Straight Talk on Sexual Self-Stimulation

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A married man once wrote to a Christian counselor:

I was [sexually] abused when I was young. I’m so addicted to pornography and masturbation.”

Two single young men also shared their struggles:

I’ve been battling with masturbation for a long time now and it’s killing me. I notice I masturbate each time I feel depressed. I’ve prayed and done a lot still I find myself doing the same thing over and over again.”

I have a very big problem with both sex and masturbation. It has really gotten to me. I am a devoted Christian … yet I find it difficult to quit … I have planned to cut myself off media, phone and internet so as to stop going through porn sites and downloading its content … Why is stopping sex and masturbation too difficult for me, or is it my FATE? I am really confused.”

Sadly, sexuality is still a no-go area topic in many Christian circles. This is why I applaud Christians who summon the courage to open up about their personal sexual struggles.

I’ve come to realise that when such “uncomfortable” issues are swept under the carpet of church rules and strict conservatism, they not only fester but eventually become elephants in the pews.

Many people in the church today are suffering from silent frustration as a result of private problems that have created turmoils in their hearts. They can’t find anyone who understands or is able to handle the details of what ails them.

Sexual issues need to be openly discussed because they are crucial to life, and it’s an area where the devil is enslaving many believers.

I was told of a Christian guy in my undergraduate days who broke with “tradition” during a Bible study by telling how God helped him beat the sinful habit of masturbation.

Typical of hyper-conservative student fellowships, his audience looked on with shock and distaste, but he defied their countenances. As he was leaving the fellowship that evening, about five Christian brothers walked up to him saying, “Please sir, I’m struggling with masturbation, can you help me?”

If we are really going to help people find freedom and healing, we’ll need to blow open the citadels of pretense and role-playing that the devil has used to wall us in.

Masturbation or “solo sex” is a hot topic on several fronts. A 2016 survey by TENGA, a sexual health and wellness company, indicates that 88 % of 1,200 Americans masturbate.

To remove the stigma from self-pleasure, this company launched “an online empowerment campaign that celebrates and encourages masturbation” called #DoItInMay.

Secular society has always lauded masturbation as a safe, healthy valve of release from sexual pressure.

Some scientists tell us that it boosts the mood; has a natural sedative effect; helps maintain body immunity; prevents prostate cancer, heart diseases and STDs and even confers a longer lifespan!

If one’s life is patterned by their claims, solo sex becomes a placebo to cure virtually all of life’s hitch. I guess a time would soon come when we will be told that if we don’t masturbate frequently, our brains will stop functioning and our hearts will stop beating!

From a scientific perspective, however, one needs to tread with caution before touting masturbation as a “silver bullet” to bodily infirmity.

Masturbation triggers the brain into releasing a flood of internal chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream.

These natural “drugs” give quick, temporary escape and relief from stress, insomnia and anxiety. This can make masturbation a convenient “drug” for instant pleasure and self-medication.

It also results in a chemical dependency that people use to escape from boredom, negative emotions and the stresses of life.

We all know how drug addicts resort to drugs to escape from reality. Sexual self-stimulation works out the same way. Thankfully, the debilitating effects of addictions are not disputed by secular society.

Frequent masturbation stimulates acetylchlorine and parasympathetic nervous functions and when it is excessively done, large amount of this hormone and neurotransmitters are being produced, thus altering the body’s chemistry. This leads to fatigue, erectile dysfunction and pelvic cramps.

Even in the medical world, there are check and balances that govern drug use. That’s why pain relievers are given with prescriptions. When the body is made to naturally circumvent these regulations through masturbation, it becomes a form of self-abuse.

Many scientists, psychologists and even some Christian leaders argue that masturbation is not a sin. If that is the case, why then, do many men and women feel so guilty after indulging in it?

The ready-made answer that such people are conditioned by social indoctrination and upbringing doesn’t cut it. That guilt is an indication of our God-given conscience which must not be muffled with empty rationalizations.

This is why science, psychology and philosophy – albeit beneficial – cannot be our final arbiter of truth, ethics or morals. The Bible, God’s Word is.

Science sees man as a “higher animal” that is subject to all base instincts and desires, but the Bible dignifies man, stating that he is created in God’s image.

Psychology also fails to address the complexity and depravity of the human heart. The Encyclopedia Britannica presents a lengthy discussion on sexual deviations but adds that:

“Although most psychiatrists and psychologists consider masturbation an expected practice on the path to heterosexual relations, it serves equally to gratify in fantasy many of the sexual deviations discussed above” (16:610).

That is, masturbation can be fuelled by fantasies involving sexually debased acts like paedophilia, rape, sado-masochism, voyeurism, homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality.

The human heart is so deceitful and depraved that most sex criminals usually start off by masturbating to fantasies of what they later indulged in.

With the way sex toys like strokers, dildos, sex dolls etc. are becoming lucrative even here in Nigeria, God’s view – not man’s opinions – of solo sex needs to be emphasised.

Granted, masturbation is not directly mentioned in the Bible and can’t be accurately termed as the “sin of Onanism,” but it’s still a sin because it involves lust of the mind (Matt. 5:28).

Virtually all sexual self-stimulation is accompanied by either sexual fantasies or pornographic materials. It cannot be imagined or carried on without committing the sin of lust.

It also fails the Bible’s eight fold test: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

Our body “is the temple of the Holy Spirit … You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Solo sex spiritually defiles our body.

God says we are to “put to death … whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires…” (Col. 3:5), but masturbation does the very opposite: it energizes the fleshy nature.

Furthermore, masturbation is a selfish act. God intended sexuality to help relieve a person’s loneliness, but solo sex does not relieve loneliness. In fact, one feels more lonely than ever after this sin.

Being immersed in one’s body sensations is a form of narcissism. As time goes on, self-pleasuring becomes the brain’s preferred method for achieving sexual gratification and this ultimately affects a healthy relationship with one’s spouse.

I am not writing this to lay a guilt trip on anyone struggling with this habit. What I’m saying is that it is a sin that one can repent of and forsake just like any other (1 Jn. 1:9).

There is one more reason why sexual self stimulation should be avoided: it often attracts sexual spirits called incubi (those appearing to be men) and succubi (those appearing as women).

These demon spirits are responsible for the sexual dreams many men and women frequently have.

These sex demons are also sought after in the occult and can invited by sexual fantasies. When these spirits latch themselves to people, they wield a web around them, draw away their virtues, destroy their potential and pump their demonic garbage into their lives.

In some cases where the demon already resides in the victim, it will control his or her hands to sexually stimulate himself or herself, at times after having an erotic dream.

One of the ways to know if masturbation has led a person into spiritual bondage is that, it becomes a besetting sin and he/she would be having relationship or marital troubles (if married). That individual might be oppressed by a demonic sex partner and may need to be ministered to.

Such persons would tell you that they feel more pleasure when they have sex in dreams with demons (who appear as very beautiful ladies or handsome men) or when they masturbate, unlike with their physical spouses. This problem is a very common one. I have personally met real Christians victimized by it.

The way out

Although there are no specific “formulas” to conquer masturbation, some steps are crucial.

1. Repent and forsake the sin. This involves getting rid of porn or sex materials. Because masturbation feeds off secrecy, sharing your struggles with someone mature is also good, but it’s not compulsory.

2. Know what triggers you. Some masturbation triggers are: depression, porn, indecent dressings, images of past sexual acts, erotic chats or phone calls, stories or TV shows that border on sexual themes.

A guy named Immanuel wrote:

“I can remember heavily masturbating to Rihanna’s Rude Boy’s music video immediately it was released till my organ got painful sores.”

Now if Immanuel is going to maintain his victory, he will have to avoid music videos or lyrics with sexual innuendos. Some are triggered by certain places, smells, gestures, words or objects.

A Christian guy once admitted he gets “triggered” to masturbate once he sees a boxer short. So know your own trigger and address it.

3. Filling one’s heart with God’s Word has a cleansing and renewing power (Ps. 119: 11; Rom. 12:2). Daily meditate on the Bible and control your thoughts

4. Resistance. You can only resist what you dislike. This involves:

a) directly resisting the urge to masturbate by avoiding compromising situations and exercising bodily control (1 Cor. 9:27).

You could be tensed up and unable to sleep and feel tempted to give in to it; but don’t yield. Endure hardness as a soldier and resist the sin (1 Tim. 2:2).

b) standing back on your feet if you have a relapse (Prov. 24:16). Don’t let the devil beat you down with guilt. Some people gain victory quickly, some don’t. Focus on Christ.

c) praying fervently, especially before going to bed. That is how to draw on the power of Christ (Mt. 26:41).

Years ago, a close friend shared with me how God set him free from the bondage of masturbation.

After praying one night, he went to bed and while he was asleep, he felt a strange pressure mount over his body. With his eyes still closed, he felt someone raise his hands up and make him say: “You spirit of masturbation, I renounce you in Jesus’ name!” and the pressure lifted.

Since that day, the urge to masturbate vanished. There is great power in Jesus Christ.

If you are struggling with this sin but not yet born again, I want to tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins at the cross of Calvary and rose again for us to have a new life.

Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Ask Him to forgive your sins and make you a new creature.

Ensnared by Sex

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One of my favourite TV programs was “To Catch a Predator.” It was a reality show made in conjunction with law enforcement agents to track and arrest paedophiles.

Undercover agents would set up profiles of underage girls or boys on social networking sites and enter chat rooms to chat with unsuspecting adults. These conversations are often sexual in nature and the culprits were usually lured to meet the decoy at a specified location.

When the visitor meets the decoy at the location, she (or he) finds a reason to leave the room, then the anchor of the program, Chris Hansen, enters the room, quizzes the paedophile and reads out some of the sexually graphic portions of the chat to make him aware that his online chats were recorded.

Finally, the camera crew enters the room and the pervert is arrested. At that point, you would see the level of shame and degradation that sexual sins bring into people’s lives.

Most of these perverts are not your average gangsters off the street. Those arrested have included a criminal investigator, successful businessmen, a Jewish rabbi, a male school teacher and even a lawyer (who subsequently committed suicide).

One, a Christian sergeant, went on his knees and apologised for his acts, yet he was later re-arrested for exposing himself to an underage girl at a pool.

There are many respectable Christian men and women who are also caught up in unclean sexual habits. They know it’s wrong, they try to stop it, but they keep falling into it.

A letter to a certain newspaper columnist reads:

I’m 60, a Christian and well respected. I look very innocent but no [one] knows that I can ask about 5 girls to come and have fun with me in bed. I have prayed asking God to deliver me from this ungodly act but I cannot stop. Sometimes, I set a day to stop so that I can make heaven but soon I will see another girl and would talk to her again…

Most of the time when topics like these come up, there are Afro-jingoists who quickly position Africa as a bastion of moral values (which incidentally always begins and ends with sex) as against the “morally eroded West,” but the reality is, sexual perversion is rife everywhere.

The Medical Research Council reports that 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa. 25 per cent of South African men have raped someone; 23.2 per cent men have raped more than 2 women while 7.7 per cent have raped more than 10 women or girls.

The report indicated that these rapists were more likely to have had more than 20 sex partners including sex with a prostitute.

Referring to the booming strip club business in Nigeria, a reporter says “their existence, no doubt, has given rise to another dimension in the sex trade.”

During a visit to one, he “observed that while the majority of the guests were paying attention to the erotic gyrations of a dancer on stage, a few others were busy having sex with some of the girls in an adjoining room.”

Internet porn is another giant. PUNCH news (December 1, 2015) reported that Nigerians visit more pornography websites than education-related ones.

A certain porn site had an 113th position while a popular Nigerian university ranked 133rd on Alexa ratings.

Recent Google trends also show that words like “gay sex pics” and “anal sex pics” were mostly searched from Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan among others.

In spite of our ultra religious environment, sex is being thrown at us everywhere – whether through the printed page, fashion, movies, adverts and music with sexually debased lyrics.

The Centre for Research on Health and Care, in a study reveals that “a high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behaviour”.

Sex, which ought to be pure and spiritually bonding within marriage, has been warped by hell and crudely distorted even by the very words used to refer to sexual intercourse and the sexual organs.

This is why as Christians, instead of joining the ranks of the hypocritical religious crowd who call for the execution of all sinners, or of cultural romantics who dream for a return to an African society where everyone wore a chastity belt, we have an obligation to reach out to people trapped in sexual sins and “proclaim liberty to the captives” (Lk. 4:18).

What is a snare?

A snare is a trap often used for catching birds or mammals.

The Bible speaks about the “snares of death” (Ps. 91:3), “the snare of the devil” (1Tim. 6:9) and a table (or food) being made a snare (Rom. 11:9). Snares can also have prison houses (Is. 24:17).

A person can be sexually ensnared, in which case he is trapped in a sexual sin he can’t seem to escape from in spite of all his effort.

It becomes a yoke that restricts one’s progress spiritually, mentally, financially, or socially in a divine direction. For example, a man wrote:

I am 29 and can’t explain what is happening to me. From 2012 till date. I have slept with over 1,000 prostitutes. This is beyond me … I have fasted and prayed about this but no avail. This affects my finances and relationship with other girls. I need help what do I do?”

Every snare has its “attraction.” In the same vein, sexual sins have a temporary “benefit” they seem to offer – otherwise, no one would be ensnared by them. But the moment the trap closes, the “benefits” loses its zing.

A disgruntled woman wrote this to Daily Post recently:

I work with a private establishment … My boss is a married man and he sleeps with me at will. He [is only] nice to me when he wants to ask me for sex. Sometimes, he doesn’t even ask me, he will just visit me. No matter how much I resist him, all he wants is to have me laid and the moment he is [done], he dresses up and leaves.

That is a sexual snare. Some women succumb to such office romance with the rationale that it will bring promotion, a higher pay or love.

These “rationalizations” are mental snares – false reasoning that blinds people from the consequences of wrong decisions. They are strongholds that lure people into acts they end up regretting.

I saw this comment on a popular Nigerian blog:

I’m a guy. I have slept with countless men. I really want to stop it but don’t know how to. It started when I was in [the] university. I was so broke and men kept disturbing me after I met one. He introduced me to a lot of his friends, that’s how all the rich men want me … I allowed them [to have sex with] me. That’s how I paid my bills. Now I really want to stop it because I’m working and I don’t need their help again.

His snare was: “Just do it and get some money,” whereas he was entangling himself in a horrible sexual bondage.

When people say things like “the Bible’s view of sex is outdated or impractical,” I’m alert to the mental trap they might be labouring under.

The Bible’s view is relevant because it addresses sexual sins which are still prevalent in modern society. It also teaches that sexual sins defile our body and presenting our bodies “as a living sacrifice” to God is our “appropriate way of worship” (Rom. 12:2).

Some mental snares are reinforced by culture. For instance, many males are raised with messages that indirectly damage their spiritual well being.

Many guys are told that women exist only for their pleasure, hence having multiple partners and sexually “conquering” women is a way to win their respect.

The girl child can also be raised to see her body as tools to get whatever she wants instead of using her God-given brain to positively impact the world.

A common mental snare that keeps Christians in sexual sins is: “I can’t stop it; this is my fate.” It’s a lie of the enemy planted in their minds to keep them bound.

Some in the early Church also once indulged in sexual sins, but became “washed and made holy” and “received God’s approval” (1Cor. 6:11).

The God who delivered them from their sins has not changed. Sadly, many Christians are perpetually ensnared by sexual sins because :

1. They have misplaced motives.

Most people don’t make any effort to quit sexual habits unless it’s threatening their lives, families or reputation.

Many are also trying to strive for sexual morality, not because they love God or want to please Him, but because they are in a serious romantic relationship or are financially independent.

So a good question to start with is: Why do I want to quit this habit? Is it because it’s a sin against God that will take me to hell, or because I want to maintain a good public status?

When Joseph was faced with a sexual temptation, his resistance was not because of STDs or a cultural taboo, but to “do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). If your motive is lacking the God factor, it’s impure and misplaced.

2. Many are looking for a fast and cheap victory.

They endlessly run from one prayer mountain to another or one pastor to the next because they want fast solutions to a deeply rooted problem. It doesn’t always work that way. Christianity ain’t no magic.

Yes, prayer and fasting are good, but they are not the silver bullets to all spiritual problems. After the fasting and prayer, you also need to deal with the flesh and apply personal discipline.

Your personal prayer life also need to be fervent. You need to regularly read and meditate on Scripture. God doesn’t operate a fast food joint or some 20 naira sales. Spiritual victories are not cheap; they come with much sacrifice.

The starting question is: Are you really born again? There are many church goers who fast and pray and have gone through deliverance sessions over sexual sins yet they are not Biblically saved, and they can’t even explain what the term means!

When we become saved, we sell ourselves to Christ and become His property. We no longer belong to ourselves. We are to become “dead to sin but alive to God” (Rom. 6:11).

We become “crucified with Christ” and “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill” its lusts (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 13:14).

This self-crucifixion is more harder (and takes more time) than casting out demons and sincerely, many people don’t want to take this difficult path, so they conclude that they have “tried everything” and it didn’t work.

3. Many haven’t dealt with the spiritual root of the sexual sin.

Until you address the roots of a sexual problem, you can’t overcome it. Some people are under demonic control and they can’t exercise any self-restrain. Until they admit that and deal with it, they can’t be free.

Some are being externally oppressed by a demonic strongman. He brings them porn they can’t resist; a randy boss they can’t reject; a sexual offer they can’t refuse or a sexual dream that pollutes their mind – especially when they try to become serious with their spiritual walk.

These strongmen must be bound and dislodged in the name of Jesus Christ (Luke 11:21-22).

4. Many Christians still love their chains.

They want to eat their cakes and have it. They want to be free from the oppression and crushing guilt but still want to keep visiting places where they will meet more sex partners.

They hate the acts but they still feed their minds with erotic stories and risqué TV shows or view stuff that re-kindles their lusts.

It’s not enough for us to love good, we must also hate evil as well (Heb. 1:9).

David said “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate: they will not cling to me” (Ps. 101:3).

You can’t hate evil and be entertained or thrilled by it. If it is your right hand that makes you stumble, cut it off (Matt. 5:30).

What that means is that, if a friendship, group, website, or certain entertainment makes you stumble into sexual sin, you need to give it up. When you hate a habit and you strive against it, it will wither. But if you keep feeding it, it will get stronger and pull you down.

I won’t dispute the fact that some people have been helped by psychotherapy, but even if man-made methods can help, the Holy Spirit can help far better.

If you are already saved, you need to mortify the deeds of the flesh by drawing on the power of Christ. Be grounded in God’s Word and whenever the vile thoughts come to your mind, rebuke and demolish them with the Word of God (2 Cor. 10:4).