Recently I have been masturbating every other day it seems. I've come to realize that God is more important and I need to stop, but whatever I do, I can't. I try to set goals but I just keep doing it. I'm not addicted to porn, but I will instead look at photos. I don't know how to stop, but I know I really need to.
First, I would like you to consider how it is that you came to conclude that masturbation is wrong. Right and wrong are based on God's Word -- not just what a person thinks or what someone tells them. It is true that many people assume mastrubation is wrong, but when asked why they point out other things often associated with masturbation. I want you to read through Is masturbation sinful or not? and look up all the verses for yourself.
Second, while you claim you are not addicted to porn, you do admit to looking at photos. By this I'm concluding that while you are not looking at naked women, you are allowing yourself to imagine having sex with the women in the photos. This is a sin. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). You aren't married to these women, so to think about them in a sexual way is wrong.
James says sin comes from Satan taking our desires and making it appear that in order to have what we want, we have to sin. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15).
The desire for sex is built into every human who has lived past puberty. For men, the desire is connected to the amount of semen you produce. You have two seminal vesicles, near your bladder, which produce semen constantly. These glands have a limited amount of storage capability, just as your bladder can only hold so much urine. As the seminal vesicles get full, hormones are released that increases your desire for sex. If you try ignoring it, you find sexual ideas constantly intruding into your thoughts. Eventually something has to give. For some boys, the result is a wet dream where they ejaculate while they sleep or as they start to wake up. For others, the urge to ejaculate is too strong and they masturbate. A few manage by shear will-power to not do either, but eventually an ejaculation will happen at the least expected time.
A problem arises because ejaculation feels good and so some guys get into a habit of masturbating even when they don't really need to, just to get that pleasurable feeling. But to trigger an ejaculate, the body needs to be in a state of arousal and if the seminal vesicles aren't close to full, it is more difficult to trigger an ejaculation. Hence, boys turn to pornography and other things that generate lustful thoughts to get themselves sufficiently aroused in order to ejaculate. But it is these things that are sinful.
If you simply try to not ejaculate, the result will be that your body will fight you because the body needs to ejaculate. That is why you keep losing this battle. You set yourself an impossible goal. Each time instinct takes over, you blame yourself for not being strong enough; instead of seeing the truth, that your body needs to empty the seminal vesicles once in a while.
What I suggest is that you simply accept that a part of being male is that you need to ejaculate once in a while. When the urge gets strong don't go looking a pictures or allow yourself to engage in daydreams about sex. Instead, hop into the shower and while there masturbate. Since the urge is strong, it won't take much to trigger an ejaculation. Since you aren't where you can look at images, you can break yourself of sinful habits. The result is that you are managing your body's need while maintaining self-control over your actions and thoughts.
Thank you so much! This really has helped me conclude in my research and establish an answer. May God bless you, and I pray that many others like this will come to know the Truth. Thanks.