Sex with an actual person, that is right there with you, is a mysterious and wondrous thing. This post is directed more towards those who are married, but I do believe single people could benefit from it as well.

One thing I have noticed since getting married is that it takes a lot of practice to bring my husband and I’s sexual experiences together back into my mind. I have to fight my way to get to that place. And that is the place I want to be. Why? Because if I don’t fight to focus on him, then I will focus on something else whether I like it or not.

It is horrifying to me how easily my heart can stray, but it also reminds me of just how weak I really am.

I only have answers and theories on some of the questions I am about to ask. But perhaps it will give us all pause, examining what images we really are letting into our minds and how it can affect our future.

Why do pornographic images and scenes that I viewed years and years ago brand themselves in my memory, fighting to push to the surface, when I can’t even remember how old I was for most of the momentous points of my childhood?

Why is it that I find it so much easier to focus on other people having sex than my husband and I?

I do have an answer to that one. And I think it applies to most all women in this day and age. Viewing pornography can subconsciously start to become your ideal of what a woman should look like. Most women struggle with self-image in some form or another, so it is easier to think about someone else in place of ourselves than to think of ourselves. The self we so often criticize and pick at. The self that we don’t view as perfect.

Why is it that I remember other people’s experiences better than my own?

I have thought about this a lot. It truly is awful how the images I have filled my mind with in the past seem like they may never truly go away. I will always have to be on my guard. I can never take it back. What I can do is fill my mind with other things that I choose to think on instead.

Have you ever prayed during sex? I do. If you haven’t and you struggle with images that shouldn’t be there, then pray. There is no better cure.

As to why I have a difficult time remembering my own experiences, it is actually a beautiful conclusion that I have come to. Each sexual experience you have with your husband is new and entirely different than the last. Our bodies are continually changing, making each experience as different as you want it to be. It also leaves no room for you to hold on to a past that you can never go back to. The inability to remember a sexual encounter in such vividity is a blessing in disguise. God willing, I will never live in the past, but enjoy the present with my husband.

Instead I will focus my mind on what seems to be an ever-shifting image of my husband. I am not dependent on specific memories to be “in the mood”. The mood is created as we go.

Images. What images are you holding on to?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

–          Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

A Great Sex Life

I had some feedback on a recent post that got me thinking about how masturbation has affected my marriage.

I won’t lie to you, my past struggles haven’t damaged my marriage significantly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I was able to explain the things that I like more easily to my husband. To put it bluntly, we have a great sex life.

But I don’t think the real reason for our great sex life is because of my experiences with masturbation.

A friend told me a few weeks before she got married that she had never masturbated. I wasn’t too surprised, but did wonder how that would change their sex life. Apparently, not much at all. According to her and her husband, they have a fantastic sex life and it was great from day one. If masturbation was the key to having a great sex life, then how could this be the case?

Communication will drastically change a woman’s ability to enjoy a sexual experience with another person. If you communicate well, things typically go well. If there is miscommunication or a lack thereof, things come to a screeching halt.

Masturbation cannot fix a person’s inability to communicate. In fact, it will probably cause you to enjoy your own touch more than your husband’s. Let’s face it, masturbation is easier than communicating to a man that doesn’t always understand the female mind.

This friend of mine probably didn’t know much about her body and how it worked sexually, but before she got married and started having sex she asked questions; lots of questions. She became informed and she learned how to communicate well with her spouse. If you can’t communicate, it doesn’t matter how much you masturbate as a woman, you probably won’t enjoy sex like you could.

I hear it said a lot that masturbation is necessary for people to explore their sexuality and to be ready to have a sexual partner. It just isn’t true. Putting aside what you believe about how right or wrong it is, masturbation is not a necessity for a woman to have a good sex life. However, good communication skills are.

As a married, Christian woman, I will be completely honest: although masturbation didn’t ruin my marriage or even cause many issues, it could have. My husband didn’t know exactly how I would like things from the very beginning. Sex has always been good because of communication, but it has gotten better as time goes by because he knows me, not because I know me. Like everything else in marriage, sex is better when you’re both being selfless, not selfish.

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

–          Romans 14:22-23

I come back to these verses often. Recently, I have written about how it can be discouraging to read so many Christian women telling people like me that we are wrong and should just get over ourselves and masturbate. I think this is why I like these verses so much.

If you are one of those women and you have no guilt for what you are doing and find it to be right, then blessed are you. But I am not one of those women, and to hear someone try to convince me that I really could do what I know is wrong is troubling. I think that is why Paul says here to keep it between you and God.

From my viewpoint and from reading scripture, there is nothing wrong with me explaining my thoughts on why masturbation isn’t a good thing. If women are already confident that they are doing right, then my words should just brush right off of them and they can continue. Someone who enjoys the pleasures of masturbation will most likely go on as they please if they don’t agree.

However, if you take the other end of that spectrum the story changes a bit. If a woman tells me or someone like my friend in my previous post that we are silly and really could masturbate without any repercussions, we are more likely to want it to be true.

Why? Because masturbation feels good! Orgasms are amazing! And if it is something you have already experienced and decided that it was wrong, the struggle and temptation is a very real thing. It is much easier to persuade someone to do what they know is wrong than to do what is right.

So why don’t we just accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with it and get over it? Because we know in our hearts that everything is wrong with it. We have wrestled with it and come to the conclusion that it is not for us. The doubts are already there, and we know we would be sinning if we do it anyways in the hopes that our doubts are wrong. We would not be following our convictions.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who believe masturbation is not sinful. But it is those who try to persuade young believers that they should indulge in this practice that discourage me.

 “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it”

–          Leo Tolstoy

This World

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

–          1 John 2:15-17

Recently I talked about how I enjoy memorizing Scripture, but need to consistently remind myself that I have to store it in my heart and not just in my brain. I have been working on memorizing the book of 1 John and I came across these verses. I have read them before but they really gripped my heart this time.

You could take these verses and become extremely legalistic and judgmental of other people. Or you could take these verses and apply them to your own life and come out on the other side craving things that will last forever. The things that are pleasing to God.

“For when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” That is harsh. The only real way for us to obey God’s commandments is to love others and we can’t do that with our own versions of love. Only the love of the Father in us can allow us to follow His commandments. So we have to figure out what the things of this world are and what it means to love them.

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see..”

All this world offers us is cravings and more cravings. There is never any satisfaction with the world. We always will want more, new, and better. I know this isn’t really new information to most people. We hear it all the time from different pastors and speakers, but I think it is something that we can always be reminded of.

It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in the things of this world and forget the real reason I am here. I am not here to become really good at grocery shopping and budgeting. I am not here to have a really good career and make a ton of money, have a mansion, and live the good life. I am not here to satisfy every desire that my body may have. In fact, I am not here for me at all! I am here for the glory of God, plain and simple. If I lose focus of that, the world has all kinds of ways to distract me and take all of my love.

There is nothing wrong with pleasure, as long as we don’t depend on getting our satisfaction from it. As long as we do not love it in the way that we should be loving Jesus. It should be a small part of our lives, not the sole reason we live and breathe. And yet, I see people living life for the sake of pleasure. Everything that we crave will pass away and then we will be left with nothing.

The book of 1 John is all about obeying God’s commandments. Sometimes his commands are to do things that require us to forego pleasures of this world. If we aren’t willing to put Him above every single pleasure in the world, we do not have His love. I don’t think God’s desire is to strip us of all life’s pleasures; far from it. But if we are clinging to them and unwilling to give them to Him, we will end this life with nothing more than ashes.

I do not want to be left with ashes. I want to crave the things of eternity and find my satisfaction and delight in the one that is eternal. I will eat delicious things and enjoy sex with my husband and be delighted with the little joys of life in this world, but I will not depend on them. Those things, although nice, will not last. I will seek Jesus and trust that He will guide me in this world and teach me how to please Him.

I will do these things, only by His strength and love that He has placed in me. And I pray that I will not be willing to give His love up for anything that this world could offer me. Something that I think I will be praying daily for from now on.

Ways to resist temptation

I have already shared my thoughts on whether or not masturbation is a sin. I want to focus on what can help those who view it as something that is unhelpful or even sinful. There are several things that I have found to be extremely helpful in resisting the temptation to masturbate.

1. Marriage really does help. At least, in my case it has. With a husband who is willing to make time for you and meet your needs, things will become much less difficult. However, not everyone is in this situation. If you are single, this point probably frustrates you to no end. And not all married women have husbands that are willing to meet their needs.

2. Have someone that you confess to! You can tell yourself all day long that you won’t do it again and no one needs to know you messed up. If you do slip up, it isn’t like you telling yourself will really embarrass you all that much. But if you have to tell someone else it changes things drastically. You think twice about what you are about to do, because you know if you go through with it you are going to have to tell that person. You could always lie to them, but that would only increase your frustration and guilt.

3. Know your cycle. Have you ever noticed that you typically have the desire to masturbate around the same times of the month? I definitely experienced that but never really took the time to figure out why until recently. I have found theories (no facts) that women have a higher sex drive during the week before ovulation due to the higher levels of testosterone. Either way, if you notice you tend to be tempted more during a certain time of the month, start taking note of that so you can be more prepared mentally and have people praying with you about it.

4. Don’t make it easy to fail. If there are certain places (bedroom, bathroom, etc.) that you tend to masturbate in, don’t be in those places unless it is necessary. If you like to study or read in your bedroom, but find that your mind will wander and you give in to temptation even though your intentions were sincere, start studying or reading somewhere that that won’t be an issue. If you struggle more reading certain books or watching certain movies, stop making it harder on yourself and acquire different tastes. Those books and movies may not be bad in and of themselves, but for you they are.  In a nutshell, you will have to make some sacrifices.

5. Memorize scripture. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you about masturbating, the enemy will do everything he can to make sure you fail. Nothing works better than prayer and quoting the Word of God. There are three verses in particular that I find to be the most helpful and they just happen to all be in books of the Bible that start with C!

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Colossians 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Most importantly, and probably the only one that really needs to be remembered is this: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” The more you dwell on your heavenly Father, the less you will desire the things that you once did. The other things may help for a time, but without this one thing you will eventually fall back into your old desires.

I hope this helped somebody, and I would appreciate any feedback that anyone has to offer. If there is anything you would like to see discussed feel free to let me know!

Why I Told My Boyfriend

In my last entry, I shared the story of how my husband ended up finding out about my past addiction to pornography and struggles with masturbation.

I really think that for anyone who is currently single or dating there are a lot of important things to glean from that particular story.

First of all, I really don’t believe it is something that you should keep to yourself until after you are married. Sharing it will even help you discern whether or not you can live your life with that person.

If your boyfriend’s reaction to you sharing your past is negative in any way, there is something wrong. Either you aren’t as close as you thought, or he doesn’t love you the way Jesus does.

The idea that you should keep something this important from the man that could one day be your husband is somewhat deceptive. If, for some reason, he were to take issue with you having been addicted to porn or struggling with masturbation, it really isn’t fair to surprise him with this information after he has committed to you. Should he get over it and love you anyways? Absolutely! But starting a marriage based on deception is never a good idea.

Being able to communicate your fears, struggles, tendencies, and issues when it comes to sex is not always such a bad thing before marriage. A lot of churches tend to make you believe that sex is a topic that should never be discussed before marriage. It’s true, it can be harmful, but it can also be very beneficial for the first year of your marriage. There were things that I knew I wouldn’t want to do right away when I got married because of what I was exposed to in pornography. Instead of my husband being confused on our honeymoon and wondering why I wasn’t enjoying something or why I suddenly got upset, we were able to discuss it beforehand and have an understanding of what we were comfortable with.

Communication in general makes for a much better sex life, but communication before you even get married can make for a great sex life starting on day one!

Of course, you will have to use discernment and only share what is necessary for both of you to hear at this stage in the relationship. But I really do believe that not sharing it at all could be a recipe for disaster.

How I told my boyfriend…

“I’ll have to tell him before we get married, but I just don’t think I can tell him yet.” Those were my thoughts when it came to telling my now husband about my previous addiction to pornography and struggles with masturbation.

The way it all turned out just proves that God has a sense of humor. At least when it comes to my own life.

My husband and I had been dating for several months now and I was thinking that I would just wait until we were engaged to tell him. We were pretty confident we wanted to get married at this point. We were sitting in church one day when the pastor said, “Girls, on the very first date you need to be asking the guy you are with if he is addicted to pornography.” I sighed inwardly thinking that if he had been dating me a year and a half ago he would actually need to be asking me that very question. I was still too nervous about telling him though and figured it could wait until we were engaged.

I had never shared my past or present struggles with a guy before. I had no idea how he would react. Would he still love me? Would he be angry or disgusted? I had finally gotten over the idea that I was horrible and unique in this area of sin as a woman, but the idea of having to face my boyfriend’s rejection was too much for me.

We often drove about 45 minutes away to visit his parents and on our next trip there, he turned to me and told me he had been thinking about what the pastor said. “No, no, no I don’t want to hear this yet. I am not ready to tell you” was all I could think about. I already knew what he was going to tell me. The statistics of guys viewing pornography made it pretty likely that he had looked at pornography. I didn’t care about that, but what I did care about was that I was now going to have to reveal my ugly past to him. I immediately burst into tears.

He was confused, thinking that I was horribly upset by the fact that he had been addicted to pornography before. I explained through sobs that that wasn’t it at all and I had to tell him something too. I was shaking and crying and finally managed to let him know, through a mixture of him guessing and me saying random words, that I had been addicted to pornography and struggled with masturbation.

His reaction was the opposite of what I had feared. Some of his comments were things like, “At least we know we will probably have a pretty good sex life” and “Well, that’s a relief. I thought you were going to tell me you have homosexual tendencies”.

The funny thing is that the whole time he was trying to tell me his past, I could have cared less because of what I had to tell him. And the whole time I was trying to tell him about mine, he could care less because I didn’t seem to be bothered by his own.

We had several more conversations and still do concerning this issue, but it was one less burden for me to carry. I was so happy that I had to tell him sooner than later. I can only imagine the dread and anxiety I would have experienced the moment he proposed to me. “Oh no, I have to tell him now” would have been my first thought after he bent down on one knee instead of being joyful and thrilled.

Although I thought I knew better than anyone when I would need to tell my future husband, God knew much better than I did what was best for us. I really should have known better looking back on how most of my plans tend to work out.

Masturbation: It’s Not Disgusting

I mentioned it before in A Breath of Fresh Air, but I want to focus on it for this particular entry.

I had a really hard time even saying the word masturbation when I first brought what I was dealing with to my friend. Even after that I felt awkward and weird saying the word. My friend said it with ease and basically forced me to use the word just so she knew that we were on the same page.

Recently, I had a young woman share her past and present struggles with me. She was a reflection of myself a few years ago. She felt like she was the only one dealing with masturbation, but when it came time to tell me the truth she couldn’t say the word. She kept telling me how disgusting it was. I wasn’t trying to be mean, but like my friend, I forced her to use the word.

After I talked to her, I wondered why I followed in my friends footsteps. What is the importance of becoming comfortable using the word masturbation?

There are a few reasons that I came up with, but only a couple that I find are really important.

First of all, it prevents miscommunication from occurring. Until you actually define what it is you are dealing with, people you share your life with aren’t going to know how best to pray for you. Using words like “struggling” and “lust” aren’t going to get the point across. Do you know how many forms struggling and lusting can take? You will ensure that the prayers you receive will be as general and vague as you are. And you may run into a few people praying for things that don’t even apply to you!

More importantly though, being comfortable with the word erases the link of shame that you have placed on it. Masturbation is real and most people deal with it at some point in life. You may not have realized that until now, but it doesn’t change the fact. As a Christian, it may not be beneficial for you, but it isn’t disgusting. If you have masturbated, you are not a disgusting person.

Let me repeat that. You are not a disgusting person.

If your desire is to stop masturbating, telling yourself that you are disgusting and worthless and imposing self-hate will get you nowhere. Those are lies, so stop believing them! You may lack self-control, be out of touch with the Holy Spirit, or simply bored and not doing enough with your life. All of which can be corrected.

Words can have power, and sometimes that power is negative. In years past, I was allowing this one word to wreak havoc in my soul and tell me I was something I was not. Don’t allow it to do the same thing to you.

Masturbation: A Sin?

If you have read any of my posts thus far, you may have come to a conclusion: that I believe masturbating and viewing pornography are sins.

Yes and no.

I have been avoiding this particular train of thought for several reasons. But before I even brush the surface of my opinions on this, I want to make two important distinctions.

  1. Viewing pornography is a sin. It is unjust to those involved, harmful, lustful, addicting, and the list could go on. There is no doubt in my mind about where I stand on this matter.
  2. Masturbation is a little bit more complicated than that.

Most of us know that lust is a sin. Jesus even says that those who lust in their hearts have already committed adultery. That is tough, but truth.

“But what if I masturbate and there is no lust?” I have had people ask. I can’t really give a definite answer. There is no biblical evidence that it would be considered sinful. Masturbation in and of itself is not a sin.

The problem arises when masturbation is linked to other things that are sinful. Lust is one of them. For me, that link was strong and there was no separating the two. When I masturbated, I was lusting.

There was maybe one time when I gave in to my desires that I didn’t feel like I was focusing on someone or something else and being lustful. So, for those of us that fall into that category on a more regular basis, what do we do with that? The answer is simple. You go to Jesus. Ask him what he thinks about it. Does he believe it is beneficial to you or harmful? Are you showing self-control or being tossed around and controlled by your every desire?

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t have all the answers. Only God does, and because it isn’t very clear in His word where He stands on this particular issue, you have to seek His voice on this one. The Holy Spirit will guide you and show you what is truly beneficial.

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Paul isn’t saying that we have the right to do anything that is against God’s commands, but there are things that God hasn’t really said yes or no on, like masturbation. So, do you have the right to masturbate? As long as there are no other clear sins linked to it, then yes. But is it beneficial or constructive for you? Is it helping you seek good for others or just good for yourself?

Walking in Freedom

“You want to know how I think you are free from sin? When you are no longer running away from God because of your sin, but coming to God and drawing closer to him; that is how you know you are free from sin.” – my friend Angela

This piece of advice helped me get out of my ditch. Before I had been climbing one side only to fall back down to the bottom and I never felt like I was really getting anywhere in my spiritual walk because of my sin. I realized that by running from God, I was negating all of the victories God had given me and placing myself at the bottom again. Progress could not be made. I was not allowing it.

Not everyone out there views masturbation as a sin. And I won’t go into that in this particular entry, but for me there was no question about it. It was not beneficial to my walk with Jesus and I felt the effects of that long before anyone ever told me that it was or wasn’t a sin. I needed freedom.

But even with my friend’s advice I still wondered sometimes if I was really free. Yes, I was no longer running from God, but it wasn’t like I was never tempted from that day on let alone never gave in to my temptations. I gave in. There were more victories than losses and I was coming to Jesus with my failures, but I still felt a little bit discouraged.

Would I ever stop failing?

I spoke to one of my pastors about this subject of freedom and what he told me finally gave me some real peace of mind.

When I talked to him, I hadn’t struggled with masturbation for quite some time, but I was still wrestling with the idea of what freedom really meant. It couldn’t just be running to God with your sin instead of away, could it? There had to be some kind of change in your life, right? There had to be some kind of difference!

I had it backwards though.

“The truth: In Jesus we are free. You were free long before you felt free, because you belonged to Jesus. Walking in freedom is different than being free. You were free; the prison doors were opened. You need to believe what already has happened to you.” – Pastor

In Romans 6 and 8, Paul talks about freedom quite a bit, but this verse stuck out to me in particular.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”  – Romans 6:22

My pastor was right. I had always been set free. I just needed to accept my freedom. Only then could I reap the benefits of being made holy.

So simple, but yet so difficult.