I’m a male college student . I have been addicted to masturbation ever since my early adolescence and have been doing it ever since. But this habit carried through even after I found God and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I am ashamed of this because in addition to sinning against God, I am currently in a position of responsibility in several of the church services I attend. The frequency of my masturbation has decreased but I am still doing it nonetheless. Every time I finish the act, I would feel a pang of guilt. To reassure myself, I would watch sermons on you tube, especially ones that speak about forgiveness. I would then pray and ask God for forgiveness, and would subsequently feel better. But this has become a habit and I want to be freed from it. I just don’t know how !
To begin with it is safe to day that a majority of men have struggled with this problem during their lifetimes. Masturbation has physical and philological traits that make it a “compulsion.” Endorphins and various hormones are released with the ejaculation which create a response which is similar to other addictions. So the struggle to discontinue this activity will need to involve more than merely a strong resolve.
Biblically, the problem with masturbation is actually many facetted.
- First, there is the obvious problem of the use of pornography to achieve excitement. Viewing pornography, or conjuring it up in your own mind, is a violation of God’s command against adultery. Jesus reminds us, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5:28).
- Secondly, masturbation is a misuse of the human sexuality which God intends in your life as a blessing. The euphoric response and release of endorphins is intended by God to be part of what binds husband and wife together “as one’. C. S. Lewis summarizes, “The relationship of mutual love, one of the purposes for the fulfillment of which the Creator ordains marriage, is something very different. “Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give” (Lewis, “The Four Loves” pp. 135)
- Third, masturbation can lead to the sense that I do not need to be reliant on a member of the opposite sex. I do not need to give myself wholly to another in service to them. Even as Christ gave Himself wholly to His bride, the Church, we are created by God to be united with a spouse for life. “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (Corinthians 7:2-4).
- Fourth, as God has moved you to recognize masturbation as sin in your life. He now calls on you to both turn from this sin, and to receive the assurance that He has forgiven you. and just as importantly, that God, Himself will help you to overcome this sin.
So here are my suggestions for turning from and conquering this sin.
- First, know that in Christ you are already a victor over this sin. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In baptism, you are already sanctified, “holy” in Christ.
- Second, pray for God’s help. Here I am actually suggesting that instead of focusing primarily on the action of masturbation in your prayer, include also God’s helping you to honor your future marriage–your future wife–by bringing you to the maturity of purity in relationship to your sexuality.
- Third, find another Christian male who will serve as your “accountability partner.” This man needs be a person who you respect as being spiritually mature. He needs to be someone who will walk with you through this struggle and check with you regularly, probably daily at the out start. He needs to be someone with whom you can share all aspects of your feelings and struggle. He needs to be a person who will provide you with reminders of your sin, but assurance of your forgiveness.
- Finally, in response to your feelings about the conflict between helping lead worship and having this ongoing sin, every person who has ever lead worship is unworthy to stand before God. We who serve God are not perfect, we are called to serve Him even as Moses, Aaron, David, Peter, Paul, and the list goes one. Each of these people, as each of us, have sin which Scripture shares. Each one’s success shows how God alone deserves the glory for the work He accomplished in people. God is using you…even though you are a sinner. But He does call us to turn from the sin as we continue to serve him.
[note: If you would like to deal with this in greater detail you can e-mail me or submit another question.]