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The Sexual Addiction No One Talks About




by Kara

Some call it masturbation. I call it self-abuse.

 A friend of my family sexually molested me when I was 9 years old. Though he didn’t take my virginity, he awakened in me feelings that at my young age I did not understand.

One day I started touching myself and in the process unknowingly masturbated. I became addicted to this escape. I didn’t even know what I was doing until I talked about it with one of my little friends, who told me she also did it. She had been sexually abused worse than me by her mother’s boyfriend.
I can’t even begin to put into words how low and sinful I felt. I wanted desperately to stop, and I didn’t want anyone in my family to know what I was doing.
As I got older, I ran across many articles and excerpts in books about masturbation, but their messages confused me. Half said it was normal and even endorsed it, and the other half warned against it and said it was harmful and addictive. I knew deep inside that half of the articles were right—the second half. I felt so miserable, yet the reasoning in the first half of the articles kept breaking down my resistance and kept me addicted.
It didn’t help that my stepfather was also covertly sexually abusive to my sisters and me. He often talked to us and referred to us in a sexual manner. We didn’t know that it was wrong. All I can say is that he affected us greatly in many ways that we are still healing from.
One day when I worked up the courage to ask my stepfather if masturbation was wrong,  he seemed to encourage it. I trusted what he said because I considered him my dad, and he was even the youth leader in our church at the time.
I finally told my secret to my two older sisters. One said it was normal, and the other said I needed to stop. I became even more confused, and, even though I desired to stop, I felt hopelessly entangled in my sin. I felt so dirty, and I wanted to be free from this behavior that seemed permanently ingrained in me.
I learned that another name for masturbation is “self-abuse.” I actually think this term is very fitting. I was carrying on the abuse that had happened to me as a child—I was literally abusing myself. I didn’t see myself as a child of God, nor did I realize that my body was not my own but His—a temple for the Lord to dwell in and I should treat it as such.
I carried this addiction with me until I met my future husband. At that point I was really fighting it, because I had recently given my heart to the Lord. By then I was also old enough to understand how it was affecting me and hindering my relationship with God.
When I married my husband, I vowed to God not to do it anymore. I saw my marriage as my “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV)1 from the sin that had held me in bondage for so long. It still wasn’t easy, but God was and is always ready and willing to forgive us if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).
The hardest part was forgiving myself and coming to the point that I understood why I had this weakness. I was able to start heaing when I finally realized what had happened to me as a child and the effect that it had had on me. It opened the door for me to forgive myself and those who had hurt me.
I now understand and accept that I am a new creature in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17 says: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (NKJV).2
Now when I struggle with my past and my sins, I claim God’s promises and allow Him to work in me. He has released me from the pain and emptiness that had held me for so long, He has brought me a husband who truly loves me, and He has filled me with new life!
I have come to know with all my heart that Jesus Christ died for each of us, so we can be completely forgiven and completely healed.
Kara is a pseudonym.
 
 Insight’s Unplugged Columnist Shayna Bailey responds:
Let’s start with the basics. God created sex to be enjoyed between one man and one woman during marriage (see Genesis 2:24).
Homosexuality, orgies, and adultery are called “immorality” and “impurity” in Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 13:4; and 1 Corinthians 6:9 (NIV). Now, even though masturbation didn’t make the list, we can presume that, since it contradicts the context that God created for sex in Genesis 2:24, it’s wrong.
Masturbation causes you to miss out on the best parts of sex within marriage—the unity that bonds a person to their partner and the edification that comes from enjoying something God created. Love encompasses a lot more than lust does. Lust is grounded in fleeting, physical gratification. Love, on the other hand, is grounded in emotional, spiritual, and physical attachment.
While masturbation focuses on the physical gratification that sex provides, to reach physical climax a person employs a significant amount of mental lust and sexual imagery. This contradicts what Philippians 4:8 asks us to think about: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (NKJV).
Many people justify masturbation as not as bad as actually having premarital sex, but Matthew 5:27, 28 says otherwise. In God’s eyes, lusting after someone is the same as actually committing adultery. By doing that, according to 1 Corinthians 6:18, you are sinning against yourself.
In verses 19 and 20 of 1 Corinthians 6, the Bible teaches that we are to please God, not ourselves. The problem with masturbation is, it’s all about pleasing one’s self.
Moving on to marriage, if you read 
1 Corinthians 7:3-5, you’ll find that a husband’s body does not solely belong to him, and a wife’s body no longer solely belongs to her. Why? Because they have become one.
To put it simply, before marriage your body belongs to God, and after marriage your body belongs to God and your spouse.
Another problem with masturbation is, if you become used to finding sexual satisfaction without a partner, you’ll be establishing a sexual history for yourself that your spouse wasn’t a part of—which isn’t what God intends for you to do.
Don’t take my word for it
Four friends, Anthony (A), 25; James (B), 24; Jomo (J), 28; and Tommy (T), 30, have consented to offer you their practical, firsthand advice about masturbation.
A: Masturbation is more destructive than our culture leads us to believe. Society says it’s a normal, healthy thing to do. But this is a lie perpetrated by the devil himself.
B: Lust is the difficult part of masturbation.  When we allow our minds to venture past admiring someone’s beauty to wanting them sexually, sin gets into our minds and starts to make itself at home. If you fill up your mind  with God’s Word, though, there’s no room for foolishness.
T: You definitely have to make a conscious effort to discipline your mind. If you don’t, your body will start to rule your mind instead of the other way around.
J: One thing I’ve learned about gaining the victory over anything, including masturbation, is that we really have to take Christ’s advice in Matthew 5:29, 30 and cut it out! To cut something out of our lives, though, we have to think about the root causes of that behavior. One way to counteract sexual temptation is to avoid thinking about sex or watching visually stimulating TV shows and movies.
T: Definitely. Also, pray for strength to overcome and dedicate yourself to God each morning.
J: Decreasing the amount of time you spend alone may help you fight this temptation. Good Christian friends can also keep you accountable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The less time you have alone, the less time you have to masturbate.
A: Remember, when we focus on pleasing ourselves, we are yielding to the flesh. Yielding to the flesh is the gateway for the devil to control us. According to Matthew 26:41, yielding to the flesh is what leads us to sin against God. Masturbation costs us in our future physical relationships and in our spiritual relationship with God.
The guys say these Bible promises keep them grounded:
• Philippians 4:8: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (NKJV).
• James 4:7: “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (NKJV).
• Psalm 139:23, 24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (NKJV).
The “M” word and the church
James, 24, and Tommy, 30, explore why the church isn’t discussing the “M” word, masturbation.
As James put it, “The church isn’t prepared to address an issue that may bring shame on our image.”
It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The church is a body of outreach, ministry, and godliness that is supposed to contrast with the rest of the world.   Unfortunately, the body of Christ is comprised of a bunch of sinners (Romans 3:23). Admitting this and having to deal with dirty, messy, or embarrassing issues is hard to do.
Second, James says, “Masturbation is a topic that’s personal, and the church feels that personal things are meant to be dealt with between you and God.”
Tommy agreed, adding, “There is a clash of philosophies in the church. One school of thinking says that how to handle masturbation should be taught in the home, not in the church.”
There will always be conflict in any organized group about the way things should be handled.   Some people in the church find it difficult to talk openly about certain topics. Older generations weren’t exposed to the blatant issues that we are. As a result, they lack the experience to know how to talk about them.
Many older church leaders think that some issues are better handled at home, not because they were taught to believe that certain topics can defile or demoralize God’s holy house, and not because they don’t realize that people are struggling. They know they are.
As we know, though, not all youth (myself included!) come from stable, two-parent homes where topics such as sexuality or masturbation can be safely discussed. I promise you that if I’d asked my mother about masturbation when I was 15, she would have flipped out, regardless of how progressive she was with other topics.
Go to God. God knows all of our secret sins (Psalm 19:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14), and He is perfectly capable of helping you handle every one of them (Hebrews 7:25).
Both James and Tommy agree with me that the church should be talking about masturbation and other difficult subjects. Change can be slow in coming. But as a member of the church, you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to initiate changes that you want to see in your church.
 
1Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
2Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
Kara is a pseudonym.
 
Shayna Bailey resides in Washington, D.C., and attends Miracle Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and she is preparing to go to medical school. In her not-so-spare time she enjoys cooking, traveling, and blogging. Do you have a question for Shayna to answer? Send questions to: INSIGHT, 55 W. Oak Ridge Dr., Hagers­town, MD 21740 or insight@rhpa.org.
 




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