The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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My age is 22. I've been so addicted to porn and masturbation. I've been praying for the deliverance from this sin, but I fail time and again. Now I feel so guilty, ashamed, and so depressed that I no longer find myself going in prayer and reading the Word. Just losing hope in everything. I have tried lot of ways and had lot of guidances, but that doesn't seem to help me. I'm almost at my wit's end. I'm in desperate need of help and prayer. My faith seems to be fading. I don't know what to do.


Every time I have helped young men deal with this problem, I discover that it is almost always a case of going to extremes. "Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all" (Ecclesiastes 7:16-18). Solomon's statement seems strange, until you think about it a while.

In dealing with a sin, people often think that the best way to handle it is to get rid of everything associated with the sin. Thus, they make it an all or nothing proposition.

For example, some young women get it into their heads that being fat is wrong, so they stop eating. Of course, this doesn't work. The body needs fuel. Eventually something gives and the young woman eats, but since it has been so long since she has eaten, she binges and overeats. Eventually she gets a hold of herself and she is devastated that she gave in. She decides her will-power wasn't strong enough, so she stops eating again. Thus, a cycle of starving and binge eating is set up with the young woman getting more and more depressed about her body and her ability to control herself. She eventually decides she is worthless and good for nothing.

But the problem never was in eating. If there was a problem, it might have been in overeating and gluttony. But because the young woman decided it was all or nothing, she set herself up for failure.

Paul talks about this self-imposed restrictions -- restrictions that God did not impose -- to deal with the problems of sin. "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). The reason these man-made restrictions do not work is because the focus is on the physical symptoms and ignoring the real problem behind the symptoms.

For young men, pornography is definitely a problem and a sin. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). It is not surprising that in trying to deal with the problem, most young men go to an all-or-nothing position and decide that all ejaculations are sinful. It is here that they set themselves up for failure because God created the male body to ejaculate semen once in a while. Trying to prevent it so that you are not tempted to look at porn means your own body is fighting you because it desperately needs to get rid of excess semen. Eventually something gives and most often the young man falls back into masturbating to pornography to get relief.

What is being overlooked is that there are two issues being dealt with: masturbation and pornography. Young men often mentally tie them together, but there is nothing about them that has to be connected. A person can look at pornography and not masturbate, and it is still just as much a sin. A person can masturbate without looking at or thinking about pornography and still achieve an ejaculation. If you need proof, realize that most boys discover they can ejaculate almost by accident the first time and typically pornography was not involved.

We know that pornography is a sin. But the question we need to address next is: Does God say masturbation, by itself, a sin when done without pornography or lust involved? In answer to this question, I would like you to read: Is masturbation sinful or not? The conclusion is that while masturbation can be used to sin, it isn't necessarily sinful by itself. It is just a function of the male body.

Therein then lies the answer. To separate out the sin and deal with it while maintaining self-control over your body. "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:27). Physically, you cannot avoid ejaculations. The seminal vesicles have to get rid of older batches of semen to make room for newer semen. For some men wet dreams take care of this problem. Basically, they end up masturbating in their sleep. But a number of guys aren't able to sleep through a wet dream. Either they never do it or they wake up before it is finished. If you are among those who wake up, you have to accept the fact that you need to finish what was started so you can have relief. But you do so without pornography of any sort.

Of course, wet dreams can be messy and inconvenient. There are going to be times when you don't want a wet dream to happen. And there are also guys whom wet dreams don't come or don't come often enough. These young men can only find relief by purposely triggering an ejaculation through masturbation. If you find yourself in this bunch, you still have to do it without pornography. Teaching yourself to treat masturbation as just a way of relief isn't difficult, but it will take effort. See: How do I break this sin of looking at porn?

Dear brother,

Thanks a lot for taking time to write to me. I have gone through the links that you have sent to me and it really helped me a lot. Hope you will bear with me. At times those videos and images of porn flash in my mind, mostly during the night, and they haunt me. When I look girls or women, I can't view them as sisters. When I read Bible I get condemned by certain verses. I mean I feel so guilty and hopeless. I feel too ashamed to ask for forgiveness for the same sins again and again. I hope you'd understand that. How to get close to God?

The mind cannot be erased, which is why pornography is a danger, but images do fade over time and become irrelevant. One of the reasons that it is important that you stop looking at pornography is to stop reinforcing these images so that they will begin to fade.

"Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool" (Proverbs 17:10).

"He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding" (Proverbs 15:32).

You have a choice. You can grumble about being made uncomfortable because you realize you have sinned, or you can change and not be the man you used to be. A wise person realizes that he isn't perfect and so is willing to make changes in his life to become better.

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:7-10).

Yes, pornography has warped your view of women, but it doesn't have to be permanent. Don't just look at women any more. Talk to them. Get to know a number as real people. As you see them as people and not sex objects your view of them will change.

As far as getting closer to God, it is much the same process. Get to know Him better by reading His Word and learning from Him. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6).

God isn't asking the impossible of you, but He is asking for your effort.