Mari R: My Battle With “Masturbation”

Submitted By: Mari R

Greetings and God bless! I feel honored (and a bit nervous) to have the privilege of fully sharing my story of my battle with “masturbation” for the first time. I added quotations around the word masturbation because God showed me that the struggle actually was a lot deeper than that.  My desire is that whosoever reads this will be greatly encouraged, and that through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”         – II Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

Around the age of 10 years old, puberty came knocking at my door… almost knocking it down. I became what is affectionately known in the Hispanic community, “a woman.” I was quite aware of what it was because my mom gave me “the talk” beforehand, especially since I was, to her, showing signs that my period was coming. I guess ever since then, that’s when I began to really, and I mean really notice boys.

I grew up in a slightly dysfunctional, but an overall great family. I had a mom, dad, and one older brother who to this day, I am very close to. I praise God that I never underwent any kind of “exposure” to any sexual material at a young age, such as porn or even sexual abuse. My family and I were very open and could talk about everything – even sex. I knew what it was, and like many of you, I knew that it was meant for marriage. Why? I had no idea.

During my early adolescent years I became like almost every teenage girl; I loved fantasizing about the future such as having a “real” boyfriend, marriage, kids, etc. Though, it was during those times that those innocent fantasies became not so innocent. Sex started to be on my mind…constantly. I was curious, but that curiosity then later turned into actions. I remember the first time I masturbated (with my sexual fantasies) was at the age of 12 years old. I felt completely ashamed and dirty. I asked God for forgiveness immediately, but the guilt remained persistent. It wasn’t until I turned 14, that my addiction started. By that time, I still felt guilty, but slowly Satan persuaded me through “coming-of-age” teenage websites, that it’s “normal.” That all female humans need to explore their sexuality. That you can actually find techniques on how to do it. And so I did. I would read techniques on this “innocent” adolescent website. I eventually learned about my clitoris, vulva, g-spot, and etc. The stories on the site were graphic, and they only added to my sexual fantasies. By then, I was masturbating almost daily. I would make a quick prayer, and then get into my bed and masturbate. Ha! How horrible. The Holy Spirit definitely was not there with me.

At the age of 17, I REALLY dedicated my life to Christ. I prayed, fasted, read the Word, lead worship service, and helped with youth group. My addiction was pushed to the side, and I was on God’s team again. Until…it came back. The thoughts of sexual encounters, the unsatisfied urges. I feared that God would give me over to my lusts (Romans 1:24). But then something wonderful happened. I had met a wonderful guy, who so happens to be my husband of only 3 years so far. I thought that when I got married, that all those “urges” would disappear. That I can FINALLY be free from sin because I am “allowed” to have sex. I was wrong.

I had soon discovered that my amazing husband and I were not compatible sexually. My husband, although perfectly healthy in ALL ways, is less sexually driven than I am. Sure, I am content with it now, but in the beginning, it made me angry, sexually flustered, and bitter. I mean isn’t it always the man who wants more sex and who has to almost beg his wife for sex? Am I even normal? But the reality was, I was sick. Sick and completely depraved by my sin.

Then one night, after handling over my addiction to Christ, tears flooded my face. I told Him that I was sick of it. That my sin had distanced me far, far away from his presence. All the countless amount of times in the past of me pleading and almost fighting with God to remove my addiction, was always asked for the wrong reasons. I wanted it only for MY glory. I WANTED to feel good. I WANTED to be free. None of it was to allow God to show his grace and power in my life. Deep down, I had sincere intentions of honoring God with my body, but I was still selfish and sought my own desires. He then showed me that my addiction had an even bigger root. I actually struggled with discontentment. When my husband wasn’t “pleasing” me the way that I THOUGHT he should, I would “escape” into one of my fantasies which included a perfect life, with an even better sex partner. How pitiful.

Not only was I dishonoring my Heavenly Bridegroom, I was sinning against my earthly bridegroom. I was an adulterer in my mind (Matthew 5:8), lacked self-control, I was selfish, and a nagging wife. My husband has his flaws, but they are greatly outweighed by all of the wonderful qualities he possesses. One of the main ones being – patience. He knows my struggle and he sympathizes and prays for me. I seriously don’t deserve him.

So after that night, I began to renew my mind daily. Filling it with the Word of God and with prayer. The Lord lead me to read the 1st and 2nd book of Corinthians which happens to be loaded with verses about sexual sin. I allowed God to be my accountability partner. Every time I felt those desires coming again, I would let Him know, and his presence kept me safe. I truly learned what it is to be submissive, not only to my hubby, but most importantly, to Christ. I learned that my high sex drive is a PERFECT gift from Christ (James 1:17), but I needed to learn how to use it for His glory alone within my marriage.

So ladies, if any of you struggle in this area, there IS freedom. Like the verse quoted in the beginning of my story, I believe that this struggle is a “thorn on my side,” but by the Grace of God I am FREE. After that night, those thoughts about my alter-ego life supernaturally disappeared. That doesn’t mean that those thoughts don’t try to appear again. Satan is like a roaring lion, looking to whom to devour, and when he sees that you’re free indeed, he tries even harder to attack. I will not allow the enemy to make me think that I am not free if I happen to slip-up again, because rather than running away from God, I run TO Him.

I tried my best to keep this 9 year battle as short as possible, but I close with this:

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13

If you would like to share your own testimony feel free to let me know by sending me a comment below or emailing me at mtorik89@gmail.com and I will respect your anonymity.

Viewing Porn Today

As I was searching through my wordpress reader the other day, I came across something I wasn’t expecting.

The title of my blog is somewhat blunt. It is pretty easy to find on wordpress if you type in masturbation. When I first started writing this blog, I could search that term and find a couple things here and there. There were some disturbing entries that I skipped over, but for the most part nothing that was too inappropriate. Things have changed.

I probably should have known better. This is the world we live in. Sex and porn creeps into all of our social networking systems one way or another. I was searching through my reader trying to find a blog to read, when photos began to show up. With a search term like masturbation you can easily guess the kinds of images I was exposed to.

With my past struggles with pornography, what I saw would be considered mild. But it has been so long since I have viewed any kind of sexual material, that I knew if I kept trying to search in that category I would be in trouble. I immediately typed in “Christian”, and switched to looking for wisdom from fellow believers. My mind shifted, and I was no longer focusing solely on those images. But it was still in the corner of my mind just waiting for the right opportunity. I could sense it and knew I needed prayer.

Just then my husband called me to tell me he was on his way home from work. I immediately told him about the images, that I was fine, but I needed him to pray for me. He prayed, I felt peace, I told him I loved him, and I continued on with life.

There are many reasons as to why I didn’t fall to temptation. Jesus is at the center of them all. He is my rock and my refuge. The more I dwell on him, the easier it is to tear my thoughts away from something that would have once held me captive. It is moments like this that remind me of what He has done for me. I was tempted just enough to know that without him I would have ended that experience the same way I had before I began to lean on Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17  

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?

Let Us Encourage One Another

So I have been walking in freedom for 2-3 years now when it comes to my struggles with masturbation. There really isn’t any reason for me to share my experiences with other people anymore. They will be weirded out and think differently of me. I mean writing on this blog is one thing, but talking to people personally is quite another. I think I could get along just fine without mentioning my past to another person that knows who I am.

Did anyone feel uncomfortable with what I just wrote? Something is off about it. And yet, I feel like that has to be the attitude of so many Christian women to make a topic like this one so secret.

You have all seen the statistics now. If not, just look at my first entry. There are more Christian women out there that have dealt with this/are dealing with it than many of us are lead to believe. So, why was I left in the dark and all alone?

There are several possible explanations. Perhaps it is that you are still holding on to that sense of shame and embarrassment that has ruled your decisions for so long. Or maybe you don’t think that your past is anyone else’s business. It’s true; your past isn’t for most people to know, but there may be some who would benefit greatly from what you have to say.

Every time I hear God telling me, “It’s time to tell them about your past” I get a little bit nervous. What if they don’t get it? What if no one here is dealing with it? All of the doubts and questions pop into my mind, but each time I share because of His prompting, I have never been disappointed.

If you are wondering where I am talking about masturbation and pornography to people, that is a good question!

So far, I have talked to girls in my youth group, women in my small group, and certain individuals.

God may tell you to do something really scary, approach someone you don’t even know and tell them your past. But most likely, your chance of sharing with others is going to occur when you are in community with others.

I have noticed that Paul likes the word encourage. It is in almost every book he has written to the church. One verse that really sticks out to me is in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. The NIV version puts it like this, “…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone”.

Encourage the disheartened? I wonder how many women are disheartened by their fight with masturbation and/or pornography. You have been through it! You can encourage them!

I hope and pray that I have been able to encourage someone through this post to speak out. Maybe you have heard from the Lord recently, and He wants you to share your past. Don’t be afraid. He will be with you. The reward of encouraging the disheartened and helping the weak is greater than you can ever imagine.

Three unhelpful reactions to masturbation/pornography

So far, I have only talked about the negative reactions I got concerning masturbation and pornography. That’s because, for the most part, those are the typical reactions among Christian women. Or at least they are the reactions that the ones desiring to share their struggles expect to encounter.

Unhelpful reaction #1: There is the reaction similar to my mothers’; that of embarrassment. I do not blame people for having this kind of reaction. The reason they never went through the things I did is likely due to not ever having been exposed to it much, but reacting this way only increases the guilt and shame already felt by the confessor.

Unhelpful reaction #2: Then there is the reaction of disgust like my friends had at the college presentation. This one can be particularly devastating to a Christian. Although you may not be intentionally condemning the people around you, merely saying how disgusted you are by it can drive a friend away from bringing their struggles into the light.

Unhelpful reaction #3: The worst reaction I found was when I made a search on the web trying to find information for young Christian girls struggling with masturbation. Unfortunately, I only found one encouraging testimony and the rest was mediocre. I found several Christian sites giving tips on how to masturbate and how there was nothing wrong with it; this would not have helped me since I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit for my actions. On the other extreme, I found websites that condemned it to the point that I wanted to find the person that wrote it and shake them!

In fact one of the websites I found was so convincing that I thought it was an actual blog. It turned out it was on a website that makes fun of certain types of Christians by mocking the way that they talk about things. The sad part about this is that I couldn’t tell the difference until I looked further into where this blog came from.

Here is a sample of the response:

Masturbation is another form of pornography that will infest your daughter’s mind and serve as a gateway to far worse sexual activities….

So first, have a talk with your daughter and pray with her. Pray all that sinful desire of masturbation right out of her heart. Throw the device away, and then enroll her in some abstinence counseling sessions. These will teach your daughter the value and need of respecting her body until marriage. Masturbation is very unnatural and by taking proactive steps to get this bizarre behavior out of your teen’s life, you’ll ensure she has a better future

It really saddens me that this mocking take on Christians is actually something that I have seen in reality on other sites and heard in conversations around me.

Don’t let your reaction to these topics be like the three examples above, especially the last two. For in what way is that considered loving?

It’s not just a guy thing

You know how churches and conferences are always talking about how guys struggle with porn and girls struggle with self-image? It is pretty much a guarantee that the Christian guys you know have looked at porn and masturbated numerous amounts of times in their life thus far. I remember hearing all of the statistics and altar calls being given for prayer, and it was always directed to the guys. The girls went up for prayer with self-image issues, eating disorders, pre-marital sex, etc. It’s not that all of those things aren’t legitimate. I know a lot of people that have dealt with those things and it is amazing what God has done in their lives. But I wasn’t one of those girls. I may have dealt with destructive thoughts about myself, but not in the way most youth pastors or women’s conference leaders were suggesting. What I dealt with was something I couldn’t share with anybody. So, I didn’t.

According to a recent study, 40% of women are masturbating by the age of 14 and 72% by the ages of 25-29 years old (NSSHB, 2010). The studies didn’t go below the age of 14, but from what I have personally gone through and people I have talked to, often girls begin masturbating at an even younger age.

In 2008, a survey of college students was given, and findings showed that on average, girls’ first exposure to pornography was between the ages of 13 and 15 years old (Sabina et al. 2008).

When you think about the fact that high speed internet wasn’t around until this surveyed group turned fourteen, it seems likely that the age is now lower.

And if I was able to access pornographic images on accident before my tenth birthday, you can bet that the young girls of this day and age can access it whether it be intentional or not.

I didn’t know any of this growing up. In my mind, I was the only one dealing with this. There was no one to turn to. You no longer have that excuse.