Faith Identity Self-Management

Finding Hope Amidst the Tension

It’s an issue that plagues a lot of men and yet no one ever talks about it. You know, the elephant in the room. We all know it’s there, but no one wants to deal with it. If there is even a reference to it, it’s metaphorical; tongue in cheek. Some desperately want to be rid of this issue while others figure it’s just a part of manhood and will be so for the rest of their adult lives. Guilt and shame cause us to pretend all is well when reality screams it is not!

Stuck in a Pit

Frequently, I receive pre-emptive strikes from young men in the throes of their sexual drive, who have this raging urge to masturbate. They feel the lure of lust beating on their chest, their body becoming sexually aroused and in such know that if they follow-through, they will end up right back where they’ve been time and time again. It feels like this bottomless pit with sidewalls so steep and smooth there is no way they can crawl out on their own. They have a hard time believing God will forgive them, and they can’t seem to forgive themselves. Sound familiar? Believe me when I say I struggled through this very plight in my teens and well into my 20’s. Honestly, it became a stronghold that altered the way I handled wounds in life. Neuroscientists have proven that sexual addictions rewire the brain. Neural pathways are formed that become default highways in how we handle life. Whenever I got stressed, anxious, even hungry, or lonely, my default became a self-medicating attempt to find relief through sexual release. 

When It All Began

As a young man enters puberty, his pituitary gland awakens and sexual desires start to drive him. Testosterone increases washing over the brain. Eventually, a guy has a nocturnal emission (aka wet dream). While sleeping, his penis becomes erect and it ejaculates semen. He awakens to wet underwear and wonders what just happened. The first time this happened to me, I wondered if I had reverted back to my bed-wetting days as a kid. After all, I was in middle school and being a kid was so far in the past. Soon, a guy figures out if he rubs his genitals long enough, he could make himself come again. It feels good and yet wrong at the same time. Stimulating oneself becomes this way of relieving stress. Lust ramps up and next thing a guy knows, he is having sex with imaginary girls, then imaginary sex with girls he knows. Seeing one of those girls at school then becomes this awkward moment.  Dude, this just isn’t right, or is it? How can all this sexual desire be wrong? Isn’t God the one who created guys to develop sexually?

Birds and the Bees

The fact your God-given penis gets hard and ejaculates semen is not a sin. Jesus’ body developed sexually, just like every other guy’s. His genitals functioned perfectly. He developed body hair just like any other guy; armpits, legs, pubic area, even facial hair like a mustache and beard. Possibly even a hairy chest.  None of that is sinful. Don’t curse or be ashamed of how God made you. There is nothing wrong with any of that, at all.

What is at issue, primarily for the single guy, is circumventing natural male sexual release (nocturnal emissions) by manipulating release. Here are six things that drives a guy to masturbate:

1. Lust. Lust is trying to satisfy one’s self in an illegitimate way.  It’s using sexual desires (one of the strongest drives a man has) to handle life’s issues instead of trusting God. 

2. Hunger. When I get famished, I get irritable. I make rash decisions; usually over-eating.

3. Anger. Tick me off after a long day and I’m ready to take it out on someone or myself.

4. Lonely. I hate being alone. Somehow, it lures me into thinking no one cares for me, so I better take care of myself.

5. Tired. When I’m exhausted, my will to resist temptation is at an all-time low.

6. Stressed.  By default, I worry too much. When I do, I feel the tension in my shoulders and the calves of my legs. 

These trigger a soul to act out sexually. It’s called self-medicating a wound. Some also use alcohol, pornography, even overeating. Guys who love Jesus struggle with this, too. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 talks about God’s will for a man is to practice self-control. To know how to handle his body in holiness and honor.  Not in the passion of lust like the pagans who do not know God. In fact, it goes on to say that anyone who disregards this does not disregard man, but God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. Meaning this; lust-driven masturbation is never Spirit-filled. It does not glorify God. It exalts self instead.

Objection, Your Honor!

Yes, I see your hand in the back row. Yes, you. Do you object to this view of masturbation?  If a guy doesn’t get to know his genitals through masturbation then how will he ever be ready to have sex with a woman?  Anthropology has shown that many cultures have no evidence of male masturbation and yet they are prolific in conceiving children. There is something innate in a man that knows how to have sexual intercourse with his wife, without prior practice. 

However, for the sake of argument, let’s say it is possible to masturbate and not sin. No lust. No self-medicating any wounds. Sexual release with no guilt, no shame. Let’s even say you practice such from your mid-teens well into your late 20’s. You’ve masturbated so many times you’ve lost count. Here’s the part no one has ever thought about. Self-sex trains the brain to view sex as for one’s own satisfaction, FIRST, before it is ever meant to be for his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 speaks to the very truth that when you get married, your spouse now has authority over your body. That your role in marital sex is to please your wife, and she to please you. So, explain to me how you can justify masturbation, even if it is done without lust? And tell me your brain has not been trained to view sex totally backward from what God intended?

Jesus Our Example.

Okay, there is no verse in the Bible that directly talks about Jesus’ sexuality. What the Bible does say is that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us, without sin. (Hebrews 4) That means Jesus was tempted as a teen and a young single man in his 20’s to act out sexually. It could have been a temptation with a woman or with himself.  Yet, we are told he never sinned. Never! Something was going on inside Jesus that kept him from giving into temptation. It was the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had a far greater desire to give himself to his heavenly Father than to satisfy himself in illegitimate ways. What I can say with very reasonable confidence is that Jesus experienced normal male sexual development, allowing his body to take its natural course of sexual release through wet dreams. If you are a Christ-follower, you have 100% of the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus did. The challenge in you resisting the temptation to sin sexually, with yourself or with someone you are not married to, has far more to do with your willingness to yield to the Spirit than it does your personal willpower to fight the urge. Romans 13:14 says to put on the Lord Jesus (yield to the Spirit), AND make no provision for the flesh in regards to its desires. It’s a two-fold process of yielding.

Won’t God Forgive Me Anyway?

It’s the proverbial question to justify sin. God forgives me in Christ, so what’s wrong with repeated masturbation? Won’t His grace keep flowing my way? Answer. By no means! Romans 6:1 ESV  Christ died once for all to defeat sin, to make us no longer enslaved to sin. 

6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:6-7 ESV

To keep on sinning because you think God will forgive you again is to value self MORE than you value Christ. When Romans 13:14 ESV says to …put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires, it’s saying to so highly value your relationship with Jesus, the very thought of gratifying your sensual desires in illegitimate ways is not even on the radar. There is no comparison. 

Inverse Equation

The more you value Jesus, the less you will want to masturbate, or have sex outside of marriage.

> Jesus= <Self gratification

In fact, this equation also proves true:

> Jesus = > Wet dreams

Benefits to Reducing Masturbation and Increasing Wet Dreams

1. The neural pathways in your brain that led you to masturbation become increasingly dormant.

2. Dormant, God-given neural pathways reawaken as you increase the frequency of wet dreams.

3. By yielding to Jesus whenever the HALTS scale hits, (see list above), you circumvent using your sexuality to handle life and you actually improve your ability to use your sexuality for awesome sex in marriage!

4. According to, frequently masturbating to porn can contribute to erectile dysfunction by desensitizing you to certain imagery and physical intimacy. After all, who wants to train their body to not perform in the bedroom with their wife?

5. Wet Dreams are God’s built-in way for a single man to naturally balance out his sexual drive. 

6. Godly accountability helps guide you through the landmines of one’s sexual battlefields.  That means you are transparent with your mentor regarding your sexuality. 24-hour rules and pre-emptive strikes are open conversations with your mentor.  

God honors every guy who fights for purity in his sexuality.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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