The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I am a masturbation addict, self-obsessed, and a school flop. I need help desperately. How can I fix my life?

I am 15 years old. I have been working out for two years because of the hero worship phase at first, then it became a hobby. I have gained a significant amount of muscle during this time. I began becoming attracted to my own body and wanting more and more muscle. At this point I can't really tell if I am at the point I want to be yet because I have become blind to how strong I am. Sometimes I will look in the mirror and see a strapping guy and others a weakling. I have been really depressed because of this, and it doesn't help that I have asymmetrical pectus excavatum, which makes one side of my chest always look smaller than the other no matter how much harder I work it. The condition also decreases the girth of my chest wall, so my hips are wider than my chest all the way up to my shoulders. Sometimes I hate my body, sometimes it turns me on. It is really awkward and I get super depressed about it a lot. I worried about it so much that I spent too much time with it.

I discovered masturbation, which led to an addiction. It was like a drug for me. It was every day. Sometimes I'd stop, but it felt like torture. My obsession with my body has led to a masturbation addiction, which led to falling behind over a full month of schoolwork. I take off my shirt a lot in unnecessary moments, I masturbate in sketchy situations. I lock on to images of shirtless men when I see them. And I know it is all wrong.

You could never count how many times I have asked God to come back to me and help me out of this, and He never has, or at least I haven't seen it.

Now for my questions: Is this all because I work out? Is my masturbation addiction something I can stop (I have tried and failed)? Will I ever be the Christian man I want to be? Could you point out the things I need to do to make all this right, and give me a good plan to fix my life? Has what I have become taken away my purity, and if so, how would I approach dating a Christian girl in the future if I can ever make this right? Please, answer my questions. I am living a broken life, and I don't know what to do anymore.


Answer

We have a lot of things that need to be discussed. I'll try to touch on as many as I can, but I know that I'll overlook a few and that this note will lead to more questions. I'm expecting a discussion, so I hope you'll write back.

From what you state, I suspect that you are in late stage 3 or early stage 4 in development. That would explain why you don't have wide shoulders yet -- you haven't reached that point in your development, which comes in mid to late stage 4. It would also explain the apparent asymmetry in your body build. It isn't unusual at all for one side of the body to mature at a different rate than the other side. There is only so much energy available for growth, so every part doesn't grow at once.

It is very easy for teenage boys to become obsessive. It is due to developing brain as you go from child-like thinking to adult-like thinking. Problems arise when the obsessions get out of control. You end up worry about things that are not in your control and sometimes even about things that are not even there. "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" (Matthew 6:27). Being in good shape is not bad. Thinking that you have to be in perfect shape or spending long hours on minor improvements are problems that will generate more problems.

John warns that there are three basic lusts that can trap us in sin: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:15-17). Your body building is catching you in both the lust of the eyes and in your pride of yourself. That is why depression is striking. You've set goals for yourself, decide that you aren't reaching those goals, and then come down hard on yourself.

Masturbation, by itself, is just one way a male can relieve himself of excess semen. It is neither right nor wrong, but it can used wrongfully when a guy uses pornography or lustful thoughts to get himself sexually aroused enough to ejaculate. See: Is masturbation sinful or not? It is your comment about "sketchy situations" that concerns me. Would you mind explaining this?

Masturbating generally doesn't take long to accomplish, so I also wonder how this translates into falling over a month behind in homework. It causes me to wonder if you are spending hours looking a pornography instead of doing your work.

What God promised is a way out of every temptation. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthains 10:13). He isn't going to force you to make the right decision because that would not be a decision on your part. And when you fail to make the right decision, that is not a failure on God's part. You are the one making the choice. God wants you to make the right choice, He encourages you to make the right choice, but He won't stop you from making bad choices.

But notice that God promises that there is always a way out. I'm willing to help you see that way out, but I can only help when people are willing to talk. Mind reading isn't among my skill set. :-)

Yes, you can manage your body and be in control of your sexual urges instead of it controlling you. You still need to ejaculate because that is a part of being male, but you can control how that is done and when.

Yes, you can be a good Christian man, but not by chasing after passions. When you see you are doing something wrong, the Christian's response is to change for the better. Struggles with temptation to sin is a part of life. It is an unfortunate fact that at times we'll lose a battle. But the important thing is to not give up, but rather get going again to do what is right. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1).

OK. Thanks for that.

By "sketchy" I meant when people are home and I'm somewhere that I could easily be walked in on. No, I don't look at anything during the process. I've never softened my heart to looking at inappropriate pictures save what I mentioned before.

What causes me to fall behind is my constant urge to masturbate, and my own efforts to stop it. I'll be almost to orgasm and I will get scared of sinning and stop, then later start again. Also the depression leads me to wanting to find an escape and sometimes I'd turn to video games and waste hours that way. But now I have beaten every one I own, so unless I buy more (which I can't) I won't have that anymore.

I think what I'll do for the next month is try to reestablish my old habits and read my Bible every day and masturbate less frequently. I think as long as I don't look in the mirror, I can still work out though. It's a big part of my life now. Or should I give that up too for a while?

I understand a bit better.

I suspect that you are unconsciously using the excitement of risk to increase your arousal. But that is not a good thing for you or anyone who might walk in on you. Keep matters like masturbation private. I get the impression that you believe ejaculating to be sinful. Did that article I sent the link to clarify that ejaculating is not sinful by itself? Masturbate when you need relief, not as a way to spend your idle time.

You would be better off just taking care of the need of your body when it arises than drawing matters out and working yourself up over it.

In regards to working out, there is nothing wrong with having a regular workout routine. Yes, cutting out the self-examination would do you much better. Work out because you enjoy it, not because you want the perfect body.

If I had to pinpoint one big problem, it would be in your time management. Set aside time each day where homework is the first priority. Work on completing an assignment, then reward yourself with a fifteen or thirty minute break by doing something you enjoy, such as a workout set. Then go back to do another assignment. Don't let the break time go beyond the thirty minutes you allowed yourself. Keep repeating this until you get the work for the day done plus some of the work you are behind on.