The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Why do I have so many erections? It's embarrassing, especially when it happens in front of other guys. I know it is supposed be practicing, but does it have to do it so often? And why guys? I can't stand it!


Let's start with something more basic: how your brain learns to respond. For all its marvelous complexity, your brain can, at times, act in what appears to be odd ways. For example, a neighbor of mine had a black Labrador puppy who would constantly escape when his back was turned. One time he escaped just as my young twin boys were walking out of the house. Out of nowhere they were bowled over by this over-exuberant puppy and it scared them silly. For days afterwards they wouldn't go out of the house without being carried. After a while, they realized that nothing was going to happen and could walk out on their own again. However, they were scared of any four-footed animals, but eventually realized that cats are not the same as dogs. But any dog would cause them to scream. Eventually they found out that small dogs weren't bad. Then they would only cry if a black dog appeared. It was probably almost two years before they fully realized that it was only one dog and that he was just overly playful.

This is the way the human brain learns. The first experience opens a wide open connection. Psychologists call this blossoming. The brain associates anything and everything to event. Repeated experiences causes the brain to start eliminating the non-functioning possibilities. Psychologists call this pruning. Eventually you are left with efficient responses to a particular situation. As the correct responses are taken each time, the pathways are re-enforced and becomes a habit that requires no conscience thought.

Now that your body has reached the stage of development where you can have erections, your brain has a new set of operations to work with. While erections seem straight forward, it is the product of a number of interrelated events all coordinated by the brain. The problem is that the brain has to learn the coordination and it has to figure out when is the right time for those events. Intellectually, you know when you want it to happen, but it literally takes years for the brain to wire itself efficiently.

Thus, at first your brain blossoms with all sorts of possibilities. Your penis acts as if it has a mind of its own, going stiff at the weirdest things. Gradually, your brain eliminates the various possibilities narrowing down on those things that you intellectually decide are the best times. New things will trigger erections because those experiences haven't been eliminated yet. It doesn't have to be new in your lifetime, just new since you changed and can now get erections. New feelings or new thoughts will also cause your penis to go erect. Each time you get embarrassed or ignore the erections, your brain starts to eliminate the possibilities.

It is this process of elimination that causes some boys to become confused as to whether they are homosexual. As discussed at length in "Sexual Perversions," homosexuality is actually a learned response. What happens in most cases is that instead of eliminating those paths dealing with someone of the same sex, the person entertains the idea that it is a possibility. He might be convinced by a friend or himself that if his body responds, then it must mean that he wants sex. Thus instead of eliminating a pathway, it gets re-enforced. And the pleasures produced by sex is a powerful re-enforcement.

As annoying as spontaneous erections are, they are important. Your body is learning how to have and maintain an erection which you will need one day for sex with your wife. It is also learning what situations, feelings, and thoughts should be connected to sex. And it is learning when it is appropriate to respond to those situations, feelings, and thoughts. The learning process is annoying and embarrassing, but you need that annoyance and embarrassment to eliminate the wrong paths. It will take a number of years to fine tune the process. But if it is any comfort, realize that every man goes through the same. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man ..." (I Corinthians 13:10).