Personal Stories from those affected by sexual sin
Maturing in Christ
—by an anonymous female, age 20
How do I even begin describing how lonely it feels for me, a 20-year-old female, struggling with masturbation? I’ve always thought, as foolish as I know in my mind, that women do not struggle with lust. Well, sure, we do struggle with fantasizing our Prince Charming walking with us on a sunset beach, but “no” we do not struggle with physical lust. Romantic imaginations only.
I’m not trying to downplay the disasters of living in a fantasy world which Satan would love to distract us from living in the real world with our Savior, but I’ve come to realize that there are women who struggle with this physical aspect of lust. It has been difficult to find the support needed for women because we are to be “pure vessels” holy and chaste. I feel that, as much as the guys do struggle with their sin, other men understand partly because God did create men and women differently.
As for the women, I know that there is help for those who are sexually active with a partner or for those who have become pregnant. I’m not sure how support groups have come to help in those issues, but it may be that support groups go as far as helping with the consequences and even the initial motivations like lack of love, security, intimacy or companionship. Of course by the grace of God that He promised us that in Philippians 4:19:
Jesus will be our ultimate source of friendship, intimacy, protection, and love.
What I have yet to find help with as a woman is still my struggle with lust. To explain myself and my background, I want to say that I pretty much grew up in the church and have been a Christian since I was 11 years old. I’ve had a good family and eventually my whole immediate family have changed from simply church-goers to believers. My parents were pretty watchful of me in making sure that I was not exposed to anything pornographic when I was young.
However, the world still crept into my mind when I was visiting my non-believing relatives’ homes and found pornographic magazines and “how to” books. I was 14 at the time and thus far in my Christian walk I’ve been trying hard at keeping my bible reading and praying. I was one of those “True Love Waits” kind of girls and I’ve been completely against premarital sex. But how Satan got me was through my eyes and my mind. When I would visit these houses, my curiosity about the issue took me to these forbidden pages. It was rebellious and exciting.
And so in secret, I learned about these things. On the outside, I was still a faithful fellowship attendee, worship participant, bible study leader, a responsible teenage girl, and an independent woman who did not feel the need for dating relationships. I knew though that in truth that my mind was preoccupied with sex. It was just with a matter of time that sin left unchecked took on the next level.
I was 16 when Satan’s trap dragged me down further. There was a particular night when I was feeling a little depressed about different friends leaving and moving away that my mind prompted me to test out what masturbation is like. It was again in silence and secret. My mind was already primed for the event and now I was being physically addicted.
This went on through the cycle of guilt, confession, vowing to not do it again, and again failing. Tears, sweat, and prayers went into it. But I found that my flesh often let me down. I would be abstinent for a while, but something would trigger it. I fight again to not let it become that habitual sin that I thought Christians were supposed to not have. I’m once again slapping and spitting on Jesus’ face.
During the next two years, I would sometimes search the Internet to find helpful tips on fighting temptation. I’ve stumbled across this website and I’ve actually watched it change. I went through a time of questions and doubt. With all the images of women and sex in my mind I was wondering if I’m a “man” inside or if I was some sort of sex-crazed lesbian. Unhealthy ideas about sex had come into my mind and everything had become “dirty” to me. I was really, really confused. I go to a small church so there was no way that I could talk with my pastor or anyone that I knew because it was just so completely shameful to me.
At the end of my senior year of high school, I had created a history of sin already. And at that time, finding myself attracting and entering too quickly of a relationship with a Christian boy. In that relationship, we were unwise about how to go about things physically. Both of us were vulnerable in the same way and we both knew it. In that relationship, I did not feel comfortable because I knew that I had carried into it fear, guilt, and shame that I had not realized to be even stronger when I was now in a relationship with a person. Although for that time I was not struggling with masturbation, its effect on my mindset and my sexual appetite was already whetted.
By God’s grace again, I believe it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting to have me end the relationship. Freshman year of my university life now has gone by and I wanted fresh starts. Luckily, somehow God never let me face this alone. He had led me to a group of loving and caring Christians at my school. At this one summer camp with that group, I found an older sister in Christ to share about my addiction. I shared because in her honesty, I had sensed that she was a woman who too struggled with sin. For the first time in my life, I slowly opened that closet sin to a person I trusted.
For my remaining second year in college, I was brought to a place of pain and hurt. I was brought to that place not completely by my own choice, but that it was as if I sensed God saying, “I want to heal you of your past sins, I want to forgive, but you will have to remember them in memory.” And so it was a time of purging my thoughts from the materials I read to the actions I took to the thoughts that were in my mind. I confessed and I once again cried. To this day I can say in full confidence that God had forgiven me of my past. I cling tightly to the promise in 1 John 1:9:
In the course of that year, I was bold enough to share this struggle of mine with a couple others. Not only has confession to God for my sins been a freeing experience, but that allowing other sisters in Christ to know of the struggle has been even more freeing. From Ephesians 5 it says that what is disobedient is done in secret, but when Christ exposes it in the light, we are able to let others pray and keep us accountable. To those few women, I have made it my choice that I will confess to them when I feel like I am falling into the temptation of masturbating for whatever reason. I still struggle with being honest with them every time I fall, but I know that through that process I have grown not only in fellowship with them, but to experience the grace of God that flows through unconditional acceptance from my dear friends.
And so now, where am I? I wish I could say that I have completely ridded myself of this ugly past and of this sin that grips my entire being. But the reality is that I am still living in my flesh. Even after having grown in bible knowledge, prayer, and intimacy with fellow Christians and with God, this sin still trips me up. In the course of these five years, spiritually I know that I am not the same person. In my heart I can truly say that I desire to do God’s will. And in my heart, I know that the Holy Spirit humbles me and brings me to a place of confession. But still, why Lord, do you still allow this to be the thorn of my flesh. And still even now, I wonder if I am a disillusioned “man” in a woman’s body. I still wonder what will become of my marriage and my sexual satisfaction within marriage. My sin already has tainted the marriage bed, but I still hope to remain abstinent from sexual intercourse. I fear even more now about future relationships and whether I will be the one godly enough to never participate in sexual activity before marriage.
God reminds me about the power of scripture in combating temptation. Even though I’ve had some victory over this habitual sin, it feels more like a losing one, his words remain true. I shall remember the words of Psalms 119: 9, 11:
In this battle, I know I have chosen to dishonor God by my own free will because 1 Cor 10:13 teaches that:
I need to choose not to submit. The power is within my hands (through Christ), not the tempter’s.
Surprisingly, it was through the recognition of my sin that I’ve come to see scripture not merely as knowledge but of God’s promises. These promises though I would have to have the faith to trust and obey His Words. Also, I’ve noticed that because I am weak in my mind and my eyes, any garbage in through TV, movies, radio, friend’s talking, etc; garbage usually comes out in my action. Also, in all seriousness, the different times of the hormonal cycle I’ve noticed have been a factor. Other things are my own self image and my struggle to not give into the fear of myself being physically unattractive. All this I know that I have to just give to God.
But no matter what my efforts will be, my best will not be strong enough until I am at a place of helplessness before God. Only when I know that I cannot fight and schedule and discipline my sin nature, then I will experience the strength through Christ. I know that my first reaction to me failing is to take the beating of my fluctuating conscience, but I know no other action should follow than to pursue God that much harder. Sadly, I know that I will fail because my guard will not always be up and that this sin area will probably continue on maybe for years. But as a Christian who has matured over the years yet is still struggling, I know that I need to abandon the false notion of quick fixes. That if Paul himself struggled then how so would I be worthy to not struggle also?
But I hold on and I hope to leave to you fellow sisters in Christ out there the encouragement from Paul. I feel so lonely in this battle of lust. Be careful to not let sin go unchecked.
Our hope is in the Lord.