Thursday 3rd April was your average, wet morning in Manchester until I received an unexpected and slightly concerning text message requiring me to call or wait for a call from the sender. Due to the content of the text I made the decision to make the call straight away. Because I want to protect the identity of my friend some of the information I share will be vague, however, I will share this information so you understand the context. The sender of the text message is a female friend in her 20’s, she is a passionate Bible believing Christian filled with the Holy Spirit. For the sake of this blog I will call her Susan.
So, Susan went on to relay to me that since being a teenager she has had a very high sex drive. She continued to say that in spite of this she has never had sexual intercourse and didn’t plan on doing so until she was married. What she said next stopped me in my tracks, but only briefly. It was not that I was necessarily shocked if anything, I was more surprised by my lack of reaction—after all, none of my Christian friends have ever told me about this issue before.
In short, Susan said that she had masturbated on more than one occasion, and she was starting to get fearful that it was becoming an addiction. I didn’t say anything, but instead, I let her talk until she was finished. One thing I have learnt when people share private and vulnerable information is to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes we can feel like we have to solve other people’s problems instead of simply listening, at times Christians can be the worst for doing this. Just because we have the Holy Spirit and we read our Bibles, does not mean we cannot exercise self control and discernment now and then (Galatians 5:2). If we are too quick to give advice or a solution, people will not want to talk, and we could ultimately miss what the underlying issue is.
As she was talking I was literally praying and asking the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom. I am not an expert on this topic and every person is different, but for Susan these three things were the real problems, her masturbating was simply the symptom:
Lack of Conviction
Although the Bible does not directly say that masturbation is a sin, masturbation is linked to self gratification and lust which is a sin. Susan knew what little the Bible said about this, (although somewhat vague), but due to the lack of solid teaching about the topic to solidify what she already believed, her conviction wasn’t strong. I reminded her that any teaching we receive or hear should only confirm or help us understand what we already know the Bible say’s is true. If we believe that the Bible is true, then that is it; the truth is the truth. Part of the problem was that she wasn’t entirely convicted that what she was doing was a sin. I asked her whether she believed without a shadow of a doubt that murder was a sin she did, and as a result she said she would never do that. I said to her the same conviction she has about murder; she also had to have about masturbation. Here is something else that I suppose I knew already but realised more: it is not my responsibility to convict, that’s what the Holy Spirit is here for.
Susan is also single and very much wants to be married; she recognises that loneliness is the major trigger that increases her desire to masturbate. I can totally relate to her struggle of trying to find ways to manage her loneliness; but then she has to also deal with managing her high sex drive and sexual urges that cannot be met by a husband right now. How is a single, Christian woman supposed to manage all this? In my blog ’32, Christian and single,’ I share some practical ways about how I manage myself as a Christian woman; I encourage every woman to find what works for them.
Lack of Teaching
This brings us to the key issue of why this subject is not talked about in the church. I totally believe the church needs to wake up and get real, let me say this to leaders of churches, do not be deceived to think or believe that the people that sit in your chairs every Sunday are not dealing with issues such as masturbation, yes, including WOMEN. That they are not dealing with the feelings of guilt and shame connected to abortion, pornography and promiscuity, it is real and it is happening in your churches. With that established, why on earth is the church not talking about it? I appreciate that there is a time and a place, but we often use that as an excuse not to address an issue and as a result the ‘time and place’ never seems to come. In the meantime people like Susan suffer because the church have no idea how to appropriately deal with these topics or very few are courageous enough to talk about it. As a result people like Susan feel ashamed and embarrassed because as Spirit filled Christians they know they shouldn’t be doing it, but aren’t fully convinced as to why not.
I was able to have an open, honest and vulnerable conversation with my friend and I am so honoured that she felt she could talk to me about it. This experience reminded me that before we are Christians we are human; I am reminded of the Bible scripture that says, referring to Jesus that he: “…made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” – Philippians 2:7. Jesus was first and foremost God but he was also fully human in every way (Hebrews 2:17). Therefore, just because we are Christian’s that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with the very things that any normal human being struggles with; like Jesus did but he didn’t sin. This should humble all of us especially us Christians who say ‘I would never do that,’ instead of saying: ‘by the grace of God I would never do that.’
I should say that Susan has read this post and has given her consent for me to share it. She wanted to add the following points below in the hope that it will help others that might be going through the same thing:
1. Be honest with yourself about what you are doing and where you’re heads at – often we pretend we want to give it up when really we are enjoying it…there’s no way you are going to move forward if you are lying to yourself;
2. If you decide that you do want to resist, realise you can’t fight on your own – talk to a trusted GODLY person who will pray with you and help you practically;
3. Take it a day at a time asking for the Holy Spirit’s help;
4. Forgive yourself quickly and don’t let guilt seep in;
5. Learn to trace the desire to the root and deal with it there – is it feelings of rejection? Is it loneliness? Is it just plain horniness? Then you know where its coming from and that might help you address the right thing.
Ultimately it’s not about what you can or can’t do but about what Jesus has already done; it is our responsibility to live that truth out with the love, help and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.