you a safe place to come clean.
The truth is, I always find myself being tempted to re-enter that bookstore.
But God helps me in every moment I feel tempted. I can rely on my community to help pull me out of those moments too.
You can be made pure and live a pure life
When Jesus died on the cross for us, He sanctified us and cleared the debt of our sins. All we have to do is believe in Him and follow Him.
1 Corinthians 6:11 affirms us: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
We must make a choice to choose what is right. Masturbation promises quick fixes and is based on lust which is divergent from the kind of love and intimacy that God has designed for us.
When we choose what God wants for us — wonderful things like sanctification, self-control, purity — we can rest assured that we are walking in His will.
Walking in purity also helps us walk with clarity. When we walk in the will of God, I have found it is so much easier to hear His voice.
I know I have chosen well in fleeing temptation. As I rely on God, I know there is grace for each and every day, and that He will surely see me through!
- What struck you from this article?
- What’s God saying to you today?
- Who are some trusted friends in your spiritual community who can journey with you when it comes to issues of purity?
- Ask them if they would like to start an accountability group with you (you may well be surprised just how many of us need such a thing!).