How Can I Conquer the Habit of Masturbation?
“I began masturbating when I was eight years old. Later I learned God’s view of the matter. I felt terrible every time I gave in. ‘How could God love someone like me?’ I asked myself.”—Luiz.
WHEN you reach puberty, sexual desires can become particularly strong. As a result, you might fall into a habit of masturbation.a Many would say that it’s not a big deal. “No one gets hurt,” they argue. However, there’s good reason to avoid the practice. The apostle Paul wrote: “Deaden, therefore, your body members . . . as respects . . . sexual appetite.” (Colossians 3:5) Masturbation does not deaden sexual appetite but fuels it. In addition, consider the following:
● Masturbation instills attitudes that are totally self-centered. For example, when masturbating, a person is immersed in his or her own body sensations.
● Masturbation causes one to view those of the opposite sex as mere objects, or tools, for self-gratification.
● The selfish thinking that is instilled through the practice of masturbation can make satisfying sexual relations in marriage difficult to achieve.
Rather than resort to masturbation to relieve pent-up sexual urges, strive to cultivate self-control. (1 Thessalonians 4:4, 5) To help you to do that, the Bible recommends that you avoid circumstances that might arouse you sexually in the first place. (Proverbs 5:8, 9) Still, what if you have become enslaved to the habit of masturbation? Perhaps you’ve tried to stop but without success. It would be easy to conclude that you’re a lost cause, that you’re incapable of living up to God’s standards. That’s how a boy named Pedro viewed himself. “When I relapsed, I felt terrible,” he says. “I thought that I could never atone for what I had done. I found it hard to pray.”
If that’s how you feel, take courage. Your case isn’t hopeless. Many young people—and adults—have overcome the habit of masturbation. You can too!
Dealing With Guilt
As already noted, those who have fallen into the habit of masturbation are often plagued with guilt. Without a doubt, being “saddened in a godly way” can give you the incentive to overcome the habit. (2 Corinthians 7:11) But excessive guilt can be counterproductive. It can make you feel so discouraged that you just want to give up the fight.—Proverbs 24:10.
So strive to put the matter in perspective. Masturbation is a form of uncleanness. It can make you a ‘slave to various desires and pleasures,’ and it fosters unhealthy attitudes. (Titus 3:3) At the same time, masturbation is not a form of gross sexual immorality, such as fornication. (Jude 7) If you have a problem with masturbation, you need not conclude that you have committed the unforgivable sin. The key is to resist the urge and never to give up your fight!
It is easy to become downhearted after a relapse. When that occurs, take to heart the words of Proverbs 24:16: “The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up; but the wicked ones will be made to stumble by calamity.” A temporary setback does not make you a wicked person. So do not give up. Instead, analyze what led to the relapse, and try to avoid repeating the same pattern.
Take time to meditate on God’s love and mercy. The psalmist David, who was no stranger to personal weakness, stated: “As a father shows mercy to his sons, Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13, 14) Yes, Jehovah takes into consideration our imperfection and is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) On the other hand, he wants us to put forth effort to improve. So what practical steps can you take to conquer your habit?
Analyze your entertainment. Do you watch movies or TV programs or visit Web sites that are sexually stimulating? The psalmist wisely prayed to God: “Make my eyes pass on from seeing what is worthless.”b—Psalm 119:37.
Force your mind to focus on other matters. A Christian named William advises: “Before going to bed, read something related to spiritual things. It is very important that the last thought of the day be a spiritual one.”—Philippians 4:8.
Talk to someone about the problem. Shame might make it difficult for you to bring up the matter to a confidant. Yet, doing so can help you to overcome the habit! That’s what a Christian named David found. “I talked privately with my father,” he says. “I’ll never forget what he said. With a reassuring smile on his face, he said, ‘You make me so proud of you.’ He knew what I had to go through to get to that point. No words could have lifted my spirits and determination more.
“My father then showed me a few scriptures to help me see that I was not ‘too far gone,’ and then some more scriptures to be sure I understood the seriousness of my wrong course. He said to ‘keep the slate clean’ until a certain time, and we would discuss it again then. He told me not to let it crush me if I relapsed, just go a longer period of time without giving in the next time.” David’s conclusion? He says: “Having someone else aware of my problem and helping me was the greatest benefit.”c
Casual sex is no casual matter. Find out why.
a Masturbation is not to be confused with involuntary sexual arousal. For example, a boy might wake up sexually excited or have a nocturnal emission of semen. Similarly, some girls might find that they are stimulated unintentionally, particularly just before or after their menstrual period. In contrast, masturbation involves deliberate sexual self-stimulation.
“Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.”—2 Timothy 2:22.
Pray before urges become strong. Ask Jehovah God to give you “power beyond what is normal” to cope with temptation.—2 Corinthians 4:7.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Any weak person can give in to his or her sexual urges. But it takes a real man or a real woman to display self-control even when in private.
I can keep my mind on things that are chaste if I ․․․․․
Instead of giving in to the urge, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why is it important to remember that Jehovah is “ready to forgive”?—Psalm 86:5.
● Since God, who created sexual urges, also says that you should cultivate self-control, what confidence must he have in you?
[Blurb on page 182]
“Since overcoming the problem, I can keep a clean conscience before Jehovah, and that is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything!”—Sarah
[Picture on page 180]
A fall while running does not mean that you have to start over—nor does a relapse with masturbation erase the progress you’ve already made