The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hi,

I need some help. I am a Christian, and I am having trouble with sexual sin. I have been struggling with masturbation, lustful thoughts, and looking at woman lustfully. After I commit these sins I feel so ashamed of myself. I keep saying to myself this won't happen anymore. I can do this, and I ask God for forgiveness and say prayers to tell God how bad I feel and how much I want to be forgiven and stop these sins.  However when the time comes, it seems uncontrollable -- almost impossible to resist. I need help overcoming these sins, but I just don't know what to do to stop this. I'm stuck in repetitive sin and I feel awful. This unfocused me from school and the sport I love. I try so hard, but I always end up eventually failing. I can't bear always asking the good Lord for forgiveness and keep failing again and again. I need help with this.

Also, it doesn't help when my school, team and the world is so much involved with sexual and lustful talk. A lot of the time I'll just be doing my own thing, and I will randomly get a gross sexual thought. I feel so bad about it that I can't get it out of my head.

I'm 16 years old, and it is even harder to deal with this as a teenager. I hope there's some advice you could give me to help me with this, and I hope it's not too late. Most of all I hope God will help me through this and forgive me for my mistakes and thoughts. I have been struggling with this for about four years. I thought I could handle this alone, but I learned I cannot. What can I do to help me stop these awful things and from these thoughts that keep popping up in my head?

Also, my ex-girlfriend and I, when we were dating, did some sexual things together. I learned that these are sins before marriage as well, even without intercourse.  Ever since my relationship with her the thoughts and sexual sin just seemed to get worse from there.


Answer

Your questions and concerns are common ones. I would like you to read the following. When you are done, write to me with any additional questions you have.

This really helped me understand a lot of things! It's interesting and good to know these things about sexual activity when growing up. Thanks!

I want to know exactly what spiritual death is?

I was wondering, now that I know that I have committed adultery with her in God's heart, will this affect my future marriage? I didn't have sex before, but it was pretty close to happening. I'm glad I stopped myself, but I have did other sexual activities, such as her and I touching each other, oral sex, and making out. I understand that this is adultery in His heart, which I feel horrible about because I had no idea at the time. Turns out my conscious was right. I knew something was wrong about it. Now I know for sure.

I don't know if I'm right or not, but I still love her to this day, even though she is my ex-girlfriend right now. She sometimes is mean to me and everything was just going down hill. We ended up breaking up. I don't think that there's any guy who could love her more then I do now. Come to think of it, maybe -- just maybe -- God separated us so that we're not tempted to do these things. If He did or not, I'm glad either way because it either wasn't meant to be, or He did that so we wouldn't be tempted. I thank Him for leading me in the right direction.

However, she told me a few weeks ago she had had sex with another ex-boyfriend. She was crying, saying sorry, that I'd think of her differently, and our love would not be as special. I told her different. Her mother said thank God for me, and that I must be one of God's children. That did make me feel good about myself. I think she said that because I also helped her deal with it because it's obviously really hard for her to deal with that as her daughter is only 14. She also is having troubles. People bully her, she has ADHD, is constantly put down, and people call her a slut. She told me she feels useless and that's why she was temped to easy to do this sexual stuff -- because she felt helpless.

I have been trying very hard for several months to get over her because she sometimes is still rude to me and also has a crush on this guy -- an on-line crush. It does bother me a lot, but there's something that's saying stay, she needs you to be there for her, she just needs time. I'm just not sure if it's worth it. Her mother and I are extremely close as well. She's like a second mother to me. She tries to help me through the pain and gives me advice about what to do. One time she caught us touching each other and she said she is happy it's not intercourse, that we're just exploring each others bodies as a couple, she can tell that I really love her, and it's not just for lustful proposes. But I now understand even that was wrong, and I hope God will forgive me for all my sins related to this topic.

But once again what exactly is spiritual death?

All sins have consequences, though you might not notice them immediately, but the ultimate consequence of sin is ending up in hell. Hell is sometimes referred to as the second death (the first death would be physical death. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). If it ended there, we would be all in trouble since everyone sins. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The reason Christ came is to rescue us from our sins. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

James describes the progression of sin. "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). The steps are:

  1. Desires: Each of us is born with a normal, natural set of desires. The physical desires are the consequence of the operation of our bodies. We also have spiritual desires, such as not wanting to be alone, wanting to be liked by others, or wanting something pretty.
  2. Temptation: Satan tries to place us in situations where it appears that the satisfaction of a desire will require the breaking of a law of God. Temptation is the forcing of a choice to be made: either to break a law of God and satisfy a desire or to forgo satisfaction in order to keep God's law.
  3. Lust (desire conceived): When a person mentally consents that breaking a law of God is worth satisfying the desire, then the person has moved into the realm of lust. This is when the person justifies to himself that breaking God's law can be excused, at least in some situations.
  4. Sin: This is when a person seizes an opportunity and actually breaks God's law.
  5. Licentiousness (sin full-grown): Sin is rarely done just once. The excuses to sin come fast, such as "I've done it once, doing it again isn't going to make much difference." Eventually the person becomes calloused to sin and no longer feels guilty about what he is doing. He doesn't care what other people think. He may even convince himself that he has the right to sin. (Licentiousness means thinking you have a license to sin.)
  6. Death: A person fully convinced that he ought to sin and doesn't care what even God thinks about his actions won't be persuaded out of his sin. Since he won't leave his sin, he will die in his sin.

As an example, hunger is a desire -- it is neither right nor wrong. Temptation is when you are in the convenience store and see a candy bar, but realize you don't have enough money to pay for it. Lust is when you tell yourself that the store can afford to lose some items and that they are expecting some loss, or telling yourself that you could pocket it now and pay for it later and you accept that this is adequate justification to steal. Sin is when you walk out with the candy bar without paying for it. Licentiousness is when you think it is fun to take things off the shelf even though you have adequate money to pay for it. And from there it is a short step to spiritual death.

Ultimately everyone dies (Hebrews 9:27), James is talk here about a spiritual death where a person is given himself completely to sin and gives no thought of leaving them. He would be much like Esau: "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears" (Hebrews 12:15-17). Though he had not yet physically died, spiritually he was dead to God.

The sins you had been involved in were lust, lewdness, and fornication. Adultery would not be the correct word. That one is reserved for having sex with a married woman, which would not be true with your 14 year old former girlfriend. I'm glad to hear you are giving up your sins to follow the Lord once again.

But before ending this note, I want you to consider something. Dating is intended to help you find the woman you want to marry. I understand that you feel sorry to this girl, but do you really think she would make you a good wife and be a good mother of your children? What I noticed is:

  • You and she argued a good bit and it was getting worse.
  • She was mean to you and getting more vicious.
  • She was looking for another boyfriend while supposedly being your girlfriend.
  • She was pushing for sex, or at least sexual behavior.
  • Her mother was encouraging you to be sexual, making the mistake, like many, of saying it isn't really sin until intercourse. (Which is probably why her daughter ended up having intercourse. It is hard to go part way and then stop.)

I know there are reasons why she behaves this way, but you also need to understand that there are some girls who use being a victim to get sympathy and to manipulate men. Guys like being the knights in shining armor riding in to rescue damsels in distress. But when the distress is of the person's on making, you can't rescue them from it. They will only generate more.

I'm glad you are being a good friend, but she doesn't strike me as good wife material. Perhaps one day she will realize that she needs to change and then make the change. But you need to realize that you can't make her change and even if you were the best boyfriend in the world to her, it would not change her. The only thing that will change her is herself.

Thanks. I've been having a tough time with this girl because I feel deeply in love with her, and it took a great toll on me. I'm doing my best, but the great times we had together is just hard to see past. I'm going to do everything I can to stop lusting and start searching for real love.

With my sins before, will this affect my future marriage if it's a different girl in any way at all? Will God eventually see past these awful sins?

Lastly, is there anything to prevent horrible thoughts? They are sometimes just random and it's like I have no control over them at all. I was wondering if there's a way to take control.

Thanks for all your help! I appreciate it so much!

One difficulty I've seen before is that people often confuse love with feelings of sexual arousal. Take a look at the following two articles and tell me if these properly describe your relationship:

Your past sins need not affect your future, if you can manage to leave them behind. God grants forgiveness of past sins when a person becomes a Christian. I've run across many people who consider themselves Christians, but never really did what God said is necessary to become His child. See: What Must I Do to be Saved? When a person is a Christian, forgiveness requires repenting of their sins (II Corinthians 7:10-11) and admitting to God that you were wrong (I John 1:9).

I'm assuming that "horrible thoughts" have to do with sexual situations. One of the difficulties men face is that when their seminal vesicles get full, they send an hormonal signal to the brain and the rest of your body. You become more easily aroused and your brain responds by pulling up imagines and thoughts about anything categorized as erotic or sexy. Whether they actually are is a whole different matter, the brain's filing system is often odd. Keeping your semen levels down to a reasonable level helps with these random thoughts.

But you won't be able to totally eliminate them because Satan is wanting to tempt you with sin. He knows you have a weakness in the area of sex, just like most guys, so he is going to keep that topic fresh in your mind, hoping that you'll give in to something like pornography if not down right sexual behavior. The answer is two fold: you have to reject the temptation, but you also need to replace the urge with something better that isn't sinful. Keep yourself busy so that you are idle with nothing to do but daydream about sex. If you have too much time on your hands, get a part-time job or volunteer at some organization. If the urge is strong, relieve yourself with masturbation, or allow yourself to have a wet dream. Sometimes getting out and exercising heavily can distract you for a while until the urge fades.

Thanks again.

It's just hard because my ex-girlfriend was always there for me and would always work out situations, but there were a lot of them. It's truly hard to let go.

I'm glad to hear that my past sins will be forgotten.

Her mother wasn't allowing sexual activity. But was saying she was glad it was that instead of intercourse, but she didn't seem upset about it because she said she knows how teens work and she used to do that with her husband.

I'm trying to move on but something isn't letting me do that. She has this on-line crush right now and it bugs me a lot. She considers me as a best friend right now but doesn't like me like she did before in anyway that I can see. Sometimes she doesn't treats me so well, but she claims she just gets frustrated and takes it out on me even though she doesn't mean to. Her mom said she tends to do that the most to the people she feels comfortable around and the people she loves. She treats me this way even though we were close before, how much I did for her and helped her though tough times, and how long we were together. It confuses me.

I don't know if God is trying to help me get over her or if He just wants me to be patient and she'll come back eventually and realize what's best because she still is immature and young. She doesn't know how to really love right now on top of problems and situations she's going through. She has ADHD, which makes it harder. She said she feels so bad for what she did. I don't know if I should just wait for her because I love her or move on because I don't know if she'll realize who is best for her and turn herself around.

There is a warning in Proverbs that gets repeated several times:

  • "It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 21:9).
  • "It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman" (Proverbs 21:19).
  • "It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 25:24).
  • "A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; he who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand" (Proverbs 27:1-16).

"Contentious" means a person who is never happy and who always finds fault and things to complain about. The reason for the repeat is that guys often will overlook the obvious problem and excuse it away. They think that they can deal with it or that it will go away because of their love. Yet, it is like a dripping faucet. At first you can ignore it, but the shear repetitiveness eventually gets to you. Eventually you explode. But the real problem is that you can't fix this problem. She has to fix herself.

There are plenty of people with ADHD who aren't mean to their friends, so this is just an excuse. She is sorry for what she does, but it isn't a sorrow that causes her to change. "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death" (II Corinthians 7:10).

Are you a better choice for a husband? Most likely. But she isn't looking for the better choice. She has a different set of goals at the moment. Will she change? That isn't predictable. I always tell guys to make decisions based on who a person is and not what you think they might become. As she currently is, she would not make a good wife for you. She might change in the future, but she might not. She might even become worse. You and I just don't know.

My advice is to date some other girls. If you don't find someone else and she does change for the better, you can always decide then whether you want to date her once again. Waiting is not reasonable.

What God wants is for you to live a good life through following Him. Who you marry is up to you. God gives you guidelines on how to pick a good wife, but whether you follow those guidelines is a decision you have to make. God doesn't take away your free-will in these matters. Your ex-girlfriend has decided that she doesn't want to marry you. That is her choice. She may change her mind, but she might not. She choice was one that she made, not because of God, but because of her own desires, which at the moment don't look very sound.

Yeah, this all makes sense. But since I'm so close to her mom, I am in contact with her a lot and talk to my ex-girlfriend, it makes it even harder to move on because of the good things we went through. I'm trying and waiting for that girl who will always want me happy, but sometimes it feels like it'll never happen.

I admire your advice. It did help me with my situation, and I'm going to try to do what's best for me. But one more thing: how do you know exactly who the right girl is and what are some things you should be looking for in a girl?

I'll give you the same advice my father gave me when I was a teenager. Without having any particular girl in mind and when you are not dating a girl (otherwise your answers will be biased toward that girl), make a list of the qualities you hope to find in your future wife. These should not be physical traits, but type of character you wish to find in her.

For instance, you mentioned your favorite sport. You probably would like someone who is also interested in that sport so you two can talk about a common passion. Think about how important religion is to you. You would want someone with the same passion toward it. What do you think of children? Home cooked meals? Do you want a neat home? Do you prefer to live in the city or the country? While every activity won't be shared, what activities do you like to do that you hope your wife will also enjoy? These are just starter questions. Once you have a decent list, mark those that are "deal breakers" versus those that these would be nice.

As you go along, you'll modify your list. You'll realize that some things are not nearly as important as you once thought they were. You'll discover things that you didn't think about that are important to you. But having this list in your mind will make it easier to spot someone who has strong possibilities and it will help you keep a conversation going as you learn more about her.